There's evil in everybody. I think we all know that. Most of us try to
ignore it, but we understand, deep down, that inside us is a darkness
that wants to do bad, bad things.
I understand that probably better than anyone.
Like the other day, I'm on the subway next to this guy, Alex. Good suit,
nice tie, reading the Journal. Alex looks like he's doing okay.
But he's not doing okay.
I'm standing right next to him, and I look inside his head. He staring
at his paper, but barely reading it. His mind is somewhere else.
His mind is on a coworker-a guy named Joel. Joel's the newest kid at
Alex's firm. Alex and Joel are salesmen-they sell computer systems to
airports and hotels, crap like that.
Alex is the slow and steady type. He works hard but never seems to get
Joel is a go-getter, type A, in your face. Joel gets noticed, though it
doesn't hurt that Joel's uncle is VP of sales.
Joel is also a thief. He's been poaching Alex's deals, and Alex is
pretty pissed about it. Alex has this big deal cooking, when the boss
calls him in. The boss wants Joel to handle the negotiation on Alex's
deal. That means Joel gets the lion share of the commission. That means
Joel gets most of the credit for the sale even though Alex has spent
three months setting it up. That means Alex doesn't make his numbers
this quarter, and he's afraid if he doesn't make his numbers, he doesn't
keep his job.
Alex has a wife and two daughters. He needs the job. He needs the
commission. Joel is ruining his life, and Alex doesn't know what to do
about it. But the darkness inside knows. Only Alex won't let it. Alex is
choking it down, holding it back.
That's where I come in.
As the 4 Train rumbles up the track toward Grand Central, I step a
little closer to Alex. I'm in his field just being next to him, but to
make things really cook, I need to be closer.
Close, I can feel the darkness inside him. It's deep and black-the ocean
at night. It's churning-there's a hurricane somewhere out at sea.
The darkness wants out.
I close my eyes and I'm gone. My body is still there, clutching the
pole, but the rest of me is inside Alex's head. I'm talking to the core
of him, and he doesn't even know it.
"Joel is an asshole," I say. "He's ruining your life. He's going to get
The darkness roars back at me-a crowd at a football game cheering a
touchdown. "He's fucking with you. He's a piece of shit."
The crowd roars louder.
"The bastard doesn't deserve to live," I whisper. Then I concentrate.
There's a wall. It's not really a wall, but that's how I envision it-a
wall made of big bricks. But the bricks are really just cardboard bricks
like we used to play with in kindergarten. And like I did when I was a
kid, I kick the wall and it collapses. Collapses easy.
The darkness roars free. Whoa.
I jump out of Alex's head. I'm back on the train and we're pulling into
the 42nd Street stop.
Alex is staring at me. His face is slack. His eyes are glassy. He gets
off the train, but as my car fills, I see him walking for the transfer
tunnel that'll take him to the downtown train instead of up to the Metro
I already know where he's going.
Next morning, there it is in all the papers. Joel is dead, beaten to
death in his apartment by his co-worker. The Post even has Alex on the
cover, in the grips of the cops, his eyes staring and blank. He looks
like he doesn't know what the hell just happened. In a way, he's right.
He doesn't know.
The article is the standard stuff-family and friends wondering how this
could happen. How it makes no sense. How no one saw it coming. Alex was
such a nice, quiet guy.
This should make me happy. Should give me a thrill, hell, it used to.
But the thrill's not there anymore.
It's not enough to make it happen and then read about it in the paper.
There's something missing-the good part-the sounds, the smells, the
sights-everything that comes along with one human being killing another.
What did Alex say to Joel before he bashed his skull in with that
baseball trophy? What did Alex's face look like as he swung. Did Joel
scream? Did he try to fight? Curse? Beg? What does that much blood smell
like? Did Joel shit his pants when he died?
I've got to know.
Next day or two, I encounter a couple of dozen people I could easily
push to do horrible things. I get next to this man who's having very
wrong feelings about his teenage daughter, and I almost go for it, then
pull back at the last second. Not enough. I need something more
visceral. I want blood, not tears.
I find what I need in a coffee shop. I know the second he walks in that
he's the one. His name is Greg. He's short, kind of fat, sweaty. He
looks like he's smart, but I can smell that he's damaged goods.
He buys his coffee, takes a seat close to me, as if he can sense me too,
as if he knows I've got what he needs.
I lean closer and scan his mind. I see a girl. Her name is Marisol. He
goes to college with her. They're both studying photography. He's
friends with her but wants to be more. Only he's afraid if he tries,
he'll lose her completely. Because he's fat. Because he's not good
looking, and Marisol is the most beautiful woman in the world.
So he never acts on his feelings, just suffers in silence. He knows what
a chickenshit he is, and that only makes him angrier. It should make
him angry at himself. But you know what? Facing the truth, being mad at
yourself is hard. If he was any kind of a man, he'd stop eating all that
fucking Ben and Jerry's Super Fudge Chunk, join a gym, drop some
pounds, and make himself presentable.
But that's hard. That's work. Effort. So much easier to blame her. Which
he does. Even as they pal around, go to class together, catch a movie
or some Chinese food downtown, he's blaming her for his pain and
starting to hate her.
Worse, Marisol has taken up with some other dude in their Photo One
workshop. The guy's name is Chris. Greg has seen Chris and Marisol
hanging out, and it's fucking killing him.
I tap his thoughts as he sits staring at his coffee. I sift through his
memories and experiences, looking for the pieces I need to build a plan.
It's all right there for me, falling into place on its own. Destiny.
When I know what needs to be done, I lean closer, close my eyes, and I'm
inside him, speaking to him in words he can't hear. "Marisol is a
whore," I whisper. "Chris is her pimp. They're laughing at you while
they fuck. They're hurting you. You have to hurt them."
A roar of approval. Touchdown.
"You have to do it carefully," I continue. "But you know what you have
to do." I sense the darkness, poised, waiting.
"You have to kill them. I can show you how."
In the coffee shop, a fat, lonely kid with a broken heart nods as I lay
it out for him.
I don't sleep well that night. Too excited.
I get to the warehouse early, go through the hole in the fence I saw in
Greg's mind, and wait.
I'm shivering. I haven't been this stoked in years, not since I pushed
that 13-year-old to murder her whole family. Headlines and lead stories
for weeks. This is going to be better.
I hear voices. I peer out the nearest window. It's Greg, with his two
friends. Greg and Marisol have been to this abandoned warehouse before.
They snuck through a hole in the fence on a photo expedition a few
months ago. The danger of it, trespassing, exploring this death trap of a
building, really got the juices flowing. That day was the closest Greg
ever came to telling her how he felt. The day he almost worked up the
guts to kiss her.
Now he and Marisol have returned to their special place, only this time
Greg invited Chris along for the ride.
Chris is handsome enough, but kind of dumb-looking. One of those guys
who's had everything handed to them and never really had to learn
anything. I sense he's uncomfortable. He likes Marisol, but not the way
Greg does. Looking for a quick lay is what I figure. He feels weird
being with the two of them. Greg and Marisol are so good together, he's
not sure he fits in.
Marisol? I have to admit I'm disappointed. The Marisol I saw in Greg's
mind was a goddess. In real life she's not half bad. But that means not
half good, either. I wouldn't kick her out of bed, but I don't really
get why Greg's all crazy about her. But hey, everyone's got their thing,
Greg is where the action is. I can see the darkness. This is the first
time I can see it, not just sense it, but see it with my eyes. It's
bubbling around him like a cloud of flies on a chunk of rotting meat. I
feel it too, like a subway train coming fast. The vibrations off it cut
through me, fill me, set every nerve in my body tingling.
I watch as they approach the fence, take a little look around, then
crawl through the hole.
Greg goes through first. I see Marisol watching him, and I know if the
fat shit ever tried, she'd be his. She admires him. She loves him, but
doesn't even realize it. One word from him and that love would burst
Too bad he doesn't know that.
The three kids enter the warehouse. I duck back into the shadows. The
darkness Greg is dragging around with him passes my hiding place like a
storm front. Another tingle runs through my body. I feel a distant
contact with his mind. "Kill the bitch," I whisper. "Kill her good."
The darkness hisses back at me, a giant wave breaking on the beach. Oh
yeah, she's going to die. She's going to die nasty.
"Which way?" Marisol asks.
"Upstairs," Greg says. I'm amazed how level his voice is. "I was in here
the other day, I found a really cool spot."
"You came alone?" she asks.
"Greg, it's dangerous. You should have asked me to come with you."
Greg shrugs. "I figured you were busy," he turns and heads upstairs. The
darkness around him thickens. I can barely see him through it.
After Chris clears the stairs, I go up, shadowing them. The darkness
inside Greg is going to break soon, and when it does, I want to be there
to see it. I follow them down a series of corridors. The warehouse had
offices up here that ran the length of the building. You walk through
one room to get to the next, railroad car style. Greg is leading them
toward the end of the line.
There's broken furniture, papers spilled everywhere, the piles sodden
with rainwater that's leaked in through broken windows. It's a dying
place, wet and rotting. A perfect setting.
Finally they reach the last room in line. I know what it looks like;
I've seen it in Greg's mind - splintered furniture piled high along one
wall, soft light coming in the broken windows along the other.
Greg stays by the doorway as Chris and Marisol move deeper into the
room. I'm in the next room back, pressed to the wall by to the doorway
that joins our two spaces. Greg's on the other side. We're two feet
away, separated by nothing more than ten inches of cinderblock.
I'm inside the field of darkness that surrounds him. It's fucking
unbelievable. Every cell of my body is singing. "Do it," I silently
command him. "Do it."
He walks forward. I peer around the door. There's a piece of pipe on the
floor. Greg picks it up and sneaks up on Chris, who's admiring a wall
where mold and peeling paint have formed something that looks like a
A human face screaming.
Greg raises the pipe and brings it down on Chris's head. Chris drops.
He's out, not dead, I can still sense him, but definitely not going to
be dancing the rumba anytime soon. Greg's playing it smart, dealing with
Chris first. With the dumb clod out of the way, he's got Marisol all to
She turns when she hears the pipe hit Chris' head. Her eyes go wide, and
I catch a flash of sweet panic. She doesn't know what's going on. She
sees Chris on the floor, sees Greg drop the pipe, sees Greg reach into
his pocket and pull out a clasp knife. He opens it. Her eyes go even
The black cloud around Greg explodes into a tornado. I watch from my
place by the door, my whole body on fire.
They say shit to each other, I can't hear much through the storm.
Marisol begs. Greg yells. The darkness has him. She's hurt him and now
he's going to hurt her. He's going to hurt her bad.
This is what it's like. Every time I made this happen, this is what is
was like. I had no idea. No idea what I was missing.
I'm with Greg, inside him, feeling everything he's feeling. He's cut
loose from his moorings. All the civilized instincts beaten into him
from the day he squirted out from between his momma's legs are gone.
He's pure animal fury.
Greg grabs Marisol, throws her against a wall. She yelps in fear and
pain. He presses himself against her and slaps the knife to her throat,
the point of the blade dimpling her flesh.
The blackness roars. I give a little moan. All my senses are wide open. I
see clearer, hear sharper, smell every fucking thing in the room, and
all of it smells amazing.
Greg tenses, ready to drive the blade in. The swirling blackness has
reached some kind of crescendo, it's huge, and when he kills her, I know
it's going to be the best thing ever. I'm already thinking about the
future, the others I'm going to push over. All that swirling darkness
out there. Every sick twisted fuck with murder on his mind, which is
basically everybody in the fucking world, all mine. My personal
Except Greg is still standing there.
Do it, I silently command him, fucking do it.
The fat shit steps back.
He drops the knife.
It rings sharp on the concrete with a sound that stings my ears.
Greg falls to his knees, weeping. Marisol edges away, then runs. Forget
Chris, she just bolts for the emergency exit in the corner and down the
The black cloud around Greg evaporates.
I feel like someone just sucked all the guts out of me. I feel empty,
I can't believe it. He chickened out. The piece of shit chickened out.
I don't get angry a lot. I don't have to; I've always let others do that
for me. But now, seeing him on his knees, weeping, when he had his
chance to kill that fucking bitch and settle her hash good, does
something to me, flicks some switch. I charge into the room. "What the
fuck?" I yell. "What the fuck are you doing? Go get her. Go fucking get
Greg looks up at me. "Who are you?" he asks. Like he doesn't know.
I grab him, yank him to his feet which is hard because he weighs a
fucking ton. I shake him. I press my hand against his face to reignite
the darkness inside him because it's not too late, he can still catch
her and finish this. He has to finish this. I need him to finish this.
But there's no more darkness left. Because he loves her, and he saw
something in her eyes when he attacked her, not just fear, but betrayal.
He saw inside her for that moment and knew that she loved him too. And
he let her go. He fucking let her go.
I shake him again. "Go!" I yell.
He stares at me, confused.
I bend down, grab the knife off the floor and slam it into his hand. "Go
get her! Kill her. Kill that fucking bitch."
He gives kind of a groan, and I see the knife isn't in his hand, it's in
my hand, and I've jammed it into his gut. Then I'm yanking it out and
jamming it in again. Now I feel it, the darkness in me, bursting out
because this fat fuck was too weak to finish the job and give me what I
deserve and I can't believe how fucking angry that makes me and all I
care about now is dealing with this motherfucker and the knife is going
in and out and he's making these little groans of pain which only piss
me off worse and the blood is pouring out of his belly all over my
fucking pants and shoes and the smell of it.
My God the smell of it.
It takes me, and my world goes black.
When I come to my senses, the room is full of cops. My hands are behind
my back, cuffed. Two of them yank me to my feet.
Greg is still there, a bloody pile under a stained sheet.
Chris is gone; Marisol is nowhere to be seen.
They hustle me downstairs and outside to a cruiser. I catch sight of
myself reflected in a window. My eyes are wide and glassy, my face
A flash of light. A reporter with a camera. Taking a picture of
something. Me, I realize, he's taking a picture of me.
Some part of me, dim and distant, already knows what tomorrow's headline
will be, what tomorrow's cover photo will be.
The cops hurl me in the car. The door slams. One of the cops in front
glares back at me. "You're going away for a long, long time, asshole,"
I don't say anything. I know where I'm going. Prison. The rest of my
life, probably. I'm ready to cry.
And then my mind kicks into gear. I think a little deeper. I think about
clouds and silver linings.
I think about the men I'm going to be thrown in with. How much evil will
I encounter at Riker's Island? Or in the cell blocks of Sing Sing?
How easy will it be to push over those who didn't need pushing the first
Sharpened spoons. Razor blades in toothbrushes. Guards with tasers and
billyclubs. Rape. Beatings. Torture. Torment.
Me. Front and center.
I lean back. "Sucks to be me," I whisper.