The Quiet Ones

iStock_000014423397Small-646x363The serial killer’s neighbors always say, “he seemed like such a quiet guy.” Yeah, he was quiet because he didn’t want anyone noticing that he was taking bodies back to his house in the dead of night and burying them in the backyard. The neighbors never say he was a disturbance, that he ever made any noise, because those are the things people tend to grasp onto for memory’s sake. They don’t remember the nice guy who never said a word… because he NEVER SAID A WORD. Which is strange for this day and age, don’t you think?

Perhaps those quiet people really are hiding everything, aren’t they?

We like to paint pictures of the quiet ones because there they sit in black and white, messing up our idea that we know everything about everyone. So we fill in the silence with words, lots and lots of words to describe something we’ve never seen but was only ever hinted at. It’s like the mummy in the closet, or the ghoul under the bed: we never see it so it takes on an entire mythology that gets added to liberally as time goes on.

The serial killer’s neighbors say, “looking back, he was just way too quiet.” What does it mean to be too quiet? Well, it means now that they know he was a serial killer all along the angels of the silences have now become demons, Lucifer-style. If hindsight really is 20/20 it’s also LOUD, telling us that there was something wrong with all that silence. It didn’t make them good neighbors. It made them creepy, but yeah, at the time we had no idea. All we knew was that there was something not quite kosher about that guy.

So what are these quiet people really hiding? Why are they so quiet in the first place? They’re obviously not all serial killers. They’re NOT all serial killers, are they?

Maybe they’re not hiding anything. Maybe they’re just quiet. Some of them aren’t serial killers. Some of them just prefer a quieter type of existence, living in the shadows, doing what they have to do and nothing more, enjoying their games of solitaire (who knew you could play a game by yourself and have so much fun?) and their cats, and keeping their houses clean. I admire those people, the quiet ones who keep to themselves and don’t seem to crave human contact the way that I do. It’s less messy that way, isn’t it? You know, unless they really are serial killers.

The serial killer’s neighbors say, “we never saw it coming.” That’s because they never felt the need to fill in the silences. They just accepted them for what they though they were, and now they feel stupid because they didn’t see the signs. That’s because THERE WERE NO SIGNS, though, so they can’t be faulted. That’s because the quiet ones really are like the ghoul under the bed, aren’t they? We know they’re there but when we look we see nothing. Perhaps we should invite them into our world, or try to insinuate ourselves into theirs. Maybe then we would see that they really aren’t ghouls at all, just people who are different from us but who are no less dynamic.

The serial killer’s neighbors say, “he seemed like a regular guy.” Um, well, he was just quiet so you wouldn’t get suspicious. He was never really one of the quiet ones. And that’s a good thing.

Sam

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