Saturday, January 07, 2006

Overhearing

The following story is quite violent.

“I need retribution, otherwise I will destroy myself. And retribution not somewhere and sometime in infinity, but here and now, on earth, so that I see it myself. I have believed, and I want to see for myself, and if I am dead by that time, let them resurrect me, because it will be too unfair if it all takes place without me.” Ivan Karamazov from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

I come to this place all the time. It’s a nice place to come and sit and let people just be around you. I mostly come for the free wireless Internet and the coffee, but it’s more than that. People talk a lot about how everything is getting worse and worse; how they used to be able to walk streets and all that kind of stuff, I guess that’s why no one looks at me in the eyes. I can sit in this place for hours and not one person will even acknowledge that I’m there. I blend in nicely. After I’m here for an hour or two I like to play this game where I breathe slower and I move as little as possible. I try to become invisible. Then I turn down my headphones (I always wear headphones) and see what I can hear people talking about. I don’t know why I do this, I’m way too old to be playing make believe or whatever, I just like to feel like I’m watching something. Maybe it comes from too much TV.

I usually pick a couple of tables near me as my targets. Old people are great, but they don’t talk much unless they’re with their grandkids or friends. It’s still nice to watch an old couple sit together and know that they love each other even though they look awful and they’re always in pain and they know all the other person’s secrets already. No mystery there, but there’s some peace to that. It’s mostly families here, which is usually good, but sometimes it’s depressing. It makes me tired to listen to some families talk, like they’re all bored but they feel obligated to say something. I guess genes are pretty pointless.

Young couples come here a lot too. They come after a lot of the families have gone home. Around seven or eight the place fills up with kids in groups and couples. I like to picture some of them as old people, I know that they aren’t likely to last long enough together to get married and grow old, but it’s fun anyway. The kids are all right as long as they’re nervous: it makes me really happy to see some kids sitting together sweating like crazy and talking about the dumbest stuff. I guess I just like to know that someone is still afraid in public. There is always at least one or two couples that kill it for me though. Some guy that either knows every inch of the girl’s body or knows that he will know every inch in about an hour, or some girl that thinks she’s all great because she gets the guy to do dumb crap for her all cause she’s a D cup. Whenever I see a young girl with her parents or friends I feel like I have to pray for her, especially if she’s pretty at all. I want to just think, “hey, she’s cute,” not like I want her or anything like that, just to think that she’s cute. But all I can help but think is that she’s either unbelievable dirty, or she will be in like two years. I don’t know why I pray, it’s not ‘cause I think it does any good, but I need to do something and if I went up to some little girl and told her not to ever let herself be treated like a sack of flesh someone would probably kick me out of here or get me arrested or something. I probably shouldn’t get so concerned about these girls, no one else seems to, only I can’t help it. Stuff like this seems more than wrong to me, it seems unjust, which is probably why I feel like praying even though I know its empty.

I got my favorite seat last time in the corner of the café. It gets kind of dark there at night so it helps me pretend to disappear even better. I was busy for the first hour or so writing and surfing the Internet, but I stopped after this family came to the table in front of me. There was just this young girl and her parents, but she was pretty. They talked a lot, which made me happy. To my right there was a table with an old German couple. I don’t know that they were German, but they looked like it. I turned off my music and held still so I could hear them all talking. I still surfed the Internet, but just to look like I wasn’t listening in on them at all. They didn’t say anything that interesting, but I still listened.

It made me feel really good listening to them. After a little while some kids came in; it was getting late. Two girls sat in the opposite corner from me; they looked really exposed, but pretty. They were too far for me to hear, but I watched them some. For the most part they made me feel down so I just avoided them. Whenever the door opens I watch to see who comes in. I know some people around here so if one of them comes in I want to see them before they see me so I can figure out what I am going to say and all. These two guys came in and sat to my right. They looked like they were about forty, but they also looked sixty. One was wearing an awfully sick looking pair of once-gray sweat pants; I think they were inside out. He had on this yellow shirt and over it was a leather jacket, but not like a biker would wear, it was tan and very worn-in. He was bald and his friend was going bald.

The almost-bald one was dressed like his friend, but a bit different. They were both fat; you could tell they drank a lot. It was real easy to hear them talk because they had that thick and heavy voice some fat people have. When they first sat down I saw the bald one give a couple of glances towards the family with the young girl. At first I figured that the bald one was interested in people just like me, but he just kept looking over at them so much that I began to wonder if he knew one of them. Then the almost-bald one started to look at them too.
I didn’t think they would actually order any food, but they did. In this place when you go to pick up your order you have to go to the side of the café that was opposite from the door. When their order was ready, the bald one got up and went to the opposite corner of the café to pick it up. He seemed to be the weaker one; I mean the wimpier one. He was a little smaller than the one that was going bald and he walked with a bit of a hunch. When the bald one brought their order to the table, he set it down and leaned over to his friend. He had a big grin on his face, which made me sick. I didn’t hear what he whispered, but the almost-bald guy said something like “yeah I saw her too” back to him. Then they both turned around to face the table where those two girls sat in the opposite corner from me and they scanned the room as if they were looking for someone. When the finished looking around, the bald one said something that I couldn’t hear and then they both laughed.

It was when they were pretending to look for someone that I first thought that they were rapists. I’ve known some real sick people in my life and they pretty much all looked sick too. These guys both looked like scum when they walked in and after seeing them checking out that little girl with her parents and those two other girls, I started to think about what they might be doing here. They didn’t look like they could afford to eat a meal at such a nice café, so it didn’t make much sense. Besides, they mostly served salads and sandwiches and these guys looked like hamburger people. The only thing I could think of was that they realized that this was a good place to find girls. Not to pick-up girls, ‘cause the way they looked no one would talk to them, but to follow girls out to their cars and kidnap and rape them. Or maybe follow them home and grab them before they got inside. While I was thinking about this they were telling some joke about being “filled” with the Holy Spirit with some sexual implication that I didn’t quite hear. They were cussing pretty loud considering they were sitting so close to that family at the other table. I didn’t have to go anywhere anytime soon, so I decided to watch them.

The almost-balding guy and his friend stayed for about an hour. Before they left the bald one got up and went outside. I could see from my seat by the window that someone was smoking a cigarette. It was dark out, but there was enough light to see him pacing around the parking lot. I saw him stop near one car, it was a green two-door; he looked around for a second then put his head up close to the widow. After that he came back in. He said some things to the almost-bald guy then they got up and walked to the door, leaving their near-empty plates on the table. The two girls were still sitting in the corner but the family had left about thirty minutes ago. I sat at my table for a minute thinking about what I should do, then I threw my laptop into my bag and left to see if I could find them. If I couldn’t find them outside I would just go home; if I could, I didn’t know.

The lampposts in the parking lot were halogen, which made them paint everything with a pale, blue light that was sickly fake. When I walked out into the night, I didn’t see anybody. I looked around to see if I could find the guys, but there were only cars. My heart was beating hard until I realized that they had left. I waited for a second, just to be sure, and then I walked to my car, which I had parked around the corner of the café. Parking at that place is always bad. As I neared the end of the building, I smelt cigarette smoke. I figured it might be those guys, so I slowly peeked around the corner and sure enough they were both smoking. When I saw them I leaned up against the wall so they couldn’t see me and when I did I saw the two girls leave the café and head my way. I didn’t want the guys to see me, but I also didn’t want to stand there looking stupid, so I casually went to my car. With the lights off in my car, I watched as the girls walked passed the almost-bald guy and his friend. I had my hand on the door handle just incase they tried to grab the girls. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do, but I was going to do something.

Once the girls were in their car, the guys stopped smoking and quickly got into their car. It was an old back Cadillac with dents. The girls pulled out of the parking lot first, and then the guys, and I followed them. I couldn’t tell how far ahead the girls were, but those guys drove fast and made a lot of sudden turns, which made me think that they must have been following the girls still. I kept up with them good, not too close so that they could see me, but not too far so that I lost them. We drove through a few housing tracks, down some side streets, and then they pulled over. I didn’t see the girls’ car at all, but I thought that they might have pulled into a driveway without my seeing them. Anyway the guys just sat there for like ten minutes, I parked in front of a house and turned off all my lights so it looked like I wasn’t there. One of them got out of the car and went to the trunk. The streetlight was dim so he was back there looking for awhile. It was too dark for me to see what he took back with him, but he did look around before he took it out. After he returned to the car, I could make out two red dots in their car, which told me they were smoking again. I started to think about what I could use to stop them. Not kill them, I didn’t want to kill anybody, I just wanted to help those girls. For a minute I thought about calling the cops, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to them. Nobody had done anything yet. I had that urge to pray again, so I did.

“Your no kinda God if you let those girls get abused.” It would have been an awful thing to pray if I really believed there was anyone listening.

While I waited for them to do something I felt really anxious; I just wanted them to act so I could figure out what I should do. They spent five or ten minutes parked there, then they turned their car around and headed straight for me. I ducked in my seat as they passed. Counting to five, I decided that it would be safe to follow them and so I did. Just as I expected they were going through the same neighborhoods that I had followed them through earlier. They were driving too fast for a residential area, which gave me the hope that a cop would pull them over. But there were no cops. I thought I lost them for a minute when they made a quick turn onto a street that I didn’t recognize from earlier. When I made the turn myself I could see their red brake lights glowing in the distance like beacons calling to me. They parked in front of a blue house about halfway down the block. It looked sort of beat-up, and the house itself was set so far back from the street that I doubted that it had a backyard at all. I parked four houses down on the other side of the street and watched them. I guess my heart was beating bad. They got out of their car and started to look around the street; I popped my trunk and slipped out the passenger-side door. When they started to walk up the pathway towards the house I dug through my trunk as fast as I could. After grabbing my tire-iron I spotted the almost-bald and bald guy walking slowly. Confident that they wouldn’t see me, I darted across the street and over to where the car sat; they were almost at the door. The lights in the house were on, but there was no movement that I saw. Christmas lights dangled wearily down from the eaves and a badly pruned tree stood in the center of the lawn. It seemed like the kind of place where whorey girls would live with their single mothers or their drunkard fathers. I knew whoever was in that house was going to be defenseless against these guys. They almost disappeared in the shadows as they reached the front door. For a second I saw them inside, naked, fat, and ugly, throwing a fist into the utterly horrified face of one of those girls and using the other to tear clothes from their bodies. My hands were red around the handle of the tire-iron.

I figured that they might not hear me if I ran across the grass lawn, there were no leaves to betray me. From the moment I left my spot beside their car I felt as if I had left my body and ascended into a state of pure motion. I caught the bald one in the face with the tire-iron as he turned to see me running towards him. He cursed as blood splattered and he fell. The almost-bald one tried to grab me, but I swung as hard as I could at his left leg. I didn’t expect the cracking sound. His friend was on all fours crying and screaming something about his eyes, I guess he was pretty bloody. Since he seemed to be unable to attack me, I turned back to the almost-bald guy, who was yelling at me to stop. I forced the tire-iron down upon his head, which gave another cracking sound and sent him into convulsions; his mouth was a red fountain. The bald one was crawling towards the door, but I hit him like the other. Both lay red on the ground. I knew they were dead, but all I could help but think about was that awful image of their disgusting bodies raping those two girls. Their eyes were the worst. I could barely make out the eyes of the bald one. I hit them both until their eyes were lost in the surrounding flesh.

It was hard to breathe and my body felt like it was falling to earth. I dropped the iron and pounded on the door. Nobody answered. I began to panic. The air was humid and it smelled of blood. It seemed like I should yell for help, but I was strangely afraid to puncture the silence with my voice. I took the iron from the ground I beat the door handle until it fell off. My head hurt a lot. I kicked the door open and screamed “help” with my eyes closed. The hot blood from the iron was dropping onto my hands and I hated it. When I opened my eyes I saw a poorly lit living room. There was a TV to my right and stacks of pornographic tapes and dvds and magazines in piles around the couch. I yelled again, but there was no answer so started to look for someone. It was late. I thought maybe they didn’t hear me. I glanced into the kitchen, but saw no one so I started down the hall. It was a mess. A door on my right turned out to be a bedroom. There wasn’t anyone in there, so I searched for pictures of the two girls, or any girls, but all I found was more magazines and some pictures that look like they had been printed from a computer. Back in the hallway I yelled again and looked into a doorway on the left, which turned out to be a bathroom. Even in the darkness I could make out black spots on the walls and ceiling. The last door was at the end of the hall. When I noticed the door, I realized that there had been faint voices coming from the room the whole time. I guess it was the shock or something; kept me from hearing. Opening the door, I saw a big bed in the middle of the room. A small TV was set across from the bed so that someone could watch it from bed. It smelled like powder and old air and urine. Next to the bed was a tank with a hose that was split into two and led to the nostrils of an almost unperceivable figure lying under a dark brown comforter. The light from the TV lit-up the lines and caverns of her small, oval face. She turned her head to look at me. I thought she would look shocked or something, but she just looked tired. More tired then I ever thought a person could look. I didn’t know what to say anymore. But she did.

“Tim? Walt?”

“No.”

“Where are my boys?”

“Do any girls live here?”

“No. Where are my boys?” She tried to yell this time. It ended in coughing. I looked around the room for a phone, she had one next to her bed. Its cord ran along the wall to a jack next to the door. I pulled the cord from the wall-jack. She was still coughing and trying to yell when I shut the door and left. I went back to the kitchen a looked through the sliding glass door at their small backyard.

It was all dirt and weeds. I found some garbage bags under the sink; I grabbed a handful and headed for the front door. It was not my fault. I never chose to care about those girls. It wasn’t like I wanted to kill anybody or even be a hero; I didn’t even want to believe in justice, I just did. Someone else put that in me. What the hell was I supposed to do?

2 comments:

Thrasher said...

Oh my gosh... I really have no words to describe that story...

Well done. Very well done.

The Pattersons 2 said...

Wow Alan, that was amazing.