We writers must get into the heads of all of our characters, so I knew what the motvations for the murder was going to be even before the killer did. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't read Hell Swamp, you may learn more than you want to in this post.
My name is Ethan Daw. I’m fifteen, and I killed a woman. It’s about time I got to tell my side of the story. I grew up with my dad because my mother just took off one day when I was little. He’s tried to be a pretty good dad, but in all honesty he let me get away with too much. We lived in a rural area of Pender County—deer country—in eastern North Carolina.
I started driving myself to school when I was fourteen so I didn’t have to catch the stinking bus, and my dad had no problem with it either. I was a good driver. I’ve been driving tractors in blueberry fields since I was ten. Anyway, I started hanging with some Goths at my school. They were cool with all the black clothes, chains, piercings, and tats. Dad had no problem with the black clothes but he threatened to kill me if I got any part of my body pierced or tatted. I believed him.
The trouble really started when I shot a nice 8-point buck and my dad sent a picture to the newspaper and they published it with my name. Two days later I got an envelope with the paper clipping inside, but instead of congratulating me on a big kill, the sender wrote “Ethan Daw, you’re a murderer! You’re a killer! You hurt poor defenseless animals. You should be shot!” It didn’t take much thought for me and my dad to know Mrs. Clara Banoak, the local animal rights crazy, sent it. She gave deer hunters and every other kind of hunter a fit every time she heard they’d bagged something. My dad went to see her and when he came back he was mad enough to punch a hole in the wall of our house. He didn’t do anything else, but he was mighty upset about it, and so were other hunters once they heard about it.
In spite of Mrs. Banoak, I sometimes did things around her big yard at Black River Plantation, and her daughter, Nita Quicki, paid me. Now Nita was about forty, I guess, and always hot to trot. She’d been married about five times, and was hornier than any female I’d ever been around. She paid me well, if you know what I mean. To get to the point, my Goth friends and I whacked Crazy Clara one night because she threatened to tell our parents and the law that we were sacrificing puppies during our rituals down by the river. I couldn’t let her do that, so me and the others came up with a plan to hoist her up on her own chandelier and gut her like a deer. I have to admit I threw up for days after that. It’s still hard for me to believe we actually went through with it, but I can still see her body to this day. We would have gotten away with it free and clear, though, if that SBI agent Logan Hunter hadn’t been all up in our business. I liked her at first, but she kept snooping around like a hound on the trail of a wounded deer.
When it all came out, I confessed. Nita is dead, and I’m in juvenile prison. Dad comes to see me every Sunday, even though it takes him several hours to get here. I’m glad to see him, and I’m sorry things got out of hand. It just happened, you know? (Hell Swamp)
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