Victims

All posts tagged Victims

On admiration and remorse.

Published July 29, 2014 by mandileighbean

I’m having trouble finishing the margarita my mother made me.

I still haven’t closed on the house I am eager to buy, but I have not lost hope. If I could be patient, which is admittedly a virtue I most certainly lack, then I could see the process through. I long to stamp my feet and pout like a petulant child until I get my way, which is silly for any number of reasons, but mostly because it would not work.

An independent company specializing in literary marketing contacted me via my author page on Facebook. The pricing seems rather steep, so I am going to do some more research. I hope to find similar companies and what services they offer for what prices. I need to market my book if I hope to get anywhere. I was banking on an agent to do that, but that search has been difficult and disappointing. Again, I truly need patience. I find some solace in reminding myself that I am not the only twenty-something (soon to be closer to thirty than not) who has an imagined pendulum swinging above her head, wanting to have so many things before an invented age for reasons she cannot articulate. Such is life.

The novel is coming along, but at a painfully slow rate … unless that is impatience, striking again.

WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #16: “A con man starts to admire the achievements of the man he is impersonating.”

barfly

 

Larry sat at the end of the bar that was farthest from the door. The place was dark and cool, and Larry found sitting as far away from the entrance as possible, what with its sporadic bursts of garish sunlight and random gusts of stifling summer heat, kept the establishment as poorly lit and properly air conditioned as most patrons preferred. However, the bar was lacking in patrons at this particular moment, and Larry attributed the absence of alcoholics in varying stages of addiction to the time. Truth be told, it was rather early to be enjoying liquor – at least in public – well before the social norm of five o’clock. But Larry didn’t really give a shit because Larry had endured one hell of a day. He downed the shot of whiskey before him, shuddered, and ordered another.

Technically, Larry was unemployed, but that didn’t mean he didn’t make a living. To the casual passerby, Larry seemed to be a legitimate businessman of sorts. He had the right kind of shiny shoes that looked terribly expensive even though they weren’t. Larry’s pants were meticulously iron and pressed, and kept painstakingly neat so that they were much more impressive than the tags would have the observer believe. Larry’s shirt was plain, just an average button-down with a muted sort of pattern made from a heavy kind of fabric. It was uncomfortable and caused Larry to sweat no matter the temperature. So while each element of Larry’s outfit was subpar, the sum of its parts was enough to impress but not intimidate. Larry looked official yet inconsequential; he was forgettable and that was the point. In Larry’s particular line of work, it was best to blend in, to claim a sort of camouflage among the general public. Larry was an identity thief, and he was damn good at it.

Larry hadn’t worked “on the books” in quite some time. When he was strapped for cash, or forced to lay low, he always managed to pick up odd jobs. With his seemingly limitless set of skills, good looks, winning personality, and luck, he had been living comfortably, even leisurely, for years. Larry had managed to be so comfortable because he shunned guilt and lived by the rules of apathy. He never thought about the people he impersonated and stole from, and only imagined them as fictional roles. Larry was a nice guy – a good guy, even – so there was no possible way he ruined lives, engineered poverty, or tore families apart. Honestly, how could the actions of one lazy, simple man such as Larry, drag someone kicking and screaming back to that proverbial square one, forcing him to start all over and begin again, work twice as hard only to get back to where he was? Larry was not so destructive, not such a monster. He was just a thief and besides, there was more to life than money and possessions, right? Everyone loved to preach about a life of substance. Sometimes, especially when drunk, Larry could convince himself he was actually aiding those he robbed blind, forcing them to experience the spiritual truth that life goes on regardless of what one had in the bank. Unfortunately for Larry, he wasn’t as inebriated as he needed to be and he had realized only a few hours earlier that he was miserable little shit, a parasitic being who had nothing to offer anyone and would die alone; he would leave this world without anyone to noticing, let alone mourning.

Larry had never been one for enduring an existential crisis of any kind. He assumed he lacked the emotional intelligence for such self-engineered disaster and misery because, given the choice, Larry would do just about anything other than sit and think. He was only participating in the activity now because of Ryan Schmuacher, the identity he was currently employing. Larry had only chosen to become Ryan because of his impressive credit score and substantial amount of money in the bank. He would use both assets to obtain a credit card, replenish the wardrobe, and then take a trip (standard operating procedure at the end of a job because it was best to cut and run before anyone got wise enough to start looking). Larry used a very special, and very illegal, type of software to hack into websites that promised free credit scores for such valuable information and he always followed that internet search up with another one – simply entering the name into a search engine and perusing through whatever materialized on the screen. He had done this a thousand times and never had such a search given him such pause, such hesitation, such … remorse.

Ryan Schumacher had been born into a less than wealthy family in some small, Southern town that become the picturesque setting for dumb oil paintings featuring snow covered barns that sold like hot cakes during the holiday season. His parents had sacrificed everything to help Ryan afford medical school, where he excelled. He specialized in pediatric oncology – kid cancer. He forwent the bar scene, the hookup culture, the flashy cars and exotic trips, to try and save the lives of little dudes and dudettes who were truly innocent victims, who had done absolutely nothing to force their own bodies to betray them, cutting themselves down before their prime. It was a truly selfless vocation, something to admire, and the picture of Dr. Schumacher with a two-year-old boy, smiling despite the chemotherapy treatments and all its devastating side effects, had impacted Larry. He hadn’t been able to erase the vision from his mind, hadn’t been able to lift a single penny from Dr. Schumacher’s account. Larry took everything from everyone to benefit himself and it knocked him on his ass to finally and truly realize that there were people on the planet that gave everything to everyone to benefit everyone.

Larry drained the second shot of whiskey, shuddered, and ordered another. He missed the bartender’s apprehensive gaze because he covered his miserable face with trembling, selfish hands and pondered his life. What had it all been for? What difference had he made? Was it too late?

remorse

On literal weddings and metaphorical funerals.

Published April 15, 2013 by mandileighbean

First and foremost, I would like to begin this post by sending my prayers to the victims, their friends, families and loved ones, and the entire city of Boston.  I would also like to borrow the sentiments of Fred Rogers and urge all of us to look at those helping and sacrificing to provide aid, rather than be utterly and completely incensed.  Evil does happen – it absolutely does – but so does good, and we must never lose sight of that if we are to remain loving, compassionate and human.

religionI must admit that the post I had planned for this evening now seems completely frivilous and in poor taste, at least somewhat.  However, that being said, I am going to continue because not doing so will not help those afflicted in Boston and perhaps posting my ramblings will offer a distraction, at least for a moment or two.  Then again, I probably flatter myself greatly in thinking enough people read this blog to place a judgment of value on the timing of my posts.  So, please, allow me to talk about this past weekend.

I was seated with colleagues and friends in a purposely poorly lit bar.  There was nothing remarkable about the venue; it could have been any Irish pub anywhere in New Jersey.  I did think it was slow for a Saturday night, but that is not a complaint.  I was idly sipping a Coca Cola and Jack Daniels, suffering through it patiently as some kind of demonstration of bravado that was unwarranted and probably unnecessary.  We were gossiping and chatting, generally enjoying ourselves, when someone familiar walked in.  All the blood rushed to my face and hands so that they felt swollen and numb, utterly useless, and I suddenly became unattractive to the point of being grotesque – or, at least that’s what I felt like.  I wanted him to see me, but at the same time, I was comfortable with recognizing without being recognized.  It was not like there had been some great love affair; it was only a schoolgirl crush, juvenile notions compounded with lonely fantasies and absolutely nothing more.  Yet there I was all the same, reacting as if some great figure from my past had walked in with the sole intention of rekindling some great passion.  It was silly and I know that, but it’s all I have and I can’t help it and I am not sure if I always feel like apologizing for it.

He did walk over to say hello, but he started with those seated farthest from me.  He hugged and gave quick kisses upon the cheeks of the ladies, offered a firm handshake to the lone gentleman present.  He did not say hello to me at first; he sat with those he knew the best and had a long conversation.  It gave me a chance to sip at the alcohol through the straw desperately, to giggle to expunge nerves that were winding tighter with each passing moment.  I delighted in the teasing, perfectly happy to entertain some farfetched notion that any kind of mutual attraction was possible when really, his mere presence made me feel so unworthy.  “Indeed, when he did come over to say hello, he offered a genuine embrace, but then turned away to spend most of his time talking to the others.  Though his arm rested upon the back of my raised chair – some kind of hybrid between a chair and a stool – he did not make eye contact.  I received the impression that I was unimportant, boring and even a nuisance.  I wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else.  How he had the ability to make me feel so small was perplexing until I realized I allowed it, because my writer’s imagination and romantic mind were turning nothing into something important, something worth writing about when honestly, it was baited breaths and daydreams – nothing more.  But every time he left, he would place his hand on the small of my back ever so lightly, just to signal he was leaving but promising he would return.

wedding1

He told us he was attending a wedding and for one positively horrifying moment, I thought it was his wedding, and that meant that the infintisemal window of opportunity I laughably deemed was present for him and I had been slammed shut.  However, he was simply attending a wedding.  So the next day, when I was attending informative workshops during which I should have been paying more attention and behaving in the fashion of a consummate professional, I was imagining.  What else can I do when my expectations never ever come to fruition?  I closed my eyes and saw myself, in some kind of slinky, sexy yet elegant evening gown, colored emerald green.  I was not wearing shoes – perhaps they had been discarded on a dance floor, or thrown to the side to better enable movement because I was running, and running fast.  My long hair flew out behind me, all waves and curls that no blow drying or hairspray could ever possibly hope to replicate, and my arms and legs pumped in unison with my heart like some well-oiled machine I have never before seen.  Across cobblestone warmed in the sun I run, and there he is, running towards me.  Left behind is his jacket, and the sleeves of his shirt are pushed up from his wrists to his elbows.  His tie is blown back over his right shoulder as he sprints towards me, just as eagerly and as quickly as I am running towards him.  Eventually we will collide, fall into each other’s arms, crash against one another’s body.  Will it be a passionate explosion, or will we both slow just before contact is to be made and simply stare, chests heaving from breathing hard?  I do not know, because the daydream always ends, and it is always unfulfilled.  I have never run towards someone who was running towards me.

I imagine it is one of the greater experiences of this world.

wedding

On urine-stained keys.

Published July 13, 2012 by mandileighbean

Despite Murphy’s Law almost taking effect, I think the second interview today went well.  This morning, I was printing out 16 pictures for my mock lesson – two copies each of eight pictures dealing with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in some aspect.  Although I love my printer and think it’s completely awesome that is has the ability to print photo-quality pictures, the process is incredibly time consuming.  I only had time to print twelve and my lesson plan before I rushed out the door.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts before I hit the parkway for an iced French Vanilla coffee, but it was disgusting so I didn’t finish it.  I have no one to blame but myself; I still don’t know how to properly order coffee.  I’d much rather just make it myself.  Because it was iced and because it was hot outside and because my car does not have air conditioning, the plastic cup condensated severely, to the point where it left a puddle in the cup holder.  It was a very small puddle, but still a force to be reckoned with apparently, because I set my iPod in the cup holder during my mock lesson and it now has water damage.  It’s stuck in the “locked” position and won’t stop playing.  I hope it’ll dry out and right itself.

I was about 30 minutes into my drive when I realized I still had Jimmy’s carseat in the back of my truck from yesterday.  Spank me hard; Mom totally needed it to take Jimmy to the store with her today because she needed to buy supplies for Mikey since he is going to Boy Scout Summer Camp. I wasn’t going to get home until the afternoon, so she went anyway, strapping Jimmy into the seatbelt and praying she didn’t get a ticket.  Thankfully, everything turned out just fine.

Before I got to the high school, I stopped at a Walgreen’s nearby to use the restroom.  I wasn’t buying anything, so the only item I brought in with me was my car key, which is a single key.  It used to be on a little key chain, but I took it off and I cannot remember why.  Anyway, I didn’t have any pockets in my dress and didn’t have my purse with me, so while I was gathering toilet paper, I put the key in my mouth for safe keeping.  I didn’t swallow it or anything, but left it dangling precariously between my lips so that it fell into the toilet.  I’m not proud of the fact that I retrieved my one and only car key from a public toilet, but it needed to be done.

When I got to the interview, everything went surprisingly well.  The woman said my lesson went very, very well.  She wanted me to meet with the principal but he was in Trenton, so I’m journeying back tomorrow.  To make it even more worthwhile, I’m going to meet Raina for lunch.

She also asked for a writing sample.  I had two choices: a prompt from the AP test, or writing about a time I dealt with a difficult and/or challenging student.  I haven’t (knock on wood) had a truly difficult and/or challenging student, so I went to with the prompt from the AP test.  You had to pick a novel from the list and discuss and analyze how symbolism is used in the novel.  You also had to come up with a catchy title.  I saw Invisible Man and thought of Ralph Ellison’s novel.  I also remembered the light bulbs in his basement apartment.  I thought they symbolized his desire to be noticed and in the spotlight, his desire to be separate from his race and seen as a human being rather than be negelected for being a black man, and that fact that the electricity was stolen showed his bitterness and anger turned into a form of rebellion.  Wikipedia says the symbolism is that the light is the truth.  Ooops.  It has also dawned on me that the novel could have been The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.  Damnit.

And it isn’t even Friday the 13th. Wow.

The prompt for today has three parts to it, so I’m going to break it down and make it last over three days. Enjoy!

PROMPT: “You accidentally overhear a conversation between two people you’ve never met. The topic of the conversation shocks and dismays you. Write about these conversations and describe how you respond to the content:

  • 1. A conversation between two stockbrokers
  • 2. A conversation between a priest and a member of his parish
  • 3. A conversation between a woman and the man with whom she’s been cheating on her husband

PIECE (#1): I was sitting at the local Starbucks minding my own business, just trying to fit in and be trendy – reading a copy of The New York Times and sipping on an iced coffee.  I was perusing the Arts and Literature section, hoping some beautiful and brilliant stranger would notice and comment, and then whisk me off my feet with wonderful conversation.  As that had yet to happen, I was susceptible to distractions and more often than not, the word “rape” serves as a ginormous distraction.  The word had been uttered in a painful-sounding whisper emitted from a pale and trembling young man.  He was sweaty and shaky, but wearing a suit.  The contradiction was intriguing, and as discreetly as possible, I began to listen to the unfolding discussion.

“I don’t know, Pete,” the shaky man gulped.  “I think we should tell someone about it.  I saw her, man.  She looked rough; like she’d been in the ring for ten rounds.  That’s not right.”  At the end of his speaking, he looked down at his trembling hands.

“Are you seriously thinking about going to the cops?” Pete asked, clearly shocked and appalled at the mere idea of involving the proper authorities in whatever mess they were talking about.  “What will happen to us, Tom?  What about our careers?  What about our futures?  If we blow the whistle, every accounting firm in the city will blacklist us as squealers and tattletales.  We didn’t rape anyone, so why should we be punished?”

My eyes were wide behind my paper.  There had been a rape?  These two knew about it, and hadn’t done anything about it?

Tom looked up with a pained expression, moving closer to Pete and dropping his voice even lower.  “What about her, Pete?  What about the girl?”

“What about her?” Pete shot back.  “She can go to the authorities.  It’s not our affair to be involved in.  All we did was attend a party, all right?”

Tears welled in Tom’s eyes.  “What if she comes to us for help?  What if she needs us to be witnesses and to speak up?  What would you say, Pete?”  Despite the fact that Tom was clearly depressed and unsure of himself, his question was more challenging than it was rhetorical.

It was now Pete’s turn to drop his gaze.  He leaned back in his chair, and his cheeks reddened with shame.  He spoke through gritted teeth with a hand almost covering his mouth.  “I’m not going to say anything, Tom.  You won’t either, if you know what’s good for you.”

I had heard enough.  Slowly, I stood.  I folded my paper neatly and placed it on the tabletop, beside my unfinished coffee.  I turned to my left and walked just a few paces until I was standing in front of Pete.  I pulled my hand back and slapped the bastard as hard as I could across the face.  Tom jumped to his feet, surprised but not knowing what to do.  I leaned forward, nearly spitting in Pete’s face and said, “You’re a monster.”

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