“This is such a cliché,” she says while looking for her discarded underwear. “A professor having sex with his assistant.”
“Doctor Professor,” he corrects her and slides on a pair of boxer briefs still lying down.
“Ooh, excuse me,” she says and puts a hand over her mouth with a smile.
Did you know you can make the monster smile by cutting the sides of its mouth with a scalpel? Then it smiles as much as you want. Better than birthday cake. Cheaper than rape.
Now dressed in black lace panties and a bra, she lies down next to him on the bed. They both look up at the ceiling, soft yellow with white crown molding, though his eyes are closing for longer and longer stretches of time.
When I get tired, I poke the monster with an icepick in the eye. That always perks me right up. It takes so little. I have so much.
“What do you think the newspaper clippings mean?” She asks after a while.
“I dunno,” he mumbles, half asleep, “probably some sicko.”
“Yeah, for sure,” she says, “but other than that? They must mean something?”
He rolls over on the side to face her, lets his right arm fall heavy across her chest.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” he says, “it’s not like they make any sense.”
If it talks like a monster and walks like a monster, I smash its kneecaps with a sledgehammer. I don’t need that kind of judgment in my life.
She raises herself up on the elbows, so he has to move his arm further down on her belly.
“Well, someone went to great trouble to make them,” she says. “They always look like they’re from the front page. Same type font, same layout, same wording. Even the kind of paper they’re printed on. That’s not nothing.”
“No,” he says, his eyes closed, “that’s someone with way too much time on their hands. Can we get a little sleep now? We have to be back at the office at three.”
Before monster, before time. Same, same.
She lies back down again and closes her eyes for a few minutes, too. Then she says,
“I just think they’re so creepy. Reporting the murders on the same day. As if it has already happened.”
Eeny, meeny, miny, moose. Catch a monster in a noose. When it screams, don’t cut it loose. Any knife can be of use. And we giggle and wiggle until the monster breaks its neck. Then it is only me. Dead monsters are dangly.
He sleeps on. She sits up, scoots her seat up against the pillow, and looks at him for a bit. She turns to the side of the bed, fishes her phone out of her bag on the floor, and checks it. She then dumps the phone back in the bag and takes out a black velvet pouch instead, opens it at the strings on the top, and puts it behind the pillows on her side of the bed. Then she turns to him and shakes his arm.
“Are you awake?” She says.
“What?” He says.
“What if it’s someone you know?” She asks. “They do have your name on them.”
The monster thinks it is big. It is not. The monster does not get to decide. I have to cut its tendons above the heels to remind it. The monster thanks me by singing a song it made up of sad sounds.
“It’s not someone I know,” he says. “I don’t know sick people like that.”
He now also sits himself up against the pillows, stares into space, and resets with a slight shudder. Then he pulls her closer and puts his arm around her.
“What about the Transformers?” she says. “They’re pretty out there.”
The monster doesn’t need toes. The monster doesn’t need fingers. I can just twist them off with pliers. That’s what the monster begs me to do. The monster only needs me. That’s what it says.
“They are called Pain Transcenders,” he says and takes his arm back. “And they are not sick.”
“Well, if you ask me,” she says and sits up straighter, “cutting people with knives to get an erection is not a sign of good health.”
“We’ve been through this a thousand times,” he says, “They don’t cut people. They let their consenting partners cut them. They train their minds to bypass the fear response to feel alive from the rush in the body. That’s how they transcend the pain.”
“And honestly,” he adds, “if you don’t dial it down a bit, I might have to take you off as the study secretary. They won’t open up and share if they feel judged.”
A monster walks into a bar—the crowbar lodges in its forehead. The monster gets dizzy and needs to lie down. LIE DOWN, I said. Isn’t that always the way?
“Excuse me, mister famous doctor with not-crazy patients,” she says. “But you have to admit it’s not normal.”
“It is actually pretty normal,” he says. “Some people like roller coasters, some people like horror movies, some people like tantric sex. It all hits the same pleasure center. They’re just smarter than most people because they can shut out the fear. And don’t call them patients.”
The monster’s nipples are like buttons. I can rip them right off. That’s what we do for Friday fun. Even on Tuesdays. The monster can’t stop laughing. The monster won’t stop laughing. The monster should stop laughing. Now.
She leans into him again and traces her fingers around his nipples.
“You’re very defensive,” she says. “Have you ever tried it?”
He freezes for a second then says,
“No, I’ve never tried it.”
Sometimes we play a game. What if I were the monster and the monster was nice? Then I get tired and slash the monster’s chest. Monsters cannot be nice. It understands that. It says it was just a game. Monsters can be whiny.
He turns her face up to his and kisses her. They kiss deeper and deeper, and then she moves over to sit on top of him. He unhooks her bra and pulls the straps down over her shoulders. He then kisses her breasts.
Let me count the ways. There is the slow way. Then there is the even slower way. And the slowest way. No, I lied. There is only a knife and my infinite boredom.
“Do you want to know what I think?” She says.
“Mmmmmm,” he answers, still kissing her body.
She slides her hand behind the pillows in a stretchy motion.
“I think you’re lying,” she says. “I think you have tried it, but just don’t want to tell me.”
I once thought the monster was me. But I didn’t have the skin on my back carved off with a chisel. That’s how I knew—silly me.
He stops and looks up at her.
“No. What?” He says, “Why would I do that?”
“Because you’re a liar,” she says and cuts him across the left arm with a razor blade.
One day the monster asked me why. That made me smile. It knew why.
“What the fuck!” He yells and pushes her away. He grabs his arm with the opposite hand, warm blood pulsing through the fingers like ruby red gravy, and shoots her a stare of disbelief. She cuts him again from the shoulder, over the fingers holding the arm, and down to his elbow. Blood soaks the pillows and sheets.
“What the hell are you doing?” He yells even louder.
She slashes him across the mouth. He passes out.
The monster talks to me all the time. It has its own words. It screams at the top of its lungs to be happy. That is when I cut its lips. Screaming is not for monsters.
She places the razor blade on his nightstand and climbs down from the bed as she hooks her bra again. She then walks around to find some black plastic strips in her bag and crawls back onto the bed, sits on her heels, and ties first his hands and then his feet together. She finds the velvet pouch behind the pillows and takes out a spring knife that she places next to her right thigh. After that, she leans over and slaps him on the side of the face.
There is no way to get blood out of satin sheets. Trust me; I have tried. There are many ways to get blood out of the monster. Trust me; I have tried.
“You awake?” She asks. “I want to tell you a story.”
His eyes go wide open. He tries to say something but can’t because his lips are gaping wounds.
“You have to be quiet,” she says and opens the knife with a touch of her thumb.
He whimpers from his throat.
“Don’t interrupt me,” she says.
The monster wants to run. It wants to run and run and run. But that is what bunnies do. Monsters cannot be bunnies. Monsters are only monsters.
“There once was a princess,” she says, “who was very afraid of monsters. Of everything in the world that could hurt her, spindles, poisonous apples, or glass slippers, she was most afraid of monsters.”
He is about to choke on the blood in his mouth and ends up coughing it up on her.
The monster likes me. It shows me by coughing its blood on me. That makes me upset. I have to cut off its ear not to be upset anymore. The monster has to listen.
“You done?” she says and wipes her face. “Well, the princess met what she thought was a prince, but it was really a monster. They fell in love, and the monster started harming the princess because that is what monsters like to do. The monster cut her with a knife, and the princess said it hurt, but the monster said she was wrong and stupid for not getting it.”
The monster demands I cut it. I oblige. Not because I have to. Because the monster has to. We are very different. We are exactly the same. Only the monster is a monster.
She cuts him across the thigh, and he contracts his whole body and slumps toward her. She sighs and moves a little bit backward.
“The monster burned her with a soldering gun, and the princess cried in pain, but the monster said she should pull herself together and not be a pussy.”
She sticks the knife into the side of his other thigh and twists it around. His eyes roll to the back of his head and away from consciousness.
“Hey!” She snaps at him and twists the knife again.
His eyes open in shock.
We’ve been practicing. Hello, my name is monster, and I am a monster. That’s how far it got. That’s how far it will ever get with that attitude—shame on you, monster.
“The monster electrocuted her with wires attached to her princess parts, and she screamed and convulsed until she was dead. And when the monster was arrested, it said that the princess had asked for it, and they let it go. The monster felt a teeny-tiny bit bad and kept justifying itself. Therefore the monster became a famous shrink so it could make pathetic studies about other monsters who were just as sick and disgusting to claim that it was actually pretty normal.”
She accentuates the syllables of the last three words with small cuts on his right arm. He winces with each cut.
How does it end? I don’t know. I’m just in it for the ride. The monster is in it for the love and broken-bottle surgery. I am not hopeful, and I whistle while I work.
“What the monster didn’t know was that the princess had a sister. And the sister found the monster and got hired as its assistant so she could get revenge. If only the monster hadn’t been so stupid and lame.”
She notices he has passed out again and pokes him in the chest with the tip of the knife.
“Hey, monster, my eyes are up here!” She calls to his face but gets no reaction.
Don’t leave me, the monster gargles in blood. Don’t make me leave you, I carve in its ribs. Do I need it anymore? Need is such a small word.
“Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway,” she says and turns to the right to stretch out her legs. While she talks, she opens and closes the knife over and over.
“The sister wanted to scare the monster first. So she picked off other monsters. It was as easy as dissolving bodies in lye, and every time she skinned another one, she sent the monster a newspaper clipping about it. But the monster was too self-absorbed to notice. It didn’t even catch on when she fucked it. So then she just killed it. The end.”
She opens the knife one last time and plunges it into his heart.
The monster was always a monster. Just as I was always me. In the beginning, we pretended to be real. We never were. The monster wants to be sad about it. It wants to cry about it. That is why I have to stab it until it shuts up. Monsters cannot be people.
THE TIMES, Print Edition, January 30, 2021, Page A1
Dr. Matthew Aunster, Psychiatrist, Dies at 44
By R. E. Porter
January 30, 2021
Dr. Matthew Aunster, the acclaimed psychiatrist, was found dead in a hotel in Everyville, E.S., on Saturday morning. He was 44.
Dr. Aunster was found dead in his room at 9:05 a.m., the authorities said. The cause of death is expected to be the stab wounds Dr. Aunster had sustained throughout his body. Due to the nature of the injuries, the authorities suspect foul play.
Lieutenant Ross Markham, a spokesman for the Everyville Police Department, said that emergency workers and the police responded to a 911 call from security at the Ritz Carlton Hotel at 8:53 a.m., saying that Dr. Aunster was injured and unconscious on the bed of his sixth-floor room.
Also present in the room was Dr. Aunster’s assistant and alleged girlfriend, Penelope Wyse. According to Lt. Markham, Ms. Wyse was sitting on the bed next to Dr. Aunster reading a magazine. Ms. Wyse was immediately taken into custody as a suspect.
Dr. Aunster was distinguished for his extensive research into the field of ritualistic harming, which he sought to normalize. He was currently conducting a study of a group calling themselves the Pain Transcenders, which experiments with mutilation as a means of achieving sexual pleasure.
In 2015, Dr. Aunster was convicted of involuntary manslaughter of his then-fiancé, Mida Andro, after a tryst gone wrong. His sentence was suspended.
Dr. Matthew Aunster leaves no survivors.