I have an avowal to make, a confession, no, more of a statement intended for all of you who I deem responsible. In years past there occurred a rather brutal murder of a young woman; the newspaper would report that the decedent was a local student in her mid-twenties, personable and well-liked throughout the community. You may or may not be familiar with the incident that I’m referring to, in either case inconsequential. Knowing as you may and knowing as I do are profoundly different; you will come to understand this. At the time I found myself in my late-thirties, heavy-handed with grief and animosity; veering back and forth between bouts of sorrow and self-pity, hate and abnegation. It was during a period when I was given to the former that I arranged to spend a week at a lodge of particular importance to myself. The evocation of memories resulting from that setting would prove delightfully painful—as are the residual pangs of bygone love. This was where my path crossed with the young woman in her comings and goings from a nearby room. I paid very little attention to her in passing for the most part, a practice I’d come to employ anent everyone. Being that I consciously averted my eyes I cannot say whether or not she noticed me, I’m inclined to believe that she probably did not. I’m a very insignificant character, easily overlooked.
My stay was proving as depressing as I’d hoped; I spent the majority of my time within the confines of my room, down at the docks, and partaking in late night meanderings about the bluff. On one such occasion I’d gone out to smoke while walking the grounds, but a spring chill cut through me, encumbering my stroll till it ceased to be a stroll at all and I found myself powerwalking. I wasn’t out long at all before the thought of a warm bed had me retreating. In doing so I returned to the lodge just behind the woman, a young man now in tow. I followed behind them, up the stairs, and down the couloir. I had only previously noticed her alone and hadn’t given much thought to why she might have been there, but it stands to reason that what brought her there was also what initially brought me—romance. I walked slowly behind, but was able to overhear a heated discourse about a past transgression, the owner of which I could not determine. She had a confidant gait that went beyond insinuating a youthful ego; no, I imagine that she knew how to get what she wanted from others. Her eyes and that intently fashioned display of décolletage present when she turned at her door only solidified my belief. I slowed my pace and let them enter their room before passing and continuing on towards my own.
After reaching my room and settling in I began to reflect on my current station in life and all the circumstances that had culminated in my ruin, an extensive retrospection that quickly exhausted several hours. I was interrupted before I could proffer from any kind of significant epiphany regarding why I was to suffer so. An escalating argument diverted my attention from the past, the commotion quickly grew more clamorous so I made up my mind to flee my room and walk down to the parking lot and smoke again. This way I could possibly discern some details, which up to that point remained muffled and indistinguishable. I’m rarely concerned with the private lives of others; in fact I have a profound aversion towards acquiring any kind of intimate knowledge anent other people and towards society in general for that matter. However, I could not pass up the opportunity to witness and learn of other people’s pain; like a spectator who watches The Running of the Bulls with the hopes of seeing someone gored, my excitement was budding. I quietly made my way down the couloir in the opposite direction I’d came, down the stairs and out to the parking lot where I stood facing her room. The argument remained mostly incoherent from where I stood, but the open blinds allowed what transpired in that room that night to play out before me like a not-so-silent movie. There was shoving and finger-pointing that lasted the length of my cigarette; I presumed the display would sooner or later fizzle out and end with one party tucking tail in defeat like a dog showing its belly. That wasn’t to be the case, instead they went back and forth at each other until the man’s hand shot forward against the woman’s neck sending her back against the wall. I’ll admit my initial reaction was to pull my phone from my pocket and call for help, but the look in her eyes stayed my hand.
For the longest time I went out of my way to help others; I believed in people and that there was at least some good in everyone. Now that I look back at that time in my life it seems like childish naivety. I must accept that a great deal of blame is mine to bear though society surely pushed me beyond the brink. My own actions undeniably ushered me towards my tipping point, but it was not my own hands that shoved me incessantly beyond reason.
I could see the man’s forearm flex as his grip dug deep into her throat, his knuckles whitening, but it was her eyes and the look in them that overtook me, her eyes were wide with panic and fear. It was an amazing sight, for the first time in long time I felt alive—and empowered. I’d longed to look into fear as opposed to through it. Her arms flailed wildly towards her aggressor’s face before retreating to her throat in an attempt to escape the grip of violence. My hand was in my pocket as I stared at what was unfolding before me, but instead of pulling out my phone I pulled out another cigarette. My free hand was clinched in a fist that seemed to squeeze tighter and tighter as I looked on. In panic and thrashing her eyes found me, locked with mine, silently screaming for help, but it wouldn’t come. I could feel myself grinning, inside, at the very least. Soon the conflict ceased, the life went from her eyes and the man released his hold, letting her body fall to the floor. I finished my cigarette unnoticed by the living before I returned to my room and bedded down for the remainder of the night. The next morning I gathered my belongings, checked out and went home.
For those of you who read this and take me for a coward or a monster I assure you that the latter is more accurate. I am the monster that you created. I have been persecuted and judged by you for nothing more than simply existing. You’ve taken a large part of me which I will never reclaim. You’ve vilified me for having beliefs, opinions, and a history; my individuality, my existence, my sin. I am no longer your son, your brother, your friend, or your neighbor. All concern has washed away and just as I watched that woman perish, so would I if it were any of you, you cannot expect me to preserve your life when you’ve robbed me of mine. I am one, but I am not alone for you unjustly classify everyone and in doing so erect a barrier. Singling out those who are different – be it for their looks, their sexuality, their religious beliefs, their skin color, or their behavior, so that you may judge them for their difference. I am as I stated but one, though I will not be the last. You will push others beyond reason and in the direst of times find them unmoved by your need. Should you be stranded by the side of the road or caught in the grips of violence, when you need us the most—we will turn from you, you the majority who oppress us. I and others like me, we wear our contempt like a veil of indifference.
© Copyright 2017 Ayden Moore. All rights reserved.
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