October 2013 – “Stephen Fry” – Duo by John Pilling


By John Pilling

I was motivated to commence this little biography by reading a quote from Mr Stephen Fry. He said, “You are who you are when nobody’s watching.”

I rather liked that, his acceptance of the radical difference between the identities we show to the world and the ones we know ourselves to possess, has always struck me as admirable. I imagine he must be a most honest self aware person in order to originate something so true. The trick is, of course, to be happy with the “who you are” bit.

My own case however, is somewhat different to that postulated by Mr Fry. I have my public face as is normal, but privately I have two faces. Two distinct personalities who happily coexist symbiotically, my own and that of my “alter ego” Jeb.

This situation arose as a result of my formative years, when I suffered from an almost permanent crisis of identity. In this I was much assisted by my mother who produced a seemingly endless series of “Uncles “all of whom attained instant disciplinary rights over my person. I was a small child, indeed I am still of no great stature, rather precocious, and through sheer self preservation quickly became adept at developing acceptable personalities. None of them were really me of course and it was only in my middle teens that the dominant personality of the crowd finally emerged and made himself known to me. He called himself Zeon, but I changed it to Jeb because I’d always wanted a brother called Jeb. The realisation that I would never again be alone was a source of great relief and pleasure to me.

This happy development, coinciding with the arrival of a more than usually brutal “uncle” finally decided me to rid myself of my mother once and for all. I had of course, long ago, worked out the logical equation that no more mother equalled no more “uncles” but had never really felt confident enough on my own to take action. In the event, with the support of my new inner partner, it proved childishly simple.

Lately, she had taken to injecting herself a couple of times a day with methadone, a heroin substitute that she obtained from the local surgery. Around four o’clock in the afternoon, accompanied by the latest “uncle” she started on the vodka, with the result that both of them were invariably unconscious by around nine in the evening. It was the work of only a few moments to refill the syringe and inject the contents into her arm. After carefully wiping my prints off it I was about to place it beside her when I had the sudden inspiration to place it near “uncle” instead, first ensuring that his thumbprint was on the plunger. In this way I hoped not only to ensure the death of my mother but also the “uncle’s” removal on a charge of murder.

Events fell out much as I had foreseen and within a couple of months I found myself in sole possession of the family flat and able to devote myself both to the development of my relationship with Jeb and to my studies for the university.

My second foray into the realm of murder was again somewhat of a necessity, although a more interesting and pleasurable affair than the first mere crude disposal. Interesting because of the greater involvement of Jeb, and pleasurable because I was able to closely observe the moment of death, and also to inform the victim who had killed him.

I was at the university by then and much annoyed by a particular lecturer who persisted in denigrating my work, to the point where I became seriously concerned over the possibility of my not attaining my degree. The situation was intolerable and I therefore determined to kill him as soon as possible.

Due to my particular discipline I had access to various chemicals and on the advice of Jeb, who seemed to know a great deal about them, I began to insert small amounts of various substances into the cups of tea I volunteered to make for him. He, of course, thought I was trying to curry favour – an impression I made no effort to correct.

I observed his subsequent illnesses with interest, recording the knowledge for future use. Fortuitously, his final collapse occurred when he and I were alone during a tutorial and I could enjoy his pleas for assistance whilst informing him of the truth of his situation. To watch the terror and hate in his eyes gradually fade into the glaze of death was a joyous thing to me and I determined to repeat the experience as soon as was practicable.

For some two years after this event I occupied myself in obtaining my degree and congenial employment but at the end of this time Jeb and I started to plan a series of perfect murders.

With no urgency now involved we had time to draw up a list of aspects on which we both agreed. Although, of course, we now had a captive victim population on which to draw, we decided that our choice should be entirely random…

* * * *

I sighed heavily as the intercom buzzed. Typical I thought, just as I was getting into the flow of writing. Pressing the switch, I said

“Yes nurse?”

“Mr Wayne is here for his appointment, doctor.”

“Ah yes of course” I replied “Ask them to bring him in please.” Smiling, I leaned back in my chair, glancing out at the garden through the bars on the window. Mr Wayne had featured quite largely in my thoughts recently, a deeply unpleasant man who, according to his file, enjoyed molesting small boys.

Perhaps it was time to try a change in his medication.


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