It Comes With the Fall
It Comes With the Fall
It was December 21, 1962. I remember it like yesterday. I was on assignment to interview a local political candidate that had gone crazy and killed his wife and child - this was real headline news at the time, as you can imagine. He was running for mayor, and his name was Spencer Telmington. The case was a little brutal for the papers back then, but of course it couldn’t be hidden - the man was very prominent and came from good breeding stock. He had English royalty in his blood, and whereas a hundred years before that might have made him an object of suspicion, by 1961 Americans had forgotten their fear of British subversion entirely.
There had even been rumblings about his running for president one day, and they were legitimate rumblings mind you, not the talk of brain dead campaign supporters. Although he was only running for mayor, many people in his family had been successful. No one had been president - that was a trophy not yet won by the Telmington name. However, there were many Senator Telmingtons throughout American history, and many Congressman Telmingtons, and Doctor Telmingtons, and Father Telmingtons. This particular Telmington was a smart man, a brilliant man really. I was going to vote for him to retain his incumbency, had I been given the chance. No one could have guessed he was capable of the level of brutality that he demonstrated to us that year. Something had happened to him, something had gone wrong - somewhere in his mind, a circuit had snapped.
This was the most important story of my life. I had yet to report on something like this, and to have an exclusive interview would do wonders for my career undoubtedly. I had only been assigned to the story because I had done a few recent headlines and had been working my way up the journalism staff of the Woodfolk Sentinel for years. I was being trusted to do a good job, and that’s exactly what I intended to do. I would not let such an opportunity pass me by.
Over the decades, Spencer Telmington has become quite an infamous figure in American culture. You can see an occasional interview with him on CNN or some documentary channel. He’s started a cult in prison, Christian in painting if not quite in principle. Or perhaps the problem is that it is entirely Christian in principle. His insanity has increased tenfold. When I met him in the asylum so long ago, he seemed regretful and saddened by his actions. Now, it seems he has forgotten them entirely. I don‘t see remorse in his eyes any more when I see him - and I only see him through a television screen, and that’s the only way I have ever seen him since that day. When I look into his eyes now, I don’t really see anything. He seems like a machine these days. I don’t hear conviction in his voice when he speaks about his beliefs, and I also don’t even think he understands what he’s talking about. Something has happened to him. It’s as if he went insane and then his spirit left, leaving his psychotic mind to function with no purpose or will except to think within the set parameters. It’s a look one sadly sees quite often just walking around in a public place.
I remember our 1962 meeting quite clearly. He is not someone that one would forget about meeting, especially under the circumstances that we spoke of. That was back before I retired... journalism was an interesting job - at first anyway - but I was glad to get away from it. I’ve been retired for ten years now. My delusions about making the world a better place through journalism were hammered away year by year, and my investigations and works were shaped like stones into whatever poses the chisels desired. They were turned into statues and frozen. I learned one thing as a journalist: journalism is bullshit. At least mainstream journalism. Good journalism goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and sadly a lot of the time, unwritten.
I remember the first time I met Telmington quite well - I saw him sitting against the corner wall of the padded cell, down in the shadows. His knees were drawn up to his chest, and his eyes were plowing right into me the second that I walked into the room. I remember how green they were, not in a typical way - that deep, dark green that is so familiar and debilitating when gazed at properly. No, these eyes were light green, almost pastel in their coloring. His pupils were dilated inside of those striking irises, most likely because of the many drugs that the hospital - asylum - had given him. They still performed lobotomies at this time on many patients, but Telmington was safe from such a horrible thing because of the prominence of his family. Safe from lobotomies, at least.
His face was scruffy and unshaven, and his hair - which had until recently been a deep brown - now showed many streaks of white. It looked shaggy and unkempt. He almost looked as if he were curled into a fetal position, but maybe that’s just my subconscious drama kicking in. I always over-state things, you know. Never could get past it. My wife Amber says I should have been a writer.
“Hello, Mr. Telmington,” I said. I stood in the doorway as I looked at him and thought of how strange it was to see this man who had always been looked up to and regarded kindly (except for by political opposition) lying on the floor, clearly insane. It was quite eerie, as you can imagine. It must have been an odd experience for someone of Telmington’s social stature as well, looking up at me like that. When he spoke, I was sure this was a different man than the one who had run against his Democratic opponent Daryl Brocke in the most recent election. He had been through a lot recently and it showed clearly in his ragged face, and unfortunately (for him) I wasn’t there to make it any easier. I was just there to find out what made him tick - and what had made him malfunction.
Of course, he didn’t know that.
It sounded like there were nails rooted into his voice; I assumed he had been crying for hours. I was wrong of course; later the guards told me it had been days. “I didn’t mean to hurt them...” he croaked unenthusiastically. I could see the floodgates about to burst; a film of water rested against his pupils. “Mr. Telmington-” I started. He interrupted: “Spencer, please.” His voice was cordial and instantly different from it‘s previous saddened tone as he said this, seemingly out of instinct. “Spencer, please start from the beginning. It is imperative that I know what exactly happened.”
He turned his head to the ground, contemplating on whether or not it would be wise to pick at healing wounds. He decided as most people do to pick. “I loved them more than I loved my own life, you know. I should have died for them, not them dying because of me. I’m going to burn in hell... I deserve it. I didn’t want to hurt them.” I tried to hold back my annoyance; I know now that I acted rather unprofessionally at the meeting, but I was in my mid-twenties. I was foolish and naive. “Spencer, it is necessary for you to start from the beginning,” I mumbled, making sure he could hear me.
He looked up at me, and I noticed that tears were flowing down his face now. He was like some lost child in a Mother Goose fairytale, minus the innocence. The only thing that could support his innocence was his ignorance, but don’t take that the wrong way. I’m not being hostile. He was ignorant of the situation around him. He had only been dealt a small portion of the blow that was soon to come.
“It comes with the fall, you know,” he whispered to me. “Why are you whispering?” I asked him. “We’re all alone here.” “No,” he said to me then. “I’m never alone. Never. Never, never, never.” He sounded crazier now than before. Hopefully he would give me a few things I could print that would help the story - but it wouldn’t be any good to print the ramblings of a total madman. Perhaps I could still keep him on course and stop him from derailing and going off about little green men and government agents listening to his mind through the fillings in his teeth.
“What do you mean?” I asked him. “Do you mean that… God is listening to you?” I could print his delusions about God - they helped to sell a lot of papers. “No,” he said. “There is no God.” “Who told you that?” I asked. “I figured it out.” He gazed at me suspiciously. “What’s your problem?” he asked me. I looked at him surprised. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I asked. “You’re thinking I’m crazy.” I shook my head. “Crazy is all a manner of speaking,” I said. He laughed. “Don’t give me that bullshit.” “Listen,” I said annoyed, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you think you can read my thoughts?” He smiled, sure of himself. “Yes.” I rolled my eyes - unprofessional, I know. I was young. “You can’t,” I replied. “Oh, yes, yes I can.” I shook my head. “What number am I thinking of?” The number was twenty-seven. “You’re thinking of seventy-two.” He said. He flashed a big grin at me. “No, sorry,” I said. “Twenty-seven.” “Oh,” he replied, “they see it as seventy-two.” “Who are they?” I asked. “Think of another number.” “No,” I said, thinking of fifty-two. “It’s twenty-five, you’re thinking of.”
I stared at him. “Are you playing games with me?” I asked him. He looked at me innocently. “How could I play games? Think of another number.” “I will not,” I said, thinking of eighty-four. “It’s forty-eight you’re thinking of,” he said, and he started to laugh. He suddenly stopped, as if realizing he sounded insane. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m losing control of myself. I apologize.” “It’s okay,” I said to him. I didn’t know what to make of these guessing games. How was he guessing the reverse of every number I was thinking of? Surely there was something to be said of coincidence, but how coincidental can things really be?
“I know this is strange, Spencer, but can you tell me what number I’m thinking of?” I was thinking of ten. “You’re thinking of the number one,” he said simply. He wasn’t smiling this time. “Not quite,” I said, “but it is strange that you keep guessing the same way…” “What?” he asked. It appeared that he really didn’t know what I was talking about. “You said they see things in reverse. Who are they?” I asked him. “Oh, you don’t want to know about them,” he said. “Why not?” I asked. “Because when you know about them, they know about you. There’s no getting around that.” His face looked grim. “Well, I think I do want to know about them,” I said to him. He looked at me for a moment, as if trying to judge whether or not to tell me. “Are you sure?” he said. “There’s no going back. They’ll follow you forever. They’ll fuck with your head.” “Who are they?” I repeated. There was no hostility or anxiety in my voice.
“Oh, they’re the gods,” he said to me.
“The gods aren’t real, they’re myths,” I said to him. He looked sad. “Then why are my wife and child dead?” he asked, as if he really didn’t know. “Spencer, they’re dead because you murdered them. Don’t you remember?” He shakes his head. “Of course I remember. That’s part of the punishment.” “Are the gods punishing you?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said. “They’ll punish you now that you know about them, if you don’t do what they say.” “I’m not afraid of the gods,” I said to him. “I only believe in one God. The Christian God. Are you a pagan, Mr. Telmington?” “Spencer,” he said. “It’s fucking Spencer.” “Are you a pagan, Spencer?” I repeated. “No,” he said. “I don’t think so. I didn’t believe in the gods either. But here I am.” “What are they punishing you for?” I asked him. I decided there was no point in getting into a philosophical debate with a man who had clearly lost the plot.
“I was supposed to do something for them,” he says ashamedly. “What was that?” I asked him. “I can’t tell you that,” he says. “They’ll punish me again.” I didn’t know how to proceed with the line of questioning. “Spencer, tell me what you think you should tell me. I’m here to listen to you. I know that no one has listened to you so far, but I am not going to judge you or persecute you or tell you that you’re crazy. I am just here to be a friend to you, and to hear what you have to say.” He laughed. “You’re so full of shit. They’re telling me that right now.” “Spencer,” I said, “the gods are in your head. They’re all you. They’re different pieces of your mind.” “They said you would say that,” he replied. “Of course they did,” I responded, “your mind will defend itself no matter what. But you have to believe me. You are torturing yourself for no reason. You are believing in things that don’t exist.” “That’s not true,” he said. “Think of a number.” “We’ve already played this game,” I responded. “To your satisfaction?” he said. “What about how I was correct every single time?” “You weren’t correct,” I said. He smiled. “Keep telling yourself that.”
“Say,” he said. “Think of something. Anything.” I shook my head. “No more of this,” I said. “I’m not here to feed your problems.” “I thought you weren’t going to judge me or call me crazy,” he said, and he was frowning. “Spencer, you are being difficult. We are trying to help you. I just want to get your story and put it out in the public, so people can see that you need help and we can all help you.” “We?” he said. “You can’t do anything. Not up against the gods.” I was getting very annoyed at this point. Telmington was being unresponsive and worse, hostile. I didn’t know exactly how to handle it, and I guess my age was showing in this way as well.
“Spencer, what were the gods punishing you for?” I asked. “I told you, it’s a secret,” he says. “I…” he looked at the ground, reflecting. Suddenly the fear of the gods had gone out of him, and it seemed to me that he realized exactly where he was, and exactly what had happened to him. He was having a moment of lucidity, as philosophers like to say. He stared at the ground, then looked up at me. He seemed slightly confused. His head rolled around and he looked at the padded cell that was his new home. He tried to move his arms, but the straight jacket held them tightly in place. “I…” I could tell that his voice was on the verge of breaking, and the cracks had already begun to form.
“It comes with the fall,” he said to me then. “And what would that be, Spencer? What comes with the fall?” I asked. “The sadness,” he carefully replied, almost cautiously - and I noticed he was eyeing me suspiciously again as well, although in an extremely subtle manner. How curious. His voice did not falter on those few syllables, however, and it did not give away his thoughts in the same way his face did. It was almost like he had been dictated to say the words, as if it was written in some universal script in which I was one of the main characters, but did not know it. Of course, that’s ridiculous. I cannot claim that title; this story is all of Spencer Telmington’s.
“Please elaborate,” I questioned. “The sadness,” he repeated. “It comes with the fall. Every year. It never fails to remind me... it always comes back.” I sat forward, slightly more interested than before, but only out of boredom. Between the gods and his reflections on his youth, I didn’t know where this was going. I just wanted to know why he killed his wife and child. This seemed like any other clichéd psychology session acted out in bad suspense movies. The only difference this time is that I wasn’t a psychiatrist and I couldn’t write him a prescription. He got plenty of meds in that hospital anyway, and could have maybe even gotten a lobotomy - it was the early sixties afterall. I stopped keeping up on him after my story came out. I could already see the ending in my mind back then, even before I had started to write it. But of course, every good psychiatrist knows the ending, and so does every halfway decent journalist (surprisingly there are many journalists who don‘t know the beginning, middle OR end); what we’re looking for is what happens in between the end and the start.
“What does it remind you of, Spencer?” I asked, trying to sound patient and failing. I would learn patience in the years to come, and unfortunately, none of it dwelled in me at that moment. He didn’t answer me. He just sat there in his dark little corner, his knees drawn up to his chest, tears trickling down his face, and I waited. Then he replied. “Father won’t let me.” Four simple words. “Did your father hurt you, Spencer?”
He changed the subject. “They won’t let me have a newspaper in here.” We sat in silence for a moment, me waiting for him to find a point, and him waiting for me to respond. Finally, he breaks the silence with an awkward question: “Did Brocke win? Did they give him the election?” A crease folded across my face. “I’m sorry, Spencer, but I’ve been specifically informed that I am not to tell you of that matter.” “Do they think he’s what pushed me over the edge?” he laughed. It wasn’t a very enthusiastic laugh, either. “He deserved it.” A smile began to form on his face, then collapsed back into the frown I assume it has remained fixed that way ever since, because I have only ever seen him with that same expression on his face when watching him interviewed on television.
“Why don’t you tell me about October 4th, Spencer?” I wanted to get back on the subject of the murders, particularly the day they occurred and what might have caused them. A laugh suddenly erupted from down the hall, obviously that of a lunatic. “It’s horrible what they do to them in here,” he states. “If I had been elected, I would have done something about it...” He casts his eyes to the floor. “What do you mean? Have they hurt you?” I questioned.
“I deserve it. I wish they would kill me and get it over with. I have no right to live.” More screams erupted from down the hall, but were abruptly cut off by the sound of a slamming door. I remember Spencer looking toward the square window on his door, then looking back at me.
“I’m not a human being. They told me.” “Who?” I demanded, projecting false anger. “The guards?” I asked. I was ignored. “They ignored me. They only talked to me when forced. They alienated me for it.” “For what?” I questioned again. This entire conversation was beginning to round the bend and take us right back to the start. Soon he would be talking about the gods again if I didn’t find a way to keep his mind off of that track.
After yet another moment of silence, I spoke again. “Spencer, I can’t help but feel that we’re not making any progress here. What-so-ever. I need you to tell me exactly what happened on October 4th, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Tell me how you felt that day. Tell me exactly what happened - everything.”
“I cannot run from him inside of these ridiculous padded walls. I’m less safe here than I was free,” he said, trying hard to sound angry, but failing. “Are you implying...?” I asked off-handedly, the unspoken end of the sentence being: that you are thinking of escaping? “Of course not. That idea would have been stupid,” he said. “I’m sorry that you had to realize that,” I retorted. It was very unprofessional of me, I now realize, but he was too depressed to catch it.
“Father killed her!” Spencer suddenly cried out. I stared down at him, his knees against his chest. I was shocked. After a moment, I responded quietly. “Who did he kill?” “Mommy. He killed Mommy. I saw him d-do it... w-with a hammer... and h-he... made me sit... in the c-corner...” he stuttered. “A-And I... just... watched...” he cried. Loud sobs erupted from his chest. There was a moment of surreal silence, both inside and outside of the room.
“Did he say anything to you? Did he hurt you Spencer?” I asked, training my voice on shocked sympathy. “He told me t-that... he would k-kill me... if I...” he cried, starting silently at the floor. “H-he’s going to be muh-muh-mad... at me...” he choked out.
I considered for a moment, then checked my notes. Scrawled at the top of my sheet were the few facts:
Spencer’s parent’s deceased
Presumed dead - Mother (August 19, 1933 disappearance)
Heart attack - Father (May 7, 1951)
“Spencer,” I started. “She’s d-dead... He buh-buried her under the h-h-hou...” he interrupted, unable to finish. I’ve seen people fall into states of shock after things like this happen, but it had been twenty-eight years, four months, and two days since the event had occurred. It appeared as if he had been in some subconscious state of shock the entire time, reliving the incident, forced into the corner, sitting there this entire time.
“H-he’s going to huh-hurt me... now... isn’t h-he?” “No. No he’s not. Your father is dead. He died of a heart attack eleven years ago. He can’t hurt anyone anymore, not even you. You can tell me what happened Spencer. Your father is gone,” I replied. Spencer began to laugh hysterically and I didn’t know what to make of it. “Spencer?!” I demanded. “Spencer, calm down!” His laughter slowly died down after a few minutes and he just stared at me grinning. “What’s so funny?” I asked him kindly. He shook his head as if in on some inside joke I could never understand. He told me what was so funny and I immediately regret having asked him. “My daddy may be dead,” he said thoughtfully, “but that hasn’t stopped him from standing right behind you.” I had the urge to spin out of fear and confirm that he wasn’t there, but thankfully I managed to control myself. I didn’t want to feed into this man’s delusions - nor did I want to fuel his hallucinations. Spencer stared at the floor for a moment, almost thoughtfully, then began to speak.
“We hadn’t touched each other in months. Mary and I, I mean.” He was talking about his wife. “It’s almost like she had given up on the marriage. As for Jason, we never talked. He got up, went to school, came home, then went back to his room. Of course, it’s not like I was really home all that much either. I had to get out there... try to win votes... it’s rather funny, in an ironic way, that they promoted me as a family man.
“Anyway, the day started off normally. I got up, had breakfast - eggs and bacon with a side of toast, then headed to the HQ. It turns out that William Redding had been fired that morning, before I arrived. He was pretty angry at everyone, including me for some reason.” I would soon find out that Redding is the one who toppled the first domino, setting the chain of the day’s inevitable events in motion.
“He told me that I was just a pawn. I was being used as a face to slap on the front of the political actions that would be taken by people pulling my strings. They had apparently assumed that I would just fall in line like some stage puppet, but I cut the strings. I was going to concede the election to Brocke later that night... I never got around to it, though.
“I decided to head home. I wanted to break the news to Mary and Jason before anyone else. When I got back, no one was there, of course. Mary had left the house - she was at a lover’s place, she would tell me later that night; right before she told me it was over, that is.” A look of hopeless sorrow crossed Spencer’s face before he dropped his head. I sat in silence, waiting for him to continue. I couldn’t imagine how it must have felt for him; he was recounting the last time he would ever expect to have a family to come home to. I let him reflect for a moment, but we had to continue. “Spencer, it’s best that we conclude this today.” “I know...” he responded.
“I remember when she came home. She looked happy, at peace... then she saw me. ‘I saw your car outside,’ she said. ‘Why are you here?’ I told her about the situation... and she slapped me in the face. I don’t remember what she said after that, I just remember it had something to do with how this fall was going to break us all... she told me about him too...” “Did she say why she had been cheating on you?” I interrogated. “It was obvious... I was never around... she felt unloved. Of course, both of us are damned for leaving Jason like that... we isolated him. But the nail in her coffin... she was... w-was... it was Brocke.”
“Excuse me?” I replied. “She had been seeing... seeing Brocke.” The puzzle pieces began to fall into place. “I left the house for a moment... I headed to the shed. I remember that I desperately wanted to find a h-hammer... When I came back, Jason had come home.” I could feel a knot beginning to form in my stomach. I knew he was going to kill them. I knew the ending to the story. But I hadn’t known how, and I can remember thinking to myself... not like this.
“She was leaving as I came out. Jason was trudging along beside her, not really knowing what was going on. That’s when I hit her. I just ran up and hit her as hard as I could. There was so much rage inside of me... I felt like an atom bomb. I couldn’t believe what she had done... she betrayed me, and though it was my fault, I didn’t care at the time. I pounded her in the back of the skull. She died instantly, but I didn’t know that. I remember picking her up and pulling Jason inside. I threw him into the corner of the living room... t-told him not to move...”
I could feel my stomach wrenching. I felt like I was going to vomit. I could see every ghastly detail in my mind; it burned there, and scars would be left behind. “When she wouldn’t wake up,” he continued, “I kicked her. I kept kicking her and kicking her... I wouldn’t stop... Jason was crying in the corner, and I remember yelling at him to shut up... to just shut up... but he wouldn’t, so I... uh-I...”
I couldn’t take anymore. I had learned far more than I had ever wanted to. I had never believed that man was capable of such horrible acts, but man is just an animal, and animal’s are creatures of instinct... I pounded on the door of that room until a guard rushed in and let me out... but before that happened, he said something to me that caught my attention. Repeated something, actually. “It comes with the fall, you know.” I turned around and stared at him. I wanted to tell him how disgusting he was, and how fucked up he was, but I didn’t “What comes with the fall?!” I yelled at him anxiously. He looks over my shoulder and past me. “Daddy does,” he said. “And things always die.” I heard the door click behind me and unlock, and I felt relief sweep over me like ocean waves over the sand. I did not want to hear anymore. I didn’t hear anymore either. He kept talking even as the door shut and locked behind us, but I heard not a word.
He has been on television many times since, as I mentioned earlier. After he had been in prison for ten years - that’s right, the American justice system had actually convicted a wealthy white politician and put him prison, praise God! - he formed a cult, and this is precisely why American culture has become so fascinated with him. He is the head of a cult known as Yahwist Christianity, and which consists of one-hundred and forty-four members inside of the Ohio State Penitentiary. He no longer talks about the gods, they seem to have been erased from his mind. His purpose now is to promote extreme Christian fundamentalism, and to hear him speak is truly marvelous - we can see his mind working behind those strange green eyes, we can see that someone is home - but somehow I doubt that someone is Spencer Telmington.
The man I spoke to is gone. Someone is else is at the controls now. Is it one of these gods he spoke of? Or is it something else? Perhaps human nature is harder to understand than to merely relegate it to such a mystical and abstract concept. Perhaps he still is Spencer Telmington, and the human mind really is capable of such rapid degeneration. Where once I saw this man speak of liberty and justice, now he speaks only of conquest and torture, “redemption” through blood sacrifice. He takes the Old Testament as a literally true scripture with laws that must be obeyed for the sake of obedience, and he preaches it that way inside of the Ohio State Pen. He selects only one-hundred and forty-four righteous men - and somehow, putting a limited number makes people want to sign up faster.
Telmington went insane, and I wish I could understand why. There is so much he never told me, and that he never speaks at in the television interviews. Two popular books have been written about him as well, both of which I find to be highly fascinating. I shall include an interesting excerpt, his only reference to the gods outside of my own memory that I am able to find. The man interviewing him was named Dr. Alan Lager.
DR LAGER: Spencer, you were talking about a dream you had earlier. Could you please go into more detail and describe that dream to me?
SPENCER: In the dream I was in the desert, and I looked into the sky and I saw these lights that shouldn’t be there. They looked like stars, but they were moving.
DR LAGER: What do you think these lights meant, Spencer?
SPENCER: They didn’t mean anything, they were lights.
DR LAGER: Everything in dreams has a meaning, Spencer.
SPENCER: Don’t patronize me. They were there because that’s how God came to me.
DR LAGER: Go on.
SPENCER: The ship landed and he came out to me in the dream. He looked like we do, he was a human, he was a white man with blue eyes and blonde hair.
DR LAGER: And what did God say to you, Spencer?
SPENCER: I’m getting to it. He told me his name was Yahweh, and that he had come to save me from myself.
DR LAGER: What do you think he meant, Spencer?
SPENCER: Will you shut the fuck up for five fucking minutes?
DR LAGER: Yes, I’m sorry Spencer. Go on.
SPENCER: He told me that his agents had come to me and that they were lying. He told me that they punished me for not doing what they wanted and that he had come to save me from them. I was told that I have a mission.
DR LAGER: Was this before or after you killed your family, Spencer?
SPENCER: It was after. The gods came to me before and made me do it.
DR LAGER: Why do you call them the gods? Do you believe Yahweh is God?
SPENCER: I don’t believe Yahweh is God. I know Yahweh is God. He said he punished me for my iniquity through using the gods against me, but that the gods were actually demons and that we had to stop them.
DR LAGER: Why would he use them to hurt you if he wanted you to help him stop them?
SPENCER: Why does that matter?
DR LAGER: You don’t see why that matters, Spencer?
DR LAGER: It matters because that means that this Yahweh that you are imagining is using your own mind against you. You are acting out, Spencer.
SPENCER: Dr. Lager, what number are you thinking of?
DR LAGER: That is irrelevant to our discussion, Spencer.
SPENCER: You’re thinking of the number ninety-two.
That interview had been conducted about five years after his imprisonment. He has always been a popular subject for mass consumption - on the level of Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. He never killed anywhere near as many people as those three (let’s face it, Charles Manson kills only by extension, but a killer he remains). Telmington has only killed two people - his wife and child. But his family’s notoriety as well as the gruesomeness of his case had cemented him a permanent place in the American psyche. The two books that came out were called “Yahweh’s Angel” from which the interview I printed above was taken, and “Child of Prestige: The Spencer Telmington Story.” The former was much better than the latter, as the titles should make obvious.
I also saw Spencer once on an interview on CNN. It was conducted live via satellite from the Ohio State Penitentiary and beamed directly into my living room. Larry King was asking the questions this time, instead of some psychiatrist, psychologist or reporter. “Spencer,” said Larry, “would you care to tell us why you killed your wife and child in 1962?” “Yes,” replied Spencer. He looked much older now, his hair was completely white, and a cross was tattooed in the center of his forehead. He had grown a long white beard, but he still stared out from those same pastel green eyes.
“I killed her because she was an adulterer, and the Bible commanded me to do it.” This was out of line with the response he had given me so long ago. He had never mentioned the Bible when we spoke - only that he was being punished by the gods, and that they had made him kill his own family. He had never told me specifically why, except to say that he had refused to do something that they had commanded of him. “We must follow the laws of Yahweh,” he told Larry. “But doesn’t the Bible say not to kill?” Larry asked. “The Bible says an eye for an eye,” responded Spencer, “and so does Yahweh.” Larry didn’t flinch. “But Jesus says that we must turn the other cheek,” says Larry. “No,” responded Spencer, “Christ says that the laws of the old testament shall stand until the end of time and that he has only come to fulfill those laws. He does not say that they are ended.” Larry didn’t say anything for a moment, and then simply repeated himself. “Jesus says to turn the other cheek, it’s written there plainly,” he said. He sounded annoyed.
“We are only to turn the other cheek with regards to the followers of Yahweh. To our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible clearly states that the enemies of God must be killed and wiped out. All enemies of God are those who do not follow God’s laws.” “But what about your son?” Larry asked. “He wasn’t an adulterer.” “My son was a bastard,” Spencer coldly responded. “He was not my son at all. I offered him as a sacrifice to Yahweh.”
“One of the ten commandments is ‘Thou shalt not kill,’” Larry said. “What do you say to that?” “I already told you,” Spencer responded. “God’s laws only apply to people who follow God’s laws. God’s chosen ones must kill those who do not follow God’s laws. That is the only way.”
He had been out of his mind then. He had slipped a long time ago, of course - no one could say he had been sane since October 4th of 1962 and the truth was he was probably insane a very long time before that. I never knew what to make of him. It was clear that was lying and changing his story - or perhaps he had simply come to a different interpretation of things. Either way, I found it incredibly interesting to watch him on television. He was an interesting case study, and I had never met someone who seemed quite so alien and strange. Of course, how many people can say that they have interviewed an axe murderer? That they have looked him in the eye and listened to him ramble about the gods?
Not many, I presume.
I saw him on television a few more times, but there is only one time I saw him where he said anything that struck a chord with me. Usually I could see the mind of a cold sociopath working behind those strange eyes, I could see him formulating his responses to everything, brainwashing everyone stupid enough to open their minds to his message. There were Yahwist sects that grew outside of prison with people preaching his message in the streets and it went on for years. It’s only over the last five years or so that shame of following this figure has started to creep back into the American psyche. Perhaps something has happened to draw it back for a little longer before it topples over the edge of insanity.
It was on a prison documentary that he spoke. He wasn’t being interviewed, and he was just allowed to speak freely, which gave him a different platform than usual to spread his message - and for me to observe the workings of his scarred mind.
“We offer people hope,” he said. “Yahweh accepts those who suffer in prison for doing his work. Yahweh forgives those who kill in his name, and he declares martyrs those who are political prisoners simply because humans must deal with the Fall of man. We are the workers of God and the absolvers of iniquity. The children of Yahweh openly proclaim that if we get out of prison again, we will kill the enemies of God. We will kill homosexuals, we will kill cross-breeders, we will kill all breakers of God’s laws. We will kill abortionists, we will kill Atheists, we will kill Muslims, Jews and all non-Yahweh loving Christians. False Christians will be killed by the children of Yahweh, for the Bible tells us that we should not bear the witness of false prophets. False prophets must be put to death, and burnt as the witches that they are. God is a God of fear, not of love. Fear the children of Yahweh, sinners. Because we will kill you.”
I knew he was not lying, and I felt a shiver go down my spine because I felt at that moment as he looked into the camera that he was thinking specifically about me. And at the end of that interview, as he stared into that camera, he said something that no one would have understood but me. “You’re thinking of eleven,” he said, and then he smiled a large toothy grin as the screen faded to black. He was right.
And he was right about something else as well; it does come with the fall, the sadness. It is one thing that never fails. It comes with the fall.