Noisy Water Review

misc romance

Shellie Stevens

From: “K—” <z—>*
To: “Shellie Stevens” <p—>
My playlist for you.
Hurtful, by Erik Hassle. Bitter End, by Erik Hassle. Fatal, by J Holiday. Oh, and one more. Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been, by Reliant K.

Up until seeing the surveillance video I had tried to convince myself that it wasn’t him. After that, nothing made sense. I watch as K— walks towards his wife Kriston’s apartment at 4:53 am, carrying what looks like a shotgun on his right side, and comes back only seven minutes later, carrying the shotgun in his other hand. The defense argued that because of the lighting you couldn’t see the person’s face or even tell for sure that it was a man, let alone a black man. But I knew. That was his walk, those were his jeans, his shoes, and I caught a glimpse as he strode out of the first frame of him reaching up to adjust his glasses in the way only he did. I also knew, because he had told me he was going to do it.

The term psychopath was first brought up when I was interviewed by the police, before I saw the video, before I knew what to believe. When I told the detective my experience with K—, how he was really funny and super smart but had a really bad habit of lying, she said, “Yeah, we noticed that. He even seems to lie about stuff he doesn’t need to. But then, that’s how psychopaths are.”

This was my statement to the police:
“My name is Shellie Stevens. I have known K— Dunya since approximately January or early spring of 2007. I have dated him off and on since that time. Approximately 1-2 months ago we were having a conversation about custody of Kai. K— was talking while I was making dinner. He was concerned that Kriston would take Kai back to Missouri. I thought and told him that he would just have to move to Missouri. He said he couldn’t live there again due to the fact that he was treated poorly because he was black. I had seen some issues like that when with him in the community, so I kind of understood why that could be an issue. He then said something about Kriston and either her dying or being killed. I do not remember what he said, and thought he was joking around. I stopped what I was doing and hugged him and said, “You could never do that to Kai, he needs his mother.” He said very quietly, “I have to.””

K— kills his wife with a shotgun; six months later I’m driving down Meridian Street and he appears in front of me. I had always thought we would end up together, in the end. This time he’s wearing a black hoodie pulled up over his head, pointing a shotgun at my chest.

I flinch at the sound of the gun shot and can already feel the pain shooting through my chest and a feeling of cold wetness spreading from the wound. I hear Kriston say, “It should have been you.”

I can’t breathe. I know she is right.

The National Institute of Health says, “In some cases, hallucination may be normal. For example, hearing the voice of, or briefly seeing, a loved one who has recently died can be a part of the grieving process.” Listening to all this my therapist says, “You may be psychic.”

All I know is I’m really glad he is in jail, because if he wasn’t, he would probably kill me. If he wasn’t in jail…I would still want to be with him.

About 1 percent of the population can be defined as psychopaths, however they make up about 20 percent of prison inmates. Of those, they are responsible for half of the violent crimes and are 3 to 4 times more likely to re-offend (Craig et al.).

It was a Craigslist posting that broke us up the first time. His. He had posted under “strictly platonic,” looking for someone to go to lunch with him. In the posting I recognized his wording, his cadence, so I responded to the ad, asking if he was in a relationship. “No, nothing like that,” he replied. When confronted he said that he didn’t realize we were being exclusive. He sent me a link to Gnarls Barkley’s video, “Who Is Gonna Save My Soul Now?” In this video a woman is breaking up with a man giving him the, “it’s not you it’s me” speech in a diner. In response he casually asks the waiter to bring him an extra plate. He cuts his heart out with a butter knife and sets it on the plate, sliding it across the table towards the woman. He says, “Here, it’s yours now.” I took him back.

It’s scary how deeply I was sucked in. When I showed my friends at work the video they thought it was ridiculous and manipulative. I had thought it was sweet. My friends made it pretty obvious that they were not a part of the K— Fan Club and had no problem telling me how they felt about him. “You don’t need a fixer-upper!” they said. “You were so sad last time you broke up with him, I don’t want to see you that sad again,” they said. “If he cheated on you once he’ll do it again,” they said. “I know, I know, I know!” I said.

We had met through an ad he posted on Craigslist, under “misc romance.” He was working the evening shift at the Bellingham Herald and I met him downtown for one of his lunch breaks. We grabbed a coffee (me) and a chai tea (him) at Starbucks and walked around in the cold February night. We talked about Fight Club and jokingly about whether or not he was a serial killer. He said, “of course I’m a serial killer, I kill me some cereal every morning!”

From: “K—” <m—>
To: “The Penguin” <p—>
It was nice meeting you. Thanks for coming out and freezing your ass off. :) You’re fun and I would “totally” like to spend more time with you.

I wanna live ‘till I die, no more, no less.

From: “The Penguin” <p—>
To: “K—” <m—>
LOL…I had a great time. You seem pretty normal for a cereal killer. But then, you never know, do you?

From: “K—” <m—>
To: “The Penguin” <p—>
That’s how we work, lure you in then next thing you know you’re covered in milk.

He was a computer-nerd-video-game-playing-geek, with a funny, softer, serious side.

From: “K—” <m—>
To: “The Penguin” <p—>
I feel the need to get some juice and make things dead, but before I get off here. I have a question. Do you think it’s possible to have someone care for you as much as you do them? Or are millions of people just barking up the wrong tree. Are we going against nature by trying to have that kind of relationship?

Should I even be asking you these things?
I wanna live till I die, no more, no less

We broke up the second time in 2008. He had moved to Lynnwood for a new job and although we never had the “let’s break up” conversation, I got the message because he just stopped texting and emailing. Failing at his job after a few months, he moved back to Bellingham. I saw him one day as he was dropping his son off at daycare. “Hey,” I said. “It’s good to see you. You should come over some time.” And he did.

The next summer we moved in together. I figured it would be more difficult for him to have another girlfriend if he was living with me. It wasn’t. I moved out. Tried to forget him.

July, 2010 posting on Craigslist. Mine.
bellingham craigslist > personals > missed connections

Keazy - w4m – 42 (Bham)

I don’t believe that the best part of me was you
But what am I supposed to say
When I’m all choked up and you’re ok
Now, I’m not falling to pieces
But when a heart breaks it doesn’t break even

His response:

From: “K—” <z—>
To: “Shellie Stevens” p—
I hope you are serious, because my heart couldn’t take you changing your mind. I can’t say I did picture what the future did hold, I am trying to know. I am trying a lot of things. I just know I love you and my life is poorer for you being gone. I will always care for you.

I do have two things. One, you assume I am in a relationship. Two, that I wouldn’t come running at the thought of you needing me or wanting to be with me. Well, three, I want you to see the changes I am trying to make. If only from a distance or a little bit at a time.
The ball, as always, is in your court. I will always be there for you.

A year later, he’s calling me on his way home from the police station after being questioned about his wife’s murder. Excitedly he says, “The police told me Kriston was the victim of a violent act.” I can hear the smile in his voice. “Is she going to be ok?” I ask repeatedly. “No,” he finally says, “she’s not going to be ok. And the great thing is I had nothing to do with it.”

No empathy. No conscience. No impulse control. Studies have shown that the psychopathic brain is structurally different. Both the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, areas that are known to control panning, prediction of consequences, and inhibition of socially unacceptable behavior, are substantially reduced in size in a psychopath’s brain. Also, too, the axons connecting these regions are weaker, even though the axons leading to other parts of the brain from these regions were normal (Craig et al.).

The fear a victim has over being hurt or killed is meaningless to a psychopath, because they are unable to feel the emotion of fear like the rest of us do. This can actually be measured scientifically. In one test, prisoners who didn’t respond to punishment received a painful electrical shock when a timer counted down to zero. An electrode taped to their fingers measured perspiration. Normally, people start to sweat as they anticipate the coming shock. Only, psychopaths don’t sweat. They don’t fear punishment, which also explains why they find it hard to empathize with their victims (Hercz).

In another experiment, groups of letters were flashed to volunteers. Some were nonsense and some formed real words. Subjects pressed a button whenever they recognized a real word. Non-psychopaths respond faster and display more brain activity when processing emotionally loaded words such as “rape” or “cancer” than when they see neutral words such as “tree.” To a psychopath however, the words “rape” and “tree” have the same emotional impact—none (Hercz).

Almost all serial killers are psychopaths, and most dangerous criminals are too. However, violent criminals only account for a tiny fraction of the psychopaths around us. According to Robert Hercz, in his essay, “Psychopaths Among Us,” “hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us. Your boss, your boyfriend, your mother could be described as a ‘subclinical’ psychopath, someone who leaves a path of destruction and pain without a single pang of conscience” (Hercz).

At this time, the only advice the experts have to offer us is to know your own weaknesses, because the psychopath will find and use them (Hercz). This isn’t that easy, as even the experts are often fooled. Hercz himself recounts a time when he had known a psychopath. He was a man who was charming and confident and on the fast track to success. In a few weeks though he was arrested for embezzling thousands of dollars from the company, running a marijuana business (and using the company’s address for mailing) on the side, and robbed the apartment of the company’s owner. Hercz felt ashamed that he had believed this brilliant, charismatic, audacious man. Hercz writes about the man, “He radiated money and power (though in fact he had neither), while his real self—manipulative, lying, parasitic, and irresponsible—was just far enough under the surface to be invisible. Or was it? Maybe I didn’t know how to look, or maybe I didn’t really want to” (Hercz).

There were so many things I had questioned and let go; so many times I did not follow my instincts. I convinced myself that the incredible intensity I felt with a madman was a fair trade-off for honesty and faithfulness. After all, I was only hurting myself. Right?

Until he was arrested, K—had continued to lie about still being married to Kriston. “I keep telling the police but they aren’t listening,” he would say. Just before they took him in, he called one last time. I asked him if there was going to be a lot of other stuff brought up that I didn’t know and what kind of other dirty laundry did he have. Before he hung up the phone, he quietly said, “The only dirty laundry I have is you.”

One last Craigslist posting. Mine.
bellingham craigslist > personals > missed connections

For Keazy - w4m – 42 (Bham)
My playlist for you:
Puke, by Eminem. Best Thing I Never Had, by Beyonce. Bulletproof, by La Roux.


*Some names/emails have been changed.

Works Cited

Beyonce. “Best Thing I Never Had.” 4. Babyface. 2011. CD.

Craig, M., et al. “Portrait of a Sociopath.” Molecular Psychiatry (2009): n. page. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

Dunya, K—. “Re: Of Course It Was You.” Message to the author. 7 July 2010. E-mail.

Dunya, K—. “Tourist.” Message to the author. 24 July 2010. E-mail.

Dunya, K—. “WTF.” Message to the author. 15 April 2007. E-mail.

Dunya, K—. “What Do You Want?” Message to the author. 22 Feb. 2007. E-mail.

Eminem. “Puke.” Encore. Dr. Dre, 2004. CD.

Hassle, Erik. “Hurtful.” Hassle. Roxy. 2009. CD.

Hassle, Erik. “Bitter End.” Hassle. Roxy. 2009. CD.

Hercz, Robert. “Psychology Among Us.” hare. n.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

Holiday, J. “Fatal.” Back of My Lac. Losa DaMystro. 2007. CD.

La Roux. “Bulletproof.” La Roux. Jackson, Ely & Langmaid, Ben. 2009. CD.

Reliant K. “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been.” Mmhmm. Thiessen, Matt & Townsend, Mark, L. 2004. CD.

Stevens, Shellie. “Re: What Do You Want?’ Message to K— Dunya. 22 Feb 2007. E-mail.

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