"Diary of a Mad Steak Knife"

We the jury find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree of Mark David Rivowitz. He will be incarcerated until such time as his appeals have been exhausted, when he will be put to death under the authority of the State of Louisiana.

First degree murder. Sort of has a certain ring of finality to it, doesn't it? I really don't know how I managed to fuck everything up so badly. The job at the restaurant wasn't glamorous by any means, but it paid the bills. Every day I went in and ground my way along; day in, day out, I went and did whatever was asked of me, at every beck and whim of every customer, I worked from open to close for next to nothing. I barely had a roof over my head. But, it was work.

Mark Rivowitz. Easily the biggest asshole I'd ever seen. Rude to the waitresses, always sent his food back three or four times (often with the most asinine complaints) a visit. And yet, I didn't really have that much of a problem with the guy. Sure he was a dick, but plenty of customers had obviously never spent a minute in the service industry. He certainly didn't deserve what he got. What I gave.

I did it. I'll admit that, there were plenty of eyewitnesses and I remember the feeling ... But I didn't want to do it. On my life, on the lives of my now never-to-existchildren, I didn't want to do it. It was all Ashley.

Ashley Detmer. We were fairly close (in the "friends zone" since we worked together), and I had heard all about her little boytoy. Ashley's habit of talking to herself – about herself – meant I had intimate knowledge of all her goings-on, including her love life. The whole situation's kind of funny, really. Not that I'm laughing, but I suppose someone must think so. Mark looked like he was having fun, at least up to a point. It's unfathomable, the power women have. Poor Mark knew this power all too well, not that he was aware of it. What possibly possessed him to bring his wife to the restaurant where his girlfriend/mistress/(whatever you're supposed to call the woman you're sleeping with who's not your wife) worked will forever remain unknown. Though, from what Ashley told me, they didn't talk all that much; it's entirely possible he did it by mistake. Come to think of it, we don't even know if Ashley was his only fling.

The hell of it is, that bastard almost got away with it, too. Ashley wasn't even supposed to be working that night. But Richard called in sick, and Ashley wanted the extra hours ... See? I told you there was a funny part in there somewhere. Not funny "haha." More like funny "he got killed thanks to absolutely terrible luck." Anyway, Ashley served the back half that night, while Mark fortuitously enjoyed his date in the front.

Joanna served the happy couple, but – displaying the skills that earned her the nickname "glass shoes" – managed to drop an entire tray full of empty plates right in front of the lovebirds. Ashley, ever the vision of helpfulness, rushed over to Joanna's aid. I can never forget the hurt indelibly etched on Ashley's face when she recognized Mark.

Her eyebrows shot up and her mouth widened into a smile – until she swiveled her head to the other end of the table. Her eyes darted to the ring finger on Mark's wife's left hand, staring blankly. Her ruby red lips dissolved from a half-smile into an enormous "O," her hands flew to her eyes and she bolted, oblivious to everything else around her. Her pain was palpable, even to me in the kitchen. You've never heard silence like that, and Mark's wife was staring daggers at him. Clearly, the date was over, and the drive home would be one filled with uncomfortably long silences.

If there would have been a drive home.

Ashley burst through the kitchen doors bawling, almost wailing. When she turned hysterical, her screaming was almost unbearable, but she somehow managed to drown it out by hurling pots, pans and everything she could possibly get her hands on. Until she saw the knife.

She saw me, grabbed me, and headed back into the dining room. I've only ever seen eyes like that one other time, and it was a Discovery Channel special.

I don't remember anything else that happened that night. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but whenever I try to conjure up an image of anything beyond the kitchen doors, all I see is red. I swear I didn't mean to do it. I loved Ashley like a sister, but I certainly wasn't mad enough to kill someone.

Of course, madness is the case I made. I don't know why, but I became insane when Ashley grabbed me and dragged me out of those doors. By insane, I mean I literally lost my sanity, my sense of consciousness; myself. I became nothing more than an object. But for some reason, the good people of Louisiana saw it differently. Either the rednecked yokels don't believe in "temporary insanity," or they just like to watch people fry. I suppose it's all academic now. I do feel somewhat responsible, though; if it weren't for me, Mark Rivowitz would still be alive.

And maybe, just maybe, so would I.