Dexter Is Delicious

Dexter Morgan has always lived a happy homicidal life. He keeps his dark urges in check by adhering to one stead fast rule…he only kills very bad people. But now Dexter is experiencing some major life changes—don’t we all?—and they’re mostly wrapped up in the eight-pound curiosity that is his newborn daughter. Family bliss is cut short, however, when Dexter is summoned to investigate the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl who has been running with a bizarre group of goths who fancy themselves to be vampires. As Dexter gets closer to the truth of what happened to the missing girl, he realizes they are not really vampires so much as cannibals. And, most disturbing…these people have decided they would really like to eat Dexter. The book begins nine months after the end of Dexter by Design with the birth of Lily Anne Morgan, the daughter of Dexter and Rita Morgan. His daughter’s birth has brought remarkable changes in Dexter; apart from feeling genuine love and emotions for the first time he also does not feel his Dark Passenger’s compulsion to kill and vows to swear off his dark hobby in order to be a better father for his daughter. Soon after Dexter is called to a crime scene by his sister Deb, who is in the middle of a jurisdictional fight with the FBI who claim that a kidnapping has taken place. Dexter believes that the large quantity of blood found there was planted, and that the missing girl in question is faking her disappearance in order to get money from her parents. Dexter runs tests and discovers that the blood type does not match the missing girl, Samantha Aldovar. Deb and Dex go to the private school Samantha attends and talk to her principal, who at first is reluctant to divulge any information. This changes when the principal discovers that Tyler Spanos, a wild child and Samantha’s friend, is also missing. Dexter’s brother Brian shows up — Dexter has neglected to inform Rita that he even has a brother. And it looks like he wants to become part of Dexter’s happy family. Dexter’s stepkids Cody and Astor adore Brian and he shares Dexter’s compulsion to kill.

Lindsay never fails to come up with uniquely weird mysteries for Dexter to solve and serves them up with a huge and satisfying dose of Dexter’s inner turmoil.

I DID EVENTUALLY GET THE DUCT TAPE OFF MY WRISTS. AFTER all, I was surrounded by cops, and it
would have been terribly wrong for so many sworn officers of the law to keep me tied up as if I was
some kind of—well, to be honest, I actually was some kind of, but I was trying really hard not to be one
anymore. And since they did not know what I had been, it made sense that sooner or later one of them
would take pity on me and cut me loose. And one of them finally did: It was Weems, the gigantic man
from the tribal police. He came over and looked at me, a very large smile growing on his very large face,
and shook his head. “Why you standing there with your hands all taped up?” he said. “Nobody love you
no more?”
“I guess I’m just a low priority,” I said. “Except to the mosquitoes.”
He laughed, a high-pitched and overly joyful sound that went on for several seconds—much too long,
in my still-taped opinion, and just when I was thinking of saying something rather sharp he pulled out a
huge pocketknife and flipped the blade open. “Let’s get you slapping flies again,” he said, and motioned
with the blade for me to turn around.
I was happy to oblige, and very quickly he laid the edge of the knife onto the tape binding my wrists.
The knife was apparently very sharp; there was almost no pressure at all, and the tape burst open. I
brought my hands in front of me and peeled off the tape. It also peeled off most of the hair on my wrists,
but since my first swat at the back of my neck squashed at least six mosquitoes, it seemed like a good
“Thank you very much,” I said. “No problem,” he told me in that soft, high voice. “Nobody oughta be all bound up like that.” He
laughed at his own great wit and I, thinking it was the least I could do in return for his kindness, gave him
a small sample of my very best fake smile.
“Bound up,” I said. “That’s very good.” I might have been laying it on a bit thick, but I was grateful,
and in any case my head still hurt too much for any really good comeback to blossom in it.
It wouldn’t have mattered in any case, because Weems was no longer paying attention. He had gone
very still, tilted his nose up into the air, and half closed his eyes as if he were hearing something calling his
name in the far distance.
“What is it?” I said.
He didn’t say anything for a moment. Then he shook his head. “Smoke,” he said. “Somebody got an
illegal fire going out there.” He jerked his chin in the direction of the heart of the Everglades. “This time of year, that’s not good.”
I didn’t smell anything except the standard loamy Everglades aroma, plus sweat and a faint trace of
gunpowder that still hung in the air, but I was certainly not going to argue with my rescuer. Besides, I
would have been arguing with his back, since he had already spun away and headed off toward the edge
of the clearing. I watched him go, rubbing my wrists and taking my terrible vengeance on the mosquitoes.
There was really not a great deal more to see around the trailer. The regular cops were frog-marching
the cannibals away to durance vile, and the viler the better, as far as I was concerned. The SRT guys
were standing around one of their own, probably the one who had made the shot that took off Kukarov’
s face; his expression was a combination of ebbing adrenaline and shock, and his fellow shooters
watched him protectively.
Altogether, the excitement was fading and it was clearly time for Dexter’s Departure. The only
problem, of course, was that I had no transportation, and depending on the kindness of strangers is
always an iffy thing. Depending on the kindness of family is often much worse, of course, but it still
seemed like the best bet, so I went to look for Deborah.
My sister was sitting in the front seat of her car trying to be sensitive, nurturing, and supportive of
Samantha Aldovar. These were not things that came naturally to her, and it would have been tough
sledding even if Samantha were willing to play along. She was not, of course, and the two of them were
rapidly approaching an emotional impasse when I slid into the backseat.
“I’m not going to be all right,” Samantha was saying. “Why do you keep saying that like I’m some
kind of ree-tard?”
“You’ve had a really big shock, Samantha,” Debs said, and in spite of the fact that she clearly meant
to be soothing, I could almost hear quotation marks around her words, as if she was reading from The
Rescued Hostage Handbook. “But it’s over now.”

“I don’t want it over, goddamn it,” she said. She looked back at me as I closed the car door. “You
bastard,” she said to me.
“I didn’t do anything,” I said.
“You brought them here,” she said. “This was all a setup.”
I shook my head. “Nope,” I said. “I have no idea how they found us.”
“Riiiiight,” she sneered.
“Really,” I said, and I turned to Debs. “How did you find us?”
Deborah shrugged. “Chutsky came out to wait with me. When the carpet van came, he slapped a
tracer on it.” It made sense: Her boyfriend, Chutsky, a semiretired intelligence operative, would certainly
have the right sort of toys for that. “So they carried you out and drove away; we stayed back and
followed. When we all got out here in the swamp, I called in for SRT. I really hoped we’d get Bobby
Acosta, too, but we couldn’t wait.” She looked back at Samantha. “Saving you was the highest priority
we had, Samantha.”
“For fuck’s sake, I didn’t want to be saved,” Samantha said. “When are you going to get that?”
Deborah opened her mouth, and Samantha rode right over her with, “And if you say I’m going to be all
right again, I swear to God I’ll scream.”
To be honest, it would have been a relief if she had screamed. I was so tired of Samantha’s carping
that I was ready to scream myself, and I could see that my sister was not far behind me. But apparently
Debs still nurtured the delusion that she had rescued an unwilling victim from a terrible experience, and so even though I could see her knuckles turn white with the effort of refraining from strangling Samantha,
Deborah kept her cool.
“Samantha,” she said very deliberately. “It’s perfectly natural for you to be a little confused right now
about what you’re feeling.”
“I am so totally not confused,” Samantha said. “I’m feeling pissed off, and I wish you hadn’t found
me. Is that perfectly natural, too?”
“Yes,” Deborah said, although I could see a little doubt creeping into her face. “In a hostage situation,
the victim often starts to feel an emotional bond with her captors.”
“You sound like you’re reading that,” Samantha said, and I had to admire her insight, even though her
tone still set my teeth on edge.
“I’m going to recommend that your parents get you some counseling—” Deborah said.
“Oh, great, a shrink,” Samantha said. “That’s all I need.”
“It will help you if you can talk to somebody about all that’s happened to you,” Deborah said.
“Sure, I can’t wait to talk about all that’s happened to me,” Samantha said, and she turned and
looked right at me. “I want to talk about all of it, because some stuff happened that was, you know,
totally against my will, and everybody is really going to want to hear about that.”
I felt a sharp and very unwelcome shock—not so much at what she said, but at the fact that she was
saying it to me. There was no way to mistake what she meant; but would she really tell everyone about
our little ecstasy-inspired interlude, and claim it was against her will? It hadn’t occurred to me that she
would—after all, it was kind of a private thing, and it hadn’t actually been my will, either. I hadn’t put the
drugs into the water bottle, and it certainly wasn’t something I would ever brag about. But an awful sinking feeling began to bloom in my stomach as her threat began to hit home. If she
claimed it had been against her will—technically speaking, the word for that was “rape,” and although it
was really quite far outside my normal area of interest, I was pretty sure the law frowned on it, nearly as
much as some other things I had done. If that word came up, I knew that none of my clever and
wonderful excuses would count for anything. And I could not really blame anyone for believing it; older
man about to die, penned up with young woman, no one would ever know—it was a picture that wrote
its own caption. Perfectly believable—and totally unforgivable, even if I thought I’d been about to die. I
had never heard a rape defense based on extenuating circumstances, and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t
And no matter what I said, even if Dexter’s eloquence overflowed the bounds of human speech and
moved the marble statue of justice to tears—the very best outcome would be he-said/she-said, and I
would still be a guy who’d taken advantage of a helpless captive girl, and I knew very well what
everyone would think of me. After all, I had cheered aloud every time I heard about older married men
losing their jobs and their families for having sex with younger women—and that was exactly what I had
done. Even if I convinced everyone that the drugs made me do it and it really wasn’t my fault, I would be
finished. Drug-induced teen sex party sounded more like a tabloid headline than an explanation.
And not even the greatest lawyer who had ever lived could get me off the hook with Rita. There was
still a lot I did not understand about human beings, but I had seen enough daytime drama to figure this
one out. Rita might not believe I had committed rape, but that wouldn’t matter. She would not care if I
had been bound hand and foot, drugged, and then forced to have sex at gunpoint. She would divorce me
when she found out, and she would raise Lily Anne without me. I would be all alone, out in the cold
without roast pork, with no Cody and Astor, and no Lily Anne to brighten my days; Dex-Daddy
No family, no job—nothing. She would probably even take custody of my fillet knives. It was terrible,
hideous, unthinkable; everything I cared about yanked away, my entire life flung into the Dumpster—and
all because I’d been drugged? It was far beyond unfair. And some of this must have shown on my face,
because Samantha kept looking at me, and she began to nod her head.
“That’s right,” she said. “You just think about that.”
I looked back at Samantha and I did think about it. And I wondered if just this once I could dispose
of somebody because of something they hadn’t done yet; proactive playtime.
But luckily for Samantha, before I could even reach for the duct tape Deborah decided to impose
herself again in the role of compassionate rescuer. “All right,” she said. “This can all wait. Let’s just get
you home to your parents now.” And she put her hand on Samantha’s shoulder.
Naturally enough, Samantha pushed the hand off as if it were a loathsome insect. “Great,” she said. “I
can’t fucking wait.”
“Put your seat belt on,” Deborah told her, and, completely as an afterthought, she turned to me and
said, “I guess you can ride along.”
I almost told her, No, don’t bother, I will stay here and feed mosquitoes, but at the last second I
remembered that Deborah’s record with sarcasm was not good, so I just nodded and buckled up. Deborah called the dispatcher and said, “I’ve got the Aldovar girl. I’m taking her home,” and
Samantha muttered, “Big whoopee-shit.” Deborah just glanced at her with something that looked like a
rictus but was probably supposed to be a reassuring smile, and then she put the car in gear, and I had a
little over half an hour to sit in the backseat and picture my life splintering into a million decorative shards.
It was a terribly depressing picture—Dexter Disenfranchised, tossed on the scrap heap, stripped of his
carefully built costume and all its comfy props—flung naked and unloved into the cold and lonely world,
and I could see no way to avoid it. I’d had to go down on my knees and beg just to get Samantha to do
nothing while I tried to escape—and she had been neutral then. Now that she was peeved with me, there
was nothing I could possibly do to stop her from telling, short of actual vivisection. I couldn’t even give
her back to the cannibals; with Kukarov dead and the rest of the group either captured or on the run,
there would be no one left to eat her. The picture was grim and very clear: Samantha’s fantasy was over,
she blamed me, and she would take her terrible revenge—and there was nothing I could do about it.
I have never really had an appetite for irony, but I couldn’t help but see more than a little of it here:
After all I had done, willingly and joyfully, and now I would be brought down by a sulking young woman
and a bottle of water? It was so subtly ludicrous that only the French could truly appreciate it.
Just to underline my predicament and her own determination, Samantha turned and glared at me every
few miles as we drove the long, depressing way to her home, back along Route 41 and then over
LeJeune and into the Grove to the Aldovars’ house. And just to remind me that even the worst joke has
a punch line, when we turned down Samantha’s street and approached her house, Deborah muttered,
“Shit,” and I hunched forward and looked through the windshield at what appeared to be a carnival in
front of the house. “That goddamned son of a bitch,” she said, and she smacked the steering wheel with the palm of her
“Who?” I said, and I admit I was eager to see somebody else take a little heat.
“Captain Matthews,” she snarled. “When I called it in, he got the whole fucking press corps here so he
can hug Samantha and jut his fucking chin at the cameras.”
And sure enough, as Deborah brought the car to a stop in front of the Aldovars’ house, Captain Matthews appeared at the passenger door as if by magic, and reached in to help a still-sullen Samantha
out of the car as flashbulbs popped and even the horde of savage reporters murmured, “Awwww.” The
captain flung a protective arm around her shoulders and then waved commandingly at the crowd to move
aside and let them through—a truly great moment in the history of irony, since Matthews had summoned
them all here to watch this exact moment, and now he was pretending he wanted them to leave him alone
while he comforted Samantha. I admired the performance so much that for a full minute I only worried
about my future two or three times.
Deborah did not seem quite as impressed as I was. She trailed along behind Matthews with a wicked
scowl on her face, shoving at any reporter foolish enough to get in her way, and generally acting like she
had just been indicted for waterboarding. I followed the happy little group through the crowd until
Matthews reached the front door, where Mr. and Mrs. Aldovar were waiting to smother their wayward
daughter with hugs and kisses and tears. It was an extremely touching scene, and Captain Matthews
played it perfectly, as if he had been rehearsing for months. He stood beside the family group and
beamed at them as the parents snuffled and Samantha scowled and finally, when he could sense that the
reporters were reaching the end of their attention span, he stepped in front of them and held up a hand.
Just before he spoke to the crowd, he leaned over to Deborah and said, “Don’t worry, Morgan; I
won’t make you say anything this time.”
“Yes, sir,” she said through her teeth.
“Just try to look proud and humble,” he told her, and he patted her shoulder and smiled at her as the
cameras rolled. Deborah showed him her teeth, and he turned back to the crowd. “I told you we would find her,” Matthews told the crowd in a manly growl, “and we found her!” He
turned around and looked at the Aldovar trio so the reporters would get a shot of him gloating
protectively at them. Then he turned back around and gave a short speech of praise for himself. Of
course there was no word about Dexter’s terrible sacrifice, nor even Deborah’s diligence, but perhaps
that would have been too much to expect. It went on predictably enough for a little longer, but finally the
Aldovars went in their house, the reporters got tired of the captain’s chin, and Deborah grabbed my arm,
pulled me through the crowd to her car, and took me home.

Dexter by Design


Being a blood spatter analyst who hates the sight of blood has always made Dexter’s work for the Miami PD tough. But it means he’s very neat when it comes to his out-of-hours hobby: murder. Of course, the fact Dexter only kills bad people helps too. Now Dex is facing a disturbing situation. He’s used to blood at work, and blood when he’s out with the dark passenger (the voice that guides him on his deadly outings). But he’s not sure what to make of the man who says blood is art. Using bodies as his canvas, someone is out there expressing themselves in the most lethal and painful of ways. If Dexter’s to escape the scalpel and avoid becoming the latest exhibit, he needs somewhere to run…and he might just have found the perfect place. With his wedding looming, completing his nice-guy disguise, Dexter’s honeymoon might just save his skin.

Now married to the unsuspecting Rita and on honeymoon in Paris, Dexter is contemplating a return to normality after the events described in Dexter in the Dark. While visiting an art gallery, Dexter and Rita are introduced to the concept of body parts being used as art by an avant-garde performance piece called “Jennifer’s Leg” in which the artist amputates her own limb. On returning home, Dexter finds his relationship with his sister, Deborah Morgan, has become strained since she learned of his murderous pastime at the end of the first book. At work, Dexter is called to investigate a gruesome tableau on a local beach, where a pair of bodies have been mutilated and arranged in a display that parodies the state’s tourist trade. When Dexter’s sister Deb is stabbed while investigating, Dexter tortures and kills the man he thinks is responsible, then learns he got the wrong guy. Unfortunately, this puts the real killer on his tracks, and soon, to his immense discomfort, he’s being stalked instead of doing the stalking.

of the building, the one that served as an emergency exit for the combination
cafeteria and auditorium of the school. One of the servers had stepped outside for
a smoke and seen it, and had to be sedated, which was easy for me to understand
after I took a quick look. And after a second, more careful examination, I very
nearly needed a sedative myself. Roger Deutsch had a lanyard around his neck, with a whistle hanging from
it. As before, the body cavity had been scooped out and then filled with
interesting things —in this case, a Cub Scout uniform, a colorful book that said
Big Bear Cub Scout Handbook on the cover, and some other gear. I could see the
handle of a hand axe sticking up, and a pocket knife with the Cub Scout logo on
As I bent closer to look, I also saw a grainy picture, printed on regular
white paper, with BE PREPARED printed on it in large black letters. The picture
showed a blurry shot, taken from some distance away, of several boys and one
adult going into this same building. And although it was impossible to prove it, I
knew quite well who the adult and one of the children were.

Me and Cody.

There was no mistaking the familiar curve of Cody’s back. And there was
no mistaking the message, either.
It was a very odd moment, kneeling there on the pavement and looking at
a blurry, indistinct picture of myself and Cody, and wondering if anybody would
see me if I took it. I had never tampered with evidence before, but then again, I
had never been part of it, either. And it was quite clear that this was meant for me.
BE PREPARED, and the photo. It was a warning, a challenge: ” know who you
are and I know how to hurt you And here I come.
I was not prepared. I did not yet know where Weiss might be, and I did not
know what or when his next move would be, but I did know that he had moved
everything several notches ahead of me, and he had raised the stakes considerably
at the same time. This was not a stolen dead body, and it was not anonymous.
Weiss had killed Roger Deutsch, not just modified his body. And he had chosen
this victim carefully, deliberately, in order to get at me.
It was a complex threat, too. Because the picture added another dimension
—it said: I may get you, and I may get Cody, or I may simply expose you for
what we both know you are. On top of that was the sure knowledge that if I was
exposed and slapped in jail, Cody would have no protection at all against
whatever Weiss might do.
I looked hard at the picture, trying to decide if anyone else could tell it was
me, and whether taking it was worth the risk of removing and destroying it. But
before I could make any decision, the feather stroke of an invisible black wing
brushed across my face and raised the hair along my neck.
The Dark Passenger had been very quiet through this whole thing so far,
contenting himself with a disinterested smirk from time to time, and offering no
really cogent observations. But now the message was clear, and it echoed the one
on the photograph: Be prepared. You are not alone. And I knew just as certainly
as I possibly could that somewhere nearby something was looking at me and
harboring wicked thoughts, watching me as the tiger watches its prey.
Slowly, carefully, as if I had simply forgotten something in the car, I stood
up and walked back toward where we had parked. As I walked I casually scanned the parking area; not looking for anything in particular, just Dopey Dexter
ambling along in a perfectly normal way, and under the nonchalant and distracted
smile the black smoke boiled and I looked for something that I knew was looking
at me.
And found it.
Over there, in the nearest row of the parking lot, maybe a hundred feet
away from me, right where it would provide the best view, a small bronze-colored
sedan was parked. And through the windshield, something winked at me; sunlight
off the lens of a camera.
Still so very careful and casual, even though the darkness was roaring
through me with a knife edge blossoming, I took a step toward the car. Across the
distance I saw the bright flash of the camera coming down, and the small pale
face of a man, and the black wings rattled and crashed between us for one very
long second …
Then the car started up, backed out of the parking spot with a small squeal
of rubber, and disappeared out of the lot and away into traffic. Although I sprinted
forward, the most I could see of the license plate was the first half: OGA and
three numbers that might have been anything, although I thought the middle one
was either a 3 or an 8. But with the description of the car, it was enough. I would at least find the
registration of the car. It would not be registered to Weiss, couldn’t be. Nobody is
that stupid, not in this day of nonstop police drama in all the media. But a small
hope flickered. He had left quickly, not wanting me to see him or his car, and just
this once I might have some small bit of luck.
I stood there for nearly a minute, letting the wild wind inside me settle
back down into a neatly coiled and steadily purring thing.
My heart was pumping as it seldom did in the light of day, and I realized
that it was a very good thing that Weiss had been just a little bit shy, and had
taken off so readily. After all, what would I have done otherwise? Pulled him out
of the car and killed him? Or had him arrested and flung into a squad car, so he
could begin to tell everyone who would listen all about Dexter? No, it was just as well that he had escaped. I would find him, and we
would meet on my terms, in the suitable dark of a night that could not come soon
enough for me.
I took a deep breath, plastered my best phony working smile back onto my
face, and walked back to the pile of decorative meat that had been Cody’s scout
Vince Masuoka was squatting by the body when I got there, but instead of
doing something useful, he was simply staring at the stuff shoved into the cavity
and frowning. He looked up as I approached, and said, “What do you think it
“I’m sure I have no idea,” I said. I just do blood spatter. They pay
detectives to figure out what it means.” Vince cocked his head and looked at me
as if I had told him we were supposed to eat the body. “Did you know that
Detective Coulter is in charge of the investigation?” he said.
“Maybe they pay him for something else” I said, and I felt a small surge of
hope. I had forgotten this detail, but it was worth remembering. With Coulter in
charge, I could confess to the murder, hand him videos of me performing it, and
he would still find a way not to prove it. So it was with something approaching good cheer that I went back to work
—tempered with very real impatience to get it finished and get back to my
computer to track down Weiss. Happily, there was very little blood spatter on site
—Weiss appeared to be the kind of neatnik I admired —and therefore there was
almost nothing for me to do. I finished up shortly and begged a ride back to
headquarters with one of the squad cars. The driver, a large white-haired guy
named Stewart, talked about the Dolphins all the way back, apparently not really
caring if I spoke back.
By the time we got back to headquarters I had learned some wonderful
things about the approaching football season and what we should have done
during the off-season but had somehow, inexplicably, managed to bungle once
again, which would certainly lead to another season of ineptitude and shameful
losses. I thanked him for the ride and the vital information and fled for my
The database for automobile registration is one of the most basic tools of
police work, both in reality and in fiction, and it was with a slight sense of shame that I went to it now. It really just seemed too easy, straight out of a rather simpleminded
television drama. Of course, if it led to finding Weiss I would somehow
overcome the feeling that this was almost like cheating, but for the time being I
really kind of wished for a clue that would call for something a little more clever.
Still, we work with the tools we are given, and hope that someone asks us later for
constructive criticism.
After only fifteen minutes I had combed the entire Florida state database,
and found three small bronze-colored vehicles with the letters OGA on their
license tag. One of them was registered in Kissimmee, which seemed like a bit of
a commute. Another was a 3 Rambler, and I was reasonably sure that I would
have noticed something that distinctive.
That left number three, a 1995 Honda, registered to a Kenneth A Wimble
on NW 98th Street in Miami Shores. The address was in an area of modest
homes, and it was relatively close to the place in the Design District where
Deborah had been stabbed. It really wouldn’t even be a terribly long walk —so
that, for example, if the police came to your little nest on NE 40th you could
easily hop out the back door and amble a few blocks over until you found an
unattended car.
But then what? If you are Weiss, where do you take this car? It seemed to
me that you would take it far away from wherever you stole it. So probably the
very last place on earth that he would be was the house on N W 98th Street.
Unless there was some connection between Weiss and Wimble. It would be
perfectly natural to borrow a friend’s car: Just some casual butchery, buddy —
back in a couple of hours. Of course, for some bizarre reason, we don’t have a National Registry of
Who Your Friends Are. One would assume that this administration would have
thought of that, and rammed it through Congress. It would certainly make my
work easier now. But no such luck; if they were indeed chums, I would have to
find out the hard way, by a personal visit. It was merely due diligence in any case.
But first I would see if I could uncover anything at all about Kenneth A Wimble.
A quick check of the database showed that he had no criminal record, at
least not under that name. His utilities were paid, although payment on his
propane bill had been late several times. Digging a little deeper, going into the tax
records, I discovered that Wimble was self-employed, and his occupation was
listed as video editor. Coincidence is always possible. Strange and improbable things happen
every day, and we accept them and simply scratch our heads like rubes in the big
city, and say, “Gollee, ain’t that somethin’.” But this seemed to be stretching
coincidence past the breaking point.
I had been following a writer who had left a video trail, and now the trail
had led me to a video professional. And since there comes a time and place when
the seasoned investigator must accept the fact that he has stumbled on something
that is probably not coincidence, I murmured, “Aha” very quietly to myself. I
thought I sounded quite professional saying it, too.
Wimble was in on this in some way, tied up with Weiss in making and
sending the videos, and therefore, presumably in arranging the bodies and finally
in killing Roger Deutsch. So when Deborah had come knocking at the door,
Weiss fled to his other partner, Wimble.
A place to hide, a small bronze-colored car to borrow, and on with the
All right then, Dexter. Mount up and move out. We know where he is, and
now is the time to go get him; before he decides to put my name and picture on
the front page of the Miami Herald. Up and away. Let’s go.
Dexter? Are you there, buddy?
I was there. But I suddenly found, oddly enough, that I really missed
Deborah. This was exactly the kind of thing I should be doing with her —after all,
it was bright daylight out there, and that was not truly Dexter’s Dominion. Dexter
needs darkness to blossom into the real life of the party that he is deep inside.
Sunlight and hunting do not mix. With Deborah’s badge I could have stayed
hidden in plain sight, but without it… I was not actually nervous, of course, but I was a little bit uneasy. However, there was no choice at all. Deborah was lying in a hospital bed,
Weiss and his dear friend Wimble were giggling at me in a house on 98th Street,
and Dexter was dithering about daylight.
And that would not do, not at all.

So stand, breathe, stretch. Once more into the breach, dear Dexter. Get up
and be gone. And I did, and I headed out the door to my car, but I could not shake
the strange feeling of unease.
The feeling lasted all the way over to NW 98th Street, even through the
soothing homicidal rhythm of the traffic. Something was wrong somewhere and
Dexter was headed into it somehow.
But since there was nothing more definite than that, I kept going, and
wondering what was really chewing at the bottom corner of my brain. Was it
really just fear of daylight? Or was my subconscious telling me that I had missed
something important, something that was getting ready to rear up and bite me? I
went over it all in my head, again and again, and it all added up the same way.
The only thing that really stuck out was the thought that it was all very simple,
perfectly connected, coherent and logical and right, and I had no choice but to act
as quickly as I could, and why should that be bothersome? When did Dexter ever
have any choice anyway? When does anyone really have a choice of any kind,
beyond occasionally being able to say —on those very few good days we get —I
choose ice cream instead of pie?
Nevertheless, I still felt invisible fingers tickling at my neck when I parked
the car across the street and halfway down the block from Wimble’s house. For
several long minutes I did nothing more than sit in the car and look up the street at
the house. The bronze-colored car was parked in the street right in front of the house.
There was no sign of life, and no large heap of body parts dragged to the curb to
await pick-up. Nothing at all but a quiet house in an ordinary Miami
neighborhood, baking in the midday sun.
The longer I sat there in the car with the motor off, the more I realized that
I was baking, too, and if I stayed in the car a few more minutes I would be
watching a crisp dark crust form on my skin.
Whatever faint tremors of doubt I felt, I had to do something while there
was still breathable air in the car.
I got out and stood blinking in the heat and light for several seconds, and
then moved off down the street, away from Wimble’s house. Moving slowly and
casually, I walked around the block one time, looking at the house from the rear.
There was not much to see; a row of hedges growing up through a chain-link fence blocked any view of the house from the next block over. I continued around
the block, crossed the street, and walked on back to my car.
I stood there again, blinking in the brightness, feeling the sweat roll down
my spine, across my forehead, into my eyes. I knew that I could not stand there a
great deal longer without drawing attention.
I had to do something —either approach the house, or get back into my
car, drive home, and wait to see myself on the evening news.
But with that nasty, annoying little voice still squeaking in my brain that
something was just not right, I stood there a little longer, until some small and
brittle thing inside snapped, and I finally thought, Fine. Let it come, whatever it
might be. Anything is better than standing here counting the droplets of sweat as
they fall.
I remembered something helpful for a change, and opened the trunk of my
car. I had thrown a clipboard in there; it had been very useful for several past
investigations into the lifestyles of the wicked and infamous, and there was a clipon
tie as well. It has been my experience that you can go anywhere, day or night,
and no one will question you if you wear a clip-on tie and carry a clipboard.
Luckily today I was wearing a shirt that actually buttoned at the neck, and I hung
the tie on my collar, picked up the clipboard and a ballpoint pen, and walked up
the street to Wimple’s house. Just another semi important official or other, here to
check on something. I glanced up the street; it was lined with trees, and several of the houses
had fruit trees in the yard. Fine: today I was Inspector Dexter from the State
Board of Tree Inspection. This would allow me to move close to the house with a
semi-logical activity to cloak me.
And then what? Could I really get inside and take Weiss by surprise, in
broad daylight? The hot glare of the sun made it seem vastly unlikely somehow.
There was no comforting darkness, no shadows to hold me and hide my approach.
I was as completely visible and obvious as could be and if Weiss glanced out the
window and recognized me, the game was up before it properly began.
But what choice did I have? It was him or me, and if I did nothing at all,
he would most likely do a great deal of something, starting with exposing me and
moving down the list to hurting Cody or Astor, or who knows what. He was quite
clearly deranged, even more than I was, and I had no way to know how far he would go, or what he would do when he got there. Without question, I had to head
him off and stop him now, before he did any more damage.
As I straightened up to do so, a most unwelcome thought shoved its way
in: was this the way Deborah thought of me? Did she see me as a sort of wild
obscenity, slashing its way across the landscape with random ferocity? Was that
why she had been so unhappy with me? Because she had formed an image of me
as a ravening monster?
It was such a painful notion that for a moment I could do nothing but blink
away the drops of sweat rolling down my forehead. It was unfair, totally
unjustified; of course, I was a monster —but not that kind. I was neat, focused,
polite, and very careful not to cause the tourists any inconvenience with random
body parts scattered about.
How could she fail to see that? How could I make her see the well ordered
beauty of the way Harry had set me up?
The first answer was, I could not —not if Weiss stayed alive and at liberty
Because once my face was on the news, my life was over and Deborah would
have no more choice than I would; no more choice than I had right now. Sunlight
or not, I had to do this, and I had to do it quickly and well.
I took a deep breath and moved up the street to the house next to
Wimble’s, looking intently at the trees along the drive and scribbling on the
clipboard. I moved slowly up the driveway. No one leapt out at me with a
machete in their teeth, so I walked back down the driveway, paused in front of the
house, and then went on to Wimble’s. There were suspicious trees to examine there, too, and I looked up at them,
made notes, and moved a bit further up the driveway.
There was no sight nor sound of life from the house. Even though I did not
know what I hoped to see, I moved closer, looking for it, and not just in the trees.
I looked carefully at the house, noting that all the windows seemed to have shades
drawn down. Nothing could see in or out. I got far enough up the driveway to
notice that there was a back door, located at the top of two concrete steps. I
moved toward it very casually, listening for any small rustling or whispering or
shouts of, “Look out! He’s here!” Still nothing. I pretended to notice a tree in the
backyard, close to a propane tank and only about twenty feet from the door, and I
went over to it. Still nothing. I scribbled. There was a window in the top half of the door,
with no shade pulled down. I walked over to it, mounted the two steps, and
peeked inside. I was looking into a darkened hallway, lined with a washing
machine and dryer, and a few brooms and mops held in clamps on the wall. I put
a hand on the door knob and turned very slowly and quietly. It was unlocked. I
took a deep breath … and very nearly fell out of my skin as a horrible, shattering
scream came from inside. It was the sound of anguish and horror and such a clear
call for help that even Disinterested Dexter moved reflexively forward, and I had
one foot actually inside the house when a tiny little question mark scuttled across
the floor of my brain and I thought, I’ve heard that scream before. As my second
foot moved forward, further into the house, I thought, Really? Where? The
answer came quite quickly, which was comforting: it was the same scream that
was on the “New Miami” videos that Weiss had made.
Which meant that it was a recorded scream.
Which meant it was intended to lure me inside.
Which meant that Weiss was ready and waiting for me.
It is not terribly flattering to my own special self, but the truth is that I
actually paused for a split second to admire the speed and clarity of my mental
process. And then, happily for me, I obeyed the shrill interior voice that was
screaming, “Run, Dexter, run!” and bolted out of the house and down the
driveway, just in time to see the bronze-colored car screech away down the street. And then a huge hand rose up behind me and slammed me to the ground, a
hot wind blew past, and Wimble’s house was gone in a cloud of flame and
showering rubble.

Dexter in the Dark

It isn’t so easy to be a serial killer, like Dexter. But he solved all his problems that are why he found a new place for hunting: the Miami. He tried to looks like as the simple man. He marries Rita and took new job: a crime scene investigator. Dexter, as usual, supplements his activities with the occasional murder, removing other monsters, the planet better off for their loss. Carefully nurtured by his mentor, Harry, only to inflict his passion on those who prey on the innocent, Dexter maintains a fine balance between work and “play”.

In Lindsay’s third novel to feature endearing Miami cop and serial killer Dexter Morgan, the Dark Passenger, the voice inside Dexter’s head that from time to time drives him to the Theme Park of the Unthinkable, inexplicably disappears while Morgan is investigating a gruesome double murder on the University of Miami campus. The crime scene, at which two co-eds were ritualistically burned and beheaded, gives even the human vivisection–loving vigilante the creeps. As the burned and beheaded body count continues to mount, Morgan realizes that the force behind the killings is something even more evil than his Dark Passenger. Dexter soon begins to question the dark voice that has been with him all his life, as he slowly realizes that his Dark Passenger is a true entity unto itself, possibly an offspring of the ancient god Moloch. As the novel progresses, Dexter begins to develop emotions that were once suppressed by the Dark Passenger, mainly those of sadness and anger. While missing the helpful clues and hints of the Dark Passenger, Dexter feeds off of his newfound emotions to find some balance in his life and to solve the mystery unfolding around him.

I AM NOT REALLY PARANOID. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT I AM surrounded by mysterious enemies who seek to trap me, torture me, kill me. Of course, I know very well that if I allow my disguise to slip and reveal me for what I am, then this entire society will join together in calling for my slow and painful death, but this is not paranoia–this is a calm, clearheaded view of consensus reality, and I am not frightened by it. I simply try to be careful so it doesn’t happen. But a very large piece of my carefulness had always been listening to the subtle whisperings of the Dark Passenger, and it was still being strangely shy about sharing its thoughts. And so I faced a new and unsettling inner silence, and that made me very edgy, sending out a little ripple of uneasiness. It had started with that feeling of being watched, even stalked, at the kilns. And then, as we drove back to headquarters, I could not shake the idea that a car seemed to be following us. Was it really? Did it have sinister intent? And if so, was it toward me or Deborah, or was it just random Miami driver spookiness? I watched the car, a white Toyota Avalon, in the side mirror. It stayed with us all the way until Deborah turned into the parking lot, and then it simply drove by without slowing or the driver appearing to stare, but I could not lose my ridiculous notion that it had indeed been following us. Still, I could not be sure unless the Passenger told me, which it did not–it merely gave a sort of sibilant throat-clearing, and so it seemed beyond stupid for me to say anything to Deborah about it. And then later, when I came out of the building to my own car to go home for the night, I had the same feeling once again, that someone or something was watching–but it was a feeling. Not a warning, not an interior whisper from the shadows, not a get-ready flutter of invisible black wings–a feeling. And that made me nervous. When the Passenger speaks, I listen. I act. But it was not speaking now, merely squirming, and I had no idea what to do given that message. So in the absence of any more definite idea, I kept my eyes on my rearview mirror as I headed south for home. Was this what it was like to be human? To walk through life with the perpetual feeling that you were meat on the hoof, stumbling down the game trail with tigers sniffing at your heels? If so, it would certainly go a long way toward explaining human behavior. As a predator myself, I knew very well the powerful feeling of strolling in disguise through the herds of potential prey, knowing that I could at any moment cut one of them from the herd. But without any word from the Passenger I did not merely blend in; I was actually part of the herd, vulnerable. I was prey, and I did not like it. It made me a great deal more watchful. And when I came down off the expressway, my watching revealed a white Toyota Avalon following me. Of course there are lots of white Toyota Avalons in the world. After all, the Japanese lost the war and that gives them the right to dominate our car market. And certainly many of these Avalons could reasonably be heading for home along the same crowded route I took. Logically speaking, there are only so many directions in which to go, and it made perfect sense for a white Avalon to go in any one of them. And it was not logical to assume that anyone would want to follow me. What had I done? I mean, that anybody could prove? And so it was perfectly illogical of me to feel that I was being followed, which does not explain why I made a sudden right turn off U. S. 1 and down a side street. It also does not explain why the white Avalon followed. The car kept well back, as any predator would do to avoid spooking its chosen prey–or as any normal person might do if they just happened to take the same turn by coincidence. And so with the same uncharacteristic lack of logic, I zigged again, this time to the left, down a small residential street. A moment later the other car followed. As mentioned, Dashing Dexter does not know the meaning of fear. That would have to mean that the roaring thump of my heart, the parching of my mouth, and the sweat pouring out of my hands was no more than massive uneasiness. I did not enjoy the feeling. I was no longer the Knight of the Knife. My blade and my armor were in some subbasement of the castle, and I was on the field of battle without them, a suddenly soft and tasty victim, and for no reason I could name I was sure that something had my scent in its ravening nostrils. I turned right again–and noticed only as I went by it the sign that said NO OUTLET. I had turned down a cul-de-sac. I was trapped. For some reason, I slowed and waited for the other car to follow me. I suppose I just wanted to be sure that the white Avalon was really there. It was. I continued to the end of the street, where the road widened into a small circle for turning around. There were no cars in the driveway of the house at the top of the circle. I pulled in and stopped my engine, waiting, amazed by the crashing of my heart and my inability to do anything more than sit and wait for the inevitable teeth and claws of whatever was chasing me. The white car came closer. It slowed as it reached the circle, slowed as it approached me… And it went past me, around the circle, back up the street, and into the Miami sunset. I watched it go, and as its taillights disappeared around the corner I suddenly remembered how to breathe. I took advantage of this rediscovered knowledge, and it felt very good. Once I had restored my oxygen content and settled back into being me, I began to feel like a very stupid me. What, after all, had really happened? A car had appeared to follow me. Then it had gone away. There were a million reasons why it might have taken the same route as I had, most of them summed up by the one word: coincidence. And then, as poor Dithering Dexter sat sweating in his seat, what had the big bad car done? It had gone past. It had not paused to stare, snarl, or throw a hand grenade. It had just gone by and left me in a puddle of my own absurd fear. There was a knock on my window and I bumped my head on the ceiling of the car. I turned to look. A middle-aged man with a mustache and bad acne scars was bent over, looking in at me. I had not noticed him until now, further proof that I was alone and unprotected. I rolled down the window. “Can I help you with something?” the man said. “No, thank you, ” I told him, somewhat puzzled as to what help he thought he could offer. But he did not keep me guessing. “You’re in my driveway, ” he said. “Oh, ” I said, and it occurred to me that I probably was and some explanation was called for. “I was looking for Vinny, ” I said. Not brilliant, but serviceable under the circumstances. “You got the wrong place, ” the man said with a certain mean triumph that almost cheered me up again. “Sorry, ” I said. I rolled up the window and backed out of the driveway, and the man stood and watched me go, presumably to be sure that I did not suddenly leap out and attack him with a machete. In just a few moments I was back in the bloodthirsty chaos of U. S. 1. And as the routine violence of the traffic closed around me like a warm blanket, I felt myself slowly sinking back into myself. Home again, behind the crumbling walls of Castle Dexter, vacant basement and all. I had never felt so stupid–which is to say, I felt as close to being a real human being as it was possible for me to feel. What on earth had I been thinking? I had not, in truth, been thinking at all, merely reacting to a bizarre twitch of panic. It was all too ridiculous, too patently human and laughable, if only I had been a real human who could really laugh. Ah, well. At least I was really ridiculous. I drove the last few miles thinking of insulting things to call myself for such a timid overreaction, and by the time I pulled into the driveway at Rita’s house I was thoroughly soaked in my own abuse, which made me feel much better. I got out of my car with something very close to a real smile on
my face, generated by my joy in the true depth of Dexter Dunderhead. And as I took one step away from the car, half turning to head for the front door, a car drove slowly by. A white Avalon, of course. If there is such a thing in the world as justice, then this was surely one of the moments it had arranged just for me. Because many times I had enjoyed the sight of a person standing with their mouth hanging open, completely incapacitated by surprise and fear, and now here was Dexter in the same stupid pose. Frozen in place, unable to move even to wipe away my own drool, I watched the car drive slowly past, and the only thought I could muster was that I must look very, very stupid. Naturally, I would have looked a great deal stupider if whoever was in the white car did anything other than drive past slowly, but happily for the many people who know and love me–at least two, including myself–the car went by without pausing. For a moment I thought I could see a face looking at me from the driver’s seat. And then he accelerated, turning slightly away into the middle of the street so that the light gleamed for an instant off the silver bull’s head Toyota emblem, and the car was gone. And I could think of nothing at all to do but eventually close my mouth, scratch my head, and stumble into the house.

There was a soft but very deep and powerful drumbeat, and gladness surged up, born from relief and anticipation of what was to come. And then the horns sounded, and it was very close now, only a matter of moments before it came and then everything would begin and happen again at last, and as the gladness rose into a melody that climbed until it seemed to come from everywhere, I felt my feet taking me to where the voices promised bliss, filling everything with that joy that was on the way, that overwhelming fulfillment that would lift us into ecstasy– And I woke up with my heart pounding and a sense of relief that was certainly not justified and that I did not understand at all. Because it was not merely the relief of a sip of water when you are thirsty or resting when you are tired, although it was those things, too. But–far beyond puzzling, deep into disturbing–it was also the relief that comes after one of my playdates with the wicked; the relief that says you have fulfilled the deep longings of your innermost self and now you may relax and be content for a while. And this could not be. It was impossible for me to feel that most private and personal of feelings while lying in bed asleep. I looked at the clock beside the bed: five minutes past midnight, not a time for Dexter to be up and about, not on a night when he had planned only to sleep. On the other side of the bed Rita snored softly, twitching slightly like a dog who dreamed of chasing a rabbit. And on my side of the bed, one terribly confused Dexter. Something had come into my dreamless night and made waves across the tranquil sea of my soulless sleep. I did not know what that something was, but it had made me very glad for no reason I could name, and I did not like that at all. My moonlight hobby made me glad in my own emotionless way and that was all. Nothing else had ever been allowed into that corner of the dark subbasement of Dexter. That was the way I preferred it to be. I had my own small, well-guarded space inside, marked off and locked down, where I felt my own particular joy–on those nights only and at no other time. Nothing else made sense for me. So what had invaded, knocked down the door, and flooded the cellar with this uncalled-for and unwanted feeling? What in all the world possibly could climb in with such overwhelming ease? I lay down, determined to go back to sleep and prove to myself that I was still in charge here, that nothing had happened, and certainly wouldn’t happen again. This was Dexterland, and I was king. Nothing else was permitted inside. And I closed my eyes and turned for confirmation to the voice of authority on the inside, the inarguable master of the shadowy corners of all that is me, the Dark Passenger, and I waited for it to agree, to hiss a soothing phrase to put the jangling music and its geyser of feeling into its place, out of the dark and into the outside. And I waited for it to say something, anything, and it did not. And I poked at it with a very hard and irritated thought, thinking, Wake up! Show some teeth in there! And it said nothing. I hurried myself into all the corners of me, hollering with increasing concern, calling for the Passenger, but the place it had been was empty, swept clean, room to rent. It was gone as if it had never been there at all. In the place where it used to be I could still hear an echo of the music, bouncing off the hard walls of an unfurnished apartment and rolling through a sudden, very painful emptiness. The Dark Passenger was gone.

Dearly Devoted Dexter

Dexter Morgan was moral killer, but it was very hard to be. That is why he was under a huge pressure. He tried to avoid suspicion, from Sergeant Doakes.And the main gun that he has – was to put a mask and try to make sure that he hasn’t got any relevance to this case. While not working as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, he now spends nearly all his time with his cheerful girlfriend, Rita, and her two children, sipping light beer and slowly becoming the world’s first serial couch potato. But how long can Dexter play Kick the Can instead of Slice the Slasher?

Dexter’s just added his 40th victim, a homicidal pedophile, and is eagerly looking ahead to number 41 when he becomes involved in a case through his job as a blood spatter analyst at the Miami-Dade police forensics lab. A man is found with “everything on [his] body cut off, absolutely everything”—a piece of work that makes Dexter’s own tidy killings look like child’s play. This madman, nicknamed Danco, spends weeks surgically removing his victims’ ears, lips, nose, arms, legs, etc., while keeping them alive to watch their own mutilation. Despite a certain professional admiration for Danco’s dexterity, Dexter decides to take on the case. At the conclusion of the story, Dexter learns that Dr. Danco murders his victims by making them play a word game resembling hang man. Each victim is asked to guess a word chosen for them by Danco, each wrong answer resulting in the amputation of a body part. This is simply an additional cruelty, however, as Danco usually has cut out the tongue of the victim, making it impossible for their speech to be understood. The victim is also forced to witness his own dismemberment in a mirror hung above his “operating table.”

Jeff Lindsay’s sequel is a return to its dark, macabre humor and unique protagonist.

I T IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEA TO FOLLOW A REGULAR ROUTINE, particularly if you are a homicidal pedophile who has come to the attention of Dexter the Avenger. Happily for me, no one had ever given MacGregor this vital bit of information, and so it was quite easy for me to find him leaving his office at 6:30 PM, as he did every day. He came out the back door, locked it, and climbed into his big Ford SUV; a perfect vehicle for hauling people around to look at houses, or for carrying bundled-up little boys down to the dock. He pulled out into the traffic and I followed him home to his modest concrete-block house on S. W. 80th Street.
There was quite a bit of traffic going by the house. I turned onto a small side street half a block away and parked unobtrusively where I had a good view. There was a tall, thick hedge running down the far side of MacGregor’s lot that would keep the neighbors from seeing anything that went on in his yard. I sat in my car and pretended to look at a map for about ten minutes, just long enough to scheme and be sure that he wasn’t going anywhere. When he came out of his house and began to putter around the yard, shirtless and wearing a pair of battered madras shorts, I knew how I would do it. I headed for home to get ready. In spite of the fact that I normally have a robust and healthy appetite, I always find it difficult to eat before one of my little adventures. My interior associate quivers with rising anticipation, the moon burbles louder and louder in my veins as the night slides over the city, and thoughts of food begin to seem so very ordinary. And so instead of enjoying a leisurely high-protein dinner, I paced my apartment, eager to begin but still cool enough to wait, letting Daytime Dexter melt quietly into the background and feeling the intoxicating surge of power as the Dark Passenger slowly took the wheel and checked the controls. It was always an exhilarating sensation to allow myself to be pulled into the backseat and let the Passenger drive. Shadows seem to grow sharper edges and the darkness fades into a lively gray that brings everything into much sharper focus. Small sounds become loud and distinct, my skin tingles, my breath roars in and out, and even the air comes alive with smells that were certainly not noticeable during the boring and normal day. I was never more alive than when the Dark Passenger was driving. I forced myself to sit in my easy chair and I held myself in, feeling the Need roll over me and leave behind a high tide of readiness. Each breath felt like a blast of cold air sweeping through me and pumping me up bigger and brighter until I was like an enormous invincible beacon of steel ready to slash through the now-dark city. And then my chair became a stupid little thing, a hiding place for mice, and only the night was big enough. And it was time. Out we went, into the bright night, the moonlight hammering at me and the dead-roses breath of the Miami night blowing across my skin, and in almost no time at all I was there, in the shadows cast by MacGregor’s hedge, watching and waiting and listening, just for now, to the caution that curled around my wrist and whispered patience. It seemed pathetic that he could not see something that gleamed as brightly as I did, and the thought gave me another surge of strength. I pulled on my white silk mask and I was ready to begin. Slowly, invisibly, I moved from the darkness of the hedge and placed a child’s plastic piano keyboard beneath his window, putting it under a gladiolus bush so it would not be seen immediately. It was bright red and blue, less than a foot long, and only had eight keys, but it would repeat the same four melodies endlessly until the battery died. I switched it on and stepped back into my place in the hedge. “Jingle Bells” played, and then “Old MacDonald. ” For some reason, a key phrase was missing in each song, but the little toy piped on and into “London Bridge” in the same cheerfully lunatic tone. It was enough to make anyone crazy, but it probably had an extra effect on someone like MacGregor who lived for children. At any rate, I certainly hoped so. I had quite deliberately chosen the little keyboard to lure him out, and I sincerely hoped, in fact, that he would think he had been found out–and that a toy had come from Hell to punish him. After all, why shouldn’t I enjoy what I do? It seemed to work. We were only on the third repetition of “London Bridge” when he came stumbling out of his house with a look of wide-eyed panic. He stood there for a moment, gaping around, his receding reddish hair looking like it had gone through a storm and his pale belly hanging slightly over the waist of his dingy pajama bottoms. He did not look terribly dangerous to me, but of course I was not a five-year-old boy. After a moment, in which he stood with his mouth open, and scratched himself, and looked like he was modeling for a statue of the Greek god of Stupidity, MacGregor located the source of the sound–“Jingle Bells” again by now. He stepped over and bent slightly to touch the little plastic keyboard and did not even have the time to be surprised before I had a noose of fifty-pound-test fishing line pulled tight around his throat. He straightened and thought he might struggle for a moment. I pulled tighter and he changed his mind.

“Stop fighting, ” we said in our cold and commanding Passenger voice. “You’ll live longer. ” And he heard his future in the words and thought he might change it, so I pulled hard on his leash and held it like that until his face turned dark and he dropped to his knees. Just before he passed out completely I eased the pressure. “Now do as you’re told, ” we said. He didn’t say anything; he just choked in a few large and painful breaths, so I tweaked the line a touch. “Understand?” we said, and he nodded so I let him breathe. He did not try to fight anymore as I frog-marched him into the house for his car keys and then back out into his big SUV. I climbed into the seat behind him, holding the leash in a very tight grip and allowing him only enough breath to stay alive, for now. “Start the car, ” we told him, and he paused. “What do you want?” he said in a voice that was rough with new-made gravel. ”Everything, ” we said. “Start the car. “

“I have money, ” he said. I pulled hard on his cord. “Buy me a little boy, ” we said. I held it tight for a few seconds, too tight for him to breathe and just long enough to let him know that we were in charge, we knew what he had done, and we would let him breathe only at our pleasure from now on, and when I loosened the line again he had nothing to say. He drove as we told him to, back up S. W. 80th Street to Old Cutler Road and then south. There was almost no traffic this far out, not at this time of night, and we turned into a new development that had been going up on the far side of Snapper Creek. Construction had halted due to the owner’s conviction for money laundering, and we would not be disturbed. We guided MacGregor through a half-built guard booth, around a small traffic circle, east toward the water, and to a halt beside a small trailer, the temporary office of the site, now left to teen thrill seekers and others, like me, who only wanted a little privacy. We sat for just a moment, enjoying the view–moon over the water, with pedophile in noose in the foreground, very beautiful. I got out and pulled MacGregor out after me, pulled him hard so that he fell to his knees and clawed at the line around his neck. For a moment I watched him choking and drooling in the dirt, his face turning dark again and his eyes going red. Then I pulled him to his feet and pushed him up the three wooden steps and into the trailer. By the time he had recovered enough to know what was going on, I had him tied to the top of a desk, hands and feet secured with duct tape. MacGregor tried to speak and just coughed instead. I waited; now there was plenty of time. “Please, ” he said finally, in a voice like sand on glass, “I’ll give you whatever you want. “

“Yes, you will, ” we said, and saw the sound of it cut into him, and even though he couldn’t see it through my white silk mask we smiled. I took out the photos I had taken from his boat and showed them to him. He stopped moving completely and his mouth hung open. “Where did you get those?” he said, sounding rather petulant for someone who was about to be cut into small pieces. “Tell me who took these pictures. “

“Why should I?” he said. I used a pair of tin snips and cut off the first two fingers of his left hand. He thrashed and screamed and the blood came, which always makes me angry, so I shoved a tennis ball into his mouth and cut off the first two fingers of his right hand. “No reason, ” I said, and I waited for him to slow down just a little bit. When he finally did, he rolled an eye to me and his face was filled with that understanding that comes when you have gone beyond pain into knowing that the rest of this was forever. I took the tennis ball out of his mouth. “Who took the pictures?”

He smiled. “I hope one of them was yours, ” he said, which made the next ninety minutes a lot more rewarding.