The entire tone of the interaction leaves much to be desired.
The Nightmare On Elm Street house behind the young man
adds to the queer air. Leading questions should be shelved
during encounters of this nature, the lack of professionalism
glaring. Let’s go a little further. In a spartan room designed
to elevate anxiety, we might as well be throwing darts
against the wall. This should never be openly stated.
Please note that the people involved in this story
were never formally diagnosed with mental illness.
So what is this? The body language comes in handy:
clusters of indicators: discomfort, uncertainty, dread.
Slouched slightly forward but with arms crossed
indicates unease. The rapid head nodding could be
an unconscious stab at appearing agreeable-cooperative,
but active self-soothing isn’t out of the question.
Reserved and unemotional young men speak in monotones
with mouth shrugs—conveying messages of indifference
or self-loathing, the lack of affect an affect,
or evidence of drug abuse or an instrument
of genuine derangement or social media-induced
zombification. Allow him to talk as much as possible.
He sounds like a pretty regular guy. Then quirks
emerge. Entirely motionless and monotone
he offers information that needs more digging,
but the interrogators suffer from their own
personality disorders. They want to get away from this
God-forsaken town and move north to Canada.
They say Canada is a cool cold country.
That is an alternative theory of their attitudes.
The subject keeps his eyes on the table and nods
as incriminating details mount. The emotional
instability theory lacks merit. Lots of time spent
in musty basements on screens—but the key
to the house was never lost. No one answered
the phone or the knocking. Trust issues, father
dilemmas, missing teeth, insurance policies.
Someone had leaped off a bridge. A door creaks,
the subject left to stew. A commonplace
for them to groan and weep when left alone,
shedding the steely mask. But indeed, the sudden
sobs and tears seem unbecoming of a beast.
SALVATORE DIFALCO lives in Toronto.