“Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.
A warehouse in the outskirts of Minneapolis, made to look like a maximum-security cell in Alcatraz.
“Leavin’ On a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary is playing over the speakers of the record player in the corner, the scratching feedback of the old device giving a warm fuzzy quality to the sound.
Jeffrey James Roberts’ ‘trophy’ photos and items are pinned to a corkboard on the wall above, with a new one present. Beside a promotional photo of Darin Zion is a small hunk of rotting flesh with a thumbtack pushed through it and into the cork.
Roberts himself is back in a seated position on the floor in the middle of the room. His back is to the cell bars and glass, his eyes are closed and his head is tilted back slightly, swaying left and right. His lips are stained red, with crusty remnants of blood at each corner. He would seem calm and relaxed if not for this, however, the drip drip dripping of the water in the corner keeps him from resting fully. This, of course, is on purpose.
“So nice to see you again.”
Roberts calls out, having heard the rustling noises announcing the arrival of the 4th Wahl.
“What brings you back this evening? I suspect it isn’t in your manner to seek out stimulating intellectual conversation, so I assume you have another task to complete, and in turn, another for me to complete as well. Am I correct?”
The 4th Wahl looks around the room, sees the new ‘trophy’ and grimaces, then turns his eyes back to the prisoner on the prison cell floor.
“He saw what you did to Darin Zion last week, and he was impressed. You did well. Now, he has something else for you, another of your opponents at Rumble at the Rock.”
Roberts sways, his expression remaining stoic.
“Is that all? He wants me to have another…. Match?”
The 4th Wahl shakes his head, though Roberts can’t see him.
“He wants to see what else you’re capable of.”
An eyebrow shoots up on Roberts’ face.
“Does he? Is he sure he really wants to see what I’m capable of?”
The 4th Wahl holds still in place.
“Those were his exact words.”
Roberts nods, his eyes opening finally. He twists just enough to turn his head and look at the massive guard just outside the cell.
“I assume you have another package to give me.”
The 4th Wahl nods, steps forward, and slips another envelope through the rusty, weathered slot on the cell door glass wall, making sure to keep his eyes on Roberts the whole time. Roberts stays perfectly still and watches as the envelope is thrust through the tiny metal-hinged door, and clatters to the floor inside.
“Tell him I’ll do my very best to be worth his time.”
Roberts’ head tilts down slightly, his expression a bit more sinister, and smiles a thin, empty smile.
“A sociopath will gladly control and manipulate people in a way that benefits them. They will use pretty much any technique at their disposal, including using people against others and emotional blackmail. When confronted with someone who sees them for what they are, they grow enraged and accusatory. The sociopath will care little for the well-being of those they are manipulating. All that matters is how they will gain from it personally.” – James Edwards, Confessions of a Sociopath.
Letter to the Editor, Gainesville Sun
January 22, 2011
“I have read your characterization of me in your paper, see the description of what I am and who I am, and I’m not impressed. You give the impression that all sociopaths are murderers and villains, incapable of loving, and should be thrown away as a tragedy to the human race. You do not differentiate between the high-functioning-sociopath and a low-functioning-sociopath. I happen to be a high-functioning sociopath, my crimes are secondary to my condition, and your paper is full of lies and misguided information, and what’s worse, you gain money out of creating a stigma of people like me and abusing the victims of certain relationships, which although they do happen, aren’t generally what high functioning sociopaths are about. Who is the one with no conscience? I would say you.
I have no emotion. I use logic to understand what is happening. I mimic the emotions of others because I know that it is important to my survival that I display emotion or otherwise people become scared. Is that really so bad? Yes, perhaps I play mind games with people because I grow so bored, but that doesn’t really harm them does it? People get over it. I don’t go out murdering puppies and kittens and laugh like a comic villain. I may have mistreated some animals, but never with the intent of doing so. I may have hurt some people, but they get over it. I’m the one who has to pay for their hurt, they threaten my survival when they retaliate. I flirt with people a lot, but so do a lot of people, not just sociopaths. I do have some emotion, even if it is limited. Rather, I can pretend to have an emotion to convince myself. I act simply to feel.
You normals, empaths, only have emotions so that you are scared of us, when all we are is bored, and confused harmless cheeky rascals. And to point out, adult sociopaths don’t usually stop being sociopaths after the age of 30, so it’s not ‘incurable’ as soon as they become an adult. You try living in a world that is black and white, where any emotion has to be forced, and you have to copy others’ expressions, and you’re always so very bored, because I am, so bored. You can’t blame us for needing some excitement, to survive we must have a way out of our boredom. You know nothing about what you say. We have a soul, we just can’t access it as easily as everyone else.
You fear because you’re not smart enough to understand, but that isn’t my problem. I will remain who and what I am, and you will fear it, believe me. And it is, in the end, after all, your fault.
I am the one no one thinks twice about until it’s too late.
You didn’t think I was dangerous because I seemed so human, but you don’t know me at all.
Yet you insisted that there had to be something more, something empathetic and kind. No. I coast through life and hide every single trace of what I am because I’m tired of being God. I can say words and more words but nothing even connects with me anymore. Those I choose to be by my side were chosen because they chose me. I bet you don’t know that.
I’m bored so I cause chaos. I’m bored so I destroy. I feel five seconds of joy because it brings me pleasure to watch others scramble and argue. To feel something other than anger and emptiness, I became an abuser of illicit substances. My depression is caused by not understanding those around me. Why does no one ever question anything? Why does no one ever pass my tests? Why does no one ever try for me?
I have chosen to be honest with you because I feel you, everyone, deserves to know the truth, since I know there will be no deeper conversations that come from this. You, all of you, think you are some special human; God’s favorite, yes. No. No, you’re ordinary. I can see that now. One out of billions that inhabit the planet. Hypocritical, circumstantial, superficial. But most of all, you are not real. Not in the sense that you’re a hallucination or a dream, but you are fake. You are not real because you’re fake. You pretend to be so knowledgeable and pretend to care but I know everything. You cannot keep secrets from or lie to God.
I do not want love from or for any of you people. I exist to be the fire that burns the entire world. I want to burn the lot of you right out of my fucking life and I can’t wait to do so. You are weakness.”
“Sociopaths exist, and they aren’t all serial killers, though some are. Understanding the sociopath demystifies their behavior, so you can recognize them and protect yourself.” – Donna Anderson, Understanding the Sociopath: Why antisocials, narcissists, and psychopaths break the rules of life, October 2019.
Back in the cell, Jeffrey James Roberts kneels next to the small plastic table along the back wall. On it is a thick plastic case, which he opens to find a row of unused audio cassettes. He takes one out and then turns, slumping to a seated position next to his small tape recorder. He opens the lid of the recorder and places the cassette inside, then presses the large red button marked “REC”.
“So, Eli Dresden, I trust you are well.
I myself am beside myself with joy, for last week’s field trip was more delightful than I expected. It felt good to feel that rush of being alive again, though the feeling was fleeting. Eventually, my mind goes back to its own devices. I am often thought of as being remarkably bright, and yet my brains, more often than not, are busily devising new and interesting ways of bringing my enemies to sudden, gagging, writhing, agonizing death.
I am very comfortable with conflict, be it of the legal or mortal kind. My father was a mediator, a bridge maker. I am a grave maker.
Do you want to hear a joke?
It’s a funny one.
You see, I was told I could be free until sometime in late October if I chose to be. But I find all of my solaces here in this cell. In the end, it’s all I have known for the better part of ten years and it’s all I want to know. The world at large is far far too stimulating for the likes of me. I could hardly stand any of it without going on a murder spree to make my previous crimes look like a minor playground scuffle. So kind of the boss to recreate it for me here on the road. I get rewarded you see, for doing what I am told, and you are the next thing I am to do.
You have to understand that only the very worst end up here: the ones whose anger made them kill, and who felt no sorrow or guilt after the act; those so obsessed with themselves that they turned their backs on the sufferings of others, and left them in pain; those whose greed meant that others starved and died. Such souls belong here because they would find no peace elsewhere. In this place, they are understood. In this place, their faults have meaning. In this place, they belong.
You may, like others, think of yourself as some kind of challenge to overcome. If only it were merely that. You are an empty pile of nothing to me. And I’m the son of a deity, motherfucker.
They think I am here to live out a script, to play the part I have been assigned, but they’ve unleashed something far worse. You’ve all thrown down the gauntlet, given me a taste. You’ve brought my wrath down upon you. Now, to prove that I exist I must kill you. As the child outlives the father, so must the character bury the author. If you are, in fact, my continuing author, then killing you will end my existence as well. Small loss. Such a life, as your puppet, is not worth living.
But… If I destroy you and your dreck script, and I still exist… then my existence will be glorious, for I will become my own master.
I believe in the means to my ends. I believe if I piss God off one more time, I’ll be eligible to win a free Bible.
And who doesn’t like prizes?
I’m afraid our relationship, Dear Eli, will be a short one. You and I, darling, we share a space for one evening. We put our hearts out on the table and laugh the days away. The warmth of having someone on a lonely night! But then the time comes, no goodbyes are said. One of us just walks away. We look for a new place to rent for a few days.
Sleep well. I wish we had been able to interact more fully, but I am bound by this, and incapable of the level of human connection it would require. Life is such a glorious trauma, is it not?
I’ll take something from you because I must. I have no choice.
I hope you can forgive me.”
Roberts presses “STOP” on the recorder and retrieves the cassette from inside. He tucks it into an envelope with “Eli Dresden” written on the side in black sharpie, stands and walks over to the cell bars and glass, then shoves it through the slot.
He turns back, walks to the middle and sits down, his legs crossed, and sways to the music.
“Mankind, in all his lusts, punishes himself. The gods have to do very little.” – Criss Jami, Healology