The Ventriloquist

The truth is, he knows he's in control.

He tells himself he isn't, tells himself that no, Mr. Scarface is the boss, but he knows that it's not the whole truth. As he gently handles the dummy, props up an arm and pulls the trigger, he sees that Scarface can't move on his own, Scarface can't slap people or shoot people on his own.

He needs Arnold's help.

Always.

The psychiatrist told him about his parents' deaths, about the blood and the violence and the trauma, but Arnold only remembers Scarface.

The psychiatrist told him about the fear of power and destruction, but Arnold can only remember the feel of the Tommy-gun under his hand and the smell of shaved wood.

Arnold's in a halfway house, now, taking his medication and tightly clutching a glass of water in his right hand. He has no roommate–yet–and to be frank he really doesn't want one.

That being said, though, Arnold is expecting company.

He's in control, all right.

Just not the way people would expect.

The phone rings. Arnold lunges forward and picks up.

"Hello?"

The voice that raps from the other side of the line chills him to the bone.

"It's just a matter of time, Dummy," Scarface grates. "Just a matter of time before I get you."

Arnold knows he's shaking but he wills himself to be still. Scarface, irritated, continues.

"That psychobabble bullshit you pulled earlier ain't gonna work with me," he growls. "No matter what you do to try to stop me, Dummy, I'm gonna come back. Do you understand?"

(Arnold's in control.)

(Just not in ways people expect.)

"Yes, Mr. Scarface."

There's a genuinely surprised pause on the other side of the line before Scarface speaks again. Arnold can tell he's a little confused by Arnold's willingness to accept that he's back.

"Well–"momentarily confused beat "--good. I'm glad, Dummy, that you're coming to your senses. This makes everything a lot easier.

"You and I are going to be one again," he says. "I'm coming to see you tonight, and then...then Scarface is back in business."

Arnold nods, the obedient, never-questioning dummy. "Yes, Mr. Scarface."

Another cautious pause. Arnold can tell that Scarface wants to say something, but he's not going to.

The line goes dead.

Arnold slowly puts the phone back down on the receiver and stops for a long moment, breathing deeply through his nose and closing his eyes.

(Arnold's in control.)

(Just not in ways people expect.)

He opens his eyes.

The glass of water that was in his hand slowly goes to the coffee table. Arnold rests it on the wood surface gently, then frowns, picks up the glass and puts a dolly under it before placing it back on the table.

That's better.

Now he can work.

(Arnold's in control.)

(Just not in ways people expect.)

Arnold moves his right hand away from the glass and towards the knife resting near the phone. It's a beautiful blade–long, stainless steel and with an edge that gleams elegantly in the lamplight, and Arnold can easily say that he's been waiting a long time to get it out and admire it.

He wants to see it when its clean before he gets it dirty.

(Arnold's in control.)

(Just not in ways people expect.)

Reluctantly, Arnold puts the knife back on to the table. He waits for a moment–deep breath–before moving his left hand over to the rubber hose, the trash bag and the dishtowels. He has no intensive medical knowledge but he knows from seeing the lackeys do it how everything in front of him works.

Torniquet?

Check.

Clean-up rag?

Check.

Blood net?

Check.

(Arnold's in control.)

(Just not in ways people expect.)

The rubber hose wraps around the radial–Arnold's proud he remembered the name from health class–artery tightly, the dishtowels are set to the side and the black trash bag is spread over one corner of the coffee table.

Arnold reaches for a pencil he had near the glass of water with his right hand.

He puts the pencil in his mouth and bites down.

The last pause Arnold makes is before he goes for the knife. He stops for a long time with his eyes closed and his breathing slow and counts down the seconds from twenty.

Originally, they did this in Arkham for meditation. Other patients thought it was bullshit, and usually just played along with the shrinks for laughs afterwards, but Arnold eventually got to the point where he believed he could meditate. The world–after the twenty second countdown–slowly phased away to darkness and sound became nothing. He couldn't hear the grunts and barely-suppressed laughs of his fellow inmates, couldn't hear the rake of Scarface scuttle over his brain and he couldn't hear even himself, whimpering at the monster to stop, and to let them go.

When Arnold meditated, he was in control. Of course, he doesn't want to go into the pseudo-sleep state like he usually would, but he wants to get himself prepared for the ultimate act of control.

The eyes open. Arnold blinks.

No more hesitation. No more meek attempts at saying no and whimpering as things go out of his control. Arnold's in control now. He's the Ventriloquist, and Scarface is merely the dummy.

Arnold Wesker reaches for the beautiful knife, brings it to his left wrist–which has gone numb–and begins the painful process of amputation.

(Arnold's in control.)

(Just not in ways people expect.)


A/N: Due to the epic snowdays (two! That's a record!) I had last week, I had a lot of time to get stupidly nostalgic and go back to the 'good ol' days' of cartoons, including Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and--of course--the Batman Animated series.

During that time, I got to notice that first season (and all seasons following afterwards) did a really beautiful job of humanizing a lot of the bad guys that before didn't get much slack for the public. Harvey Dent--Two-Face--wasn't just a scumbag DA who turned to killing people for an outlet. Mr. Freeze wasn't just a ice-cold (haha, a pun) bastard. Scarface was in fact a very meek Arnold Wesker. At one point, all these villans had been people. It was just a bad situation that eventually made them lose their marbles.

So here's how I wrapped up Arnold Wesker's story. I watched an episode last night--Double Talk, I think it's called--and inspiration struck. Darker than what I'm used to doing, for sure, but I hope you like it.