To Andy Campbell, ex-friend, liar, backstabber, and deceiver,

Congratulations, leaving my night vision binoculars at the scene of YOUR crime was a pretty clever thing to do. I’m guessing you figured my fingerprints would seal the deal, but how did you know about my arrest back when I was a stupid kid? I never said anything about it to you from what I recall. Don’t go patting yourself on the back, though. You’re not as clever as you think. Why? Because they only keep fingerprints on file for fifteen years, and it’s been over thirty since mine were taken after getting busted for dealing acid. This means you got lucky. Those binoculars are very high-tech and they can only be acquired by placing an order at one specific store in town. As it turned out, a single pair had been bought since that store started carrying them, and guess who the buyer was? That’s right, me, your ex-friend. You see, the detective on the case was a hell of a lot brighter than that dolt, Brent Chadwick, so he tracked me down here at the apartment early this morning. Of course, I had a solid alibi for my whereabouts while you were charbroiling the ZIONIST judge and his pedophile buddies, however, the binoculars were enough for a search warrant. The first things to be seized were my laptops, which means they’ll see all the illegally stored security footage, as well as my ‘spy camera’ footage, and they’ll also see the search I did of the phone number in order to get the address for you. Andy, why’d you do this to me? I know we didn’t see eye to eye on certain things, but I thought we were friends. I really did. The door is unlocked. Don’t bother doing CPR because I’ve been dead for several hours. By the way, if I’m taking the rap for YOUR crime, then I think it’s fair to ask that you find a good home for my cat.

PS I don’t think I ever told you his name is Goebbels.

PSS The Zionists are definitely controlling the world.

Heil Hitler!

The above letter is a copy of the original, available to me via my attorney. After reading it that day, I put it in my pocket where it stayed until I turned myself in to the police a couple weeks later. The Booking Officer found it when my pockets were emptied and, per my intent, it served as exonerating evidence, clearing Darryl’s name. Even though the binoculars had been left at the crime scene accidentally, and in spite of his warped beliefs, I felt deeply ashamed. Nobody deserves to be blamed for something they didn’t do. Nor does anyone deserve to have their pet destroyed, which is probably what would’ve happened had I not done what was asked of me.

With the wizened cat’s well-being in mind, I entered his door, bracing myself for what I’d see. Goebbels greeted me right away, rubbing his head against my legs as I ventured deeper into the apartment, until the sight of Darryl stretched out on his bed stopped me in my tracks. Rigor mortis had set in, judging by the lividness of his face, the muscles of which had contracted, drawing his mouth down into a foaming grimace. Several hours had passed since shuffling off his mortal coil, and in that time his eyes had clouded over with the mists of the Nietzschean abyss he had foolishly gazed into.

Four different stills of James Dean in a cowboy hat, taken from the set of Giant, stared down aloofly at the body from the opposing wall. Mein Kampf sat prominently on top of a nightstand, along with an empty bag of something that appeared to be nuts, but upon closer inspection, turned out to be apricot kernels. He’d mentioned his daily consumption of the kernels to me on several occasions, claiming they were a fountain of youth when eaten in the right amounts. Curious, I had looked into his claims and discovered they contained high concentrations of the erroneously named, vitamin B17, which, when ingested, underwent a chemical transformation into hydrogen cyanide: a cure for cancer in small doses, according to the endorsements of the resident ‘doctorlike’ experts.

On, April 30th, 1945, one day after their marriage ceremony in the cold, damp depths of the Führerbunker, Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler bit down on cyanide capsules in response to the Soviet invasion of Berlin. This suicide pact closed out one of the darkest chapters in the history of the human race. Hitler shot himself in the head with his Luger for good measure but the cyanide alone would’ve done the job. Afterward, their bodies were dowsed in gasoline and summarily burned in a shell hole on the grounds of the Reich Chancellery; an ironic twist of fate considering the millions of innocent people whose names were replaced by numbers before their summary executions and cremations were carried out with factory-like efficiency inside the death camps.

Being in a mild state of shock might explain why I failed to notice Darryl’s unrepentant fashion statement. Not until Goebbels lept up onto the torso of the corpse, yowling in an effort to turn my attention toward his hunger, did I register the German SS Allgemeine officer uniform. Obviously, it wasn’t an original but it was no less surprising to see because costumes like that are usually not accessible to the general public. Indeed, for ethical reasons, replica Nazi uniforms are only available for film, theatre, and television productions, yet there he was dressed to the nines, a Knight of Himmler’s Round Table, ready for the pomp and circumstance inside Wewelsburg castle.

Only then did I realize he wasn’t merely an agitating contrarian of the Tucker Carlson sort. I mean, if he was willing to die in the vestments of pure evil, then he was clearly more entrenched in an ideology of hate than I previously thought. His level of investment might very well have rivalled that of Adolf Eichmann, who attended the Wannsee Conference in a secretarial capacity. The blueprint for the Holocaust aka the final solution was drawn up at this conference by Eichmann’s boss, Reinhard Heydrich, and a handful of other top Nazis. As an obsequious paper-pusher, Eichmann dutifully prepared the minutes, and likely ensured the coffee stayed hot for his superiors. After the war, he escaped from an American prison camp, and later obtained a Red Cross passport with the help of a Catholic bishop. Mossad agents found him in Argentina in 1960, and two years later, the Israeli supreme court executed him after a lengthy trial wherein he disingenuously tried to present himself as a cog in a wheel: a man behind a desk who merely drafted memos and crunched numbers per his Führerprinzip orders.

Had Darryl lived in Nazi Germany, he would’ve risen to Eichmann’s rank within the party, thereby securing an office from which to while away the hours, dotting the i’s and crossing the t of iniquity, personifying what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil. The New York Times hired Arendt to cover the Eichmann trial, and so it was she brought her knowledge of political philosophy to bear on the media circus that followed. By way of the brains in her head and the ink in her well, she explained to the world how totalitarianism rules from the bottom up by indoctrinating its systematically isolated subjects into a self-compelled delirium of ideological thinking, largely through us-versus-them narratives. When Arendt wrote about the pathology of isolation and how it’s used by totalitarian regimes for indoctrination purposes, she had people like Darryl in mind. Like so many others throughout history, he discovered within his chosen belief system concepts that articulated his existential angst, and he also found an empowering sense of belonging. The American psychologist, Irving Janis, referred to this empowering sense of belonging as “groupthink” back in 1972. More recently, it’s been called hive mentality, and it’s exemplified by consensuses that’ve been reached in the absence of critique. Broadly speaking, it occurs when received knowledge and judgments are echoed without first scrutinizing them from an individual, intellectually rigorous standpoint. If this lapse in critical thinking happens system wide, then evil’s banality thrives.

An insectile version of Darryl, sitting behind a desk, licking the tip of a pencil, entered my mind as I left the apartment with Goebbels in one hand, and my box of beer in the other.


4 thoughts on “Insectile

    1. Hi, Hetty. Yeah, same. Of all the characters in this book, it’s Darryl who most closely mirrors an actual person who was a longtime friend until he fell down the conspiracy rabbit hole and lost his head in the process. For dramatic effect, elements of his character have been exaggerated, however, in terms of this book’s verisimilitude, ‘Darryl’ does a sizeable amount of work.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jan. I’ll wager the Darryls of the world think Dean represents an ideal era for all the obvious reasons, but he also embodies the loner, misunderstood, phenotype and that ticks two major boxes. In this book, I try to humanize Darryl while steering well clear of apologetics, obviously. It’s a fine line to walk and I suppose that’s why I find it worthy of writing about.


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