Tanya, a manager at a record store, performed in a Blondie cover band, wore hangover sunglasses indoors, and was obsessed with serial killers. So much so that she was convinced her co-worker was one.
I had three managers at the record store: David, Matt, and Tanya. Tanya was by far the coolest. She was in a Blondie cover band, and her boyfriend worked at a famous club in New York City. He was also the bassist in her band. We all idolized her. Matt and I decided one day when Tanya wasn’t working that she only worked there for fun and really made tons of money. We later found out that wasn’t true at all. She used to come to work wearing a cheetah fur coat and spiked black leather boots with hangover sunglasses on that she’d take off an hour into working. She’d also be hugging a new book about serial killers every week. Tanya was OBSESSED with serial killers. Like, I’m not fully convinced she wouldn’t have joined Charles Manson’s family if he had invited her. Tanya also decided she was an expert on true crime. She also decided that Bill was a serial killer.
Bill was odd and robotic, and, like I mentioned in my first column, he never took a lunch break and had weird catch phrases. He also had his CD-scratch repairing system in the back room. One afternoon, about an hour into Tanya’s shift, she took off her hangover glasses and said, “So I’m conducting an investigation on Bill, and I need your help.” Oh, good. “What do you mean?” I said. I was just hired as a part-time sales associate after begging to remain on payroll following the holidays, so I wasn’t really ready to rock the boat. So Tanya whips out a textbook with flagged pages and highlighted chapters. “Okay, so there’s this guy…and he’s from Kentucky, and he had a murder station in his basement. And, like, it was really organized,” she said. “And then when cops found it, they realized he was the murderer by how organized his killing station was.” I was confused. “So?” I replied. “So?!” Tanya says, shaking her head. “Let’s go to the back room, shall we?” She points to Bill’s supposed killing station, where he tried resuscitating dead CDs so we could resell them. “But Tanya, his goal is to bring CDs back to life, not kill them!” (I was only 17. Work with me here.) I must admit, the station was a little too neat. The CD cases were divided into equal parts: the front covers, the back covers, and the plastic inserts were individually stacked into their own separate piles in the order they’d appear: front, insert, back. He had scratch cloths neatly folded in a pile, a tiny screwdriver, a tiny wrench (what the fuck for?), a mini glue gun, and baby wipes (ew). He had “Bill” with a Celtic cross taped next to his name on his name tag, and the lanyard was neatly wound around the tag and placed in the corner of his cubbyhole workstation. Tanya picked up the tag and moved it to the other side of the cubbyhole space, from the left side to the right side. “Let’s see if he notices,” she says. “Serial killers notice these things.”
Bill came in an hour later and walked to the back. He ran right up to the front. “Has anyone been in my workstation?” he demanded. Tanya and I said “NO!” in unison, looking guilty as fuck with a hint of scared. “Alrighty-roo,” he replied, and marched to the back. Tanya looked very pleased with herself. “Ya see? He’s a killer!”
Our next shift together was a few days later, and Tanya came in carrying a binder. Bill was off that day so this was an intense planning session on her part to expose Bill for the apparent murderer he was. She had a checklist prepared, detailing his serial-killer attributes:
Won’t reveal age (but looks about 45).
Lives with mother.
- Never married.
- Smiles too much.
- Says weird things
- Never eats. Ever.
- Listens to religious music.
- Has killing station.
- Notices if anyone touches killing station.
- Has the face of a serial killer.
- Doesn’t curse.
- Freaks out at curse words.
It was a very comprehensive list. The last item on that list really did freak me out. If we played music in the store and the artist cursed, no matter where he was in the fucking building he’d run to the player, remove the CD, and fling it on the floor. It was like he couldn’t hear curses, like a vampire exposed to light.
Bill was working the next day, so Tanya left me with “chores” to accomplish by the time she and I worked together again. The first on my list was to get Bill’s exact age. Apparently serial killers in the US are in their late twenties to mid-thirties and are mostly white males. So Bill was definitely white, and Tanya decided he was probably younger than he looked, but aged because of his murders. So that next day I asked Bill his age while he was organizing the Celtic music section. He’d organize it by which artists he’d written liner notes for—putting his favorite ones to the front. This was completely unorthodox and against store policy since they weren’t in alphabetical order, but we weren’t allowed to question him about it. This was yet another reason why he was a murderer in Tanya’s eyes. So I walked up to him while he was moving Lord Of the Dance to some remote location in the aisle. “Uh, Bill. I’m 17. How old are you?” I clearly wasn’t winning an Oscar with this line of questioning. He looked up, smiled, and said, “Old enough to work here!” Oh. Well, that was a failed attempt. Onto the next one.
My next duty was to see if he’s ever eaten. What a ridiculous request, but I was becoming shrewd. As I was heading for my lunch break I said, “Hey Bill! I’m going to get McDonald’s. Would you like something while I’m gone?” He patted his belly and said, “None for me, thanks. I’m driving!” Again with the fucking catch phrases. “So Bill. What do you like to eat?” He lifted his head and gave me a stern look. “I like soup,” he said with a crooked smile. “So how about I get you soup?” I said, smiling. “Because I don’t want soup. I said I was driving, see?” I don’t know what was worse, the fact that he developed black-and-white film lingo (adding “see” to the end of his sentence) or that he still insisted that he couldn’t drive after a meal. “It’s not vodka soup, Bill, I think you’ll be OK,” I joked. Big mistake. He slammed the pile of CD’s he was holding onto a shelf and yelled, “SKEDDADLE!!!” I ran out of the store, and he didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day.
During our next shift, I told Tanya what happened, and she was very pleased. Then she dropped the bomb on me that she thought Bill killed his mother, and that he wore a wig and pretended to be her at night. So she got his phone number from our directory and proceeded to call his house. Obviously if he wasn’t working that evening he’d be home. It was like 5 PM on a Monday. So she called, and he answered. “Uh, hi is uh the woman of the house there?” He responded, “Tanya? Is that you?” So she hung up on him. The store phone rang, and Matt answered it from the back room. He came walking up to the front. He was aware of this whole scheme. “Hey, idiots, Bill has caller ID. Next time dial *67 before you call to see if he killed his mother or not.” Whoops. Undefeated, Tanya had a big plan for the next day’s shift.
We agreed to get there an hour early the next afternoon. Tanya came in without her hangover sunglasses (she was really focused) and went to work. I was on lookout. Tanya raced to the back room and moved everything in Bill’s cubbyhole in a different, albeit neat order. She went to the Celtic music section and alphabetized it (that took almost the entire hour). Meanwhile, I was behind the register picking profane CDs to play when Bill arrived. David was working that day and kind of knew what was going on but was too high to care. So when Bill walked in, he was greeted by Tupac’s “Hail Mary”: “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me; revenge is like the sweetest joy next to gettin’ pussy!” He stopped dead in his tracks with his coat still on. “Get that filth out of here!” I switched it out for Nine Inch Nails’s “Closer,” as he walked to the back room. By this point Tanya was next to me at the register. We hear a crashing noise in the backroom. He stomped out, walked past the Celtic music section, noticed the “disarray” and knocked all of the CDs onto the floor just as Trent Reznor sang “I wanna fuck you like an animal” over the loud speakers. He grabbed his ears and walked out of the store without his jacket. His keys were always on this gigantic clip attached to his belt, so one of them must’ve led to his car because he left and didn’t come back. Tanya did a victory lap around the store. She just saved us all from a potential murder. Meanwhile, I was convinced that he was going to return and handle his unfinished business.
Bill didn’t answer his phone and never returned to the store. About two weeks later, he walked in. “Hidey-ho!” he said and walked to the back, acting like nothing ever happened. He never spoke to Tanya again, though. I guess he assumed I was just a sad little accomplice, so he spoke to me every now and then. He remained at the store years after I left, and as far as I know, he never killed anyone.
I will say this though... I just googled his full name, and there’s one name listed...
... And he lives in Kentucky.