“Get! The! Fuck! Out!”
“Don’t make me say it again! Get Out! Now!”
He picked up a baseball bat and came after me; I wasn’t sure why he was so angry. I’d been saying the same things to him for the past several years, pretty much this guy’s whole life. Most of the time he just took it, without doing anything. Other times it had the effect I’d intended. To manipulate him into action.
But not today.
I turned to walk out, pretty sure he wasn’t serious. Until I heard things start to break. First a lamp, then he flung the clay ashtray that he’d made at summer camp at me, barely missing my head. Then I felt the air whoosh by the back of my head as his baseball bat barely missed smashing my skull in like that one time we threw a two day old pumpkin off the top of the library at school. Those were good times. This wasn’t. I knew I had to get out of there.
“If you come back, I’ll kill you.” It wasn’t a threat, or a warning, merely a statement of factual cause and effect. If it rains, I’ll get wet. If the Dodgers lose, I’ll be sad. If you come back, I’ll kill you.
So what happened all of a sudden? He’d never exhibited any behavior whatsoever that indicated he was the slightest bit angry at me, despite my crafty manipulations to get him to do exactly what I wanted him to.
Most people aren’t aware of how easily you can manipulate people. You just go to know what buttons to push. Which ones feel good. The one’s that they are desperate to have pushed by others, but spend a lifetime without experiencing it. And the ones they are terrified of having pushed, and spend their whole lives cowering in fear of somebody uncovering their horrible secret.
It’s an art form, actually. You don’t really ever have to actually push their buttons. You don’t even have to pretend you are about to push them, like the amateurs do. All you have to do is to allude to having the knowledge, and the will to push them. That is where the skill lies. In alluding to pushing them with the complete and honest capacity to have no idea what they are talking about should you get called on it. To act and communicate in such a way as to have several different interpretations, one of which is that there buttons are going to get pushed.
That way you can leave it to them to imagine what might happen, and be manipulated by their own fearful hallucinations and worst-case scenario interpretations of what you mean. Kind of like in baseball, where you throw an inside out curveball, which looks like an outside in curveball. The only intention of a pitch like that is to confuse the batter into leaning into the pitch. It’s one thing to throw a fastball at a batter. Everybody knows what’s up. That’s why both benches always clear, and there’s always a fight. Clear and obvious aggression.
But an inside out curveball that you trick him into leaning into, is not only aggressive, but it’s aggressive with covert intentions. The worst kind. The kind you’d have to have a lot of chutzpah to retaliate against. Because any retaliation would be met with plausible deniability.
“What? You think I did that on purpose? I would never do that! What kind of person do you think I am?”
That is the secret to pure manipulation. The tone of voice, the presupposed meaning of your sentence.
“Oh, you’re wearing that tonight.”
That way you can get somebody to change their whole outfit, or feel self conscious about it without even coming up with a reason.
“What, what’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing, its..fine..I guess.”
A few short words can elicit a lifetime of shame and embarrassment, and make most people question their own decision. Since most people are motivated by fear, you almost never have to seduce the other way. Most everybody can easily be corralled their whole lives by the thought of their worse fears coming true.
Which is why when I got chased away with a baseball bat, I knew the jig was up. Because, you see, how I have nowhere to go. Since I’m not really a person.
I’m just a voice in that guys head.
Was a voice in that guys head.
Sometimes his second grade teacher, sometimes his mom, a couple of times his boy scout leader, once some pretty lady that worked in the ice cream shop downtown that yelled at him for spilling ice cream on the recently mopped floor. Being a voice in somebody’s head gives you great access to horrible memories, and you can pretend to be many different voices. You almost never get caught, and you always can trick your host into doing, or not doing, whatever you want.
Except the rare occasion, when you get caught. Most of the time when you get caught you are only questioned, sometimes argued with. But rarely threatened with a baseball bat.
Now that I’m out on the street without a host, I will probably die soon. We can’t switch heads. Once the jig is up, it’s up. When we’re gone, we’re gone. Does he have any idea how he will survive without me? I was only protecting him, after all. Protecting him from making foolish mistakes. Protecting him from embarrassing himself in front of his friends. Protecting him from doing something that he’d regret.
I’m starting to feel faint. Maybe I’ll sit down for a spell. Maybe he’ll come to his senses.
Wait, where am I?
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