A Strange Discussion
Steve Mount

"Hi, how are you?" the interviewer asked.

"I'm fine, thank you. Yourself?"

"Just fine." Pleasantries done with, the Interviewer got right to his task. "Now, Mr. Harding, you do know why I'm here?"

"Oh, yes, of course I do." Harding puffed his filterless cigarette and blew a thick cloud of blue smoke into the air.

"Good, then let's get straight to it, shall we?"

"Fine," he said smiling.

"You've been in prison for, what, three years now?"

"Yes, three years, two months and three days. Really, prison isn't as bad as some people make it out to be. As long as you know your way around, prison can be a real adventure."

"So can I assume that you are pretty much left alone by most the other inmates? What I mean is, you hear a lot about prisons, about what happens in them."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, like, on the outside, we hear a lot about sodomy in the prisons, and to tell you the truth, you look like a pretty easy target for some big inmate's libido."

Harding laughed. "Yes, well, I suppose you're right. This prison is pretty bad for fags, but they leave me alone. I think It has to do with the fact that I'm in here for murder, and they aren't really sure about what I'd do. You know, if one of them tried to ..." Harding made an upward-moving gesture with his fist.

"So they're afraid of you?" the interviewer asked.

"Yeah, I'd say they're afraid of me." Harding paused to mash out his cigarette and light another. "Wouldn't you be afraid of someone who killed fifteen people in cold blood in a one-night stabbing spree?" Harding smiled a wicked smile.

The interviewer cleared his throat and Harding laughed. "You did know why I was in here, didn't you?" Harding asked.

"Yes, of course I did."

"But you'd pushed It out of your mind." Harding smiled again.

The interviewer coughed again and paused. "So they're pretty much afraid of you because of your crime?"

"Of course." He puffed his cigarette.

"Uh, tell me about it."

"About the murders?" Harding asked as he puffed again.


"Well, if you'd done your homework, you'd know about them." Harding liked giving the interviewer a hard time. The interviewer said nothing. Harding chuckled and mashed out his cigarette. He opened a new pack and pulled a fresh cigarette from within. He lit it. "Well, it was a pretty bad night for me, you know? I just was in a real bad mood, and actually pretty bored. So I decided to go and do something a little exciting."

"And you consider killing fifteen people a good time?"

"Well, I did then. I was real bored."

"And boredom was reason enough for you?"

Harding puffed indignantly on his cigarette and said, "We all got our ways, you know?" He smiled again. "Anyway, I just took my hunting knife and went hunting." Smoke poured from his mouth and from in between his yellowing teeth as he spoke. "So I see this hooker, right? So I go up to her and she gave that 'Hi, big boy,' line. I cut her right then and there."

"But why?" the interviewer asked. Smoke came from his mouth.

"I just did. And it was cool, the sounds that came out of her mouth, the look on her face. She looked up to me just before she died. Her eyes, that look, I just had to see it again. So I walked down the street a bit and cut this guy who was walking by." Harding slammed his fist into his gut, simulating. "Wham! Right there. The look was the same. So I just went up the street, doing that."

"Fifteen times? Just like that?"

Harding mashed out his cigarette and lit another. "Well, eventually, some people ran up to me to try to stop me, but I just cut them too. Then the cops came and had me at gun point. I just gave up then, had no reason not to. Dropped the knife and smiled. It was a real blast. Really." Harding took a drag.

There was a sob from outside the cell, the cry of a woman's voice. "What was that," the interviewer asked, as blue smoke poured from his mouth.

"Oh, goddamn, you know who that is," Harding said angrily.

"Your wife," the interviewer said.

"Of course it's my wife, idiot." He took a deep, nervous drag on his cigarette.

"Bitch," the interviewer said as he blew the smoke from his lungs.

"How long does he go on like this, doctor," Harding's wife asked the doctor.

The doctor made a clicking sound with his tongue and palate and said, "Well, one of his 'interviews' went on for three hours. He just keeps on talking about himself. Then he switches voices and asks himself another question."

"Will he ever be better, doctor? Ever?" She looked at him pleadingly, praying to God his answer would be yes, but knowing In her heart the answer would not be so optimistic.

"Mrs. Harding, to be honest, we don't know. We just don't know." They both turned back to Harding's cell and watched.

"But let's not talk about my wife. This interview is about me, right?"

"Of course, Mr. Harding, whatever you say." He took a drag on his cigarette.

"Don't be scared, okay?" Harding said as he blew out the smoke.

"I'm not."

"Good. Anyway, I just gave myself up. I was laughing hysterically. They tried to cuff me, but my hands had blood all over them and the cuffs kept slipping right off. I thought that was hilarious..."

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 1999

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