March 2000

the night opus

    Somewhere, someone is waiting for a reason. Perhaps a reason for being, a reason for doing, reasonable answers. This isn't a story about reasonability. This is a story about the decay of reason. There are those that would equate such decay to specific strains of mental engineering . I would have to disagree. Only the afflicted can appreciate such conditions, leaving those of us handy enough to express ourselves in want of some greater, and altogether elusive, quality of paranormal disarray. I would have to say that the decay of reason is nothing more than inevitability. Human beings have always been destined to be their own undoing. I believe we're just getting to the good bits now.

    I was in love once. I loved a girl that I had watched love others. I spent years at her side, picking her up when she was too internally disconnected to power herself. Maybe it was this tragic state that drew me to her, I'm not quite sure. There were aspects of this woman that, to me, embodied everything that a woman should be. For some strange reason I refused to consider her faults when multiplying her numbers. Personal perception of perfection is like that. You see what you want to see. After a while, you just see what you need to.

    On occasion, for things to make sense, truths have to be bent to suit certain aspects. I am not going to say that this story isn't truthful, to the contrary, it is. But I'm not going to say that some of it hasn't been tampered with. The reasons for this will remain with me. All you need know is that I was truly in love with this girl. Years later I would come to the realization that love is nothing more than perspective. As time passes, it has little to do with romance or the heart. It has everything to do with status quo. One day you will wake up and realize that a good portion of your life has been used up. If you're lucky, there might be someone laying beside you that will be able to tell you where it went. They, themselves, will appear to be the shadow of an individual you once knew. They will not remember the real you either. Both of you, despite your youthful hopes, will have become lost in a wash of complacency. This is not the decay of reason. It is simply the unconscious deployment of internal countermeasures.

    There are instances in every life that will be continuously reviewed as monumental errors in judgement. It is difficult for me to say that my love for this girl was an enormous miscalculation, but it's what I'm driving at. I doubt that, no matter my cold aversion, I will ever fully admit that it was a mistake. No one can ever fully do such a thing. Justifying ourselves to ourselves is a talent that we terminal apes have mastered. We're so good at it, in fact, that human history has been profoundly effected, time and time again, simply because someone, somewhere, refused to face the truth of themselves. Instead, they justified. Realizing that you're a fool is quite easy. Coming to terms with the realization that you will always be a fool is the difficult part. We, as a species, have yet to admit that we are profoundly and prolifically foolish. Who, in their right mind is going to admit to such a thing? You will spend your entire life trying to prove otherwise. When you get there, take a look around at where it's gotten us.

    Let me start by admitting that alcohol had a great deal to do with everything. And when I say alcohol, I'm talking about liquor. Not beer or wine or any other such nonsense. I'm talking about good, old fashioned, four on the floor booze. I was one of those secretive alcoholics that no one ever suspects. Some of my closest friends had no idea that I was a drunk. Come to think of it, it eluded even I for longer than you could possibly imagine. My destructive twirl with the bottle peaked one evening when an old man had the misfortune of driving his car into the back of mine. It had snowed that day and the roads were covered with ice. This did not matter to me. I snapped. I got out of the car, took a rusted nine iron out of my trunk, and proceeded to pound the shit out of his hood and windshield. I would later be arrested for driving under the influence and assault. Thankfully, I had yet to use the horseshoes that had been residing up my ass since birth. As it turned out, the old man did not have a license, refused to press charges, and I had played baseball with the arresting officer's son for seven years. So he kept me locked up for a couple of hours and then let me go. That night, the girl that I loved was with another guy. My best friend, to be precise. I would waste my phone call leaving a message on her answering machine. Her mother, who would come to detest me in ways one can barely imagine, thought it best that it was erased. I have no idea what I said, but I remember it being quite convincing. It would take me years to admit, but that night marked the beginning of my immaculate coercion of Jennifer Dawn Connors.

    Hello, nice to meet you.

    Let's talk about Dick. Because Dick had a lot to do with this. Dick was Jenny's father. Richard Connors, failed architect and lowly car salesman. In the early to mid seventies Dick had his own firm, pulled in almost a hundred grand a year, and had affairs with younger women. In the early seventies a hundred grand was like a million dollars. It afforded luxuries such as in-ground swimming pools, three car garages, and expensive vacations. It also meant that Dick could have his very own bar in the basement of his very own house. Dick would spend the better part of seven years in that basement slowly drinking himself into the waiting arms of a General Motors show room.

    For some unknown reason, we tend to hold alcohol in the highest of regards. You can go to a bar and get loaded, but you can't smoke in one. You can be in bed asleep when your girlfriend starts banging on your window covered in blood, having just been beaten with a lamp stand by her drunk father, and no one seems to give a damn. Get caught smoking a joint at school and Jesus Christ himself can't save you. When it comes to alcohol abuse, the silent majority tends to look the other way. In the end, one of two things always happens. Someone dies, or someone spends a good deal of their life wishing they were dead. Problems that are easily tackled are always the ones brought to the forefront. Smoking, for example, is such a problem. It's easy to tell people they can't smoke in various locations because the law says they're not allowed. It is not against the law to purchase alcohol. Nine times out of ten, the law never finds out what that alcohol precipitates. So smoke up. That way you'll only have yourself to blame when your lungs fill up with blood. Not your father.

    When Jenny was very young she used to lay in bed and listen to her father beat her mother. It would go on for hours. Over fifteen years of beatings, the neighbors only ever called the police once. Jenny's uncle Ernie always used to tell her mother that he was going to kill Dick if he laid another finger on her. But he never did. Ernie was a big talker but never one for action. When things were good, Ernie tended to come around. When things were bad, he stayed away. All of them were like that. I used to call them the flying fucking Zelniks. It made Jenny very angry. Anna Zelnik, Jenny's grandmother, was a very quiet woman. She was so quiet that she used to whisper things to Jenny's mom who would, in turn, repeat it to everyone else. Anna's husband, Frank, had died of thyroid cancer several years before I had burst on to the scene.

    The Connors were another matter altogether. Grandma Connors was a victim of the loving backhand herself. Every time Dick's dad would raise his voice she would go rigid from head to toe. Jenny's mom did the same thing. Come to think of it, so did Jenny. Harvey Connors was one of those gruff types that likes to call Asians 'chinks'. He found that sort of thing hilarious. Besides Dick Connors, I've never met a man I'd like to kill more than Harvey. He used to wander around the house in his underwear when they were down visiting. He was the walking definition of a disgruntled white male. His son was his sidekick.

    In the beginning, Mrs. Connors liked me I guess. When I would come by to pick up Jenny I'd sit with her in the kitchen and talk while she knitted. I was half cut most of the time, but to Mrs. Connors it was normal for men to have that hazy look in their eyes. For the most part, I always thought she tolerated me because she figured I was a smart kid and Jenny could do with spending some time with a smart kid. I wasn't sleeping with her daughter then, which might be one reason why she was so nice. After Jenny and I started having sex, things around the Connors house got rather peculiar. Like her daughter, Mrs. Connors eventually came to realization that I was an idiot. And, on each occasion thereafter, she made it her mission in life to remind me that she'd figured me out.

    So there's the pathology. Personally, I had no excuse for my behavior. And since then, I've never tried to offer one up. Jenny, on the other hand, had plenty of excuses. And for all the years she endured her father, she never felt the need to use any of them to her advantage. Her time would come. And in her mind there were only two acceptable outcomes: either he would kill her - or he wouldn't.

    When I was a young man I used to spend a great deal of time reading. I would read anything I could get my hands on that interested me. My father, to his credit, kept a rather large, though eclectic, collection of books in our basement. So, from time to time, I'd sneak down there in the middle of the night, grab a book, go back to my room, and start reading. I must have read everything from Inside The Third Reich to Catch 22 before I was fifteen. It was marvelous. This, of course, had its downsides. I was never all that good at making friends, you see. Instead of putting forth any sort of effort in this area, I would just sit in my room and redraw maps from atlases. I've drawn the entire planet four time over in my life. From every river to every remote village worthy of being included on a national map. Any idea where Vidz'yuyar is? Didn't think so. I may be the only North American born person who does.

    As it turned out, the key to unlocking my social skills was booze. In Junior High a couple acquaintances introduced me to gin. My father, it just so happened, was a lover of gin. Especially Tanqueray. So these guys would come over after school and we'd raid the old mans liquor closet. By five thirty, around the time my mother got home, I was three sheets to the wind. However, I always had enough sense to drink a half a glass of Scope and spend some time convincing myself that I was in control. Most of the time it worked. The rest of the time my mother just thought we were being fourteen, I suppose. Either way, it started snowballing quite dramatically after that. By my sixteenth birthday I was putting away three quarters of a bottle a day. By my seventeenth birthday I had gone beyond the point of no return. As any alcohol abuser will tell you, that's the point where you drink just to feel normal. You're not drunk at all. You're even up.

    That's not to say that drinking made me Mr. Personality or anything. I was still somewhat of an introvert, it's just that I found it easier to deal with strangers than I had in the past. I met Jenny at a house party when I was sixteen. We were both quite drunk. She came up to me and asked me what my problem was. I said that I didn't have a problem. She said that I did. I said that she was my problem. She kissed me and nodded. It would be the last time that I would touch her until we were almost twenty.

    In the weeks that followed, Jenny and I became friends. We were the kind of friends that rarely spent much time in large groups. Instead, we'd drive somewhere and dissect the world. And all the while I had but one thought on my mind. All the while she just wanted to make sure we didn't screw things up by entertaining those thoughts. As it turned out, Jenny's problems were much too immense for me to handle alone. By the time were twenty they had crushed me to death and turned me into someone that I no longer recognized.

    As an aside, when you're supporting a hefty drinking habit it's always best to have alternatives. One cannot always afford passable liquor, so you end up being creative. We did this by inventing a drink that, to this day, has yet to be surpassed - except, possibly, by a handful of true West Virginians. This drink consisted of the following. We called it paint thinner.

    - one half bottle of vodka
    - one half bottle of J. Walker Red Label
    - mix vigorously in large Tupperware container and consume

    You might be wondering why vodka and JW's Reddie were the liquids of choice. As funny as it might sound, they were the two most common types of liquor found in the discount bins. I needn't say more. On occasion the discount liquor would be changed around, so you might have to put up with rye or whatever they needed to get rid of that week. But vodka was always the constant. There was always vodka. And if you made friends with vodka, it never let you down.

    When I graduated from high school I started working full time and suddenly realized that I could afford Jack Daniel's on a daily basis. So that's what I stuck with. Jack Daniel's is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the way. Lynchburg is in a dry county. You have to drive to the next county if you want a drink. America is a strange place.

    Besides drinking, there was little else to do. Go to school, go to work, go home. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning and decide that the best thing I could possibly do with my day was to conceive of an extremely mysterious method of doing away with myself. It was a good idea for all of about thirty seconds. Thirty one seconds after the fact I came to realization that death would hamper my ability to listen to Synchronicity. And that just wouldn't do. I possessed a thirty second limit of self pity. After that I figured there were better things to do with my time. Like sit around, for example.

    If ever one could have a 'good' reason to drink, Jenny certainly did. She got the shit kicked out of her on a regular basis. You'd think she would take solace in the fact that she had alcohol to wash away the uglier side of her existence. Nevertheless, she had a rather bizarre saying that accompanied her flights of boozy fancy. She'd say 'Like father, like daughter', with a broken gin on her broken face. She always found it rather ironic that, at the age of seventeen, she drank almost as much as her father did. She also thought it made her a hypocrite. Back then I wasn't much for waxing philosophical, so the best thing I could come up with was 'you could never be like him'

    How thoughtful of me.

    The annoying thing about the past is that it remains steadfast in your head, unwilling to capitulate when you decide the time has come to alter it to your advantage. The human brain is a thing of absolute mechanical wonderment. Best to make it sound breathtakingly complicated than admit it causes more grief than good. For I have been of the mind for quite some time that, without memory, life would be filled with nothing more than a series of ridiculously happy accidents. There would be no other way to define the past, you see. It would be nothing more than an ensemble of all the days prior to your current state of euphoric ignorance. If only it were that simple. If only we hadn't so many shameful instances of great importance to remember in hopes of deterring sequels. What useless meat we truly are.

    I am a cynic. I am a cynic because, like God to his gardening puppets, Jenny fashioned me in her own self image. You may find it hard to believe, but there was a time when I was a care-free sort of fellow that could be easily shaken from his bad temperaments by the nonsensical invasions of others. Unfortunately, having spent my 'impressionable years' both intoxicated and in the company of professional degeneration, the boy that I was would not re-emerge on the other side. Only this body, this fool-head, would be left. But I can't rightly blame her for any of it. Try as one might, there are only two things in this world that influence decisions, despite what most folks think. The first only effects males of the species. The other, unless that is you've been in a coma since 1952, is yourself. I realize that you might have been expecting some sociologically long-lived, magical scapegoat to materialize and save what little dignity you thought you had left - but no dice. There's no turning back, I'm afraid. You're stuck with your past selves.

    When I think of Jenny now, I try to think of her as she was before everything went horribly wrong with us. After all these years I still try to fixate on one specific image of her, one of which I often dream. It is an image of her descending a flight of stairs in a cheap, Italian restaurant. It was the first real date I ever took her on. It was all that I could afford. She left the table, went to the washroom, and as she returned I watched her walk down them. And, in that very brief moment, my mind took a picture. A picture of her smiling at me as she never had before. It was as if, for that one split second, everything in the world stopped. Armies put down their weapons and decided to make war an affair of timed kite flying, the worst teams in every sporting league on earth won by enormous margins, children that had nothing knew possibility, and I was standing in an openness so vast and spectacular that I was reduced to nothing more than a pickling jar filled with air saved from the beginning of time. It was, in a word, rapture. You may think it sounds unlike me or silly of me to say, but I hope that in your life you will know what I'm getting at.

    Besides that, Jenny was short. She was short and round. At the time she was maybe five foot three and weighted about 125lbs. She always had shoulder length brown hair, blue eyes, and crooked teeth. She had worn braces for many years to no avail. When she smiled she pressed her lips together so that you couldn't see them. She only listened to music when she was alone or driving in a car. When she went swimming she always wore shorts and a T-shirt, never a bathing suit. She liked mushroom soup, those sweet peaches that come in a can with juice, and corn chips. Her favorite movie was A Passage To India, her favorite band was New Order, and her favorite colour was green. She liked dogs not cats, hated eating fish, and despised the fact that I used to smoke. The rest is just for me, I'm afraid.

    Now, you may be wondering why I keep referring to her as if she were dead. The truth of the matter is that I'm not rightly sure where she is. I have no idea if she's alive, dead, married, a mother, in a cult, or an astronaut. I haven't spoken to her in some years. (I was having a problem with tenses just then. It bothers me to no end when things of that nature seem like they're intentionally working against you. It is the main reason that I gave up on my dreams of one day writing a series of novels about a time travelling stripper and her arch enemy, Chip Butler.)

    As I mentioned earlier, on our first proper date I took Jenny to a cheap Italian restaurant. It was called Alberto's. It was the kind of place that looked like it might be expensive but was actually very cheap. It was a restaurant owned by middle class people who catered to those who were hanging on to the bottom rung of middle class status. It was a split level place with a small balcony. It also had thousands of bottles of cheap wine stuck inside of those red, clay octagon things that Italian contractors (and their clients) find so appealing. Back then it was a big deal for both of us. We even went so far as to dress up for the occasion. This meant that Jenny wore her usual black sweater with a skirt. I wore a white shirt and a tie under my Bones Brigade jacket. Ah, how I loved that coat.

    You must remember, by that point in time Jenny and I had been good friends for the better part of three and a half years. We were nineteen when we went out that night, having spent two years discussing whether or not it would be a good idea. After dinner we went to a movie. We saw Joe Vs. The Volcano. Following that we walked back up the hill, a journey of some two hours, and stopped off at the park and sat on the swings. It was there that we kissed for the second time in our lives. I remember it quite clearly. It was one of those tense sort of unions that ends with one person looking away afterwards and the other laughing. Jenny, who always did have a flare for the dramatic, turned her face away from mine and looked down the road, playing at one of her commonly overused personas. So I laughed - and she hit me with her hand bag. Totally uncalled for.

    That night on the swing set marked the beginning of the end for Jenny and I. After everything that we'd been through, the strain of having to put up with each other on a romantic level was just too much to bear. Some months following that night we would make the horrible mistake of moving in together. After that, it was all just a matter of time.

    Now all of this might have led you to believe that the two of us were somewhat off kilter. This was not true. Despite the fact that, most of the time, we looked like we had no clue what was going on, we were actually extremely organized, if not altogether ritualistic. For example, we would only drink at specific times and in specific places on weekdays. Never earlier than our first free block and never if we had to drive somewhere later in the day (which, as you might have guessed, only ever applied to me and never her). Jenny would get very angry if I had started drinking before we met up in free block. To her it was one of the constants in her life, something that never changed. Even if I was sick she would walk down to my house and sit in my room with me. For two years, minus summers, it went like clock work.

    Another thing that was comparable to preordaining time was the ever changing state of Jenny's upper extremities. There were times when even I was surprised that she hadn't been hospitalized because of her wounds. You know, Dick once hit her with a pipe, if you can believe it. He did it right before he left for work one morning. It was lying in the carport and he had tripped on it. He got angry, called her out to the carport, made her pick it up and hand it to him, and then hit her in the forehead with it. The night before, I had left it there by accident while we were rooting through some old boxes looking for one of those bicycle tire air pumps.

    In our first year of high school, Jenny's councilor dared to inquire as to why Jenny's face was often bruised. Sarcastically, as if Jenny thought someone with a crackerjack box psychology degree should know better, told her that she played a lot of sports and had a tendency to over commit. As time passed, everyone knew that Jenny's stories and excuses were horse shit, but they also realized that she was not the kind of girl that you could lecture. During those years, I spent a couple of hours each week taking with Jenny's councilor, Mrs. Hopkins, about what went on at the Connors house. Mrs. Hopkins believed that I was one of the few things that Jenny had that mattered to her. I would often nod in agreement, wondering secretly to myself if we were talking about the same person. Because if her theory was accurate, then Jenny sure did have a funny way of showing it. Like sleeping with most everyone that I knew, for example.

    The night that I was arrested for attacking that old guys car was a typical example of her behavior. If I had a nickel for every time I discovered her with some guy in a bedroom at a party, in a parked car, closet, bathtub, whatever - let me tell you, I'd have a shit load of nickels. You might think that I was a wee bit obsessive about it, busting in on her like that all the time, but that wasn't the case. I was simply making sure that she was alright. Because, on occasion, some of her fuck buddies got a little carried away. Jenny did not fight back. Jenny had learned to take it. I, on the other hand, was frequently on edge when it came to her safety. There might not have been anything I could have done about her father, but I wasn't about to let some fucking hump bash her around. I am not a violent man usually. But let me just say that there are some things that I do not stand for. And when such circumstances arise, I am not one to play at punches. Just baseball bats and such.

    But you see, that was the frighteningly weird thing about it. Ninety nine percent of the time I would simply find her with some guy, make sure everything was okay, and then I'd wait outside until she was finished. I would sit on couches, stairs, the floor, and wait. In a way it almost became my identity. On more than one occasion, the guy that she was with would pop his head out the door and tell me that she wanted to go home. This was my cue to either go start the car, call a cab, or figure out which mode of public transportation we would be taking. She would then appear and we'd leave. Most of the time, not two words passed between us on the journey home. It was almost as if she knew it hurt me but couldn't bring herself to admit that it was that exact aspect of our relationship that she liked. Some things are better said with the lights out, it seems. Just not to me.

    So that's the way things went for us. She walked a thin line between physical abuse and causing herself enough emotional abuse to ensure that she didn't have to deal with it, and I just kept my mouth shut and did what I thought she wanted me to do. As it turns out, all she ever wanted me to do was take her away from all of it. But you see, when you're only nineteen, and not that bright when it comes to girls, you aren't exactly knowledgeable in the ways of double meanings and the behavioral perplexities of women. Come to think of it, what man ever is?

    I'm going somewhere with all of this of course. It would be pointless for me to continue wallowing in such pathetic description. In the future remind me to make sure that I simplify things somewhat. Like this, for example:

    Girl - me - booze - bad dad - love - rip off - slut - not her fault - car - kill - accident - haven't seen her since…

    See. Much better.

    So here's the meat of it then. Following a brief courtship, the two of us decided to move in together. We had talked about it for almost a year, so it wasn't as if we hadn't worked out the details. These were the details…

    1. I would quite college and get a full time job.
    2. Jenny would get a full time job.
    3. We would buy old, second hand furniture, and fix up an older apartment that was inexpensive.
    4. We would save up some money so Jenny could go back to school.

    That was the plan. And that's what we went about doing.

    For the better part of nine months after graduation the two of us worked our asses off. Besides money for booze, which was becoming less of a priority in our lives by then, we saved everything dollar we made. Neither of us bought new clothes or shoes during that time. We didn't rent movies, go to movies, go to clubs, none of it. We stuck to the plan. And, one fateful spring day, the plan paid off. For the first time in our lives we left home. It was a big deal for her. But as I would discover, getting hammered by your dad for most of your life doesn't simply disappear just because you're no longer within striking distance. No matter what, you're always within striking distance of your own mind.

    For the first couple of weeks everything was what you’d expect it to be. The basics of every day life accompanied by copious amounts of intercourse. There’s just nothing like the first time you find yourself in an environment that is completely void of parental authority. We had so much sex that it was literally a struggle to get out of bed the next morning. It wasn’t that it was overly strenuous or anything, it’s just that we often did it in intervals, 11:03pm - 1:29am - 3:44am - and so forth. Not exactly the brightest thing to do when you’ve got to be at work at 5:30 the next morning. There are a handful of jobs in this world that do not require a great deal of alertness. Let me assure you, unloading shipping containers with a fork-lift is not one of them.

    But as time passed we both began to realize that living on our own wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Besides working impossible hours for slave wages (for that is what newly graduated teenagers get paid when they’re limited to a specific job pool), we were forced to spend our weekends doing things like laundry, grocery shopping, botching the simplest of home improvements, while attempting to come to terms with the fact that the birthplace of the worlds Silverfish population was located somewhere beneath our floorboards. This left absolutely no time for things such as going out, getting loaded, and generally having a good time.

    Now, the one truly remarkable thing about this particular time in our lives is that we were so distracted by the ever pressing need to keep our financial heads above water that we somehow forgot to be complete drunkards. I’m not saying that we didn’t drink, just not every other hour of every day. It was bizarre. I remember waking up one morning and realizing that I hadn’t drank anything in close to two weeks. But even though our lack of consumption seems like a positive now, back then it was horrible. You see, for the first time in her adult life, Jenny was forced to deal with her abusive past as a sober individual. And let me tell you, despite the fact that I loved her, I would have rather been in fucking Antarctica. Either there - or two miles below the surface of the earth…in a steel bunker…in the middle of a lake of fire…guarded by viciously evil leprechauns. It was gradual at first. She’d do things like toss violently in her sleep and wake up screaming. This led to other things, such as discovering her cowering in the bathtub in the middle of the night. Attempting to approach or talk to her when she was like that was pointless. She would often throw things at me like soap and shampoo bottles. She once gave me seven stitches after hitting me in the head with one of those sharp plastic foot scrubber deals. Those nights were unbearable. She was unbearable. And I was just too young and too panicked to deal with it properly. My only experiences with her like that were when she’d show up at my house after Dick had done her in. I was used to consoling her after her ordeals. But when it came to being viewed as ‘the enemy’ I became resentful. I realize now that it was a terrible thing to do, of course. It would have been better just to stay close and make sure she didn’t do anything stupid. But I never seemed to have enough time to rationalize anything. In the heat of battle, as it were, I just wanted it all to stop. Most of the time it happened in the middle of the night and I was literally semiconscious. So I did the only thing that I knew would work. I’d get her drunk.

    You know, when I was younger my father often left me with a specific phrase after he had finished reprimanding me for some wrong doing. He would say ‘Duffy, I hope, one day, when you grow up you have kids that are just like you. And you’ll realize then how little you knew now’. God damn right, Bob. God damn right.

    The night that it happened was just like any other night. I went to bed around eleven, slept for a couple hours, and awoke to the familiar sound of running water. So I rolled out of bed with a groan and walked across the hall, all the while looking for indications of how bad a state she was in (as she had an odd habit of scattering clothes all over the place when she was particularly freaked out). So there I was, standing quietly with my hand on the doorknob and my forehead resting against the door, pausing in an attempt to collect my thoughts and come up with a plan. From what I could tell she wasn’t scrubbing herself because she always made whimpering noises when she did that. You see, from time to time I would discover her in the shower rubbing her arms and legs with one of those green scrub pads. You’d be surprised just how much skin they can rub off given the chance. But luckily that wasn’t the case. I opened the door to discover her stretched out in the tub, feet resting on either side, a can of Orange Crush resting on her stomach. At first glance I thought she was asleep. So I started to lean over to grab the can when I discovered that she was merely fucking with me. She let out a yelp and started flopping her limbs all over the place, obviously making fun of the fact that I expected her to be freaking out. She laughed a little, flipped the wet hair out of her face, and said ‘hey there sailor’. I responded to this by sliding into the tub, ripping the Orange Crush from her hands, and dumping it over her head. So we laughed a while, talked some, and then decided to go back to bed. A that point I thought I was out of the woods. I thought maybe she’s taking a turn for the better. We even went so far as to engage in some of the unspeakable contact, which we hadn’t done in some weeks. So, after all was said and done, she went into the kitchen to make some tea and I fell into one of those dreamy sleeps that one always hopes will consume them.

    When I got up the next morning Jenny was nowhere to be found. Usually this would have concerned me to no end, being that I had turned into a very controlling and possessive asshole by that point who often chose not to believe anything that she told me. You see, she was the one who threw fits in the middle of the night and was on the brink of losing her mind. I was the one in control. For some unexplainable reason I felt that it gave me the right to act as if I were her lord and master. I can admit that now. At the time, I figured I was just providing stability and acting accordingly considering that she was prone to a variety of perplexing behavior. But on that particular morning I wasn’t at all concerned that she was missing. I knew full well that her friend Alison was over from Courtney and that she had most likely gone over to spend the day. So I spent the morning in blissful ignorance. Then the phone rang and it started raining shit bricks the size of basketballs.

    I have come to the conclusion that there are six different types of phone calls.

    1] Those that are bad and you know they are before you pick up the phone.
    2] Those that are bad and you answer the phone like an idiot because you think it’s a friend calling you back.
    3] Tele-Marketing.
    4] The kind of call that makes the hair on your arms stand on end because you know it’s your mother in law.
    5] Normal phone calls.
    6] The kind where you don’t say anything.

    When the phone rang I was sitting in the living room reading the last page of Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch. If you have yet to read it, the book is comprised of four short stories, the last of which is simply entitled ‘Bitch’. To this day I can still remember the line that I was reading when the phone rang. It was the following: A moment later the two of us were millions of miles up in outer space…


    Directing your attention to the chart provided in this section, know then that I endured a number 6 with subtle undercurrents of number 4 for good measure. For you see, it was a policeman who rang. And, from somewhere within five hundred feet of his position, I could hear Mrs. Connors wailing in the background. I have been sitting here for fifteen minutes trying to find a way to put this to you, but I can’t seem to figure it. So I’ll just say this: I dropped the phone.

    On July 23rd, 1991, Jennifer Dawn Connors killed her father. She did this by releasing the parking break in her Volkswagen Beetle while parked on a sloping driveway. She steered the ghosting car down the driveway and pinned Dick Connors to the back wall of the carport as he was taking out the trash. The force of the impact was so great that Dick’s legs were almost removed at the knees. He died some four hours later at the hospital from a combination of internal complications and blood loss.

    When the police and ambulance arrived at the Connor’s house, Jenny was still in the car. Her mother was banging on the window trying to get Jenny to start the engine and pull away. Jenny just sat there. Some ten minutes after crushing her father, Jenny was removed from the car by police. She was not handcuffed. She was taken to the hospital, as was the body of her nearly dead father. Mrs. Connors spent the following four hours demanding that her daughter be imprisoned forever. Having lied to the authorities about her vantage point, Mrs. Connors initially told police that Jenny had maliciously driven the car into her father and that the engine was running at the time. Jenny was formally charged later that afternoon. I was contacted just after 11:30am. I immediately went to the hospital.

    I arrived at the hospital only to discover that everyone had left. Having been looked over by a doctor and briefly examined by someone from psychiatrics, Jenny was taken to a police station to be interviewed. So I spent close to an hour trying to figure out which station they took her to. The nurses, not having any insight into the years of abuse that Jenny had endured at the hands of her father, refused to help me when I told them that I was the ‘concerned boyfriend’. They thought she was the devil. So I did the next best thing. I called every metropolitan police station in the white pages.

    Despite the fact that she had yet to speak to a lawyer or anyone from child welfare, she decided to tell the police everything. She told them that she left our apartment at around 4am, drove over to her parents, parked in the driveway, and sat there. Her mother, having been questioned at the hospital, told police that Jenny had been drinking. This, of course, was a lie. Jenny had not been drinking. She was sober. Unless, that is, someone had unknowingly tampered with the ingredients of that Orange Crush while it was sitting - unopened - in our refrigerator. Beyond that, Jenny knew exactly what she was doing. So they charged her with first degree murder. That’s murder of the ‘premeditated’ variety for those of you who are wondering what the difference is.

    So that’s how it happened. Rather unglamorously, I’m afraid.

    As the weeks rolled by, everything to me seemed a wash of hours spent useless. For all intents and purposes, Jenny had gotten away with it. You see, she knew that she would, perhaps even long before she went about doing it. For no one in their right mind is going to send a twenty year old girl to prison for killing a man that had beaten and sexually abused her since the age of seven. And that was the shocking part for me. I had no idea that Dick had done anything beyond the clinically violent. I had no idea there was more to the whole affair, altogether vile. When it came to light that there were multiple levels to Dick’s abuse, any desire on the Crown’s part to pursue a conviction fizzled. Jenny’s mental instability at the time could be easily justified. Enough was enough. To make her relive her past in court would most likely have driven her to suicide. So nothing was done.

    When she came home she seemed embarrassed about the fact that everything had been revealed and would often leave the house when I tried to get her to talk to me. Sometimes I would yell. I wish now that I hadn’t. We spent a couple of months pretending that things between us would go back to the way they were, but her heart just wasn’t in it. It was during that time that I came to realize that I had pushed her to love me. As difficult as it was, there was nothing left for me to do but admit that she would never look at me the same way again. Maybe, in a way, I was nothing more than a twenty four hour reminder of a past that she wanted to forget. But instead of being civil about it, I found myself suddenly pride stricken. You see, I had paid my dues, I had put in my time. All I wanted was a little acknowledgement for the years I spent being the faithful lap dog. Despite the fact that I had, in a way, contributed to her destruction, I was convinced my influence was one of the catalysts that had invited the finality that she had found. But, as I’ve said, I became nothing more to her than a reminder of hell, instead of someone who only ever wanted to save her from it.

    In the late fall of that year, Jenny decided that it would be best if she went to live with her Aunt Rachel on Vancouver Island. I was against it, of course, but there was nothing I could do to stop her. And it was then that I realized that our time together had come to an end. We spent two weeks together before she left, sleeping in different beds, changing clothes behind locked doors. And during that time we came to hate each other in ways that neither of us knew was possible. Everything, all contained within a single perfect sphere in my mind, where had it gone? Good question. Sometimes that’s the reality of love and wonderment. It stays with you for a brief time so that you might have something not wholly tarnished to keep you lifted up during the darker trials of your future. And, in some strange way, maybe it’s best that such things are typically fleeting. That way they remain the secret of perfection within us, held there as if a reserve power source. I will always be reflected in perfection when I think of myself back then. Because even now, after all that I have supposedly gained, I would trade it all for just ten minutes in a lousy Italian restaurant.

    The two of us talked on the phone some during the months that followed, but after a while our lives started to get hectic and we lost touch. My current mood of nostalgic recollection aside, I would be lying to you if I said that it ended well, because it didn’t. It ended badly. It ended with the kinds of words, accusations, and untrustworthy thoughts that can never be fully amended or retracted. But that was just us, you see. Being us at our finest.

    You know, I have often wondered about her. Sometimes, when I see or hear something that reminds me of the past, images lightning-strike my head and I’m brought to my knees by it all. Like the smell of wet pavement reminds me of the simplicity of childhood. My waking self shows no trace of that which I once was. I am now someone else. I am a grown man and still, though eager for the futures cast, hopeful of nothing to change that which I have known prior. So if death is defeat, or passage as some see fit, then this will have been my victory. And if that is the only truth I know of myself in this life, then fine by me.

    ‘night kid.

Look At The Time…

    There was a reason I got rid of the whole question - answering thing in the first place. Thanks for reminding me.