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Flamer Salesman

posted Aug 11, 2018, 9:46 AM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Aug 11, 2018, 9:46 AM ]
The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

Doctor Terrence Walker, controversial psychiatrist at the Greenwell Police Department, made the headlines amid speculations regarding the identity of one of his patients. A week earlier, members of the public alerted Greenwell Police to the sighting of a man resembling escaped convict Joseph Dodgson. Better known as Flamer Joe, Dodgson escaped from Con City Penitentiary several months ago. Authorities have been eager to recapture the escaped serial killer, who is guilty of murdering ninety-six people, most of them with a flamethrower. Law enforcement officers found the suspect selling household items from a dirty old van in the suburbs of Greenwell, and quickly brought him in for questioning. When the man identified himself as Joseph Smith, traveling salesman, the Chief of Police asked Doctor Walker to interview him.

`I did what I could,' Doctor Walker said about the interview. `At the end of the day, I am no detective, so figuring out his identity was beyond me. Which is why I subjected him to a psychiatric evaluation instead, to ascertain whether or not he may be a psychopath who enjoys murdering people with a flamethrower. As I stated in my report to Chief Woods, Mister Smith showed no signs of being interested in murder. He simply wanted to earn a living by selling his merchandise in a peaceful community like Greenwell.'

Upon recommendation from Doctor Walker, the man known at the time as Joseph Smith was allowed to leave but asked to remain in Greenwell while his ID was being thoroughly checked. Three days later, the document turned out to be a forgery, and a warrant was issued for the suspect's arrest. Unfortunately, no one was found at the motel address the suspect had given as his contact information.

`I think we can pretty much conclude that it was Flamer Joe,' said Detective Eve Rhodes about the suspect. `This is the problem with shrinks. If the Chief had given the job to me or any other Detective in the building instead of Doctor Quack, we'd have found it suspicious that a traveling salesman with the face of Flamer Joe was trying to sell cigarette lighters, blowtorches, crates of matches, and army surplus flamethrowers out of an unmarked van that looks tailor made for a serial killer.'

Chief Woods of Greenwell Police has defended Doctor Walker's diagnosis, despite the damning words of Detective Rhodes. `I have full confidence in the abilities of all my staff, including Detective Rhodes and Doctor Walker,' he stated. `I agree with the Detective that perhaps we should have investigated the suspect's business in more detail, but we had limited information at the time, and Doctor Walker is our foremost expert on the human mind, hence I have no reason to doubt his diagnosis. I am in fact relieved, that albeit Flamer Joe remains at large, he has apparently changed his life, stopped being a serial killer, and is trying to build a reputable business using his old tools.'

The rest of the Greenwell Police Department does not quite share the Chief's enthusiasm about the matter. `I'm almost never on the same page with Rhodes,' said Detective Malcolm Shepard, `but in this case, I have to side with her. There's no way Flamer Joe's gone straight, and even if he has, he should be back behind bars for the crimes he committed in the past. Doctor Walker should be ashamed of himself for this blunder.'

The police psychiatrist, who was recently himself a subject of controversy due to the string of missing person's cases linked to the dating show he hosts on Green City Radio, decided not to comment on the words of the police staff, and instead wrote an open letter to the escaped convict and aired it as a public service announcement during the commercial break on his dating show.

`As one dating show host to another,' he said in a reference to the televised dating program Flamer Joe used to host on Channel 11 via satellite from his cell prior to his escape, `I wish you nothing but the best in your future life. I honestly do not know whether or not the person I recently interviewed really was you, but if it was, I do wish you had revealed yourself to me so we could have shared our experiences as peers. And of course, in the name of both justice and professionalism, please turn yourself in. I'm sure your fans would like nothing better than for you to resume your duties as host of Joe's Gonna Kiss You.'

The words of Doctor Walker have failed to resonate with most listeners, and have alienated the entirety of Greenwell Police, with the exception of Chief Woods who remains confident in his abilities as a psychiatrist. One person who has given his most vocal support to Doctor Walker's PSA is Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards at Channel 11. Mister Edwards had been one of the executives who created Flamer Joe's controversial dating program Joe's Gonna Kiss You, and his career has been on a downward spiral ever since the show was canceled after the host's escape from prison. `Please, Joe, listen to the good doctor and turn yourself in,' he wrote on social media after Doctor Walker's PSA. `I'll get the show relaunched and you can go back to creeping people out on live television. I know you miss doing that as much as I miss my monthly bonus the ratings used to earn me.'

Despite the words of both Doctor Walker and Mister Edwards, two days removed from the broadcast Flamer Joe remains at large, along with the sizable inventory of his new business.