The Worst Thing I’ve Done


Dr. Emry walked along the stark white halls of the asylum, his footfalls echoing in the silence. Under his arm was a thick folder containing the information the police were able to give him about the serial killer he was on his was to see. Alvin Webb had been caught three weeks prior and it was Dr. Emry’s job to see if he was fit to stand trial.

This was his first contact with the man and to that end Dr. Emry had spent the better part of the last two days reading the contents of the file to see what type of man he was going to be dealing with. What he read confused him greatly.

Alvin Webb was unlike any other inmate that Dr. Emry had processed for the courts before. He didn’t fit the pattern for any known type of sociopathic or psychopathic behavior. Nor did he have what was considered to be the correct background or childhood that would produce such a human being.

Alvin had grown up in a nice middle income family as the oldest child of three. There was no domestic violence in the home, no religious fanaticism or anything of that nature, no reports of killed or missing pets. He never had any problems in school, always got good grades and in fact won several scholarships to Universities. Alvin had never been in trouble with the law, never got parking tickets, citied for jaywalking, nothing. He was well liked at work, had quite a few friends and an active social life. Until his fortieth year.

Then the murders began.

Those too didn’t fit with accepted norms for serial killers. He had no set type of victim – gender, age, race – the police said Alvin was content to murder anyone. None of the victims were related in any way. He would randomly choose someone off the street or from a playground or see someone in a store and they were next. The police reports stated that in the 33 cases they thought they could prove he had committed he had not used the same method of killing twice. Alvin had used knives to varying degrees, a wood chipper, car exhaust fumes, a sledge hammer, slow acting poison and so on. Even to Dr. Emry, who had been dealing with individuals like this for over thirty years, the list was disturbing. What was even more disturbing to his trained mind was that the murders didn’t escalate in violence. One would be a simple knife cut, the next so violent an attack with a roofing hammer that the victim had to be identified using DNA, and the next a simple gunshot wound. If there was one thing he had learned from his study of the file it was that the murderer was not killing out of anger.

So as he approached the door to the interview room, Dr. Emry was feeling both intrigued and confused about Alvin Webb. After reading the file he wasn’t sure the police had arrested the right person. Taking a moment to ready himself before he knocked, he glanced through the window of the door at the man seated at the stainless steel table.

Alvin Webb sat with his hands in his lap patiently waiting for his interrogator. He was a short balding man with dark hair and bushy eyebrows. He had thin lips, a small pointed nose and brown eyes. If you passed him in the street you would never give him a second glance. Dr. Emry knocked on the door and the guard standing in the corner of the room opened it. He walked in and sat at the table opposite Alvin.

“Good morning Alvin. My name is Dr. Emry and I’m here to ask you a few questions.”

“Oh I know exactly why you are here,’ Alvin said, “My lawyer told me all about our meeting here today. You are here to see it I’m crazy or if I can stand trial.”

“Well, not to be blunt, but yes, that’s essentially correct,” replied Dr. Emry.

“I can save you the time. I’m not.”

“Not? Not what?”

“I’m not crazy.”

“Ah. Yes. Well as you can imagine I’ve heard that a few times before. I still need to ask you some things. Shall we begin?”

For the next three hours Dr. Emry had the most remarkable conversation he’d ever had with an inmate. Alvin answered all questions put to him politely and succinctly. He never got angry or stressed. He showed little to no emotion when shown the crime scene photographs, other than pure curiosity. Near the end of the interview Dr. Emry was positive the police had arrested the wrong man.

“So what’s the worst thing you’ve done Alvin?” inquired Dr. Emry as he was putting the files and pictures back into the folder. It was one of the simplest questions he asked of all inmates.

Alvin sat forward and put his hands on the table.

“The worst thing I’ve done?” he said, smiling. “Why get caught, of course.”



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