“Psychopaths have it easy,” she said.
Steve spit out his coffee in a snort, “What the hell do you mean? How is being a psychopath an ‘easy’ thing?”
“They don’t feel guilt,” she snarked, emphatically shoveling a bite of pie into her mouth. “I’m thinking about becoming one.”
Blueberries dancing in his mouth, Steve replied, “Becoming what?”
“A psychopath! Aren’t you listening? You never listen…”
“Well, this pie is freaking delicious so I am having a bit of trouble paying attention to you. And, you’re basically a dolt if you think a.) you can become a psychopath and b.) want to become one so you don’t feel guilt.”
Beth glared at him and, pointing her fork to underscore, reasoned, “I wasn’t born with guilt and I am a goddamn natural at being guilty SO it is highly possible I could be a freaking genius psychopath.”
She slurped the last of her coffee and waved for the server, “Can I get more coffee, please?”
“I’m going out with that guy on Saturday,” Steve announced, planting his phone on the table with finality, shamefully grinning with pride.
“Which one, Blanche?”
“What do you mean ‘which’, Dorothy? Dear lord. Insulted. You know, that guy…the one from the party…with the face and the braids and the shoulders — his name’s Lamar.”
“Ohhhh. Him. Hm.”
“Shady. What’s that about?”
“Nothing. Well, not nothing. I just had this fleeting image, and…I mean, maybe I could kill him and be on my road to psychopath-dom. Where are you guys going?” Beth giggled, waved her pie-laden fork like a wand toward her mouth, and dropped a blob of blueberry on her shirt. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” she huffed as she fruitlessly tried to clean it off and succeeded in creating a huge purple blob over her left boob.
“I don’t think I’m telling you where — and why him, also? And, you’d never,” Steve quipped. “You’d probably make a mess of it. Dear lord, you look like your breast is leaking grape juice. Did you birth a plum I didn’t know about? I can’t even. Stop rubbing that stain! Can’t take you anywhere…”
He waved to the server, “Can we get some club soda for this poor woman, whom I’m sitting with as a part of my community service sentence?”
“What do you think it takes to become a psychopath?” Beth threw her purple-stained, wadded napkins onto the table and went in for another bite of pie.
“For starters, I think you’re born that way, right? And why are you on this tear? It was weird five minutes ago. Now it’s just, well, it’s weirder.”
Beth shrugged, swallowed her pie, and looked into her cup of coffee.
“I don’t know. I HATE how much ANGST and GUILT I feel all the time about EVERYTHING. Do you think any serial killer felt like this at all?”
“And now here comes fucking Mother’s day. And I’m not talking to Mom. Or Dad. And I feel horrible and guilty and ugh... Imagine Ted Bundy disposing of a body and then being like, ‘Shit, I can’t forget to send Mom a card for Mother’s day.’”
“Well, not Bundy. But Dexter might’ve…I still think Dexter should have been gay…that Michael C. Hall plays a delicious gay boy…”
“I know! Right?” Beth laughed lightly and started tearing little bits off of her purple-stained napkin clumps.
“Here’s a slightly less radical idea that will get rid of the guilt: talk to them.” The minute he said it, Steve knew it was stupid.
“It would be easier to become a psychopath.”
Silent for a moment, Steve scraped his plate for any small crumbs of pie as Beth continued to make napkin confetti.
“Okay, a better idea: don’t talk to them.”
“I like where you’re going. Is there more?”
“No. It’s just…you seriously have so many good reasons for not talking to them. I mean, you’re not a horrible person, honey. Even if you really, really, really wanted to be a horrible person, it wouldn’t happen. You’re just incapable.”
“No. Listen to me,” Steve put his hands on the table and leaned in closer with a firm brow, his eyes wide, locking on Beth’s face. “You can feel guilty if you want to. Or you can not feel guilty and talk to them. OR, and, not that it is of great import, but this is what I would do: remind yourself why you stopped talking with them and let yourself be okay with your choice.”
“How can I be okay, though? Aren’t I supposed to be a good daughter and care for them and watch over them and prove to them that I’m worth what they did for me until the day they fucking finally croak??”
“Oh, lord. Wait. Did they do something good for you? When exactly was that? The few times they called you to ask how you were and then proceeded to spend an hour using you to provide them free therapy, complain about their lives and, when all else failed, weave in how much money they needed for whatever the fuck? How many times did you stop your life to do shit for them — and never got anything — like, even the when you were in the hospital — you got nothing — literally, honey, NOTHING — in return? AND, let’s not even start with your childhood because I might have to take off my earrings…”
Beth gave a small laugh and grin, but she could see Steve was getting pissed.
“Okay, play this out for me, honey. You call them and then what…”
“I kill them and then I’m done. The end.”
“Come on, Beth.”
“I call them. It starts all over again. I’m a nine-year-old taking care of my fucked up parents. Trying to protect them. Trying to fix things. Trying to shield them from the evil shit they made me live in. And I still feel…,” Beth let all the air out of her lungs and finished, “…horrible and guilty.”
Steve waved to the server, “Can we get one exceptionally large slice of blueberry pie and about a hundred napkins? Oh, and a glass of club soda, please?”