Sometimes, Carroll thinks, Poe is mistaken. There may be nothing quite like the death of a beautiful woman, but there is nothing more electrifying than effecting murder yourself. Feeling the emptiness left where that young life ought to be.
To bereave beauty is to elevate the soul.
But still: Poe, in all his splendorous machinations, missed another important something about humanity. So Carroll believes, when he looks into his Detective Hardy’s eyes after eight long years of absence, and sees absolutely nothing where he should see the man’s soul. Ah, Carroll thinks, a broken man is such a beautiful sight.
Hardy is not broken. Not completely - incompletely, and it is Carroll’s duty as the breaker to remedy that situation. But Hardy breaks his fingers and Carroll imagines a knife slicing through the detective’s skin, carving out the ugly little device inside the man which keeps him not-quite-alive, which keeps him slugging Belvedere or Absolut or whatever substance is the cause of his pungent breath.
His detective is breathing fast when the guards take him away. Hardy has a sickened look, eyes bulging, anger not quite left his countenance, fists still clenched by his sides. Impotence laid out in all its glory, and Carroll loves, just loves, that he is its creator. He’s enjoying himself - the chase reignited. Carroll feels the detective’s eyes sweep over him and almost groans at the hot white anger that flows with the gaze, washing him alight with fire.
It is hardly the same when ordinary people want to see him in agony. Carroll is unconcerned by the hatred of the masses, of the guard assigned to his cell, of the federal agents who watch him in the night. But Hardy’s hate is earned. As he’s taken away Carroll can still feel, aside from his throbbing fingers, the pressure of the detective’s side against his shoulder; he can smell the man’s sweat and fear.
The detective will not go home that night.
Carroll waits until most of the agents will have left the prison. He sits on his bed as he has done for eight years, stares at the whitewashed wall, feels Hardy’s eyes on him through the camera hidden in the ceiling. Hardy won’t go home. He can’t, not now. He touched Carroll, and now the devils will have their dance.
It must be around eleven o’clock when Carroll finally moves. He shifts slowly on the tiny bed, moves into a recline, settles his head on the pillow. His right hand throbs with the movement; the pills are wearing off. His fingers have been cast and should heal in time, but they ache. It will make this harder. It will only make this better.
At this very moment Hardy must be sitting in the security room. Poor man seems unable to sleep. Unable to leave. Hardy is covering for the guard who normally watches the feeds, who needed the toilet, or wanted a snack. Hardy is a - well, not a good man, but something close to it. Carroll knows this. People can be very simple, sometimes.
Carroll lies horizontally on the prison bed. He’s still wearing the black tracksuit he wore when he cut out the nurse’s eyes. The waistband is loose, and yields easily for his left hand when it ventures underneath. Carroll looks at the camera, imagines the detective’s harsh noise of shock, his disgusted gaze, his eyes locked on the screen.
Or perhaps Carroll is wrong. Perhaps Hardy has changed, has lost his curiosity, has gone home after all. Perhaps there is a morbidly obese prison guard sitting alone in the surveillance office, coffee in one hand and sandwich in the other, surveying Carroll’s pleasure.
But Carroll doesn't think so.
He slides his hand down farther and grasps his cock. It’s soft; he feels the scratch of pubic hair on his unbroken fingers. Carroll feels a prick of anger when he can barely push his trousers down with his one hand, but he shuts that emotion away. Time enough for that. His penis lies exposed and vulnerable, stark against the black of his clothes. Carroll wonders what Hardy is thinking. He finds that he doesn't already know.
Carroll doesn't touch himself often. This will be difficult. He thinks of Hardy’s prone form, of bringing the wooden panel down on his head, once twice, of kicking his false solidity. Oh, what a hero. Carroll remembers the detective helpless on the ground, arse in the air, blood in his mouth and leaking from his nose. Carroll lets a sigh ripple from him, soft as sin. He smiles at the camera.
Halfway there now, Carroll pumps himself to hardness. Quick strokes, rough, and it sounds so loud in the dead silence. Hardy’s thin pretty mouth tightening in anger, good. Carroll’s people sent him pictures of the detective in his absence, lips fastened around water bottles, suckling down vodka like a baby at the teat. His detective has a clever mouth, a tired mouth. Carroll would like to -
Mmmm. Carroll exhales in a sharp sound. He moves his thumb over the head of his cock, brings the liquid he finds there up to his lips, licks it off while looking into the camera. It’s taking longer, now, his left hand not as used to its ministrations as his right had been. No matter. Release is close, and Carroll closes his eyes. He sees his lovely wife, breasts hanging from her chest like over-ripe melons as he fucks her from behind. Carroll moves his hand faster, clumsier. She becomes his detective, eyes alight with fear and resolve as he wrestles with Carroll, as Jacob wrestled with God in the night.
Carroll won that fight - for a time. Carroll threw the detective on the ground and, oh, was it not beautiful, was it not astonishing, when the knife broke skin, pierced the artery, the look in Hardy’s eyes -
Carroll comes. He realizes some time later that he is breathing heavily; his chest rises and falls like he’s exerted himself, like he has a machine in his chest to keep him going. He waits, release drying on his belly, until his breathe dies to a murmur.
He feels Hardy’s eyes on him - thinks that he does. He does. The guard will be back from his excursion soon, if not already. Hardy will not be alone anymore. Carroll wipes his hand on the side of the bed, pulls the waistband of his trousers back over his flaccid cock. He settles himself in the pillows and does not feel tired. He does not feel anything at all.
He smiles at the camera, and waits for morning.