On January 11th, 2016, at around 11:30 PM, Michael Leonberger climbed out of bed and made his way down the hall for a glass of water.
It would be the last glass of water he would ever drink, before…
BAM! The intruder nailed him in the back of the skull! With an ice pick! Or a screw driver. Something sharp and pointy. Then the intruder turned that little sucker, so that little slivers of his brain unspooled out the back (ew!). Think fat ugly spaghetti strips.
And it makes sense Leonberger died this way, because of the trajectory of blood that was splattered all over the walls! The weird brainy bits that were all mushed into the carpet, and…
And yikes, man! Enough!
Okay, okay…that didn’t happen. I’m not dead yet, and no one plugged me in the head with a tool meant for something else. You can all relax.
But I have thoughts like that oh-so often.
The “This is how I would die if this was a true crime show!” thought. Usually narrated by that guy from Unsolved Mysteries.
And I want to let you know that every single time I die, I’m doing something boring.
Because if the true crime genre has taught me anything, it’s that anyone could die at any time.
Here’s my thesis: the more boring the thing you’re doing, the higher the probability that you are going to die. It’s insane.
(And you’ll have to trust me on this, because I read and watch a lot of this garbage).
Hear me out on this. They always start out so mundane.
It’s always Cindy, just taking out the trash. Or Joey, out for a late night jog. Billie Jean, picking up Norma from her soccer game. Here’s Jared, last seen grabbing a bite at his favorite sub joint.
Nicholas, who was feeling uneasy, stepped out on the back porch to smoke a cigarette, and who never came back.
Grace…you get the idea. They all disappeared. All missing persons, until they showed up, dead, just a couple of teeth and clots of hair inside the filter of someone’s pool.
So it’s when I’m doing the most mundane things…the most boring, soul crushing things (like flossing) that I feel the most endangered. The most doomed. Robert Stack’s voice starts narrating my life in my head: “At 12:53 AM, Michael Leonberger ate a whole sleeve of crackers, save the last one. Perhaps he meant to leave one for his girlfriend? Regardless, that’s the one they retrieved from behind the refrigerator, covered in his blood…the only scraps of DNA of Leonberger they ever found!”
It’s not: “Leonberger was last seen entering the woods at 3:30 in the morning after playing a terrifying game of oija in the graveyard with fourteen of his tightest bros.”
No. Because that would be too obviously scary. No one dies when they’re doing things that are obviously scary. They aren’t struck down by lighting or killed by Jason, either. It’s always some beady-eyed weirdo who sweats too much, and you’re always just doing your laundry.
It’s “Leonberger swam three laps, toweled off, and entered the locker room. They found his goggles smeared in blood and nothing else.”
(And even that’s unrealistic, because…three? Try three….quarters. Of one lap).
What happened to me? Who knows. It’s always the unsolved crimes that stick in our craw.
To say this scares me is an understatement. This stuff terrifies me.
It’s always so clinical. They always boil it down to the exact time, or the window of time when someone could have been killed. Basically, lawyers now construct the nightmares in my mind with exact data. Sterile, clinical details. Blood boiling terror. Always the exact time the body is found. The hapless jogger who discovers a bloody shoe at 6:45 AM. Connected, of course, to a bloody leg.
The church lady who got in at 7:15 and noticed the back door was ajar. She called the police, of course. They searched the scene. They found the skull bits in the garbage disposal.
The pair of kids, jumping on their trampoline, when they notice a pair of eyes hanging from a tree, optical nerves still in tact…
A-ha! See? That last one?
That last one is obviously crap. It’s too colorful! It’s not quite boring enough to be true, not quite true enough to be actually scary. And besides: there’s no time stamp.
You try it! Think of the most boring thing you could be doing, give it a time stamp, and have the person who discovers you’re missing only find out because they find something essentially trivial of yours, but not trivial on the day they find it! Because on the day they find it, you’re missing, and that thing is smeared in your blood!
Here we go! Let’s give it a shot. Fill in the blanks:
On the night of _________ at ___________, I was _____________________, when I stepped out to ___________. Neighbors saw me leave at _________________ but noticed I never returned.
At ________________ my friendly neighbor, Jane Smith, was out for a _______________ when she noticed a ________________ that she could have sworn belonged to me. Only that wasn’t all. It was also covered in my ______________!
There! You’re welcome. You’ve just completed the first sentence of your true crime masterpiece (IF you completed those blanks with boring things. No late-night-roller-derby-disco-balls, with glitter bombs, okay?). Remember: the more boring, the more believable, the better, the less I’m going to be able to sleep. If you went missing after sacrificing a chicken to Satan, I’m literally yawning. If you’re gone after leaving a tupperware party, I’ll be up all night.
The whole point is this: don’t be scared during a lightning storm. Or walking alone in a dark property that you’re sure is haunted.
Nah, those places are actually safe, according to True Crime.
It’s the boring stuff. It’s gardening. It’s hanging pictures. It’s getting fast food (not while you’re at the window, but when you park to eat).
It’s Coca-Cola and gasoline and television.
It’s all the time. That’s when you should be scared!