Every Fifteen Minutes - Chapter 1

By Lisa Scottoline

I’m a sociopath. I look normal, but I’m not. I’m smarter, better, and freer, because I’m not bound by rules, law, emotion, or regard for you.

I can read you almost immediately, get your number right away, and push your buttons to make you do whatever I want. I don’t really like you, but I’m so good at acting as if I do that it’s basically the same thing. To you.

I fool you.

I fool everybody.

I’ve read that one out of twenty-four people is a sociopath, and if you ask me, the other twenty-three of you should be worried. One out of twenty-four people is 4 percent of the population, and that’s a lot of sociopaths. Anorexics are 3 percent, and everybody talks about them. Schizophrenics are only 1 percent, but they get all the press. No one’s paying any attention to sociopaths, or they think we’re all killers, which is a misconception.

It’s not being paranoid to worry about us. You should be more paranoid than you are. Your typical suburban mom worries all the time, but she worries about the wrong things.

Because she doesn’t worry about me.

People think evil exists in the form of terrorists, murderers, and ruthless dictators, but not in “normal” people like me. They don’t realize that evil lives on their street. Works in the cubicle next to them. Chats with them in the checkout line at CVS. Reads a pa­perback on the train next to them. Runs on a treadmill at their gym.

Or marries their daughter.

We’re here, and we prey on you.

We target you.

We groom you.

I took a sociopath test, not officially, of course. Only trained pro­fessionals can administer the real test, called the Hare test, but I found a version of it online. The first two questions went like this:

1. I am superior to others. Circle one: Doesn’t apply to me. Partially applies to me. Fully applies to me.

And:

2. I would not feel sorry if someone were blamed for something I did. Circle one: Doesn’t apply to me. Partially applies to me. Fully applies to me.

There were twenty questions, and forty was the top score. I scored a thirty-eight, which means I would be graduating with honors if I majored in being a sociopath.

I didn’t need the test to tell me who I was, anyway.

I already knew.

I have always known.

I don’t have any feelings, neither love nor hate, no like or dis­like, not even a thumbs-up or thumbs-down like on Facebook.

I do have a Facebook account, however, and I have a respect­able number of friends.

Ask me if I care.

Actually, I think it’s funny they’re my friends, because they have no idea who I am. My face is a mask. I hide my thoughts. My words are calculated to please, charm, or undermine. I can sound smarter or dumber, depending on what you expect to hear. My actions fur­ther my self-interest.

I’m neither your friend nor your frenemy, unless you have what I want.

In that case, I’m not only your enemy, I’m your nightmare.

I get bored easily.

I hate to wait for anything.

Waiting makes me so restless, and I’ve been in this room for hours, even this video game is boring. God knows what idiots are playing online right now, forming their pimple-faced teams, explor­ing dungeons, going on quests, killing dragons, hookers, and Nazis, all of them playing a role.

I wonder if whoever invented World of Warcraft realizes it’s practice for sociopaths.

The gamers I play online name themselves KillerCobra, SwordofDeath, and Slice&Dice, but I bet they’re in middle school.

Or law school.

If one out of twenty-four people is a sociopath, I’m not the only gamer who tried to burn the house down.

My character name is WorthyAdversary.

I role-play every day in real life, so I’m very good at gaming.

I’m always a step ahead, maybe two.

I plan everything. I set everyone in motion, and when the mo­ment comes, I strike.

I always win, in the end.

They never see me coming.

Know why?

Because I’m already there.

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