Oh boy, this isn’t something I usually talk about. I went through a lot of trouble to make sure no one associates me with Augustus Robert Simmons. I moved states when I turned eighteen. I changed my last name. I tell everyone that my dad was a soldier who lost his life fighting for our country and that I lived with my uncle and aunt since I was nine.
Well, my dad was a soldier, but he left the army before I was even conceived. And after my mom died in a car accident when I was two, he dedicated himself into taking care of me.
I’m not just here to talk about what he did, although I’ll get to that too. I want to talk about what kind of person he was, before he started killing.
I’ll start with the beginning. Augustus was born Augustus Franks, son of Annie and Drew Franks. Drew, my bio granddad, fell ill and died when my dad was about eight. He was there when Drew breathed his last.
Two years later, Annie remarried a widower that was fifteen years older than her named Herbert Simmons. He brought in two children from his previous relationship and when my father was old enough he changed his surname to Simmons.
I don’t have many memories of Grandpa Bert myself, only that he was quite frail with sunken pale eyes and a grin not unlike a skeleton’s. He was nice enough though, let me sit on his lap and watch game shows with him while Gramma made dinner in the kitchen. From what I got from my dad, he and Bert were very close. Despite not being his real son, Bert doted on Augustus, some might say he even spoiled him.
There wasn’t many of the typical serial killer warnings when it came to my dad. He wasn’t abused, he didn’t kill animals or wet the bed, he was just quiet. Really quiet.
His explosive temper though, that was a problem. When he was seventeen he was caught cheating on an English test. When the teacher failed him, he responded by picking up his desk and throwing it at the teacher’s head. It missed, thank God it missed, and it ended up crashing into the chalkboard and cracking it down the middle. He ended up getting suspended and it almost ended up on his record, but the charges were dropped when the teacher moved.
I already brought up his army stint, I think grandma convinced him to sign up in hopes that it would calm his temper, but shortly before that Augustus met my mom, Laura.
Laura was good for him, he would write her a letter every week when he was enlisted and overseas. The moment he was out he drove up to her house with a ring and a promise to never lose his temper with her.
Maybe if she hadn’t gone for that drive, maybe if it hadn’t been raining, maybe if that one dickwad hadn’t been drinking, Augustus would’ve never done the things he did.
I think the world would be a lot different if ‘maybe’s’ meant anything.
I was his only child. He never remarried after Laura died. I have no memories of her, just a picture I keep next to my bed of her on the day of her wedding. My dad never talked about her.
But he was good to me. That’s something I can say without a shadow of a doubt.
During the day I’d stay with his parents while he worked. He was always home for dinner. Weekends were hang out time, we would go to the park, we’d go hiking, one summer we even had a camp out in grandma’s backyard. Grandpa Bert chose to scare the crap out of us by pounding on the side of the tent. I screamed, Dad and Grandpa laughed, and Grandma gave me hot cocoa in the morning while giving both of the guys the stink eye.
This isn’t to say my dad was perfect. Even at a young age I saw signs of his vicious temper. Fist holes in the walls. Times where money was tight because he’d blow his lid at his boss and end up losing his job. The unsettling silence of a bad day, all it taking was one thing to go wrong for him to explode, screaming and swearing at whatever pissed him off. When I was eight, the gas station attendant accidentally gave him the wrong change. My dad screamed at this poor teenager until the kid threatened to call the cops. Then dad told me to go sit in the truck. Not sure what happened after that, but my dad was simmering quietly on the way home.
That night Augustus claimed his first victim. 11:23 PM, same gas station we were at that day. It was initially thought as a robbery gone bad, someone broke into the gas station and shot up the attendant- nineteen year old Aaron Price. He was a senior in high school, was held back a year due to poor grades, was a bit of a clown but was unreliable when it came to getting things done in a timely manner.
Some poor trucker came in and found the crumpled body of the cashier with like a dozen holes in his face and chest. He was already dead but the time the guy got there. There wasn’t any footage of the incident, the security cameras hadn’t been working in years. I think Aaron’s mom ended up suing and getting some good payout because of that. Maybe if the camera had been working, they would’ve gotten footage of her son’s killer. Maybe my dad wouldn’t have killed three more people.
Augustus’ second victim was Rose Landry. Forty nine years old, owner of the local jewelry store Rosie’s. Her friends called her a shrewd business owner, the people that worked for her called her a penny pinching miser and a bitch. If you has the nerve to pee on company time, you’d end up getting an earful and possibly docked pay. But she was a great mother and so excited to be a grandmother. She was on her way home with a bag of brand new baby clothes when she was attacked.
Five stab wounds to the chest, finished off by a slice to the throat. Witnesses spotted a tall man wearing a black coat leaving the store shortly after her, but that lead went cold quickly.
I remember that night. I was at my grandparent’s, dad had stashed me there and said he had something to do at the office. I konked out after the third rerun of Wheel of Fortune.
Sometime late I remember fingers brushing my cheek. It was comfortable, familiar, so I didn’t even stir. When I woke up the next morning Grandma was fretting about my ‘bloody nose’ that I had clearly had last night, judging by the streak of blood on my cheek. Grandpa just wiped it off and said no harm done since I hadn’t gotten any on the couch.
My dad was more careful after that incident. Evidence on his child’s cheek could be the end of him. He made doubly sure to get cleaned up before he came to check on me. And he always did check on me after he killed someone.
The next victim was the most mourned, I’d wager. Twenty one year old Rebecca Lawson, or just Becky to her friends. Prom queen, pageant princess, voted the most likely to succeed in her class. She was on her way to fame because she was beautiful and she knew it. There was an incident her junior year where she clawed a girl’s face because the other girl made the fatal mistake of saying that Becky had gained a few pounds. There was two DUIs and a drunk and disorderly on her record, but most people thought Becky could do no wrong, including Becky herself.
She was found beaten to death in her own home, the skin of her face flayed off with the same knife that killed Rose. Coroner confirmed Becky had been skinned while she was alive.
When it came out the same person murdered both Rose and Becky, people talked about a serial killer. No one connected Aaron to them yet, since the killer in that case used a gun, but women were advised to keep up their guard, not stay out after dark, and keep your doors and windows locked.
That’s when Augustus went back to men… and where he made his mistake.
Thirty seven year old Matthew Donnely. Worked at the local bank, had one wife, two mistresses and five kids between them. What a winner. And that wasn’t enough for his poor ego either as he was balls deep in a prostitute named Betty when a man in a ski mask broke in and began stabbing the son of a bitch.
Matthew put up a fight. He ended up ripping off the man’s mask, but after about eight more stabs he bled out on the cheap motel floor.
Here was the mistake. Augustus didn’t kill Betty. And she had seen his face.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad was pushing me on the swing at the park. We were having a very serious debate between mac n cheese or spaghetti for lunch when the police car rolled up. Two officers walked up to my father and the words they said stopped me dead in my tracks:
“You’re under arrest for the murder of Matthew Donnelly.”
Smart choice, arresting him in front of me. It meant he didn’t put up a fight. But a shitty choice too as I can safely say I was scarred for life.
Augustus tried to wiggle out of it. Tried. But his excuses and alibis fell apart after Gramma confessed to washing his bloody clothes after Rose was murdered. Grandpa Bert stood firm and insisted that his stepson had been home for all the murders, but my dad soon broke and confessed to all four murders.
I don’t think the cops expected that one.
My life fell apart. Fellow kids kept their distance because of their parent’s say so. I could only see my dad once a month and I never got to give him hugs. I wasn’t allowed to touch my own father. Grandpa Bert had a heart attack shortly after my dad was incarcerated and passed away. I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle after that. If they had it their way I never would have visited my father again but grandma was on my side for that one. After all, he might’ve been a bad person. But he was a good father.
Augustus Simmons was executed seven years ago. I was fourteen. I wasn’t allowed to attend but I was the last person he saw.
The years in prison had changed him. After he got into a fight where he shanked an ex gang member in the neck (gangster survived out of sheer dumb luck), he lived in near total isolation other than my monthly visits. He looked twenty years older than he really was.
But he looked at me with such love that I never doubted that he cared for me. I could see how much he wanted to hug me, touch his child one last time before he was given the lethal injection…
But he just smiled and took my hands in his. I can never forget what he said.
“Don’t leave anything unfinished. I love you.”
I’ve pondered what he meant by that for years and years. I could never figure it out.
Until I stumbled across something of Grandpa Bert’s while going through the basement of my grandparent’s home. My grandma just recently passed, God rest her soul, and I was just going through shit to see if there was anything I could sell when a leather bound book with an inverted cross stamped on the cover fell out from behind a box.
It was a journal. One with very specific instructions on how to become a ruler in hell by murdering seven people.
If you think it sounds like complete hogwash, I don’t blame you. But it’s a powerful book. I came to realize this when I found out my grandfather, the man whose favorite show was Family Feud, had killed seven people in cold blood. Some research confirmed that his victims were real people and that their disappearances or deaths had never been solved.
Let’s see if you can figure out the pattern of Herbert’s victims. A guy who beat on his wife and kids. An alcoholic who would drink his weight in beer near weekly. A minister who skimmed off the offering plate to pay for a house. A do nothing layabout who mooched off other’s hard work. A woman who ruined her sister’s life just because she was jealous of how beautiful she was. A peeping Tom. A woman who spent all the time looking in the mirror instead of caring for her children.
You get it now? Wrath. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Envy. Lust. And Pride. Grandpa Bert finished his task. But dad didn’t. In his journal Grandpa Bert says that my dad moved too fast, that he should have paced out his murders, moved them between states. But that wasn’t my dad’s style, I guess.
But I understand now. Never leave anything unfinished. Dad needs three more souls to his name before he can make Hell into his paradise.
And well, if I can kill three people, what’s seven more in the grand scheme of things?