One of these days—and it might be a day very soon—and it won’t be a day that you can identify in advance—and my behavior on that day will not contain clues that you can scrutinize as warnings—I will become angry.
And though it may start as a normal day, a routine day, a typical morning on which you make yourself up at the mirror, and gulp down your breakfast, and peck at my cheek as you swing through the kitchen and shoulder your bag and head to work, leaving me all by myself in the bi-level house with nothing to occupy me but my hobbies and my spite, this day won’t be normal. Because I will put aside my hobbies. And I will nurse my spite.
And I will fret, and act put out, and be harassed and exasperated. And I will be peevish and teased and tormented, and sick and incensed. And I will be taunted, and jump at the bait, whatever bait is set out before me. And I will be vexed and pugnacious and livid, and riled and wounded, and deeply aggrieved.
And I will pick at, and then not eat a bite of my breakfast. And I will throw my bowl of oatmeal into the trash. And I’ll slam shut the cupboard, putting a crack in the cheap wooden door, right near the hinge. And I will leave the freezer door open, defrosting the freezer and thawing out all of our waffles and ice cubes.
And I will break a plate, and a cup, and a glass, and a spoon, and a fork, and a knife, and a pair of sandalwood chopsticks, as well as a spatula and a carrot peeler.
And I will break the dirty dishes in the sink, the ones that you left there overnight, and I will leave them there as well, still dirty and even more disgusting, surrounded by fragments of broken utensils.
And I will stomp through every room of both floors of the bi-level, huffing and puffing, kicking our CD towers over, and pulling the banisters loose from the walls, and smashing the glass that covers the portraits that we’ve taken.
And I will get all up in a huff, and I will get all up in a miff. And I will get my feathers ruffled, my feelings hurt over minuscule things, over trifling matters. And I will feel piqued.
And I will get sore. And I will see red. And I will get my dander up, and my Irish up.
And I will get myself worked up, up into a tizzy and into a frenzy. And I will get steamed, hot under the collar, all hot and bothered. And I will throw out all the mail, and throw your shoes into the trash, and throw the trash bag into the basement, nonplussed when it rips.
And I will take amiss, and umbrage. And I will take exception to something innocuous, like a harmless joke, like a humorous message you left on my desk, intended to lift my spirits, no doubt, and do nothing more. And I will not take a harmless joke.
And I will not take it sitting down. And my gorge will rise, and my blood will boil. And my hackles will raise, and my nose will get bent out of joint.
And I’ll take out frustrations on the plants and on the plant stands, as I kick at and punch at the ferns and the gladioli. And I will uproot the lilac bush and the rose of Sharon, and all the tulips, and all the ivy, as well as the pine tree that you just planted.
And I will get pissed off, and ticked off, and chawed off, while kicking at plant life, my hands and wrists bleeding from thistles and thorns.
And I will bear malice, and harbor a grudge, and harbor resentment in my chest, within my heart.
And I will seethe, and bridle, and bristle, and simmer, and stew, and bite my lip, and bite my tongue, and struggle to settle down, and cool down, and cool my jets. And I will be utterly and spectacularly unsuccessful.
Because by then, I will have reached my boiling point. And I will explode, and flare up, and blow up, and lose my temper, and lose all my patience, and blow my stack, and blow my lid, and blow my top. And I will rampage and I will storm and go berserk.
You bet your britches. And I will blow a fuse, and a gasket, as well as my cool, as well as somebody else’s cool. I’ll blow everyone else’s cool, and everyone’s gaskets. I will have a conniption fit.
And I will throw a hissy fit. And I will create an embarrassing scene. And I will throw a temper tantrum. You will see. You will see my behavior on TV, on repeated news bulletins, tapes that they’ll show and reshow and reshow in the months to come, that you will not be able to avoid.
And I will turn wild, and I will turn cruel. I have long practiced turning cruel, at the many moments when you weren’t looking. At the times that you weren’t present, when you were off working, or shopping, or playing, or socializing, off someplace else, doing heaven knows what, with God only knows whom, at all times of the night, running fast and loose like greased lightning, all over creation.
I’ll sow confusion. I will sow doubt.
And I will fly into a rage, and fly off the handle. I will go certifiably postal. And I will go off the reservation, just like a mad bull, or like a mad horse, or like a mad bat, like a bat out of hell, or a runaway train out of hell, or a truck, or the car of the juggernaut, jumping the rails, running riot all over creation.
And I will rant and I will rave. I will grow rabid. I’ll raise a ruckus to wake the dead. I’ll scream and I’ll holler. I’ll rail at anyone and everyone. I will act like a man possessed.
I’ll fly about half cocked, unhinged. I’ll set out on a tear. And I will go around the bend, clear out of my skull. And I will go right out of my mind.
And I will carom through the subdivision, over the lawns and through the well-maintained flower beds, scattering chips of mulch and grinding holes into manicured plots of grass, and I will throw loose pebbles and rocks against the windows, and rip down the shutters, and ring all the doorbells, and knock over mailboxes and lawn ornaments, before I run away.
And I will run back and forth on the highway, my bathrobe flapping, barely still on me, my boxer shorts down around my knees, my naughty bits dangling, and I will jump up and down on the hoods of the cars that have stopped, the SUVs and the station wagons, the Maseratis, and I will throw my half-naked body against their windshields, pulling and tugging and ripping free the windshield wipers, and tugging and pulling at the handles of the doors, as wide-eyed drivers and passengers lunge for the power locks. And I will rub my bits against windows before I depart, before I waddle off, shrieking and screaming, over the guardrail and into the brush.
And I will work myself into a lather, and I will work myself into a rage. And it will be a fine, clean rage, a pure, primal rage, a primeval rage. An inspired rage, such as is found in the books of legend. And I’ll show no decency, because I will have no decency. I will become indecency incarnate.
And I will show no mercy. And I will give no quarter. Mercy and decency and quarter will be beneath me, infra dig. And I will not respect the sanctity of Mother Nature, or the sanctity of life.
And I’ll become choleric, and caustic, and spleenful, and scathing, and cutting, and biting, and mordant, and sarcastic. And I’ll become bellicose, and belligerent, and paroxysmic and flushed with rage.
And I will break doors. And I will break several plate-glass windows. And I will break into a display case, a window display case, at a fancy downtown department store. And I will waste no time in defiling the clothes mannequins; I will tear off their clothing, and I will pull their false bodies apart, false limb from false limb. And I will wave those false limbs about, and I will howl. And I will laugh. And I will cackle as I do so, a high, piercing cackle that splits the eardrums of any listener.
And I will run up and down on the escalator, giggling. And I will jostle my way through the crowds, knocking over the slower pedestrians, shouting obscene rejoinders, warning all present to get the hell out of my path.
And I will push my way into a crowded elevator, at precisely the moment its doors start to close, delaying its passengers for a few more annoying seconds, so that they will grumble. And then I will push every one of the buttons, all seventeen buttons, each button for all seventeen of the floors. And then I will rush out again as the doors close, snorting madly.
And I will be sullen and sulfurous, smoldering, fuming, and sizzling. Burning and browned off, beside myself, a little hothead.
And I will get even further worked up, becoming embittered and envenomed. And fighting mad, and hopping mad. And I will drive myself up the wall.
And I will be rancorous and wrought up. And I’ll be in high dudgeon, and up in arms. And I will be in a perfect snit. And I will be vehement and irate, and fit to be tied.
And I’ll be indignant and inflamed and infuriated. And I will be ireful and enraged, and wrathful, and snappish, and rather short tempered.
And I will break into a house, and I will traipse up the carpeted stairs in my muddy sneakers, tracking my mud and my dirt and dead leaves and little twigs and clumps of dog debris all along the cream-colored carpets.
And I will stomp into the bedroom, and I will break the vanity mirror, and I will overturn the bed, and I will poke a hole in the mattress, and I will take a box out of the closet, and I will dump out all its contents, onto the carpet, each one of the prized pewter miniature figurines that it contains, and I will throw them all out the window, and I will rush back down the staircase, and head outside, and I will stomp on every one of the miniature figures, grinding them merrily into the sidewalk, scratching their intricate, detailed paint jobs and bending their poses.
And the house that I break into will be our house, and the figures that I stomp on will be your brother’s, the ones that you’re keeping for him while he works for the Peace Corps in Thailand.
And I will take a meat cleaver to your scrapbooks, and pruning shears to your side of the wardrobe, and a pair of tongs to your daily journal, and I will dunk it in the toilet.
And I will hurl insults at anyone gathered around me by then, and I will bite my thumb at them, and wiggle my fingers, and raise holy hell, and raise holy Cain, and flip them the bird. And I will cause such tremendous commotion, such as has never been seen before, not on TV, not even in older books of legend.
And I will foam at the mouth, and spit, and gnash my teeth, and bare my fangs, and I will bite at the exposed shins of anybody who tries to restrain me. And my bite will be savage, infectious, and it will fester, and it will sear, and it will ooze, and it will never fully heal, and it will leave a scar, and that scar will ache on the cold winter days, on the days when the wind howls in from the east. And it will be much worse than a Gila monster’s bite, such a bite as the bites in the books of legend.
And I will chafe, and I will rankle, and stamp my feet. And I will take somebody’s head off. And I will jump down somebody’s throat.
And I will snap at shins and hands until the police surround the house, until the neighbors surround the house, and the TV crews, and until you push your way through the crowds, having rushed home from work, having been informed of my violent rampage by a coworker, who saw it on the news.
And you will push and struggle through until you reach me, until the crowds part just enough, and the police relent and permit you to squeeze through the human wall, and stand before me. Clutching your pocketbook close to your breast as I tremble before you.
And I will frown, and scowl, and glower, and growl, and snarl. And I will howl, and holler, and yell. And I will roar.
And you’ll stand before me, dumbfounded, astonished, and stricken senseless, your mouth agape. And you will not know what to say to me. But, nonetheless, you will start to say something, nevertheless, you will open your mouth, and you’ll start to say something, something comforting, to me.
But I’ll interrupt you.
And as you stammer, and stutter, and “um,” and “er,” I will change at the drop of a hat. I will turn on a dime. As you drop your hat, as you drop your pocketbook in surprise, I will change before you, before your eyes.
And it will be as though I’ve turned into a stranger, as though I’ve transformed, as though you have never, ever known me. You’ll no longer recognize who I am.
And I will take undue offense at any words you try to say to me, at anything anyone anywhere tries to say to me, unnecessary offense.
And my aggravation will inspire nothing but regret, and shame, and puzzlement, and concern, and humiliation, in other words naught but the worst and most negative of emotions.
And I will not stop there.
And I will not abide. And I will not be able to help myself, or be able to stop. “Control yourself,” you will struggle to say, but I will not be capable of exerting such control. My emotions will get the best of me. And I will derive a grim satisfaction.
And I will rear my ugly head. And I will glare daggers at anyone daring to look at me, and I will stare at you with a quiet, unblinking, unnerving intensity. And I will raise my fists, and will knock you to the ground with a balled-up sweatshirt, or with a throw pillow.
And I will make efforts in public to tarnish your many achievements. And I’ll glibly reveal the most damaging facts, and invent half-truths and scandalous innuendo. And I will spread slander at every turn. And I will show you my derision.
And I will spit at you an epithet, and it will be a stinging epithet, comparing you to a monster, and telling you what I would like to see done to you, and all your fellow monsters. And there will be more to it than that; it will be so bad that I am still thinking the epithet up—it will be that bad. And it will be vicious and untrue and crude and nonsensical, so hurtful and senseless that you will never understand it, no matter how hard you try. And you will try.
And you will wonder how I ever thought up such a terrible thing, and how I could harbor such terrible enmity in my breast, but I will harbor even more enmity in my breast; that epithet will be but a taste of my terrible enmity. And you will never taste the full extent of my animosity, or my enmity, no matter how much of it you will taste. But I will try.
And then at last, when I’ve said my piece, when I’ve spoken my mind, when I’ve reached the end of my hurtful and unkind soliloquy, I will close tight my mouth, and fall silent, and shut up, and topple over, and go limp, and pass out, and I will lower my ugly head, and say no more.
And even that won’t be the end of it. And that non-end will not be the worst of it.
No, the worst of it will be the fact that not you, and not your brother, and not your family or your friends, and not anyone else—not even the so-called experts that you’ll hire—will have an idea or explanation why I will have done this.
And you will examine your behavior and your feelings, and you will wonder what you could have said to ever provoke this, or done to provoke me, and you will examine and you will wonder until you collapse, crumpling under your scrutiny and your self-criticism and doubt—and even then you will not know.
And I will behave in such a fashion that I will cause everyone to wonder whether I even know myself.
And maybe I will know, and maybe I won’t. But, either way, no matter what anyone does, and no matter what anyone says or tries to do, I will keep my motivations private, and I won’t say.
And I will become some kind of great mystery, such as the kind that’s put down at great length in the books of legend. And my riddle will endure throughout the ages, and it will endure throughout the centuries. And it will come to occupy a great many pages, and it will preoccupy many legions of different scholars. And it will be studied and scrutinized and read over and over, a kind of case study, a kind of enigma.
And my enigma, my riddle, my mystery will endure until the end of time itself, until the ocean waves grow tired in their habits, until humanity grows jaded in its comforts, until the planets peter out in their revolutions, and rust in their orbits.
And my great riddle of a name will also endure, and my name will in time acquire a totally different meaning, and it will come in time to signify something else, something violent and cruel, something awful and sad, something heartless and vile and terribly ruthless, and very wicked.
And you and your friends and your family and experts will invent many different excuses, and rationales, and causes, and myriad explanations. And you will finally decide that, all in all, I probably did what I did out of some kind of sick fascination, some inexplicable, deep compulsion that I myself didn’t understand.
And it will console you to all agree, and to come to agreement over this. And that agreement that you come to might be true, that consensus might be in fact the truth, or close to the truth. But I will not say.
And I will never beat my breast, or show compunction, or grow morose, or show much remorse.
And I will never recant or repent. And I will never be contrite. And I will never rue the day.
And I will never reprove myself. And I will never reproach myself. And I will never see the error of my ways.
And I will never have second thoughts, or learn my lesson. And I will never turn over a new leaf, or wipe the slate clean, or see the light.
And no matter what happens, no matter what you say, no matter what anybody says, no matter what they choose to write about me in the books of legend, I will not care.
And I will not ever apologize, and I will not ever say I’m sorry. And I will be sorry, but I will not say it, and I will not show it, and I will become just like a magnificent work of art, irrational, inscrutable, inexplicable, and I will never stop.