SERIAL FICTION: D.U.O. (Chapter 4)
It got immeasurably worse. The beatings were nothing compared to what would come. Dutten began erasing anyone and everyone who posed a threat, removing every fiber of their being. At first I only knew that it was happening and that he was solely responsible; unsure of how he did it, where he put the bodies, how he determined who had to go, how he remained free from incrimination; how he was able to lead a double life, appear so with it while inside he was someone else entirely, what the hell would happen next? Though I’d dealt with extremely violent clients in the past, it was never anything like this. It was never so ruthless, so vicious, so widespread and far-reaching, an issue of public health. I was never so enmeshed. Dutten trusted me because I saved his life. For my own psychological and ethical well-being, I was obligated to act. I had two choices: I could go to the police and turn him in, tell them everything I knew, wear a wire, work with them on a confession, which would be enough to put him away forever; out of my life, off the streets OR I could help him. I could help him change. I could work with him; become something better, someone new. Make him whole again. Fix this.
I didn’t see any of it coming. Of all the possible outcomes, mass annihilation and hysteria wasn’t something I’d projected. After I saved him, I thought about it a lot, whether or not I should sever ties immediately, right then and there, or see what happened, how it all played out. Before I could decide, he befriended me. He made the choice before I did. I hesitated. Maybe that was my mistake, maybe not. Either way, I am not morally, ethically, or legally compromised. I am not his accomplice. I have done nothing wrong; have nothing to do with his actions. How could I have predicted his complete mental breakdown and insane, incomprehensible future behaviors? It defies rational thought. I never envisioned a scenario where he would detach emotionally and evaporate morally, and kill. Or erase as he says. I’ve now considered every perspective, every potential response, every plausible consequence, and I feel no responsibility for him, have taken no ownership, nor will I. This is not on me. Yet still I must choose: I can either turn on him or help him. Where is the greater good, with Dutten imprisoned or dead, or rehabilitated and reformed?
If I work with Dutten, if I help him, he poses no threat to me, or anyone I care about. I’m not even worried about that, never have been. I just don’t see it going that way. He’s on his own hyper-focused, delusional plane. He has terroristic tunnel vision. If I help him, this can stop. If I don’t, if I turn him in, will it ever end? No matter what, lives are lost; nobody gets to come back from this, we don’t get to turn back the clock. There is really only one option here, and it’s clear as day. •
Michael Ferrence has written 3 novels, dozens of short stories, and hundreds of Hall of Fame caliber rock songs. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and son Jack, and works as a teacher. Read more from Michael at www.milkfuzz.com.