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THE SHAWCROSS LETTERS

My Journey Into The Mind Of Evil



JOHN PAUL FAY

BRIAN WHITNEY




WILDBLUE PRESS

https://wildbluepress.com


THE SHAWCROSS LETTERS published by:


WILDBLUE PRESS

P.O. Box 102440

Denver, Colorado 80250


Publisher Disclaimer: Any opinions, statements of fact or fiction, descriptions, dialogue, and citations found in this book were provided by the author, and are solely those of the author. The publisher makes no claim as to their veracity or accuracy, and assumes no liability for the content.


Copyright 2018 by John Paul Fay and Brian Whitney


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

WILDBLUE PRESS is registered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices.


ISBN 978-1-947290-39-6 Trade Paperback

ISBN 978-1-947290-38-9 eBook


Interior Formatting/Book Cover Design by Elijah Toten

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Table of Contents

Introduction


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


Afterword


Introduction

What you are about to read is, in part, the story of Arthur Shawcross, one of the world’s most prolific and brutal serial killers, told by himself through his own letters to his friend, John Paul Fay. Shawcross, who is also known as “The Genesee River Killer,” was officially found responsible for the murders of twelve women in upstate New York from 1988 to 1990. His own words in this book insinuate that he may have been responsible for more killings that that. This series of murders was not the first time that he killed. In 1972, he confessed to the sexual assault and murders of two children. Shawcross is also known to have dabbled in cannibalism. This book is not the story of the crimes committed by Shawcross, nor is it a history of his life. Instead, it offers an extremely rare glimpse into the mind of a sadistic killer.

This book is also the story of John Paul Fay. John is a rather interesting man, a small-time dealer in murderabilia, a collector of shrunken heads, and the would-be biographer of Shawcross. Mr. Fay is an incredibly talented writer and a very brave one as well. He is also afflicted with many of the same types of urges and fantasies that led Shawcross to become a brutal murderer.

Why do some among us have thoughts involving ideas and fantasies that are so harmful to themselves and society? And then, why do some people act on those fantasies without remorse while others keep them locked inside forever? While Shawcross was a serial killer, Fay never killed anyone. If he had, this would be a much different book.

I probably don’t have to tell you at this point that this book will be difficult to read for some. The thoughts that both Shawcross and Fay put forth in this book will be extremely distasteful, in varying degrees, to many. While many books of this ilk are sort of in the “I became friends with a serial killer and it was so bizarre” category, what makes this unique is that Fay’s story is more of the “I became friends with a serial killer and it sure was nice to finally be able to be myself around someone” type.

This book will make you uncomfortable and it will make you angry, and possibly even a bit afraid. It will also make you think. It is easy to be frightened of those around us who have dark and deviant thoughts, it is much more difficult to meet these people head on, look them in the eye, and try to understand them. There is much more light in the world than darkness, but still, darkness is all around us. Pretending it doesn’t exist simply does not work.

We as a society live in fear of those around us, like Shawcross, who could hurt us, and well we should, but what of the people that are still salvageable, those that have deviant fantasies, but haven’t crossed the line? Do we cast them out because they are “different” or “sick,” or do we try and reach out to them and try to understand them and offer them kindness? If someone had done this with Shawcross many years ago, would he have still committed his brutal crimes? It is important as one reads this book to remember that Shawcross was an awful person, who murdered numerous people, destroyed families, and terrified communities. This book is not meant to glorify his actions nor disrespect anyone he has hurt in any way, either directly or indirectly.

What this book is meant to do is to give you a look into the mind of a serial killer who did some incredibly horrible things. It is also a rare opportunity to hear, concurrently, from someone who has desired to do similar things, but has chosen not to.

It is important to note that the letters of Shawcross have not been edited. Some of his letters are dated by him, some are not. Words that he spells incorrectly have not been changed. He goes through lists of victims in more than one letter. At times things he writes are confusing. All of this has been left intact to preserve authenticity, as it is important for the reader to know that all of the content of his letters is exactly how he wrote it.

Speaking of authenticity, Shawcross wrote two letters to Fay that are printed in this book where he falsely claimed to have written certain poems. One of these he called Twisted, which in reality is a common nonsense poem of unknown origin, the other he called Love which in actuality is 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 from the Bible. And what of John Paul Fay? Why would he write a book of this nature? Well, in part, it is because he wants to make money to buy shrunken heads, but there are much deeper reasons, ones that he can speak to much better than I ever could.

Of this, Fay writes:

Whether it’s a mysterious malady of my synapses or a misalignment somewhere in my soul, then I will take the exposure and try to be the voice of our breed whom I affectionately refer to as the Strangelings. Glorifying, romanticizing, or encouraging any of the madness is not the intention herein. Rather it is to use this medium as a kind of literary exorcism. Just a love letter of support to let the afflicted know that they are not alone. Obviously, the social repercussions of discussing these things without an especially selective screening process could be irreparably devastating. Someone, however, should speak for the exotically deranged, the men and women of aberration.

Because really, your wife would rather not hear about how lovely you think her head would look on your nightstand. Nor would your best friend titter joyously over how “wonderful” you note it might be having his mummified hands as bookends for your collection of vintage porn. Difficult propositions in polite society, and borderline illegal, perhaps. And indeed, best of luck with the mental health teams folding in on themselves and going into withdrawals if they don‘t have you committed by breakfast.

First rule for living insane: Do not give them an excuse! Come up with more self-constructive ways of dealing with these…challenges. Restraining orders, jails, psych wards, four and five-point restraints, continuous Section 12 & 35 commitments, and rumors of commitments and social isolation. Frustration that feels like meth-amped carpenter ants under your skin; frantically scraping caked blood off your face (originating from who knows where) on the morning of a court appearance eventually loses its luster. Eventually, but not immediately.

Of course, my own policy is “SEE NOTHING, SAY NOTHING,” but this addressing of the affliction is an unusual exception. For one, I’ve specifically designed my life so that I’m not bothered by the concerns it seems to me everyone else is, such as standard family lives, friends, career, a fully-realized conscience, and, well, sleep; and two, using this tact, as a writer and reporter from the sludge, means I have certain license whereby the unusual will be expected of me. Aside from that, I’m in a uniquely strange position to have bonded with a hellion something-or-other that, with the routine lust of demons, basically consumed me. Indeed, I, both the Venus Fly Trap and the fly.

Whether it’s a hex--or even, in some sense, a virtue--I’ll take whatever socially damaging hits that may come to be a kind of inside out spokesperson for the derailed, deranged, despicable, disregarded, and discontent. But if this is damnation--if all of us are well within the borders of Hell, biding our time until our judgment (or stray-shot chance beneficence) --we’re probably collectively screwed anyway. Still, it’s helpful to know you’re not appallingly alone. I’ll be here, dead or alive.


Enjoy the book.




A Dedication of Eternal Gratitude: For the angels of tattered wings and wicked things.

The ones who brokered “the Deal.” --JPF


Chapter One

HOW TO SELL YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL
(AND LIVE JUST LONG ENOUGH TO TELL ABOUT IT)

When God died, the world went berserk.

As a directly connected note and, perhaps, a warning before proceeding, the almost familial relationship I had with Arthur Shawcross, one of history’s most terrifying serial killers and admitted (often, boastfully so) cannibals, was a decidedly unholy one.

My relationship to Arthur Shawcross was the closest to a wholesome relationship I’ve yet had. It has continued to be so. Of course, let it be noted, “wholesome” is a relative designation, as I don’t abide the concept of human relationships the way an average individual does.

Not only did I swan dive into the rabbit wormhole, I demolished the only way in or out. Through either willful incompetence, or concentrated free will and accord, to open a vein to attempt an under-the-radar flight from the profanity of a monochrome existence, I made it a preposterous impossibility to reverse course. Whatever, I’m here now, just swinging at the ball as it comes.

The grit.

The grime, the slime, the crime, and the grim, seductive sublime.

The night-washed alleys and sleepily-lit hallways where the dreary, weary, and shady ride out a nod, disguised by their own layer cakes of filth, one get-well-soon spike or dope-sick robbery from overdose or a life sentence.

The backrooms, basements, bunkers, and burnout bachelor pads quietly hiding odd little men who own one too many axes. The secret places unobtrusively blending into the background just out of sight, out of mind.

This is where I live; this is what I live for.

I was playing peek-a-boo with the Devil long before I began my tumbles, fumbles, and stumbles through the brambles of Wonderland and the eerily precarious shores of the abyss led me to Shawcross. Or, perhaps Shawcross, the proudly self-appointed “mutant,” was led to me. After all, he reached out to me first.

I’m not entirely certain what this says about my character, but I could never have dreamed how important a figure, at a deeply personal level, Arthur Shawcross was about to become for me. It went well beyond our business arrangements and book agreement. I became dependent on his presence to validate my own minefield of a mind, which was already uniquely primed and wired as unspecified bipolar with antisocial traits. According to a myriad of rather unfortunate psychiatrists I have seen, I am also afflicted with PTSD, OCD, and, occasionally, a psychotic episode to keep people around me on their toes.

There’s no denying that inside of me, as my own descent into a Hell-spun lunacy was just getting underway, Shawcross grew roots, integrating into my life as a surreal, symbiotic, perversion of the surrogate father-son dynamic.

Shawcross was the quintessential enabler, a recurring echo goading me into more and more misadventurous indulgences of my tendencies for exorbitantly bizarre behaviors, an ever-present voice interwoven into the hallucinatory soundtrack of my life, founded on the fallen, twisted trees of a ceaselessly treacherous forest.

One or two sharp, brief breaths of counsel here. Don’t play with black magic, demons, or, indeed, the Devil Himself, unless you want what you’re calling. In other words, do be careful what you wish for. Be dedicated or just be dead. And if you’re insane, don’t take said insanity lightly. Though, it can, and does, keep life engaging.

Whether ritual magic brings madness or madness leads one to find such things appealing in the first place, I couldn’t aptly uncover. In either case, I have my suspicions that Shawcross might have been the ultimate embodiment of my blindly pursuing the darkest of occult sciences, arts, and necromancy, dredging devils from the Pit just to keep me company.

The same reason that I chose, in my drunken hazes, to keep certain friends around for longer than maybe they’d intended. Although the law calls it “false imprisonment,” it was real enough for all involved. Certain key details might not be recalled entirely due to chronic alcoholic blackouts, but some graciously administered prescription sleeping medication somehow being mixed into drinks and guests coming out of deep, deep rest the next day or two later, shackled to their bed, may possibly have been an odd phase I went through. No allegations have been made, so this might all be strange delusion. What I can recount clearly was that I was a captive of myself as well, cuffing and shackling my own hands and feet many times over, long before my actual arrests, to get acclimated to moving about with such restrictions. A self-fulfilling prophecy, I suppose. Certainly, I didn’t help it not to happen.

When I was ten, my parents pulled their worst off-balancing act up to that point, separated and shuffled their children to any family members who would take us out of pity more than graciousness, establishing us as what my maternal grandmother called “latchkey kids.” I felt lost, needing connection to something, someone, anything, anyone. Auntie Lorraine, my father’s sister who assumed the role of unofficial surrogate mother, used to take me out for daytrips into witch territory Salem and occasionally treated me to lunch with the witches (I met world-renowned witch Laurie Cabot once at one of those lunches and she very respectfully advised me on a dream potion I’d wanted to try), palm and tarot card readings, life-altering Ouija board sessions, and bought me an elaborate library of books on occult magic and Satanic sciences. My intrigue with the practice of magic took hold of me the way that hard drugs would later. For certain, it was addicting, but it kept a lonely boy busy. My occupation was self-destruction right from the beginning.

Digesting each book, I was especially drawn to the revelation that one could call entities over from wherever they resided. In my reeling desolation, with such an emotionally confused barrier between myself and most everyone else, I thought of it as a friend-on-demand (or more realistically, demon-on-demand). It was hope for something different, something better. My life from the beginning had been a daily carpet bombing of behind-closed-doors abuse and dread, so there really wasn’t much to lose.

Experimenting with spells seemed like something over which I could have relative control. It was only the clueless summoning of a randomly chosen demon from a book of black magic incantations, invocations, evocations, provocations, irritations, and optional mutilations. The book was a no-special-occasion gift from Auntie Lorraine, who my parents took full advantage of as far as dumping their children onto, as my “mother” had only had her three children for cosmetic purposes, a sick façade of normalcy, and a pathological need for attention. In the moment, as a child playing with devils beckoning just where Earth and Hell converged, while other children wrapped themselves up in what I considered the most mundane and bloodless of activities, I thought I’d not performed the ritual correctly, or that it simply didn’t work.

Much later, I agonized over whether I engaged in an invocation rather than an evocation, or some magical mash-up symbiosis of spells. The summation of said summoning, an invocation is inviting a spirit or demon/jinn into yourself, an evocation is calling these forces outside of yourself at a relatively safe distance. Decades later, emptying bottle after bottle of rum, chasing nearly every mind-altering alchemical substance known to humankind, I wondered if maybe I had not failed at summoning something after all. Particularly, on cocaine I tend to do a lot of wondering aloud. And, may the late-to-the-party Lord help me, I have a racecar-in-the-red proclivity for other radically morbid musings of possibly interdimensional proportions. But it doesn’t become overtly dangerous until I remember where I hid the knives. Of course, crazy saves me.

My curiosity came from a deadly serious place. It wasn’t only the possibility of having brought an incarnate demon, in the form of Arthur Shawcross, into my life, but some intangible, churning fog rolling with a speed of driven determination, of the most exotic tint of the macabre into myself.

For the uninitiated, the otherwise profane, and those not well rooted to the Underbelly--where even the air is not for the faint of heart: when the wolves are at your door, it’s best not to answer. You can’t tease demons, who command full-bore commitment. The Devil won’t slip a ring around your finger but around your neck. And these forces from well over the rainbow will drag you through the mud like a dumbfounded dog if you’re not mindful and always respectful. Candidly speaking then, DO NOT do what I did. Not only did I answer the door, I invited the Beast in with the morbid giddiness of some mad occult scientist. Though, this seemed to be my nature anyway, however unnatural it may be.

Looking back now, that first piece of mail from the Sullivan Correctional Facility was a slow-motion spark heading into a sea of gasoline and dynamite.

6-25-00

Mr. John Fay,

Are you by any chance known by the handle, SAWMAN?

Sometimes I examine who is who on the market. I’ve quite a list of buyers and sellers. The sellers I stop writing to! That is if the sell my letters to others!

I am leery of who I write to in the mail.

Do you know a Melissa from Ripon, CA? I’ve a few photos of her. I can say MUCH on that one.

Let’s talk for a while truthful to each other.

A.J.S.

Another rule to pay mind to: NEVER take a human skull to a job interview with you. That being noted, it was during the “Golden Age” of eBay. For me at least, but I was bootlegging every imaginable genre of film and auctioning sideshow curios and gaffs including the perennially popular shrunken heads, back when any perfectly sane enterprising capitalist could auction the artifacts of murderers (aka Murderabilia).

For someone like me, who was not all that employable, mainly because of my penchant for trying to strangle bosses, this was a respectable supplemental income. I managed to get my hands on several pieces of Shawcross’s artwork (some meticulous 8” x 10” pencil drawings of birds) in a quite amusing trade with a fellow eBayer. She was a female fan of Shawcross and other serial killers throughout the country. I’d traded her a number of homemade video compilations of serial killer interviews, documentaries, and news footage, which I had put together. This kind of subject matter is, as I empirically observed, far more popular than a society of people wearing masks of normalcy might want to know, admit, or admit to knowing.

Financially, it was sensible and sound to auction the drawings of Shawcross’ blue jays, cardinals, and seagulls in flight. I figured I would just wait and see whose attention might be piqued, confident that there were other collectors into these unusual acquisitions; people whom let their personas down in the privacy of their hideaways from the world as they tentatively trawled the depths for brushes with evil at a safe distance.

That strange day in June of 2000, when I discovered the unexpected letter from Arthur Shawcross, was, as usual, a grindingly lonely one. Living alongside a shattered and scattered family, it made no difference. We were never on eye-to-eye terms and it’s still impossible to imagine how I share blood with such a deranged example of humanity. Taken completely by surprise, after hesitating for half an hour or thereabouts before opening the mail, I had the distinctly alarming feeling that I might be in some kind of trouble. Like the time I was apprehended shoplifting, finally, at one of the nearby malls when I was fifteen. Wrestling ferociously with five security guards, I was eventually half carried and dragged into the department store’s tight quarters of a security room. I’d been sloppy that day.

This began with the first mistake of taking my cousin Raymond instead of my usual partner-in-grime Mike, which makes for really bad luck. Apparently, it poisons the dynamic to break that connection. That had been the first apprehension I had the pleasure to experience. What this store essentially did was to extort me for two-hundred-fifty dollars rather than prosecute. So, my first actual arrest wouldn’t happen for another twenty-one years, despite many police detainments, interactions, and escorts with ambulances to one hospital or another. With any situation such as this, though, one has an uneasy sense of having the cloak torn off and suddenly realizing how visible you actually are.

As for Shawcross, I worried that I hit an unfortunate nerve with this convicted serial killing cannibal. I also was moderately apprehensive about his having my home address.

A year or two later, chances are I would’ve taken a blackout cocktail before reading the ice-breaking letter. As it was, I was sober as a judge is supposed to be in most modern American courtrooms, my mind sparking with apprehension, excitement, and, curiously enough, the faint hope that I’d found a new friend off the beaten path.

My policy being to keep as much to myself as was possible, I said nothing about the letter to anybody. It was none of their business. As my divorced parents, who, through some abortion of logic, were still residing in the same ass-backward household, going about their daily scenarios of monotony (my dad continued to stalk my mother even after their divorce, despite sharing the same house), and my two younger sisters impetuously pursued their strapped-for-intelligence boy toys of the month, I went ahead and opened the note. Peeling the envelope, there was a sudden concussive shock that slammed my senses. It was like some innate understanding that I had just then broken the seal on a portal into a deathly pale landscape which should not have been breached and certainly never explored. It was an expression of destiny as tailored in Hell, rising ominously as a duo of the damned and doomed.

Something I have stringently kept to myself was that my usually deadened instinct for brotherhood was buoyed to the surface by Shawcross. It was validation from the pinnacle of we, the soldiers of the macabre; a stamp of approval by one of the world’s most unrepentant cannibal compatriots. Could I really have shared that with anyone of sepia-tone sensibilities with the vapid values of a plate of bacon and eggs? Dr. D, my psychiatrist, was already itching to bury me even before things really got out of control. She was a quirky doctor of psychiatry indeed, a straitjacket framed above her desk.

Not that I hadn’t recognized it as an especially delicate situation. After all, I was dealing with an openly evil man whose skeletons were so out of the closet that they were re-inventing the cemetery business, handed down a two-hundred-fifty-year bid for a pastime I’d only been experiencing as phantasms, internally toying with for eight or so years at the time, as astounding and frightening in its implications as that is. What mostly concerned me was the prospect of Shawcross being unreasonably challenging. All the other male figures and ass-sideways “role models” in my shit-com of a life certainly were. Exceedingly brutal and mean-spirited men, every one of them. Of course, Shawcross wouldn’t be entirely different with his own brand of brutality and intolerance, even toward me on occasion (especially near the end). But we had something in common that I characterize as the “affliction.”

How in the arcane name of the devil-headed god Jahbulon of Babylon would I, or could I, respond? Play our words backwards and you’ll understand that grim minds think alike, no matter what we try to say in the mundane world to diminish who we really are. I realized later that I only worried because of that often-crippling lack of self-confidence that stays on me like a perpetually wet blanket, sewn to my soul and not quite locking on to who and what I actually am. I believe that I was groomed for this sinister season, which has really been the only thing in my life I’ve carried a passion for that was never exhausting to me. The only thing that doesn’t feel like work to love. After all, lovers quite literally come and go, whether through boredom or death, but the pursuit of subterfuge sin just doesn’t seem to grow old. And it certainly won’t die.

I became increasingly indignant as I processed the letter’s contents, and lamented that even a habitually murdering maniac wasn’t quite catching onto the gist of where I was coming from. A horrible and horrific disconnect, I felt. I did realize how careful I had to be and not write back with a psychotic’s abandon. My rants have ruined me for long-term friendships before. So then, I took the path of indignation but ever so delicately. The intentions were to clear up what I believed was a misalignment of communication. If I wanted anyone to understand me, it was Arthur Shawcross. The two of us were companion madmen of the Outskirts; a netherworld director’s cut of society, which I had no inclinations of departing anytime soon. As Shawcross had crossed precipices I had yet to, there was something morbidly spellbinding about him. Dare I admit, it felt like an almost inside-out romance. We weren’t necessarily on the same page and wouldn’t always agree on everything, or ever have perfectly matching personalities, but we were at least on the same bookshelf. An odd camaraderie, I’m the first to confess. These psychedelic shades of gray were never an easy topic to cover with the uninitiated. Not that I wish it on anyone; it skins the spirit bare.

At the beginning of it all, I pitched Shawcross a business arrangement. If he were amenable, wonderful! If not, I’d either get a response spattered with a serial killing cannibal’s strain of hate or just never hear from the Genesee River Killer again. Either way, I was a battered lifetime veteran of bad starts and unhappy endings, so what would be the loss? Still, there was hope, muddied and bloodied as it was.

7/6/00

MR. FAY,

What was the drawing of mine that you sold? What did you sell the item for? I can use a money order -- only if it does not put you out! May I ask who bought said item? Can you send addresses of people who are collectors?

Where might you be moving to? Now that you have parted with one item of mine, here are two more to help you on your way, Mr. Sawman. Some handle you have there! It was the handle, Sawman, that got my attention.

I have used a MACHETE on a few…Head come right off! Vietnam will do that to you! 

Mr. Fay, I hear about letters being sold all the time. The people who do that I generally leave alone. I dislike writing to someone and have them sell a letter because I have said things that are not cool for the eyes of others!

Wish I was in Boston again. Last time I was there. I was a teenager. 

Melissa of California, I’d like to rattle her bones a few times for real... she would not be the same afterward. HAHA 

Mr. Fay, you now have her photos. Do as you wish with them.

Stay cool.

Later,

Arthur S.


Chapter Two

DEATH BUBBLES OVER

My emotional baseline, to which I was in agreement with the program coordinator of the court-stipulated intensive outpatient program for addiction and other outlandish mental disorders, was “depressed, miserable, and unusually dark.” Schizotypal was among the designated diagnoses that the coordinator gave me, gleaned from the revered DSM-5. Still it was only one facet. Whatever this thing is, it rides hard under the façade. Suffice to state, it doesn’t take much to push me past my limits, maybe only an unfortunately timed nudge. However, some of the criteria does have to be taken with a grain of salt. The mental health field tends to overlook anything of a spiritual nature when it comes to diagnosing someone of my ilk, except to classify anyone adhering to such uncanny ideas as being a delusional, magical-thinking psychotic voted “Most Likely to Butcher Every Living Thing.”

I did manage to roll past the initial mental tumult and torment of feeling that I’d somehow been slighted by Shawcross, coming up with an approach that might be my entree into ingratiating myself and getting on my fellow cannibal’s “good side,” whatever that translated to. For fuck’s sake, everyone else in my life had a gross deficit in their interpretations of my personality and a line does have to be drawn somewhere. If only I could make Shawcross aware of my own monster, it might be the start of…something. I wasn’t just an opportunist, civilian auctioneer exploiting everything and everyone I could for some bottom-of-the-barrel monetary scrapings. Come on, I’m practically one of you! Still, I knew that it would be in my best interests to go about this with a fragile sensibility, as I also didn’t care to spook or turn him off. First, I needed to smooth things over. Then I’d go from there, to wherever that express elevator down led. As with anything else, it was a process of increments. And besides, I couldn’t pencil in a war with a serial killer into my already erratic schedule of trying to figure out how to sleep on jobs where the neurotic, nitpicking bosses had the abhorrent expectations for me to go a full eight hours without a nap.

Agitated at first, I was on the verge of writing, “Dear Mr. Shawcross, How is my favorite lunatic today?” Instead, I opted to soldier on and painstakingly crafted my reply with obsessive neurosis to make literally every syllable as near to perfect as possible. I was sincere in the expression of my disappointment in Shawcross, his believing that I might cheat him. That just wasn’t me. I hustled corporations, not people. Considering it reasonably pragmatic and diplomatic enough, I appealed to the universal love of money. I began pitching my unconventional acquaintance and possible acquisition what might be a financially sound proposal, which was that Shawcross could finagle some more drawings and we could then do a 50/50 split on the auctions’ proceeds. It was the shot of a starter pistol to what happens when a pair of cartoonish, cataclysmic characters of undetermined origins crosses paths and never quite leaves each other’s side again.

By his second letter, Shawcross seemed to have relaxed, evidently realizing that I wasn‘t a threat to him, and I noticed that he was gradually less formal. The first letter, signed “A.J.S.,” the second “Arthur S.,” and by the third, we’d made it to “Art.” And he wasn’t treating me as a trespassing pirate anymore, which was a real relief. Whatever I’d written had evidently worked. I was so miserably tired of alienating people, for one reason on top of another, that I made the conscious decision to nurture this relationship. My mother you could throw off the Empire State Building, but this was meaningful to me. Besides, it helped that Shawcross never openly regretted my birth as my mother had. Then again, I do welcome doom.

Further endearing him to me, he was my number one fan (even if in a Stephen King‘s “Misery” context) of the handle I’d used early in my eBay dealings: Sawman.

This was an organic choice based on a curious obsession for collecting, appropriately enough, saws of all kinds from throughout history. Aside from that, I’m a birth-to-death aficionado of horror and slasher movies, which I affectionately think of as “Gore Porn.”

Once, when nineteen or twenty-years-old, I was moved to purchase eight saws and several random blades at a local “mom & pop” hardware store for no real-world application except to flirt with the fantasies. Normally, I have a just-in-case story prepared if certain inquiries arise for anything that I’m doing which might be seen as out of the ordinary or just plain old fucking weeeeeird, but, immersed in the seducing glow that reoccurs with these afflictions, not this time. It quickly became apparent that the young man tending to the register was either trying to scrape together a conversation with me or deciding whether he should make the on-the-spot decision to call the police. No way to be sure really. I was all blank when the clerk asked what I was to do with “all those saws.” It wasn’t my best performance, as I mindlessly stammered on about some vague job my uncle was assigning me, a model cowboy town or something, which Uncle Jerry actually did build on occasion when he got bored with drunk-punching holes in the walls or stomping rats to death with his Old West-style cowboy boots.

I know that none of this would necessarily help my cause in something like a child custody battle, even getting a date to produce the child in the first place, or running for any ostensibly respectable political office. Though, that’s the reason I never had children and, to be honest, turn a blind eye to politics. Therefore, freeing me up to take on insanely self-destructive projects such as writing this personal vivisection of a book. Well, perhaps, self-destructive and a little self-loathing but not quite as self-incriminating. Certainly, I have barreled over the edge, rented out, and then finally sold my soul in other ways than Shawcross ended up doing. But, odd as it is even to me, I do have, at least according to probation officers and court records, those technically deemed as “victims”. The “victim” count, by the way, seems to go plural very quickly when you‘re on a roll and out of control. These people are, to my knowledge, alive (or, at least, they were when I last saw them), and each official case has been sorted out legally. Although the fact that my dresser drawer is now so crammed, as it has been for the last few years, with restraining and abuse prevention orders that I practically have to use a battering ram to close it may be disconcerting for some. But what miracle worker can please everyone (or even anyone)?

Hi John:

What’s doing out your way? Over here in this camp I am cold! I spent the day in my room trying to keep warm under the covers. I did go out in the rec room for an hour to speak to someone who is about to leave here for another place. He gave me some of his clothes. SIZE 3X LARGE, A brand new zippered sweater with hood, two sweatshirts that are like new and one HUGE TOWEL that I can use to wrap myself up in on the way to the shower. This man has been down 32 years! He is 67 years of age and stands 6’ 4” tall. He used to be a doctor way back when before he had been arrested for shooting his unfaithful wife of eleven months! In most any other country, he might have got off. But in America he got 32 years to life! In a Muslim country he would have spent no time in jail or prison!!!! Over there they don’t hold with a woman cheating on her husband! My co-worker is pissed at me for getting all his stuff. I don’t see why not as this guy does not know him at all except to say hi, that is all. This man is connected with art dealers on the outside, so I may expect someone to contact me in the next year. I hope so.

I have your letter somewhere in here but had misplaced it somehow. So I will tap one out without it in front of me. The ribbon in this machine I re-inked. Now it runs along quite well for me. I got a few Christmas cards in but these are the ones a man sends to a woman. Sorry, John, you can’t get one. hahahaha One of the rich men in here gave me a cigar that is worth $6.50 each! This guy is a millionaire many times over. I invited him to have Thanksgiving with us. He was very thankful for that as no one else did! But this guy didn’t put any effort into getting in anything either! Cheap in a way! He left yesterday for the streets. I may or may not hear from him again. Who can say? I take a person at his word and if he says he will do something for me I expect him to do it and come back with no bullshit! Some guys I don’t put much thought into. One man just came in two days before Thanksgiving and I asked him to eat with us. He was very thankful. He knew my name anyway. He said every inmate up North knows who I am. Must be nice to be famous--or is it INFAMOUS? Whichever… What gets me is that I hear from people who tell me they hear about my cooking way up there! It seems that word of mouth travels fast in the system! I can say that I prepared a feast for Thanksgiving Day evening.

My menu for this year: HONEY-ROASTED CHICKENS, MASHED POTATOES, STUFFING, SWEET POTATOES, SWEET PEAS, MIXED VEGETABLES, CRANBERRY SAUCE AND BERRIES, RICE WITH OCTOPUS & SHRIMP, RICE WITH BLACK BEANS AND PEPPERS, RICE W/BLACK EYE PEAS/HOT PEPPERS, BLUEBERRY PIE (1 large), CHERRY PIE (1 regular), STRAWBERRY PIE (1 regular), CHOCOLATE PIE (4 regular), RASPBERRY PIE (1 large), RICE KRISPIE CAKES (50 pieces), PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE (1 large), PEPPERMINT CHEESECAKE (1 large), FRUITED JELL-O--STRAWBERRY FLAVOR (2 large), CHOCOLATE CAKE (4 regular), PUMPKIN CAKE (4 six inch), MAPLE CAKE (2 six inch), WHITE CAKE (1 six inch), CRANBERRY PIE (4 six inch), BBQ POTATO CHIPS (5 bags), SOUR CREAM POTATO CHIPS (5 bags), PARTY MIX (10 bags), ONION DIPS (2 containers), HOT SPICY DIPS (1 large container), BEAN DIP (1 regular container), ASSORTED SODAS (50 sodas)

Now, how does that sound to you John?

Let me tell you John, I am stuffed for sure. For the past few days I am taking it easy. Light meals. Mostly I will eat a good breakfast and skip the rest of the day. Well now, my radio decided to play again! I had it under the bed for a while. COUNT TIME AT 4:41PM. About time for supper too. I am listening to the news as I am typing. A female sergeant just came in wiggling her ass as she walks. A LESBIAN! She has 22 years in the system and has three to go before retiring and living out her pussy licked mouth. hahahaha She is pissed off at the old man, the one that is leaving. He got her into trouble for not making her rounds in the Law Library after 6PM. Now she is there first thing after 6pm but not when the inmates are there. She got written up again just for that reason. She tried to get several inmates to say this man was asking questions on security. When it got back to the man he in turn asked that the Sergeant produce her witnesses. She refused. Security wrote her up. One more and she is gone from here! But I informed this man to sit with me at 9PM and wait for this woman to show up on her rounds of this unit at that time.

I am eating my supper of rice with mixed vegetables and steamed hamburger meat. Looks like PUPPY CHOW! It’s what I get on a diet. I dumped it as I am not hungry. I’ll make a cup of hot cocoa instead.

Did you hear about the Cajun country’s MOST WANTED RODENT? It is the Nutria. It has overrun Louisiana’s coastline and is eating all the vegetation and the soil is going into the Gulf! So there is a bounty of $4.00 per tail. Wish I was out there and caught a bunch of them. They are good eating as well and taste like rabbit. Haha MARSH RABBIT that is. They range in weight between 10 to 22 lbs. That is a LOT of rodent! ONE BIG RAT!!! Another thing I didn’t know of is the Daddy long Legs does not spin a web. They are NOT a spider! They sure look like one to me! Haha A BROWN RECLUSE looks like a Daddy Long Legs except that they have two sections to their body and the Long Legs do not.

How much snow have you gotten over your way? Tell me John, have you heard from Maria? I have not in quite a while! They come and they go without ever saying goodbye!

There is trouble brewing in this unit between the smaller guys and some bullies! It keeps on and one of the bullies is going to get stabbed or have his throat cut!

I have three women to write overseas. One in Austria, England, and Norway. Which one should I indulge first John? They are all Plain Janes but better and better. Right now I have ten active women writing to me. I lost quite a few of them for one reason or another. But new ones are always popping up.

The temperature is going down into the teens tonight. With a serious wind chill factor. Bad to be out tonight without proper clothing for sure. Get with someone and keep warm…

My book of choice this evening is WINTER MOON BY DEAN KOONTZ. I’ve read most of his books but missed this one.

Time to shut down and turn down the lights. Be good John or be good at it.

TAKE IT EASY BUT IF IT IS THAT EASY TAKE IT TWICE! hahaha

LATER PAL

ART


“Mr. Fay, you now have her photos. Do as you wish with them.”

A curious thing to write, certainly, and I did have a fair enough idea of what my new friend Shawcross was suggesting. It was the strangest of feeling-out process between the two of us. The man was hinting that I should…maybe find and make this woman, apparently having annoyed or offended him, disappear. At least, it wasn’t an order, only a vague suggestion. Like a “Dear Santa/Satan” wish list of sorts. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered either way. Even if I were inclined to track this woman down, I didn’t have the funding to begin going on murder trips around our otherwise lovely United States. The matter was never pressed, I was grateful, but it was something permanently branded into the background, officially putting our relationship at the far end of the deadly serious spectrum for hardcore hyper-drive, four-point-restraint dangerously weird. Part of me couldn’t help but to fall in love with the guy for the subtle wickedness in his suggestions.

Though, I took it all in stride and decided to go with the flow (and don‘t ask what was flowing--every answer is a bad one). What else could I do? Having invited demons into my life when I was ten years old, this was what I ended up with. You get what you pay for.

As a dubiously funny note about selling or compromising one’s soul is how addictive it can be, once you realize how effective and pragmatic a solution it really is. Then, pretty soon, you find yourself offering whatever is left of your soul just to find your house keys (which, incidentally, is the fasted way to find them if you happen to be in a hurry, even if you will burn in Hell for it later).

It’s so raw and absolute in its purity of power, flooding the mind and spirit. It’s irresistible. A unity with something so beyond yourself, something so sacred and untouched. Something not human at all. Spreading out past all horizons and preconceived ideas of limits, and comforting in its tranquilizing assurance that it has everything under control. And, above and beyond everything else relating to human consumption and collection, isn’t that the principal point: control?

Concepts of order. To bring calm out of the confusion and make the subject safe--whereby the one highlighted in the chaos of the crowd can’t ever be tainted again--by way of an inversion of birthing. The death knell closes doors for most but bursts doors open for others. The ones whose imagination has somehow deviated and become Deep Web material. The truly scary ones. Often, it presents as a whirling blackness that shuts everything else out. You can be walking in a hustling city of the autopilot people and hear nothing but the isolating wind of the gruesome desert in the eye of an ominous tempest, whispering its poetic recommendations for seizing controlling interests in an apocalyptic dynasty of horrors.

It’s a systematic divesting of humanity and emotional dissection by some methodically mad cosmic surgeon, leaving one, at best, with a very selective empathy and the rage of a ravenous mountain lion as your constant, clawing baseline. Through reptilian reasoning, sympathy and empathy are recognized as potential death sentences for the self. One may seek that mythical help, perhaps, but never say more than you talk yourself out of.

Since the age of fifteen and into my mid-twenties, like reels of film running by an internal wall of eyes, frozen in a permanent trance, intrusive but inexplicably welcome images of getting and keeping (mainly, keeping) the archetypes of the Goddess, the Cheerleader, the Princess (maybe even a good-looking nun added to the ingredient list to satisfy any Equal Rights hang-ups). It’s a twisting of the human affinity for collecting things. An oddly sentimental mind.

The Naval psychologist who mercifully deemed me unfit for the service was understandably treating me with kid gloves when I was in his presence. (“Are we feeling better now, Mr. Fay?”). With fresh bites temporarily disfiguring both arms, I sat by myself in his outer office lit gently with green lighting, uncertain of what the consequences of all of this would be, picturing a six-month lockdown in a military mental hospital. In the discharge papers, according to how I described it to the psychologist and my understandably dumbfounded drill instructors on Parris Island (summer of 1997), I had, for a long time, been quietly entertaining “Jeffrey Dahmer type fantasies.” Playing with occult magic as a boy, I might’ve inadvertently installed some kind of demon malware into my thinking; I never knew for certain where such thoughts came from. But they were there, all the time. My arms always seemed to get the brunt of things. I would later permanently scar my left arm with an especially expensive steak knife, having had occasional fits of self-mutilation when frustrated and drunk.

At the very least, I’m already predisposed to aberrant leanings and other addictive behaviors. The man who always stood out for me was an uncle, “Uncle Georgie,” as the family knew him. A notorious alcoholic and legendary neighborhood eccentric, he killed several Nazis in WWII and allowed himself certain liberties as people sometimes do in such situations. He removed the gold fillings, teeth, and jewelry, of the Nazis. Later, back home, he pawned the gold to raise cash for liquor.

It has occurred to me that I hadn’t been doing anything so different from George, insofar as ghoulish behaviors went. Although among family having been close with him, I was infinitely worse than him. If only I could have found some Nazis to enact my fantasies on.

There is such a great SCREAMING chasm between society and myself as the average person perceives it. As if I’m some thoroughly defiled and defiling architect of the ghastliest of ghettos obscured by permanent shadow. It toxically configures and disfigures an existence of never-ending, pervasively torturous anxiety, wickedly bizarre thinking, and fear of doing irreversibly evil things.

Hopeless, sad, desperate, destitute, and deranged at the height of my abandonment of hope, whom else could I have possibly found to take me in as a friend at the time? Who else would understand and wouldn’t judge but Arthur Shawcross?

A writer lives much of his life in self-imposed isolation as it is, but add to that the High Strangeness of murderous inclinations alongside a penchant for reducing human heads to roughly the dimensions of a grapefruit and problems do arise. Extreme agoraphobia and leanings toward a ghastly view of humanity have made the interactions I’ve experienced with people, shall I say, a uniquely tense experience. A good example of this is when I psychologically tormented and briefly stalked a delivery man with an unfortunate face whom I deemed annoying and suspiciously disrespectful which, in clearer retrospect, was probably my inflexible tendency to overthink everything. So, if you happen to be that delivery man reading this, sorry…my bad.

Surpassing that, past the gushing anxiety sweats, constant panic, near-heart-attacks, and persisting sense that people might be reading my very mind; certain thoughts are somehow too big to stay hidden after all. There is also the knowing that it represents a kind of transcendence through descent. Presenting as a euphoric sense of purifying transmutation, it’s as though I’m not one of them anymore, if I ever was. Or maybe, it’s just waking up to who and what I was all along, for better or curse. It’s not as much a departure from humanity as a realization of never having been a part of it from the start.

Although it doesn’t escape me that demons are notoriously deceptive tricksters, I would not ever underestimate their mischievous inkling to provoke damnable acts or to provide me with a zip-line right down into damnation. It’s almost like having siblings incessantly instigating problems and bringing the whole house down on your head. Only, from a supernatural or preternaturally perverse vantage point. Bargaining with the Devil, in my opinion, is a reasonable alternative for those with a relaxed policy on rules and whom have become exasperated with dealing with any mainstream vision of a deity consistently late for lunch.

Just be sure to soberly scrutinize the fine-ass print, ladies and gentlemen. Every permutation of demon has eventually stabbed me in the back. The lesson learned: it pays to have a healthy paranoia. As a side note, also, never allow a drunken barber to cut your hair, nor a junkie dentist to pull your teeth.

Now that Shawcross and I were quickly finding common ground, I was beginning to be more comfortable being me and, albeit in a Crypt-Keeper-on-Meth kind of way, I felt as if I wasn’t as much of an outcast anymore. Then again, if only people knew. We are, indeed, here.

Just after my twenty-fourth birthday in August of 2000, the summer of Shawcross and “honeymoon” period of our brotherhood, wrapped up with a letter expressing his own growing ease with me.

Along with my previous piece of correspondence, I’d enclosed a postcard depicting a large, broadly-grinning deer behind the wheel of car with its top down and a rifle propped up in the passenger seat. That carefree deer was dressed in a checkered hunter’s outfit, hunting cap, and wearing yellow-tinted sunglasses; a dead man in similar hunter regalia was tied securely to the hood. A humorous reversal of fortunes if you will. I also attempted to send some music and spoken word audio tapes featuring William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski, but these weren’t permitted at Sullivan, and classified as “contraband.”

On what might be a grimmer note, I randomly broached the topic of “collecting” the homeless and the simply aimless. Certainly, nothing personal or prejudiced against such types, as I, too, became somewhat of a hobo eventually. What I discussed with Shawcross seemed appropriate at the time, and wasn’t exactly “off-topic,” considering the company I was keeping. What more can be said here? It is what it is. Like attracts like. Shawcross and I did talk about other things.

As of late, I had begun deteriorating into a devastating psychotic alcoholic with medical and psychiatric classifications of “SEVERE.” I routinely had a daily blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least four times the legal limit, if that’s any comfort. Never have I admitted this until now. Arthur Shawcross had begun to affect me in potentially ruinous and subversive ways. Even though I’d assured various people that he hadn’t, he was soon in my bloodstream like a shot of slow death.

At least I still had the far-off twinkling of a functional conscience, though I remained desperate to tweak and modify it so it wouldn’t be such a nag. As it is, I pace for miles and miles a day, criticizing myself for everything and anything. I was coping with the stressors of deviant concepts of reality and having to war with the vacant landscape of my morality in general. Compounding that, the implications of Shawcross sharing his often-deadly revelations with me caused a certain amount of inner turmoil. Also, and this too was important, maintaining any friendship was a nearly debilitating emotional pressure cooker and such things have always been a drain on my resources. But there is an added element of stress when you know approximately how irrational and atrociously illogical maniacs can, and eventually will, be. I should know. Antisocial personality disorder feels like a security blanket for me. That’s how antisocial I am. So, it’s reasonable to say that I get it. Though I do sometimes dread dealing with other crazy people, I looked forward to this one.

7/19/00

Hello John,

You can call me ART if you want. Thank you for the money order.

The stationery you chose is quite good. Reminds me of someone I knew one time. TIED UP, BLINDFOLDED, AND GAGGED is GOOD; her legs would not be tied--WIDE OPEN, I would think. My face would be right there EATING LUNCH!!!

I like blondes, brunettes, redheads, or whatever. BUT I am choosy in the type I crave. I like any female with a full-lipped pussy. A good handful. Something you can really cup in your hand. There is something about pussy lips that turn me into a SEX MACHINE! But at times I lose control and it’s as if I made a SNUFF FILM. Now those would be real nice to get into!

SUITCASE PEOPLE, as you state, from an out of the way butcher shop…hanging out on roadsides, yes, folded neatly into “mild-mannered” suitcases, briefcases, duffel bags…

You forgot to mention a saw or two. MY specialty is the KEYHOLE SAW! It’s what I used on THREE VICTIMS. Then you have the JIGSAW: Real handy, that!

How many days were you connected with the Service (Marines)? Ah, you bit up your arms, eh? Good thing you aren’t double-jointed. HAHA

John, if you plan to sell a drawing, do so on the Q.T. If you want, we can split the profits!

Goofy, where did you get the Goofy drawing? Who bought it, do you know? I did a Goofy for one person and he said he had it on his den wall. This I’ll look into!

Where there is a will you can find a way! If by chance you see something of mine being sold, please let me know who’s who?!

I sent in an appeal this morning again for my supplies. I spoke to the Deputy of Administration. And he said he didn’t get my letter. YA RIGHT!

A severed head does have a certain CHARM to it. At least you could get head without being BITTEN! HAHA

Why did Ebay close you down? OK, BOOTLEG VIDEOS. On what subject were they? Try “SAWWW MAN.:”

O.J. didn’t kill Nicole--his FRIEND did!!! Think about it--he ALSO had a white Bronco….It’s very strange it was gotten rid of right away. So you tell ME?! Something worth looking into!

Taxes are destroying this country.

What is wrong with you, John, sick? Bipolar Disorder. Manic and Depressive. A NERVOUS WRECK. If you want to live in desert country, make sure you have water. Try for either solar energy or even wind. Self-sufficient. Pick up a girl, take her home…Look for a CAVE.

If the U.S.A. ever thought of going to war with China, they would LOSE! How many Chinese are in this country today? MILLIONS! You can’t fight a war within your own borders and elsewhere at the same time…

There is a new bomb being made that is better than NUKES. It kills but leaves the area clean--NO RADIATION! NO HARMFUL AFTEREFFECTS.

John, at the top of the ear is a nerve that goes around the back of the head to the other ear. This area swells up to the size of your thumb when I have a headache! That, my friend, is PAIN--even my EYES hurt then!

Caught between the platform and tracks: yes, I have heard of this. But I’ve never been on a train of that sort. Only out in open areas. Hop in, hop off, hobo style. One never stands too close to the tracks when the train comes in! But people do just THAT. WHAT IS THE RUSH? John, I’ve seen a man get stuck in a coupling of two cars. He died when the cars were pulled apart. But while in there he felt no pain! His family were sent for. A real SHOCKING SIGHT…

This week I’ll try more ink art. At the moment, my left hand is sore.

I miss going to rummage sales. You meet interesting people. If you know what to look for you can make money at it. Gold, silver, sterling silver, old items.

Give me a big U.F.O. and fill it with women to do what I tell them or out the door they go. Make sure you have robot guards. HAHA! Robots obey without question!

I just ate a tomato with lots of black pepper on it. Pepper we are not allowed. Got a catalog with pork products. What tastes better than pork?

PUSSY…

Gotta Go Pal,

* * *

8-13-00

Hello John,

I hope all is well with you as well can be.

Now, MR. SAWMAN, how well did you do on the eBay selling my Birds sketch?

I have the earphones, thanks. In this letter is the receipt signed with your name on it as the one who bought the earphones.


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