I’ve written some more scenes for I Will Be King and revised some others. It’s close to 30k words long, and I’m still in the first section. Based on my other fantasy novels, it should be about 25% of the way toward the end, but it doesn’t really feel like I’m that far into it yet. Maybe some of the other sections will go more quickly, though.
I haven’t written any poetry since my last post, but that isn’t surprising. I still have enough poems to post for a few more weeks, so I’m not feeling any pressure to write any. Still, I’ll have to write some new ones soon. I wrote “Double-O Swango” after watching a documentary on Michael Swango (I think it was an episode of Unsolved Mysteries), and there are some disturbing components to the case. It’s not exactly surprising that he wasn’t stopped earlier, but there was ample opportunity for doing so. There were some moral failures along the way, and the investigative strategies of the day were less sophisticated than they are now. He probably would have been caught sooner if he was active now.
He got away with murder for years.
The suspicion was there, but not
the evidence. There was no proof.
His behavior was distinctly odd
and it troubled his coworkers at
the hospital. His patients started
dying. Strange, inexplicable deaths.
After they investigated—
nothing. They moved him to a different
wing—and the mysterious deaths
moved with him. They knew but could not
prove. He was too smart to get caught.
Or was he? The pieces were all there.
All the patients died on his watch.
He talked about his admiration
of serial killers. Witnesses saw
him enter or leave patients’ rooms
just before they died—one nurse saw
him inject a patient with something—
but it wasn’t enough for the law
or the hospital. They needed proof,
not circumstantial evidence,
and had an image to uphold.
If they had done their due diligence
would he have been caught sooner? Could
he have been stopped? Hindsight says yes—
but it always does, doesn’t it?
They passed him on to someone else.
This time he was caught—but not for
murder, since his victims didn’t die.
He poisoned his coworkers with
arsenic-laced donuts and coffee.
This time he was stupid: he kept
the poison in his locker. He went
to prison, served his time, and was
released. He needed work. He sent
out résumés with forged credentials.
During the interviews, he lied
about why he had gone to prison.
They hired him, and then he got married.
More mysterious deaths. He was fired.
More forged documents. He was hired
again. His wife left. He remarried—
and this one committed suicide.
His past went unnoticed, hidden
behind all the lies, or they would have
thought to investigate her death
more vigorously. They might have
found the poison in her system
if they had. The hospitals might
have found his past if they had checked
his credentials. How many died
because they didn’t? How many
died because they passed him on to
someone else because they knew what
he had done but could not prove it?
In the end he was arrested
and found guilty of fraud. Another
prison term. Just before his release,
he was finally charged with murder.
He denied the charges. He pleaded
not guilty. Time passed. Zimbabwe
threatened extradition. The dreaded
death sentence was on the table
in New York. What else could he do?
He changed his plea to guilty. He must
have thought his life was worth keeping—
unlike the lives of his victims.
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