Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pass the Popcorn

Gabriella Herkert, Catnapped and Doggone

What is my favorite mystery movie? Personally, I’ve always wanted to drive someone crazy. If you listen to my mother tell it, I’ve been practicing for years but I’ve never been able to deliver a result like the king of psychological war games, Alfred Hitchcock.

Step one – the small start. Misplace things. Everyone does it. When was the last time you screamed in frustration because clearly you had your favorite pin when you put it in your handbag to take it to the jewelry but now, having run no other errands, the stupid thing is gone? What if you’re didn’t actually lose the heirloom? Say some dark shadow in your life is starting you down the path of self-doubt. He’ll act sincere. Don’t worry, honey, it’s only a broach. You put it in your purse, remember? What do you know? There it is. I thought you said you looked there. You did? O-kay. Yeah. Fine.

Next – the isolation. Let’s stay in tonight, darling. Yes, I know your favorite musician is playing. But are you really up to it? You look pale. Maybe we should call the doctor. Again. Don’t worry. I’ll talk to him. He won’t overreact and suggest anything too drastic. I’ll assure him, vehemently, that you’ll be fine. Eventually. We’ll just take it slow. I can be your face to the outside world. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. You can depend on me. Only me? Well, certainly. We don’t need anyone else do we?

Moving on – the escalation. I’ll flicker the lights, maybe creak around upstairs late at night. How hard will it be? I’m not even constrained by technology. I don’t need gas lamps and boarded-up attics. I’ve got access to dimmer switches on remote controls and wireless speakers the size of dimes. If I wait until you’re alone, or better, when the only people you can around will be happy to see you carted off, you’ll begin to look a little hysterical. Hysterical people lack credibility. They also start to doubt themselves. Another push and you’re considering self-admittance to a psychological care unit.

Finally, the pay off. With you giving chapter and verse of your “hallucinations” to some shrink I’ve helped you choose based on his basic lack of human kindness, I have free reign. I’m free of you without ever compromising myself. Maybe you’ve got something I need, or want. Could be financial. Could be personal. Could be I just like moving you around the board. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is now I have unlimited freedom to do any and every thing I want unfettered by your existence. A frontal assault can be repelled. A gaslight is singeing you before you even smell smoke.

I know I was supposed to pick from the last thirty years but I've never been a good rule follower and, let's face it, forensic breakthroughs be damned, this one holds up today. If you haven’t seen Gaslight starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotton, go now, today, and buy, borrow, rent or download it. Take good notes and watch your back.


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