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My Year With The Perfect Family
About the Author: MARK NUTTER grew up in a motel near Joliet, Illinois, which is not as glamorous as it sounds. He’s written a short fiction collection (‘Sunset Cruise on the River Styx’), musicals (‘ReAnimator the Musical’, ‘The Bicycle Men’), television ('SNL,' '3rd Rock from the Sun') and film ('Almost Heroes').


I gunned down the mother and the daughter in their respective beds. When the son came out of his bedroom I shot him in the hallway. And when the father came home late from work I stabbed him to death at the front door.



Hm. That may have been a mistake.

My name is Davis Barnes and I’m a documentary filmmaker. I’d already been paid half of my five-thousand-dollar fee to make “My Year with the Perfect Family,” for the Perfect Family Network. I was excited at the prospect of spending a year with a family so unlike my own.

Now the subjects of my documentary were dead, and I had 364 days to go before I got the rest of my money.

I sat down on the living room sofa. I filmed a few seconds of the father, crumpled in a bloody heap at the front door. I didn’t need a crew. I was shooting the doc on my phone using the DocumentaryPro app, and while it was a versatile app, it still couldn’t make a dead guy who didn’t move look interesting. 

I put my phone down and thought about my situation.



Got a call from Norman Spleen, the Executive Director of the Perfect Family Network. He wondered how things were going with the perfect family. I said I murdered them. He laughed. I said, no, I’m serious, I murdered them. He laughed again. I said I really really murdered them. He said, okay, take it easy, and hung up.

I was glad I brightened his day.


Still on the sofa. Still thinking.

As a documentary filmmaker I’d seen my share of ugliness. I reflected on my previous work:

“My Year In A War Zone.” My first documentary. It was ugly and loud.

“My Year Riding To Fires In A Fire Engine.” Also ugly, with the burning buildings, and also loud, with the siren.

“My Year With Rabid Dogs.” Even though the dogs were good-looking, they tried to bite me all the time, which to me made them ugly. 

“My Year Locked In A Closet With An Ugly Eighty-Nine-Year-Old Woman Suffering From Halitosis.” That film won all kinds of awards. People responded to the intimacy. Unfortunately it didn’t make a dime.    

It was an impressive body of work, but it was all negative. It was time to make a film that captured the best of humanity and affirmed wholesome family values.

I shot a few more seconds of the father’s rotting corpse.



Still thinking. 

This time, instead of being in my film, I wanted to be a fly on the wall. I wanted my subjects to forget I was there, which I guess they did, which was why it was so easy to kill them.

Why did I do it?

The easy answer is, because they were too perfect. And you know what? The easy answer is the right answer. I mean, come on.

They said ‘good morning’ and ‘good night.’

They said ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’

The son and daughter were straight ‘B’ students. They could have been straight ‘A’ students, but they didn’t want to make their classmates feel bad by being too perfect, which was another perfect thing about them, which is why I killed them.



They flossed twice a day.

They wiped their feet when they came in the front door. If the father hadn’t tried to wipe his feet perfectly he might’ve seen me coming with the knife.

I approached them when I saw them patiently waiting at an intersection for the ‘Walk’ light. They said they’d do the documentary, not so they could be on TV just to be famous, but so they could help people everywhere feel better about themselves.

“I sure feel better,” I said to the dead dad. 



I thought I should stare at the other dead family members for a while. But I liked the sofa. It was comfortable. So I dragged it upstairs.



This story appears in our FEB 2021 Issue
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Reader Discussion

That was good. Your mind works along the lines of Stephen King.
By Mickey Cherry

I think you are amazing
By Nutter fan

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