Before Cain Strikes - By Joshua Corin


We are a nation of outlaws. It’s in our history.

It’s in our blood.

Our first colony in Massachusetts was settled as a sanctuary and refuge for those souls brave enough to defy the Anglican Church. These men and women were the first American heroes and they were rebels one and all. That their ancestors should rise up one hundred and fifty years later and throw off the shackles of British tyranny was inevitable. What was the Civil War, really, but a re-creation of the Revolution from a Southern point of view?

We are not a people who respond well to authority.

Is it any wonder, then, where our sympathies lie? Of course the chroniclers of the Wild West preferred Billy the Kid to Pat Garrett. Of course we all know the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but how many of us can mention—or even care about—the Pinkerton detectives who were on their trail?

Look at our literature. Look at our theater. Time and again, our fascination sides with the felon, the ne’er-do-well, the desperado.

By sales alone, who is the most popular American comic book character of the twentieth century? Not that “over-grown Boy Scout” Superman. Not “guilt-ridden” Spider-Man. According to industry experts, the most popular comic book character of the twentieth century was the shadow-dwelling vigilante Batman. Of course he was.

It’s no surprise that we as a nation have become so fascinated by serial killers. As an ever-growing government has euthanized our convictions and emasculated our passions, we recognize in the serial killer a figure of unabashed liberty, and we are attracted.

Let there be no misunderstanding: murder is reprehensible. The thesis of this text will be an analysis of the recent series of murders committed by Henry “Galileo” Booth in the context of the outlaw mystique. If you are looking for a championing of men such as him, look elsewhere. There is a vital line between attraction and acceptance.

John Dillinger is much more appealing from afar.

Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil wrote that when we gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into us. Hold my hand. Take a breath. The abyss we are about to study in its dark geography is at the very core of America and its honesty cleanses with acid.

Are you ready?

Let’s begin.1


Timothy’s first pet was a yellow-haired hamster named Dwight. Dwight came with his own glass container and his own wheel and Timothy’s parents placed it all on a folding table by a window in Timothy’s bedroom. Timothy was six years old. Dwight was his birthday gift. The next morning, after he and his mother fed Dwight his breakfast (a lettuce leaf), Timothy’s mother left her son alone in his room with the creature. Timothy sat cross-legged in the center of his mint-green carpet and held Dwight in his hands and ran his fingers along the rodent’s spine. The vertebrae reminded Timothy of a pipe cleaner. In nursery school, he built a man and a woman out of pipe cleaners. Timothy bent the hamster’s spine this way and that way. Through it all, the animal kicked and kicked, so Timothy held him firm with his left hand and ran the fingertips of his right hand along the thin yellow fur and the ridges of Dwight’s spine, which, again like a pipe cleaner, was so bendable, but just how bendable was it? Timothy grabbed Dwight’s hindquarters and twisted. Dwight’s feet kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked and then stopped kicking altogether and Timothy had his answer.

He opened the window in his bedroom and tossed the corpse out and told his parents in between sobs that Dwight had fallen. They consoled him. His father, a travel agent, helped Dwight bury the animal and took his son out for ice cream. Three weeks later, his mother, a veterinarian, got him a tabby. Timothy named the cat Boots. Boots, to her credit, lasted many months longer than Dwight, until Timothy was able to finally reach his father’s tools, which were kept on a wall in the garage. Dwight chose the claw hammer, which proved doubly useful because he was able to later use it as a shovel to bury Boots in their neighbor’s yard.

So his parents bought him another cat.

Then another.

Then a puppy.

Then a parakeet.

Then a pair of goldfish in a sealed aquarium.

The goldfish he poisoned with Drano. By then he was nine years old. The goldfish were his last pets for a long, long time.

Until today.

And today was a very special day not only because he had a