For the first part of this story, read my previous entry.
The Fiery One and I left town for ten days, and I was really looking forward to the vacation, because I knew that there was no freaking way Jenny-Lou could find me on the tropical island of Bermuda. It was a blissful ten days filled with blistering miniature-shale-like sand, the bluest sea, grouper watching, tree frog listening, and tending to sunburned scalps. Then we returned home.
Our first night back, we were out for a drink with Laili, who was going through a hard time and was needing to talk about it, when Jenny-Lou sailed in on her rollerblades and proceeded to hover around our table, rolling left and right and giggling in a childish attempt to get our attention. “Guess what?” she said, “I’ve got great news!” “What’s that, Jenny-Lou?” I asked. “I’ve moved into your building! We’re neighbours!” she exclaimed, as though she were bestowing a present upon us.
Any good feeling that my vacation had returned to me fell away in that moment. I had already rearranged most of my life to avoid her. I rarely went to any of my regular haunts, and as a result I lost contact with anyone I had been getting to know. I stopped answering my telephone altogether. I never answered my door buzzer. I left work by a seldom-used back door that she was unaware of. Aside from the Fiery One, I saw and heard very little of anyone else that I knew. Now I would have to hide out even in my own building. Even the daily ritual of getting my mail would no longer be safe.
There would no longer be a door buzzer to stand between Jenny-Lou and my apartment. She took to standing outside my door and knocking timidly, repeatedly. I learned to recognize her knock and would refuse to answer. Knowing she would be able to hear me through the door, I would sit still, waiting for her to leave. A minute or two would pass, and the knocking would come again. More tense waiting. More timid knocking. This process could go on for minutes at a time while I waited silently, frozen in place, each of us waiting patiently on our respective sides of my apartment door.
Because she now lived in my building, I had to come home by a roundabout route so that I could approach one of the building’s back doors from an angle that would obscure her view of me from her window. Do you see? Nothing in my life was mine anymore. She would watch for me from her window, and within five or ten minutes of arriving home, the knocking would begin. My request that there be no drop-by visits was completely ignored. No place was safe: my workplace, my walk home, my apartment, the pubs and restaurants where I knew people, any place outside near my home. When I went out for coffee after work, I sat alone in a restaurant where no one knew I went. When I went for walks, I walked in the opposite direction of any place Jenny-Lou might think I would go. I no longer answered the telephone or my door. I only got my mail later at night when she would be less likely to find me near our building’s front entry.
It’s not as though I didn’t tell her to back off. I told her not to hang around my work. I told that I didn’t like it when people just dropped by. I told her that I would prefer to go back to talking with my friends when she found me out in public. It’s not that I didn’t try. Nothing short of telling her to get the fuck away from me seemed to work. You may wonder why I didn’t simply tell her to fuck off. I don’t know. I wanted to, I really did, but she had a way of making you feel that you had to protect her somehow.
Jenny-Lou was one of those weird kids that other children abuse, and so many kids would abuse her at any given school that it was she who would be moved to another school and another and another. She had tale after tale of friends in her adult life who had turned on her supposedely without provocation. I knew that I was quickly becoming just one more bizarrely behaving and nasty ex-friend who would be fodder for more stories to regale her next victim with. Her stories about her ex-friends excluded anything that might incriminate her, make her even a remote part of the downfall. In her eyes, she was innocent and sweet and being tested by the Lord.
She was also ill. More than one doctor had told her that the origin of her illness was possibly psychological. She was unable to digest almost any kind of food. She had to boil her water for at least five minutes so that she could drink it. As a food substitute, she drank the liquid IV drip fluid that sustains people in comas. When she did try to eat real food, the consequences could be drastic. Two bites of pumpkin pie sent her to the emergency room for steroid injections one Thanksgiving. This, too, was God’s testing of her strength.
God was big with Jenny-Lou. At first, she acted all normal, bringing Him up appropriately and only occasionally and not trying to infect me with the Glory and the Peace That Passes Understanding and the Mercy and the Blood and the Holy, Holy, Holy. Slowly, almost methodically, she began bringing up her Christian faith more and more. This was fine with me, because I had been raised in the faith, and was used to hearing that kind of stuff. I am not a believer myself, but she had what seemed to be a refreshing take on spiritual matters.
This "refreshing take" turned into really fucking bizarre. Suddenly there was Satan and demons and it was all intertwined with her struggle against the world. I don’t have patience for incessant God-talk. I definitely don’t have much patience when I’m being given whacked out books written by a guy who says he was infected with demons while still in his mother’s womb. If you are wondering why I was taking books from her when I was working so hard to avoid her, this is why: she carried this book around for weeks in case she ran into me, she left messages on my telephone about it, she tried to leave it for me at the hotel gift shop I worked in (my employee wouldn’t take it, bless her); it was nigh impossible to avoid this stupid freaking book forever.
The point is that Jenny-Lou was persistent, pervasive, and perverse. I eventually did manage to sever most of Jenny-Lou’s ties to me. The severing required that I harden my heart. I had to act callously, and I had to stick by my conviction to end the relationship once and for all. This decision was made extremely difficult to follow through on without giving in to the bizarre and entirely inappropriate urge to protect her weak, sick, and demented person, because many woes befell her life on precisely the day I chose to end it.
Am I done yet? No! I won’t shut up, and you can’t make me. I’m carrying this over for a third instalment in my next entry, you poor, poor reader...
(photo by Terence Byrnes)
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