Saturday, January 31, 2009
“The devil ain’t nothin’ but a talent scout!”
Those were the words of my Great Aunt Bessie. When I was a kid, she’d utter these strange, crazy expressions that made absolutely no sense to me. But then, the older I became, the wisdom, the knowing inside those things she’d said would end up haunting me slowly.
Maybe the devil was, is, and will always be a devious talent scout, stalking, constantly searching for some new and Magnificent Misery. He must innately possess the primal instinct to smell it. He whiffs it, and very odor of it makes his dick erect. When the devil sees misery, when he witnesses desolation encased in human flesh, it makes him grin his sickly grin and he grows even more aroused.
I can't really say I know the way someone feels, even when the person hosting that feeling might be someone close to me, or even someone I love. I can sincerely sympathize with the best of them, but to say that I empathize with them… that would be lie. You can love someone to their core, know they’re in pain, and still never identify the degree, texture, the depth or temperature of their anguish.
When you love someone, you don’t always see him or her as they are, because what you love about them most is their spirit. It’s the essential part of a person that makes them beautiful or ugly. Knowing this to be true, Addy had a beautiful spirit. It didn’t matter to me that his fluctuating weight had become problematic. By the time he was twelve he weighed almost 300 pounds. It became apparent to everyone that my brother wasn’t just plump or chubby anymore. Addy was morbidly obese. I knew this reality made him deeply unhappy in his skin.
Over the years, I’d overheard my parents arguing about it so many times in their bedroom. Gig’s voice wore a trace of shame and something very close to disgust.
“What the HELL are you feedin’ that boy? I told you his ass needed to be on a diet… but you just keep on feeding him all that fatty food! It’s getting outta hand, Dakota!”
“Shhhhh! Keep your voice down! I feed that boy three square meals a day. That’s it. That's all. But then, he takes his allowance and he buys candy and sweets, cakes and cookies and chips and soda. He’s slick about it. He hides them because he knows I don’t want him eating that junk!”
“So, when does he eat it?”
“Late at night when I’m asleep. I can’t police the child at all hours. I’ve tried for years to steer him away for that stuff. He does as I say, and he’ll lose a little weight. But he always ends up gaining even more of it back. Our son has a problem, Gig!”
I was glad Addy didn’t hear them. But even if he had, nothing Gig or Dakota could say would’ve been worse than the things he’d been called at school. It was there he heard so many cruel and unfeeling words aimed at him; and his classmates would say those things to deliberately to break his spirit. Kids who are bullies can be the most insensitive beings on the planet. They never take into account how their words can cut or brand a sensitive soul forever. Maybe this never occurs to them. And for those who are aware, who know what their words and actions can do, and they purposely use them anyway… shame on those sad and internally fucked up people!
This is what some human beings do to one another. They do or say some brutally heartless thing for shits and giggles… or to wound and make someone suffer.
I cannot say I knew how it felt to be Addy. But the part of my brother that lived within me, would so often weep for him.
The truth of this hurts… truly hurts in some deep secret place inside of the viscera.
The truth is you want to hurt all those hurters back.
The truth is you wonder if anyone will ever love you, and just you, flaws and all, completely, honestly and unconditionally.
Her name was Allison. Allison Andrews. From the time Addy was in the fifth grade, he’d nursed his own silent yet undying crush for her.
She was a lovely young girl to look at, with her shoulder-length plaits and light sienna skin. Addy would spend days constructing these homemade Valentine cards and putting in a little poem he’d composed especially for Miss Allison. Addy and Allison. Allison and Addy. It was such a beautiful dream in his mind. He’d never found the courage to approach her directly with these cards or with his feelings for her. He seemed to take his own delight in secretly placing the anonymous cards in her cubbyhole, and then hiding behind the classroom door to see that slow smile trace across her face. He’d done this for three years straight. But then came junior high school, where the kids seemed to up the ante in the game of human cruelty.
Someone had apparently seen him place that year’s card into the slits of her locker’s door. Someone obviously told her that the card was from that ‘big, fat Swinton boy.’
But instead of being flattered by the careful and poetic attention he’d shown her for three years, and instead of applying just a little touch of sensitivity, Miss Allison chose a different method of giving my brother his due.
She waited until lunchtime, when the school’s cafeteria was full, and then she stood on her chair, and said:
“Hey, everyone… guess what? I got another special Valentine this year. Isn’t it beautiful?” She held it up to show the crowd. Everyone present was paying attention, because this was Allison Andrews, the prettiest girl in all of junior high. And then she read it, out loud:
‘Every day you grow more beautiful…
Every year my heart explodes…
Every time I’m near you.
My love just grows and grows.
Every time I long to tell you
But every year I get more shy…
So I’ll quietly ask you
Would you please
Be my Valentine?’
The crowd of kids actually applauded, quite loudly. I imagine Addy was a little embarrassed, and maybe just a little proud in that moment.
But then she, Miss Allison Andrews, announced:
“Wow! I wish I knew who my secret Valentine was… because if I knew, I’d give him a big wet kiss. And I don’t care who it is,” she said. Then she twisted her face in a way that wasn’t so pretty anymore, and she said, “As long as ain’t that big’ fat, gross, two tons of ugly, SWINTON boy!”
I can’t even begin to imagine what hearing those words coming from Allison did to my brother’s soul. All I know is, Addy got up looking astonished and damaged and winded and thousand unutterably painful things, and he ran as fast as he possibly could from that cafeteria filled with viciousness and that coarse cutting noise of laughter.
I wanted to kick her ass. I wanted to kick the ass of each person who’d coldly laughed at him. I wanted to… but I couldn’t kick everyone’s ass.
And because I loved him, there were times I wanted to fight for him, and I did. I couldn’t that day, because had Addy disappeared.
That was the first day of many painful adolescent days ahead, and the first time my little brother ran away from Coolsville.
His disappearance lasted for three days.
“The devil ain’t nothin’ but a talent scout,” Aunt Bessie said.
* * * * *
I believe the devil is indeed, a talent scout, in search of some Grand Misery… and when he finds it, sees it, sniffs it, tastes it and feels it, his raging red dick grows more erect.
I believe in the devil just as much, and just as fiercely as I believe in God. Too many people mistake the devil’s place of business as a hellish underground community. I believe only the hellish part to be true.
My Great Aunt Bessie once said something else in her infinite wisdom:
“People need to take God outta the sky and put Him where he belongs… in they hearts.”
Borrowing that old sage’s philosophy, then by the same token, maybe some people take Satan from the underground, and they let him breed within their souls.
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Excerpt from the novel "Like Litter In The Wind," by L.M. Ross