Psychopath Joe woke up in freedom for the first time in years. Relaxedly, he looked around the room, trying to find the hidden cameras. They were there, but Joe could not help but admire the skill with which they were installed when he failed to make them out.
They had made sure to select a particularly ugly apartment. It was long and narrow, with a small window looking out to a dismal street; they wanted to be sure that the viewers associated this ugliness with him. Joe wondered why anybody would make that connection, but he didn’t really care either way. Getting out of prison was quite worth being part of their so-called reality show.
Almost bored to death from captivity, Joe was keen on getting out into the world. He jumped into his jeans, put on a gray shirt from those he had been provided with and left through the door.
Outside the apartment complex, Kevin awaited him. Kevin was a the producer of the show and would follow him everywhere he went.
“Joe! Here!”, Kevin exclaimed.
Joe approached him and shook his hand. Kevin seemed frantic and touchy and spoke with an odd downward intonation. “Okay, Joe. Just act as if we weren’t here and we’ll be fine. Here’s your money for today.” Kevin laid a hand on Joe’s breast and added with a mellow voice “Show us some magic, baby.”
Wondering why Kevin acted so strange, Joe concluded that it was part of the show. Some kind of social experiment. Well, it was not on him to care about these things, so he took the money and went his way.
He enjoyed the sun and the chirps of pigeons or something mixed with the sound and smell of motors. It took him about half an hour to find out how much he had missed being able to walk in one direction without ever reaching some kind of border. Freedom was a gift of god.
Soon, the sweet smell of strawberry cake lured him into a baker’s shop. A few lines of people were waiting. He took place behind one of them, but eventually decided to pick the other queue when he noticed that the woman before him carried a long list of things to buy.
“Seems like he doesn’t know where he belongs”, an older lady noticed loudly. Joe turned his head to look at her. She could have been his grandmother, had he not killed and eaten her. He was not sure what she meant and repeated while observing her face.
“I don’t know where I belong.” He said it in a direct and curious manner, but her reaction didn’t reveal her intent. She turned around to two other women her age and started to chatter. “Oh. He doesn’t like being told that he doesn’t know where he belongs.” Quickly, one of them replied. “No, he probably isn’t a morning person.” The third woman jumped at the chance of conversation and added “No, probably not an evening person either.” The group chuckled and carried on with their rambling.
Joe didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about, so he turned away and ordered a piece of the strawberry cake.
With the cake on a plate, he searched for a convenient place to sit and noticed an attractive girl a few years his junior who was sitting alone at a table. He took place vis-à-vis.
She looked up and frowned. This girl had two wonderful hands full of breast and a beautiful symmetrical face, blond hair and light freckles. Joe calmly put a piece of cake in his mouth while he relished looking at her.
“Excuse me?” The girl seemed angered. Joe didn’t mind, he was happy to have such gorgeous company. “Hi, I’m Joe. Would you like to fuck later?”
The girl’s anger transformed into indignation as she widened her eyes in seeming disbelief. “What are you, some kind of psycho?”
“Why, yes, I am a psychopath. How can you tell?” Joe admired her sharpness; she was definitely a worthy girl. But then he remembered the text on his shirt that said Careful, I’m a psychopath. His admiration transformed into mild disappointment; only a stupid girl would be that proud of her ability to read.
“What? What the hell is wrong with you?” The girl seemed to be losing it. Joe kept calm, but he was losing interest already. “Why, nothing, I’m just a psychopath.” The girl stared at him in disbelief. Joe inquired again. “So?”
“Do you want to fuck later?” Joe was an attractive man, his request was not unreasonable. He ate another piece of cake; it was really good. The girl held his gaze for a few seconds, until she was suddenly distracted. One of the cameramen had stumbled over somebody’s feet and attracted everybody’s attention.
The magic was gone. “Why are they filming you?” Joe was slightly bugged. “I don’t know, they find me interesting or something.” The girl slightly inclined her head, quickly looked down and then looked at Joe again with a slight smile. “I also find you interesting.” Back in the game. “Good.”
They looked into each other’s eyes for a few more seconds as Kevin suddenly entered the scene and loudly gave directions. “No, no, no! Please, would you do this again? This was sooo good, but that moment when you saw Tony” – he pointed at the bearish cameraman – “destroyed the illusion of reality.” He made some gestures to express the tragedy of the event. “Just start again from the moment he asked you to sleep with him the second time. Oh, and just act as if we weren’t here.”
This was too much for the girl. “I’m sorry, this is too much for me.” She stood up, clearly embarrassed, and left.
“Oh well, stuff like that happens. Maybe the next girl will not be such a bitch.” Kevin intoned the word bitch with a lot of spite.
Bewildered over Kevin’s behavior, Joe confronted him. “Why do you act so … strange?”
Kevin got the most exaggerated expression of wonder in his face, as if to emphasize the fact that he had absolutely no idea what Joe meant: “What do you mean?” There was something pompous about Kevin’s reaction that reminded Joe of theatre. He could not help but be curious about the way Kevin’s tone of voice and movements seemed almost studied to perfection; they had a comical undertone and – if Joe had possessed emotions like a normal person – he might have found them a bit threatening indeed.
Joe was not one to laugh at eccentric people or those who have a bit trouble understanding, as he knew what it was like to be different. He explained himself: “You move very weirdly. Not like a man at all, more like a caricatured version of a girl. I figured it was all part of the show, but man, it really annoys the hell out of me.”
Kevin’s eyes widened. To Joe, it seemed as if he had just – on cue – played a part in the theatre that Kevin had prepared. Interesting indeed. Kevin fluidly and organically worked himself into rage.
Joe admired the acting.
Kevin loudly exclaimed: “You are one of those lowly homophobes, aren’t you?”
Joe’s fascination turned once more into disappointment. He had heard of them. Some called them fags, gays or dick eaters. He had always thought of them as fable creatures like duppies, invented by the elders to make the children behave and not stay out too late at night. He had never really understood the emotion of disgust, but he knew that it seemed to have quite an effect on normal people.
Joe lost interest and was ready to let it go. Kevin wasn’t.
“It’s people like you. People like you who make this world the evil place it is. This is just sad! So sad.” Now the expression in Kevin’s face resembled motherly love, he thought. How weird. Joe admired how normal people seemed to understand this sort of communication.
Undazzled, Joe went out of the baker’s shop and saw the girl’s ass disappear around a corner. Which reminded him of his anger towards Kevin, who now kept flying around him like a midge.
“If it wasn’t for my job here, I wouldn’t let you get away with this!”
He put himself in front of Joe. For a second, Joe indulged in the slight annoyance that Kevin caused him. He kicked Kevin into the face and broke his neck. The banter stopped. What a relief.
But now people around started to scream and run around. Joe thought they resembled chicken on a farm. He chided himself. He had killed one midge, but now the whole swarm was buzzing and costing him the last nerve.
Well, lesson learned.
Joe wondered whether he still had a chance with the girl. Worth a try, he thought, and disappeared around the corner.