Of Candles & Psychopaths

Inspired by Ed Kemper.
Warning: There is violence in this story.

“Thank you for meeting me like this. I know I’ve inconvenienced you a lot already and asking for this isn’t really my right. But I really needed to talk to you.”

I lit the candle with the aid of my cigarette lighter. The blue flame flickered and changed to orange as it became stronger. I hooked the candle in the small space between the coils of the metal. Carefully retracting my hands, I watched the candle for a while. She didn’t say a word but I knew she was as excited about the whole thing as I was. Her eyes were wide open. She looked at the flame intently, refusing to meet my eyes. Most psychiatrists thought eye contact was important to make the patients talk but she knew better. She knew I felt self-conscious when she looked me straight in the eye so she made sure to never do that.

“You see, our talks have been very productive lately. It is because of them that I’ve started to understand myself. I’m no psychologist so I could be wrong but I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and I think I’m onto something.” I smiled at her. I couldn’t clearly tell what she was thinking. The only light in the small office was that of the candle. She was closing shop when I got there. She had even turned all the lights off, almost closed the door too but I convinced her it was important and so she let me in. The candle was my idea but it did leave a lot to imagination. I couldn’t completely decipher her facial expression. The only thing the shadows didn’t cover was her dimple on her right cheek. Eyes wild, dimple showing. She must be smiling too.

The candle flame flickered. It was a used candle, already half finished. I didn’t want the light to go out before I was done telling my story. “I guess we better get straight into it before it gets any…darker.” I sat back in the chair she usually occupied. Today was her turn on the couch.

“It’s so cliché, man. But I think Kemper pretty much got it. You know? Ed Kemper?”

She nodded quickly but didn’t say a word.

“He kind of self-diagnosed himself and I really respect him for that. He said the problem was with his mother. As a kid, his mom was a real bitch with all the neglect and cursing. It was some real child abuse. It messed him up. Kemper was never able to form real relationships with women. He felt like an outsider. He felt inept. All because mommy was an ass to him. It makes so much sense, right? He grew up unloved and that rejection kinda got soaked into him. He…what’s that word you always use? Internalized.” I looked at the flickering candle. “Yeah, he internalized that rejection. Started believing he didn’t matter. And then everything he did from then on was just a struggle to belong, fit in, matter, feel, to be visible.”

The flame was bigger somehow. I guessed that’s how it got when it neared its demise.

“My mom was a bitch too. Always telling me what a piece of shit I am, how she wished I’d have died in that car accident instead of him. I kept failing school so she got me out. Kept me at home where her boyfriends kept…you know. I grew up an anti-social and hated man. I too wanted to belong, fit in, matter, and of course, be visible. Like Kemper, I did what I could and it felt great. But that’s pretty much as far as Kemper and I are the same.”

The flicker this time was strong. She followed my gaze and saw it too. Her dimple was back. She shook her head, not wanting the light to go out.

“Relax. We have a minute. This won’t take long. As I was saying, Kemper turned himself in and ended his little project prematurely. I’m a little more stubborn than that. With time, I only became more creative. And here we are.”

There was a tear in her eye. I got up and walked two steps to the couch and leaned down to wipe the tear as it fell down the side of her face.

“I just wanted you to know before…” I motioned to the candle, and moved back a few step. “Any second now the candle is going to die out. Before it does, the flame would try to breathe one last time and the arsenal I sprayed on you will catch on fire. The metal chain around you will keep you bound to the couch and nobody in this empty clinic is going to hear your-”

The fire broke out, consuming her entire body, interrupting my monologue. Her face twisted in horror, the increased light making it easier for me to see the pain in her eyes. Her struggles to scream were being muffled by the cloth I stuffed in her mouth. The smell of burning flesh filled my nostrils, making me smile. I wanted to watch my latest victim turn to ashes but it was hardly safe. It was time to go.

“Well. Thank you for hearing me out, doc. It was brilliant knowing you.”




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