He liked them brittle. Little, broken birds. And if they were not like that at the beginning, they would surely be that at the end.
So he liked the endings best, the final cuts, the final parting words and pleadings. The tears, the begging, all chirping songs from the mouths of his shattered toys.
As a child he’d done his surgery on his sister’s dolls, and withstood her recriminations and fury as he had found his calling. In his home, in any case, men and boys ruled, as he knew should be so. And he was brilliant and gifted, and soon rose to heights in life as a well-respected plastic surgeon. So his little birds could be assured his work was perfect, well refined. It was art.
Sometimes he liked to cut them just below the eyelids – only enough to leave slight scars, but still enough for bleeding to look like bright red tears. Others times he’d enhance them, collagen to the lips, fillers to the cheekbones, etching the new face from the old.
By the end he did more, much more. They’d be battered, re-configured, stretched in face and body to entirely new, improved forms. But the process was gradual. He liked the time to last. His time with his broken birds was precious to him, it was sacred, and shouldn’t be rushed.
By the time he abandoned a project they were an art work, though the police and the media did not appreciate the technique it seemed. Still, he was undeterred.
Pearls before swine, he would think.
He killed ten in total before they caught him. And even then it was just dumb luck that betrayed him – someone recognising him from haunting a cafe where his latest project had been found. How the little things bring you undone, he thought, just like the wrong hairline incision on a patient. They rudely dragged him away from his greatest work yet. So close, so close to completion.
She was the best, the best of all he found to his surprise. Because this broken bird was struck dumb with fear and never complained, never pleaded. She suffered in a noble silence that was ascetic, almost spiritual. He admired her for that. It did not occur to him that she might actually be mute, for he never researched their lives very much. It was their beauty that mattered and what he could fashion of it, and in any case their lives were close to over once he chose them.
When they told him she actually couldn’t speak, he still marvelled that she didn’t even cry. They seemed to think this made it worse. Attacking even the disabled, one said, as though that meant anything at all. How little they understood! She was his greatest work and his best choice of all and the only sadness was that he did not get to complete the job.
And now death beckoned him. They taunted him about it, the good old electric chair. He didn’t mind.
Great artists are never appreciated till they are dead.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016