Trifecta Week Ninety-Six: The Final Victim

I said it many times, to many insistent faces, “I didn’t know.” My words were met with skepticism and judgment based solely on rumor. They cannot know what I felt, what I experienced, what I knew.

When they came with their grandiose weaponry raised, their cagey interrogation tactics and groundless accusations and plucked him from our once normal home, I refused to believe their lies. I stood at his side through the feeding frenzy of hate. I held his hand and whispered in his ear, “I believe in you.”

He insisted it was a matter of mistaken identity. He wasn’t capable of such violence and debauchery. His face was a portrait of virtue. His eyes a porthole of anguish. His tears saturated my heart with misery.

Six months of wait, of worry, and warding off the vigilant eye of the community, and the trial began. I dutifully watched from the back row, craving anonymity. I became an afterthought for a brief and glorious moment. All eyes on him. All ears on the facts.

Judgment day came and through a haze of testimony and evidence, the creeping tendrils of doubt latched around my mind and suffocated my faith in his innocence. The proof was undeniable. He was a monster, animal by nature. His deeds corporeal.

His punishment was death. Far too inadequate, I realized, as I stared into the plagued eyes of the victims’ families and listened to their grief-stricken pleas for answers. Justice had failed to resurrect or bring closure. It only reflected a callous light on the how and when, unable to illuminate the why.

In the end, I was his final victim, the only one to have survived. It made me, not admired or pitied, but hated, ashamed, accountable. A jury of my peers rendered my verdict, “Guilty by association.” I was sentenced to death, not in body, but in spirit.

This story was prompted by Trifecta Week Ninety-Six. The word (third definition) to use for this week:

ANIMAL (noun) 3  :  a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also :  this nature

Don’t forget to read the other creative writings based on this prompt. Click on the Trifecta link above to visit their website.

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48 thoughts on “Trifecta Week Ninety-Six: The Final Victim

  1. a fantastic use of the word and I guess we always wonder what the people on the peripheral feel, how they “could not know?” right? But the sad truth is that many times we don’t know, we can’t even imagine the evil or the hate in our midst, until it’s too late.

    your word choices were so good and painted the picture of a wife that is as much a victim as the others.

    Chilling.

  2. Love this! I’ve actually wondered how the wives of some of these infamous serial killers felt. Did they suspect, or were they in denial? Did they have faith in, or did they fear them? Guilty by association, and the death in spirit were perfect in that last line!

    • Thank you so much, Janna! I have to imagine all the things you mentioned are true depending on the situation. Denial is often an easy way out. Fear is a trap. I guess we can’t really know how we would react without being in that situation.

  3. Wow. I can’t pick one part I like or I’d end up writing it all out again for everyone to savour and lap up. Excellent start and build up, wonderful phrasing. A chilling write that also ekes out sympathy from your reader. Great job!
    Don’t forget to come back and vote!

  4. When I was a child, a man in my church was found out to be such an animal… had been for decades. His wife swore she never knew. She became as much of a pariah as he did. I still can’t believe she didn’t know. This piece was very true to life.

    • Thanks, Tara. That is sad that a man in your church was such an animal. His wife might not have known. We had a neighbor that was a pedophile. It’s just like they say, you would never suspect such a thing of someone you know. I’m sure his wife didn’t know. I hate to think she looked the other way.

  5. Damn. Well told. I liked how she “dutifully watched from the back row, craving anonymity.” It seems a foreshadowing of her changing her mind. If she had been fully supportive, truly thought him innocent, she would have sat closer, wouldn’t she? It’s a breath of relief for her, and yet a turning point that points to an ugly ending. Nice work.

  6. First of all, I liked that you used this story to make me think and consider how families experience guilt and suffering by association.

    But you didn’t stop there. I loved how you used these lines and words:

    “His face was a portrait of virtue. His eyes a porthole of anguish. His tears saturated my heart with misery.

    “….the creeping tendrils of doubt latched around my mind and suffocated my faith in his innocence.”

    Well done. You get my vote:~)

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