International Writers Magazine: Life Stories
Man in the Orange Suit
driveway winded and twisted through hills and pine. A mile
up the driveway stood a shack surrounded by hundreds of destroyed
televisions. I left the package by the front door, rang the
bell and began to walk away.
A gaunt man stepped
out from the shadow of a weeping willow tree and stalked toward
me. He was dressed in a bright orange suit and his eyes twitched.
you go. I said pointing to the package.
He looked up and swatted his arms at the sky above. It was
January in Wisconsin, and no insects were near him.
I walked away and he followed. I had my key in my right
hand and put it between two fingers and formed a fist with the tip of
the key sticking out. He circled me and bit his left arm.
He took a second generous bite, looked me in the eye, and spit something
He spoke. Im happy.
What? I said.
Im happy. He said.
Good. I smiled and walked backward.
You better not hurt him. His voice quavered.
What? I said.
I wont hurt him. He said this in a normal tone,
but his voice quavered again with You better stop it. You
dont want to go back to jail do you?
I stood silent and stared.
He resumed his other voice. I dont want to go back
Then you better stop what youre planning!
He smiled. Im happy! He pointed
toward me. Im happy Im not that guy. Because
that guy is an asshole!
The quavering voice retorted dont call that guy an
asshole even though he looks like one!
But hes a real asshole, and I dont want to go
back to jail!
Then you better not do it!
The man in the orange suit walked closer, and it struck me that the
best defense against him was empathy. I raised my arms up and
swatted at something imaginary flying above my head. He froze.
Our eyes locked. I reasoned he thought we were one and the same,
and he muttered something incoherent about television.
I sprinted to my van, stepped in and locked the doors. I raced
off and thought about him and what sort of life he lived. What
had driven him to insanity? Genetics? Environment?
As I delivered throughout my day I concocted a story about how he was
driven to insanity by genetics and consumerism.
I later sat down at my computer and typed a short story. The man in
the orange suits name was changed to Scott, and Zelda was the
woman he loved. They fell in love at first sight during college
A month later Zelda took Scott home to meet her materialistic parents,
and they disapproved of Scott because he was poor. The next week
Zelda broke off the affair. On Halloween, Scott, dressed in the
same orange suit he wore to this day, proposed to Zelda. She rejected
and he began to stalk her. Police reports were filled. He
was expelled. Zeldas parents transferred her to another
college back east, and she changed her name. Scotts stress
along with the genetic predisposition for mental illness begat a life-long
bout with schizophrenia
Schizophrenia. To Scott, the word meant a thousand peanut-sized
spaceships that each shouted a thousand different angry voices and swarmed
about his skull. He believed that older televisions transmitted
signals that guided the spaceships toward him. This accounted
for the hundreds of shot-up televisions piled in his yard.
Something about the story was forced. It was better to stick to
truth in fiction. But what was the true story behind the man in
the orange suit and his insanity? Ernest Hemmingway once wrote
that being insane was like being in love all the time, only the love
always worked out, but the man in the orange suite defied Hemmingways
theory. I gave up on writing and life continued on.
© Adam Graupe
totalratbag at yahoo.com
Adam Graupe is published in Nuvein Magazine, Ovi Magazine, Pen Pusher,
Midnighttimes.com, Scars Publications, and soon Burst.
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