Transcription of a 911 call placed by Bill T., [DATE]
OPERATOR: 911, what is your emergency?
B: My god, my god, he’s killin’ her!
OPERATOR: I’m sorry, sir, what?
B: He’s killin’ her! My god, he’s killin’ my wife!
OPERATOR: Who is killing your wife, sir?
B: I don’t fucking know! My god! You wouldn’t fuckin’ believe me! You wouldn’t fuckin’ believe me! Oh my god! Helen! God, no!
OPERATOR: Sir, please, I can’t-
B: Damn it! Oh god, he just wants me to hear it! He just wants me to hear her!
OPERATOR: Sir, who-
B: It’s that thing! It’s that thing, it came in the house! It’s in the house now! God, Helen no! I can’t get in the door! I can’t get in there! [sounds of loud banging on a door] Christ! Christ, you motherfucker! Let me in!
OPERATOR: Sir, calm down! Calm down, I need you to stop a moment and tell me what’s happening!
B: That thing has my wife! He said he’d come for her, but I thought I was dreaming. [some silence] MY GOD! NO! [NAME REDACTED] Oh my god, I can’t hear her anymore! I can’t hear her!
OPERATOR: Sir! I need you to talk to me to let me help you-
B: He’s killed my wife! Man, he’s killed my wife! She’s dead! She’s dead, she’s dead!
OPERATOR: Sir, please, I need to help you. I need you to talk to me through this, alright? Alright?
B: Oh shit…
OPERATOR: Where are you at, sir?
OPERATOR: Alright, we’re getting your location. Sir? What’s happening right now?
B: [soft knocking sounds]
OPERATOR: Are you there, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: [some distance from the receiver - unintelligible, followed by what is thought to be “Put it away.”]
OPERATOR: Jesus Christ. Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: [again, thought to be “Put it away,” followed by “Listen to him.”]
The call was dropped without another word, and the tape player clicked off. Bill T. sat before me, his head in his hands, visibly shaken.
His wife, Helen, sat beside him.
“I don’t know how he did it,” he said. “I just don’t know how it happened. I would swear to you on a stack of Bibles that somethin’ was just tearin’ into her that night, but here she is.”
And there she was, sitting solemnly on the worn, floral-patterned couch. I asked her what it was she thought about it all, and she sighed and removed her glasses. “I don’t know,” she said. “I honestly don’t know what to think. I know he saw what he saw, but I can’t understand it.”
“You’re sure of it?” I asked her.
“He has a glass of red wine with dinner because it’s good for you. He might have a few drinks with his friends during the games, but other than that, he doesn’t touch it. He doesn’t come home drunk, he doesn’t do drugs, he’s never done anything like that before.”
“We’re a regular, boring couple, you know?” he added. “We mind our own business. I don’t argue with nobody. Nothin’. And then here comes these dreams, or what I thought was dreams.”
“Did you talk about these dreams to each other?” I asked.
Helen sighed again. “No. Not really. He told me about the first one, but he’d only say he’d had another one after that.”
“They shook me up, you know?” he said. “But I figured, you know, maybe it was just my new medication. I was plannin’ to talk to the doctor. about it, ‘cause it was startin’ to be a real problem, and then that happened.”
“And did you find out about the medication when you were hospitalized?”
Both Bill and Helen winced a bit. “Yeah,” Bill said, “I did, but [my medication] doesn’t do things like that. Worst it does is make you puke, and I never had any of that. But it’s not like they really did anything, anyway. They watched me for a week and sent me home, and I haven’t heard a thing since.”
Bill had to be hospitalized for several days after the incident. When the police arrived, they had found him unconscious, slumped against his bedroom door. It is believed he had gone into cardiac arrest, and all involved are shocked that he survived at all. Helen gripped his hand in her own.
“How are you feeling now?” I asked him.
“Better. I’m on more medication, but I’m better. I’m doin’ better in church, now, that’s for sure. If anything, this has gotten me closer to God.”
“You should tell him what that thing was saying about that.” Helen told him, suddenly.
Bill furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head. “Oh, Lord. That’s how I- I just know that thing is straight from Hell. I know he is. That night, when it came in, it was like those dreams, you know? But I just felt like I was more awake, and it - he - was talkin’ to me and goin’ on about stuff, I can’t remember what. But he started askin’ me stuff like, ‘Will you pray?’ ” He paused a moment. “I mean, not like that, I guess you know how he talks. But he kept asking me if God was going to keep me safe, you know, and I told him yes.
“So he told me to pray. He said I should ask God to take him away from me.” he paused a moment and shook his head. “But you know, I just feel like I wasn’t taking him seriously or somethin’. I wasn’t as strong in spirit, then, you know? I was lazy about church, I was lazy about God. And then he just keeps orderin’ me to pray, almost perverted, really. But what else was I supposed to do, you know?”
It wasn’t uncommon, as far as these stories go. By all accounts, he seemed rather fond of proving himself stronger than the faith of his victims. In fact, many of those we’d uncovered lost their faith to him completely. Bill had the distinction of having his strengthened for some time. We’d kept in contact for many months, afterwards, and what had once been talk of nightly visitors and demons quickly turned into talk of good tidings and grandchildren’s birthdays. He had become a deacon in his church and one of the go-to men for advice, spiritual or otherwise, in his local community. It made for a great success story, and for a good while, had attested to the benevolent power of God over the Devil and his ilk.
It wasn’t meant to last, though.
Not even a year after this interview, Bill would be found again in his home, lying limp on the carpet. This time, there was no miraculous survival. After his decade-long battle with heart disease, his heart had stopped, and he was laid to rest in a quiet, picturesque cemetery lined in walnut trees in the hills. We got a call from his sister-in-law, and Diana, Marjory and I had attended out of respect. It was a seemingly normal ceremony where we were made to feel quite welcome by the family and community. Of course, we were still strangers to all but Helen, who, as the widow, was often being shuttled from grieving person to grieving person, so naturally, we stayed near the back, watching from a distance.
It was nearing the end of the service, after the casket was there interred and all the attendees were mingling, that a pristine white car rolled up, and a gentleman I quickly recognized as one of the funeral home’s staff strolled quietly to us.
“Excuse me, sir, but are you Robert Q.?” he asked in a whisper. I nodded, and he extended a small, plain white envelope. “Mr. Q., the wi- Helen would like me to give this to you. I’m sorry I didn’t get it to you, earlier.”
I thanked him, and he left with a nod. We were quickly met with dozens of goodbyes and well-wishes, eventually making our way to Helen. She made sure I’d gotten her envelop, and we said our final goodbyes.
I hadn’t thought to open it until after we’d returned to our hotel room, and even then, Diana had to remind me. I opened it expecting to find a sort of thank-you or the like, and instead found a small handwritten letter of a completely different sort.
I don’t know what I can possibly tell anyone, right now, but I know that you and your friends will understand. No one but the E.R. staff, the mortician, myself, and now you know about this, and still, no one wants to say anything about it. No one wants to talk about it, and I don’t even really want to talk about it. What everyone has been telling you is that he had a heart attack, but no one who saw it besides me will ever tell you what else:
When I found him, he was on the floor, sat up against the wall with a paring knife in his hand. Carved upside-down into his belly was, “HERE LIES A DAMNED MAN GOD HAS FORSAKEN”
Please do not tell anyone else, especially the family. I want you to know about this, but I also want him to finally rest in peace. He was a good man and he loved the Lord with all his heart, and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise.
Please do not contact me after this.
I stared at the letter for a long while before showing Diana and Marjory. We were stunned, not sure what to do the rest of the night, debating off and on whether or not to contact Helen again, against her wishes.
As it happened, we thought better of it. As sickening as it is to say, it was just another case. It wasn’t until a month later that Marjory came to me, apparently after fishing around on the internet to tell me that Helen was long gone from their original residence. Packed up and moved away, to God only knew where.
However, there was another strange bit of information that Marjory had to reveal. In the time that I was corresponding with Bill, she had sent a few letters back and forth to Helen, mostly regarding their children and grandchildren. The post was the preferred means of communication with them, as they were an older couple not particularly well-versed in the ways of the Internet Age. The difference between the correspondences was that the letters between Bill and I were typed, his being on an electronic typewriter and mine from the computer, save for the last one after the typewriter had broken and was being repaired, whereas the letters between Helen and Marjory were all handwritten and personal, even including pictures. When she came to me, that day, Marjory produced the two letters side-by-side.
The letter given to me at the funeral was not in Helen’s handwriting.
It was in Bill’s.