The first man that Vera killed, that was with her bare hands. Later she mastered all manner of instruments – scissors and stilettos and electric rods and poisoned kisses – but that very first man, she killed in a fight. He deserved it. Not all of her lovers deserved the death Vera gave them, but that first guy- he was the kind of guy that made his words into a drug and stuffed them down Vera’s throat until she couldn’t breathe and every breath she did take was for him.
Vera told me that his name was Luke, but I’m pretty sure she was lying. Vera lies a lot. I guess the name of your first kill is just the sort of detail that you want to keep circled round your hips like the arms of your childhood sweetheart.
I like to think of our world's original sweethearts as the sky and the earth. Who needed love poetry when the sky could show the earth all the undiscovered wonders of its nebulae, their colour more vivid than any schoolboy blush?
It's a sentiment, and a nice one at that.
Another example of Vera lying: she told me, once, that the reason she kills is for the glamour. She likes the seduction of life, slipping through her hands. She likes the destruction of death, acrid stench of blood rotting inside the body. Your blood rots, you know. Once you’re buried and forgotten and the worms have begun their celebratory feast on your eyeballs, your blood thickens and festers and disintegrates.
But for all the make-up she masks her face with, all the glittery dresses she waltzes about in like she’s caught and hand-stitched all the stars in the sky, the glamour isn’t why Vera kills.
Vera kills every lover she’s ever with, and she kills them for revenge. Half the time, this particular lover is besotted with Vera, but she murders them anyway. She waits a while, sure, depending on how long they entertain her for, but wait a couple more months and they bore her and they're dead.
It's not their fault that they're dead, but there you are. Every one that Vera murders, she murders because of that first love of hers, the first guy, Luke.
Look at it this way. Every time Vera closes her eyes, the face that’s sketched under her eyelids in stark black permanent marker is Luke’s. When she combs her silky brown hair, she’s thinking about Luke. When she’s curled up on the window ledge, her feet tucked underneath her like a little girl, she’s not reading the words in her book. If you think so, you know Vera about as well as the fly knows the spider that eats it. The only word that Vera sees on those anorexic thin white pages is ‘Luke’, and then again, over and over again, ‘Luke’, ‘Luke’, ‘Luke’.
It’s an obsession, but it’s so easy to become obsessed with her obsession.
I suppose that’s the thing about humanity. We’ve got a penchant for the hopelessly lost, the ones who’ve wandered so far from reason that they dine in the evenings with the Mad Hatter. It’s instinct to try to save them from themselves, I think. In the end, though, it’s always the would-be-rescuers that need saving.
Vera, she’s so easy to fall in love with. She’s got this kind of mesmerising, tragic charisma exploding out from her. It makes you want to believe that you’re the one who’s going to love her so much that she forgets all about murder and vengeance and all the other little hobbies she entertains.
She won’t forget, though. She’ll never forget. Vera has a memory that’s been coated in tar. The past sticks with her, and that’s why her nineteen previous lovers are dead.
I am her twentieth, and it’s only a matter of time before I’m dead as well.
Time is short, but I know enough words to make it last a while longer. This is not my story. You don’t care why I’m with Vera, and why I’ve sworn to myself never to leave her. If you do, then remember that Lucifer got pushed from Heaven for caring.
This is not the story of how I’m going to die.
This is the story of Vera, and of Luke, and of those white, clenched hands against his throat that blurred his vision until he choked the way that Vera had choked on his kisses.
It’s a good story, if you have the patience to listen and I don’t die before it’s over.
A casual warning: It goes without saying, really, but I can’t guarantee the latter.