Imaginary Friends, Pt. V – The Birds and the Bullets

My neighbor shot me in the back three times with a BB gun when I was about eight years old. I was standing on the corner of our front lawn with Hitler’s wet dream and the strange chick from a few houses down. We were using our imaginations, probably playing some version of what the Midwest kids called, “house.”

The first shot hurt badly and I remember continuing whatever make-believe I was in the midst of. After the second shot, which hit me directly in the same place as the first, I began to imagine there must be a bird pecking at my back. I have no idea what brought this imagery to mind. Perhaps it was the simple fact that I’d never experienced this kind of pain before or that I’d just finished watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds with my mother and a bullet was the furthest thing from my young mind. I still didn’t move or tell my friends what was happening, though by the third shot that hit, again, in the same spot, they could see the discomfort on my face. They asked what was wrong as I began to cry. I bolted inside, seeking my parents.

“My back, my back,” I was shouting in between sobs and trying to reach the wound, twisting my dominant right arm behind my back, unsuccessfully.

Both my mother and father were telling me to calm down as they sat me on their bedroom floor and lifted up my shirt to investigate. I began retelling the situation and it didn’t take more than five seconds before my dad quickly stood up, muttering angry f-bombs as he stormed out into the warm, summer air.

“Rick! Where are you going,” my mother yelled after him. My dad didn’t stop, but responded, “Call the police! This motherfucker shot her with a BB gun!” By “this motherfucker,” he meant the neighbor boy across the street that we’ll call David because, well, that was his name.

By the time my mother had dialed 9-1-1, my dad was already pounding on David’s parent’s front door, demanding, audibly from our home, “Open the fuckin’ door you son of a bitch before I break it down.” He could be seen pacing from the door to the living room window while continually shouting his demands. Obviously, the parents weren’t home and there was no way David had the balls to open that door.

I am uncertain how my dad was so certain that it was the juvenile delinquent neighbor or that he knew it was a BB gun I had been shot with. David must have made his character evident prior to shooting me and my dad was an army brat, after all.

All of us were relieved that the police showed up before my dad got his wish and got inside. It may very well had been my dad in handcuffs in the back of the cop car instead of David had my dad broken down the door. I recall my dad even saying, “I have no idea what I was gonna do if they’d opened the door.” My dad wanted blood that day and that may be one of the more telling moments in my young life where I could see how much my dad loved me and how far he was willing to go to protect me.

The three BB gun bullets broke the skin, but thankfully, because it was from far range, they did not penetrate. I don’t even have a physical scar. My parents didn’t press charges, but David was required to personally apologize for his actions in front of the police and my parents. When questioned on the reasoning behind his actions, his response was, “Because I wanted to see what would happen if I shot a living thing.” My brother became friends with my attacker some time after the incident, which didn’t last long as David was later arrested and sent to juvenile hall for beating up a handicapped kid.

This is the part where I’m supposed to talk about how it made me feel that my brother would befriend the person who had shot his sister. Like shit. The end.

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About Two Years Ago and Other Ramblings

8/23/2012

Dear Mama, I’m writing to you from Madison Square Park. It’s an absolutely perfectly gorgeous summer evening. I’m about to spend some much needed girl time with (a friend). I got accepted into those free writing classes – I’m really looking forward to this. This will be good for me, right? It smells like a Kansas summer evening almost and it makes me think of family get-togethers, barbecuing at grandma’s house – God – how I wish my future children could experience that with you one day. It breaks my heart that they won’t. I often find myself in New York City parks, alone, sitting on a bench, writing and pondering life, loneliness and the pursuit of happiness. Hmmm, maybe I should title my memoir, “My Life according to New York City Parks.” Haha – what do ya think? You did, after all, pretty much name my EP, which has been receiving some unexpected attention as of late. That’s part of the reason why I’m going to take a songwriting class in addition to a memoir writing class. God – I wish you were here, ma, so I could just be talking to you on the phone about all of this. I’m so fortunate to have Norma in my life. I know David and I will make it through this but in the meantime, what do I do? Am I strong enough to keep my distance from the man I just vowed to spend the rest of my life with? I know I am. It’s going to be “kicking the habit” that’s the hard part. I’m so tired of his childish behavior. I know for a fact that you’d be disappointed if you were here, too. I love you, mama – will write soon.

I am unable to recall exactly what David and I were going through during the time I wrote the above letter though whatever it was, was quickly overlooked due to a fatal shooting outside the Empire State Building the following afternoon. I, thankfully, had gotten to work early that morning and did not get caught in the hysteria that ensued just two blocks away from my place of employment. As the news spread, my cell phone was ringing from concerned family members and the man I had married just a little over a month prior, who up until this tragedy hadn’t spoken to me for over twenty-four hours. He insisted on rushing over to Manhattan from our Brooklyn apartment to put his arms around me. I guess a disgruntled and armed former employee had put our “silly little fight” into its proper perspective.

Upon his arrival, David expressed how grateful he was that I was all right and that we could stand there, embracing one another at that moment. I was seemingly about twenty minutes shy of being in the wrong place at the wrong time but something was wrong about the fact that it took a man being deceased and several other wounded bystanders to make David see this – something just felt iniquitous. This may lie on the morbid side of things but I am seeing the foreshadowing of my relationship’s demise within an unfortunate event and by no means do I intend to belittle or compare the disaster that occurred that ill-fated morning of August 24th, 2012 but David and I were quickly, intentionally though mostly unconsciously wounding each other.

As for those writing classes I was so excited to tell my mama about, I attended one of them – the memoir one – in which I recall two momentously memorable pieces of – briefly reading my writing aloud in front of a room full of strangers and the treacherous rain that had begun as the class neared its end resulting in my walking several blocks in the downpour to the nearest subway station.

Just two short but life-changing years ago, I was understandably and completely a different person with no ambition or drive. I’m sure I simply conjured up what appeared to be the best justification as to why I couldn’t attend the other classes and the funny part was that the only person I had to justify myself to was I. The post-death-of-my-parents lack of motivation and zeal for life was a vicious cycle that truly only harmed I, as the post justification was grounds for self-disapproval and self-loathing.

The barbecue smell, to this day, causes painful nostalgia. Just this past Sunday, I caught a whiff of someone nearby cooking out and I longed for days of yesteryear, all of my family gathered in grandma’s backyard, playing baseball and getting down on some barbecued chicken wings, potato salad and green beans. Don’t live in the past, they say. Be in the present, they say. Don’t dwell, they say. Hell, I even say it sometimes but one cannot help but fucking yearn for “the good ol’ days,” a time when pre-dinner was spent in hunt for additional chairs because half of your family wasn’t deceased and there simply weren’t enough seats around the dining table for all the warm bodies.

Exactly Three Years Ago

3/14/2011

Today was my fourth day of full time work in New York City.  The homesickness is off and on and I think primarily due to my mama’s sickness.  I’m absolutely loving my job, though.  I had lunch with Ms. Murray today which was nice.  It’s also nice to talk to someone who has been through what I’m going through – the big move, that is.  The loneliness just creeps up on me from time to time.  That, and the fact that my mother has cancer.  For example, this morning, while on the train, I realized that a part of me is angry at my mother for having cancer – wow – just writing that down brought tears to my eyes.  I have to move on.  I can’t dwell right now.

I Don’t Fuck with Peoples’ Lives

I was relaxing, bathing in the pink bathtub of my West Hollywood apartment, excitedly talking on the telephone with David.  He had told me he loved me as we sat on a rooftop while the New York skies began to rain upon us.  I had yet to reciprocate a response utilizing those eight letters that make up those three words.

Instead, I was on the telephone, thousands of miles away, asking him how he could be so certain about me, about us – how he knew I was “the one,” how he knew that he was in love with me.  Needless to explain, I was quite the skeptic at the tender age of twenty-five.  Though I knew in my heart that I, too, was madly in love with this twenty-one year old from New York, I was scared as shit!  Foreshadowing, again?  Perhaps, I’ll never know.

While I eventually verbally returned the coveted sentiment of love, it wasn’t until David uttered six other words that I was certain about him, about us.

I don’t fuck with peoples’ lives,” David matter-of-factly declared verbatim.

And I believed him with every ounce of my being.  As the water from the tub whirled down the drain, that statement became the world to me – it meant that David and I could happily sustain a long distance relationship for as long as we saw fit.  It meant that I could pick up the last eight years of my life, my home, and move it across the country.  That declaration substantiated what I was already feeling in my heart – David was the one.

I took those six words with me throughout our relationship and I silently repeated them to myself whenever I found myself beginning to doubt David’s less than ideal actions or intentions.  They were powerful – short but packed with so much influence, they would often justify what can now be perceived as a lot of bullshit.  Hindsight is a motherfucker, aint it?

Three years after David offered up his word that he did not fuck with peoples’ lives, he sat on the floor of what was once our bedroom scarcely trying to convince me that he never wanted any of it – the marriage or the commitment.  Around the moment that he stated that he was only doing what he thought was the “right” thing to do, my face was flooded in tears.

What happened to not fucking with peoples’ lives?”  I abrasively asked him, cutting him off and placing angered emphasis upon each syllable.

My mind was spinning.  Within seconds, I was back bathing in the pink tub, on the telephone, followed by lying in David’s bed of his shared Williamsburg apartment. He was asking me to move to New York, to move in with him.  Finally, I was in a stark white hotel room in Las Vegas, him on one knee, proposing for the umpteenth time with one of the most beautifully sincere, impromptu speeches I have ever heard.

I hastily repeated myself as the brash silence between us thickened with sorrow, “What happened to not fucking with peoples’ lives, David!”

I would never receive a response because he knew and I knew that it wasn’t true.  He wanted all of it, as did I.  He wanted to be the husband that I deserved, but he wasn’t strong enough to work toward it, to meet me halfway.

Create or Die in Silence

I once read somewhere that we must create or die in silence.  As an artist, I take this very seriously and my blog is one of my creations.  I am very proud of its development.  I hope to one day turn these posts into a paperback memoir that will sit nicely upon the bookshelves of your local bookstore, preferably next to David Sedaris’ latest jewel.

In all forms of art, there will inevitably be critics – those who absolutely adore the placement of a bedazzled graphic upon the breast of an intarsia sweater or those who can’t stand the melody of the recent song you finished composing and posted on YouTube.  There will be those who buy that paperback book you just self published because they enjoy your style of writing or the synopsis makes them laugh and there will also be those who will leave nasty comments on your blog, stating their sympathy for one of its main characters.

My latest blog, Letters to David Part II, received such a comment.  This particular reader was disgruntled with what they deemed as me “sprouting (I think she meant spouting) my shit over and over again.”  She repeatedly asked me why I couldn’t “just move on” and focused heavily on the divorce papers, naively assuming, “Have you even signed the divorce papers?  I bet not.”  Au contraire dear reader, I have signed the divorce papers.

I’m going to step out on a limb here and assume that she has never been married before therefore couldn’t define the term “moving on” in relation to a divorce.  With that being said, I assure her and anyone else who might share in her judgmental notion that I have not “moved on,” I have – physically and mentally.  Emotionally, I am only human and anyone who has ever loved someone as much as I loved David would understand that.  I find it laughable and oddly familiar when my irked reader suggests that if this divorce was somehow expedited and made final then we could both just – POOF – move on!  Just as a marriage is only a piece of paper, so is a divorce.  Feelings are real.  Emotions, love – that stuff – the real stuff doesn’t just “move on.”

I’d also like to educate my reader on divorces – they’re not final just because both parties picked up a ballpoint pen and signed name to paper.  In the state of California, once all paperwork is signed and filed, it takes up to six months before I am legally able to change my name back to what it should be.  It takes six months before we are able to inform the IRS of a change in marital status.  It takes six months before the divorce is final.  Period.

When I began A Righteous Revival, I made it very clear, specifically in my second post, Leap of Faith that I had no intention of inflicting harm of any kind upon the characters involved in my stories and I stand by my word.  My displeased reader began her misdirected comment about “free speech” rights and then went as far as to accuse me of somehow hindering David from moving on.  How so?  By writing this blog?  Really?  I assure you I’ve never said, “Hey David, check out my blog” and even if I had, I’m not sure how my creation prevents him from “moving on.”  The same goes for his family – the reader suggested that my blog is hurtful and embarrassing to his family.  Again, I ask, how so?  I rarely ever talk about David’s family, nor are any of them forced to read this blog. – And that, ma’am, is the beauty of “free speech” and freedom, in general.

My unhappy reader guaranteed me true happiness if I just “sign the divorce papers and move on.”  I don’t feel any different now than before the papers were signed – I guarantee I’m happier than I have ever been in my twenty-nine years of life and I began “moving on” the day I got whacked in the back of the head with a live electrical wire.  She finally offered some unsolicited advice, “Here is an ideaQuit wallowing.  Quit thinking about yourself.”  To which I must reply:  Here is an even better idea – quit reading.