David never really contemplated how much he under-estimated people. His success, his sense of self on the internet and on the stage, and his ever-growing ego, did not allow enough space in his contemplation to consider that he could be caught out. Or what the consequences of that might really be.
He felt strong on stage, and stronger on the internet. His old insecurities from high school and even from his continual frustrations in his day-to-day work receded as his profile in these other fields heightened. He liked playing his games with the girls, the other comedians, and best of all, with Andrew. He gradually stopped seeing Andrew as a tenacious, determined and ruthless operator, instead just another person not quite aware of ‘the game’. He acknowledged Andrew’s skill and his taste because it elevated David, but David placed himself above him still, encouraged by Lisa and particularly by her on-screen alter ego Schaden, and possibly this made him less careful, less thoughtful. Or possibly Andrew just got closer because he was looking, looking, all the time.
At any rate, David didn’t see it coming at all. You have a real problem when you consider yourself better than others. You fail to see there will always be those who, in their way, and in certain circumstances at least, are better than you. What you can’t see, you can’t protect yourself against.
David had no idea how much that applied to the entire situation he was now within, but at least on one element – his relations with Andrew – he was more than due for a reality check.
David shut down his computer after joking with Schaden when the knock came at the door. Schaden had just said something odd in her departure, about other things coming calling, so the sudden presence of a visitor had the aura of a premonition about it. Schaden’s prediction.
Later he would come to suspect she knew about his imminent visitor all along.
He opened the door. Andrew loomed large in the space, his eyes dark. For a moment David thought that perhaps he had come with some news of a work opportunity, although to visit his clients personally – and particularly at this late hour – was not normally part of Andrew’s repertoire. All thought of this explanation for his visit fled before the tone in his voice when he spoke.
‘Hello David,’ Andrew said, a disturbing sing-song quality in his voice.
“Hi Andrew, what a nice surprise..do come in..’ David replied, wary, standing back to let his visitor enter the apartment. Everything felt very delicate, as though the wrong word or nuance at this stage could change the interaction suddenly and inexorably.
‘I’m not disturbing anything?’ Andrew asked, the odd tone still in his voice, though deeper now and more predatory than lyrical. He walked immediately past David into the loungeroom with the aura of a cloud covering the sun. Oddly he went straight from there to the doorways of the two bedrooms, then to the bathroom. He was checking the apartment out, and satisfied, he turned back to David.
‘Greg’s not here?’ he asked, unnecessarily, of David’s flatmate.
‘Clearly,’ said David,’ Are you ok Andrew?’
‘Why do you ask that?’ The words were almost spat out rather than spoken. David swallowed. Fear took him suddenly and completely. This was not good. This was definitely not good.
‘You seem..upset..about something..’
‘What would I possibly have to be upset about?’ Andrew asked, then continued, taking one step closer to David with each question, ‘What could possibly be troubling me, here with one of my best new clients? What could be possibly wrong in my world? Or with me? Or with you?’
David sidestepped him at the doorway to the lounge. Andrew seemed bigger than ever, as though puffed up somehow by whatever it was that was troubling him. David had read that psychotics could sometimes ‘change’ like that, the animal rising from within. It was funny, he’d always thought the animal had already risen in Andrew. Perhaps not.
‘Did you really think I wouldn’t find out?’ he asked finally, glowering at David.
It was the worst thing that David could have feared. Somehow, clearly, he knew..he knew about Lisa.
‘Find out what?’ he asked, wondering if he could bluff his way out of it, sickeningly realizing one second too late he not only probably couldn’t, but that any attempts might make it worse.
But what could Andrew do, really? To his own client? Someone who made him money and helped his reputation? This wasn’t the playground at school, nor even a sports ground or a pub..this was his home..and this was business. Surely nothing..nothing but a bit of storm and fury, signifying …..nothing….
‘Don’t!’ Andrew warned, ‘Don’t even try to pretend…’
Then again, perhaps Andrew was insane, in which case, all bets were well and truly off.
Get to the phone said Voice.
David tried to move, but Andrew seemed to take up too much space. He almost seemed to be the room, as though he was a monster more than a man, something preternatural and ugly and dread.
Odd thoughts started to traverse David’s mind, too quick for him to grab hold off and consider…was Andrew even human – he didn’t seem human, not now, but something other..something more. Did Schaden know he was coming, and on that topic, the elusive, impossible to track Schaden herself..was she part of this..and if so how human was she? How did she do that computer shit? What was she? She seemed normal enough to meet, a bit vulnerable and less than the self she showed on the screen, but that wasn’t uncommon, surely..but was that some kind of elaborate act?
He knew these thoughts, brief but lacerating, were insane in themselves, born out of his fear. He felt like he had been caught in some strange horror movie, but while he also knew this was hyperbole, in this moment, with the man mountain glowering over him, no paranoia or suspicions seemed excessive.
He had to try to reason with Andrew, bring him back to human form in his own mind if he was ever to deal with any of it.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016, All Rights Reserved