Chapter 2 – Paradise
2006. I've just finished reading "Perfume: The Story of A Murderer" by Patrick Suskind for the first time. A new school year will be starting at Promontory High School and I am becoming familiar with the books that will be read and talked about.
This book has become the most fascinating to me. The protagonist, Grenouille is raised in France. He has an incredible sense of smell but soon realizes he has no smell of his own. He steals people's scents by killing them and using their skin to make a perfect perfume. In essence, he defines his existence through the murder of other people. No remorse, no regrets. I honestly don't know why they teach these things to high school students. Whatever innocence they have should be cherished.
I'm interrupted by a knock at the door. It is 12:30 p.m. the kids won't be home for two more hours. Who would come over at this time of day? I get up off of the couch in my living room and walk towards the main door. Another knock comes very loudly while I'm right next to the door. I wince at the loud noise; I hate it when people do that. I reach down and open the door.
Mister Edward Hale, the principal of Promontory High is standing in front of me. I remember his green dress shirt and red tie. It reminds me of Christmas. He has dark brown eyes, neatly combed brown hair and a wide toothy grin. I've never seen him mad. From what I've observed about people that either means they have it made or they are a liar. I figured Mr. Hale had it made. He had a wife, five kids and a successful career as a High School principal. As far as I could tell, he was the former.
"Good afternoon actually," I reply cracking a smile, "what can I do for you today Mr. Hale?"
We exchange small talk for a while before turning the topic to business. It must not have been a very important conversation because I don't remember the details. It probably had something to do with methods of teaching, how our families were doing, the weather, little stuff like that. Anyway, the part I really remember came as Principal Hale was leaving.
"I can't thank you enough for all of your work Mr. Farrington," he said "we're looking forward to another good year with you. You're one of our greatest teachers I've seen."
"Thank you." I said. I accepted the compliment. At the time I let myself believe him.
I am helped out of the armored van by two men in black leather jackets, pants and masks. A black sedan is in front of us. I feel like I'm in a spy movie and I'm looking around waiting for one of the men in black to knock me out with chloroform or throw a black bag over my head. It doesn't happen.
Instead, they lead me to the car. A very tall, bald man steps out and inspects the scene. He seems a little more heavy set but based on the way he moves I figure there's more muscle than fat beneath his grey suit. He has a dark complexion and his eyes are grey. He has a very stern look on his face, a deep contrast towards Glass' wild grin.
"Did you see that?" Glass yells "Did you see the bodies? Got 'em all in one go! Perfect timing!"
"Congratulations Glass," the bald man replies in a deep bass voice, "I hope you know that meets your limit for the month."
He then turned to one of the men in black and game him a nod. The man in black pulled a black cylinder out of his jacket which I figured was some kind of grenade. I was right. The man pulled a pin from the cylinder and threw it into the truck. It erupted into a ball of red and orange flame, effectively destroying the truck and Glass' gruesome handiwork.
"Who's the recruit?" the bald man asked.
Glass was next to me in seconds, one arm around me and the other arm waving his bloodied shiv around before it settled, shaking at his side.
"This is the guy you wanted! Jack Farrington! I've got him for you Dad!" he said.
"So it is," said the bald man, his face unchanging "get in the car, we've got a long ride ahead."
"Where are we going?" I could feel all the eyes on me as I spoke to them for the first time.
A slight smile grew on the bald man's face.
"Paradise." He said "I'll explain more on the way."
That was all I needed. Without another word we were in the car and on the move.
I had mixed feelings about the Bald Man. His neat suit, his low, calm voice, the way Glass and these men in black moved and spoke around him. He had a significant influence over them but seemed to be nothing like us at all. He made me uneasy because although I could notice these little things about him, they didn't tell me enough about who he was.
Whenever I first meet a person, I can tell exactly what kind of person they are, if I like them or not and how to best approach them to get what I want from them.
For example, three years ago I remember walking into my classroom and meeting Riley Patterson, one of my students. I could tell by his baggy clothes and the way he held his books over his crotch he felt insecure; unsure of himself. When I talked with him this was confirmed by his eyes darting from side to side when I would ask him a question as if he was listening for someone else to answer for him. He received very little support from others, his family being no exception and if I simply complimented his efforts he would be under my control,
Before I had gotten into the van I knew everyone but the Bald Man. The way the men in black moved resembled the way trained soldiers moved. They had different guns and while their uniforms were all black they were different as well and were made of different material. Nothing was standard issue. They weren't soldiers here; they were mercenaries and could be bought or bribed.
Glass was ruthless, but could still maintain enough control to follow the escape plan from the armored truck. His constant grin and wild laughter I recognized as a mask to hide some constant pain or hatred that he was feeling.
By the way the Bald Man had scanned my face; I knew that he knew these things as well. He had this same skill I did. He knew everything about us. He knew how to control us and I had no idea how to control him. That made me uncomfortable.
"There's a lot to explain," the Bald Man said "but I think you'll get the idea once we get there. I've just got to ask you one question."
I looked over at Glass who was sitting on the other side of the Bald Man, he was grinning excitedly, glancing at me and then looking back at the Bald Man.
"Fire away." I said. My curiosity was piqued and I decided to give in a little to the Bald Man and see if I could get him to trust me. Another person's trust has always been one of my greatest weapons.
"What if there was a place where you could do anything you like and not have to face the consequences?"
I thought about that for a while. Justice and consequences were often on my mind, but usually in judging and determining how to punish others. Yet here I was, escaping consequences for my own actions. A place like that for me-
"That would be heaven for me." I said.
When people imagine heaven they think of angels in white robes playing harps all of the time. That's too noisy I think. When I think of heaven I see a place where with judgment day passed and gone you can do whatever you want; indulge. Delight in a world where the pleasures and sins of this life have no consequence or end. That's your reward for being good here right? To be able to do whatever you like in the life to come.
"There is a place like that," the Bald Man said, "all over the country there are communities of people like us. Murderers, psychopaths, thieves, rapists… anyone that society has rejected or imprisoned because they did something that society saw as wrong. Here they can live their lives and keep doing these things under our direction and avoid the consequences."
He leans in close to me.
"This is where you belong." he says in a low whisper. I can feel his warm breath with a hint of peppermint strike my face. "We want you to have another chance at life."
"What if I don't want that?" I said with a smirk.
The Bald Man turns his head back and lets out a laugh. The men in black in the front of the car and Glass are laughing also.
"If you didn't want that," the Bald Man said with a smile, "you would never have gotten into this car. Let's face it, you like us too much."
I didn't like anything. But I understood what the Bald Man meant. There was enough about him and those in the car that kept me interested. I didn't feel any connection to them- not even Glass- but I wasn't planning to kill them either. They were people I felt I could stay with.
I rewarded the Bald Man with a slight grin and sat back. So he was going to control me by giving me the freedom to kill people. That was a big offer and I was sure there was a big price tag on it somewhere."
"What do you want in return?" I asked.
The Bald Men chuckled again.
"Nothing gets by you." He observed aloud. "As you heard in my discussion with Glass, there is a limit on how many victims you can claim each month. This keeps the FBI off of our tracks. We also ask that everyone spread out when performing their acts of mischief. Most acts have a fairly high limit but due to the permanence of death, murder is quite a luxury."
Glass was nodding on the other side of the Bald Man and looking towards the front of the car.
"Five is the limit per month and may be adjusted over time. At least one of those will be an assignment we give you, for example, Glass here just killed four people on an assignment to recruit you. He killed one earlier this month and has reached his limit. Likewise, we will have you recruit others or strike specific targets, namely people that would be trying to stop us."
"That sounds almost too good to be true." I said.
"It's a very different world," said the Bald Man, "one of acceptance and continual satisfaction. You won't find anywhere else like it. You get to start over again, do whatever you want and be whatever you want. Speaking of, you will have to create a new name for yourself."
It took me some time to think of a name that I wanted. Here's the part where I should let you in on another truth in my life, my name was never Jack Farrington until this point. I don't remember what my name was before. Probably something boring like Dylan or Bob. Until I was Jack Farrington I had made up so many names for myself that I even forget the name I told my wife and kids. The expanse of my false identities and lies are like a pit of sand that runs so deep that all of the pebbles of truth are lost and often forgotten underneath. My name until this time had meant nothing to me and was left behind with the many memories I chose to forget.
Within the next two days I arrived at Paradise Villa, the apartment complex in New York City that was home to the most ruthless killers, rapists and drug addicts. It was there that I was reborn as Jack Farrington.