“I’ve Got a Little List”


            In my travels through the dusty cornfield maze of life, I encounter many people and groups of people who desperately need my advice, but fail, possibly through embarrassment or simple misguided pride, to ask me for it.  There are even those who steadfastly refuse to take it when I offer it anyway.  But when I am in possession of knowledge that will help someone avoid trouble and strife, I simply have to try.  After all, isn’t “try” the least we all of us can do?  And who among us, after all, does not want to do the least he can possibly?  I know I am.

            So I’m going to take this opportunity to remove for a moment my “writer” hat (taking care not to bend the propeller) and put on my “adviser” hat.  The one group, judging from many accounts in the popular media, who desperately need me to set them straight is...  Yes, yes, stop waving your hands!  I know you have guessed by now.  I am speaking of violent, murderous criminals.    

            In the commission of a violent crime (at least a premeditated one), a major concern is almost always getting away with it.  This means you will need to think things through carefully and make sure that no point in the plan is overlooked or forgotten.  Many impending criminals find the best way to be sure of this is to make a list.  This leads to the advice I am offering:  After you have committed your crime, GET RID OF YOUR LIST.

            You would be surprised how many criminals work out all the details of their murder or assault, stalk their victims, cover their tracks, account for every atom of physical evidence, hammer out an adamantine alibi…only to leave their “Things to Do Before I Murder Harry” checklist laying on the coffee table when the detectives come to ask questions.  Psychologists say that this is evidence of an unconscious desire to be caught and punished.  I suspect that it’s just stupidity.

            In one recent case, a wife went missing and suspicion (as usual) fell on the husband.  The police could make no headway, however, until one of them, while searching the house, found the following list on a piece of paper affixed to the refrigerator with a Snoopy magnet:


ü      Buy Rope

ü      Strangle Maude

            Dispose of Body (acid?)


They wondered at first why the third item on the list was not checked, but this was cleared up when they opened the refrigerator.

            So get rid of the list.  Or, to be blunt: if you can’t keep the steps of your murder straight without writing them down, you might want to chuck the whole idea anyway.  I know that sounds harsh, but better you face the truth now than later when the police are shouting at you through a bullhorn.

            There.  Don’t bother thanking me.  In fact, if you found that advice helpful, I’d rather you didn’t contact me at all.