Back in the days when relationships weren’t digitized and couldn’t just be deleted, you had to rip down pictures until there were only taped corners left on the wall that would taunt for a lifetime as torn and tiny ghosts.
While we were tripping on acid, my girlfriend told me that her dad had molested her.
“Molested?” I ask.
Her eyes are big from the drugs or abashment. “He used to… touch me. When it was hot in the summer and I’d be laying in bed with him, he’d tell me that it was hot, that I should take my clothes off…”
I call her father. Jeff. I threaten him. I steal my mom’s credit card and take a flight from Los Angeles to Boston. I leave with nothing but my skateboard. I am going there to murder him.
I am still on acid on the airplane. It is morning outside the oval window. The sky gloomy with a strangled shade of blue, like an elderly person’s arteries branching beneath their pasty wrists. Everything reminds me of death.
I take a cab to his house. I have my skateboard cocked as I ring the doorbell. My face is greasy and my lips are chapped. I let out a few exhales of self-commitment and brace myself.
Jeff opens the door and towers over me, four or five inches taller, already expecting me from my threatening call. I swing the skateboard. He grabs it easily. My grip atrophied from the electric sleep deprivation of LSD.
He hits me and the skateboard splits my head wide open, my hair is tugged by a wheel’s bearing and becomes stuck in it. I curl up in a ball as the rest of my body is pelted, he goes for the hands and I feel my bones crunch and fingers instantly swell.
I’m crying as I look at the silver-dollar droplets of blood and know that he did some real damage. I can feel the stubble of his beard as he leans down and whispers right next to my face.
“You don’t know me,” Jeff says. “You don’t know her. You just think you do. So I suggest you get the fuck out of both of our lives before something worse happens.”
He throws the skateboard down and I cough up bloody spittle, squinting up at him from a throbbing head. My ribs are broken as well.
“And get your junkie ass off my property,” he says.
I hobble to a nearby elementary school. I have my palm planted over the gash on my head, blood rolling down my crooked fingers and across my t-shirt. Kids look at me like I’m a slaughterer at a puppy mill.
Some of the teachers come out and usher the kids off of the playground. They bring me towels to quell the bleeding and ask me what happened as a few police cars enter the parking lot.
“I was attacked,” I tell the wide-eyed police.
“Put your hands behind your back. Now!”
“Did you not hear me? I was attacked!”
They cuff me, read me my rights.
“The fuck could I possibly be being arrested for? I’m the victim here. Look at me.”
One of the cops simply says, “Home invasion.”
They take me to a police station. I have to keep telling the cop escorting me through the building that my ribs are broken, that I feel every little movement. I’m placed in an interrogation room. There is a table with plastic chairs on each side.
The acid has almost entirely receded. I’m left in a reality that’s just as cold as the draft in the room.
“I’m detective Liddell. Sit down please.”
“What am I doing here? I was attacked.”
“According to Mr. Carter, you called him late last night and threatened to ‘murder’ him. You then proceeded to catch a flight all the way from the West Coast and showed up at his house with a friggin’ skateboard and tried to attack him with it. Naturally, he defended himself. I don’t know how you guys do things out there but in Massachusetts you have a right to protect your home. And he insisted on pressing charges, says you’re a heroin addict to boot. He wants you the heck away from his daughter.”
“He raped his own daughter,” I say.
“He raped his own daughter. I don’t know how you guys do it out here but in Los Angeles that shit is unacceptable.”
“He started when she was real little, back before she could defend herself. As she got older it went from touching to full-blown rape. He got her pregnant when she was 12, the fucking scumbag took her to Mexico to get an underground procedure.”
“You realize Jeff Carter is one of the most powerful defense attorneys in all of Mass, right? I’m having a really hard time believing a teenage drug addict over him. He’s a dignified attorney for Chrisssakes.”
“You call him,” I said. “You tell him if he doesn’t drop the charges, everyone is going to know that he is also the most piece of shit pedophile in all of Mass.”
They released me an hour later, the charges dropped under the condition that I was escorted by the police back to the airport and took the first flight back to L.A.
I was dropped off at the airport and as soon as the cops left I caught a cab and went straight back to the house. I didn’t come out here for nothing. I’m going to murder him.
It’s afternoon when I get back to the house, the blood on the driveway has been blackened by the sun, making it as quiet and unthreatening as the surrounding neighborhood.
I break into the back door and wait on the living room couch. I have my skateboard next to me. I see a framed family photo: my girlfriend, her mother and father; smiling, frozen in make believe, a safer place only disrupted by the secrets that exist in the movements of real life.
It becomes clear what I need to do. I steal the photo and leave the house. I go to a copy store and scan the family picture. I make a flier on the computer with Jeff’s full name, his address, and phone number. I add “Known pedophile in your community.” I make 300 copies and buy a staple gun.
I put them up everywhere. Fliers line all the trees on his neighborhood, the front of his country club, and at the mall. Now everyone will know the atrocities that this monster has committed and real justice will be served.
The fliers can be taken down. But there will always be staple tags left on the trees, torn and tiny ghosts that will remind the town of the nightmares some people live with behind closed doors, long after the neighborhood quiets down and everyone else is asleep.