The Werewolf of Wisteria
By: Gabriella Balcom

April 5, 1926 Brooklyn, New York

"Look," Burton whispered. The nine–year–old nudged his sister Susan, who was twelve, and Gerald, his eight–year–old friend. He then pointed to their right.

Gerald's eyes widened.

Susan frowned, seeing the man on his knees beside some bushes. She took hesitant steps toward him, the others following close behind. "Mister, are you hurt?" she asked.

The stranger glanced at her over his shoulder. "No. I'm looking for my apples." Standing, he brushed dust from the knees of his trousers before adjusting the bowler hat on his head. He straightened up, revealing his small stature, and gave them a smile which they returned.

"I walked by here earlier with my groceries," he explained. "When I got home, my apples were missing and I found a hole at the bottom of one of my bags. They cost me good money, so I came to look for them."

"Mother says 'waste not, want not,'" Susan commented. She bit her lip, glanced at the other youth, then offered, "We'll help you look. Did you drop them here?"

"I'm not sure of the exact place, but it might have been somewhere along this line of bushes." The man fished coins out of his pocket. "If you can find the apples, I'll pay you. Do you have other friends who could help, too?"

"Peter would," Gerald replied. "He's my brother. Would that be okay, Mister?"

"Yes." The man smiled again, his tone mild. "The more, the better."

"My friends might help, too," Susan offered. In moments, she and Gerald took off to find the other children, leaving Burton to help the man search.

When they returned, the stranger was gone. So was Burton.

"Can you tell me what he looked like?" a policeman asked an hour later. Officers combed the park and nearby neighborhood.

"He was just—a man," Susan replied, tears rolling down her face. "He seemed gentle and kind of gray."

"Gray hair?"

"No," Susan replied. "Well, I didn't notice his hair because of his hat, but his mustache was gray. His skin was, too."

"Like the boogeyman," Gerald added.

Minutes later, the officer discussed the case with his fellow policemen. "A woman down the road also described the man as 'gray.'"

"People saw him walking on the sidewalk with a boy, but nobody noticed what direction they went," one of his coworkers replied.


Meanwhile, across town

Albert Fish carried his handmade cat–o–nine–tails to the bathroom sink and washed it, watching the blood go down the drain. He'd whipped his victim's bottom before killing him. Studying his own naked body in the mirror, Albert looked for any sign of droplets. A few had splattered his chest and legs, so he cleaned himself.

Afterward, he carried the dead child to the tub, carefully washing him with water he'd brought in the previous day. Then, he laid the corpse face–down on the kitchen table. The room was mostly dark, since he'd draped blankets over the windows. But, he'd set candles around the room, and quickly lit them.

Opening his bag—he carried painting supplies around for his jobs—Albert removed his butcher knife, meat cleaver, and handsaw, caressing the razor–sharp edges. Then he went to work on the body.

May 25, 1928

Slowly sticking a pin into his abdomen, Albert moaned. The fifty–eight–year–old pierced his pelvis with several more, then his scrotum, and shivered, caught between pain and ecstasy. As a young boy, he'd been beaten unmercifully in St. John's Orphanage, and he'd grown to savor pain. Since then, he'd delved into numerous things that most considered unspeakable, including eating feces and self–flagellation.

Over time, he'd also begun to see and hear God, and believed certain things were expected of him.

Getting out his nail–studded paddle, he used it on himself, not stopping till blood trickled down his body.

Albert perused the local paper that evening, breathing faster as he read one specific advertisement.

Voices murmured in his head, and he nodded.

May 28, 1928 Manhattan

"Yes?" the woman asked after opening the door. Meeting Albert's gaze, she visibly relaxed. "May I help you?"

"I'm Frank Howard," he replied, holding his hat in his hands. He knew people saw him as small and unassuming. Nonthreatening. "I saw an ad in the paper about someone looking for employment. This address was listed. I'm a farmer and could use an assistant or two."

The woman smiled. "Just a moment." Soon she ushered him inside.

Albert sipped the tea he'd been offered and studied eighteen–year–old Samuel Budd. He was the one seeking work. Albert heard whispers nobody else could hear and learned forward slightly. He could already imagine the young man screaming and wondered how his blood would taste.

A girl ran into the room and was introduced as Grace, age ten. While the visitor made polite conversation with her parents, she climbed into his lap, kissing his cheek. A warm sense of rightness flooded Albert. He knew she was intended for him, his reason for coming here, and he immediately lost interest in her brother.

Moments later, he walked down the sidewalk, her small hand in his. He typically made a good impression on people, and her parents had been no different. Impressed with his courtesy and kindly manner, they'd given him permission to take their daughter to a party down the street. She skipped along beside him, chattering excitedly about anticipated sweets.

He walked straight to the abandoned house he'd selected, Wisteria Cottage, and entered it while the child waited outside, picking flowers. After undressing—so no blood would mar his clothing—he called for her to enter, hiding in a closet until she appeared.

A little over an hour later

Albert wrapped Grace's head in paper and stuck it into an old potato sack he'd found at the dump. Her arms went in next and he added rocks for weight. After putting paper around the remaining body parts he didn't want, he set them in other potato sacks along with more rocks.

He took them down to the river in the middle of the night. No one was around, so he slung the bags into the water, watching as they sank.

He added the girl's clothing to a burning pile of trash he'd seen along the way, then returned to Wisteria Cottage to gather what he was taking with him. He hurried home, whistling as he walked and carrying his bag. In it, he carried selected chunks of meat, carefully ensconced in paper. His stomach rumbled, and he couldn't wait to prepare his food.

Once he stood in his kitchen, Albert listened intently but heard only silence. His two children who still lived at home were asleep. He got out the portions he'd cut from Grace's calves and other parts of her body and studying them. Setting the two fleshiest ones—from the buttocks—in a roasting tin, he added a strip of bacon over each, and stuck them into the oven to bake.

He cut the remaining flesh into pieces, putting them in a pot for stew. Adding carrots, potatoes, onions, and seasoning, he anticipated a fine feast. His whipping would've ensured the meat's tenderness.

When he checked the oven, he poured water over his meat to make gravy, and periodically basted to keep his food moist.

An involuntary "mmm" escaped his lips later as he savored his first bite, and he smiled. It was sweet and quite tender, the best he'd ever eaten.


January 16, 1936

Newspapers proclaimed, "The Boogey Man to be Executed Today." Others referred to Albert Fish as the "Gray Man", "Werewolf of Wisteria", "Brooklyn Maniac," or "Moon Maniac."

After being caught, he'd stood trial in 1935, his depravities being discussed in court. He'd admitted to cannibalism and molesting children, but Grace hadn't been one. Neither had his own biological children, whom he'd been forced to raise alone after being abandoned by his wife. However, he'd tortured dozens of other people, both youths and adults. Sometimes he'd eaten their organs raw, and even though only three deaths were formally attributed to him, he was suspected of many more.

Albert sat quietly in the electric chair when it was time for his execution at Sing Sing Prison. The first jolt didn't kill him, but the second did.

Jail staff carried his corpse into a room afterward, laying it on a table before walking out.

A dark mist rose from the body, quickly solidifying.

Dementus, one of Satan's most foul and perverted minions, stretched languidly. The evil creature glanced at Fish's carcass and gloated. He'd thoroughly enjoyed himself inside the man.

Once he'd surveyed his surroundings, Dementus headed for the door. He began to fade right before walking through it. A smile on his face, he went to look for his next host.


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