Even when I delve right back into my earliest memories, I knew that he was fucked up.
That was why I needed no clues from the police who arrived on my doorstep.
No sooner had they introduced themselves than I said the words that had been darting round in my head for the last twenty years.
‘I know why you’re here. It’s my brother. He’s a serial killer, isn’t he?’
I’d invited the officers into the living room and sat them down. I guess they were far more accustomed to denial, to shrieks of ‘Oh my God’ and determined statements of ‘No, that’s definitely not true. He’s a lovely guy. Keeps himself to himself. Never been in any trouble’.
So, when they asked me ‘Why didn’t you report him to us?’ I told them the truth. I knew he was a psycho and a serial killer in the making. I knew what he was capable of, but what I didn’t know was when he’d strike, and, as I told the police, you can’t arrest someone for being an arse.
My early memories were vibrant, hence unforgettable. Like the time, my brother pinned me to the floor and used my chest as a trampoline. Like the time when he listened in on a phone call and told my friend that she was a slapper because she had been sexually attacked at a party. Or the time when he ran onto the street, grasping a yard brush, yelling and shrieking at the kids hanging out. ‘My sister’s a bad person,’ he shouted. ‘She always steals my friends.’
And how could anyone forget the time when he’d thrown the dog downstairs in the laundry basket asking if I’d pay a million pounds for him not to do it. I was an eight-year-old child. I didn’t have more than 50 pence to my name. So my brother threw the dog downstairs with a sneer and the accusation ‘You did that. It’s your fault that he’s crying’.
I’m writing this because I know the story needs to be told. The world needs to know who and what my brother is.
And in answering those questions, I’ll also answer another question. The answer to the life, universe and everything. Not in general. Not for everyone. Just for him.
I was going to begin at the beginning, as that’s where most stories start. Then I wondered if I should begin when Colin’s crimes formally began – at the point when the bell-ringing police arrived at my door. But the police have had little to do with solving my brother’s crimes, or in apprehending him. I decided to begin where my mind took me.
I won’t bore you police procedure, as that’s got absolutely nothing to do with the story I’m about to tell. It is my story and Colin’s. It isn’t a tale of police or trial.
I started this writing to assist the police, as a convoluted statement, but it’s grown and grown as it seems once I start writing, I can’t stop.
It’s not pretty.
Being three years older than me, my brother has always enjoyed a kind of power. When I was a toddler, he’d offer to change my pull-up nappy when I was potty training. I don’t remember much of this, but I do remember mum telling me years later that he had put all sorts back into my nappy and had also opened the nappy up to look at the contents, then closed it again without removing a single piece of excrement. He seemed to enjoy getting people on their own and vulnerable, preferably partly dressed too.
We went to a party when he had just started in high school. I guess that must have made him 11 or so. It was one of those family parties where you’re visiting your ‘Auntie’, who is your mum’s friend. Auntie Hannah had just one child who was a little older than me but not as old as my brother. She was called Selena, and we got on well.
Colin, my big and already brutal brother, took Selena into the garden and climbed into the fishpond. He removed all the fish and threw them onto the lawn. Selena and I rushed around in a panic, attempting to pick them up and put them back, all the while screaming for our mothers. But when my mum and Auntie Hannah came out, Colin told them that he was putting the fish back and that it had been us who’d tried to kill them. Amazingly, our mums believed the older boy. Colin walked away with a smirk, while Selena and I got in big trouble.
From that point on, I noticed that Colin was always believed. He just had that charisma that only truly psychopathic people have. Like you get sucked into it, despite yourself, like you believe all the terrible things they tell you, and you decide, that yes it must have been you who was at fault all along.
He was a monster back then.
So many fish died. And cats. Birds from the garden. Hate to remember how many frogs he destroyed, and all the frogspawn he watched hatch, only to fry in a pan over a camping stove, once they emerged to become tadpoles. And it wasn’t only animals that he hurt. I had a plant – it was a rubber plant – on my window ledge, and I liked it. It was bold and beautiful, and I thought that it was indestructible. It wasn’t. Neither were mum’s red hot pokers or dad’s roses.
Not even granddad’s hydrangeas escaped his control.
Even our parents.
One time, our dad made that tip trip. He was doing the best and most beautiful thing he could have done for our family. By removing some of the house’s excess junk, you would be helping us all to lead a better life. The things he removed were mainly the boxes that items arrive in, and old unusable stuff, like school pants, made for someone ten years younger, and instruction manuals for now-broken electrical items. But on dad’s return, what did the psycho say? He said that he needed those things. He demanded them back. He demanded that dad must get them back. But dad refused. Colin insisted and flipped out big time. Dad still refused. It was the correct thing to do, but Colin never forgave him.
Colin had a lot of flip outs as a kid. I’m sure I had my share. But he had far more.
‘Profound,’ he said, and it was immediately apparent that both syllables were stated with reluctance and disdain.
‘Don’t you approve, Colin?’
‘I don’t, but then you knew I wouldn’t.’
‘Did I? Oh, I’m sorry, Colin.’
I used his name as I knew he hated it. I told him for precisely that reason.
‘What part was profound, Colin?’
My brother looked away and appeared to be staring at the family’s group photo. Dull brown frame for a dull brown photo.
Colin turned quickly and glared in my direction.
‘Why do you never smile in photos?’
I shrugged and continued drying the dishes. There was no way I was going to answer that question and even less chance that I would ever be ‘pleasant’ to him, even when forced to wash up alongside him.
Demonic, he was.
Evil, patronising and disgusting.
How I hated him.
Twice a month, every month, we’d arrive at the house of our parents and would sit at opposite sides of their living room, while mum and dad fussed and hovered.
I’m still not sure how much mum and dad understood about their errant son back then: how much they suspected or sensed.
They treated each of us the same as kids. Same sized bedroom, same pocket money, same number of classes and activities per week, same time and same attention. I had been intolerant of him even back then, despite my parents’ decency towards him presumably because I was his primary victim.
As young adults, we began this fortnightly routine, and it had continued, with breaks only for holidays or sickness.
I loved being their daughter, but have never accepted being HIS sister.
Still, I had to dry up next to him. There was none of the silly foam-flicking washing-up that may occur between siblings who get on well, but neither was there violence or argument at that stage. It was more that we had an uneasy, temporary truce.
‘I don’t smile when I’m not in photos either,’ I said to him as he sponged a knife far too enthusiastically. ‘Something to do with childhood issues, I suppose.’
I settled my gaze on the tea towel and my hands on a Bohemian crystal brandy glass. I told myself not to grip it too hard. It had been a wedding present 30 years earlier. I placed it on the counter in front of me and breathed deeply. I could hear mum and dad chatting in the living room, so I left him there alone.
‘I’ll finish drying later,’ I said.
‘Sit down and watch Inspector Morse with us,’ my mum suggested. Of course, I did.
I know that this might not seem all that relevant, but it is. Believe me. Colin didn’t have an average person’s relationship with the seven deadly sins. He enthusiastically embraced as many as he could without joy, and with cold appraisal.
Mum and dad aren’t around any more. Their car skidded on black ice when they were coming to visit me. Apparently, Colin had been following behind in his car and had witnessed everything.
He’d inherited their house, in time. I was supposed to have inherited many of their artworks, their car, their small boat, and a lot of jewellery. But Colin kept hold of them all, and even a court order demanding that he release the items to me, he didn’t. Anyway, without mum and dad, the possessions were cold. They had lost their sparkle. I let him keep them, without fuss.
Investigations indicated that there had indeed been a patch of black ice on the country lane.
But I knew Colin was to blame.
Just as I knew he’d been to blame when a young woman was found concussed and raped and stuffed into the lining of a ripped-up armchair left at the entrance to a local beauty spot. Though her attacker had worn an Ironman mask and bulky clothing, the description of him sounded like Colin, as did the few words he said to her. ‘You’re stupid.’ ‘Don’t you understand what I’m trying to do here?’ ‘Why don’t you smile?’
And when the holiday home for dogs was ransacked, and about 20 poor animals had been butchered on the premises, a CCTV image of the man was shown on local news. I knew it was him, despite the Wolfman mask.
It was the same when I arrived home after a night out and noticed a blood-stained dagger on my doorstep, the very same step that the police arrived at just three years later. The blade was written off by my boyfriend as a joke, but never had it been written off by me. It was a warning. It couldn’t have been anything else. I just wasn’t sure what he was warning me against, though I knew what the punishment for not heeding the warning would be.
That same night as the dagger appeared on my doorstep, Chris and I were preparing for bed. We’d had a couple of drinks, so we were jolly and giggly, but nothing more. Chris went out to give Oscar the dog his final walk of the night.
Neither of my two best boys returned. Chris was never found, but Oscar’s collar was left next to the reservoir.
I will never forget that night. How could I? How could anyone?
So, when people ask how I know that my brother’s a serial killer, I am prepared. I carry these sheets of paper in my bag at all times. It only takes one person, on one occasion, to listen.
I just hope that person gets to me before he does, and before I finish writing this account.
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