Does Your Past Dictate Your Future?
I was almost 25 when I left the city of my birth. It was time to go, time to move on and get away. There were new experiences to be had and the pain of what I had once been, what I had once had was too much. Everywhere I looked there were signs of the glory and the fall.
For most of my life I had been a scrapper, never afraid to fight, never willing to give up and not smart enough to get out. It was a self imposed punishment for sins that I had committed but was unwilling to discuss.
It is not much of a description, not very colorful at all. In fact it is rather ordinary, but that is ok, I am ordinary and I prefer it that way. If you stuck me in a crowd full of people you would be hard pressed to pick me out. It was like that in school, never did or said much in class. No need to draw attention to myself I did what I needed to do to get through and nothing more.
And for the longest time that had been enough, an average, nondescript existence. It suited me fine to be a guy who punched a time clock. But sometimes even the average man find himself in a situation that is beyond his control,a time in which he becomes something more than he has been.
But the question is not what he does to elevate himself but how he handles the elevation.
It was Friday night and I had just finished my shift at the plant. There was no rush to get home because there was no one to get home to, no wife, no family, no girlfriend, not even a dog. Just an empty house that was sparsely furnished.
Friday nights were not much different than any other night of the week. Iâ€™d go home, pop open a can of beer and stare blankly at the television screen content to let my brain turn to mush.
On this particular night I decided to stop at an ATM. I wanted to order a pizza and I had nothing but the spare change from the last time I had visited the liquor store. It wasnâ€™t enough to buy a pack of gum, so I was forced to go to the bank.
There were two people ahead of me in line, a man and a woman and behind me there were a couple of teenage boys.
I didnâ€™t see him approach. I didnâ€™t notice anything about him including his presence until he was standing in front of us, waving a gun and shouting for our wallets. I have a bad habit of giggling when I am nervous. I donâ€™t like being the center of attention and now was certainly a bad time to laugh, but laugh I did.
5â€™8 or so and about a buck twenty sopping wet with a bad haircut and a Judas Priest shirt, that is all he was, oh and he had a big gun and an even bigger attitude. He grabbed my collar and asked me what was so funny. Before I could answer he had grabbed the woman in front of me.
She cried as he pulled her in front of him and asked me if I thought that this was funny. I choked back a snigger and told him that it wasnâ€™t. He told me that if I so much as smiled he would kill her. I wiped the smile off of my face.
It was the wrong thing to do, but I didnâ€™t know it. The jackass cuffed me in the side of the head and laughed. It infuriated me, brought back memories of years of being teased and tortured by my someone who had been like an older brother to me. So I just reacted. I kicked him in the balls and smacked him in the head.
In the movies the gun falls and the hero (there has to be a hero) grabs it. Not here, not in my world. In my world when I slap him there is a flash of light and a loud noise. I am splashed with something, but it feels like hours before I realize that he just shot the woman, and that he did it involuntarily. The wetness I feel on my face is her blood.
I stand there in shock, numb and not really aware anymore of what is happening. The guy she had been with is beating the crap out of the jackass, the Judas Priest shirt is stained now, but it is with his blood.
There is a cop speaking to me, but I donâ€™t answer. The real hero is lying, telling the officer that I saved everyoneâ€™s life, that if I hadnâ€™t hit him the guy would have killed us all.
I didnâ€™t hit him, I hit Georgie. It was Georgie I saw in front of me. It was Georgie taunting me, I just snapped and reacted. But I guess that somewhere inside I began to hear and to believe that I had been the hero, that when the bell rang I had come out swinging.
And that was really the beginning of the end.
I wanted to blame the jackass at the ATM for bringing this shit storm down upon my head. If he hadnâ€™t tried to rob us all, the girl he shot would still be alive and I wouldnâ€™t feel so miserable.
Then again she might still be alive if I hadnâ€™t reacted like the frightened little boy I had been and maybe still was. If Georgie hadnâ€™t spent years tormenting me, picking, poking and prodding me, she might still be walking.
Maybe if I would have learned how to deal with the bullying I could have stopped myself from just reacting.
Goddamn Georgie, he was dead too. Gone for years and still I could hear him mocking me, feel his presence.
They say sometimes the absence of someone is palpable. The only thing palpable about Georgieâ€™s presence was that even in death he still walked alongside me.
She was dead because Georgie had proven to me that I was weak andÂ lacking in value and worth. Really it was my fault.
The first time Georgie beat me I was scared. I didnâ€™t defend myself. I didnâ€™t try to, I just let him kick and punch me. And when he stopped I looked at him through teary eyes, not sure what to expect. He gave me a handkerchief and stuck out a hand to help me up.
I was wiping the blood off of my face when he hit me again. I didnâ€™t see it coming and when I came to I was lying in the dirt and he was gone, as were three of my teeth. Georgie didnâ€™t believe in giving or accepting help, to him it was sign of weakness and he couldnâ€™t have that.
Georgieâ€™s influence was profound in the worst way. He claims he saw potential and did nothing more than tap into it.
Georgie made me mean the way you prepare a pit-bull to be a fighter. Stick glass in his food, kick him, beat him and do what you can to make him feel battered and bruised. Place the animal in a position that makes it feel like it is never safe and never secure.
The funny thing about my relationship with Georgie was the way we looked together. Georgie was only about 5â€™7 or 5â€™8 and he couldnâ€™t have weighed more than 165 pounds or so.
I was almost 6â€™4 and weighed a solid 230 pounds. If you looked at us you would have never guessed that for years I had been scared of Georgie, afraid in a very real and tangible sense. And he knew it, he could smell it in my sweat, or so he claimed.
I canâ€™t explain what it was about him that frightened me so, I just know he did. It might have had something to do with the time he beat David Jackman with a tire iron, or the time that he beat the shopkeeper up for insulting him by asking for proof of his age. He was like a mini-volcano, ready to blow at any time and unpredictable.
In some ways my size had put me at a disadvantage. I had always been bigger than everyone else. In school the bullies had avoided me as had most of the other kids.
The end result was because I never had any fights I was afraid of what would happen, worried that I could get hurt and quite concerned about what a fist to the mouth would feel like.
Georgie never had those fears and I donâ€™t know why. He came from a middle class home. Georgieâ€™s father never hit him, never used any sort of physical threat to control him, so who knows why he turned out as he did.
Psychologists and social workers get paid a lot of money to improperly diagnose people like Georgie. I wonâ€™t waste my time trying to do their job, and who cares what made him the way he was. The more important question was how to stay on his good side because he was mean and proud of it.
Georgie bragged about the fights he got into, showed off his scars and told stories of the past hurts and battles like they had just happened. The chip on his shoulder was never very far from his present.
We must have been around 20 or so when Georgie decided to teach me his life lessons. I was shocked and confused. I couldnâ€™t believe that he was hitting and kicking me and then I was too bloodied and bruised to do anything but curl up on the floor and try to protect myself.
If I had any sense he beat it out of me there because the smart thing would have been to just walk away and not speak with him again. I should have fought back, the lack of resistance only encouraged him to continue to batter me longer and harder.
This went on for a couple of years, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. It would probably still be going on if not for the accident.
It was a Saturday morning. Georgie showed up at my apartment at around 9 am, sat there kicking and yelling at my door. When I answered it he told me to get dressed, we were going out.
I threw on a pair of jeans, some Timberland boots, flannel shirt and topped it off with a baseball cap turned backwards and followed him to his car. We were heading into the mountains to â€œsee someone.â€
That was bad news for someone. Any time Georgie said he wanted to â€œsee someoneâ€ it meant that he wanted to see them bleeding, preferably because of him. I didnâ€™t bother to ask who or why, it wouldnâ€™t matter and it wouldnâ€™t change anything. Georgie would do what he did just because and that was the fact of the matter.
The police didnâ€™t arrest me but they should have.
I might not have killed her but it is my fault she is dead. Call it the domino effect. He hit me, I hit him and then he shot her.
Georgie would have loved it. He would have laughed his ass off and told me he was proud of me. He would have clapped me on the back and congratulated me for breaking the muggerâ€™s jaw, but he would have been wrong.
I didnâ€™t hit the mugger. I hit Georgie. Years of abuse came to a head and I snapped. Genetics made me strong, but Georgie made me mean. Georgie made me do things no one should ever do. I knew better, but I still did them.
Yet everyone has their breaking point and Georgie made sure I found mine. It happened during a trip into the mountains.
I didnâ€™t know why we went there, other than Georgieâ€™s comment about needing to see someone. I wasnâ€™t happy about it either, but Georgie wasnâ€™t the kind of guy you complained to, let alone about. So I shut my mouth.
It was late afternoon and the sun had begun its journey to the other side of the world but somehow no matter which direction we walked I was squinting. I tripped over a pile of empty beer bottles and found myself face down in the dirt. Among other company this might have generated a laugh or two; with Georgie it earned a look of derision and a muttered curse.
Georgie stopped in front of a beat up Toyota Camry and motioned for me to wait. I couldnâ€™t hear the conversation but judging from the wild gestures coming from Georgie he was not happy. We were moments away from one of his violent outbursts.
The man in the Camry got out and walked off into the forest. I watched as Georgie followed him. Several moments passed and I decided to return to the car. Georgie was on his schedule, not mine. Might as well try to relax.
Of course that wasnâ€™t ever going to happen, not while I was waiting for Georgie.
It was sunset and now there was no question about a drop in the temperature, it was getting colder. Georgie had driven up here and taken the keys with him. I began to grow concerned about how I was going to get back. It wouldnâ€™t have surprised me to have found out that Georgie had gotten back in the car and left me here. There was only one person that he cared about and it wasnâ€™t me.
But running off into the woods to find him had its own problems. I had no idea which way to walk and for how long and then there was Georgie. With his paranoia issues there was no way to tell how he would react. But I feared a beating less than I feared being stuck out here so I followed the trail that he and the other guy had taken.
It didnâ€™t take me long to find them. I had seen Georgie do some horrific things, but this one surprised me. Georgie had tied the guy from the Camry to a tree. His head was hanging and I could see him take a shallow breath. Georgie was talking into his hand, whispering something that I couldnâ€™t quite make out.
That was when I realized that Georgie was not talking into his hand, he was talking into the ear of the man tied to the tree, except the ear was no longer attached to him. Neither were his thumbs or the middle fingers on both hands. They were lying on a rock in front of the man.
But that wasnâ€™t the worst part of it. Next to the fingers and thumbs was a slice of bread, ketchup and his tongue. Suddenly Georgieâ€™s mumbling started to make more sense, he was promising to reunite the man with the â€œpieces of flesh he had liberated.â€
I must have coughed or gagged because until that point he hadnâ€™t been aware of my presence. And then there he was, standing in front of me, prodding me to take a turn, pushing me to show him that I had learned something. I felt sick inside, but I let him press the knife into my hand.
It would have been nice to say that I was a nice guy who had never done anything wrong, but that wasnâ€™t true. It would have been nice to blame it all on Georgie but that wasnâ€™t true. He may have gotten me involved, but I always had the chance to walk away, to say no and I never did.
Georgie came up behind me and guided the hand holding the knife to the battered remains of the victimâ€™s face. As he suggested that I cut out an eyeball I realized that this time would be different. I had had enough In the past I never would have used the term victim to describe the people we had hurt. But that was a different time.
I pulled my arm out of Georgieâ€™s grasp and flung the knife into the woods. He grabbed me by the collar of my jacket and asked me â€œto tell him what the fuck I was doing.â€
I knocked his hands off of me and told him that I couldnâ€™t do this. Enough was enough. He spat at the ground in front of me and said that pussies like me deserved whatever happened to us.
For a moment his face softened and he asked me to reconsider, told me that the guy was going to die anyway and that we might as well enjoy ourselves.
And that was when I knew that I had to kill Georgie.
Someone once said there is no satisfaction in murder, but they were wrong. I am sorry to say I know this to be true from personal experience but not sad to say I did it.
It took a long time to get to a place where I could say these words out loud and not feel pangs of guilt and disgust, but I am hereâ€¦.now.
Georgie deserved to die.
That day in the mountains was the end of one journey and the start of another. It wasnâ€™t something I had planned but it wasnâ€™t unexpected.
People had been telling me since high school that Georgie would end up dead, but none of them had thought I would have a thing to do with it.
They had warned me to stay away. They had told me he would take everything from me but I didnâ€™t listen.
I was wrong.
Georgie took all that was good in my life and I helped him.
That day on the mountain things changed.
I didnâ€™t know why Georgie did what he did to the guy tied to the tree and I didnâ€™t want any part of it.
Georgie wasnâ€™t used to me saying no to him. When I refused to take the knife I knew there would be consequences.
He might let me get off of the mountain, he might not do anything for a while, but sooner or later his anger would boil over.
For a moment we stood there starting at each other, like two prizefighters sizing each other up we shared a moment of silence.
Georgie was an animal who could hurt you badly without thinking about it. I was someone who had participated in acts of violence, but I couldnâ€™t escape the sick feelings that accompanied it.
I couldnâ€™t escape the feeling of dread that was wracking my body. I was scared and I didnâ€™t know what to do.
Georgie wasnâ€™t going to ignore the man tied to the tree and he wasnâ€™t going to walk away. He wasnâ€™t about to let me walk away either.
I didnâ€™t know whether the guy tied to the tree would survive his wounds or if his friends would come looking for him.
My options were limited. I could walk back to the car and leave the guy tied to the tree to his own devices. I couldnâ€™t talk about what I didnâ€™t see, now could I.
I couldnâ€™t do that because I knew what was coming for him. I wasnâ€™t going to be considered an accomplice to murder.
And then it happened.
Georgie hit me in the head, knocking me backwards over a stump. I grunted as I hit the stump and fell in the dirt. A boot slammed into my ribs.
I wished this was a movie or a dream. Nightmares ended with you waking up panting and short of breath, but at least you had escaped the monster. I was not so lucky.
I wasnâ€™t going to wake up and no one was going to help me. It was nightfall and the moon had not yet risen so it was dark. I scrambled to my feet and tried to run only to be tripped.
I fell down again and again I was rewarded with another boot in my rib cage. I stood up and Georgie hit me hard, but this time I fell into him. Together we fell in the darkness.
I landed on top of him and began punching him, screaming and shouting I pummeled him. I donâ€™t know how long I hit him for, but I know it took a while for me to realize that it had been unnecessary. When we fell down the back of his head had landed on a rock.
All I had done was make him more dead.
When I stood up I was shivering. Georgie was dead, Georgie was dead, Georgie was deadâ€¦
Georgie had been like family to me.
In some sick, twisted and perverse sense of the word he had been like my older brother, the guy hadnâ€™t always been bad, he hadnâ€™t always been this way, had he.
I couldnâ€™t tell, I wasnâ€™t sure.
I wasnâ€™t even really sure that he was dead, maybe he was just hurt, maybe he was just unconscious, knocked out like one of those cartoons we used to watch.
Maybe it was like when Bugs Bunny stuck his finger in Elmer Fuddâ€™s gun and he would sit up, his face covered in black dirt.
But I knew it wouldnâ€™t happen this time.
I donâ€™t know how long I lay there on top of Georgie, panting, shivering and in shock.
My shirt and hands were sticky with blood, Georgieâ€™s blood. I stood up and walked over to the tree. The man was still tied to it, but he wasnâ€™t moving, dried blood marked his body and when I grabbed his head in my hands it felt cold and limp. I shook him and demanded he answer me.
His silence mocked me and I couldnâ€™t deal with it.
I hit him in the mouth. I felt his head snap against my fist and then the tree and I swear I heard him groan.
â€œHey, hey asshole, answer me, say something,â€ I screamed, but no words came out of my mouth and so I grabbed him and shook him again. But again his silence mocked me.
â€œGeorgie, you better stop playing,â€ I shouted and then I kicked him over and over, slapped his face and grabbed his throat and began squeezing it until I realized it wasnâ€™t Georgie.
Georgie was dead, his body lay a few feet away.
I started to laugh and shake, giant gales of laughter wracked my body.
There in the dark I stood the worldâ€™s newest murderer. Life hadnâ€™t been great, but now it was distinctly worse.
Georgieâ€™s death was an accident, it was self-defense. He had been trying to kill me, but the other man, how could I explain that.
Does Your Past Dictate Your Future?
I Want To Die
It was more than a little shocking to hear those words spoken aloud.
â€œI want to die.â€
The pregnant pause afterwards confirmed that they were completely flabbergasted. No one had expected to hear that and the lack of protestation confirmed that they didnâ€™t believe in the speakerâ€™s sincerity.
Because you know that if they had taken it seriously there would have been an immediate response, they would have followed up on it, tried to ascertain what the problem was and how they could help.
At least that seems to be the obvious expectation, friends donâ€™t sit there while you declare your readiness to end your corporeal existence. And if they do, well either you are a drama queen or you need to get new friends.
A cry for help is a cry for help. Silence is not the answer, but then again maybe it is. After all they say that people who are truly intent on committing suicide donâ€™t really spell it out, they do it. They act upon their desires.
And the desire to kill one self can be far more powerful than anyone cares to admit or believe. When you donâ€™t have a concrete reason to believe that there is anything after this it makes it much easier to see death as being a respite from the pain, a well-earned vacation.
â€œI want to die.â€
It is one thing to think it, but once you verbalize it, actually speak the words it takes on new meaning. It becomes more real and you find yourself considering the various methods you can use to commit the deed.
Having a morbid sense of humor it is easy to see what the police would call it:
Homicide against yourself
Câ€™mon now, you know that it is worth a chuckle. Ok, maybe not, but life is lacking, youâ€™re not exactly burning up the fun meter. Sadness, depression, frustration and anger are different, you own those feelings, and you just know that somewhere there is a dictionary with your picture in it.
For a time there are the thoughts about what your loss would do to the family and the world. Suicide may not be as painless as advertised. You think about how the wife and kids will fare and wonder if your parents will feel responsible. It is almost enough to keep you from trying to pull the trigger. It is almost enough to prevent you from making that first cut, but the blistering pain and the empty, hollow feeling push those thoughts out of your head.
Now all you really want to do is find an escape from the madness. It doesnâ€™t matter whether you are truly mentally ill or something else. The pain and misery make you spend much of the day doubled over, wishing you were comatose.
The light of the sun isnâ€™t a pleasure, it is torture. Laughter and smiles from others torture your soul further. Your anger is fueled by seeing how others are happy and knowing that you canâ€™t share in their happiness.
So the moment comes when you start to entertain the idea of letting go. You play around with ways and means, consider what your note will say, if anything. You canâ€™t really explain it, so you donâ€™t bother to do much.
A simple note that says â€œElvis has left the buildingâ€ will suffice. Or maybe it should read â€œwill the last person to leave remember to turn out the lights.â€
End of story; fade to black and utter silence.
Suicide is supposed to be painless and maybe if I believed it to be true I might consider it more seriously, but I donâ€™t.
I donâ€™t really want to die but I donâ€™t have too many options. The man on the other end of that call isnâ€™t going to let me stick around. I donâ€™t care what promises he makes or whose life he swears upon.
He is lying and I know better.
I know it because I used to be him. The guys he works for are the same men I used to report to and they wonâ€™t ever forget what happened or let anyone else think I got over on them.
This can only go one of two ways and no matter how it goes death wins. That old bag of bones is going to get his quart of blood and then some.
It is just a matter of time before they force me out in the open or before I decide to take action.
All I can do is weigh the pros and cons and try to decide what gives me the best chance of making it out.
This isnâ€™t like the movies. I wonâ€™t be able to go in guns blazing and kill all the bad guys. I canâ€™t call my old army buddy, the one who managed to stay out of trouble and just so happens to a colonel who can call in an air strike.
All I can do is make them bleed and hope it is enough to make them go away. I suggested as much on the telephone and the new guy laughed.
Canâ€™t say I was surprised because I would have laughed too. It is part posturing and part reality. One against a 100 isnâ€™t ever something that works in real life, especially when they are willing to use your family against you.
I have seen hard men go soft. Unless they are a true sociopath they always give in.
The guys I used to work for learned from the Taliban. Make a man cook his kid and eat them and they will do what you want.
Sick and gruesome doesnâ€™t describe it.
Sometimes death is preferable to facing this sort of decision, but I am too stubborn and maybe too stupid.
I called him back and told him I was coming to visit and then the doorbell rang.
They were here.