: “Master heaped the fire with rubber wheels.”
Nilsen intentionally used tyres while building his bonfires, shrewdly using the burning rubber to disguise the smell of decomposition, and later of cooking meat.
: “He dropped them on the fire and watched them sizzle.”
In his private recollections, Nilsen describes how the bodies of his victims ‘sizzled’ and ‘spat’ like meat on a BBQ while burning.
: “More strangers coming after dark.”
This scene is another necessary compression of events for the sake of pacing. I did not want to have to depict every one of Nilsen’s crimes, so the other 12 people he killed while inhabiting 195 Melrose Avenue are only hinted at.
Nilsen often brought back guests to the flat, either for sex or platonic companionship, and left them alone. There were occasions when his murderous urges simply did not take hold of him, for whatever reason.
: “Master will take them into our house and take care of them.”
It’s evidence of Nilsen’s hypocrisy that he could be so invested in radical left-wing politics (considering his active role in the trade union movement) and yet (literally) prey upon poor and vulnerable people at the margins of society. He had contempt for the Tory government, and yet exploited people living in poverty for his own gratification far more brutally than Thatcher ever did.
Most of his victims were outcasts: some were gay, others drug users, or mentally ill, or just reduced to vagrancy. Nilsen took advantage of their trust and tore away the only thing they had that was theirs to own: their lives, before objectifying them as personal fetish objects. He even believed at one time that he was rescuing them, like an angel of mercy.
It is a sad fact that, had the victims been privileged elites, their disappearances would surely have been noticed by the authorities. As it was, their status as undesirables meant that Nilsen could kill with impunity.
: “Humping puts them in their place. “
Dry humping is indeed a common dog behaviour used to assert dominance. I was uncertain about what understanding (if any) Bleep would have of homosexual sex between humans.
Indeed, a great many animals exhibit homosexual behaviour, and it is possible that animals can be as gay as people are. However, there is little solid literature on the subject which does not risk anthropomorphising the animals according to our own understanding of contemporary human sexuality.
Dominance humping between dogs is something Bleep would understand, and thus I chose to frame Nilsen’s episodes of intercourse as being within the framework of a canine power structure, rather than as the gay sex we know it was
: “He had a leash in his hand. He slipped it over his neck.”
This scene has been embellished slightly.
It is true that, following several more murders, Nilsen felt remorseful and depressed and considered suicide. He confirmed to Brian Masters that the sight of Bleep looking at him stopped him from ending his own life during one such attempt, and that he avoided death, confession and detection out of concern for her welfare.
However, according to ‘Killing For Company’, Nilsen was holding a knife while suicidal, and planned on slitting his wrists.
I thought that Nilsen contemplating death by hanging would be more thematically appropriate within the context of a story, as it would give him a closer connection to, and draw symbolic parallels with, his strangulated victims.
: “He was in pain. I could sense it. So I had to be there for him.”
It’s true that dogs are not always the best problem-solvers, although they can be trained to carry out complex operations through conditioning.
However, according to ‘Dog Is Love’, by canine behaviouralist Clive Wynn, they are extremely emotionally intelligent, and can effectively intuit the feelings of their owners and their relationships with others. Since they rely on humans for food, love and protection, dogs are inherently loyal and can tell when their family members are depressed or despondent.
I cannot stress this enough: from all my reading it appears as though, even by canine standards, Bleep was an uncommonly nurturing and caring dog, with a gentle and loving nature.
In ‘Killing for Company,’ Masters describes how Bleep once rescued a baby bird she found in the garden, and brought it straight to Nilsen – holding it carefully in her mouth without harming it. She was Nilsen’s closest companion during his worst days, and throughout his killing spree. Nilsen returned her love and care in kind.
: “I can hear him splashing about sometimes.”
One of Nilsen’s usual ‘rituals’ was to wash his victims clean after he had strangled them. Sometimes this was due to them soiling themselves as a result of post-mortem sphincter muscle relaxation. Sometimes this was because they had been under the floorboards for a long time, and had been mutilated by mites, maggots and flies. Sometimes Nilsen washed them regardless of the condition of the body. It seemed to be part of the way he ‘cared’ for his cadavers.
: “There were four males all arranged in a circle in the living room, and another in the bedroom.”
This incident occurred sometime after the murder of 24-year-old epileptic vagrant Malcolm Barlow in September of 1981, where Nilsen propped Barlow up in a chair while there were “half a dozen” other bodies still decomposing in the flat. The exact date is unknown.
Considering the timing of this ‘party’, this would have been the height of Nilsen’s spree. During this time, he often struggled to recall the names and identities of his victims, since they were typically killed while he was drunk. He would routinely wake up in the morning to a stinking hangover and a corpse in his bed. It is possible that bloodthirsty mania, as well as severe anxiety and stress, affected his memory.
The other victims attending the ‘party’ during this time are most likely number five through eleven: a Thai prostitute, an Irish labourer, a ‘hippy type’, an English skinhead, two young Scottish men, and another person about whom Nilsen could recall no distinguishing features whatsoever. It is likely we will never know who they were.
: “He had a big grin on his face.”
Nilsen described how having the bodies close by reinvigorated him, and how he experienced a strange sense of peace in their company. It is likely that Bleep instinctively sensed her master’s calm mood, which is why the numerous corpses she shared the flat with never distressed her.