01 July 2021

A Short Evocation of a Lesser Common Narcissist

(Based on true events, but the names and cities have been changed to protect… you know how it goes.)

Many years ago, a guy named Kirk came to visit us for New Year's in Laskin, SD, bringing with him an Internet friend, Rona. The last time we'd seen Kirk was over ten years before, when we still lived on the East Coast. Since then he and his wife, Anna, had split up. According to Kirk, she went crazy, and I mean literally crazy. This may be true - Anna always seemed a little strange to me - but I can also assure you that living with Kirk didn't help. Kirk was profoundly convinced of his ability to do anything, superbly, without practice or study. And shared his expertise with everyone. The latest iteration was computer: 

"You remember how I used to be into hacking? Made me the expert on security issues. I get messages from people and companies all around the world wanting me to fix their stuff. Make it impervious to scammers. Set up firewalls no hacker can breach. I could make a mint, but I'm picky about who I work for. But they all know what I can do. They all want me." 

Why, then, after Kirk and Anna split up, he went to Arizona, looking for the six figure dot-com job,  I have no idea.  Apparently no one had ever told him about Silicon Valley. He didn't find the job or any other, except some side gigs. I'm not sure he actually looked. After all, his repute was such that sooner or later the perfect job would find him, right? 

Meanwhile, he couch-surfed from friend to friend, apartment to apartment.  And he searched for love on the internet, and found Rona, from Serbia, and headed off to see her in Texas. 

Rona was getting her doctorate in plant cellular microbiology at Southern Methodist University. How she got from Serbia to Dallas is a whole 'nother story, but let's just say Dallas was major culture shock. She ended up retreating into her studio apartment and spent most of her time outside of classes and labs on-line. She told me that meeting people via the Internet was safe in Europe. "You meet normal people." Then came Kirk. Who sounded like every other lad looking for love on-line.

She was lonely and he was lonely, and she invited him to come to Dallas and visit for a few days. Along the way he called us and invited himself and Rona to visit for New Year's. He implied that he had met Rona in Dallas and something about Christmas with her family in Fargo.  We had no idea he had (1) never been to Dallas before, (2) never physically met her at all, and (3) that she had no family in the Americas. 

So we said sure, come on up, and he said, "Well, we should be there in an hour."  

And they were.  

I liked Rona at once. Physically, she looked tired and worn out, not just from the trip, but from her whole life. She grew up and lived in Belgrade throughout the whole breakup and the Kosovo bombings and the subsequent craziness of rebuilding. And now she was in a strange country, and even though American TV is universal, living here is different than watching it on TV. She chain smoked (but then so did we back then), and had a terrible cough.  She was also very intelligent and had goals and the drive to fulfill them.  The plan was to get her doctorate and become a scientist and make a good living. 

Meanwhile, I had forgotten how exhausting Kirk was. He paced and postured and never, ever, ever shut up. Mostly about himself.  Mostly his amazing track record with jobs, knowledge, and women, all of whom always developed a major crush on him.  

But not Rona.  Definitely not.  In fact, she was completely weirded out by him, and wanted to get away from him ASAP.  Per Rona's desperate request to me (almost as soon as she hit the front door), they had separate sleeping arrangements the entire visit.  Kirk was offended, because - as he repeatedly said - they were just friends and that’s all that he had in mind.  He'd never even thought about her "that way".  By the second night of the visit he was obsessed with it.  I know, because he talked to me for 3 hours straight:

"I don't know what I did.  Why is she so upset?  What is her problem?  You know, she's really very domineering and aggressive.  I don't like that in a woman.  Maybe I should have just gone for a one-night stand, maybe that's what she really wants.  I'm not that kind of guy, you know that, everyone knows that, but sometimes you've got to do what they want, whether they know it or not, you know?"

Repeated, over and over and over again on a bitterly escalating loop that was disturbing, and made me afraid for Rona after they left our place.  

But Rona had survived worse things than Kirk.  They left Monday morning, and a couple of hours later Rona walked out on him at a coffee shop in Sioux Falls.  (I had asked her to call me to let me know if she was okay: she did and she was.) She got a taxi to the airport, where she planned to stay until she got a flight. Any flight. She could do that because she had credit cards.  

Kirk did not.  All he had was the rental car. So he called us and said he was broke and that he needed some money, and could we come down to Sioux Falls and give him some? And if not, how about if he turned around and came back and spent some more time with us? Granted, it was a very small-time extortion, but it was neatly done.   

Of course we drove down and gave him $75, and said, "Well, it's been great, but we've got to get back to work, and so do you, and have safe journeys, traveling mercies, and, uh, next time maybe give us a heads up before you come to town."  

Kirk took the money, but his feelings were clearly hurt.  

"Well," he said, right before he drove off, "as I remember it, you invited me."


Read "The Sweet Life" in the July/August Issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Also, my story "Collateral Damage" is in Murderous Ink Press' Crimeucopia: We're All Animals Under the Skin. Available at Amazon.


  1. Extraordinary story, Eve. We all run into these weirdos from time to time. Long ago, I worked for a local radio station. The board appointed a guy as chief engineer. The guy was only seventeen years old, was a smooth talker, boasted of his abilities and vast experience... and they believed him. The kid only held the position for a couple of weeks before the board realized what they'd done. But by then, damage had already been done. He acted like he owned the station!

    I hope your... uhm... Kirk, is a useful source of inspiration for you.

  2. Talk about a nightmare guest. But definitely a story there!

  3. Anne, they walk among us - in many places.
    Janice - you bet!

  4. Eve, great job. The visitor from Hell. Sure did make a wonderful story though.

  5. Reminds me of at least one person I used to know!!

  6. I hope you've been deprived of his company, in-person and on the phone, since then.(People like that drive me nuts.)

  7. Elizabeth and Barb - I think we've all known one. And yes, we have finally shed ourselves of him.

  8. Wow. That's a story, all right.


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