Karl readjusts the duct tape on the man’s mouth then nods in satisfaction. “This will all be over soon. We just have to wait.” He didn’t want to get too comfortable so he passed up the recliner and sat down on the dining room chair. The man, Brandon, head writer of Star Watch, had one of those large brownstones with a recessed dining room. While the recliner was closer to the sound bar, the dining room chair offered closer monitoring of his prey. He had turned up the volume on their satellite radio and was listening with great attention to Shelly, his Shelly. He was waiting for the go ahead. The sign to dispatch these whores of society. The soft mewling from the woman was ignorable but the Brandon’s grunts were becoming bothersome and persistent. If it got to the point where he could no longer hear Rant & Rage, he’ll do something about it.
“Hey everybody! Thank you for tuning in to Rant & Rage with Shelly Jones, America’s most hated radio show!” Shelly laughed into the microphone. “Well, maybe not most hated but I have yet to receive letters that say otherwise. Listen folks. I speak truths. I say what you can’t. Fuck societal norms. There’s no such thing as normal. I’m a bitch who cusses, fucks, drinks, and does what the hell I want. But I’m also a lady goddammit.”
Rant & Rage with Shelly Jones is Karl’s favorite radio show. He caught it by accident one day and quickly became enamored. Shelly seems to say what he thinks. She is his internal voice. Indeed, his inner thoughts seem to be in her voice, her cadence, her manner of speech. It feels natural to him, not invasive.
“Speaking of ladies…what the fuck is a lady anyway? Someone demure and stylish who always says the right things? That ain’t a lady, that’s a slave. A slave to what society thinks she should be. Let’s all get real for a second. Most of you, us, are all slaves to society. Sometimes I don’t wanna put on makeup. Sometimes I fart. I couldn’t give two shits about what a man thinks of me. I’m who I am and love me for it. I know those listening feel the same way. Well, some of you are fucking insane but you precious few weirdos who refuse to let social mores dictate how you live, I salute you and I fucking love your freaky ass! Let’s take a caller.”
Karl smiles in agreement. The rules, the dumb unspoken rules of interaction. Karl could never figure out why it was rude or uncommon to say what’s on your mind. To be real. That’s why he dare not speak to women. He considers women an enigma…a logistics paradox. He can count on one hand all of the dates he’s been on. None of them amounted to anything except a thanks for dinner, handshake, and don’t bother calling. One woman, who wore far too much make-up for his tastes, was on her phone the whole time they were together. After dinner, she said he was “too intense and kinda weird”. After a brief daydream of grabbing her by the throat, he simply said “thanks for the advice” and left her to her miserable, fake existence. Though he isn’t necessarily handsome, he is naturally fit for a 27 year old. He’s clean and smart, but woman take little to no interest.
Brandon renews his struggle. Karl has true disdain for most of the callers. They either call with indecent proposals or bombard her with curse filled rages. What about the subject? What about discussing the disgusting ways society shits on the very people that make up the majority? The outliers? The misfits? The people like him?
“I told you to SHUT UP!” Karl delivers an open handed smack to his head. A warning. Not enough to do damage but enough to show his seriousness. Penelope Lopez, Brandon’s editor-in-chief and lover, cries out but quickly suppresses it fearing the same fate. Her black hair, once neatly swept back in layers, is now in a disheveled mess, strands getting caked with mascara melting from around her hazel eyes. “You brought this on your fucking selves. How do you sleep knowing you put such filth in to an already filthy world? And how dare you write such malignant lies about Shelly? HOW?” Karl punches Brandon on his left jaw and an audible CRACK fills the room. His head lies listless on his shoulder, a thin stream of blood and saliva slips between the duct tape and his mouth.
A muffled scream escapes from Penelope and Karl rounds on her.
“Tell me, Ms. Lopez. Do you feel better about yourself? Do you feel like a big powerful woman when you degrade and embarrass other people?” He rips the duct tape from her mouth taking a bit of skin with it. “I would like an answer.”
“No, no…no. I…I don’t I don’t I don’t…” Her whole body shudders with sobs. “Please…please…”
“Please what, Ms. Lopez. Please show mercy? Please let you go? Please let you continue demonizing innocent people while you whore yourself out to anyone? Please what?”
“I don’t understand why you are doing this? They’re just…”
“Just words for Christ sakes! Just fucking words.”
“Don’t you see, Ms. Lopez? These ‘just words’ are nothing to you. But to people like Shelly and countless others, these words wound, like a knife in the gut.” He reaches for the boning knife kept in a holster on his hip. He touches Penelope’s skinned lips. “These ‘just words’ make minute cuts on the psyche, enough to eventually render real pain.” He presses the keen tip of the knife on her lips until she cries out again. “Now, Ms. Lopez. Please be quiet. My Shelly is talking to me again.” Karl rips a fresh piece of duct tape and applies it to her lips, then settles back in to listen to the rest of the program. Shelly is so in his head she’s a part of him. In fact, she talks only to him, just like she did last week.
Per his usual Saturday night ritual, Karl waited patiently for his turn in the grocery line. While he has no interest in reality stars or Hollywood in general, he would periodically peruse the tabloid rags and seethe at the hypocrisy contained within. As juicy as some of the headlines were, he never felt the urge to purchase one. Why should he? The real world has the same juicy headlines, just not the same exposure.
After paying cash and bagging his own groceries (he is very particular), Karl took his grocery staples to his car. Soon, his favorite radio show will come on and he does not want to listen in the car. Driveway moments can be pleasant but the warm weather is not conducive to his groceries. Better get them in the house quickly.
He put his meager groceries away making sure the labels all faced outward. The canned food and boxes were ascending in size from left to right, smallest on the left. He neatly folded the paper bags, set them carefully in the recycling bin, then made himself a modest drink. He sat in his favorite, well, only chair, tuned to Shelly’s satellite radio station and waited.
“Hey America! This is Rant & Rage with Shelly Jones. I’d say thank you for tuning in but face it, mostly losers listen to this show.”
Karl remembered the first time he heard the show. He stopped the dial because the woman’s voice he heard was so smooth, like milk poured over the mic. Then he heard her message. It sent a direct signal to his brain. He was one of the true members of this so-called life that real America was about–the misfits.
“Speaking of losers, have you guys seen the latest Star Watch? I mean, look at these tabloid rags! Really, the editors of these need to be rounded up only to be released in the wild and hunted. Who gives a shit how these chicks look without makeup. Granted, a lot look downright hideous but that’s not my business. Nor is it your’s America. It’s their God given right to look like a trampled ball sack.”
“I wonder how the writers and editors of this trash look like in the morning. They’re eyes crusted over and their mouths coated in drool. Or is that cum? Whatever! It’s their business, just like how people look in public is theirs. What else makes a “lady”? Oooooo! Let’s go there folks! Let’s talk about sex! Yes, that dirty, dirty word that no one talks about but everyone does. You know, ladies aren’t supposed to enjoy sex. Oh no. They’re just supposed to lay there and wait for it to be over. Fuck that! Women, own your pussies! Hump ’til you’re walking side to side. There’s a reason it feels so goddamn good. And fuck who you want. Anyone who calls you a whore is just jealous they haven’t fucked you. Trust me. Mama Shelly knows. Let’s take a call.”
Karl laid in bed thinking about Rant & Rage. The green light from his nightstand clock reflected and enhanced the green in his eyes, giving them an alien like glow. “What would happen?” he said out loud. “What would happen if they were rounded up?” The thought, however implausible, gave him a tickle of pleasure. He was having fun running through the details and sharing them with Shelly. She would be so pleased! He has no idea how to hunt though. Guns are so messy and the woods, cluttered and chaotic. Oh well, he thought as he drifted to sleep.
Later, Karl waited for his turn at the local beverage depot. It’s conveniently close to the computer repair shop where he gets parts for his PC. He likes to build them from scratch. It’s a welcome break from writing software code all day. He happened to see one of those trash rags he loves to hate, Star Watch. In his opinion, Star Watch is the worst of them. It really should be classified as creative writing other than “news”. He casually flipped through the mag then recoiled suddenly. On the centerfold is a full color picture of Shelly. Her dark hair is disheveled and of course she’s without make-up. This is nothing compared to the headline:
Shock Jock Sex Scandal!
The sexually deviant talk radio host, Shelly Jones, routinely has a parade of lovers coming through her residence. Sources say orgies are commonplace and sometimes blood rituals. Is Shelly a witch using the radio as a conduit to Satan? Are her followers minions in her service to otherworldliness? Our sources spill the dirt on Shelly Jones’ despicable acts.
Karl felt his ears start to burn. The blood drained from his body leaving a thunderous din in his head. “How dare they!” he sputtered, drawing looks from the others waiting in line. He abruptly left the line and, shaking, exited the store. Once in the car he released his rage. Spit flew from his mouth as he cursed and screamed, barely human at this point. He waited for the rage to subside then quickly gained composure. “Hunting be damned. There are alternatives.” He drove away from the depot and towards the will of his only love.
“So, there’s this pub I like to visit. Really, I go there because it’s the best place to get laid. I like my lovers damaged and desperate. Anyway, I walk in and there’s some fucking fundraiser for some politician. I mean, who has a fundraiser in a dive? Hell, who am I kidding? That’s the guy I probably would vote for. So, he’s surrounded by all of these suits and society folks, and I find myself getting angry. Here are these people, these fucking pillars of goddamn society in a bar, MY bar, that they probably wouldn’t step foot in otherwise. I’m not gonna lie folks, I got angry.”
Karl looks to his captives––one just starting to rouse again and the other, the other looks as if her ending was written with a flourish of finality.
“I bet you two would feel right at home with those hypocrites. Rubbing shoulders with the high-and-mighty only to bring them down to the proper level with a snarky write-up. Huh, Mr. Miller? Are you still with us?” Karl gives a firm shake to his lower jaw, jolting Brandon awake with a fresh wave of agony. “Excellent! You are, you are. Listen, Mr. Miller and Ms. Lopez, listen and wait.”
“We dregs of society are looked down on. The freaks, the outliers, the weirdos…we’re left out. Watching these people try to be like us. Try to win us over was disgusting. They’ll never accept us. I wanted to stand on a chair and yell ‘I’m Shelly Jones! Resident bad ass and decidedly unChristian. You are all assholes and should just fucking fade away like your botox injections!’ I wanted to beat the shit outta the whole room for being so damn hypocritical! And this greasy politician is talking about community pride and wholesome values when you KNOW his dick is in the babysitter and his wife is in a cask of cabernet. You know folks, they are the true dregs of society. They are the lies and deceit in the world. We’re the honest, average Joes who live in the real world. I’m getting myself worked up over here but seriously, someone needs to wake them up! Let’s take a caller. Who’s on my line?”
Karl stood slowly, cracked his neck, and turned his green eyes, burning and glistening to his captives. “Finally, Mr. Miller and Ms. Lopez, the wait is over.”