Autodidact: self-taught



by V. L. Craven

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
001. Oh, the symphonic shriek of the thousand hiding voices, the cry of the Need inside, the entity , the silent watcher, the cold quiet thing…
002. [Dexter’s kidnapped his prey and is directing to the kill spot] We drove south for another five minutes with no sound but the song of the tires and the wind and the great moon about making its mighty music in my veins, and the careful watcher laughing quietly in the rush of the night’s hard pulse.
003. Some small something chittered in a tree. The wind rattled the grass. And then more quiet, silence so deep it almost drowned out the roar of the night music that pounded away in my secret self.
004. The Dark Passenger laughed and loved it and I played the part.
005. “Please,” he said in a terrible little whimper. It got on my nerves very badly, shouldn’t have, icy-clean control, but it got to me, whining in the face of that mess on the floor…
006. Did he truly see me now? Did he see the double rubber gloves, the careful coveralls, the slick silk mask? Did he really see me? Or did that only happen in the other room, the Dark Passenger’s room, the Clean Room? Painted white two nights past and swept, scrubbed, sprayed, cleaned as clean as can be. And in the middle of the room, its windows sealed with thick white rubberized sheets, under the lights in the middle of the room, did he finally see me there in the table I had made, the boxed of white garbage bags, the bottles of chemicals, and the small row of saws and knives? Did he see me at last?
007. Neatness takes time, of course, but it’s worth it. Worth it to make the Dark Passenger happy, keep him quiet for another long while. Worth it to do it right and tidy. Remove one more heap of mess from the world. A few more neatly wrapped bags of garbage and my one small corner of the world is a neater, happier place.
008. Whatever made me the way I am left me hollow, empty inside, unable to feel. It doesn’t seem like a big deal. I’m quite sure most people fake an awful lot of everyday human contact. I just fake all of it.
009. I could never imagine having [kids] , since the idea of sex is no idea at all.
010. Answering machine with a blinking light as I came in. A message for me is not a daily thing. For some reason, there are very few people in the world who can think of things to say to a blood pattern analysis during working hours.
011. There was something slightly off in Vince’s bright, Asian smile. Like he had learned to smile from a picture book
012. Anyone can be charming if you don’t mind faking it, saying all the stupid, obvious, nauseating things that a conscience keeps most people from saying. Happily, I don’t have a conscience. I say them.
013. …I found it a great deal easier to think. Part of it was the calm and peace of the water. And another part was that in the best tradition of Miami watercraft, most of the other boaters seemed to be trying to kill me. I found that very relaxing. I was right at home. This is my country, these are my people.
014. I genuinely wouldn’t care if every human in the universe were suddenly to expire, with the possible exception of myself and maybe Deborah. Other people are less important to me than lawn furniture. I do not, as the shrinks put it so eloquently, have any sense of the reality of others. And I am not burdened with this realization.
015. In my darker moments I find cold cleansing. Not refreshing so much as necessary.
016. I splashed water on my face and pushed my hair down. That did not, of course, answer the question, but it made me feel a little better. How bad could things be if my hair was neat?
017. How wonderful to have such an authentic human experience. Now I knew what it was like to feel like a total idiot.
018. Many times in my life I have felt like I was missing something, some essential piece of the puzzle that everybody else carried around with them without thinking about it. I don’t usually mind, since most of those times it turns out to be an astonishingly stupid piece of humania like understanding the infield fly rule or not going all the way on the first date.
But at other times I feel like I am missing out on a great reservoir of warm wisdom, the lore of some sense I don’t possess that humans feel so deeply that don’t need to talk about it and can’t even put into words.
019. [The Dark Passenger] didn’t feel angry to me—as always he seemed cool, quietly amused, eager for his prey.
020. I felt the Dark Passenger become the new driver for the first time. Dexter became understated, almost invisible, the light-coloured stripes on a sharp and transparent tiger. I blended in, almost impossible to see, but I was there and I was stalking, circling in the wind to find my prey. In that tremendous flash of freedom…I receded, faded back into the scenery of my own dark self, while the other me crouched and growled.
021. I smiled fondly, recalling the mix of moonlight and muffle screams. Oh, what a madcap little monster I had been.
022. “Carpe diem”
“It’s Latin,” I said. “It means, complain in daylight.”
023. Life’s only obligation was to be interesting…
024. …and yet right here in public—and even in the privacy of a bank vault I would have been truly uninterested in being rubbed by her body. … What is it with humans? Is this all any of them ever thinks about?
025. Weren’t we all crazy in our sleep? What was sleep, after all, but the process by which we dumped our insanity into a dark subconscious pit and came out the other side ready to eat cereal instead of the neighbour’s children?
026. I put on a Philip Glass CD and sat in my chair. The music stirred the emptiness inside of me…
027. When you are an icy tower of pure reason as I have always been…
028. [After finding out he hasn’t been committing murders he couldn’t remember] Hurray—I was someone else. I was not completely crazy yet. Seriously antisocial, of course, and somewhat sporadically homicidal, nothing wrong with that. But not crazy. There was somebody else, and he was not me. Three cheers for Dexter’s brain.

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
001. There are still very few laws against thinking, although I’m sure they’re working very hard on that in Washington.

Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
001. I was building a perfect and nearly impenetrable facade of gleaming antiseptic steel and glass to cement onto the front of the Gothic horror of Castle Dexter.
002. We seemed to have hit one of those periodic spells Miami gets every now and then in which murder just seems like a good idea.
003. I had never felt so stupid—which is to say, I felt as close to being a real human as it was possible for me to feel.
004. [On a murder scene] ‘Did you find it yet’ I asked him.
He didn’t look up. ‘Find what?’ he said.
‘I don’t have any idea,’ I said. ‘But it must be here somewhere.’
005. I asked her, since my training told me that was the right thing to ask about.
006. ‘Well,’ I said, searching for the proper cliché, ‘I’m sure it just needs some time.’
007. Every morning at sunrise, the babalao arrives at the courthouse, where he usually finds one or two small animal sacrifices left by people with important legal cases pending. No Miami citizen in his right mind would touch these things, but of course it would be very bad form to leave dead animals littered about Miami’s great temple of justice. So the babalao removes the sacrifices, cowrie shells, feathers, beads, charms and pictures in a way that will not offend the orishas, the guiding spirits of Santeria
008. There is never any point in trying to make sense of the way Miami drivers go about getting from one place to another. You just have to relax and enjoy the violence—and of course, that part was never a problem for me.
009. Normally I find the chaotic mayhem of the evening drive home to be the perfect way to end the day. Seeing all the anger and lust to kill relaxes me, makes me feel at one with my hometown and its sprightly inhabitants.
010. I had thought that he used to look at me with enough venom to lay low the entire endangered species list. But that had been the gentle laughter of a tousle-haired child on a sunny day compared to the way he was looking at me.
011. I could dimly see a large yellow silk banner hung along one wall that stated ‘We Are All One’. It did not say one of what.
012. Our universe is ruled by random whim, inhabited by people who laugh at logic.
013. Somewhere there’s a world where everything makes sense, but obviously we were not in it.
014. Was this what it was like to be human? To walk through life with the perpetual feeling that you were meat on the hoof, stumbling down the game trail with tigers sniffing at your heel? If so, it would certainly go a long way toward explaining human behaviour.
015. I am well aware of basic psychology, and I have assumed for quite some time that I was somewhere off the charts. That’s the fine with me; I get along very well without any shred of normal humanity to my name.
016. There was one sure remedy for misery, and that was good hard work on something completely pointless.
017. Since I had already tossed and turned exhaustively, without getting exhausted, I now concentrated on rolling and pitching, with much the same result. But finally, at around 3.30 am, I must have hit on the right combination of pointless movement and I dropped off at last into a shallow uncomfortable sleep.
018. And now a slow black cloud seemed to be rising up around him, coalescing on the teeth of his smile, spreading its wings out toward Harry, and toward me.
019. …if there was any real reward for complaining I hadn’t seen it so far, in a life filled with suffering an verbal skills.
020. I did not act irrationally, except when imitating human beings.
021. I stood listening to a nonstop stream of threats and obscenities, none very original. I tried to be polite about it—the man obviously had a great deal to get off his chest, and I certainly didn’t want him to sustain psychological damage by repressing it—but I did have some urgent police business to attend to, after all. I tried to point that out, but apparently he was one of those individuals who could not yell and listen to reason at the same time.
022. Humans are wonderful combinations of silly, ignorant, and dumb, aren’t they? Even the ones who are pretending most of the time, like Vince. Here he was, a fearless forensic tech, actually within inches of a gruesomely murdered body that had no more effect on him than a tree stump, and yet he was paralyzed with terror at the thought of facing a tiny man who sculpted chocolate for a living.
023. Welcome to the human race, Dexter, the endlessly futile and pointless human race. We hope you enjoy your short and painful stay.
024. Because I am an artificial human, I am also extremely clear-headed most of the time, uncluttered by emotions.
025. It really isn’t fair, is it? I mean, this whole life thing.
026. There was a very uncomfortable series of sensations sloshing through me, somewhat like the onset of the flu. Could these be emotions, pounding at the defenseless coastline of Dexter, like huge tidal waves of toxic sludge? If so, it was no wonder humans were such miserable creatures. This was an awful experience.
027. I was no longer interested, because I had a thought. Every now and then I do have thoughts. Most of them never make it all the way to the surface, probably because of a lifetime of trying to seem human.
028. For my part, I have always assumed that if there is any God at all He would never let something like me flourish. And if I am wrong, the altar might crack and fall if I went inside a church.
029. Yes, I have a great of faith, Reverend—in human greed and stupidity, and in the sweetness of sharp steel on a moonlit night. I have faith in the dark unseen, the cold chuckle from the shadows inside, and absolute clarity of the knife. Oh, yes, I have faith, Reverend, and beyond faith—I have certainty, because I have seen the bleak bottom line and I know it is real; it’s where I live.
030. I surely didn’t need to worry about going to hell for telling a lie to a minister. If there actually is a hell, I already have a front-row seat.
031. Someone very clever must already have said that when all else fails, try the truth. It sounded so good that I was sure I was not the first to think of it…
032. But as I have noticed on more than one occasion, life itself is unfair, and there is no complaint department, so we might as well accept things the way they happen, clean up the mess, and move on.
033. [Regarding his sister’s driving] I concentrated on remembering to breathe and reflecting that we were all certain to die someday anyway, so in the big picture what did it really matter if Deborah killed us?
034. So often in this life I find myself halfway through a conversation and realizing I don’t know what I’m talking about. Very unsettling, although if everybody else would realize the same thing, particularly those in Washington, it would be a much better world.
035. If rush-hour traffic is utter mayhem, then rush-hour traffic with a hurricane coming is end-of-the-world, we’re-all-going-to-die-but-you-go-first insanity. People were driving as if they positively had to kill everyone else who might come between them and getting their plywood and batteries. It was not a terribly long drive [to my sister’s, but when I arrived] I felt as if I has survived an Apache manhood ordeal.
036. I moved into my firing stance, breathed out, and calmly squeezed the trigger. Aim for the center and shoot twice.
037. It was simply a resumption of an aggressively plain ordinary existence that did more to grind me down further than all the physical pain in the world could have done. {This reminds me of the Chekhov quote: Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.}

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