Mulholland Books Popcorn Fiction Popcorn Fiction - Bucket List Killer Meets Dan Patrick by Jack Walker
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A killer's request to be interviewed by a famous sports commentator is granted in this odd tale from novelist Jack Walker.

Bucket List Killer Meets Dan Patrick

Q Why did you ask me to come back?

A I probably was a little rude, I'm sorry, and anyway I thought of an idea how to be comfortable talking to you.

Q You said you don't like lawyers and wanted to act as your own counsel in the trial. Have you changed your mind?

A No, fuck, always hate lawyers. They fuck me up royally. But I worry about doing the trial alone. I can get confused. The thing is, I don't want the death penalty. That's the only thing. What you call it? Per poh?

Q In pro per. It means you act as your own lawyer. Never a good plan. What's your idea?

A Dan Patrick. You said you knew him. Bring him here with you.

Q Oh, shit. My big mouth.

A His column in Sports Illustrated interviews all these great athletes. He's one of the few people I would trust. If you can get him to sit in, I'm okay talking with you.

Q Okay, here we are. God knows how. This will not be a privileged conversation because Mr. Patrick is here. But go ahead, say what you want.

A Okay, thank you. So I always wanted to kill someone. Ever since I was a little boy when my father told me how cool it would be to take someone out to make the world better. He didn't mean like combat or officer-involved, none of the authorized shit. We're talking about a clean, surprise, civilian kill, where I planned it, lurked, did it, got away with it–or not, I guess—then read about it in the newspaper, and had all the feelings. That's what I was after, the feelings—the high, the guilt, the feeling of job-well-done, even the fear of getting caught.

DP And then the feelings after you got caught? Like you were?

A That was a bonus. No, I can tell what you're thinking. I'm not crazy or even close. And I'm not a bad person. Never hurt a fly before. I admit I get stuck on things. My life hasn't been that great, particularly since I moved to L.A. But I'm not an angry type of person, either. It's just that, killing someone, someone who deserved it—not just any jerk–has been my goal ever since I was a little kid in Harrisburg, the white trash weakling in the schoolyard. It's true, for some reason, people always picked on me. 'Just teasing' they'd say when some grownup came along to break it up. Even at work, later. Fuck teasing. My revenge was at night, when I'd plot out their perfect murder, clean as a whistle. I read crime books and watched the TV shows, I studied how to do perfect murders, all the angles. I even joined the National Guard when I didn't have to–no wars on then, because I am a major pussy, even though I'm a big guy–so I could get the weapons training. That's a long time ago. And my gun club. Which is I guess how the cops figured this out. But it took me years to actually do it, pull the trigger. It's embarrassing how much time I wasted fiddle-farting around, not doing it.

DP So what happened?

A I'm not sure we should go there, Dan. This is all discoverable.

Q No, shut the fuck up, lawyer. I want to go there. So, Mr. Patrick, I turned 55 early last year and that felt like a big deal. I decided I wasn't going to turn 60 without killing someone. My health was slipping. Eyesight and everything. I always figured I needed two things before I did it: a person I REALLY wanted dead, and complete boredom with my life. I'm a pussy like I said, but I wanted there to be nothing to lose. There've been lots of people I wanted dead, including public figures. Whose death would make the world better. But it was the second thing—total boredom—that was the hard part. It finally came together last Fall. I kept looking for really bad situations, and I finally found one.

DP What was that?

A Doesn't matter. It was in a nursing home, wiping old people's asses, but it doesn't matter. It's about state of mind. It was exactly perfect. And, thank God, someone turned up who I REALLY REALLY wanted dead. I knew it would be a real plus for the community if this person was dead. I do care about that—I was raised Catholic. Did you know?

DP No. I did not know that.

A Anyway, I went ahead and finally did it. But then, I'm still a little shaky because I got caught. I didn't expect that.

DP Do you really think it was okay to do it, looking back on it?

A I know other people think about killing people they hate all the time, doing perfect murders. Maybe most people. I know because they all used to tell me. I'm not the smartest guy in the traditional sense. But I know some things.

DP So that makes it okay?

A My old man put it in my head. I never forget what he told me. 'Son, you don't have a lot going for you.' He was fresh out of the pen then in Harrisburg. 'That's my fault, I guess.' He had this big shit-eating grin. 'More that dumb bitch who I think was your mother and who dumped you back on my doorstep and then fucking disappeared, cunt, as if she didn't sleep with every man-jack in Pennsylvania one time or other. You do look a little like me. That dumb shit look. Hahahaha.' We both had a big laugh. I was eleven. 'Here's what you do, bud. For me. Pick someone who deserves it, and take him out careful.' That's what he said. Like I said I was eleven in a foster home then, went to church with my foster parents. I remember every word he said. Forty-five years ago. Pop went back in the pen quick enough, but that was his advice. Never saw him again. I don't think he ever killed anybody.

DP So what was your plan with Taliaferro?

A Mr. Patrick!

Q Shut up, bitch. My plan? He was a bad guy. Divorced four times. Couldn't hold a job. Arrested for stealing as a kid. Pretty sure he was an alcoholic. I did the research. Screamed at me that time when he walked in on that little Jewish lady sleeping in the wheelchair to steal her shit and didn't expect anybody else to be in there. I was taking a crap in her bathroom. He really pissed me off what he did. She died soon after. She was real sweet. Then I found out he was mean to everybody, not just me. Little fucker, little fucking dictator. Everybody on the staff knew he was stealing from the poor old people. Probably to buy booze. Can you imagine? Some of the Mexicans helped him do it. I wouldn't help him. I hated him, told him to fuck off. He said he would get me fired for taking a crap in that lady's bathroom. But I was the only staff with documents. Anyway, it was easy enough. I followed him home a few times to Valencia, just hung around and watched his patterns. He lived by himself with his fucking black dog at the end of this quiet cul de sac. He put the trash out on trash night. I followed him back into his garage with my silencer gun. It was easy in, easy out. Just like I planned it. Except I shot the dog too. I hate dogs. That's what got the press all excited, shooting the fucking dog. The press gets into it, the cops have to dig into it. But, maybe it was a mistake, shooting the fucking dog. Do you think? Are you taking notes there?

Q Yes.

A Why?

Q I always take notes.

DP So what happened at the house? You just shot him in the head in cold blood?

Q I can't listen to this.

A I did. Just like Pop and I talked about it. Clean. And his dog. Also in the head. It was a big ugly Lab. It wasn't barking or anything, I just don't like dogs. Although I felt bad later about the dumb dog. Isn't that weird? So I closed down the guy's house and walked back down to my car a few blocks away down the hill and drove away. Totally clean. Never saw a soul. It was an amazing high.

Q Have you ever been in trouble with the law before? I can't find anything.

A I have a lot of aliases, but, no, I've kept clean, just waiting for the perfect crime to show up. Pop wasn't clean. He was always doing crazy shit, always in jail. I didn't want that life.

Q Looks like you have that life now. Did Mr. Taliaferro ever threaten you?

A I don't mean the jail. I mean always doing crazy shit, always ducking the cops, stealing to keep alive. That was Pop. I've pretty much supported myself. Did Taliaferro threaten me? He threatened to fire me for using that old lady's bathroom when I caught him looking through her stuff. We weren't supposed to do that. But I told him if he tried that I'd blow the whistle on his hiring all those illegals. I have to laugh. I used that approach before with other employers. Always works. But I was a good worker.

Q But no physical threats?

A No. Christ. Little piss-ant. He couldn't hurt me. Mr. Patrick, who's in your next column?

DP Next week? LeBron James.

A He's a dick. Anyway, I hate basketball.

DP What sports do you like?

A I just like your column. I don't like sports. Except for the swimsuit issue. I read you for the first time in a dentist's office just before I was arrested. An old issue with the old football player. Had a crown put on that day. Almost bankrupted me. I just like the way you were talking to him—honest, and a little funny. And short sentences.

DP Thanks. You mean Brett Favre?

A I think so. The one who kept retiring. He's a dick too. Make your fucking mind up. Do you think you'll ever do a column about me? About this interview?

DP No, I don't think so. I'm just doing her a favor. She's an old friend.

Q Do you want me to represent you?

A It's nice that you're friends. I don't give a crap if you represent me. But I guess, I don't want to have the death penalty, so, sure why not? Would you mind?

Q It's my job. I'm a good worker, too. Not sure you can avoid the death penalty. Do my best.

A Let me ask you, do you think I deserve it? Be honest.

Q Absofuckinglutely.

A Mr. Patrick? What about you?

DP Don't have a clue. What do you think?

A Me? Absolutely deserve it. I did the legal research before. Don't want it, but, sure. Absolutely. Sure. My father never got it. But he never did what I did. So, maybe it's okay. But I confess it's not my favorite.

About the Author

Jack Walker grew up, or allegedly grew up, in the Bronx in New York City. His mother was pregnant with him when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, which explains a lot. He somehow got into Harvard Law School after avoiding the draft by joining the United States Marine Corps and spending a year in Vietnam as an infantry officer. Having milked and bilked the legal profession for thirty-some years, he recently retired and is now trying to make his way as a writer, as if Los Angeles doesn't have enough underemployed writers. His first novel, The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria: A Political Fiction, has just been published. He lives with his wife in Los Feliz and plays bad golf with some odd characters.