Killings” is a serrated look into the once placid life of Matt Fowler. Told in third person limited omniscient view, we learn that Matt “had always been a fearful father,” standing by, looking calm and collected all the while anxiously waiting to catch them should they fall and always holding back his tongue. When his youngest is murdered by the estranged husband of his lover, he is brutally confronted with the reality of all the sufferings he had desperately long to prevent.
And he felt that all the fears he had borne while they were growing up, and all the rife he had been afraid of, had backed up like a huge wave and struck him on the beach and swept him out to sea”(112). Now he must own those fears, the reality is too big to ignore and no longer able to be contained like his hands in his pockets. He does not have to suffer through the same as his wife who seems to be constantly running into her son’s killer but Just the knowledge Richard Strut is out on bail, waiting for the trial that will certainly convict him but there is no punishment worthy of trade.
Enter the static character of Willis Trotter, the former Marine with a gun permit, an oblivious wife and apparently a workable plan. Dubs doesn’t tell us that he was the mastermind behind the second killing but it’s there Just the same. Willis has a fermented anger towards Richard Strut.
“l hate him, Matt. My boys went to school with him. He was the same then. “(112) He had likely spent a great many hours contriving versions of Cutout’s demise and this, his friend’s festering wound, provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to carry through his own vengeance.
The plan was simple and precise, every detail worked out, every possibility, from every conceivable angle, and from Trotter’s vantage, never reaching back to him. “Remember that woman about seven years ago? Shot her husband… And said all the way through it that nobody helped her… And whoever helped her, where the Hell is he”(112)? Why bring up the person who helped the woman from seven years ago? The point wasn’t that someone had helped her, it was that she only did a few years and was back living a normal life “In Lawrence now, a secretary”(112).
There was no question that Richard had acted alone. There were three witnesses to the murder and for all we know he made a full confession when they brought him in. Willis was trying to tap into that iniquitousness and he was successful but why were his Houghton on the one who got away Scott free? Why should that have ever crossed his mind. Perhaps he has been down this twisted path before? The plan was so perfect that in the event Richard Strut was discovered murdered, all evidence would point to Fowler.
And a good friend would of course claim he had no help. Would deny he had help all along. He doesn’t need to worry about Mat’s wife Ruth who likely knows what her husband is heading out to that night and because “Ruth would shoot him herself, if she thought she could hit him”(112). Besides, she would never have to satisfy against her husband and thus have no reason to mention his name. Willis is never going to be the one to pull the trigger.
He’s not going to risk being seen at Cutout’s duplex. “They had planned that too, had decided it was best for Just the one him of what this man did to his son to keep his motivation up. He’ll clean up the mess, remove trace evidence, destroy the trail. He wont touch the car or the murder weapon. His hands are effectively clean. So who’s plan was it really? Did Matt Fowler have the soul to construct a plan of such exactitude? Did his conscience allow him to wander far down that road? No. He was afraid he could not be alone with Strut for very long, smell his smells, feel the presence of his flesh, hear his voice and then shoot him”(116). It was not even in him to terrorize Richard in the minutes leading up to his death so he modified the plan to give the man some hope until the end. Even his name, Matt Fowler denotes nothing dark and sinister, nothing culpable. Unassuming, bordering on self-effacing; a soft, sensitive father and husband with no repugnance for being so and doubtfully no coincidence Dubs gave him a name one letter off from flower.
Surely he could have sat at his friend’s ar drinking Scotch and Soda and kicked around some ideas, possibly even developed a plausible scenario, Who hasn’t entertained dubious acts of revenge against those who have hurt us at the most primal level? But it was Willis that wanted to see the plan to fruition. Matt Fowler got caught up in the fantasy that it would erase the pain. If not for Willis Trotter there would be no story. Certainly no “Killers. ” Trotter is the catalyst responsible for transforming idle daydreams into unambiguous plans with tangible results. He is also the only one to remain unaffected by the outcome of this decision.