Tommy kept the Christmas tree up several months after the holiday season was over; he thought it made a good nightlight in the living room when the overhead lamp was too much. The soft cozy glow it gave off felt homie. It made it a lot easier to cope with the multiple stab wounds he would puncture into the body of his victims. He just had to find a way to deal with the screams. Stuffing a sock in their mouths did well to muffle the pitch and make it hard for any neighbors to hear them cry out in agony. But, it didn’t stop their shrills from putting him on edge. So, he decided to start playing Bing Crosby albums as loud as he could while he flayed their skin from the bone. Bing’s deep, smooth voice wound its way through his soul, putting him at ease as he cast both sharp and dull objects down into the fragile flesh of his prey. The effect the crooner’s golden tone had on his spirit made his arms move without hesitation, as if they were wings guided by the breeze. Each cut, each carving, each beautifully barbaric strike burst through the bodies like they were water. Often, he watched their glassy eyes swiveling wildly in their blood-soaked faces, and felt comforted by the reflection of the blinking Christmas lights dancing in their watering eyes. Once the life drained away, there was a slight sense of serenity in those dead eyes: a calm beauty, like they had finally gone home and he had been the courageous carrier to convey them there. It was almost heroic.