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22 April 2007 @ 02:46 pm
the neighbor: yeah, we were friends for a ton of years, most of my childhood years. it was my first experience with a fanatical pleaser, with someone who looked up to me (god knows why). yeah, she was a little younger, so you know, of course she looked up to me, but she was also very smart, a little evil, always had to take my master plan one step closer to madness--the perfect sidekick really.

There was a neighbor. There still is a neighbor. We were friends, and now we aren't. I flatter myself that she flattered me. In truth, I pretend that she loved me, did everything, ran in circles, to force a smile out of me. Clever girl, wild, younger than me, enough so that I claimed implicit leadership. She was always willing to suspend disbelief for a single afternoon in that goddamn precious childhood way. She would believe that you can destroy the entire fucking neighborhood by feeding enough animals and constructing enough snowballs.

we accomplished a lot, we had lofty goals, missions, tasks to complete. it was like harriet the spy.. FROM HELL. we terrorized the poor neighborhood with my dad's expensive binoculars, not to mention our sick plots and schemes. i had the idea to turn the neighborhood cats to our side, make them love us more than them, make them listen only to us and not their owners. we bought delicious things and rounded up the cats from lawns and yards, riding bikes holding cats, cats in wagons, cats in baskets, and fed them treats and foods until they loved us. they purred, nuzzled our ankles, and we stood there laughing evilly and wringing our hands (no kidding).

We had notorized motherfucking agenda, cross-stitched, aimed like paper airplanes at the ultimate destruction of all we knew. On the face of it, it was all pure childhood pomp and circumstance, but there was slinking around in us that smacked of something else. The hint that you get when you know you've pretended too long and too far, that you know you're very close to identifying with the game. After a few summer weeks, the plans to turn the neighborhood cats to our side began to coalesce into...something else. They were fed, and the loved us for it, in that lazy sort of way cats love things. In the end, the binoculars just gave us a better vantage, a way to more securely know that the holocaust was complete. She took the fall, but only out of convenience for all involved. Oh, God, how did it come to that?

a group of giggly girls down the street which included the twins, well, they tried to steal her from me. fuck no, i didn't let them. i showed her how blind they were, how they didn't understand, didn't know what needed to be done here, didn't see the world as we did. of course, taking it one step closer to madness, she decided we should systematically destroy them. we began taking logs of their comings and goings, their habits, their particulars, and one day there was the epic bike chase that somehow resulted in a large fight between my hot-headed friend and our enemies. being the, ahem, adult in the situation, i remember pulling her away from them, a rock in her hand, telling her it'd be okay.

Those silly, stupid girls. They tried to get her to listen to reason, when it became clear I'd have none of it. Tried to take her away from me, pull her back to safety and to Barbie. They failed, and in her repudiation she drove away the only people capable of understanding how serious this was becoming, and how terrible this would get. In my youth, I aided and abetted this, programmed it, systematically, with a terrorist's understanding of group dynamics. I called them blind and weak - and they were. The insinuation ran from there, trickled down the poor girl's brain into her heart, and before I knew it - I had a Polly Pocket Stormtrooper, living lies as a matter of course, and teasing around the outer edges of genuine violence. I pulled her out of the final intervention, rock in her hand, blood on her teeth. I had made a patsy, violent and cocksure.

we'd wander the woods for hours, sometimes a whole day, come back dirty and muddy with leaves in our hair. we'd try to summon spirits in the graveyard and dare each other to touch headstones we were sure were evil, to sit down on top of the graves, to say, "hey! come and get me!" i accidentally sliced my ankle on a jagged metal swing and didn't notice, it was gushing blood, blood all over, "emily! your leg!" and i looked down and said "uh, whoa, i should go home" and after that i was even cooler, someone who felt no pain. she'd feel my scar and wish for one of her own.

I began to take her to the woods for hours, sometimes the entire day. We'd return muddy and scraped, never a word what we did, never a peep of what we spoke of. Through the graveyards, we would wander, like precious little goths, only aggressive and mocking of the dead. We had weaponized our indolence and our childhood dreams, stabbed at the solemnity and pompousness of the grave, at the rustling quiet of the forest. I told her about The Plan, then, on these vague and long-lost days. I told her about the cats, and how we could turn them to us, what this would mean, what we could do. I was joking, at least...that's what my parents told the DA. Hers did the same. Mine are more convincing. I cut myself once, on a jagged metal swing, smirked in pretense as I acted the numb fool. She would feel the scar after that, and know I was for real. I tell myself I was just playing the badass, that I wasn't consciously trying to make her a subordinate, or a fall guy. I tell myself a lot of things. I echo my deposition.

my dad saved her on the field, the baseball diamond, it was wet after days of rain and she stepped in the mud and her feet stuck. i laughed, she laughed, but then we started to panic. she really couldn't move her feet, the suction was too much. i pulled, she laughed, i laughed, she pulled me, i fell down, she fell down, we were covered, COVERED in mud. my dad came back from walking the outskirts of the forest and pulled her out, but her shoes would remain forever.

Her idolatry spread to my family. I took her out one day into the mud, the deep, thick mud. The suction had made a minefield of the baseball diamond, and I lead her into into one of the more obvious sinkholes. We pulled and we pulled, and we laughed in that way where you laugh to give proof and testimony that it's not serious. And it wasn't. Of course it wasn't! What, for lack of shovels in the state, she'd die of starvation? Live the rest of her life out on the baseball diamond, brought meals, with a little ramada built over her to keep the rain out? I went and fetched my dad, and he pulled her out. The worship she held for him there went a long way towards pulling her from her parents, pulling her to mine, and to my version of events.

she couldn't go home like that, hell, i couldn't go home like that, and my dad knew it--my mom, her mom, they'd kill him for letting us get so dirty not to mention losing her brand new shoes to the vacuum. we sat in the truck on newspapers and wondered what we should do: "dad, we can clean up in a bathroom. go to the store, they have a bathroom" ... "yeah!" she said and he took us to a supermarket. this was awesome: she was shoeless, we were both covered, we dodged in and out of aisles, hiding behind the florist arrangements, stacks of canned yams, and finally made it to our destination.

We took her to the nearest public restroom in a local hardware store, and here was the opening. As we dodged, weaving through visual obstruction, to reach the the restroom and wash the mud out of us, I made a side trip - to the pesticide aisle. I had accelerated the cat plans. What love is there greater than that imagined and attributed to the dead? Those darts never miss, no matter how carelessly thrown. They are an infinite dartboard, every space in the middle, and no matter how bad your aim - you'll hit. And they'll love you as they're gone. Or they'll hate you. Really, it's moot, and for a child - and I was a child - moot means love for cats, hatred for parents, and fear for the younger children.

we had these piece of shit walkie talkies, i think they were yellow. we used them to coordinate swims in the am after our parents had gone to sleep. if they didn't work, a small rock at the window did, and we'd float in inflated donuts and wonder what we'd do with our lives. i said i'd marry someone brilliant and foreign (even then i liked accents), she said she'd never marry, and would devote her life to capturing criminals. this made us both laugh.

I bought us walkie talkies. They made everything...official, easy. Militarism is nine tenths equipment and uniforms. We used to them to plan swimming, at first, then focused more and more on the sorts of things you can only really say to just one other person from a great distance. Things there...really are no body language for. You see Anthony Hopkins, and you assume that's how a psychopath washes his hands or how a murderer reads the newspaper - but you have no fucking idea. They're just guessing, going for the lowest common denominator of creepy. I connived her to renounce romance, the married life, propped up my own aspirations in that vein, and then... I lead her to that old shed in the woods, where I'd hid the poison. Quarts of the stuff. We stared across the rotting wooden at one another, speaking to each other through the walkie talkies, holding them up like masks. It was born, there.

somewhere along the way i decided she had to stop. she had to start thinking for herself and stop depending on me. i made other friends, and she was still there waiting in front of my house. i pushed her away horribly, and i regret this even now as we exchange the courtesies of casual waves and smalltalk. she's doing well, she's studying forensics, she seems a little lost but mostly happy, but i wonder if sometimes she sits outside smoking a cigarette and remembers our secrets and pacts, swimming at 1am, our plans for cats.

I tried to pull the plug. This is in court records, in case you don't believe me. I tried to stop it, to stop her. But she ran with it, literally. Ran with it, and before you knew it, the neighborhood was choked and pressed down by the weight of howling old ladies and weeping children. The cats were dead. They lined the streets before animal protection dragged the corpses out, like some perverse Sesame Street Guernica. It was hot out, and the smell was really unforgettable. They were assumed to just be sleeping, until the heat got to them and they ripened. The cops were quicker about this than I could have imagined - no one credits them with competence until it's too late. I had decided that she had to stop, that she had gone...too far. I tried. It's in the deposition.

I see her sometimes. She still lives here. She can't really move anywhere. Her parents lead her everywhere. They don't blame me. I tried to stop her. I tried to prevent it. Her eyes have that patient air to them, that distance you see attempted in psychological thrillers. She hasn't checked out. She has just so much and such strange perspective now, that even to deal wtih the mundane just doesn't make any sense. I think she forgives me.

but maybe that's just me.

But, the catatonic are like dead cats that way. It's easy to say they love you.
 etomlef: GIGGLIE!!?!etomlef on April 22nd, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC)
the woods are lovely, dark and deep... but i have promises to keep and miles to go before i sleep.