The Sociopath Seven

Looking at that man's dead body lying there motionless, with no life left in him, gazing in terror at the night sky through his broken eye frames, I felt sick to my stomach and was not able to hold it in for long. I took a few steps backwards and threw up so hard, like I was being possessed by the most evil demon there is. Until then I had always felt like I had it in me to handle the sight of a corpse or even kill a person myself, but that was all in theory. As it turned out I didn't have the guts for hardcore situations like this, not even close. I took the time to catch my breath and comprehend that I was both unfortunate to get my ass involved in those circumstances and lucky enough to not have done it myself. That exact moment I promised to myself that I would get it together and straighten up. It couldn't be more transparent that I had to get out of it first. 

It is commonly known that when you're young, you take everything lightly. If I were accountable for the stupid things and the decisions I made when I was fifteen, I'd still be in big trouble today. Adolescence is the trickiest phase of a person's time on this earth and like everyone before me, it left quite a huge mark on me. A teenage person doesn't decide or plan to be an antisocial personality, like they do work out in their minds how to become an athlete, a scientist, an artist or how to take over their parents' business and what they will do after they retire. You become antisocial because either you were born a wacko or your surroundings made you one. My buddies and I back then were different that most kids our age. We took every thing that was happening seriously, but every one, causing the every thing to happen, lightly. We didn't see any value in almost any of the people in our town's community, we nothing else but despised our peers and every little incident that was happening, we were under the impression that occurred to piss us off, like we were the center of the universe. 

There was a bunch of us that stood out from the crowd in our quiet, law abiding, peaceful little place, where it felt like every citizen was a conservative, all kids feared their parents and no dogs had ever bitten their owner. However, not everything was rightful and constitutional. Wrongs were plaguing every corner of our lives, we just wouldn't point them out because no one ever wanted to cause any trouble to themselves or anyone else. Teachers were unfair, parents were cruel, noises were loud, cars were double parked, con men passed as business men, junkies were slowly rotting in our town's darkest alleys, beggars were begging and they did it until they were too weak to even stand on their feet, and us, we were living our day to day routines. It was decay all around us, we just pretended that everything was by the book, just to keep our quiet lives quiet.

We would get together in the skate park every day after school and hang around until the sun went down. We'd share our disgust about the place, the times and the people and we'd talk it over until we were worn out. Then we'd go home to our folks and pretend that everything was mighty alright and act like we were like them, one of their own. It was like playing a game in their own rules and terms, up to the point when all this hatred built inside of us by those conversations, it overflew, and one of us cracked.

I remember my friend's face, describing me what he did to the high school principal's car, as if it happened a moment ago. His cheeks were all red and you could spot the adrenaline rush on his expression from a mile away. He had arrived at the park with a black and yellow cutter reaching out of his back pocket, having just slashed the old man's tires, all four of them, motivated to do so by the fact the bourgeois, conformist son of a bitch had told him the previous day to get a haircut and wear better clothes at school or he would call his parents and even have him expelled. My friend didn't respond with anger to the threat at the time, but for sure that was the drop that spilled the glass for him. He did what he did and came running back to us to brag within limits and figure out if his move would be considered acceptable from the rest of the gang. Not one of us told him he didn't do well, his act didn't even cross our minds as wrongful. We high-five'd him, called him “the man”, promised to buy him a beer in another town when we'd get our hands on some fake ID, and never questioned the slashing of the tires. To us this person was a momentary hero and slashing tires was a divine act of justice he had the right to carry on. It had awaken us all, inspired us, revealed to us that there were ways to grab the bull by the horns as to whatever was troubling us. He was encouraged by our reaction to do it again and so he did.

Tires and cars in general became his thing. Whomever he was seeking revenge on, that's what he would do. Double parked cars, handicap spot parked cars, owned by jerks cars, garbage music blasting cars, noisy honkers, show-offs, all of them would become his targets and sooner or later his victims. When he'd be absolutely certain that the coast was clear, he'd pretend he knelt down to tie his shoe by the side of the spotted vehicle and he'd tear it a new one. At some point he even developed a signature by scratching a row of inverted crosses at the car's side or rear, that in his mind was the official seal of the vigilante he had become. He obsessed over this new trademarked act of his. He felt like it was going to be his purpose in life from then on, like it was something that he was born to do. He embraced his new identity with all the enthusiasm in the world.

Meanwhile the rest of us were stirred by, and even jealous of our friend's endeavors, and little by little each one of us started their own thing going, as if each of us had their own super power. The first one to follow the tire slasher's footsteps, became a prank caller, but not your average one. He wouldn't just call you and hang up or come up with a curse word between giggles. He wasn't dumb. If you became his objective, he'd pick up a phone and he would destroy you. He'd call day and night, again and again, until he would cause you a mental breakdown. He'd do it from public payphones that couldn't be traced back to him and he'd change his voice talking through toilet paper tubes or whatever else he could think of. Depending on how hard your punishment should be, he'd make up stories that would concern you, made from information he had previously gathered by stalking you, and catching on who you are and how you live. To everyone's surprise that kid had developed top class P.I. qualities. In altered voices that would come out sounding weird, eerie and in some cases frightening, he'd tell you that your wife screws the mailman, the mob's got a hit on you, your test results came back showing you got a pretty bad case of cancer, your brother was killed in a car accident or that every day after school your teenage son becomes a male whore for sickos who like to fornicate with underage boys, when all that time you believed he was at his friend's house playing video games. His stories became his art form and he would take it several steps further to make them believable. For instance, he would find the right chance at school to plant a condom in the backpack of the said teenage boy, so that his parents would discover it when they'd confront him about the phone call. In my buddy's hand a telephone device became a weapon, and for a brief period of time your personal life was his to toy with.

My upstairs bedroom was the easiest spot to sneak out of the house. Right outside my window there was a climbing plant growing on a wire grid which most nights I used as a ladder to climb down and go meet with the guys or take a stroll on my own. It was just as easy to climb back up, at least back then when I was still skinny and almost athletic. My weapon of choice as a vigilante was food. It began with stealing eggs from our fridge which I threw at the houses, stores and vehicles of my own targets during my nightly escapes. Soon I was worried that someone would notice all the eggs missing and I started buying a few of my own out of my weekly allowance, but that couldn't work for long as I was going out of budget in no time, and I needed the precious money for food that I would actually consume, records, magazines, clothes and the VHS store. A more viable and headstrong plan for my new ventures came through my mother's badly cooked food which I always hated and thought of as inedible and indigestible. To my convenience the rest of my family never waited for me to join them at dinner, because I was always late anyway and after a while it became a habit for me to eat alone, much later than the others' scheduled time. So since the egging thing couldn't work, I thought I'd collect the food in small plastic garbage bags and hide them in my room for a couple of hours, until I'd go out and throw them wherever they needed to be thrown at. It was gross. No matter how you'd look at it, I was winning. My revenge against society purpose was fulfilled, I was getting rid of the disgusting food with ease, and mum loved me more for suddenly developing a liking for her cooking skills, because she evidently thought I was eating all those huge portions. It was triple win.

The homemade food was a good option for me, but like the other plans, it couldn't go very far. At some point I overheard my parents discussing how the old hag from the convenient store who was always eyeballing me pretty hard since I first ever set foot in the dump she called a store, had stepped on a rotting portion of lasagna bolognese, and I remember my mother pointing out the coincidence of us having for dinner the same thing the previous night. I thought they were onto me and even if they weren't, it wouldn't be very long until they would figure out my poorly planned scheme. Though they never mentioned anything about it to me, I quit messing with my dinner and ceased my operations for a while. I resumed after a short time by going back to buying few pieces of fruit and letting them go bad before I'd use them, as well as other stuff, liquids in particular, like milk and orange juice which were very effective the way I threw them on the recipients' front doors and porches. Those did the trick just fine. Dumpster diving, another option that I tried, wasn't working well for me, as I would get grossed out pretty easily. Ultimately, spending out of my own pocket was leading me to a dead end. I became less and less active until my vigilant expeditions became in all respects rare.

On the contrary to the prank caller who'd make up fictional stories about you via telephone, the xerox avenger would tell the bare truth about you. The straight-A student and on the outside friendly looking and average next door type of kid had found and earned a dear place in our little gang because of his intelligence and shared hatred towards society. He would use his excellent writing skills to type what you were doing wrong on his old typewriter, expose you in the best way words could describe and then sneak into his dad's office when no one was there, where he'd get access to a xerox machine. He'd make dozens of copies of his writings and late at night he'd spread them all over town, always starting from his prey's homes, like a modern day Martin Luther nailing his theses on the chapel door. He was the most self conscious, most skillful and maybe the only real intellectual among us.

Of all seven of us, I belonged in the most innocent group of avengers, the ones whose actions were getting no one directly and physically hurt. The remaining three, one could say they had become ruthless criminals almost overnight, crossing the lines of felony like there was no tomorrow. We were all troubled juveniles and we all felt oppressed by society's injustice and bothered by the imbecility of all the idiots that comprised our community, but it turned out that some of us were way more cold blooded than the others. It was one thing getting a call lying about a family member of yours or stepping on a gone bad yogurt on your way out in the morning, and a completely different matter when you had your house trashed to pieces from the inside or set on fire.

The fittest and most energetic of the gang was the best skater too. He was very competitive, he didn't like to lose, whether it was a skating trick contest, the arcade machine or a card game. If he lost at anything his face would turn red and he wouldn't speak to anyone until hours later when he would manage to control the anger and let it cool out. Like the prank caller, he too would do excellent scouting work before each attack, learning about his targets' schedules and their neighbors' too. He'd arrive at his destination on his skateboard with a backpack on that contained a baseball bat among other things, and he'd have no trouble breaking into the selected house. He'd always have latex gloves on, so he wouldn't leave fingerprints behind. Each time he had to be quick and flee the scene as fast as he could, because all the noise he was making in there could attract a neighbor or a passerby. He wouldn't steal anything, not even the valuables that were easy to notice. Stealing would ruin his statement, because it would make him a regular burglar, so he always resisted the urge to grab the things he wanted or those worth a lot of money for the sake of his bigger purpose. Whoever was first to return to the place, they'd find it trashed to the ground. Everything inside would be wrecked, destroyed beyond repair. The longer my friend had stayed in the house, the bigger was the damage. He didn't waste a single second. I'd picture his escape in my mind, his black silhouette skating away in the sunset like Lucky Luke, scored by some hardcore punk record that would play on the timeworn cassette player that was hanging from his belt.

One of us was a freaking pyromaniac. We'd watch him trip out, gazing on lit matches, until they burned out completely. Even without a fire in front of him, he spaced out often. That little dude's mental problems were obvious, but we wouldn't blame him for being that way. He had the misfortune of becoming an orphan while still a toddler and had to live with his aunt and uncle. While the old couple took him under their wing and didn't have him locked away in an orphanage, they weren't the best guardians they could have been, and didn't care about him like they did for their own children. I'm not sure if he shared our views against society or he only played along because he was motivated by the talks and all the hate speech he had heard from the rest of us and took everything as an excuse. It seemed like all he wanted was to do some damage. He started by setting their garbage on fire, then advanced to gathering rolls of toilet paper right outside their doors and set those ablaze, until he settled on his ultimate stunt. He prepared some unorthodox home brewed molotov cocktails and sent them flying right into their living rooms, smashing the windows and scaring the hell out of the occupants. He was lucky never to have been caught and never to have injured anyone, but a lot of damage was done, and the police was baffled and disoriented about those attacks. Both he and the home trasher were dangerous vandals that didn't strike very often due to the enormity of their deeds, but their actions were becoming front page news at the local paper, and the talk of the town, at least until people would get tired of it and move ahead to something else.

The baseball bat the home trasher used inspired the last one of the bunch to do his own original act. He was the biggest dude of all of us, the strongest and the hairiest. He could easily pass as an adult, although we were all the same age. At school he minded his own business. He wasn't much of a talker and never bullied anyone, despite the fact that it was obvious he could win any fight if he'd get himself involved in one. For those close to him he had a good heart. He expressed lots of love for his family, respect for the few friends he had and revulsion for pretty much anyone else. Concerning that big fellow, it wasn't his size or strength that made him dangerous, the ideas on his mind were. He took to the extreme what each one of the rest of us tried to do to teach society a lesson. Though no one knew who we were, they'd thought of us as troublemakers, punks, bullies, hooligans, vandals, criminals, while on our end we were under the impression that we gave people what they deserved, that we were righting wrongs and considered ourselves open eyed watchers on constant alert, vigilantes, avengers, superheroes even. Perhaps our big guy friend designed his persona more like that of a supervillain than a hero. He dressed in all black, put a full-face mask and a hood on, armed himself with a metal baseball bat and went out at nights beating up people.

He started by throwing strong but single swings at them, more often at the torso or legs. When he realized he was quick enough and able to escape, and getting caught wouldn't be that simple, those swings became a couple and then a few, until he went on giving his victims the beating of their lifetime. He would follow them on the streets until he could corner them at some quiet dark place, and he wouldn't hesitate to do it even if they were two of them or three at a time. He beat up teachers, parents of spoiled classmates of his, public servants, bank tellers, and in some cases the innocent bystanders who happened to be in the company of his targets. At some point we were worried that the hits had become random. Some of us soon enough became afraid of him. We thought of him capable of doing it to our own parents or ourselves. The adrenaline rush had made him unstoppable and to some extend, clumsy. On an instance he was spotted and chased by a patrol cop, but he got away and showed no remorse or fear of getting caught. He hunted down the same victim again the very next night.  Although the poor guy followed a different route back home, he didn't escape our buddy's wrath. He was given the beating that was reserved for him from the previous night. 

One night about half an hour before midnight, he called me at my house. It was me who answered the phone and on the other end I heard him panting. I struggled to make out the words he was saying between his heavy breathing. My parents were annoyed by the phone call and wondered who it was calling that late, but I didn't give them any specifics. I just told them that everything was alright and that I had to leave. I ran to the pay phone he had told me he was calling from, hoping I'd gotten his words right among all the incoherence of his short winded ramblings, and when I got there, I found him sitting down on the sidewalk with his head hung down. I stood above him and his face was all red and soaked in tears. I almost didn't recognize him. He looked disfigured, like he was a different person. He stood up and asked me to follow him which I did, without asking where we were going. After ten or twelve minutes of walking in silence, we were at the town's industrial area. There were huge zones bathed in artificial light, taking turns with absolute darkness. We tried the best we could to stay out of the lights and avoid being seen by the night guards, until we reached our destination. It was a spot right behind a manufacturing plant that produced agricultural equipment, at least that's what I figured out, judging from the vast amount of chisel plows and other stuff that looked like tractor parts that were stocked outside. When I saw the baseball bat painted in blood, lying on the ground, half of it exposed to the night lights and half hiding in the pitch black shadow, I realized our silent midnight walk was over.

I stood beside my friend trying to distinguish what was happening in the darkness. While my eyes were trying to get used to the darkness and little by little recognize each object in the surroundings, I felt hesitant and afraid, and in a way I was regretting the fact that I had run to my friend's aid. When my eyes got familiar with the intimidating blackness, I saw the remains of that human being and all those feelings became a mess and curved to a ball in my abdominal. The man lying there was a regular Joe, a short haired guy in his early forties, dressed in pale coloured clothes. He had a mild beer belly like most men his age. I couldn't pick out his face features because those were disfigured beyond recognition. His eyes were still wide open and his glasses had been bashed into his face. The thick wedding ring on his right hand proclaimed that there could be a wife back home, worried about him at that exact moment, maybe kids too. I didn't ask who he was or what he had done to become a target. Whatever it was, I didn't want to know.

After I threw up, my friend asked me to help him move the body and attempt to hide it, but I refused. I didn't want to get deeper involved into this, and most of all I didn't want to become an accessory to murder. We argued for a while and even though we had both our shit lost, we kept whispering and never raised our voices. We did not draw any attention. For a moment I was concerned that I could soon end up like the stranger over there, but I managed, and did the best I could do which was to calm my friend down and convince him that since there were no witnesses, we could just retreat, run away and lay low from then on. We took the bat with us after my friend wiped it clean with his black hood. We were very careful not to be seen, even when we were far from the scene. I walked him home, gave him an extra reassuring speech and went back to my place. I told my parents who were worried sick the way I'd taken off earlier, that I had gone to meet a girl that I liked and they were still mad at me for going out so late, but they believed me. I tossed and turned in my bed for the whole rest of the night. I fell asleep at dawn but woke up an hour later, it was a regular school day and anyway. I didn't want to sleep more.

On my way to school I dropped by the fresh killer's place to pick him up. I thought he'd appreciate a friendly face at the start of his day. To my astonishment there was commotion right outside, police cars, a few officers of the law, men dressed in sharp suits and both his parents crying their guts out. The kid had hung himself in his room the previous night, using his own torn sheets. He didn't leave a suicide note. They found the bat and the hood drenched in blood and it didn't take them long to link those to the dead guy a few miles away. They held my dead friend responsible for all the attacks that the town suffered those recent months. They called them hate crimes and concluded that he was a mentally disturbed person, the sole perpetrator behind everything that had been done. They blamed puberty that hit him harder than he could handle, the aggressive music he was listening to on the records they found among his things, the horror movies, the video games, but they never blamed themselves. The case became national news for a while. They called him names and everyone thought they knew everything about him, what he was thinking, how troubled he was, although in fact they didn't know shit. The only people that knew the real incidents and how they happened were his six left alive friends and we were sworn to silence, to protect the truth, together with our own sorry asses.

Not one of us ever resumed their act again. We followed a straight line to college and the perks of the adult life that came after that. We rarely speak to each other now and even if we do, we don't philosophize. We go through our day to day routines and we are grateful for what we got, those things our friend never had a chance to get. We just make ends meet.