Me and Tweety and Dog Man and You

There are guys in here who make Charles Manson look like Mr. Bean with a beard. They are feral and fickle and unshackled by conscience. But I do not fear them, for I am one of them. That is to say, our minds and actions follow similar, well-worn paths that make us predictable to one another, but seemingly unpredictable to the outside world. You’d be surprised how much support and understanding the whackos accord each other here at the Institute for Forensic Observation. Believe me, there is nothing more heart-warming than a circle of psychopaths nodding empathically while one of their cold-blooded brethren calmly unfolds a nightmare in which logic, plot and motive can range from relatively accessible to Grade-A goofy, with storylines more convoluted than a plateful of congealed spaghetti.

But I am rushing ahead. Let me explain how things work here. You’ve got your basic six-category system, with the smart-but-lethal cookies up in Category 1 and the nuttiest fruitcakes down in Category 6.

It’s all about accountability. The Cat-1 boys want to prove they’re fully accountable, knowing that they’ll get 12 years max and will be up for parole before that. Meanwhile, the Cat-6 loons aren’t even aware of the rules of engagement, which means they’re looking forward to very sedate(d) lives in one of the Queen’s fine institutions.

Needless to say, the Cat-1 boys are by far the most dangerous. The latest addition to their fraternity is Warsaw, who strangled his wife and two children and hid their bodies so that he could go on a blind date with some teeny-bopper from behind the Rusty Curtain. Warsaw dresses and talks like a sales rep, and he can lay down logic, plot and motive like an accountant doing the books – an unfaltering summation of fact upon fact, which he sucks from his blonde moustache when he pauses to stroke it with his lower lip. He will go on trial, he will go to jail, and he will be released eventually.

Most of the Juice & Juju boys are in Categories 3 and 4. This includes guys like Dog Man, who ran over his neighbour’s dog three times. (Not one dog thrice, mind you, three dogs once.) Dog Man, a rotund farmer in his early 50s, claims he was drunk on all three occasions. The dogs barked incessantly, so it was only logical that he should get in his car, drive into his neighbour’s farmyard and silence the errant cur by running over it. After the third dog was sent to The Kennel Invisible, the police spotted a pattern and Dog Man was arrested. Now he’s trying to prove it was the juice that made him do it. He’ll probably go to trial and get off with a suspended sentence and a ticket to compulsory rehab.

Way down in Category 6 we find guys like Tweety, who cut off his wife’s hand because he caught her “trying to steal the bird in his heart”. Love the symbolism, dude, but you’re going nowhere for a long, long time. Mainly because you don’t have a grip on the game. If you did, you’d blame it on the juju and promise to mend your ways. But no, you go around putting your ear to people’s chests, listening to their inner birds and whistling to them, and then sharing your conversations with whoever is willing to listen. That makes you a poster boy for complete unaccountability, Tweets. Which means the Queen will find a nice, comfortable, peg-making chore for you to do until your dying day.

That said, I should add that I mostly hang out with Tweety and Dog Man. Here’s why: Tweety is seven-foot-plus and built like a front end of a brown freight train. He plays Chief to my Randle for the simple reason that I can do impressions of about 15 different birds. And he’s handy to have around, because he’ll rip the heart out of any man if he’s convinced there’s a bird trapped inside. And I can be quite convincing.

Dog Man, on the other hand, is my insurance for the outside world. He has a farm and a car and a family and, most importantly, he shares my pathological hatred for dogs of all species. When I get out, which I will eventually, he’ll be waiting for me. A rural springboard to the rest of my life.

And now I suppose you’re wondering what trips my switch. Well, firstly, I suffer from chronic constipation – which I am told is the consequence of bottling up my emotions for decades – and secondly, I abhor apathy. You know what I mean: those oh-so-innocent bystanders. People who sit back passively and watch things happen. Does that sound familiar? Have you let people die and starve and suffer without so much as raising a finger? If so, you’re a potential target. Yes, you. You with the mobile device, sitting in your average little home, on your average little couch, next to some average little person, who insists on watching all the whack on TV. Did I hear a sigh of relief? You think I’m not talking to you because you’re lying in bed alone, or next to some sad soul who is trying to get some sleep? No wait, you’re locked into the eye of your screen, drooling into your keyboard in slack-jawed wonder. Oh no, silly me, you’ve taken your phone to the shitter, to engage in some malodorous reading. Well, all that doesn’t really matter, because wherever you may be, I am talking to you, you apathetic little voyeur.

I know what you’re thinking: “He won’t come after me, because I’m just one of the many millions who don’t give a shit.” But you’re special now, because you have been warned, which means I've given you a chance to mend your ways. And to those of you who feel comfortable behind your high walls, with a popgun close at hand, I say this: you're the easiest targets, because you never see me coming, because you think I’m kidding, because you’re unable to see your own shortcomings. Your overconfidence will be your downfall. I am already inside your head.

(This story was previously published in Eleven Eleven - A Journal of Literature & Art)