The House Fire

This is another one of the old traumas, and I was going to glom it onto another blog entry that I will eventually write about time spent homeless, but after some reconsideration I decided it was a major and interestingly detailed enough of an event to warrant its own blog entry, even though it did happen a long time ago.

It happened in 1997, in fact. But it changed the course of my life in a big way.

For some stupid reason, after spending many years away from my mother and grandmother, I opted to come back to the area and rent a unit in a triplex in a neighboring town. I guess the reason really was to be near my grandmother. It certainly had nothing to do with my mother! Grrr…

I found a job right across the street from my apartment and I got along well with the residents of the other two apartments. Things were swell. I was staring to make friends – but as always had been and always would be in my life – I made the wrong ones.

I was just walking down the street just minding my own business one day and this squot and toadly young man just walked up and started talking to me. It was that random – that’s how I met Faulkner. We became semi-friendly and would hang out sometimes, I had zero interest in him romantically speaking – tbh I thought he was gross – but due to the harassment and bullying I’d received all my life due to my harelip, I usually opted to try to be cool and friendly to anybody who was cool and friendly to me, even if they were chubby warty freckly repugnant fat-fingered little toadboys. For the most part, people can’t help how they look. It just is what it is… (it sucks). 😦 I know it very well.

Faulkner had a crush on me… and yet he still made the awful decision to introduce me to his buddies, Chase and Mullen. Chase was a weaselly little prick who stole my weed once (and only once – and gave it back after I beat his ass!) but Mullen & I hit it off. I liked that jerk right away. I liked him so much. Too much.  It was just one more poor decision on a long string of them… 😦

Then, one of the neighbors of the triplex informed me of something I had not known – Faulkner had reputedly committed digital rape (penetration with a finger) on a 4 year old girl, about 4 years before I had met him, when he was 16. According to this neighbor, he had only very recently returned to the town, after spending those 4 years Mysteriously Away – nobody knew where he had been, exactly.  His parents were prominent people in town, and they were mortified by him and would not have him, so, he lived with his grandparents, who were also respected favorites of the town.

Evidently, poor pathetic Faulkner was the shame of his family, too. Just for a far more warrantable reason than I ever was.  😦

These guys were the town’s “Bad Boys” and there was of course the expected element of alcohol and drugs – Mullen and Chase could get a hold of real alcohol and weed, but Faulkner, God pound his toadly little heart, was drying and smoking banana peels and eating Morning Glory seeds and/or excessive amounts of nutmeg, or huffing gasoline and aerosol Air Freshener in order to get high (I never did shit like that – yet I end up with the MCS!) One day he came over with the other guys, completely fucked up out of his skull, and said that “he had been huffing aerosol and that he had also taken some pills – he didn’t know what” from some dude he knew. He was yelling and taking great and flailing, broadly missed punches at Mullen, supposedly because of jealousy over me, I guess? – and he was falling about the place… literally. I had no closet door, so I had hung a batik textile over a long stick that was thumb-tacked to the ceiling by loops of fishing line. He tore that whole mess down and I told Chase and Mullen to get him out of my apartment. They complied. I didn’t care what they did with him. They said that they deposited him, wobbly but conscious and ranting, in the parking lot of a church that was 3 or 4 blocks away. (I had no idea that I’d be living there soon.)

Maybe I should have called 911 for the jerk, but frankly I didn’t care if he killed himself doing his stupid pseudo-drug shit. I just wanted him away from me. I didn’t even pretend to like him anymore, he had started to seriously creep me out. Not ONLY because of the pedo revelation, but because all of this stuff had happened in a fairly short order and I had finally figured out that he was too creepy to be cool with. He was a gross and disconcerting little man. At any rate, he survived his druggie ordeal and made his way home. We didn’t hang out ever again after that.

Less than week later, my house was burnt down. All three units were gutted, completely unlivable. The charred ruins of the place were eventually demolished and it remains an empty lot to this day. I go by it every time I have had to go to the dentist, which is frequently, thanks to my cleft lip bullshit.

Now, I must digress. Our group of friends included a woman named Betsy – this is a small-town sort of situation, so even though I had initially met Betsy through the pedo-fucko and my mother, Betsy also knew the neighboring town’s little group of Bad Boys that I hung out with, she in fact, hung out with them too. Betsy is… quite irregular, to say the least, and I have recently reconnected with her, much to my dismay.  Just a day or two after the boys had ejected Faulkner from my apartment, Mullen and I very much wanted to be alone, and we were certainly in no mood for Betsy! She came knocking and Mullen & I were locked into my apartment and being very quiet, hoping she would think that we were not there (even though we were seldom anywhere else) and GO AWAY. Betsy did not GO AWAY. She smashed one of the panes of the window, reached through, unlocked the door and let herself in!

I should have called the cops on her ass, but I did not because our mutual friends  – Kelly and Brian, a young, married couple that lived in the upper unit of the triplex, came down to see what was going on; what with the glass crashing, yelling, fighting, etc. They implored that I not call any cops, and claimed that they would pay for AND arrange the window repair and Betsy could “do some work” for them to pay off the debt. These people didn’t want cops coming over because they had a lotta, lotta weed up in their apartment, and by “do some work” well, they had Betsy AND I among a few select others to help them move their product; they did not dare to do a lot of dealing themselves, they had a little boy, about 3 years old – adorable little shit, he was! – so I figured they’d just have Betsy move some product for them w/o her usual “pay” (our pay always came in weed format).

I said, “there is no reason for the cops to even have to talk to you guys – this is between me and Betsy – let her pay for the window now or let me call the cops on her crazy ass – she can’t just go around doing this kind of shit!” – but as usual, Betsy had no money and they ran to her defense, and since I liked my “job” with them, (well, let’s be frank, I liked the pay) I complied with the plan, especially since I didn’t really want to be fooling around with cops either, and because I didn’t want the landlord to have to be informed or become involved.

Kelly called a dude that they knew who could provide the glass and do the work, but he couldn’t come over for about a week. I was like – “oh fuck no – anybody can reach in and unlock my door – and I am at work for 8 to 10 hours of every day! – this will not do!” So, Brian blocked the broken window off with heavy cardboard and layers of duct tape on both sides, and he put a clasp and padlock on the outside of the door, so it no longer mattered if somebody could punch through and unlock it.

It did not, however, block somebody from being able to defeat the paltry cardboard and duct tape fix and throw an incendiary device into my kitchen…

This is where shit gets all “Lifetime Movie of the Week.” It sounds unbelievable, but it is true.

I worked many long hours just across the street at a combination convenient store/gas station/fast food joint. One day my malevolent and eternally hostile coworker, Jolene, started screaming that my house was on fire… I lived so close that we could see my house from out the large storefront windows. I fled over there and there was already a small ring of spectators – including Faulkner. I was too busy freaking the fuck out to take proper note of that at the time. At some point I found myself back at work clocking out for the day with no permission to do so whatsoever, and wailing down the office phone for my mother and grandmother to come, from the neighboring town in which they resided. Then, the town watched me watch my (rented) house burn down, while Mullen held me and Faulkner stood way back, taking everything in with his gross and shifty little piggy eyes.

It was all very much the talk of the town, one, because duh, – HUGE HOUSE FIRE! and two, Mullen and I had so far kept our very new relationship covert, but that all flew out the window as he held me while I wailed in very public dismay while everything I owned – and several pets – burned to a crisp.

Now come many interesting facts and coincidences. Why was Boy Toadly up so early that particular morning? He wasn’t usually up before noon. He told two different groups of people conflicting stories – he told the Bad Boys, Betsy and myself that his grandma had heard it on the police scanner and had run to wake him up and he ran right over – but a day or two later he was caught telling a peripheral group of people we all knew that he had been eating a bowl of cereal when he heard it over the police scanner and was so shocked he  spewed his cereal all over the place.

So which was it, Fucknut? <–(The town’s pet name for him)

More, my mother and grandmother purport(ed) that he  sidled up to them during all of the drama, while the town watched the house burn, and actually leaned into them and muttered, “I set her house on fire. I threw a candle through the broken window” and then sauntered off, beaming. Now this story makes little sense to me – one, would not a candle go out if thrown? And two, would not NORMAL parents and grandparents have immediately run to a cop or a fireman with that information? But not my folks. Nope. Of course not. Haven’t you been paying attention?

I had to do something involving the acquisition of social services after the fire, and my Grandpa’s car was having problems, so it was arranged that the local town librarian, Vesta, who had pretty much watched my bitch of a sister & I grow up across many years of visits to that library, would drive me to the place I had to go to fill out the paperwork for assistance. Vesta told me during the drive – “I will deny this if you ever tell ANYBODY that I told you this – for my own safety I will deny saying it, and I will say that you must be crazier than hell to make such a thing up about me, but I am in the way of knowing that Faulkner burnt down your house. You STAY AWAY from that boy!!!”

She would answer no questions; and she was a sweet old dear, probably in her 80’s, so I didn’t push it. I could see that she was scared, and I didn’t want to be a dick because she was, after all doing me a favor, driving me to and from the place. (For gas $$, of course – which is fair).

Ah yes, let us not forget this – after I pissed Faulkner off by dissing him and starting to fool around with Mullen – a guy he himself had introduced me to, he had no reason to not hate everybody in that house. Any thoughts of the people in the other two units would not have staggered him from his evil plan, they would only spur it. After all, get this – the woman that lived next door? She was the running mouth that made sure that I – and everybody else – knew about the pedophilic incident in his past. The well-connected couple upstairs? They would deal with me, Betsy and Mullen. They wouldn’t give Chase or Faulkner the time of day – Chase because he was a little rat fink, and Faulkner because he was a pedophile – and they had an extraordinarily beautiful 3 year old. (He really was just a little bit too cute).

So… Faulkner had ample reason – by whatever passed as his method of reasoning – to fuck us all over – at the same time.

Let’s just never mind that an innocent baby lived in the house, too.

Faulkner was a monster.

Do you remember the part where I mentioned  that he had parents AND grandparents – and apparently an uncle – who were respected and embraced by the town? This shit was many years ago so I forget exactly what they all did but I believe one lectured at a University in a neighboring town, and another, the uncle, in fact, was the town court judge. No shit. When I publicly suggested that it was Faulkner who set the fire, his family protected him. Even though the fire started “inexplicably in the middle of the kitchen” (where something thrown through the broken window would have landed) “no cause could be determined” and “no incendiary device was found” and the fire was ruled “accidental – cause unknown” – all of this in spite of the fact that Brian’s half-assed window fix had clearly been punched through – I called this to their attention but it was just like they could not hear me – it was surreal. Later,  I heard that Faulkner’s family protected him not because they loved him, but because “if this got out (especially after the pedophilia incident, which fortunately happened when he was a minor), his chances at having a normal life will be ruined forever” and therefore they would “never be rid of him and they would have to put up with him forever or put him away somewhere” but if all of this fire nonsense gossip would just go away, come spring he was “off to that University far away” (notice how he was seemingly not welcome at the extremely local University at which one of them lectured?)

Sounds crazy, right?  When I brought up his name to the Police and Fire chiefs – I was ignored. Nothing ever went to court. I was still quite young, only 21, and so traumatized I barely knew what I was doing, and nobody was helping me, so, he got away with it. Only animals died – my 2 cats and 3 rats and the mouthy neighbor’s iguana – all of the humans, the extra-cute toddler included, got out unharmed. So, it was not deeply investigated and the guy got away with it. I also learned much later that the landlord, who I never formally met, (I mailed money orders to him in a distant town for rent) – had had an absolutely obscene insurance policy on the place – close to a quarter of a million dollars – so he had little reason to contest anything or dig into the investigation of anything. It all panned out really well for him.

As if all of this were not yet enough, in the midst of having lost everything I had ever owned – including 5 out of 6 pets and a myriad of adored possessions – I was having my heart broken and my paltry finances trashed. My dog, Hobo, thankfully survived because he had been tied outside.

After the fire, I stayed for just over a month at a small apartment in the upstairs of a church in town –  formerly a rectory, I believe – rent free. The apartment was put into use for badly fucked and desperate people – like I was – to live in on a VERY temporary basis while they tried to figure out their mangled lives. I kept my job and was becoming more and more smitten with that goddamned asshole Mullen every day. He was so nice and gentle to me in the weeks following the fire. 😦 Because of this, this bullshit – this stupid crush, I arranged to live in a trailer park in town in order to stay near him. He knew he was the reason why, and he allowed it. I laid down a $400 deposit for a trailer that I never moved into – he knew what I was doing, he knew he was the reason why, he wholeheartedly approved the plan, and he was even with me when I first met the owner and he examined the trailer with me. It was a dump, but my options were extremely limited because nobody wants to rent to the girl whose house famously burned down for no apparent reason… right? The goddamned bitch that owned that trailer KNEW my house had just burnt down – everyone knew – but still, she burned me AGAIN on that $400 deposit, because she was a heartless cunt and because she could.

I was putting up with bullshit from all quarters – so of course I was due for another very VERY bad day. Why not?

Right?

On the morning of that bad day, I met with the owner of the trailer after talking with my grandparents and with Mullen and everybody seemed to think it was a great idea. I paid the first month’s rent and a damage deposit – the $400. I would officially move in over the weekend. After dealing with her and paying her the $400, I went to work, where during my lunch break I burnt up my burrito in the microwave. It stunk to hell, there was no hiding the incident, and all of the Good Old Boys from around town that showed up every single day, to fill the booths and to sit and sit and sit, and to drink coffee after coffee after coffee, and to mindlessly hyuk it up with each other over gossip and foolish things for three quarters of the day, they mercilessly started in on me – “you already burnt your house down – you gonna burn the store down next? Ha ha ha!” Fucking merciless asses. Rumors had been floating around, probably courtesy of Faulkner and Family, that I was somehow responsible for the house fire, even though I had been to work for 4 hours by the time it started (my shift started at 5 am) – and they goddamned well knew I had been. The stupid old fucks practically lived at the convenient mart – you know the type, weathered old bastards with big, gnarled hands, shit-kicker boots and over-sized baseball caps advertising shitty things like The International Order of Old Assholes or Bass Pro Shops – the first one shows up around 7 am and the last one doesn’t leave until after 3:00, – that miserable lot of laughable old bastards got to me and I started to cry even though I struggled mightily not to – so my boss admonished them for being heartless pricks (while they all guffawed) and then she asked me if I wanted to go back to the church apartment for the rest of the day or even just long enough to get my shit together enough to come back and finish my shift – whichever I needed to do. She was very kind to me in a town full of hateful bastards. I agreed that I was too upset to work and went back to my church apartment to calm down – which was kept unlocked not by my choice but that was how the church wanted it. The apartment was only accessible from the inside of the church, which was open to the public most hours of any given day.

So, I unexpectedly returned to my temporary “home” – the church apartment – hours before I was “supposed to”, only to find Mullen, (who had frequently visited me at the apartment and in fact lived directly across the street from the church), screwing some toothy little bitch named Michelle in my hard and unforgiving little church bed. He didn’t screw the bitch at his house because like Faulkner, he lived with his grandparents – (the “Bad Boys” in this particular town were extraordinarily pathetic, no?) – and he couldn’t screw her at her house because he found her outside of the local High School. (Fucking perverts and their under-age babies!) (Goddamned pedos everywhere!) So, they snuck into – and through – the church (!!!) and up the stairs into my temporary  apartment in order to screw! Those jerks!!! I went to the apartment in order to “calm down” and I find this bit of happy bullshit?! Par for the cousre in my life, right?!! I chased them away with a bout of flailing fists and flying objects and amid much screaming of obscenities (in a church!) 😮

After taking a half an hour to calm down enough from all of that and to be able to at least not be screaming or blubbering, I called the owner of the trailer – on the afternoon of the very same day that I had paid her the deposit in the morning! – and I explained that my only reason for staying in town had just cheated on me, and could I have my money back? – ‘Cuz I was fixin’ to boogie. “No”.

She knew who I was and how young I was and how many hours I had to work to earn that money, and how much I had already lost and that now on top of all, my adored new lover had cheated on me – in what was currently passing for my bed – but still, “No”. I hated her so much for that. The bitch was well into her 50’s, and well established with a family with two vehicles and a home – more than I’ve ever had to this day.  It’s 20 years later now and I still fucking hate her. She is just heartless. My house burnt down scant days before Halloween and I paid her the deposit & the first month’s rent during the first few days of December. I guess I paid for her fucking family’s Christmas that year…. the goddamned heartless bitch.

I  felt so much anger and so much helplessness… after I hung up the phone on that heartless money-grubbing bitch I did all I could do at that time. I put Tracy Chapman on blast – which I seldom did because it was a CHURCH – and I wailed copiously (hoping all the while that if anybody was downstairs in the church, that they weren’t too deeply alienated by my angsty yowls, and that above all, they would LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!) (They did.)

I felt tremendously sorry for myself, my body and my chest literally hurt with the stress of it all, in a way i had not experienced before or since. I was deeply shocked and dismayed. I made a sorry, pitiful bed  of of coats and towels in the bathtub because I couldn’t stand to sleep in the bed or use any of the bedding after what I had seen there. Never mind the wet spot.

Tracy Chapman wouldn’t usually be my first choice, but very recently, my considerable and adored cassette collection had been melted into a square-ish plastic lump. I don’t remember how I got the tape, somebody – maybe Betsy – must have given it to me; but at that time, Tracy was all I had. To this day whenever I hear a song off of her titular album, I remember the angst of this particular day.

After the consecutive triple gut-punch of the Attack of the Good Old Boys, Mullen and His Toothy Jail-Bait Slut-Baby, and The Selfish Old Bitch Who Could (and Did!)- ALL of whom were regulars at the gas/food station – this is a VERY small town – so I’d have to see all of them all the time – I couldn’t endure it so I said “fuck it” and abruptly quit the job without notice. I decided to just bail the fuck out. I never, ever went back – to this day. I had them mail the final check to my grandparent’s house, where I moved to immediately.

I had no reason to stay at the church anymore… no reason to move into that miserable trailer. No more boyfriend, no more job… that town was dead to me. Besides, after the spectacle of the self-pitying, aching, yowling night of heartbreak and abject misery, combined with the fact that I had been there for over the typically allotted month – it was pretty much time for me to fuck off out of the church apartment, anyway.

Now I lived with my grandparents, too.  😦

The gas station/food mart where I worked – until I abruptly quit on that really bad day – had put out a collection bin with a picture and a brief explanation of the fire at the register, and the McDonald’s where Kelly worked was doing a collection as well. Now get this – the gas station split the proceeds three ways – equally between all three tenants of the ruins. the fucking McDonald’s gave ALL of the $$ that they collected to Kelly. Real fair – really really really fucking fair.

I was only at my grandparents for a week or two and tensions were already running high with my grandfather – he always was a volatile sort. One snowy morning, he woke my grandmother and I up, yelling frantically. He claimed he had seen some fat thing with it’s face covered with a ski-mask hat and a ski suit lumber away from his car (which he had been having recent problems with, hence the ride with Vesta, the librarian). We went out to look, and sure enough – footprints and knee marks in the snow. I begged him to call the cops, since they would not believe me about Faulkner. Maybe this, they would believe.

I don’t know why – my whole family is so inexplicably weird – but he refused to call the cops. He said that the effort would be as wasted as when I had tried, and he didn’t have the energy for it.

All of this frightened me considerably, and I was left with one recourse – which was to flee.  I couldn’t have this Fucknut endangering my family – as fucked up as they were.

So I fled. I fled as far West as I could get without falling right off the continent.

Before I moved to this cruel and horrible little town of horrors, I had spent some time in the town of my birth – to which I had returned almost immediately after graduating high school, in an attempt at getting my smashed face repaired by my original surgeon.

During this time, I met yet another horrible and untrustworthy man-boy, (he’s a story for another day – probably in the eventual Men and Sex entry) and he dragged me around the West Coast states with him; we were following the Grateful Dead. We were living in and out of motel rooms and his van for a couple of months, at least – we followed the Dead from city to city to city. This was just months before Jerry died. We made and sold fur-lined drums at the shows for gas and food $$ plus I had  a cash hoard from the job that I had quit in order to go on Dead Tour with this guy. During this adventure I had become particularly smitten with one greenly gleaming West Coast gem, O Beautiful City (which is in the process of being rapidly ruined – she even has a stupendously expensive monster residing in her watery bowels now).

So, I called a certain big-mouth gossip (can you guess who?) from the sick little town from which I had so recently fled – I begged her not to tell ANYBODY – (I knew she would tell everybody) – that I was moving to Florida.

So, to the seemingly gleaming city – (which is very much NOT in Florida) – I fled. I jumped on a Greyhound bus and I fled; I fled with no plan, with no definite destination outside of that particular city in general, and with nobody to meet me there when I got there. I had only my walkman, a few tapes, my travel bag and the money from the gas station charity donation bin and my last paycheck. I REALLY could have used that $400 right about then, along what should have been my third of the McDonald’s donation bin money. 😦

God damn that selfish Kelly and God damn that cheating Mullen and God damn that heartless, selfish old slumlord witch that ripped me off!

And God damn Faulkner. Especially, God damn Faulkner.

Over and over and over again may He damn him.

…So began Homelessness, Part II.

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