by Robert Fenhagen (USA)
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The following are excerpts from the journal of Stuart Littlejohn.
I don’t know why I fire–I just don’t know.
Don’t think that you’re the first psychiatrist to talk to me. I’ve had shrinks of all shapes and sizes. Good ones, bad ones, black ones, white ones.
I love you all–primarily because not one of you—not ONE of you can supply me with the definitive answers that I need, so I write my thoughts—hoping to self-diagnose. Clever of you to suggest it, writing things down.
Why does a respected council member of Cogan’s Bluff, New Mexico find the need to light houses and businesses on fire?
I’m a really good guy. Everybody tells me that. Not now, of course, but they used to before they found out about me.
I think maybe it was the fire that my father used to burn me, or, maybe the fire that I played with as a boy in Mississippi. Maybe it was when I lost my virginity to Lucy Lane back in camp–when was that, nineteen sixty? My God, imagine that? She and I rutted around a camp fire! Hah!
Maybe it was when I used that red hot nail to burn the puppy. I don’t know.
Maybe it was the time that I burned myself on my, well, you know. Maybe it was the time my ex-wife used burning matches to help me achieve a hard-on. Who knows?
I don’t know, and you head adjusters don’t know, so what am I supposed to do?
I do know. Do just what we tell you. Sit quietly and don’t speak until spoken to.
Don’t you dare pee your pants, or you will get beaten this side of tomorrow. Don’t you dare!
How is my life now that my true identity and passions have been found out?
Well, one the one hand, it is Hell. I have neighbors screaming that my family move from the neighborhood that we’ve lived in for years. Speaking of family—my wife has filed for divorce and my oldest has run away. Someone shot Sparkey, my collie.
I have rocks thrown through my windows on, usually, Friday nights.
Other than that, I’m fine.
If this sounds like a ‘poor me’ diatribe, it is. I have an addiction. It is fire.
It is hell. I took a pencil and pierced the skin of my scrotum to punish myself, but all it did was make me orgasm. I’m sick, I guess. You guess, too, I guess.
I don’t go out anymore since I was released on bail. I sit in my house—the house I inherited, and think about myself mostly.
I think about how I used to be almost painfully thin. Ouch.
It seems amazing, but I used to weigh one hundred and forty-three pounds.
Now, of course, I weigh more, much more, but self-loathing because I have turned into a slob didn’t make me start fires, I don’t think.
When you think about it, I lit my own business on fire, so, I lit them because I wasn’t just trying to hurt others, as the district attorney is saying, but I was trying to destroy myself– as you professionals are suggesting.
Me thinks the truth lies atween us, as Dickens says.
I hate people, but I also hate myself.
I know that sounds like so much psycho-babble, but it just happens to be true.
After those years when the scum that paraded around calling himself my ‘father’ left the house, I decided that I needed to channel my energy elsewhere—that is besides, well, besides those other issues that the authorities uncovered and made dammed sure got into the newspapers.
I was eating to ease the hurt inside, or so I was told by a councilor back then. I was married to a bitch on wheels kind of a gal, and I was so angry that I used to stand in Church sometimes with my fingernails pressed into the pew in front of me so hard that I would break my fingernails. I hated the hypocrisy of church and I hated the parishioners, I hated God….I hated myself. Oh, I hated myself.
Someday, I wanted to scream and tear the heads off of every living creature. I did. I did…
Want to scream, not tore the heads off. I fired them instead.
Oh, my phrase “I fire’ refers to my setting fires. Pyromaniac sounds so stilted and formal and it doesn’t get into the ‘why and how come’ of the situation.
In our society, it is a fait acompli—I am a pyromaniac, so kill me; string me up, or put me away in some hell-hole of a prison, where ,hopefully, I’ll be murdered.
They wonder how a seemingly nice guy (albeit, overweight) eventually kill this watchman? This animal killed him, so why shouldn’t we kill him? Pretty simple on the surface.
I began setting fires the same way I began overeating. One mouthful at a time and one match at a time.
It’s funny—so much in life is actually funny, don’t you think, as opposed to the deadly seriousness that we make it, I killed someone because of my rage at my father, yet, I overate to kill myself. Funny, no?
He was a very nice man, the watchman. His name was Jimmy, the same name that my father had his cronies at the bar call him. Jimmy. Jim. Jim.
I used to be nick-named ‘Slim’, but that was then and this is now.
My name now is dead man writing.
I never wanted to hurt anybody. Never!
I married my High School cutie, but soon discovered that she was like all of the rest.
A woman is like so many other creatures. She will use you, abuse you, and finally eat you– if you let them.
My wife, who ever so conveniently left after my name began being paraded about, was a pretty thing, but, boy, oh, boy, did she jump ship like a rat when the good ship ME was going down. She was history.
Have a mentioned that I am overweight?
Like a ship.
Does that make you smile? The idea of a human being floating in water because he is so fat? Being pierced by what? By what is he pierced so that he scoots across the water making rude sounds before sinking into the abyss? Perhaps the newspaper accounts pierced me. Perhaps my father. Perhaps my wife. Perhaps a match.
I find it fascinating that I am on what is termed “house-arrest”, but I am free to have all manner of things here.
Why, I found gasoline in my garage, I found newspapers all over my breakfast table, where, undoubtedly, my wife was reading and drooling about me, and decided to leave.
I even found kerosene that was left over from three summers ago, when I was still trying to act the part of suburbanite, who mowed his lawn, etc.—even though I had heart palpitations, mind you.
So, as these writings should be found after the fire inspectors are finished. (I should know.), and I can wrap this in layers and layers of thick material that will protect them, even if they are not fire resistant.
I’ll go out with a flash, fire, and maybe even a bang—depending on the amount of gas in the lines.
I think the shower curtain as the final wrapping is appropriate.
She used to take showers and tease me—saying that such a hot chick should have a hot man.
Maybe she was trying to spur me to loose weight, but, like the lawn mowing, those comments hurt.
Whew. This destroying ones self is thirsty work, so I’ll pop a low calorie beer. Yet, another reminder from my ex-wife. The bitch that keeps on giving. Oh, I’d like to….
Okay. Finish my beer. Finish my good-byes. See you in Hell, Father, Wife, District Attorney, Newspaper reporters…
Ah. A Bic lighter. How appropriate. I like appropriate things, don’t you?