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The Murderer Next Door by David M. Buss

The Murderer Next Door by David M. Buss

Author:David M. Buss
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


Six

MATE POACHERS

“Give me that man that is not passion’s slave.”

—WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Hamlet

ONE OF THE MOST terrifying displays of homicidal psychology I’ve personally witnessed happened at a friend’s home. It occurred during a holiday. A group of friends and family were all staying at the friend’s home for a long weekend of eating, drinking, talking, hugging, and having an all-around good time. Among the guests was a recently married couple, Amber* and Tony.* At one point, one of my friends, a tall, extroverted man named Richard,* put his arm around Amber and gave her a big hug. Since we were all being physically affectionate, no one thought twice about it. Except Tony. Half an hour passed, and a few of us migrated to the kitchen. I sensed that something was wrong, because Tony had grown suddenly silent. His eyes had become coal-black. Then he blurted out, “I’ve got to do something about Richard.” I asked him what he meant. “I feel like taking a screwdriver and ramming it into his neck!” He was deadly serious. I took him to one of the back rooms to talk in private. As I tried to calm him down, he explained that he “knew” that Richard was coming on to Amber. He didn’t like Richard touching his wife. I asked him if he wanted me to talk to Richard about it, which I did. Was Richard’s hug of Amber an innocent gesture of friendly affection, or was he really trying to poach on Tony’s mate? No one knew. By then word had spread among the group about Tony and his alarming desire to stab Richard with a screwdriver. Everyone’s antihomicide defenses were on hyperalert.

When Tony returned to the kitchen, he picked up a pair of scissors and began turning them over and over in his hands. Everyone eyed him nervously. Richard went outside for a smoke, people gradually dispersed, and the tension receded. But that night Richard and everyone else in the house made sure that their bedroom doors were locked tight. Everyone knew that Tony was a peaceful man, one who had never before shown any signs of violence. Now no one was quite sure what Tony would do. The next morning, everyone left. Fortunately, a crisis was averted and no violence occurred. But I realized that I had witnessed the frightening sight of a homicidal circuit switched on, triggered by the threat of mate poaching.

The earliest written record of mate poaching comes from the Bible, the account of King David and the alluring beauty Bathsheba. One day King David spied the stunning Bathsheba bathing on the roof of a neighboring house. She happened to be married to another man, named Uriah, but David was not deterred; his being king certainly didn’t hurt. He succeeded in seducing and impregnating Bathsheba, and then he devised an ingenious solution to oust his sexual rival permanently. He ordered Uriah to the battle-front, and then commanded his troops to retreat, exposing Uriah to mortal danger. With Uriah safely in his grave, King David married Bathsheba, a union that bore the fruit of four children.



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