Go on, this is what you want, you always wanted to kill someone, this is your chance, and I confess, that last line, this is your chance, I knew it was true, I repeated it to myself, and in a flurry, no turning back now, I opened the silver packet, took a deep breath and confess relief that my mark was male, over 40, had already lived a good life, meaning I would get the thrill of killing someone, someone totally innocent, far as I knew, but without that stomach-churning uneasiness that might come from killing a child, say, from killing someone whose entire life was ahead of them, and so, partly surprising myself, I tore open the instruction booklet and committed to memory each of the very specific, very deliberate instructions, let’s be honest, to do this you have to do it right, else you don’t just put yourself in jeopardy you put the entire business in jeopardy and should you put the business in jeopardy, they make this quite clear to each customer, they will make sure you pay — pay with your life — but those were thoughts for the plane ride over, because after years, literally years of considering it, I finally took the plunge, plunked down $25,000 to two individuals, one male, one female, near as I could tell, who serve as the concierge of a business, that’s what I call it, a business that randomly selects an individual for you to murder, but that’s it, only murder, no rape, no torture, no kidnapping, just murder, quick and clean and visceral, they take care of all the details, they document the person’s schedule, when they are alone, make sure there is no possible means of linking you, the paying customer, back to the crime, but you must follow the instructions, obvious things like when and who to tell you are sick and won’t be reporting to work, how to pay for your airline ticket, where to dispose of the weapon, they shut down all your social media accounts, turn off any apps that track you, and — and this part was not in the instructions — assign a “body double” for you, that’s a person who, unbeknownst to the customer, tracks them to make sure they really do follow the instructions to the letter, up to and including killing the victim should the customer fail, lose their nerve, so to speak, I’m proud to report I did not, but it was close, I had chosen to use a knife, and I knew exactly where to position myself, dimly lit street, ten yards from the late-night convenience store the man stopped in to buy milk, which his wife dutifully posted on his public calendar, only as he approached, unaware, I froze, turned, he jumped as he passed me, I struggled to smile, pretended he scared me, too, which was mostly true, and he kept walking, a bit faster now, but I was determined, I righted myself, I stabbed him from behind, dead, but messy, heart pounding, sick to my stomach but satisfaction on my face, I could actually feel his flesh, how it tensed, that barely audible sound he made, I think it was a word — why — fuck, I almost chose poison, stupid, and that’s when my body double, Jesus Hart, he called himself, grabbed me — I had no idea he was even there — apparently, he was about to step in had I faltered, which I didn’t but it wasn’t exactly according to plan, my hesitation slowed down the process, he grabbed me, pulled me along, fast, hailed an Uber, threw me inside, winked, told me “it’s all a game,” and that was the last I saw of him until today, when the glossies of my adventure arrived in the post, a premium option I paid an extra $5,000 for, all totally worth it, I don’t know how people lived before this time, what they did for fun.
Reach out and touch faith.
How strong is your faith?
How often do you falter?
What guilty acts do you find worth it?
Feeling unknown, and you’re all alone, flesh and bone, by the telephone. Lift up the receiver, I’ll make you a believer. I will deliver, you know I’m a forgiver.
What can you forgive — of yourself, of your loved ones, of your leaders, of those who embrace the most vile, violent, perverse and repellent?
Does your answer change when the actions are not real? Should it?
We now know that what the brain does, whether “real” or not, imprints itself upon the brain as if it were true.
The virtual is the real — particularly when each purposefully bleeds into the other.
Rape, murder? It’s not just a shot away, it’s literally available to us, even to our children — via gaming, on television, and soon, in virtual reality.
This seems a rather stark human failing.
Your own personal Jesus.
The actual Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘do not commit adultery,’ but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The virtual is the real, he tells us.
The Bible is a makers guide.
Depeche Mode, one of the most popular English pop music bands ever, with a legacy that shows no sign of fading soon, combined a hard beat, happy dance rhythms, pretend rough trade and clever British lyrics, earning them an audience of millions and a body of work that thirty years later is used to sell product and personal redemption. Have fun listening.