: “He was panting and pacing back and forth.”
This detail is an embellishment, to highlight the extremity of Nilsen’s mood in this stressful situation.
: “Naked and pasty except for a collar around his neck.”
Nilsen employed a similar MO for all of his murders, strangling victims to death or drowning them in water, usually using a neck-tie attached to a piece of string.
According to interview transcripts, after police apprehended him Nilsen joked bitterly that he had gone through so many ties over the years that he only had one clip-on left.
: “Only bad dogs poop indoors. Bad boy.”
This detail is an embellishment. We know for certain that one of Nilsen’s later victims did soil himself after death, forcing Nilsen to clean him up. But it was not Holmes. It was actually the as-yet-unidentified ‘long-haired hippie.’
I have made this a part of this sequence since I have chosen intentionally to only depict two murders (one attempted, one completed) and wanted to articulate the situation in terms of reference that a dog would understand.
: “He was holding the boy’s collar, turning it over and over in his hands.”
Nilsen did indeed hold on to his improvised garrottes, typically re-using the same ones until they snapped or were too worn. This crucial detail was later used by the prosecution during his trial to prove premeditation.
: “The next day the boy was gone.”
This scene is an embellishment: all the events have been described as they occurred, but I have compressed the timeframe of events considerably here for reasons of pacing.
Holmes did ‘vanish’ on the morning of December 31. But in reality, Nilsen waited until the effects of rigor mortis had worn off, and stored his remains under the loose floorboards in his bedroom. A week later he exhumed the body to check on its decomposition. He then stowed the corpse back under the floor, where the body remained for seven-and-a-half months.
It was only much later, after his nerves had had time to settle down, that he was able to dismember the body and dispose of it quietly.
: “Master kept me in the garden all day.”
Nilsen always put Bleep out into the garden while he dismembered bodies in Melrose Avenue. This is serendipitous from a storytelling standpoint, because it means that Bleep can maintain her ignorance of her Master’s dissections and murders until the climax.
I imagine that Nilsen did not want his beloved pet to see him performing what he called “cleaning up the dirty platter after the feast.”
: “Master has never buried his food before.”
One interesting facet of my research into Dennis Nilsen was how many dog-like behaviours he seemed to exhibit. In fact, the more I read the more the lines between canine and human seemed to blur.
- Nilsen would often bury and hide his secret trophies in the garden or under the floor, periodically taking them out to play with.
- He had a pack-mentality, and was happiest while serving in the army due to the camaraderie he experienced.
- He would react poorly if left alone or rejected.
- He could intuitively sense when someone else was unhappy or morose.
- He often displayed an untamed predatory nature, at odds with his ’domesticated’ manner.
: “It’s been a long time since the boy came back with Master.”
Whatever brief serenity or euphoria Nilsen experienced after killing Holmes was soon replaced by regret and anxiety.
Indeed, Nilsen appears to have been deeply disturbed by his first crime, and even attempted to curtail the hedonistic lifestyle that led to the boy’s death. For several months he quit drinking, and spent less time cruising round north London’s gay bars in search of human contact.
Perhaps he thought his slaying of Holmes was temporary insanity, a blip he could comfortably ignore and move on from. But sadly he slipped inexorably back into his old habits of booze and hookups, and soon more and more waifs and strays were dead by his hand.
: “Master has been leaving his stains all over.”
Nilsen was often compelled to masturbate over the limp bodies of his unfortunate victims. He would sometimes take this behaviour further with more intimate acts. However, upon arrest he insisted that he never had penetrative sex with any of the bodies. Even his depravity had its particular standards of ‘decency’.
: “He was busy building a fire.”
Holmes was burnt on the bonfire sometime in July of 1979. Nilsen made three such bonfires while living in 195 Melrose Avenue, which he prepared at around 6.30am to avoid detection from rubberneckers.