Broken Machines

True Story: in the winter of 2001, a woman I know named “Barbie,” good-looking and successful, is found in the trunk of her car one morning with her eyes and mouth taped and a cord wrapped around her neck. Two weeks earlier she had shown police and coworkers a doll in the same condition that she said she had received in the mail.

The day after she was found in the trunk of her car, the sheriff told me that she had done it all to herself.

I found this story much more chilling than the story of my mentally ill neighbor who left street garbage as a gift for me, for one central reason: if it could happen to “Barbie,” it could happen to me.

Jeffrey Dahmer told the news media that by the time he was 15, he was killing animals all the time, and that he knew it was wrong but could not stop. He also said he felt his feelings and actions had become “unconfessable.”

What do we do to keep the machine from breaking?

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