MURDER YOUR DARLINGS
(Advice to writers attributed to William Faulkner)
Come in and have a seat in that chair.
I’m Georgiana. I know you by your reputation as an honest reporter.
A professional writer. I’ll give you my story.
All I ask is two things.
First, please excuse my appearance. My dark glasses hide bruises.
Second, quote me exactly--no insinuating tone. I am a lady despite rumors.
Now, to begin…
For all the women murdered by my husband, I was-- am the one he saved for last.
Saving the best for last is quite rational you’ll agree?
It bespeaks the obvious: I, Georgiana, am the best of all the victims.
You find that amusing? Well, I don’t.
I’m a very practical person--but I have my pride.
Yes, I’m prideful enough to exult in such notoriety as the one he saved for last.
If you knew Henry as a cold-blooded monster who held women in no particular esteem whatsoever--you’d discover my point of pride on this.
I would have been murdered except...
I turned Henry in and he has been arrested and held for murder.
So many. No one would imagine just how many!
I only agreed to sit down with one journalist.
You are that man because I wanted the very best. You understand?
I exclude the sensation seekers, the liars and exaggerators.
I’d prefer you say something like this in your interview copy:
“Georgiana’s current reputation...is the work of small minds.”
Suspicious and low-minded reporters--present company excepted, of course--have treated me as H. H. Holmes’ accomplice.
This is preposterous and artful invention--I was completely fooled until the police arrived and apprised me of the extraordinary events surrounding Henry’s murderous trail of deceit and serial murder.
He got away with all those dead partners, murdered wives, the swindles and embezzlements because news travels slowly and no photos of Henry have been published. He used so many phony names, alibis and quick-witted stories--such is his hideous genius.
I only had one thing to go on in my appraisal of him as a man. He was shy, courteous, charming and found me fascinating.
This may be the 1890’s, but modern telegraph and newspapers do a poor job in sounding an alarm throughout these United States, small towns, backwater villages.
There is no heads up for rich widows who are lonely and susceptible to a fast-talking son-of-a-bitch who finds them fascinating.
I managed to convince myself we somehow bonded.
He appealed to some protective, empathic disposition within me--can you imagine?
I see you’re thinking what a fool she is.
I tell you this extremely embarrassing personal gossip because certain reporters--not like yourself, have written and published in their newspapers of “Georgiana’s tendencies as ...adventurous…” which, these days, implies a woman of loose morals.
My judgment is loose on its hinges, I’ll grant you.
My morals are intact. Look how many hapless men Henry gulled and murdered--not all simpering lady folk--grown men! He is tricky and undetectable!
You can quote me on this.
I would be more than lucky to avoid my fate unless I acted immediately to secure an escape from his plans for my destruction.
But I delayed turning him in once I began to suspect he was an abnormally prodigious liar.
Yet--something was interfering with my natural survival instinct.
An intelligent, well-educated person--a journalist such as yourself has probably never been completely fooled by a charismatic criminal.
I see the smile.
You think you’re older, wiser and superior to Georgiana--the little fool.
I laugh at you, then.
That’s the sort of confidence all victims possess.
Predators toy with their intended victims. The smarter the prey--the better the game.
He delights in personal danger--it turns up his flame of inspiration.
If he set his cap for you--it was only a matter of time.
Henry took you in and distracted you before you knew what hit you.
Worse still--what about intuition? Gut feeling?
The tickle on the back of your neck screams a silent warning no one can hear?
What would you do? One moment you trust the person in the room with you--and straightaway, that little cold tingle--and it’s too late.
While you are pondering...I’ll say one more thing. If you found yourself alone in a room with Henry and he suspected you of suspecting him-- you’d never leave that room alone and alive.
So, Fear? Um-hm. Of course. He ate your fear for his breakfast.
But you’d never in a million years guess the next part.
Sick, twisted admiration--I’ll concede.
What did I admire? His scathingly brilliant mind! A criminal mastermind!
You’ll want to write this down. Go ahead...it must all be printed exactly as I say it.
He tried to convince me to dress up in clothes like his; Derby, mustache, becoming an imposter to divert the police while he made good his escape!
What sort of woman would do that for a serial murderer IF SHE KNEW?
I can see you’re baffled.
You’ve stopped writing down what I’m saying.
You’re thinking, Georgiana is talking out of both sides of her mouth.
Georgiana claims to not be an accomplice and yet she admired the monster who’d planned to kill her.
Your face is very pale, Sir.
I once read about a writer’s club called The Inklings.
Do you belong? Do you have inklings?
I apologize for my dark glasses.
There is an abnormal largeness to my eyes. More than one physician has said it may well be a tumor behind them which has the effect of disconcerting people on the first encounter.
I wanted to curry favor with you, not put you off.
Henry, by contrast, has weird and unsettling eyes which never gazed directly at you. No no. You catch him out of the corner of your eye staring like some hideous and hungry demon.
I am Georgiana and I speak wide-eyed and innocently.
I can see by your face you caught my obvious joke.
Whom do you think is telling this story?
I’m such a spoilsport.
Let me remove my glasses for you.
To the Public:
He was the best writer I could find and now he is a former one.
I’m completing his little essay out of respect for talent.
The expression of surprise on his face was delightful!
My squinty eyes drank in his terror and my thirst was quenched.
Georgiana will have been hanged by now--in my clothes.
A volunteer--to honor my genius and her devotion to me.
I’ve celebrated my freedom with this blade and a river of red ink.
Georgiana, my darling, wherever your soul may be--this sacrifice I offer in your name--my one and only love.
I too fancy myself a writer.
The best advice a writer has ever given rings true.
Have you heard it?
“Murder your darlings.”
A short story by T.E. Walstrom