By an Idiot | Episode 4: The Southside Strangler


Good evening, denizens of the asylum. Night has fallen upon another Friday, and as the river is sure to the sea, so I faithfully present to you another episode of By an Idiot. I am your idiot, Mr. Clown. Gazing through the bars of Dr. Agonson’s office window, I can clearly view the stretch of pavement leading from the main road to our humble little dwelling.

We’ve all been brought down it: men, women, and even children. Well, I would call them children. As many of you still aware are aware, that trip was recently made by a youth of tender age standing a good head and shoulder taller than most of the cowering, brow beaten slops you see around yourself. A fine looking chap with a bright future ahead of him here in the asylum. I said to myself, “Here is a boy after my own heart.”

Not many of you seemed to take much interest in the boy, and as he was want for someone to talk to, I played psychiatrist for him, a practice run for when the good doctor will take him aside. This I wish to relate: Do not speak against the child’s meagre years, for yet while under a score—and even from his age we should subtract some three or four years, time spent wholly under the control of some parent or guardian, for what admirable thing could be accomplished while under the scrutiny of a mother’s eye—he has most thoroughly deserved his prize, room and board awarded by a most magnanimous judge for the remainder of his life.

Why? What could a boy do to be placed here among us?

It is all in that exceptional tallness. The child understood from early on that what was taller provided cruelty, and what was shorter received. And so, to whom much has been given, much will be expected: He went to work young, he told me—and if we are to believe him—graduated summarily in three years from the smallest bugs to the grander cats and still grander dogs, and finally to a baby.

He noticed it in the park on an afternoon. He said it was his birthday, seventh or eighth, and spying an unattended stroller, decided to treat himself. Coming upon the sleeping child, he took his hand—and if the ultimate growth and shape of his fingers are any indicator, imagine the long bony things upon a child’s hand—and wrapped his fingers around the babe’s neck. It never woke, he said.

It was from that point on he knew his calling. Now all of us are want to embellish. Fred makes himself a big man for stabbing four, and yet I remember, and have been here but a month, when he’d stabbed only two. Our stories are liable to such growth, and yet this boy’s tale is not told in such a manner, not mere bloviation.

He wouldn’t kill again, his story goes, until he was taller, at around thirteen, than that progenitor of cruelty, his mother. He owes the woman much for her tireless work, for what else could induce a child to such inestimable virtue where the crushing of his own mother’s throat was, as he put it, “The most natural thing.” Would that we all could be driven to such heights.

It comes to my mind that while on the outside I’d have read of him in one of those flamboyant articles advertised in a banner under my email. Somewhere between an actress’s leaked biological tapes and the latest spotting of Bigfoot, a headline spoke of the Southside Strangler. We have a veritable celebrity in our midst.

Ah, the orderlies are here to take me away. That’s all for tonight, this has been Mr. Clown.


    1. Yes, Mr. Clown enjoys telling rather macabre stories. I think he embellishes, or can’t discern reality from his imagination. We’ve put new padlocks on my door, and hope this will keep him out of my office.

      Liked by 1 person

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