“You are a tiresome little man.”
He looked at me with hate and disdain but with the sure notion that he was on top, untouchable. I felt for him, I did because even as I sat there I pictured him being hit by a bus or a meteorite connecting with his skull. No, I wasn’t wishing wistfully, I just knew that people who reveled in their perceived high places, tumbled down off their self-made pedestals suddenly and violently.
When I was sixteen I was beautiful. I went to a small high school in Washington state. I was on the cheerleading squad and had not failed in being elected to the pageantry of homecoming. I was asked out by different guys on the football team, basketball team and baseball team. I had a summer job at my uncle’s little ice cream parlor and I raked in the tips during the summer months, cleaning tables and talking to the tourists.
While being raped one summer evening at the age of 16, the idea went through my head that I had been nice to all who knew me in a condescending sort of way. As the air left my lungs while he flung me around like a rag doll, I had small visions of myself unaware that I was predictable, unimaginative, safe for people who wanted no personal challenges.
I felt the pain of being hit, slapped, choked and eventually violated in a way that made me wonder at the man’s rage, over someone like me. His anger toward me was pathetic, deplorable, despicable and criminal. I was also terrified, cold, in enormous pain and for the first time inarticulate outside the sobs and cries I uttered while going through my ordeal.
I saw in his face the power he felt in his strength and his ability to cause me pain. I saw too that he felt himself untouchable. When the switch blade bloomed out of his throat in a surprisingly clean and gleaming silver I could only look at it in a senseless stupor. The man who had caused me such pain and humiliation had a look of dumb blankness on his face, then terror. When his blood started to pulse out of his mouth to the beat of his heart I had sense enough to squirm out beneath him.
To this day, I do not know who killed him. The police asked if I had done it, just to say they did their job I’m sure.
The recovery was long because no one believed me when I said I wasn’t afraid; the dark didn’t disturb me nor did strange men. I went back to working at my uncle’s ice cream parlor the next year but I stopped cheerleading and did not accept the homecoming honors; the idea seemed somehow too small, too narrow in scope.
“You really are tiresome.”
“You need three forms of identity and three letters that are addressed to your house, they cannot be personal letters.”
“I lost my driver’s license, I didn’t commit a crime.”
“Those are the rules, and I’ll thank you for not insulting me.”
“Are these rules implemented to protect me or to protect little Nazis like you.”
“Next! Number 312, please.”
His voice was high and strident and I knew that I had been dismissed. A shadow, a low thundering movement that chilled my back seemed to brighten the air like lightening in the stagnate room, which housed the bureau of motor vehicles.
“Don’t kill him,” I whispered under my breath.
The little man behind the counter refused to look my way but blinked and peered for number 312.