the PARANOIA complex

"I can't go out no more
There's a man by the door
in a raincoat
smoking a cigarette."

You claim you're not a paranoid girl.
But there you see him; he gives you
a shiver down your spine, imaginary
( grimy ) fingers caressing your stringy
hair and staining it bloodred.

You claim you have no imagination.
But when you were young you dreamed,
and you dreamed big and large,
of fairies and unicorns and
( monsters, keep them out of my closet )
magical things.

Now there's a dark man by your apartment door.
And your imagination is going wild,
twisting through the dusty compartments of your
mind, wrenching out thoughts of murder and
stalking and most of all, paranoia.

He has bright red hair.
You can't see his eyes but you imagine them
to be glowing green like a tomcat's,
strolling across a slender rail of a fence
and stalking its prey, the mouse.
The mouse is you.

It isn't raining.
But there he is, slick in a black
trenchcoat and Oh God, this is
just like the movies.


I've put him in my diary
and the mailers are all lined up
on the bed, bloody in the glow
of the bar sign next door."

All those detective novels have taught you well.
You'll lock yourself up and timidly pull back
lace curtains to peek through your tiny window
and see the stranger still standing there, waiting for you.
What could he want?
—And yet, you know.

You were a little girl.
Walking/dancing to the store with your mother,
you twirl around and see a pair of earrings.
They're dangly sterling silver with artificial
diamonds that shine like little suns.
( You wanted those earrings. )

They were small and fit very well in your pocket.
Now the FBI's out to get you, and they've sent
you their agent. He's the best; he can track
down anybody ( even little redheaded girls full of
innocence and careless love and sugary sweetness. )

You have a little crimson book.
That little crimson book now has scribbles of
cursive/print declaring you won't ever come out
from your cage, your prison, your sanctuary
because it isn't safe, isn't safe.
And you've got snow white mailing envelopes
scattered across your bed, as pallid as your face
when you see him and. freeze.
You're going to hold up and then tell them all about it.

"I can see him from up here.
His cigarette winks from just
above his trenchcoat collar
and somewhere there's a man on a subway
sitting under a Black Velvet ad thinking my name."

You've only told one person about this crime.
He was your childhood friend, once your fiancé,
with honeyed blond hair like a bucket full of needles.
You said it wouldn't work out; conclusively he's
probably dreaming about you somewhere,
perhaps safe and curled up in his bed and asleep
( which you cannot do, thanks to the man ).
No one will save you now.

The cigarette, a dim firefly dying from disease
that hangs from his mouth like a rat's tail, the
last remains of a serpent's dinner, blinks like
your tired eyes.

You can't get out.
You can't get out.
There's nowhere to go.

Every plan, every scheme.
Things will never be the same if you're caught.

"You can run, but we'll find you."

You're running out of groceries.

Slinking like a cat in the dull bar light.
Living locked up like a caged animal.

You wish you didn't live on the fourth story.

And then one day, there's a knock on the door.
It sends you flying out of your chair, tumbling
like a maiden in a crib falling down to the ground,
crashing and burning.

Running to the door ( you're so tired of waiting ).
The door is locked. The knob sticks.
( You're so relieved. )
You don't bother looking out the window;
you know who it is.

For the first time in six nights you collapse into bed.

Days pass like seasons, drifting on the wind.

You vaguely hear the knocking, the banging, the shatter of glass.
You ignore it ( you're so tired ).
There are hands. All over you.
Voices interrupt your sleep, whispering echoes of the past and dreaded future.
The crackle and rasp of a radio.

"We've got an unconscious young woman here . . .
There was a report about her gone missing.
Records and sources say she might be diagnosed with schizophrenia . . .
. . . Yes, we'll bring her right away. . . . Seems to have suffered from starvation
and fatigue. . . . Self-induced, we think so."

The white room is very pretty.
They give you a lot of crayons here.
The only problem is that someone you know has red hair,
and he's always standing outside of the safety glass window.

author's note.;;

Standard disclaimer applies.

Inspired by "Paranoid: A Chant" by Stephen King. ( First, seventh, eighth, and thirteenth stanzas belong to him. )
"You can run, but we'll find you" are lyrics from a Matchbook Romance song with that exact title.