A million pieces
It all started in the school yard the day he heard our friend Tom say if you cut a worm in half, it can re-grow the missing part. He didn’t stop to question why anyone would cut a worm in half. Nor did he research the veracity of the statement (which statement, actually, is incorrect; if you cut in just the right spot, the head can regrow a tail…but I digress). Rather, it planted a seed, a dark seed as it turns out, in the recesses of his mind.
When he got home from school that day, he told his mother about what he’d heard with regard to worms and said, “If that worked for people, I would cut you into a million pieces. The world would be a much better place if there were a million of you. You’re my favorite person in the whole world, Mama. I love you.”
His mother’s expression said she wasn’t sure if she should be happy or terrified but she smiled and hugged him, saying, “I love you, too, Jackie. Now you go on outside and play. Billy’s at the back door waiting on you.”
And the moment was promptly forgotten…by Jackie’s mom.
Some ten years later, Laurie Mae Parker disappeared. She was the sweetest girl in Ellaville. When they finally found her, she was buried in a field outside of town. They knew it was her simply because they found the head. The body, however, was…in pieces.
It was the most gruesome, most horrible thing anyone had ever heard of in Elaville. Parents were terrified to let their children go out and play since Sheriff Jackson had no suspects and no clues.
Days, weeks, months passed and nothing else happened; life went on and people began to forget.
Until Georgia Ann Baker disappeared. She was a saint, people used to say. So kind to everyone – children, animals, old people. Unlike the rest of Elaville, Sheriff Jackson hadn’t forgotten Laurie Mae Parker and so he started the search at the same field. The dirt had clearly been recently turned and it didn’t take much digging to find the first pieces. Not long after, they found the head and that was that.
Aside from the grisly nature of the murders, the sheriff was curious about the pattern. He told the boys at the bar, yeah, it was two young, sweet girls, but it was the pattern in the soil that got him. The killer planted the pieces in rows. Row after row. As if he – or she – was planting tobacco or cotton. Not that any killing made sense, but that just seemed to be more than just a little unusual.
Within a year there had been two more murders and Sheriff Jackson was contacted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation(GBI). They had noticed the cases and, apparently, had found some similar ones in Zebulon, Butler, Smithville and Leesburg. They called it the Route 19 case because, well, all the killings were in towns along Route 19. (Not very original. I am partial to A million pieces, myself.) Sheriff Jackson sent them what information he had, which really wasn’t much, and passed the investigation on to the GBI.
Meanwhile, little Jackie was no longer little. He was a young man, working at Bob’s Hardware. He was Bob’s delivery man. He had started working after school when he was 16 and Bob took him on full time after he graduated. He was a little different, Bob was heard to say while tapping his head, but he worked hard and followed orders. Bob even let him use the company’s pick-up truck as his own, as long as he kept it clean. Jackie, or Jack, as he had asked to be called on his 13th birthday, kept the truck Clorox clean.
His pretty little mama had gone and left him a year earlier, surprising everyone. She had doted on Jack, and him on her, so everyone was shocked when Jack came into church one Sunday crying and moaning that his mama was gone. They thought she’d passed and that he needed help making arrangements, but no, Jackie said. She’s just gone. I must have done it wrong and now she’s gone. Everyone was a little confused, wondering what he could have done wrong that would make his mama leave him, but they just shook their heads, whispering behind their hands and patted him on the shoulder as they took their seats for Reverend Samuel’s service.
It wasn’t too much later that Laurie Mae Parker disappeared.
And then Georgia Ann Baker.
And the others along Route 19…the main road one might take to make deliveries. Just saying…not sure why Sheriff Jackson didn’t make that connection. It was a clue I hadn’t thought about earlier. But someone at the GBI finally did. And that same agent also discovered that all the young ladies were customers of Bob’s Hardware. All the victims' parents remembered the nice young man who had made a delivery to their home. Couldn’t be him, I don’t know how you could even think so, they all said. They had detectives following him day and night for two months before he stalked Ginger Pittsfield. They grabbed him just after he grabbed her…fortunately, before he brought her to me.
He was heard to say, but it was gonna work this time, I just know it, as the GBI led him away in handcuffs.