So a few days ago Richard Ramirez died… I say good riddance. When I was a young boy I remember being gripped with fear by his murder spree. But I was also very fascinated by the way he was cornered by a whole community, literally chased down, and captured. Years later I wrote the following short story. I suppose now is an appropriate time to share it.
By Davy Perez
It was not your typical Saturday morning for Manual de la Torres. San Diego was in a grueling match-up against Montreal and being slaughtered 6 to 0. This could only mean one thing. It was going to be a good day for Dodger Baseball.
“Manny!” The woman’s voice came from the kitchen of the small tract home. Angelina de la Torres kept a clean living space but the house was always in need of some sort of structural improvement. It was located on the 3700 block of Hubbard Street, in the heart of East Los Angeles. “Are you gonna finish that fence today?” Her question was more of a spousal demand than it was an inquiry.
“Ange, the Game.” Manual winced as the Padres advanced a batter to second base and scored their first run. The score was now Expos-6/Padres-1, with only one out and three more innings to play.
“What time are you going to start it?” Angela was late for her nail appointment but she was not going to let up. That fence needed to be constructed as soon as possible. It would help to make her feel safe. Manual could sense the frustration in her voice as he turned to face her.
“Babe. Tailgate today, ‘member?” He asked politely, “Please?” Now Manual was pleading. Begging his wife’s permission with chocolate brown puppy dog eyes and every bit of his manhood in check. If any of the neighborhood regulars could witness this private moment, they would have slapped him in his face for acting like a ‘puto’.
“Mañana then. But for sure though Manny.”
“For sure,” Dodger Dogs, Manual could already taste the tangy mix of salty fat and mustard dripping on his tongue. “Ta’morrow.”
“Right after church”
“Right after church. Yeah.” He could hardly contain himself. “I love you babe. You’re my angel”
“Yeah, I love you too.” Angela walked out the door to begin her errands for the day.
“And it’s a DOUBLE PLAY!” Manual now turned his complete attention back to the warm glow of cathode ray tubes that was his television. He had ‘Blue Fever’ and it was indeed looking like a good day for Dodger Baseball. There was no better way to experience it than by having a tailgate party up at The Stadium with lifelong friends from the neighborhood. Across the street a Mustang engine roared and then rumbled.
“Tino finally got his pony up and running.” Manual mused to himself. “I wonder if he got that Muncie tran–.” The screech of tires and a woman’s scream stopped him dead in his tracks. A cold shiver trickled down his spine as he took to his feet. His only thought was “Angela.” Outside people began to shout. Manual ran out the door as fast as his feet would carry him.
The day was hot. Bright and hot. The sun beat down upon Richard with an un-abating eye of judgment. For Richard Ramirez, only the cool soft embrace of the night was ever any comfort. It was then that the voices in his head would speak clearly to him. Telling him which way to go, which house to enter…whose life to take. For Richard, the voices were a direct link to Satan; his very own personal communication with the master. The women he tasted and defiled were merely presents given to him by the Devil, and he used the voices to guide him. In the darkness of night the voices protected him. In the evening The Night Stalker could be courageous, treading the paths of inequity without the fear of retribution. But this was not the nighttime. In the sun there was only confusion, a haze of uncertainty. The voices became muddled during the waking hours, leaving Richard in disarray. He entered a strange driveway and walked towards the back of the house looking for a vehicle to take. His name was all over the newspapers now and there was not one person in the whole of California who did not know that Richard Ramirez was a killer. But this was of little concern to him at the moment. All he wanted to do was to find a car and drive it far away. Far off into a deep dark hole somewhere. Dank and moist, to hide from the ever prying eyes of society, away from the ugly faces of humanity. He longed to be isolated, but above that, to be out of the hot light of the sun.
“Hey!” The man’s voice jarred Richard back to reality for a brief moment. “What’s going on?”
Richard did not wait to respond but instead quickly decided to hop the nearest fence. Once on the other side he found himself starring at a beautiful manifestation of American engineering, a cherry red Ford Mustang. He could not believe his luck as he discovered that not only was the driver side door unlocked but the keys were actually in the ignition.
“Thank you Satan,” Richard smiled. Sparkplugs lit and the motor engaged as he turned the key.
Faustino Pinon was in love with his car. ‘Tino’, as he was known by the locals, would often joke to his friends that he would like to be buried in it, as if he where some ancient pharaoh attempting to take his wealth and worldly pleasures with him into the afterlife. He had just spent the last few months of his life personally rebuilding the engine and had not taken her out for a spin in almost a year. Parts for his baby were not cheap, but no expense was spared when it came to his prized possession: a 1968, Candy Apple Red, Ford Shelby Mustang, GT-350. On this particular morning he was underneath his beloved “Sally”, installing a new Muncie Performance Transmission. As he was about to screw the last bolt into place when there was a noise followed by the entire machine briefly jerking forward. Tino was not shocked by the mixture of oil and transmission fluid that squirted him in the face, nor was he surprised by the deep rumble of his mighty 302 Boss engine cranking over. The fact that someone would actually be in the driver seat and dare to ruin the sanctity of his Sally, turning the key with their strange foul presence, appalled him the most. Especially now that she was practically a virgin again.
“Some stupid punk really gonna try to steal my ride?” He thought to himself. “I’ll fuckin’ kill ’em!” Faustino grabbed the heaviest wrench in his arsenal and shot out from underneath the car.
Manual de la Torres ran out the front door of his house but could not at first make sense of what was happening. Mustang Sally was rammed hood first into a telephone pole and Tino himself was running from the passenger side towards Angela. That is when Manual noticed the man about to assault his wife.
Although in shock, Angela would still not give up her car keys. Richard was going to punch her in the face and take them anyway.
Manual grabbed the nearest weapon he could find, a three-foot aluminum pole of the type most commonly used as a fence post. He could see the man attacking Angela had a wild and vicious look in his eyes, a terrible look of evil and violence. This drove Manual to act with even more resolve towards his wife’s protection.
Richard looked beyond the yard he now stood in front of and learned that his next potential victim had a protector. He decided to continue running. That is when someone yelled, “It’s him!”
“The Night Stalker!” Someone else shouted.
“That’s the guy!”
“Get him!” The entire neighborhood was alive now.
This was all Manual needed to hear. At that moment his adrenaline and courage increased even beyond its already accelerated rate.
“This was the man who murdered all those people;” Manual began to recall the recent news reports as he took his first swing. His swing was high and away. He missed Ramirez by just inside a few inches. “This was the freak who did all that crazy devil and sex shit to all those girls”, Manny wanted to knock his head clean off. The recent attacks had struck terror into the hearts of every single person in the City of Los Angeles. Richard Ramirez was the reason why in the middle of a heat wave, Manual couldn’t leave the window open at night and had to sleep in a sticky pool of his own sweat. “Fuckin Assshole!” Another swing and a miss. Strike two.
Ramirez turned his head, taunting his pursuers as he stuck out his discolored tongue at them.
This was not a man in Manual’s eyes. This was a monster before him. The Night Stalker. The right hand of Satan himself. The piece of garbage who just moments ago almost knocked out his innocent sweet Angel. Manual swung hard and fast. In his heart, this time he knew he would not miss.
Tino was right next to Manny as the aluminum pole slammed against the killer’s face. Tino gave a follow up blow with his steel wrench. Three brothers who had run from their homes were now joining into the fray, as was every other able-bodied male in the neighborhood. They pummeled Ramirez until teeth and flesh mangled into one. Hot deep red and blackish liquid flew up into their faces.
The crowd cheered. As they knocked his skull against the hard cement of a concrete curb, a loud crack was heard over the jeers. Some people began to chant, calling for his total dismemberment. It was a Roman carnival, a circus of mayhem.
Manny could feel his heart racing. He was alive with excitement. Swift vengeance was a game and it was fun to play. Manny wanted nothing more than to kill this man. Not for the crowd, not for God, not for anything else but his own personal satisfaction. In his mind the thoughts were clear as day, “I am going to kill the Night Stalker.” Manny sank his fist further into the soft purple mass of bulbous and bruised cheeks which no longer resembled Richard’s face.
Manual did not hear the sirens approaching. Nor did he stop attacking his victim when the police arrived. He was made deaf with violence. As he was being restrained, the police knocked Manual de La Torres’s torso to the ground and his face met the blank stare of the half-dead Ramirez. Richard was still barely clinging unto to a shred of life but no longer responded to stimuli. In those dark sinister pupils, glazed over with tears, Manual could see his own reflection was staring back at him. It was an angry blood soaked face. Manual’s eyes housed the wild and vicious look of a killer. Upon recognizing this, his spirit broke in half. The rage drained from his mind and Manual’s body instantly went limp in the arms of the arresting officer.
Manny did not end up watching any more baseball that Saturday. He spent most of the day in a jail cell downtown. By evening, the California Angeles had lost to the Yankees and Los Angeles was shut out completely in an upset, five to zero, Phillies over Dodgers.
In the somber hours just after midnight, Manual entered his silent abode. After an immeasurable amount of time wasted on interrogation, processing, and even more questioning at the police station, he was finally back in the privacy of his own home. As he prepared to make his nightly rest, he captured a glimpse of himself in the hallway mirror. Manual stared at the reflection of his own face once again. Now it was freshly cleaned and showered. For a brief moment he watched himself in the mirror. Then he looked down at the hands below him. He stared down at them with their bruised knuckles and tiny scrapes. Investigating their intricate shape he recognized their hidden ability. He stared down at them, the hands that nearly took another man’s life. His own hands made of flesh and blood. He could not muster up the strength to look back towards his reflection and into his own eyes. His knees buckled as he slid to the ground. He covered his face and lay there in a fetal position. The clock struck three. Manual wept.
– Davy Perez © 2007 –