Dr H.H. Holmes
Dear reader, I lied to you. I think I had given the impression that I had jumped off that putative second carousel. On a sweltering night in August 1885, had you been in Mooers Forks N.Y., ears alive, you might have heard, emanating from the outskirts of town, a terrible howling, yowling, yammering, screaming cacophony, consisting of poor creatures aclatter, afire, affright, going pell mell; a chaotic derby from Hell! And me cheering, stomping, laughing like a loon. Coyotes are just dogs really; they can outrun a smouldering hobo by quite a margin even if it’s just that of the leash.
I was peregrinating, like certain birds with wings like sickles. My first job in medicine was as a ‘Keeper’ at Norristown State Hospital Philadelphia, but I quit after a few days, due to severe differences of opinion; the management no better than the cod-docs at my first college. Subsequently, I took up a position at a drugstore in that town. While I was working there, a boy died, who was seen with me. Well, I do recall meeting a boy and discussing things along the lines of his puny intellect, but honestly, I don’t remember killing one then and there, but tag it to my rap for all I care – I’m dead for Chrissakes! Then a boy died after taking medicine I’d prescribed, and it seemed maybe I was to blame. (It seemed there was a pattern developing.) I denied that pat, since the little brat looked like he was a walking cadaver in the first place, and people died like flies, and he probably deserved it anyway, and laudanum isn’t buttermilk. But I felt it was about time to hie my derriere elsewhere, set up shop and get the show on the road proper. I moved to Chicago.
Things were moving along nicely. I’d changed my name to the eponymous triple H. I’d found a job in another drugstore: Elizabeth S. Holton's, in Engelwood. I had found a new filly, and she was Myrta Belknap (I later married her bigamously and claimed to the authorities that ole Clara had been doing the dirty on me with another, and nothing much came of that matrimonial business). But by now, I was getting some serious urges of a murderous nature like impetuous wood in a teen, and I wanted to build myself a nest, and then I thought I had found a suitable area for one. The Holton’s were sweet people to me, and I worked hard for them, astute and diligent. (As it happened, Mr. Holton was my senior at Michigan, and that helped me along some.)
Doing well from that arrangement, I felt like the queen wasp in need of that Goddamn nest site, so driven to get the whole business up and running. So, I went buzzing around for my place of establishment. I checked out many places, quite far and wide in the purlieu, but it was somewhere just over the Rd, somewhere just perfect for construction, and I set about designing it in my mind, sure of its design from instinct, a blueprint truly sinister. I hired these asshole architects (who I basically instructed on the design) and builders (ditto) and up she went, a huge rambling block that could hold whatever I wanted, you name it; different cells for different business purposes. I would rent it out to a jeweler, an accountant, a dentist, a tenant/guest, whomever. But it was MY NEST. It had a cellar, which was work in progress, and no one who came into that place could know about that beforehand – after that, it was a moot point, since they didn’t leave.
As with any Hymenoptera nest, you start off small, one cell, one room. Initially, with the decor, I didn’t have any workers apart from myself really; I was Queen, and every other Goddamn role besides, a regular Mary Poppins – ho hum. A yellajacket nest is distended hexagons made of Papier Mache, within a kinda ass-wipe paper Rugball arrangement. And the little grubs are in there like greedy babies (like human babies are grubs really). And if you get too close, they come and suss you out, and that should be enough given their alarming color scheme and buzzing. And then if you stand pat, they butt you on the noddle. Then if you won’t hie your ass outta there, they give you warning number three, which is butting and a whole concert of buzzing, which should be plenty, lest you’re a wethead. Then they lose their patience and sting you like you’re a pin cushion, till you get outta-town like a shitheel afire, acclatter, and maybe you even die – vamoose!
Yellajackets and baldi-hornets don’t have it all their own way though, despite what they might like to think: if you’re daring enough, get some sal-petre and make a solution out of it and drench the nest piecemeal, then when it’s dried, crusty with the crystals, light the mother and see it burn, see them acrawl sans wings (but don’t burn your place down!) – anyone who can’t crack up at that must have a heart of granite.
I had decided that eventually the premises which I had designated ‘The Castle’ would be a guesthouse and that that was the best arrangement for my purposes, to keep my prey and kill and dispose of them. The rooms troubled me somewhat, since I needed to kill them within without causing any disturbance, elicit attention. But I was smart – like ichneumon wasps – and was thinking about that all the while, in virtuoso proportions. I was house proud and ambitious, and everything had to go to the plan, as bizarre as it was.
It was remarkable how the cells kept increasing, as if the Castle was an organism growing of its own accord, but how in the Hell could it, given it was just dead stuff I controlled. It was growing as materially as my designs; maybe I was so entranced by the whole wicked project, I just wasn’t paying attention. And by golly was there some hootin’ tootin’ dandy fun in store, and it seemed to know it and surely grew in sync, commensurate.