When I was 18, it was time to do my military service. I had nothing against the army, so in I went. At the interview, I told them, Honestly, I said, I do want to come to the army, but, please, find something for me to do which doesn’t involve being bossed around, it does my head in. I can’t take it. I’ll be a cook, whatever. Just make sure I can be on my own with no-one lording it over me, otherwise I could end up killing him.
The dickhead who interviewed me, sergeant, captain, whatever, just laughed.
‘Who do you think you are?’ he bellowed. ‘You won’t be the first prick we’ll have brought to bow, and you certainly won’t be the last!’
You see, that’s where it starts: power, power, power, I sighed. I don’t think he quite knew what to make of my response. He was all red in the face. Me? I stayed nice and calm. And very, very polite.
‘You and your army, you think you’re capable of everything, but…’
Let him wait, let him already start to get himself all worked up all over again,
‘but… you’ll never be able to drive out what’s up here, by me,’ and I tapped my head. ‘So, ok,’
I let my fingertips touch to form a steeple. I looked him straight in the eye.
‘I’ll come to your army. I’ll follow your orders. The first who does me wrong, I’ll swallow it. The second, I’ll swallow it. I’ll be brought to bow, as you so nicely put it. But one day, one fine day, you will put a firearm into my hand. We’re in the army, after all… And once I have this firearm, I’m going to go out and kill every single one of you who has ever wronged me, and that, sergeant, will be your fault. Now, I’ve told you, haven’t I, so now I want that in writing, the fact that I told you that, for when the day comes.’
You could see the colour drain out of him like you were drinking him with a straw. He ordered me to the psychiatric department, where I was kept for five days. Did all manner of tests, they did. Then they came to the conclusion that I was a deeply honest person, but extremely dangerous, as I supported no authority over me whatsoever. That’s what’s written in my military record.
I was ordered home.
(from Verses Nature)
A ruthless man,
Do you like opera? I do.
One of my favourite operas is Puccini’s La Bohème. Have you seen it? I’ve seen it on three separate occasions.
The first time I saw it, when it got to the part where the heroine is killed, I was so taken into the plot that I just keeled over and fainted. Bam!
The second time I went to see it, I thought I was better prepared. I thought I’d brace myself when it got to that part. But when it did finally get to that part of the plot, don’t ask me why, I just felt myself sliding off my chair; slowly, slowly, till I crumpled to the floor. Out again!
The next time I went to see La Bohème, I thought I would be immune. I knew what was coming, and I knew when, so I considered myself to be in complete control.
My auntie’s fanny, was I. They carried me out on a stretcher.
There will, alas, be no fourth or future encounter between myself and Mr Puccini, for I am everything but the ruthless man I am said to be…
(from The Red Room)