I remember thinking, after the second or third unreturned phone call, maybe this is how it begins with stalkers. A few unreturned phone calls, three or four, but it’s the absence of a good reason that really sets you off. I mean, why isn’t he returning those calls? There’s no good reason. You want to address the problem, to set things straight. So there’s a few more calls, like, why aren’t you answering my calls? It’s not that it’s a big deal to me, it’s not that I don’t have anything else to do, or that my life lacks meaning, but there’s no good reason to be avoiding me. We used to be pretty good friends, and it’s not like we had a big falling out. I mean, it just came into my mind to give you a call, since we hadn’t been in touch for a few years, and I thought maybe you’d want to know that things hadn’t worked out with my marriage.

The point is, I suddenly had an insight about how stalkers are born: mounting frustration, burning resolution, determination to make contact. So you’re thinking the stalker gives birth to himself, but the stalker, and I use the word loosely, very loosely, isn’t necessarily responsible for the birth; there’s at least two parents, I mean.

There was never any threat to your person. With the restraining order you reported that you had reason to believe that you were in danger. The only one who was in danger: me. I’m the first to admit that I went too far with some of my … When I cut off the tip of my finger and sent it in a package. Sent the tip of my thumb, with the note: What would it take Dale? (What does it?) How did that add up to a threat to you Dale? It added up to a lot of pain for me, but not a threat. If he stopped thinking about himself for five minutes and thought about … Sent him my finger. Do you know what that’s like, in terms of pain?

Friend is: Dale

This story first appeared in Another Ventriloquist.

See also: “Adam Gilders and Another Ventriloquist.”