I was lucky. I had the background to deal with the situation I found myself in twenty years ago now. My father was a Marine Corps drill instructor. A combat vet with three Purple Hearts, he served in Korea. He was at the Inchon landing, saw some of the most furious fighting in Korea, and brought the war home with him in the twin forms of a serious drinking disability and an untreated case of post-traumatic stress. As a child I learned to survive his frequent psychoholic rages.

So, when this guy I ran into in Denver started to show his psycho nature, I recognized the face. But by that time I had pushed his buttons, and too many of them, to get off easy. I was in for the ride.

I haven't heard of this nutcase since. If he finally went over the edge and got serious with killing, he's never been caught. I think I was a practice run for him. He did tell me of another hitchhiker he had picked up, and to whom he had offered the `hospitality' of his apartment. The psycho told me the hitchhiker had scrambled out the window of his kitchenette. He chased the hitchhiker and caught up with him in an alley and kicked him senseless - maybe killed him, I don't know. Psycho said he left the hitchhiker, apparently a teenager, lying unconscious in the alley. He claimed the hitchhiker had stolen money from him.

"How do you like that!" he shouted, "I offer the little bastard my hospitality, and the fucker STEALS FROM ME!! LITTLE SHIT STOLE MY MONEY!! CAN'T FUCKING TRUST ANYBODY!!"

I think the FBI estimates of 30 to 100 serial killers actively operating in America (with a population of 260 million) are wildly, even ludicrously, conservative. There are probably hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people, both men and women, who have discovered the thrill of killing, but, just as with alcoholics, compulsive gamblers and the like, the serial killer may represent a cross-cut of society, with no `typical' types. Just as there are `maintenance drinkers', or those who simply maintain a level of alcohol in their bodies, without getting falling-down drunk, I wouldn't be surprised if there were also `maintenance killers', those who have some degree of control over their compulsions, who kill perhaps three or four times in their lives, and never get caught. I suspect that those serials we have caught, and whose personalities we have been able to study, represent the small segment that `hits bottom', like those alcoholics we find lying in the streets. But these alcoholics are the minority - for each who hits bottom, there may be twenty others who don't.

One last note. This psycho in Denver was gay and many homosexual matters come up in this story. But this guy's behavior was no more typical of gay men than Ted Bundy's behavior was typical of heterosexual men. Perhaps even less typical, for some of Bundy's predatory tactics are not all that uncommon among heterosexual men. What I am discussing here is not a statement about gay men. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation. This is a story of human violence.




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