Short stories about bizarre mental health disorders. The mind is the most terrifying place of all!
Excerpt from Anton's Trap:
The voice on the other end of the phone was sweaty. This is the kind of tremor that makes me want to hang up, curl among some smelly blankets, and dose off. I like skeletal tones, dry, brittle, decisively fatalistic. People who get straight to the point, my point, their point, our point. I gazed at the grimy receiver.
"Detective Escher?" - he sounded muffled, as though speaking through a coat.
I waited. He will come around.
"They say you are the best". This guy is positively dangerous.
"Can we meet?" I thought he'd never ask.
"The Valencia" - I said - "Eight o'clock. Be sharp. I won't wait around".
"Oh, I understand, I will be ...". I hung up on him and wiped my fingers in a used napkin. The "Valencia" was across the street. They served decent sandwiches and tolerable tea in worn silver mugs. I liked the place, it decomposed gracefully. It was a crisp evening, good for a walk. So, I walked.
By the time I got to the Valencia it was half past eight. I couldn't care less. I almost wished I had missed him, but had no such luck. He was there, fat fingers and all. Beady eyes glared at me accusingly, rolling in an avalanche of corpulence. His body looked disorganized, like an afterthought. He got up, throttled by the effort and extended a fleshy hand which I ignored.
If he had shoulders, he would have shrugged them. Instead, he deflated into the protesting mock-leather love seat and said: "I never did this before. It is my first time". He startled me. His voice was as smothered face to face as it had been through the phone. I couldn't force myself to soothe him.
I rolled a cigarette and ordered beer and a corn beef sandwich. It was almost gone before my client revived and pushed a brand new envelope across the crooked Formica.
"It's all here" - he mumbled, shifting uneasily, spraying my food with perspiration - "The girl ..." - he left it hanging.
I scooped the envelope and lodged it in the inner pocket of my shabby coat. I could tell he wasn't too impressed. I gulped down some beer and came up for air. He said: "When do you plan on ...". He had this unnerving habit of dangling aborted sentences in mid-air.
I got up, nodded peremptorily, and walked away. He didn't follow me but I could feel his eyes spearing my back and I could sense his panic that, maybe, just maybe, he was had been wrong. It must have happened to him a lot, this pendular self-doubting.
The envelope contained only a neatly folded piece of paper with a name scrawled across it with a blunt pencil. I almost turned around and shoved it back in his cascading face but then I remembered his stench and gave up.