Every person you will ever see, all you see of them is death. Dead skin. Dead hair. Dead nails. Every person you will ever love is encased by a shell of death. Francis told me that. Saying things like that was probably how Francis justified the things he eventually did. I’m not even sure if he’s still alive. I’m not even sure if he would care.
Francis lived in the apartment above mine in a row of duplexes. Francis didn’t socialize. I didn’t even learn his name until after everything was discovered. He was the boogeyman of our row of houses. Everyone knew someone lived in 5B, but no one but me had ever caught more than a fleeting glimpse of him late at night. I’d spoken to him briefly 3 or 4 times the entire time I lived below him, and every time he would spout some nonsense about death or decay. All the neighbors had unsubstantiated stories about Francis, but none of the stories actually got it right. It wasn’t until Francis was gone that we learned what had really been going on, and after I found out I had to find somewhere else to live.
Francis originally had a roommate, Clark. Clark was even more of a shutin than Francis. I don’t think most of the neighbors even knew Clark existed. I had lived below the two of them for over a year and I had no idea Francis had a roommate. They kept to themselves, and I kept to myself. I never acknowledged the presence that lived directly above me. At least not until the smell came down through my vents. I couldn’t place what it was. I’d smelled it before, but never this intensely. It was unbearable. It was suffocating. I finally had to call the landlady about it.
She sent her maintenance man to investigate the source. The maintenance man would be Francis’ undoing. Knocks on the door were ignored. Yells were ignored. The maintenance man did not have much power, but he did have keys, and he could enter an apartment without permission if ignored for long enough. The law couldn’t hold Francis responsible what happened next, but I’m sure he was very pleased to have been involved in it.
The maintenance man saw a body in the middle of the living room floor. The body was in pieces spread across the floor and surrounded by candles. The body was swarming with flies and pulsing with maggots. It probably wasn’t the sight as much as the smell. The terrible mix of decay and sweet incense. He turned to run toward the door. Then he vomited. The maintenance man slipped on his own partially digested lunch, fell back, caught his skull on the edge of an imitation cherry counter corner, and spilled his blood across the lemon chiffon tiles in the kitchen. I heard the noise and walked up the stairs to investigate. After my initial shock at the sight of the crimson contents of the maintenance man’s head surrounding his lifeless body, I looked into the apartment and saw what had been keeping Francis so well occupied.
The room was filled with air fresheners, incense, candles, all to cover up the smell, but eventually it had grown too powerful to be contained. The furniture had all been moved to the edges of the room, and there, in the center of the floor, was what was left of Clark’s body. Francis stepped out of the bathroom wearing nothing but briefs stained with, what I can only assume was, Clark’s putrid fluids. He stared, listlessly, at me, walked to the middle of the room, and sat down next to the remaining pieces of Clark. He ran his fingers through a piece of Clark’s head that still had hair attached.
‘Well, I guess the fun’s over, Clark.’
I walked out of his apartment, still dazed by what I had seen, and called the police. I told them there were two dead bodies in the apartment above mine. One was probably a murder. The other looked like an accident from a reaction to the first. I made sure to tell them that they didn’t need to send an ambulance. The dead don’t get much deader than Clark and the maintenance man.
When the police arrived, Francis was still sitting on the floor stroking Clark’s hairy skull fragment. He knew their affair would only last so long. The police came and arrested Francis. He had no problem telling them exactly what he had done. He wasn’t ashamed. About a week before the maintenance man’s death Francis decided to kill Clark. He simply crushed his skull with a hammer. Clark hadn’t done anything to provoke it. After Clark was completely dead, Francis fucked the dead body up the ass a few times. After a few hours of this Francis cut pieces off of the body to eat. He cut new holes in the body to fuck. He continued doing this until Clark was left in nothing but pieces. Pieces with holes in them. Holes filled with maggots. Francis made sure to tell the police repeatedly that he loves the feel of the maggots. He had wanted it to last as long as possible, so at one point he had left the house to buy the candles and other things to cover up the smell.
After all of this happened, I moved to a different apartment in a different part of the city. There was a media frenzy for a few months about the ‘crazed cannibal killer.’ I was approached for a few interviews, but I never agreed to one. I didn’t keep up with the trial or what had happened to Francis. The most recent thing I’d heard about him was that a guard at the prison had found him fucking the dead body of his cellmate. That came as no surprise at all.
Since the incidents with Francis happened, a couple of people [who didn’t know about Francis] have complained to me about their neighbors. They had noisy neighbors. Their neighbor’s dog shit on their yard. Things like that. I just nod and listen. I had Francis. No one can top that.
Murdoch LaMarche is a supervillain.