Grant Me Serenity — Letter from My Brother



“This week,” Len said, “there’s something that I received today I’d like to read you all, if you don’t mind.” He looked about the group for any sign of dissent, but the three remaining faces in the group looked back with polite attentiveness. He continued. “The thing is, when I told you a few weeks ago about my friend Dennis from Kansas, I wasn’t being completely honest. The fact is, he’s actually my brother.”

Silence from the group. Len went on. “Dennis’ wife and child were killed upholding a tradition our mother passed along to us. I never met my niece when she was out of diapers, but I’m glad to know she turned out well.” A tear fell from Len’s cheek. Nobody noticed.

“Dear Brother,” Len began.


Boy it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me! I bet you’re pretty surprised? So much has happened since we last spoke. I hardly know where to start.

                You remember my daughter Hannah, right? She’s really a chip off the old block. She was barely ten when she started asking about all the friends we had over, why they never left, and what did all the screaming mean? So we told her. Instead of being terrified, she was immediately fascinated, begging to be allowed downstairs, and to be included next time. Of course, we were happy to acquiesce and bring her into the tradition. You should have seen the sparkle in her eyes as we explained what each instrument was for, told her why some were rusty and why some weren’t very sharp, all the things little girls ask. When we told her what the wood chipper was used for, she laughed out loud and asked to be allowed to try. Neither of us can say no to our little girl, and we fired it right up just to show her. Brand name equipment really does the job, I’ve found. I guess we can thank our mum for making sure we understood that before showing us her own basement huh?

                The girl who was still living in the basement was hysterical, screaming and nearly hyperventilating in terror as we picked up several of the dead bodies and limbs still strewn around and threw them into the gnashing teeth. We’re so lazy, we hate cleaning up after an experience, but Hannah laughed delightedly as the remains spewed out of the spout, spraying the walls and sending a fine red mist over the room. It was amazing to see, and we were thinking about painting downstairs some color of red.

                But I was going to tell you about how they died. We had been barricaded in our house for a while, and it was the second day that SWAT had our house surrounded. It was pretty intense, but nothing you haven’t seen before. We were all beginning to go a little stir crazy, but it was worse for my daughter. You and I were just kids when mom died the same way, and you know how boring can be, but this was her first time. There were a few objects downstairs when SWAT surrounded us, but one had been killed by this time, and the one that was left was already too mutilated to be much fun for any of us. We told Hannah to pace herself, that the last of them didn‘t have much skin, limbs or really any entertainment potential left, but control had always been her problem. The SWAT team didn’t know that most of the hostages were dead, obviously; otherwise they‘d probably have stormed the place earlier and taken their chances, once they figured out what family we‘re from.

                I was peeking out the window when out of nowhere, the last girl started to scream at the top of her lungs that we would kill her, that we had killed all the rest and that we were only waiting to finish her off. I snapped my head around to see Hannah had gotten bored enough to start trying to scalp the girl. As you know, my wife won’t stand for that sort of honesty being spread about, and she put a bullet into the girl’s open screaming mouth, silencing it for good.

                The SWAT team must have been jumpy though, and before we knew it, the door and windows exploded with bullet holes as the outside erupted in the explosions of discharging weapons. My wife turned to look at me and opened her mouth to say something, maybe to apologize, but before she could say anything several bullets slammed into her chest. Her expression changed from shock and apprehension to slow-witted surprise as blood blossomed on her white shirt and she slid down the wall, coming to a stop still staring at me, perpetually amazed at her own death. If it hadn’t been my wife it would have been hilarious!

                At the time though I was quite upset, and I tore my eyes away from her still bleeding body and (now I can recognize) unwisely presented myself to the countless gun muzzles pointed at the window as I screamed my fury to the world, opening fire on anyone unlucky enough to have come to that part of town that day. I think I may have hit a few people, or maybe they ducked.

                When I got shot, it felt like I had been stung all over by fist-sized bees with proportionally large stingers. You’re lucky you’ve never been shot in the chest by automatic rifles! I was blown back against the wall, knocking my head against it, which was the least of my worries at that point, until I fell against the floor, receiving another bump. Really? Being shot isn’t bad enough, I have to bang my head twice? Funny though, the bee stings were going numb. I remember thinking vaguely that was a sign of anaphylactic shock or something, but consoled myself with the fact that I would soon be dead and it wouldn’t be an issue one way or the other. When you’re about to die, you’ll see, it’s pretty funny the things that pop into your head.

                From a distance, I heard more explosions and wondered absently who they were shooting at, and just before my daughter’s head hit the floor, I remembered she was not dead yet. But as her sightless eyes stared into my own, blood trickling out of her mouth, it became obvious that was no longer the case. That was pretty low, boy. I was riveted, incapable of looking anywhere else. I watched the light fade from her eyes as her pupils expanded, and their blackness consumed me.

                When I woke up, I was in the hospital, and you know the story from there. My lawyer says there are more appeals he can use, but I’m not a fool, and I’m tired. I want out. Will you be there?


“Love, Dennis,” Len finished, and looked up. “They’re executing him in two weeks. Who will come with me?”


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