I’ve been plotting to have my bad guy murder two women camping in the Cochise Stronghold Campground near Tombstone. The first woman I patterned after someone I don’t much care for (there are so many perks to being a novelist!) She’s bossy, so the bad guy decided to kill her first. He slit her throat when she visited the latrine before bed and then pushed her into the self-composting toilet.
My husband suggested strangling the second girl and stuffing her in the “bear box” at their campsite, but I wasn’t sure she’d fit without cutting her up. Those boxes are kinda small, and I didn’t want my killer to have the deal with a hacksaw and all that blood. (My son said the hacksaw would work better than a chainsaw—more precise and less messy.) But still, who travels with a hacksaw? So I countered with rubbing her body with the morning breakfast’s bacon grease, and leaving her out as a treat for the bears.
Ultimately, I decided the whole “two young women camping alone” scene was cliché, and scrapped all 3,000-plus words. But, damn! It was fun to write. And I’m keeping the scene…who knows, maybe you’ll read it as a short story when I submit it to some horror magazine.
He enlisted in the Army during college, after losing is scholarship (it was his professor’s fault, of course), and was infantry, 11-Bravo. He’s a smart guy and has done well. Now his military career is taking a satisfying leap forward with his transfer to Ft. Huachuca, AZ, for Intelligence training.
That is, until his wife, Abby, threatens to report his long-running affair to his commanding officer. Unfortunately, his lover is a female officer, also at the Fort. If he doesn’t break off the fraternization, they could both be court-marshalled. He’s not going to let Abby use his affair against him. In fact, he’s plotting how to get rid of her and make it look like a Cartel human smuggling operation gone wrong.
In researching sociopaths, one of the things I found interesting is that they see nothing at all wrong with their way of living in the world. Every decision a sociopath makes is based on “how does it affect me.” They are noted for their shallowness of emotion, and the hollow and transient nature of any affectionate feeling they may claim to have carries a certain breathtaking callousness.
They have no trace of empathy and no genuine interest in bonding emotionally with a mate. Once the surface charm is scraped off (and often there is a thick overlying layer of charm—sociopaths are very good at their game), their marriages are loveless, one-sided, and almost always short-term.
As the book evolves, Jace will refuse to acknowledge any blame or even responsibility for the decisions he makes, or for the outcomes of his decisions. The American Psychiatric Association actually has a term for this, “consistent irresponsibility,” and it’s a cornerstone of the antisocial personality diagnosis.
I thought it would be difficult to write a sociopathic personality, but, as it turns out, I am dealing with one in my real life right now, so it was easy to find examples to pattern the behavior.
There’s a good chance you may have a conscienceless sociopath in your life as well. According to the book, The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PhD, sociopaths make up about four percent of the population.
Often they are attractive, intelligent and extremely successful. But because they truly have no conscience, self-awareness is impossible, and the rest of us just shake our heads and mutter,”Whaat? How can you possibly think that…act like that…do that to someone?”
If you have a close relationship with a sociopath, with a person who truly has no conscience, all my research says not to put out the effort to try and change him or her. Instead, walk away—and take your loved ones with you.
In the end, just as the sociopath has no genuine relationships with other people, he has only a very tenuous one with himself.
Stop by next time and meet another suspect, Rumor’s brother Alberto. He’s a Cartel coyote and drug smuggler, but much more of a good/bad mix than Jace. I think you’ll like him, and he’ll teach us some about smuggling people and contraband across the Mexican border into the States.
Until then, good reading.