Fighting in Public Places





Night. A depthless, crystalline dark. I was lighting candles when the phone rang.

“Hey Monkey,” I said, “How’s it going?” 

“I’m getting dressed up for my ‘Grease’ party,” she said. “I’m going as a Pink Lady. What are you up to tonight?”

“Not much. I’m screwed from working all day. I don’t want to sit at home all Saturday night, but if I had a drink, I think I’d fall asleep where I sat.”

“What’s that noise?”

“That’s my gyroball. For my tennis elbow.”

“Cortisone hasn’t worked?” she asked. It was a bad line from Launceston; her voice was as thin as a needle.

“Can you hear that?” I asked, the whirring sound moving up my forearm and into the tendon beside the knuckle of the elbow.

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“Not much. Sit and read.”

“Hm,” said Monkey. “I’ve got to deal with my wig. Call you later?”

I sat in the office chair positioned in front of the dining table and watched smoke from the gutted match wind its way toward the ceiling. I typed ‘triangulation’ into the search bar and the first suggestion Google made was ‘triangulation by psychopaths’.

I went to Amazon and bought a book called, ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths,’ by Dr Sandra L. Brown. It seemed a little closer to the point, and a little less dramatic, than ‘Without Conscience,’ by Robert Hare.

According to Dr Brown, psychopathy is classified as a ‘Cluster B’ personality disorder, the personality disorders that seek to control another person through violence. One per-cent of the population is psychopathic, and one in seven people are estimated to suffer from a personality disorder.

Before she’d cut, she’d poise above her arm and make sure I was watching. Like she was doing it to both of us. She’d push the teeth of the blade into her inner forearm, and the skin would go white, and then blue.

The blue, of course, is the colour of the blood as it appears through the lens of the skin. Then red like a grinning mouth once she’d slash herself open. White, then blue, then red. The red was a relief. It was the blue that made me feel ill.

Dr Brown made a list of indicators to identify a psychopath: easily bored, impulsive, irresponsible, reckless disregard for safety of self and others. Lack of remorse; indifferent to having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another.

She came home one day, visibly shaken. I thought he’d caught up to her and given her a beating, or something more sinister. It turned out to be quite the opposite. She explained that she had put the baby in the back of her four-wheel drive and they had argued, or something, and she said something particularly cruel to him.

Whatever she said, he’d head-butted the car and knocked himself out. She said that when she got out of the car – he was lying on his back, sprawled in the middle of the road – there wasn’t just blood but actual tissue stuck to the pillar beside the windscreen. She had to use a wadded handful of tissues to wipe it off.

I kept asking her to tell me what she’d said to him, but she refused.

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