Connie

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I guess that later on, in the papers and on TV, they’ll try to pinpoint when I went bad. Everyone loves an origin story, right? So they’ll ask the same old questions: What was it that made him commit his heinous acts? What happened to make him this way? Where did things go wrong? Then they’ll go looking for answers. They’ll look for some form of abuse; maybe a violent home or a handsy pastor. I know they will. They’ll look, alright, but they won’t find anything.

My family treated me Okay. I mean it wasn’t perfect but, man, I’ve seen much worse. Yea my dad was never around but what with one thing and another that was probably a good thing. As for the other thing, no, that’s never happened to me, not ever. Hell, I remember quite liking church; back when I could still be bothered to go.

I didn’t become bad. It’s just something I am. Something I’ve always been. It’s a family thing.

My great Granddaddy was an evil man – he was jailed for stabbing a man only 20 minutes after marrying my great Gran. My Granddad was evil too- that bastard had a hard on for young girls. As for my dad, well, he may seem alright but he’s bad in another way; he just gets away with it.

So don’t you go trying to find some way to pity me, trying to find a reason that I acted the way I did. I’m not pitiful. I don’t regret what I’ve done.  I’ve never had to before. I did what I did because that’s who I am. That’s who I’ll always be.  Keep that in mind.

When I was younger I liked to lie. Well, no. I didn’t like it. I just did it. It came naturally. It made things easier. Who broke the window? Some of those neighbourhood kids, I saw them. Who took the money out of mommy’s purse? Well that was the cleaning lady; she’s always stealing from us.  It was never dear little Johnny, not him. And when the neighbour’s big vicious dog suddenly went missing, well, for that one I didn’t even need to lie. That bastard was just gone.

But now, now I don’t need to lie anymore. Here we are. Everything is out in the open. You can believe everything I tell you.  I just lied in the past to make things easier. Now things won’t go easy no matter what I do. So hell, you can believe I’ll be telling the whole truth and nothing but it.  Do what you need to do and all that ‘cause I don’t regret a God-damned thing.

Did I snap? No. Was I provoked? No.

I killed old George in cold blood because I wanted him dead and that’s the fuckin’ truth.

This isn’t about that anyway. I don’t want to waste my breath on that bastard. This is about Connie, beautiful Connie; the only girl kind enough to give this son-of-a-bitch, grandson-of-a-rapist a second look. I did what I did for her and that’s all that matters to me.

The first time I saw her she smiled at me and that was enough. I was in love. I needed her in my life.  I could see kindness in that smile; something that up to that point I didn’t believe existed. There she was; just a little slip of a girl playing with her friends on the street of our quiet cul-de-sac.

I used to bring her flowers, flowers that I picked myself. I’d leave them on her doorstep.  Though her bitch of a mother always thought they were for her. I’m sure George took credit for them too; it seems like his style.  Yea, Connie was something special. She was everything that was good in the world and even had space in her heart for a poor piece of trash like me.

She had probably heard about me, been warned to keep her distance from that strange Johnny, but she still smiled.  That beautiful smile. Her little face just lit up under long curly hair. I remember how entrancing I found that hair. It sprung up when she moved. It seemed to shine in the soft summer light. Her hair was a reflection of who she was; joyous and alive. I was head over heels as soon as I saw her. She smiled at me and I smiled back.

We went on like that, seeing each other occasionally on the way home from school. She would play with her friends out in the cul-de-sac and among the houses and I would play by myself outside of it all, in the shadow of the trees. She was so pretty, so innocent. She was everything I wasn’t.

Then one day a dog bowled her over when she was out playing. He got a bite in too before fucking off. I just stood there and watched.  I didn’t do anything, knowing that there was nothing I could do. Not then. Connie had been hurt and I thought my chest had been ripped apart. So I made sure it would never happen again.

I showed that dog. I laced some mince meat with my mother’s sleeping pills and fed them to him when he came sniffing around our house.  Then slowly (he was a fucking big dog), I dragged him into the woods behind our house. Out in the woods I smashed its damn head in with a shovel. That’s when I realised just how much blood a living creature has in it. It went everywhere. But I couldn’t have anything hurting Connie. So I dug it a shallow grave and levered it in. Took me ages. Then I covered it up and went back home in time for dinner.

When Mom saw me all covered in dirt she asked me where I’d been. I said I was just out playing with friends. You should have seen her smile. She was so proud that her little Johnny had found friends. In my mind she was proud of what I’d really done. I don’t think she saw the blood.

Now at that time I didn’t know what George was up to in that house of his. Yea occasionally I could hear shouting but it was the fucking suburbs; everyone shouted at each other behind closed doors. They’d shout and shout and then go out and wave at the neighbours – bright as anything the next day, big smiles on their faces as if everything was perfectly alright. And it was. It’s just how things are done in the ‘burbs.  But it wasn’t so innocent in that house. They weren’t ordinary family squabbles in there. What George did was worse. He wasn’t any better than a dog.

Well some years went by. My parents split up and I went to live with my Mom in an apartment closer to the city. It was small and dirty but I didn’t mind. I didn’t miss the big house or the suburbs. I just missed Connie. I’d see her occasionally at school but it wasn’t the same. Not like I could go talk to her.  I started working at a gym after school and made some actual friends. Things were looking up. Eventually I started thinking about her less and less. I started to live a life of sorts. If things had stayed that way maybe I would have lived a normal life. Well relatively normal. Maybe I would have bought a house, gotten a real job, hell, maybe I would have even had a family.

Then one day I saw her, out in the real world. We were at the cinema. She was with some friends but walked off to get something from the counter. She must have been fifteen at this point, I was nearly 18. I was pretty good looking at this point too. I knew that girls had been noticing me.  I followed her up and stood next to her, pretending to choose what it was I wanted to order. She turned. She looked up and smiled that smile of hers. I could tell she hadn’t forgotten. But that was my Connie, always made space for people like me. We talked for a few minutes; I told her how great it was to see her. She agreed. We made plans to meet up after our movies and go get a coffee somewhere. In the background I could see her friends giggling.

Then we went off. I was going to see an action blockbuster, something with lots of muscles and violence. She was seeing a Rom-com with her friends. They were both delusions of Hollywood but that’s what we wanted, to escape.

We started see each other regularly after that. We’d go sit in parks and talk, or just wander aimlessly around town together. I had a beat up old (Ford?) that my dad had gotten me in one of his attempts to win me over from my mom and occasionally I’d drive over to the old cul-de-sac to pick Connie up. Then we’d just drive with the windows open. Bruce Springsteen in the CD player. Connie would sometimes ask why I kept an old shovel on the back seat but I never told her. Those were good days. We didn’t need much; just each other. I’d steal her little trinkets and she’d be so happy. She gave me little tokens. It worked.  My friends didn’t understand. I saw less and less of them but that didn’t matter.

One day we were sitting in a park, sharing a joint. I’d parked not far away in a side street. Connie must have finally felt comfortable around me.  So she told me what her father really was. She told me about the beatings, about the fear. She told about the mother who did nothing, who watched passively, or cried in her room. Then she told me about what happened after, when he’d been drinking and she was lying quietly in her room. I just sat there in silence, taking it in. Then she told me that I made her feel safe. She told me that when she was with me she knew that no one could touch her.

By then I had been working on my body for a few years. I’d gotten into bodybuilding with some of my buddies from work.  I didn’t look huge but I could Bench Press 330lbs so I knew I was strong. I could Deadlift 450lbs, which is more important because that’s where real power comes from. Those are the muscles you use to pick something heavy up off the ground. I was strong, so I knew what she was saying was true.

Over the next few weeks all that I could think of was what Connie had told me. I stopped going to school. I started just wandering around, thinking. I spent hours in the gym lifting as heavy as I could. Connie noticed a change. That’s when she started drifting away. I could see it happening but I didn’t do anything about it.  Eventually she took back the little gifts she’d given me and left.

A few weeks later I saw her walking down the street with some other guy. There was nothing I could do. I guess she thought that I couldn’t protect her anymore. I spent all my time at the gym. Lifting weights became everything.

Then, one night, I decided that I couldn’t go on that way. Connie wasn’t with me anymore, sure, but I still had to make sure that she would never be hurt again. She needed someone to look after her and that could still be me.

On my way home from the gym I stopped at a supermarket and picked up some heavy duty trash bags, a couple of rolls of duct tape and a flashlight.  Out in the car park I emptied my gym bag and stuffed them in. Then I drove home same as always.
After dinner I went and sat on my bed and waited. When I thought that it had gotten dark enough I stood up and grabbed the baseball bat that stood behind the door of my bedroom (an old gift from my dad which I’d never used) and headed for the door.  As I passed the TV room I shouted to my Mom that I was going out. She grunted in reply but kept her eyes fixed on the TV. I pulled up the hood of my sweater and left the house.

I didn’t think about much when I was driving. I knew exactly where I was going and how to get there; the old cul-de-sac.  It would be just like when I was a kid, with me lurking in the shadows. I stopped a few streets and hopped out of the car. I got my gym bag out of the trunk and pulled out the trash bags and duct tape. I ripped the trash bags into sheets and then used the duct tape to tape them together and then line the inside of the trunk. Then I closed the trunk, hopped back in the car and kept driving I parked just outside their house. I turned off my lights and waited. I could see through the windows of our old place, there was a family watching TV in there. I couldn’t see much happening in Connie’s house.  Eventually the lights went out in our old place as the family went to bed.

I was just getting ready to leave, thinking I’d come back the next night, when I saw the front door of Connie’s place open and old George stepped out. He looked a lot smaller and frailer than I remembered. He had a trash bag in his hand. I opened the door of the car quietly and slipped out – baseball bat in hand. I opened the trunk of the car and then walked slowly towards George. He was wheeling a bin to the curb but stopped when he saw me.

“Hey George” said, as I continued to walk towards him.

“Hey” He said uncertainly. Then he must have registered the bat and the look in my eyes because he started to back away. I quickened my pace and was on him just as he turned to run. I had the bat around his throat before he could shout and began dragging him back into the street. I got him back to the car quickly and dumped him next to the open trunk. He tried to say something but I swung my bat and hit him under his arms, he was trying to shield his face. He shouted in pain and surprise and I hit him again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a light come on in the house. I grabbed old George under the arms and hauled him into the trunk. He couldn’t shout anymore, he was in too much pain. I duct taped his mouth shut and then used it to bind his hands.  I slammed the trunk and got into the driver’s seat. I just had time to see Connie in the doorway of her house before driving off.

I drove for nearly an hour with George hammering away in the trunk. He must have been kicking his legs as hard as he could. I drove out away from the city into the forest. The road changed from asphalt to dirt and finally became little more than a track. I reached into the back, grabbed my shovel and got out. Then I walked into the woods for a few minutes until I found a nice dark grove. I started to dig.

When I opened the trunk George was just staring up at me. I had my bat in my hand and he looked at it in fear. He had bled on the trash bags. I reached underneath him and lifted him onto my shoulders. He didn’t make it easy.

We were in the grove. I had taken off the duct tape that was covering his mouth but his hands were still taped together.

“See this bat”

“Yes”

“This bat”, I said, slowly, relishing my words, “this bat amplifies my strength. This bat means that I am now in a position of dominance. It means that I have power over you. Do you know what I’m trying to say?” I was using this time to let him know what was going to happen to him. To let him reflect on what he had done.

“No, please, no! I’ll do anything you want. Please. I have a family”.

“I know you have a family! You fucking monster! That’s why we’re here. That’s what I’m trying to explain. Because I’m a monster too!”

“No, no, please, no.” The man was whimpering now, actually whimpering

“Yes! I’m a monster too which means that I can recognise you for what you are. But I’ve got the bat which makes me the more powerful of the two! I have power over you.  And you, you fucker, you had power over Connie. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” I was practically shouting. I was trying to stay calm and say what I needed to say but all I could feel was a red-hot rage building up inside me.

“I never did anything to her!  Please, please, I beg you!” he lied; the snivelling little worm.

“You raped her George! You beat and raped your own little girl! You were supposed to be there to protect her but you didn’t. Not even from yourself. Did she beg you not to? Did she beg you to stop? You’re a fucking monster George. A fucking monster!”

I couldn’t see or hear anything anymore. Just rage. Just pain. I swung the bat. There was a crack as it connected with his arm. The bastard was trying to crawl away. I swung again, this time hitting him in the temple; he crumpled. I hit him again and again until my breathing became shallow and I started to feel shooting pain in my arms. Then I kicked him over with my boot, into the grave I had dug. It took a while to get him all in. I covered it over, packed it down, spread some dirt over it and added a few sticks and a rock for good measure. I knew he’d be found eventually but that didn’t matter.

I didn’t hide. I didn’t run. When they came for me I was waiting. My old Mom cried but I didn’t. You know why? Because that’s just who I am. I’m bad and I always have been. Here I am, freshly eighteen, exactly where I should be. I don’t regret a thing. I did it for Connie and nothing can take that away.

 

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