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Greetings.  Glad to see you could make it.  I realize the summons was abrupt and something out of the ordinary, but I’m afraid that’s just in my nature.  Relax.  I appreciate that you don’t know me, yet.  Such an interesting thing, that.  If you did know me, you wouldn’t know you knew me.  Makes your head spin, doesn’t it?  Very few people actually want to meet me, much less truly understand me.  But you are different, aren’t you?
   Ah, how I love the different ones.  I’ve seen so many, you see, over the years.  The ones that openly welcome my company, even my embrace.  But even very few of those seek to actually understand me.  You wish to truly know me?  I am afraid that conversation, regardless of its depth or complexity, won’t suffice.  No, we will need to look further.  The best way to understand me, I believe, is to witness those who already know me, in one facet or another.  To that end, let us go and see some of these fortunate souls.  Let us see what my embrace has wrought.  
   Settle down, there’s no need to move.  We can travel in other ways than the crude meat of your body.  Simply close your eyes and take my hand.  I will lead you, as I have so many others.
   Let us start with a man who has just made my acquaintance.  We will call him John.  Can you see?  There, just ahead, is his home.  A sturdy brick ranch, mortgaged twice.  A fine home, one would think, and indeed it is, in and of itself.  Let us look through the window of John’s study, shall we?  There. There he is.  John is a sturdy white thirty-something in middle-class suburban America.  John has a wife and three small children, whose names are unimportant.  John is the sole income for the household, his wife having always wanted to be a full-time mother and homemaker, and John always wanting to make his wife happy.  You see, John has a certain personality type, one that lends itself to my presence.  John must please.  The causes are many, I am sure, and like the names of John’s family, unimportant.  This need to please runs beyond the norm.  John needs to please everyone, regardless of his own needs.  John is in debt far beyond his means.  As I mentioned, the house is mortgaged twice.  John also has several open lines of credit, all of which are at their limit (a few are beyond).  John has a steady job that pays well, but lately he has been struggling.  You see, John despises his job.  In fact, John would rather take a physical beating every day than carry himself to his office.  But, since there is no paycheck to be had in that line of work, and since John must provide and please, John carries on.  John is in denial.  That is a door I have knocked on often.  Watch him.  Sitting at his desk, punching numbers into his computer, scribbling figures in an increasingly unsteady hand, trying to figure out how to keep his fantasy afloat.  Look closely.  See the tiny tear on John’s right cheek?  He and I are coming to know one another, though as usual John is blissfully unaware.
   Enough of John.  He and I will know each other well enough soon.  In fact, I suspect we will be fast friends, much to the distress of his nameless family.  Such is the stigma that I bear.  Let John’s sturdy mortgaged ranch home fade into the fog of obscurity, we have more to visit.  Where shall we go next?  Ahhh!  Let us visit Ronnie.  Do you hear the sound of the street?  The horns?  The engines?  There, as the fog lifts, we see a dirty sidewalk, on the edge of a busy street in some crowded American metropolis.  Looking at the corner of a brick building, we hear the squeak of wheels before Ronnie turns the corner, her beaten shopping cart only half-full with the detritus of the so-called “normal” people this afternoon.  As always, Ronnie is dirty, not at all like John.  She is young/old, somewhere between twenty and sixty, impossible to tell through the layers of dirt and the lines of strain and time.  Ronnie wears her usual uniform today, the brown dress the nice lady from the Salvation Army gave her two (or is it three?) Christmases ago.  The blue bandana she found in the garbage behind Doc Henry’s bar last month, holding her hair in place against the wind.  The various pieces of cheap, dirty yet still beautiful costume jewelry she has found across the years.  Ronnie is barefoot as always today, though the sidewalk must be blistering in this heat.  Watch her face closely as she pushes her cart past us, oblivious to our ethereal presence.  Can you see the beauty that yet lurks there?  Ronnie knows it is there, most of the time.  Watch her.  She is speaking, though she is alone on the street.  To whom I wonder?  To me?  Perhaps, but personally I think Ronnie is talking to Ronnie.  This Ronnie we see is speaking to the Ronnie that used to be.  The lovely freckle-faced girl that grew up in rural Oklahoma.  The girl that Daddy  would  play with and Mommy would read to.  She was their life, and they were her world.  Until the fire.  The beautiful terrible fire.  Sometimes it is tragedy that opens the way for me.  I have made many new friends through calamity.  And believe me when I say that Ronnie and I are friends.  She enjoys my company, even though she doesn’t even know I am there.  We are inseparable now, Ronnie and I.  We will embrace until her dying day, and she would have it no other way if she could.
   Ahem.  Enough sentiment.  Ronnie is with me, but she is as happy as she can be.  Let us look in on someone of a different type altogether.  Wipe away the street scene and leave Ronnie to her muttering.  Let us speed to another place, a mansion as palatial as Ronnie’s cardboard crate is humble.  Here, in the warm Florida breeze, stands a white mansion with a red slate roof, surrounded by a stucco wall and an iron gate.  Expensive cars line the cobblestone drive.  Deep inside the opulent building is a room, round and filled with benches, with a stage set up in front of it.  The benches are tastefully upholstered and filled with men and women of means, their clothing, their accessories, their very personas speak of wealth.  All of these are seated facing the stage as another man, the focus of our journey here, struts from one side to the other, orating forcefully and with skill.  His name is irrelevant.  He is irrelevant, though he truly believes otherwise.  You see, he is an angel of God.  You smile?  Ask him, I beg you.  He will discourse at length on his lineage and his plans for the world.  He and I are old friends, as you may have guessed.  Indeed, he knew me intimately before he knew his first woman.  And he has known many.  You see, though we are intimate, he is a very charismatic man, practiced in the art of manipulation, having honed his skill over the years in roving “revival” tents throughout his childhood.  Most of these people here tonight believe what he believes, and the few that don’t are beginning to.  Such is the power of this man.  And such is the relationship between he and I that he does not even see the moral dilemma in taking money from these people to support his “ministry” and using it to buy whores, who he then murders in the basement of this very sanctified abode.  Indeed, if asked, he would say he had blessed them and sped them on the way to their Creator.  Another lifelong friend, this, though I doubt he will live as long as dear Ronnie.
   As you can see, I have a great many faces.  Admittedly, I am forcing myself on John, but he can yet be saved.  I am kind to Ronnie, and I empower the irrelevant man in Florida.  Let us see a darker side.  Flash to a dark room, a kitchen by the smell and the chipped Formica table.  A man sits in a chair at this table, his head bent low, fondling something in his lap.  He is sweating, the heat in the room oppressive.  We see immediately that something is very wrong.  His once-white shirt is covered in red, some of it still wet and nearly black.  Thick crimson fluid runs down his arms to his unseen lap.  This is Mike.  He is not as quiet as we first thought.  His back lurches as he sobs, and some of what we took as sweat are tears.  Leaving Mike to his grief, we glide down the hall, perhaps to find the source of the stains on Mike’s shirt.  You want to know, admit it.  Sliding through a nearly-closed door to a small and dimly-lit bedroom, the source of the stains and Mike’s grief is apparent.  A woman lies on a broken queen-sized bed, her wide eyes staring at the ceiling in frozen disbelief.  She has been disemboweled, her lifeblood and entrails scattered about the room like so much confetti.  Knowing now the cause of Mike’s grief, we fly swiftly back to the sweltering kitchen to observe once again, our understanding greater than before.  Mike still sits at the table, but his head is up, his eyes open and straight ahead.  Blood is spattered across his face, leaking out of one eye like a crimson tear.  On the table before him is a butcher’s knife, a cheap piece of third-rate steel and even cheaper plastic.  Blood is pooled beneath it.  Mike’s hands rest on the table and his jaw begins to work.  He is no longer sobbing, or showing remorse in any way.  He is saying something.  Listen closely.  We slide slowly closer until we can make out the single word Mike is repeating.  “Why?”   Why what, you ask?  I know.  I am within Mike now, and I know him better than he knows himself.  Mike is asking why.  Why did he lose his job today?  Why did his car break down?  Why did he miss his bus?  Why did Cindy decide that he wasn’t enough for her?  Why did he gut her in a fit of blind rage and scatter pieces of her across their bedroom?  Why?  Am I making him ask these questions?  No.  Actually, I am allowing him to ask them.  Mike is fully under my control now, and there are times when I enjoy that control.  Times when I enjoy hurting people.  I have many faces, as I said.  I will torment Mike for a few minutes more, then I will make Mike hurt himself.  If I am merciful (I can be, as you have seen), I will make Mike commit suicide.  Believe me, suicide is the merciful answer at this point.  If not, I may leave him altogether, though doing so would probably be to invite myself back, in one of my other forms.  Ironic, isn’t it?
   So, dear wanderer.  Do you know me now?  Do you understand me?  No, I don’t think you do.  You have seen some of me.  John and Ronnie and Mike and the irrelevant man in Florida, they know me.  Trust me when I say that you do not want to know me.  You do not want to understand me, to embrace me, to love me, to court me, or even to befriend me.    The time may come in your life when that will change.  One never knows what tomorrow will bring.  Fear not, dear friend.  I have a great many eyes.  If that time comes, I will be there.
This is for the Madness contest hosted by =Oli-86. Hope you like it.

As I am new to this whole writing thing (again), any comments would be welcome. Thanks.
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:iconmaethorial:
Maethorial Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2010
A great insight into this guy's mind. Amazingly written. :)
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:icontinselfairy:
tinselfairy Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2008
great job :]
i love it
its actually inspired me too.
you have great talent
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:icondaddyforever:
DaddyForever Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2008
Thanks very much. (Don't think I've ever inspired anyone before.) :D
Reply
:iconapocalypticatsuko:
ApocalypticAtsuko Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
...jesus....christ...

well, you definitely nailed the "madness" part.
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:icondaddyforever:
DaddyForever Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2008
Thank you, I'm glad it had the effect I intended. :)
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:iconsteffects:
steffects Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2007
im absolutely impressed.. i couldnt tear my eyes off the screen!
Reply
:icondaddyforever:
DaddyForever Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2007
Thanks, that's great! This was one of the good ones. The ones that write themselves. I just moved my fingers and let it out. Glad you enjoyed it.
Reply
:iconhelewidis:
Helewidis Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2007   Photographer
I loved it! :nod:

congrats!!!
Reply
:icon0dd10ut:
0dd10ut Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2007  Student Digital Artist
Great job! I can see people being intimidated by the sheer length of it and pressing the back button. Your story-telling skills are amazing. Hope you do well in the contest.
Reply
:icondaddyforever:
DaddyForever Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2007
Yes, I can see that happening also, but that's the key to good storytelling, isn't it? Especially in this place, the first few words have to grab a reader and the rest have to keep him. :) Thanks!
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