Part Thirty-Two: The Degenerate Returns

When I last discussed the degenerate with you it was when I got convicted of disorderly conduct for what could have easily been attempted murder, or conceivably even voluntary manslaughter if my friend had gone into a different gear that night…things could have been much worse than disorderly conduct.

Following that incident was a period of peace; well, peace where the degenerate’s presence in my life was concerned (in that he wasn’t present in my life), the rest of my life was plenty devoid of peace.

It was more than a year or so later before the degenerate appeared in my life again, relatively stable by comparison with how things had left off before, though the application of the word stable where he is concerned was always a relative thing at even the best of times. This guy has always been a self-serving, erratic piece of shit as you’ve likely become aware from my previous stories relating to him…and some people are simply congenitally incapable of change, no matter how necessary it might be.

This brief reappearance didn’t end in violence like the previous two intervals had, but it did end with him taking off with one of my favorite long coats. He’d needed a coat to wear one night and I was kind enough to offer him one of mine, because I’m a charitable sort of asshole if you catch me on the right days. It was only a couple of days later when he took off again, to destinations unknown, my coat keeping him warm. I knew he was selfish and short sighted, I knew that he was prone to unpredictable behavior, but I let him run off with my coat anyhow and I never saw it again. Life goes on.

The next time he came around was during a time when the waiter was my roommate and the girl from Indiana was my significant other. They had both been warned of what could be expected with him around, and both of them justifiably questioned my judgment in welcoming him into my life all over again like I did. I was clear with them as far as my motivations were concerned; that some part of me wished to see him redeemed and that I might be able to somehow facilitate that redemption or that he would ultimately need to be put down like a rabid animal and that I felt like it was my place to be the one to put him down…it was one of those Old Yeller scenarios, “…but he was my dog. I’ll do it.” I don’t know that my explanation in any way instilled any greater confidence in my judgment, and looking back I don’t suspect that it should have.

The situation was tense at times, knowing that things could get pretty fucking strange and potentially dangerous with him around…but I did my best to maintain some small amount of control over him and kept a close eye on his every action while he was around, hoping that I could anticipate the break as it approached.

All things considered, I did a good job of helping him to stay level and reasonably steady for a couple of weeks…but I’m not perfect and he was damn far from perfect as well.

The breakdown happened regardless of my attempts to ward it off. My girlfriend and I returned home from dinner on Friday evening to find him drunk and still drinking with an underage coworker (and friend) of mine who was abjectly horrified by the time we arrived home because the degenerate had taken to treating this friend like he was a girl (and may have actually been perceiving him as being a girl for some entirely unknown reason); and a fetching one at that, one he had taken quite the shine to.

My coworker took my arrival and the distraction that it momentarily provided as an opportunity to get the hell away from his potential rapist and make his intoxicated way to work at the ABC affiliate where we were both employed.

I received a stern reprimand from one of the directors there later on for allowing an underage coworker to get drunk in my apartment just before he had to be at work, even though I had been neither present nor privy to that activity until after it was already done.

The degenerate’s extreme state of inebriation combined with the aggressively sexual and disoriented demeanor he was exhibiting led me to the obvious conclusion that there was no way I was going in to work for my overnight shift while he was still in the apartment with my girlfriend. I attempted to be polite in asking him to leave for at least the next 12 hours or so, but something set him off and his aggression became less sexual in nature and more all around hostile.

He ended up grabbing the first thing he could find, which happened to be a large steel cooking fork from the kitchen as a weapon when I made it clear that I would physically remove him from the apartment if he wasn’t willing to calm down and leave on his own. He drunkenly brandished the cooking fork, his behavior becoming rapidly more unstable and animalistic, and I took that as a sign that I should usher my girlfriend outside before she ended up getting hurt.

We quickly made our way down the stairs and I knocked on the downstairs neighbor’s door so that we could get her inside to use his phone in order to call the police. He let my girlfriend in to make the phone call while I did what I could to keep the degenerate distracted outside so that he wouldn’t follow her as he initially tried to do. There was a clear trend with this bastard, to focus on the women in my life instead of dealing with me directly until he was forced into that position.

Seeing that my girlfriend was on the phone in the downstairs doorway, he retreated back upstairs to my apartment and I followed him, determined that he wasn’t going to be running loose in my apartment until the police arrived, creating further chaos for me to clean up after he was gone. Against all better judgment, my girlfriend followed me.

Shortly before the cops showed up, deflated and knowing that he was going to be arrested, he collapsed onto my living room floor with my girlfriend and I watching him from the open doorway where we could avoid being cornered by this man who had been heaving less human by the second.

He began stabbing at his own thighs with the tines of the cooking fork, with increasingly frenetic quality before raising it and placing the tines against his throat. We could see the pressure increasing as the tips began to further dimple the flesh of his neck more and more and both of us gasped as it suddenly jerked in his hand as the tension disappeared, appearing as if it had just punctured into his neck. Apparently the tips had slipped along his skin rather than jabbing in as the pressure he was applying became too great for the angle…but for a moment there my girlfriend and I were equally certain we had just witnessed the man committing suicide on our living room floor.

Much like the night that had ended with his skull wedged beneath the tire of that 1970s Monte Carlo, some part of me wishes that he had died that night on my living room floor just like some part of me wishes that he had been crushed that previous night…if only to save myself the trouble of dealing with him later on, because I was, of course, stupid and reckless enough to not make that the end of my dealings with him.

He was arrested that night (the second time the police hauled him away from my apartment in only a few short years) and I was almost arrested as well. I had apparently missed a court appearance for some offense that I no longer recall, perhaps the accidental shoplifting charge from ShopKo a while before, and there had been a bench warrant issued for my arrest. The officers were reasonable and considerate enough to leave me be after everything that had happened that night; knowing that I was already running late for my overnight shift in the master control room that night due to the bullshit with the degenerate, as long as I agreed to arrive for court the following Monday morning. I did indeed appear in court as promised; because, unlike many of my friends and acquaintances, I actually believe that treating police with respect is the key to being treated with respect by the police…and that reasonable and adult attitude is what I believe has led to my never being unduly harassed or mistreated by police officers since I stopped being a child, even looking like a less than productive member of society or an all around worthless creature, as I do. That isn’t really relevant right now though.

That was the end of the degenerate’s presence in my life for a little over a year, and the next time he showed up in my life would be near the tail end of the interval of methamphetamine use by my roommate and I, so that is when I suppose I will have to go next in this journey through my life. That next period you’ll hear about will be the final chapter to include the degenerate, not because I finally did kill him or because he did us all a favor and actually killed himself, but because I finally just had enough of his presence in my life.

Some of us, you see, are capable of exacting change within our lives…because some of us recognize that each new day is an opportunity, if we take it, to reinvent ourselves and take a different path from the one we were on the day before. That much is true for all of us, not just your not so humble narrator, if we only accept it…it isn’t always easy, but rarely are the things worth doing the easiest options available to us.

If I can learn that lesson, so can you…assuming that you haven’t already, and if you have, then you should be actively trying to instill that lesson in others instead of reading about my pathetic life.

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