: “Yesterday he’d come back and had dinner with us. Now he was here on the sofa, not moving.”
The death of Malcom Barlow is one of the most unfortunate in the Nilsen case. An orphan with mental and behavioural problems, Nilsen discovered him lying in the street outside Melrose Avenue, complaining about feeling ill. Nilsen took him home and called an ambulance. He did not harm him in any way. Barlow was taken to hospital for treatment.
The next day however, Barlow returned to Melrose Avenue and sat on Nilsen’s doorstep. When Nilsen returned from work he invited him inside for dinner and a drink. He strangled Barlow later that night, following another seizure, and stuffed him in the cabinet under the kitchen sink.
: “Master was wrestling with his friend, so he didn’t notice me.”
Although Nilsen insisted that he never had penetrative sex with the bodies of his victims, he did admit to tucking his penis between their thighs on occasion, and humping their legs until he ejaculated.
: “It hit the surface with a splatter and slid down like a teardrop.”
According to Nilsen’s own letters, this spitting incident did indeed happen in real-life. But there is some confusion as to when it occurred. Some sources suggest that it happened during the suicide attempt Bleep averted. Other sources claim that it occurred on a separate occasion. I have chosen the latter interpretation.
: “Two strangers were climbing in through the window.”
This scene is mostly imagined. However, Nilsen was indeed burgled a few weeks before he chose to move out of Melrose Avenue, and many of his possessions were stolen or destroyed.
Nilsen was often careless when it came to his personal effects. The house was robbed numerous times. On one occasion he was robbed of his wallet, containing £300, while drunk. Another time, Gallichan and Nilsen brought back a young man whom they met at a gay bar, who then proceeded to steal from them when they left him to sleep in the flat while they were both at work.
One detail not included in this narrative, due to issues of time and pacing, is that the burglar/burglars severely vandalised the interior of the property, smashing the television and covering the furnishing with creosote. No arrests were made.
Nilsen speculated that the break-in was actually an attempt by his landlord to intimidate him and the other tenants into vacating Melrose Avenue. I chose to simplify this incident and make it a burglary, in order to streamline the narrative.
: “I wanted Master to come home soon and chase these Bad Men off.”
Nilsen had been apparently threatened by a gang of ‘Asian men’ (his words) days before, but he remained unintimidated by their demands for him to leave and held his ground.
I doubt that Nilsen would have been burgled if he had been at home, as a desire to stop anyone from discovering the human remains he was hiding would have overridden any fear of conflict
: “He was going to give me a bath! I hate baths.”
I confess I have no idea whether or not Bleep disliked taking a bath. Many dogs do not, but considering her docile nature, it’s very possible that they wouldn’t bother her.
I have chosen to make her afraid of them, simply because of the amount of men who died in that bath gives the tub a sinister quality of its own. It seemed thematically important that Bleep would pick up on this somehow.
: “It was one of Master’s friends hiding in the hole, very still.”
Amazingly, neither the robbers, nor the police who investigated the scene of the break-in, stumbled upon the dead stashed in the flat. This particular corpse would most likely have belonged to Barlow.
: “He heaped it with tyres, and all the neighbourhood children gathered around to watch the blaze.”
This was the last bonfire Nilsen built before moving to Cranley Gardens. After this, disposal of bodies became far more difficult.
The mention of the children watching the blaze is not embellishment. Nilsen recalls their presence vividly, as he was concerned they would notice a burning arm sticking out of the litter.
He imagined them dancing around the fire, as if it was some sort of pagan ceremony, and described the bonfire as “Some Viking ship glowing westwards to Valhalla.”
: “Other people live in the same building with us, three females and a male.”
The three tenants who shared Cranley Gardens with Nilsen were Fred Allcock (a builder), Fiona Bridges (bartender) Vivienne McStay (dental nurse) and Monique Van-Rutte (welfare worker).
They did not know Nilsen particularly well; thinking of him as a loner who kept himself to himself. They often saw him out with Bleep, and were cordial enough to exchange pleasantries on occasion.
The only time they interacted with him at length was on Hogmanay, 1981. The four neighbours were invited into Nilsen’s attic flat for a party, but as he was severely drunk, they declined and celebrated privately. Later they heard him leave the house and return home with someone.
At some point during the night then they heard a commotion upstairs. Toshimitsu Ozawa, whom Nilsen had attempt to strangle, ran down the stairs in tears. The neighbours assumed there had been a squabble.
None suspected that Ozawa had barely escaped with his life. Ozawa contacted the police, but they did not investigate further, assuming the incident was an isolated domestic disturbance.
: “It’s very stuffy on a hot day.”
This is conjecture, but as an inhabitant of an attic room, I can provide anecdotal evidence that they can be dreadfully hot and stuffy in summer. This cannot have helped mitigate the offensive stench of decomposition.