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The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories

The Man in the Orange Suit
Adam Graupe

The 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. 

 “There 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 out.
 He spoke.  “I’m happy.”
 “What?”  I said.
 “I’m happy.”  He said. 
 “Good.”  I smiled and walked backward. 
 “You better not hurt him.”  His voice quavered.
 “What?”  I said.
“I won’t hurt him.”  He said this in a normal tone, but his voice quavered again with “You better stop it.  You don’t want to go back to jail do you?” 
I stood silent and stared.
He resumed his other voice.  “I don’t want to go back to jail!” 
 “Then you better stop what you’re planning!” 
 He smiled.  “I’m happy!”  He pointed toward me.  “I’m happy I’m not that guy.  Because that guy is an asshole!” 
 The quavering voice retorted “don’t call that guy an asshole even though he looks like one!”           
 “But he’s a real asshole, and I don’t 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 suit’s name was changed to Scott, and Zelda was the woman he loved.  They fell in love at first sight during college orientation.
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.  Zelda’s parents transferred her to another college back east, and she changed her name.  Scott’s 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 Hemmingway’s theory.  I gave up on writing and life continued on. 

© Adam
Graupe march 2008
totalratbag at

Adam Graupe is published in Nuvein Magazine, Ovi Magazine, Pen Pusher,, Scars Publications, and soon Burst. 
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