Sometimes it took weeks before he found another one that worked. He was a big man with plenty of scars. No one could ever look at his face and say he wasn’t terrifying, so he looked for the ones who would hate their own suspicions–the ones he could reassure with a smile.
Hold the door, please, he would say, coming up behind them as they entered their buildings, I know I look scary, but please don’t judge me.
And then to strike the right sheepish note, a disarming awkwardness as they shared an elevator ride or moved up the stairs together. All it took was a flinch, just the right amount of defensive posturing, and he would keep walking, move past, up another flight of stairs, his quarry safely below, unlocking her door, ducking inside, closing him out.
Above, he would wait, longing, his breath quick. His need voracious. Such nights as those, he would need a boy–the filthy one with the chipped teeth the others kept for him in the place on Roosevelt Island. Then he’d sit with the other Deermen in the brown room with the green carpet. He would have ice cream with them. He would share some with the boy, but not too much.
“You don’t want to get fat,” he would say to him. “Do you?”
A few days later, he would try again. And sometimes, his quarry and he would be alone, and she would be calm, perfectly calm, unthreatening, and he would follow her all the way to the door, putting on his pink candy gloves, the fabric soft, pleasing, and he would pull out the polished wooden dowel. She would be unconscious before she could think to herself, Should’ve known.
Now he watched the woman sleep. She had a small child’s chair in her bedroom she seemed to use for her dirty gym clothes. He’d moved those aside. Pulled the chair up. Sat in it, made it minuscule, and watched her sleep on her bed.
His pink candy gloves hot on his knees.
A few moments later, he reached out and put one hand over her mouth, another around her throat, and squeezed. She woke up, biting at the gloves. He let her bite, thinking, Go. Go on. Eat. Eat. Eat.
And beyond that, a high tide would come in of thoughts and emotions he could never tell anyone, the hidden self beneath the breaking skin. Beating against him like her fists.