Psyched! By hfg

First off, the forty grand wasn't stolen. It was my money. I offered it to Norman for his property. It was a good price: for that amount, I was willing to take the whole place off his hands. That dive of a motel, the creepy Victorian out back, even the pathetic little swamp on the north end.

Norm was a real rube. The water rights under his place alone were worth five times what I was offering. Of course he didn't know that. But still, I made him a decent offer. He should have sold.

After he dug in his heels, Lila and I decided we'd have to put a little more pressure on the guy, you know, to get the deal done. She wanted to use the old carrot on Norman at first, not the stick.

Lila's plan was to bring a dame into it. Judging by what she'd found in Norman's bedroom, Norman had been taking care of his own needs in the romance department for decades, if you catch my drift. We had a big laugh over that one. Lila said "Master Bates" might not even know what to do with a real, live woman. But she wanted to give it a try.

At first, we thought about hiring an actress or a hooker to help us out. Then the gears turned a few more notches in Lila's feverish little brain.

"My sister Marion's out of work," she said, "She wanted to be an actress. Headed for Hollywood, but only made it as far as Phoenix. What if we used her?"

"You want to get her mixed up in a thing like this?" I asked.

"She's no blushing violet," Lila said, "In fact, I think she'd enjoy...talking with Norman."

Lila was right. Marion went all out for it.

The plan was to get Norman to fall for Marion. Then she could put the screws to him about selling us the motel. Marion held out for forty percent, fifty if she had to let Norman have his way with her to seal the deal.

Marion was a lot like her sister. In fact, she was like most dames who haven't got just exactly what they want yet. Cold. Cruel. Calculating.

It was Marion who came up with the twist. A way to really mess with Norman's mind. She wouldn't just come on to the poor schlub. Instead, after she got him all hot and bothered, she wanted me to dress up like his mother and pretend to off her in the shower.

She said she thought it would be more effective that way, to mess with his mind. I think the real reason was, once she saw Norman, got to know about his mother, she knew she didn't want to have to put out for the guy. She didn't want to bed the little creep, but she didn't mind him watching her in the shower.

It fit with what she told me about herself. She'd done some exotic dancing, back in the day, but she'd never hooked for pay.

We knew all about the late Mrs. Bates, see. Lila had snuck up to the second floor of the little gothic mansion one day, looking to see what made Norm tick, what would make him sell out. I kept him busy at the front desk while she snooped around. Up there with all the teddy bears and the Bernard Herrmann soundtrack records and a biography of Ed Gein, she'd found Normie's taxidermy project.

Norman was a real sicko, all right, keeping his poor departed mom stuffed, lying up there in her bedroom. But this shower thing--that was even sicker. Marion had all the stuff we needed from her theater class: fake blood, retractable knife, etc. Lila would be hiding behind the toilet, sticking a real knife into a Casaba melon to make some juicy sound effects. They wanted me to play Mom.

"That's really twisted," I told her.

"I know," Marion said, and then she gave me this toothy grin that sent gooseflesh up my spine. "He'll have to sell out after that. Move away. Otherwise, he'll end up headed for the looney bin. You know, that place where the cruel eyes study you all day and people cluck their thick tongues and give oh-so-helpful advice…"

She cackled about that one for a while. I was glad she was on my side.

Things got even better after we jimmied the lock to the office one night and scoped out Norman's parlor. Lila found the peephole into Cabin One, behind the picture.

"This is great," she said, "You won't even have to be in the same room with him, Marion. I bet he'll just watch from this peephole in the office while you get undressed. Sam, you be ready with the dress and the knife, okay?"

Okay, baby. Whatever you say.

"Be a good little actress and I'll make it worth your while after," she said to me, smiling.

The shower thing went down pretty much the way we planned it. Lila directed the whole thing. Marion was great. It helped that she really was scared. That's what she told me afterwards, anyway. I felt a little weird, dressing in drag, but you do what you have to. And Lila made it worth my while, later on, just like she'd said she would.

Norman really was convinced afterwards that his mother had done the deed. Poor guy. He didn't clean up after her, though. I had to do that. After he yelled, "oh god, mother, blood!" he ran back to his room in the old manse and didn't come out for almost a week.

I guess he made one call, to the Fairvale sheriff. Told him his mother was running around killing people. The sheriff had been to Mrs. Bates's funeral. He told Norm to stop boozing it up or he'd come arrest him. After that, Norman made a pathetic effort to keep mama under control. Moved her down to the fruit cellar below the house. Dumbass.

Marian went back to Phoenix. Married a used car salesman. We thought we'd softened Norman up pretty good after that. Prepped him for another round of negotiations on the place. But we didn't reckon on Arbogast.

Arbogast didn't work for any insurance company. He worked for Norman. Norman hired him to prowl around the place, make sure mom stayed down in the fruit cellar. And to make sure we quit pestering him about selling out.

Arbogast was a pain in the ass. I was downwind from him a time or two, and that was a time or two too many. That joker suffered from terminal flatulence. He was good security, though. I could hardly get within fifty feet of Norman while he was around.

Arbogast did one useful thing for me. He made me think about how serious I was about acquiring this sorry piece of real estate. A week or so after he arrived, I decided I was damn serious. It was time for Arbogast to go.

Lila did a fainting spell thing and distracted both Norman and Arbogast while I snuck up to Mom's bedroom, with the dress and the knife. Here's the truth. I just meant to scare him off. When Arbogast came back into the house and headed slowly up the stairs (did I mention he was way out of shape?) I busted out of the room waving the knife. Scared the hell out of him, all right. Unfortunately, he fell down the steps and broke his neck. He was dead, I figure, before he hit bottom. I threw him in the trunk of his car. The swamp ate his Buick.

After that, it was open season on Norman. A guy had already died over this mess, and damn it, it was time to close the deal. I bugged him every day, at the front desk of the motel, about selling out. He got more and more nervous and weird. Sometimes he just acted like a hermit, holed up in the old house and wouldn't come out for days. But sooner or later he always wandered back to the front desk. He was just so compulsive about lighting the lights, following the formalities, even though nobody came to his stupid motel any more, that I really despaired for a while of ever getting the deal done.

"Forty thousand bucks is a lot of dough to get rid of this useless business," I told him, "Enough to start over in a new town, where you won't have to hide your mother."

Norman didn't like that crack about his mother one bit. He didn't dare talk back to me, though. He just blanched and popped another handful of candy corn.

I had him over a barrel, see, bringing Mom into it like that. I had leverage. Marion was gone, Arbogast was gone, and Mom was down there in the fruit cellar. Norm probably thought she was plotting another murder. She meant everything to the poor slob; how could he believe his beloved mama was a murderous psycho?

The conflict was driving Norman crazy. He'd lost, like, twenty pounds and he wasn't exactly a hefty guy to begin with. Lila thought it was time to pull off the piece de resistance.

This one was brutal beyond belief. But I went along with it, because Lila said so, and believe you me, if you knew Lila. . . . Well, remember what I said about the carrot and the stick? Here's the truth: if Lila wasn't happy, wasn't nobody happy.

I met Norman at the front desk again. You'd think what he'd been through would have made him want to sell out, but no. In the end, as I figured it, Norman would never sell until he hit rock bottom. He didn't have much of a personality to begin with, see, and this motel was his whole world. Taking it away from him would be like stripping off his skin and leaving him to scream in the wind. So we had to get a little rough with the guy.

"Norman," I said, "Lila and I had a little talk with your mother. There's this roadside attraction out on old Route 66. They got everything there. A two-headed cow, world's largest prairie dog, Hitler's staff car. But they need something new. Mother said she'd love to sit in a glass case on display and have people come by and take a look at her. Lila's down in the fruit cellar fetching her right now for the trip."

Norman didn't say anything for a second. He just turned very pale and stumbled back into the parlor. I followed him. He hadn't been violent at all, up to that point, so I didn't see it coming. Sucker hit me with a flowerpot. Laid me out cold.

Lila told me later that she was just wheeling Mrs. Bates toward the stairs when Norm showed up, brandishing a knife from the kitchen. He wasn't dressed up like Mother; that's baloney. He was just trying to keep Lila from stealing his sawdust sweetie. Norman was screaming and waving the knife around. She got pretty scared.

Fortunately, I woke up in time. Got there before he did anything bad to her. I got the drop on Norm and we tied him up and called the sheriff. Once they saw Norman gibbering and his mother stuffed in a wheelchair, they didn't waste any time hauling him off to the psych ward.

I got the place cheap. Norm's guardian sold it for a song, even less than what I'd been asking. Bad thing was, before he got committed, Norman squealed enough that they decided to dredge the swamp. They found Arbogast's body, inside the trunk where I'd left it.

Lila turned state's evidence against me. Marion disappeared. Rotten dames.

Honestly though, officer, Arbogast was an accident. I didn't do anything to him but scare him a little. He fell down the stairs. He was a fat guy, so he fell hard.

And those two young girls they found in the swamp…Well, I don't know anything about them. Anything at all.

You do believe me? Don't you?