When the two teenage hot dog vendors laughed at Brandon Viktor, he saw their tongues stick out. The thin, stoop shouldered 21 year old took the wiener from its bun and bit a huge piece off. Everyone in Princetown thought they could make fun of him, but he still had a powerful chomp.
He arrived in town two months ago, after his Mom kicked him out of the house. She gave him a thousand bucks, told him to adventure somewhere far away and find some meaning to his life.
Brandon walked into his tiny apartment. He got down on his hands and knees and inspected the couch. It looked pretty much the same. But the lamp. A chip out of the side. That wasn’t there yesterday. Brandon punched the side of the couch with his fist. “They won’t stop. They just won’t stop,” he muttered, holding his aching hand. Every day after returning home, something valuable replaced with a cheap replica. That, and the tongue teasing, and the surreptitious giggling. He’d already changed the locks three times.
Brandon went to the police station. The two female officers laughed, just like the hot dog vendors. He saw their protruding tongues. “Are you on any medication?” said one.
“No,” Brandon whispered. It seemed that the officer wanted him drugged up and compliant. Brandon wasn’t going down without a fight. He left the police station grinding his teeth and muttering “evil Princetown bastards.”
He opened his bedroom closet and inspected his collection of whips. He liked how the whips snapped. He often practiced flicking them, imagining his enemies flayed and under his power. Now, even here, replica whips found. Cheap imitations. A normal sheeple wouldn’t notice, Brandon mused, “they’re talking advantage of my sensitivity.”
He didn’t know why everyone wanted him out of Princetown. Possibly jealousy. People walked by him on the street, showing their tongues. Trying to make him think his member didn’t measure up. He sometimes stuck his own tongue out at them. Yet the more he fought, the more the persecutions escalated.
One day he lost his keys. He searched all around the neighbourhood, on the lawn, behind the toilet. He bought a carton of milk at the store, opened it for morning cereal. In the pouring white gush he felt something heavy. He upended the container and discovered his lost keys. Someone had broken into his apartment, grabbed the keys, then placed them in the very milk carton he chose at the supermarket. Brandon threw his cereal against the wall. The plate shattered. His favourite plate, the one with Darth Vader on it.
Brandon decided to change tactics. He’d throw a party. If he did something nice, something generous, maybe everyone would like him. After all, he’d been very insular. He hadn’t spoken to anyone but the police for many days.
Brandon took all his social assistance money and went into the liquor store. He bought a few hundred dollars worth of wine and spirits and beer. Then he made colourful posters advertising his free party. “Citizens of Princetown, come to Brandon Viktor’s apartment at 21-329 Gorgon Street 9 pm Friday til ? for a welcome bash. Free alcohol!”
People began arriving an hour early. Some folks seemed normal, some resembled the indigents living in the park across the street. They all acted happy. Brandon bought out his CD’s, and played them on his little portable stereo. He poured drinks, served chips and popcorn. Everyone laughed, people exclaimed “Thank you.” “This is a great party, Brandon. It is Brandon, isn’t it?”
Brandon drank til the room swirled. Might as well celebrate the house warming. He didn’t know when he got to sleep. Upon awakening, he staggered into the bathroom, peered into the toilet at a pile of wet paper. He peed and flushed and the water swirled up over the edge. Plugged! Brandon quickly turned the water off, lurched out of the room and frantically inspected his apartment. What a mess! Empty or broken wine glasses everywhere. The flat screen TV gone, along with his toaster. The music player vanished. And those fabulous speakers! Brandon ran to check his whip closet. All the whips intact, but perhaps more were replicas? He sorted furiously through the collection.
“Someone will pay for this!” he muttered. “Princetown will not escape my wrath. Someone will be sacrificed as a message for these bastards!” Brandon stood on his patio, flicking his whips over the street.
He phoned his Mother, spoke one sentence on her answering machine. “You can auction off my comic book collection, I won’t be needing it any more. Love you, Mom.”
The next morning he bought a razor sharp carving knife with the last of his money. He stuffed the knife under his jacket, swallowed a number of pills to stop his terrible headache, and headed for the town park.
He hid in a bathroom stall at public toilets in a little used section of green space, and waited, crouched on the seat, the knife clasped in his hand. After awhile, footsteps. Brandon listened and watched, peeping out from a crack at one side of the stall door. A six foot tall, hefty shouldered young man entered. Brandon stood five foot five, weighed in at 136 pounds. He decided to let this guy go.
Ten minutes later he watched an older fellow, maybe in his seventies, fumbling to open his fly. Brandon quietly stood up, pulled back the stall door. The white haired fellow started his business. Brandon leaped forward with the knife, and plunged it into the old man’s side. A scream, and then the struggle. It was very, very hard to kill this guy. The old geezer wriggled like a worm. His attacker stabbed again and again. The man raised his arms then began to gargle and fall. Brandon left the knife sticking from the victim’s side and ran out, passing two small children at a nearby picnic table.
He started washing himself off at the nearby brook. Then he stopped, overcome by echoing voices telling him “The Victor, you are the Victor!” Like his last name. He sat back against a tree, laughing. He had taken revenge by killing a community citizen. He showed them who was boss. Princetown couldn’t fool with him. The police discovered Brandon there by the brook, giggling, waggling his tongue in their direction.
It wasn’t until a month later, while being interviewed in his cell for fitness to stand trial, that Brandon heard the details about his victim. The grandfather he murdered, Peter Van Sickle, had popped into the washroom after taking his two grandchildren to the park, allowing their mother a morning break. He’d driven in the day before from Oregon, to visit his daughter and spend a few days.
“He wasn’t even a citizen of Princetown?” said Brandon.
“Nope.” The interviewing psychiatrist shook his head. “Does that matter?”
Brandon gripped his head in his hands. “I killed an innocent man. I should have asked where he was coming from.”
The psychiatrist scribbled some quick notes. “Looks like you’re very upset.”
Brandon looked at the doctor through his tears. “I made a terrible mistake.”
At Brandon’s court fitness hearing, citizens of Princetown protested outside the courthouse yelling “Justice for Peter Van Sickle,” and “Put the monster away for life!” The hearing and the protests made national headlines.
“I can’t figure it out,” Brandon said to his lawyer. “They’re so angry at me, and the old guy wasn’t even from their town.”
“They say this crime took their innocence,” the lawyer said. “They say they’ve never experienced such a brutal, barbaric event in Princetown before.”
A frown played across Brandon’s face. He clenched his fists. “They made me do it. It was an act of self defence. They should be charged with murder, not me. When we drove up in the sheriff’s car today, I saw their tongues sticking out.”
“We’re going to plead insanity,” said the lawyer.
However, to Brandon, it all made perfect sense, except for his one major error in judgement.