“Walkin' this tumultuous tightrope ain't no sweat
No place I'd rather be you can bet
Workin' without a net might seem severe
But if I fall I know it will appear
And it's a big time under the big top
There's nothing wrong with that
Rumble-ing in my flip-flops
I'm an accessory in front of the pack "
-Sung by Jimmy Buffet
(“Under the Big Top”)
He sat down hard; he didn’t have a lot of strength.
But once he was seated that evil smile returned.
He leaned forward and whispered, “I have one question…”
I cocked my head, as I had a few of my own.
“Why aren’t you dead?” he said, leaning back.
I took a second and then answered, “And why aren’t you?”
He looked quizzically for a nanosecond and then began to laugh. He laughed like a man who hasn’t laughed in a long time. That laughter was stopped by a fit of coughing. Simonson pulled out a handkerchief and held it over his mouth. He didn’t do so quickly enough for me to miss his blood in that cloth. After a few seconds he stopped.
He calmly folded the kerchief and put it back in his pocket. He looked like a man who was in no way caught by surprise. This had happened many times before.
He looked at me like a king who was holding court with his lesser. You’d never know I was the guy who brought him down. He was not defeated; he was still on his way to world domination.
“I have a question for you,” I stated. “What would it get you to kill all those people?”
“I came to your attention by murder in the process, didn’t I?” He was in no way apologetic; his statement was as matter of fact as part of a laundry list.
“But your ‘Perfect Spring’ is no longer a threat….”
“Ah, but change is constant.” He looked dead in my eye. “I have little time and cannot waste any of it with regret or stagnation.”
“But why the clowns motif?”
“Clowns? What have I to do with clowns?” He obviously was lying, but giving himself cover. No reason why he would do that, except that they might send him to a less comfortable residence if they proved he was still killing people, this time by remote control.
“Well, Lawrence Pressman indicated that you hired him to kill people, and that linked you to this whole spree.”
“Ah, Larry,” he smirked. “Nice Kid, but given to prevarication when the spirit strikes him. I tried to help him with the Holy Spirit’s healing for that problem. It appears we weren’t fully successful.”
“You deny your part in this horror?”
“I deny nothing,” he waved a hand at me, “I affirm nothing. Take me in for court if you think a trial would last a short time enough to punish me.”
“Well, let’s say, hypothetically, that someone was sending clowns to terrorize a community.” I leaned back in my chair. “Besides luring me out to be a target, what would be the point to killing so many people, using the face of the clown to do so?”
“Fear of clowns?” I shot back. “That’s it? You have killed dozens of people to make them afraid of clowns?”
“I am, aren’t you?” he was sincerely asking.
“Not at all. Not even as a kid,” I gave him back.
“Well, by the time I am dead, this country will be terrified of them. I may well destroy the profession for a generation. Think of the power that will bestow on my memory. Everyone will bless me! The man who saved us from clowns. That is, if I had anything to do with it. My will may have a statement about it.” He was so arrogant it turned my stomach.
“You really are crazy,” I told him. “You know that, don’t you?”
“I am a man bigger than my times,” he boasted. “In future times they will praise me for culling the herds and getting rid of those hideous white-faced, red-nosed monsters at the same time. I have followers all over this country. There could be idiots dressing like clowns and killing thousands for a generation to come. Fighting over-population and harlequins all at once, mine is the act of a dying savior.”
I sat looking at him.
There was no falseness in his presentation. He meant what he was saying. He saw himself as a humanitarian. He had no contrition about any of his murderous past.
I hadn’t seen just how crazy he was when we confronted him before. I mean, he was loony, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t think he was around the bend, not wacko-messianic. That was the kind of package you just can’t foresee.
I was going to have to put this before some real head-shrinkers for analysis. I was a bit flummoxed.
We both stood up.
He offered me his hand and a smile.
I just walked out.
I could hear his laughing fading behind me as I walked down the hall.
So this is what Arkham Asylum was really like.
© C. Wayne Owens