The Speck That Wouldn’t Go Away

Have you ever had a speck that wouldn’t go away? Whether it’s in your eye or on your shirt it can be a bothersome nuisance. Let’s take a look at how an early morning traveler from the 60’s in Chicago handles such a problem.

It was 3:00 a.m. Thursday July 14, 1966 and the humidity in Chicago was nearly unbearable. Barely coherent, Richard staggered down the street and came to rest at a bus stop. “The bitch,” Richard uttered to himself, but then a thought came, “which bitch am I talking about?” He chuckled to himself as he counted the number of people throughout his life that could aptly wear that moniker. Settling on his ex-wife for now, he mumbled “She couldn’t even wait for the ink to dry before gallivanting off with that weasel,” Richard recalled how his ex-wife was remarried in less than two days after their divorce was finalized.  Richard flopped down upon a bus stop bench and attempted to convey the reason for his current state of drunkenness to a man waiting at the bus stop. Attempting to look concerned, yet secretly hoping the tall intoxicated man would leave, the man sharing the bus stop bench listened to Richard’s drunken banter.

The warm Chicago air only exasperated Richard’s intoxicated condition has he rattled on to his unwilling audience about his life as a merchant marine. “I came up to leave on the SS Sinclair Great Lakes, but they gave the job to some punk ahead of me!” Richard said with slurred speech. The man had to admit, the stories were entertaining, at first; he then became nervous when Richard told of his troubles while living in Dallas, Texas. Soon the weary traveler became down right uncomfortable when Richard told him of his exploits of the last few hours.

“My sister and brother in law dropped me off up here at the National Maritime Union (NMU), hiring hall for a job, she gave me  $25 and split; I left and walked east on 100th St. and got a room at the Shipyard Inn,” Richard told the leery listener.  Looking into the night sky as if he could see himself, he then told the man how he and others began to slam shots of whiskey at the bar. Suddenly Richard stopped talking and stood stoic for a few seconds. “That’s when she came in,” he said after the silence. “Who came in?” The bus stop man asked Richard.  He paused to recall her name, “Ella, Ella Mae I think her name was,” Richard responded loudly and flopped onto the bus stop bench as if the thought exhausted him. “The bitch flirted with me from the time she came in,” he said as his blank look of drunkenness was now replaced with an evil sneer. Gone too was the stuttering and stammering of a babbling drunk. In its place was a man ready to tell a tale of true depravity to a captivated audience of one.

“She had been watching me and flirting the whole time,” Richard said as he lit a cigarette. “I told her that I had a bottle in my room and invited her to have a nightcap with me,” he continued. “She thought she was going to drink my booze and leave.” “What did you do?” The man asked with renewed interest. With a facial expression that can only be described as sheer evil, Richard told the man in full detail how he pressed his knife to her throat and raped the woman repeatedly. He also told the man how he rummaged through her purse and took the woman’s 22 caliber revolver before he callously threw the woman out of his room.

The man stared at Richard with a look of sheer amazement. Questioning if Richard had been lying to him the whole time, he wondered if his common sense was simply being put to the test.  He thought to himself, “is this guy some type of jokester, using me to simply while away the time as they waited for the early morning bus?”  He watched Richard’s face hoping to see some indication of truth or at least the slightest hint of prankery.  Instead, what he saw was a cold soulless gaze. Any shadow of disbelief would soon be erased from the man’s mind as his Richard continued the story of that night’s activities.

“After I gave that bitch the what for, I was fuckin hungry,” Richard said with an air of bravado.  “I grabbed supper from Kay’s Pilot House and returned to the tavern.”

“While I was at the bar,                I saw a group of young girls heading up 100th street,” Richard said has he stood and pointed.  Richard explained to the man how the girl’s laughed and giggled as they made their way up the darkened street to their townhouse. “I crouched down in the bushes across the street and watched them,” he said as he demonstrated his stance. “I started to masturbate in the bushes as I watched them undress in the window,” he said proudly. “Then they started talking to me, they sent messages to my head to come over; I could hear them in my head calling my name”. As he spoke, the captive listener could hear another distinct change in Richard’s speaking voice. The storyteller’s tone became one of utter disdain and hatred for the subjects in his tale.  As Richard spoke, the listener now recognized the psychosis in the man that had held his attention for so long; even worse, he realized that every word of his story was the absolute truth. Worried about seeming inattentive and turning Richard against him; the man acted more attentive than ever.

Oblivious to the man’s anxiety, Richard continued his story with a sense of renewed vigor, “I ran across the street, man I’m telling you, they were talking to me straight into my brain, and I knew it was them.  The broads told me to use the window so that’s what I did, I only wanted to burglarize the joint but the chics were in my head telling me how they wanted me.”  Richard then pulled out a knife and illustrated his next move, “The first chic screamed and played dumb, so I gutted the whore with my blade. The next broad came in so I choked the shit out of her, that’ll teach them about playing with people’s minds.” The man, now frightened to the core, sat wide eyed and speechless. Fully engrossed into the reenactment of his wickedness, Richard continued for at least another 20 minutes with his street side testimony. He explained in full detail how he took the lives of seven nursing students.  Richard concluded his monologue with the vivid description of his violent sexual assault, torture and murder of the eighth young woman to die at his hand that night

The sun was beginning to come up as Richard closed the story with the man. Not knowing what to say; truthfully afraid to say anything the man simply sat and looked and Richard. He then began to crack a smile as he hoped on all that is holy that Richard had simply made the whole story up. He was just about to commend Richard on his story telling ability when he heard a blood curdling scream followed by “They’re all dead! All my friends are dead!” The man turned to where he heard the scream. In the distance he could see a woman running and waving her arms wildly. At that moment the man froze, it dawned on him that he had just listened to the confession of a heinous murderer. A question arose in the man’s mind. “Is this guy about to kill me too?  Afraid to turn around but refusing to die from an attack to the back, he whipped around.

Astonishingly, the man was gone, the only thing remaining was the stench of old alcohol and dried blood. The early morning summer sunrise glistened off of the bus stop sign; a sign that read, ”no service between Midnight and 6 a.m. Aghast, the man stood mesmerized that for the better part of 3 hours, a guy named Richard had given him a confession of his murderous rampage and was now gone. The man abandoned his travel plans and returned home. When his wife asked him what had happened and where had he been, the man simply replied, “I had a Speck that wouldn’t go away!”

Richard Speck Early
Richard Speck


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