Graham is the type of man that any woman would be happy to take home to their parents. He is the shining star among men. Most men care only about sex and getting that quick and easy fix. But not Graham. He puts the ladies on a pedestal. They are the prize. He does anything and everything for them. He has everything a woman looks for in a man. He is charming. He is smart, funny, and good looking. Every inch of him makes the ladies swoon. From his stylish hair to his chiseled, well defined chin. The sparkle in his eyes. They shined bright, almost hypnotic, drawing in women from afar. No other man is a match to him. He is perfect in every way. He truly is the perfect man. But no man is perfect. Not even Graham. He too has his faults. Some could say it’s his undivided attention to the ladies. While women adore him waiting on them hand it foot, it can become somewhat nauseating to the countless other men who try their damnedest to meet the expectations he has brought forth. That isn’t what makes him slightly imperfect.
Men and women alike take bets, proving to the others that they know his fault. They know what makes him ungodly. But they can squabble all they want. They can lose sleep over it but they will never pinpoint what makes his like all the other shallow men in the world. The reason what makes him not the man of all women dreams is far worse than anything anyone could imagine. The thing about Graham is, he loves the ladies too much. He loves them enough to when the relationship ends, it ends badly. Graham has a habit of keeping of small memento of the women he dated. It could be sentimental for people to keep some trinket of their past loves but for Graham, he takes that old myth to a new and morbid level. He was married once but the marriage ended badly for him. His first and only wife just never saw what other women saw. She never saw him as this perfect person. He wasn’t God’s gift to women. To her, he was a womanizer and a cheat. Two years of living with a person like that, she couldn’t take it. She always felt that he never appreciated her beauty.
Graham is standing in front of the mirror. He studies his hair. He pulls at his hair, getting it to look just right. But with each tug on the right side, it sets the left side off. The process was rigorous. It takes him hours just to create the perfect look. He is very particular about how he presents himself. No woman wants a dirty, ragged hobo asking them to buy a drink for them. They don’t want the ‘I just rolled out of bed look”. They don’t want you to look messy. Hair like that isn’t going to win the women over. They want a man who knows style. They want the man to appreciate what they also take pride in. Hair is important to women. They can only hope that the man that tries his hardest to win them over takes the same pride in their hair, just as much as they do.
He takes a pair of tweezers from the medicine cabinet. Holding his breath, he steadies his hands and puts them to his nose for a quick and painful trimming. He clips on to a loose nose hair. He claps the tweezers done and with a quick yank, rips the straggler from within his nostril. He flinches. His eyes water. That doesn’t bother him. He has done this long enough that the pain doesn’t seem to phase him anymore. He goes back for another yank. Once again, it’s quick and painless. Graham leans in. He checks himself out in the mirror. He tilts his head back for a better look. It all looks good. His nostril is free from loose hairs that could become quite the distraction during his search for a date at the bar tonight.
His vanity didn’t end there. The next fifteen minutes was lengthy process of brushing his teeth, flossing, and rinsing his mouth out with a cup of mouth wash. It has always been like that. He takes pride in the inside of his mouth. His teeth were flawless. He has never had a cavity or a filling. Many people cringe when they hear the word dentist. They would high tail it out and head for the hills. But not Graham. He loves seeing the dentist. He loves his hair but he loves his teeth more. The ladies he goes out with agree. While every inch of him screams, “perfect”, it is the smile that make the ladies weak in the knees. It his bait to luring in the women.
Graham pulls a dress shirt from the closet. His shirts are color coordinated. The colors start from white and moving down the poll, the colors seem to fade from white to red, to pink, finally reaching the end at his one, black dress shirt. He never was a fan of black. He fines the color to be drab and lifeless. Walking into a bar and hitting on a women with a black shirt on will not excite the lady. She’ll see you as being boring, unexciting, and lazy. Graham tells his friends that. He tells them all the time all his rules they need to follow to land a date. From his color of shirt to wear, to the importance of a tie clip. His one rule that he forbids above all is the mixing of jeans and a dress shirt. It may look nice around the office on casual Friday’s but not when you hit the bar. Dress the part. Women know all about a man just from the clothes he wears.
Graham has too many rules. With all the rules it can boggle the mind as to how he even gets a women to talk to him, even go home with him. But he does it. He does it every time. It’s all about style. That is what he always says. Graham was stylish. He put the shirt one, button it up slowly. He stares at himself in the mirror. He talks aloud, giving himself encouraging words that boosts his confidence. He slips on a pair of black slacks. The slacks are neatly pressed. Not a single wrinkle is visible. He finishes off his outfit with a silk tie. It is a shade lighter than his blue shirt. Nothing to flashy and not bright enough to take away from the shirt. He is ready. He looks amazing. “No women will say no tonight. Tonight will be the first night of many. In just a short time, I will have another addition to my collection. She will be perfect. She will suit me nicely.” Graham splashes on some cologne, adding the final touch to his ensemble.
Graham heads out of his house. His prized, Lexus is parked out front in his drive way. Like everything in his house, the Lexus is perfect. Graham is all about perfection. Nothing can be a miss. His house is like a museum. His walls are lined with artwork, busts sit in corners of his room, and the furniture is worth more than most of the cars his neighbors drive. He isn’t ashamed to flaunt his money around. He doesn’t worry about showing off to the neighbors or to the women he brings home. If he works hard for his money why not show it off? There is no reason to keep it locked away in some bank somewhere. Letting it sit there to collect dust, only to withdraw some it some raining day. Women like a man with money. For Graham it is just another reason to make him look like the perfect man. He is quite the catch. A women would be crazy to not spend the rest of their life with him. Even if they did chose to do so, they won’t last long. Graham isn’t marrying for love. He isn’t marry the girl for her personality. He is looking for beauty. Just by the amount of time he spends on himself, it’s easy to see that he is all about vanity. A good looking woman with a great smile and perfect skin is bound to catch his attention. If only they know what he is really after.
Graham takes his time going to the bar. He doesn’t speed. His car doesn’t know what dirt is and it has never felt what it is like to go over sixty-five miles an hour. He car is cleaned and vacuumed every other day. He’s has the car for four years but you wouldn’t know it. It looks as if he just drove it off the lot. It is just how he is. Everything is cared for. Everything he owns gets the star treatment. Nothing plays second fiddle. It’s the same with how he treats the ladies. They will be waited on hand and foot. They aren’t going to be a stories of exaggeration he tells his buddies tomorrow about, “how he nailed this fucking hot chick.” They are a princess and he is their knight in shining armor, coming to their rescue. It may be long forgotten but he is old school. He was raised to be a gentlemen. Ask him and he will tell you that chivalry is not dead. Most men just chose not to follow it. It is another quality that make the heart of a woman skip a beat.
Graham pulls his Lexus into the parking lot. While it is human nature to find the closet parking spot he opts for the spot furthest from the flock. He doesn’t take the chance of having some drunken fool dent his precious car. He doesn’t mind the extra long walk. It gives him time to think. He doesn’t need the exercise. He is already in shape. He isn’t muscular like the the men that spend all day and night in the gym. He stays in shape. Even at the gym, the ladies are getting most of their work out just from staring at him. They seem to be transfixed on his six pack and a chest that screams, “damn!” He approaches the door. Following behind him, are a group of twenty-something girls on a girl’s night out. He steps outside and pull open the door. He holds it and lets each one in first before he enters. Each girl passes by and each one takes a good look at him. From the look on their face they were awe struck. Not only is he insanely good looking, he is also a gentlemen. They giggle loudly and thank him. Inside, they quickly huddle around each other to talk about him. He knows it. He doesn’t say anything to them. He just walks away from the gaggle of horny girls to look for a women who seem a little more mature. He doesn’t have an issue with dating or hitting on the younger crowd it is more of a safety issue. He can’t just swoop one away in his arms. The other girls will be quick to describe him to the police. He can’t have that. He needs to find someone else. He needs to find someone who is there alone. Someone who will be forgetful. Someone no one will know went missing that night. Someone that will go unnoticed when he whisks them away with his charm and everything else that beams from his all, perfect existence.
Graham waves to the bartender. He orders a bourbon. Graham drops a ten and motions to the bartender to, “keep the change.” He holds the tumbler in his hand. He takes a sip and eyes his surroundings. He is like a lion stalking its’ prey. What defenseless girl will be his gazelle to the lion tonight? Which female patron will be the next victim in his one imperfection? That’s when he spots her. She is sitting alone, hidden in a dark corner of the bar. She is far from the commotion of the normal, rowdy Friday night regulars. She sits alone, sipping on a glass of wine. Her interest in the bar and the wide array of single men isn’t gripping her attention. She is too involved in a book she was ready. He finds that attractive. He fines her unique style very soothing and erotic. Why is a woman, who is obviously too classy for a hole in the wall place likes this here? Why not go somewhere a little more upscale? Why did this mysterious woman decide to come here to read when the decibel level is reaching higher than an eleven? All those questions just can’t be left unanswered. He has to make a move. He must know more about her. He wants to be the one. No, doesn’t want. She is the one. He already decided it the moment he glanced in her direction. By tomorrow, he veil of mystery will be uncovered and there will be nothing left to discover about her. He’ll let the police did the rest of the discovering. They’ll be the one to discover her body after he’s done with her.
Graham walks up to the woman with no name. He stands next to her. He doesn’t speak. He just stands there and watches her. Before he speaks, the woman turns around with a curled lip. “Excuse me, sir. Do you mind finding somewhere else to lurk about? You’re blocking out my light.”
He smiles, chuckles even. “My sincere apologize.” He points to the sit across from her. “Do you mind?” There is an awkward silence between them. She isn’t waiting company tonight. She already has all the company she needs. It was suppose to be a night between her, a good book, and a bottle of wine. But she felt some sort of connection. She doesn’t want to be rude. She is obviously attracted to him. She isn’t the only one. The horny girls from earlier have their eyes still locked on him. They just couldn’t look away. They know they have no chance since he is about to sit next to the lonely woman. Still, they can dream, and dream they did. They whisper to each other the things they would do to him. Each one tries to top the other with sexual acts more bizarre and more vial than the one before.
“If you want.” She sips her wine and goes back to reading. She doesn’t look up but speaks to him, “You’re a little out of place to be in here?” Graham looks at his shirt and tie. He brushes his hand down his chest. He smiles and coughs into his hand.
“I can say the same thing.” He keeps his mouth cover and points to her with his index finger. “Couldn’t find an all night library?” Graham is always there to break the ice. He thinks he is witty. He just hopes the mystery woman thinks the same.
She pulls her nose out of the book and looks at him. She smiles. It pleases Graham. She takes another sip of her wine. Graham’s claws were still hidden. He isn’t quite ready to pounce. She sits the book on the table and closes it. “Okay, sir. You have my attention. You have the floor.”
He extends his arm out to her. “The name is Graham. What’s yours?” They shake hands.
“I’m Michelle. It’s nice to meet you Graham.”
Graham and Michelle talk about the mundane. They discussed the weather, current events, and the atmosphere around the bar. Graham doesn’t want to jump right into personal questions. He is working his way to that. He wants her to feel comfortable enough to discuss that information. The two continue talking. It was apparent that they like each other. They like each but for different reason. Michelle is falling for his charm and his looks and Graham is seeing her as a prime victim. He is liking her seclusion from the rest of the bar and the knowledge that when he takes her back to his place, and he will, that no one is going to do a double take when they head out together. The horny girls will be jealous but that’s all. They don’t know anything about him other than him being handsome and a gentlemen. They only wish that the bookish woman were them but if they knew what he planned on doing to the bookworm tonight, they would have never made cat calls or whistled every time he glanced their way.
“I just moved here.” Graham’s eyes lit up. The sparkle in his eye was brighter than normal. This tiny bit of information is music to his ears. This is the woman he is going to kill tonight. No one will miss her. She has no friends here and no one will suspect her missing. They will just assume she moved back home. “My job had an opening down here. I just needed a change. I wanted a fresh start. You ever have that dream? To just run off to somewhere else where no one knows you? To start anew. To be someone else entirely.” She keeps rambling. It is the wine talking. The bottle is nearly gone. Her brain is turning off and all the decisions she would normally make are going out the window. In just an hour or so, she will be willing to do just about anything. “Look at me. I’m just rambling on and one. I’m just happy to be here. I just want to restart my life and be the person I always wanted to be.“
“It’s okay. I think it’s nice to get away. I’ve moved a few times in my life. I just feel like after some of the bad decisions I made, I needed to escape and do the same as you. What is it you said? To start anew?” Graham has moved a few times in his lifetime. He’s been in three different states in the last four months. Each move had its’ reason. He never wanted to take the chance of fouling up and having the law put an end to all his work. He swears he is going to stop soon. He just needs a few more souvenirs. If he can control himself tonight, Michelle will be the last one. But there is no telling if the thirst will end tonight. It could be flowing through his body tomorrow morning.
“You see those girls over there?” Michelle leans in close to Graham. Her body is almost covering the table. She crawls even further onto the table. She presses her face on his. She blows into his ear. “Those girls have been staring at you all night.” She eyes the same girls Graham encountered earlier this evening. The look on their faces were those of disgust. They want to be Michelle. They want to be the girl he is wooing. They want to be the center of attention. Michelle is liking it. She is liking the fact that Graham, this perfect man picked her out of everyone else in the bar. She doesn’t know what attracted him to her but with the current state she is in, it doesn’t bother her. She is planning on going home with him. With how he looks, it’s only certain that he will perform the same way in bed. He is perfect. He is perfect in every way.
“Don’t mind them. They are just kids. I want a real woman. I don’t come to the bar to babysit. Besides, you have something they don’t.“
She pulls her head back and looks at him straight in the face. “And what’s that?”
He leans in and kisses her. “Me.”
Michelle returns with a kiss. She bites down on his lip. She doesn’t look at him but glares at the girls across the room. The look in her eyes tell the girls to ‘get lost” and to “find another man.” Eventually, the girls give up. The grab their purses and leave the bar together but still alone. The girls left and Michelle knew she won. She now has Graham all to herself. The kissing continues. It is getting more passionate. Under their heavy breathing, Michelle asks him about going back to his place. She wants a little more privacy. This is what Graham wants. This is the moment he has been looking forward to all night. He found the perfect souvenir to add to his collection. She is going to be a fine addition to the rest.
The two of them head towards the door. Like always, he opens the door. “Such a gentleman.” Michelle smiles and walks, almost floats, out of the bar. With being inebriated, she is still stunned that this ravishingly, good looking man wants to take her home. She had her doubts about moving away. She was worried that she will fall into the same rut and routine she’s been in for years. But meeting Graham reassured her that good things are coming her way. Tonight disapproved of all the bad thoughts she had about breaking away from the normal and repetitive life she held onto for years.
The drive to his place is a quiet one. They said very little. Most of their talking was done at the bar. Graham is too busy thinking about his plans for the night. Michelle is just too nervous to talk. This is her first time going home with someone from the bar. She always played it safe. But being in a new town and trying to reinvent herself, she decided to do the opposite of the things she would normally do. Normally, she would tell men that hit on her to leave her alone but not this time. Not the new and improved, Michelle. She plays by a whole new set of rules.
They arrive at his house. He opens the door. Instantly, she is blasted with astonishment. His house was breathtaking. “He’s loaded…” She says silently to herself. They stand by the door, their arms wrapped tightly around each other. His hands moved franticly around her body. She removes her shirt and reveals a silk bra underneath. He squeezes her breasts. Michelle lets out a loud moan. If her breast could scream out, they would scream out, “we’re real.” The excitement is getting to her. Her hands are pressed against her waist. Slowly, she moves her hands under his shirt, feeling his abs and working her way up to his chest. Graham pulls her arms down. She tries to move them back but he pushes them down again. “Hold on.” He says to her. Michelle stands still, watching him as he removes his ties and takes his shirt off. He tosses them on a nearby chair. He whispers, “Okay.” Michelle runs her hands across his bare chest. It’s rock hard. Even with him wearing a shirt, she can tell he works out and that he was in great shape. She just didn’t know how well of shape he really is.
“Let’s go upstairs.” Graham says to Michelle. They break free from each other. Michelle stands for a moment to catch her breath. It is just what she expected. He is doing everything right and he knows exactly where and how to work her body. “Follow me. “ He extends his arm out to her. She grabs a hold and the both of them ascend the stairs. Michelle is a bit nervous. She isn’t very familiar with one night stands and doesn’t want to perform poorly. She wants to meet his expectations. If she makes any mistake tonight, it could be the end of it. There may be no second date. While she is quite aware this is probably just a one night stand, she still hopes for something more. She is madly attracted to Graham and to be with a man like this, will mean the world to her.
Graham pulls her close. They are standing outside his bedroom. They kiss again. Michelle is pinned against the door. Graham frees one hand to find and open the door. The door opens and the weight from them both push the door open fully. They tumble into the room and fall on the ground. As they fool around, Graham removes his slacks, tossing them aside. He lays on the floor dressed only in a pair of boxers. He climbs on top of Michelle. Their bare bodies rub against each other. Michelle continues to moan, getting louder the faster and more hands on he goes. She unbuttons her pants and shimmies them off. Her panties match the silk bra she is wearing. Graham crawls back on to her. He licks his lips. Michelle has no idea that the night she was expecting is about to go south. Everything from the moment he approached her was all just a con. It was all just an act to get her to his house so he could add her to his collection. She’ll be another souvenir he can add to his treasure chest. He squeezes tightly on her neck, cutting off her air. She gags. She tries to pry his arm from her neck but nothing. He is too strong. She can’t free herself from his grip. He smiles at her and winks. “Don’t worry, Michelle It’ll all be over soon.”
Michelle kicks and throws her arms about. Still nothing. “Tell you one thing, Michelle. You’re a fighter.” He grips tighter. In mere seconds, the flailing of her arms and the kicking of her legs stop. The last ounce of air escapes from her lungs. As quick as it started, Michelle was dead. Graham stands up. He looks at Michelle. “Such a sweet girl.” He grabs Michelle by the legs and drags her down the hall to another room he dubbed his office. It wasn’t a normal office filled with bookshelves and computers. It was a sewing room. There are no windows in the room. No one can see or know what goes on in that room. If someone would ever find out, it will be the end of everything.
Graham drags her body inside. He picks up her limp body and lays in on a surgical table. Opening a drawer, Graham pulls out a scalpel. He studies a diagram he created to know exactly where to make the first incision. He presses the scalpel down and begins to cut not into her flesh but just enough to skin her. It’s a lengthy process but all great work takes him. Rome wasn’t built in a day and creating another one of kind souvenirs won’t take a day either. With each section he cuts off, he numbers them with a letter and number. Her abdomen is numbered, A5.
Graham works all through the night. Stacks of bloody skin begin to stack high on an adjoining table nearby. Michelle’s body is looking more like the diagrams you see in anatomy class. The muscle diagram of a human with his arms spread out and it’s head tilted to the left. Graham has no interest in he organs. He has never tried human flesh. He find the idea of cannibalism sickening. He won’t even store the body in a basement lair when he’s done with it. He’ll dispose of it and let the cops take care of the rest. He’s only interested in their skin. It’s his way to remember the women he kills. Killers like to keep some sort of souvenir of each victim the kill. Graham keeps their skin. He always refers to their skin as a souvenir but it’s not. It’s part of a bigger and more twisted plan.
After hours of work, Michelle is flayed. He is already soaking the pieces of skin in water, rinsing off the blood from each section. Each piece needs to be blood free. It’s easier to work with. With the pieces washed off, he begins to lay pieces onto a table, reassembling them back in to order. He places the abdomen down. “A5 is connected to A6…” He pulls a needle and thread and sews the two pieces together. He looks for the next piece. A7 is sewn to the first two pieces. The process continues till the entire body, at least the front side is all attached by needle and thread. The skin is given another wipe down with a damp cloth to remove any traces of remaining blood. For Graham, everything has to be perfect. If it isn’t, the skin would be tossed and the hunt for another souvenir will start all over again. Graham sets the first section of the skin aside. He starts work on the backside. Like before, each section is marked with a letter and a number. He sews the pieces, putting them together like it’s a puzzle. All his hard work pays off when he says that final piece on.
He picks up the front side and drapes it over him. He sewed the pieces together to form a shirt. He admires himself in the mirror. He smiles, twirling around a bit. It is looking perfect. While it may or may not be perfect, the souvenir isn’t quite finished. He still has to attach the face. Once that is done, Michelle’s skin will be ready to add to the collection. It’ll be ready to be added to the treasure chest he has filled with the countless other women he’s picked up and made outfits out of. When he began this strange hobby, the outfits were crude. They weren’t sewn together properly. Some were still drenched in blood. But with each new girl he murdered, it gave him another chance to master his craft. With Michelle, he believes this will be the one. He believes this will be his greatest work. He just has to get the face right. For some reason, he never gets the face right. The top piece and the bottom piece are finished. The upper body is made out to be worn as a shirt and the bottom section to be worn like a pair of pants. The outfit is just about done. His last effort to creating this masterpiece is the face. He wants it to work. He wants to stop the killing. But he can’t. He can’t stop till he gets it right. It means a lot to him.
Graham works slowly on the face. He begins to sew the pieces together. Still unsure of how well it will work out, he get an idea of taking a bust from the living room to use as an aid. His stroke of genius works out wonderfully for him. The face and head seem to be looking like a real face. He always had trouble with the hair. This time around, he cut it off. He didn’t shave it. He needs to keep the hair somewhat intact if he plans on reattaching it after everything is done. Graham steps back. He examines the face. It worked this time around. It looks perfect. With the face, it is to be worn like a mask. Once Graham gets the hair back on, the project will be done and after years of failed attempts, he can finally show it off. He can finally show that he did it all for her. It’s always been for her. She just never knew it.
Graham works diligently to sew the hair back into the scalp. Some of his first attempts he tried using a wig but it looked fake. It didn’t capture the real beauty of the whole outfit. It must be all or nothing. Even the pubic hair was sewn back into place. It is Michelle alright. It is everything inch of her. The rest of her is resting on the floor, wrapped up in six heavy duty trash bags. The sun is out now. There is no chance of him dumping the body today without being seen. He’ll just have to wait till tomorrow. At least today, he can finally show off the work of art he’s been working at for years. He just hopes she likes it.
Graham travels down the hallway to a room at the other end of the house. It is the old master bedroom. It is the room his wife and him shared before she ended the marriage and before he ended her life. The room is filled with potpourri, scented candles, and car air fresheners. He uses anything to hide the smell of a four year old decaying corpse in his house. Graham walks in, holding the outfit made of human skin. “Honey! Look! I think I finally got it right!” He walks to her side. Sitting on the bed, he leans in and kisses her. “You’re still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.” He smiles and laughed, almost like she was talking to him.
He is ecstatic. He pulls his wife up, sliding the shirt over her head and her arms. Amazingly enough, the shirt was a perfect fit. He grabs the lower section of the outfit and like the shirt, he puts the skin pants on her. “Perfect!” Graham slides his finger down her chest and fingers his wife. He’s done it before with her decaying body but with her in this new skin, it seem different. It seems so much better. It excited him. The final test in this whole project is the face. He just hopes it fits perfectly. It has to. There can’t be any error. He pulls the skin mask over his dead wife head. A quick tug and the mask fell nicely on top of his wife face. It took a few tugs and little more adjusting but it is perfect. Everything fits perfectly. That’s how he likes it. He likes everything to be perfect. He isn’t finished. He is but there are a few final touches to the whole outfit. Graham takes a needle and thread and begins to sew all the three pieces together. He wants it to be real. He doesn’t want it be some three piece suit. His wife deserves the best. It is an outfit that will last forever. Michelle is his final victim. The skin seems to mold nicely with his wife’s body. His wife is no longer just a decaying corpse. She looks like a real woman again. She is beautiful. It is many years too late but Graham finally has the courage to tell her. “I love you, Beth. You are the prettiest gal in the world. I’m sorry it took me this long to figure it out. But if you want to thank anyone for showing me the way, thank Michelle. She made all the possible.”
Graham slides himself in the bed next to his wife. He pulls her close. He kisses her a few times. Even grabbing her breast made him feel more alive than ever. Graham climbs on his wife. He bites his lips and tells her, “We’ve been waiting a long time for this…” Graham pulls his boxers down and gives his wife the first of many thrusts to come.