Name Calling [or Murder as a Form of Self-Expression] By Stephen Faulkner

Name Calling [or Murder as a Form of Self-Expression] By Stephen Faulkner

In Name Calling [or Murder as a Form of Self-Expression], short fiction by Stephen Faulkner, a serial killer has an ongoing, one-side correspondence with the police through his letters to the local newspaper.

Stephen Faulkner has had stories published in a number of online and print magazines and has published two novels titled Aliana in Paradise and Lunar Effects.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   A Citizen Exercising His Right to Be Heard


Dear Mr. Rosen,

I see that you and the news outlet that you work for have taken note of my recent activities. Your reportage on the nature of what you label my “crimes” have been spot on and quite entertaining in their descriptive quality.  I have cc’d the chief of police of our lovely little town so that you both will see that I am not the monster that Chief Deltora believes that I am and whose official statements on the subject you have dutifully quoted in your rag which you laughingly call a newspaper.

I say laughingly since you have not even had the editorial gall to speculate on my motives for the six killings of which I am responsible.

You read that right, Mister Rosen. I said six crimes of murder in the first degree, not the scant three that your reporters and editors have detailed over the last few weeks. The other three victims of my handiwork can be found buried together in a single shallow grave in Grovers Park just a few yards north of the gazebo that’s used for the occasional public concert. I am surprised that no one has noticed the patch of bare earth carved into the lawn at that location or wondered at the reason for such a blatant eyesore to be there in the first place.

You read that right, Mister Rosen. I said six crimes of murder in the first degree…

Talk about the spirit of mankind and its willingness to remain oblivious to something that should have been most painfully obvious. Then there has been all that blather that’s been bandied about these days for the populace to say something if they see something out of the ordinary. Here was a prime example of something very extraordinary – a bare patch of earth in an otherwise pristinely kept and manicured lawn – and no one even gave it a second thought or probably even just a curious glance.

What a piece of work is man, eh?

That’s all for now, boys. I’ll leave you to your work in getting the word out that the Garington Killer – or whatever nickname you see fit to give me – has been at it again. When you have learned all that you can from this new crime scene and have alerted the hoi-polloi of all the facts, you’ll be hearing from me then.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   “The Citizen Killer”


Hello again,

I see that you have come up with a rather creative way of referring to me in the press, Mr. Rosen. I guess the “Citizen Killer” thing comes from how I identified myself in my last letter to you and Chief Deltora. Oh well, so be it then. I’ll take what little claim to fame is offered me even if what I’m called in the press says nothing of my real reasons for doing the things that I do.

I also see that you have found the bodies of the three “gazebo sisters” as I like to call them. I pronounce the word in only two rather than three syllables: gaze-bo instead of gah-zee-bo. Just a little quirk of mine in an effort to be unlike the rest of the sheep that is the majority of the populace of our little town of Garington.

The three young women were sisters as I am sure you have learned since I left their purses, replete with untouched wallets, in their proverbial shallow grave. Anna, Mary and Sheila Blenheim, ages sixteen, seventeen and nineteen respectively. Each one slit from pubic bone to solar plexus with all the gory mess of their gutsy innards  spilling out and messing up their pretty dresses. You needn’t worry that those long and ragged incisions were the means of their deaths.

No, I am not so sadistic a fiend as to carve up the living flesh of nubile young women while they watch their guts slide and ooze out from their gashed open abdominal cavities. I just did the old butcher thing with them après mort to get a rise out of Chief D’s detectives and uniformed grunts, maybe even make one or two of them toss his cookies into the newly trenched out crime scene where the girls lay all in a horror show heap.

No, each of the Blenheim sisters, your Medical Examiner will easily ascertain, died from the imbibing of an alcoholic beverage laced with enough strychnine to bring down a mammal of much greater body weight than that of any of those slender young women I have left for your cohorts in crime-solving to find.

Have I given away too much? Maybe. But remember that I left you three other individual victims of my handiwork each of which show what seems to be the M.O. of a totally different deranged killer and not the work of a single perpetrator. There isn’t any similarity in the ages or genders of those first three victims, if you will recall. In fact, two of those first three were male and one was in his sixties if you can believe that the person pictured on his driver’s license is the person who had it in his wallet at the time of his untimely demise.  As you see, then, I am not so foolish as to give anything away.

There is no one particular manner that this Citizen Killer, as you have chosen to label me, does his dirty deeds. I shall kill as I please, when I please and how I please. That, then, will be the only given for these past killings and those that are still to come.

You might want to change that lame moniker you have given me to something more apropos. Maybe call me “The Unpredictable Killer.” It isn’t a crowd pleaser, but at least it more accurately describes what you will find that I am.

Until next time, gentlemen.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   “Gut Spiller”


No more dear so and so or even a polite hello for you two anymore. You really got my goat this time, boy-os.

I mean, really guys? “Gut Spiller?” After all the laudatory things I’ve been thinking about the two of you, that’s the best you could come up with? You, Wendell, have been handling the investigation to find me in so professional and assiduous a manner and you, Jeffrey, have published Pulitzer Prize worthy reportage in your paper about my accomplishments and how brilliant I have been in avoiding the law.

Until this “Gut Spiller” nonsense began to appear on the TV news reports as the alias to be used in referring to me I had nothing but the highest regard and respect for both of you. So now this is how history will remember me? Not as a magnificently adept killer of innocents but because of his calling card propensity to disembowel his victims after he has dispatched them to their final resting place? “Gut Spiller,” seriously? Not even something creative like the Garington Abdominimalist or from my admission that I do these things as an expression of something inexplicable in my personality and call me the Calling Card Killer.

But then that one would necessitate me leaving an actual calling card at the scene of each crime scene since you law enforcement and journalistic types always seem to be so literal when you come up with labels for any serial killer whose path you cross.

Self-expression is the key here, gentlemen. Keep that in mind the next time you advise the public of my doings in their midst. I expect more from you than that which you’ve afforded me so far.

Tell your men to keep an open eye, then, Wendell, for the next one will be happening very soon. I’m not done yet; not by any means, neither gut spilling, self-expressing or otherwise. No, no, no; I haven’t finished yet.

So get it right next time, boys. Consider this a warning.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   The Former “Gut Spiller” Killer


I had said I was unpredictable and now I think I proved that point.  None of the reports on television or those I’ve read in the papers or on the internet about the murder of the woman jogger in the park was even attributed to me. So now I come forward and admit to this slaying as being my own. There was no gut spilling with this one, only several prominent x-shaped wounds below the woman’s navel and one each on each butt cheek. This will prove that I am the killer since there was no mention of such wounds in any television or newspaper report on the grizzly matter.

So, tell me who you think I am now. How do you like my self-expression with this one? Tell me what you think I’m saying and make it good this time. I’m beginning to run out of patience with you two bozos and your unimaginative name calling.

This time, make me proud.



To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   “Killer X”


I said it once before and I’ll say it again and this time with real disgust and that is this: Really, gentlemen? I mean, seriously? From all I’ve given you in the way of expressing myself through my tireless work this is the best you could come up with? Just “Killer X” and nothing more?  Don’t get me wrong. I understand how you came up with this little epithet you’ve saddled me with. It comes from the fact that I carved x’s onto the flanks and tits of my victims after I had dispatched them to their final peace in the arms of the angel of the underworld. Am I right? Of course I am. But couldn’t you have been a little more imaginative about it, maybe even a bit poetic in your ham-handed approach? Call me the X-Pression Killer or the X Marks The Spot Butcher or something along those lines. But just calling me Killer X…?

Really, fellows, I’m quite disappointed in whichever of you came up with this lame excuse for a title for me. Being you are the writer of the duo, Mister Rosen, I place the blame firmly at your feet.  Now blood of the next victim – and believe me when I say that there will definitely be one and probably more – will be on your hands as much as mine. You leave me no choice but to continue my rampage until such time as you find something true and meaningful with which to refer to me so that history will have a defining phrase as memorable as The Boston Strangler, Son of Sam or The Black Dahlia Killer.

Be warned, boys. Get it right this next time and make it good. My next victim deserves to be killed and mutilated by someone who is famous as much for his memorable name as for his heinous deeds.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   The Nameless One


Now you did it!  You took all my suggestions as to what you might call me and threw it all out the window without any consideration whatsoever. It was a case of the baby with the bathwater as well as the tub itself, leaving both you and me with nothing to hang a hat or coat on, nothing that gives me – or you! – the dignity and definition that each and every human life needs and deserves . No Gut Spiller or X Carver or Citizen of the Month. Just “Nameless.” Not even a question asked or a clue sought as to who I am or why I am doing all these beautifully crafted killings that I have been doing as much for your benefit as for mine.

I give the police of this fair burg a wham-bam mystery to study and solve and something for reporters and writers of every stripe and level of talent working for every news outlet in the country, both print and digital, to get their teeth into and have a field day in writing about something that is sensational, visceral and real. I give the population of not only Garington but the entire country and maybe even the world something to talk about and try to figure out what this creepy jamoke is trying to say by killing all those innocent people in so many different ways.

And you know something, guys? The answer to that last question, the one about the why of what I do? It’s really quite simple. It’s all smoke and mirrors, all subterfuge. You see, there was really only one person I meant to kill and I did that. And no, I will not divulge the gender of the person, how he or she is or is not related to me or give you any other defining characteristics for you to work with. It is just one of the mass of corpses I have left in my wake. All the others are just window dressing, if you will. That’s what I mean by subterfuge. The one telling cadaver could be any one of the slew of the slain that I admit to having offed.

It could be any one of them.

So put that bit of info in your spitpipe and puff on it for a while. Then I’d like you to tell me what you think of me and what you’ll call me the next time I see you yammering and nattering on about this “Nameless One” of whom you have no earthly idea.  That’s right: no idea at all. You have no clue as to this guy’s state of mind, his motives or his emotional make up. All he is to you is this nameless entity that goes around killing willy-nilly and you don’t know him at all.

Proceeding on the way you’ve been going it has become clear to me that you will never have a good solid handle on this crazy assed serial gut spilling slasher/killer/ citizen without a name. All you have is a growing stack of bodies that is beginning to stink and you don’t have the vaguest notion of where to look next or even what or who it is that you seek.

Well, I’ll tell you…. I am right behind you and just around any corner you come to. I am under any rock you step on, in the air that you breathe and the water that you drink. I am wherever you look when you walk, every direction you turn your head, every sound that you hear and the taste of sweet, savory, salt and bile on your tongue. I am everywhere and nowhere; my being tingles in your nerves so that you will never know where I shall show the fruits of my handiwork next.

Again, I am everywhere and nowhere. Catch me if you can.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   The Garington Citizen/Gut Spilling/X Marking/Nameless Killer of Your Darkest Dreams


So you think you’re close, eh? You think you have a solid lead to my identity and how to find me, do you? What was it you said to the press, Chief Deltora, to your buddy Jeff Rosen at the Post Herald? That through the tireless drudgery of police work, of culling through the backgrounds of every victim attributed to me, the serial killer with an impressive accumulation of names and nicknames (all of which are thanks to the hackneyed efforts of our journalistic hero, one Jeffrey Crossling Rosen) you have finally come up with the identity, you think, of the one person I really meant to kill in the first place.

I slap my hands together in congratulatory praise for your own self-congratulations, Chief. Your arm must be real tired and super sore from patting yourself on the back like that. The one question I still have to ask you, though, is this: Are you really sure, 100% certain that you have found the right victim, the one and only one that was my initial target for elimination from the world of the living from the very beginning?

I, of course, am the only person who truly knows the answer to that. You will forgive me if I do not confirm the veracity of your theory – for that it is all that it is at this point: just a theory. I so do want to yell yay or nay to your supposed discovery but to do either would lay myself open for the telltale slamming knock at my door and the authoritarian shout of “Open up! Police!”

I, for one, will do anything to prevent such a calamitous occurrence from becoming a reality in any version of my near future. Nosireebob, just never gonna happen and that’s all I’ll say about that.

In conclusion I’ll just say that it was a nice try, guys, but you still came up short by a real whole lot there.  Oh, well, we just keep on rolling along, then, don’t we?

See you back on Page One.


From the Garington Post-Herald:

The Multi-Named Killer Found and In Custody!

By Jeffrey Rosen

Arthur Kelton, the until now anonymous Multi-Named Killer, has been arrested in the murders of twenty individuals over the course of the last five and a half months. Mister Kelton did not seem unduly surprised at the unannounced appearance of three detectives and a coterie of uniformed police officers headed by the Chief of Police Wendell Deltora at the front door to his modest home on Wallingford Drive in the west end of town. Upon seeing the rather large gathering on his doorstep his only utterance before ushering them inside was a cordial “What took you guys so long?”

The police remained in the man’s home only long enough for him to be placed under arrest, Mirandized and handcuffed before being escorted to the nearest police car which then transported him to Police Headquarters on Trebble Boulevard in downtown Garington. Mister Kelton is scheduled to face indictment for his crimes at the Main Criminal Court Building on Bednego Street on Tuesday the 23rd. Mister Kelton will be represented by a court appointed defense attorney to be named later.

It has been the privilege and horror of this reporter from the very beginning to be able to bring this story of the perpetrator of at least twenty murders to the awareness of the public. Mister Kelton has been called many creatively coined names during his brief career. Among them are the “Citizen Killer,” “Killer X,” the “Gut Spiller” and the “Criss-Cross Killer,” the last of which refers to his penchant for carving a series of x’s into the flesh of his recently dispatched victims.

None of these names even begins to describe the depravity of this man and his total disregard for life in general and for the fact that he has brought sudden and irrevocable ends to the lives of so many innocent human beings in such a heinous and appallingly self-congratulatory manner. The man apparently has no morals or ethics. He has been initially diagnosed by several attending mental health professionals as “one of the most extreme examples of criminal insanity ever encountered by any of the members of this hastily marshalled panel.”

Please indulge me as I now vent my own, personal feelings at the violently expressed passions of Mister Kelton and, I hope, express the feelings of the entire readership of the Garington Post-Herald, as well. The Garington community and the human family as a whole are well rid of this soulless scourge who has expressed for the last time his despicable idea that human life has no real value or integrity at all. All humanity has value and meaning; all human life matters; all human beings are worth more than being mere victims to a madman’s lunatic need to kill and be commended for his monstrous deeds.


To: Mr. Jeffrey Rosen, Editor-in-Chief, The Garington Post-Herald

Cc:  Wendell Deltora, Garington Chief of Police

From:   Guess Who?


Poor Arthur Kelton. Here is the guy that has taken the fall for the “expressions” as you, Jeffrey, so eloquently put it, that I have foisted on the awareness of the readers of your fine news outlet and, in so doing, you have allowed me, as the saying goes, to get away scott free.

I knew I had set up the right guy for the fall – though I won’t say exactly how I was able to arrange such a charade – but I was quite surprised to read that his only comment when the gendarmerie were thundering at his door was “What took you guys so long?”  It seems that some further investigation into the shady and hidden past of our Mister Kelton needs to be done to ascertain why he was so unfazed by such an official visitation as the one that he had just received.

In the meantime, friends, you have left me free and easy to practice my own form of “self-expression.” Also, it occurs to me, that unless you wish to admit to the reading public your idiotically perpetration of a gross miscarriage of justice, then it seems that there is really nothing you can do to stop me.

Is there?

I thought not. So, as children say to one another on the playground when a nasty point has been made and the need is apparently there to rub it in, I place my thumbs in my ears and waggle my hands as I give voice to this magically satisfying chant:


See you in the next edition, suckers!


If you’ve enjoyed Name Calling [or Murder as a Form of Self-Expression], you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

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