Chapter Twenty-Seven continued
Judy drove around until she ran out of gas, and got thoroughly drenched walking back to the gas station, where she bought a 40 and put enough gas into a quart bottle of coke to make it to the nearest gas station next to a liquor store. She got gas while she was there, and then hunched over to see the gentlemen about a drink.
One of the benefits of her now temporarily-abandoned method of organization was that she kept the debit card in her pocket at all times, along with a pen, her keys and her ‘wallet’ – dozens of scribbled-on stickies stacked together and held with a spring clip. She felt proud of herself, standing there dripping and disheveled in line at the liquor store; she was in charge of her reality, not a victim. She could choose the path forward for herself, instead of running whatever dismal program everyone in her family had always told her was her future.
She sat in the car, still in the parking lot, sipping her whisky and rolling a joint, the rain drumming on the roof and running in mindless runnels down the windshield. What about creating her own karma, then? Just what kind of path forward could she envision? If she ignored all the depressing lessons involved in growing up in such a family, what was left? Where was that bright, chipper girl whose 5th grade face shone thru the years from the class photo on her fridge? Before the mental beatings, the incessant teasing, the emotional torture that left her such a cripple.
But what was so bad about how she was raised, really? She wasn’t beaten, or unduly punished, or raised with wacko religious teachings, or molested by her parents. She had all these nightmare visions of her youth, but they were memories of her reactions to things that nobody else remembered after all this time. Times when she felt humiliated and stupid. The feelings so overpowered her that she went around feeling ashamed all the time – just to be proactive, just to dull the pain of others’ opinions thru repetition.
She lived like a craven thing, with wide eyes and shivery skin, hiding under things and scuttling about in the shadows. And she did it to herself, because she was certain everybody thought she was a useless lump of humanity, a waste of breath.
It took a surprising amount of liquor on an empty stomach to get her going, but eventually Judy worked herself around to a good indignant state where the question wasn’t what kind of path forward could she envision, but what kind of blow she could strike for freedom from the demons of her family ties. She should kill them all.
With a silent peanut gallery, she could go forward in peace, without her parents and siblings taunting and harping on her many problems. Without the voices, the memories, the self-serving advice, she would be free to react to situations with her own intelligence and curiosity, bravely rather than as if her hand were going to be bitten off. She could be as intrepid as her daydreams. She could get a job, meet new people, learn to live on her own. She had years to live; she was only 50-something…55, 56? Another 20 years, 30 years maybe. She could live a whole lifetime in 30 years. And having learned a bunch of lessons, it wouldn’t be nearly as messy as the abortion of a life she’d been leading.
But hey, she could do all that without killing anybody. And the fantasy was as far as it would get, because Judy was a powderpuff. She lived in a fantasy world that had only gotten deeper and more intransigent since Frank died, and really couldn’t function very well in the ordinary world. She was a mid-50s, unemployed, freshly widowed, and now homeless alcoholic pothead with personal hygiene issues and DSM-IV approved mental ailments. Nobody else in the whole wide world shared Judy’s vision of herself and her potential, or thought that she was capable of creating her karma.
Besides, the matrisiblingcidal solution is like the geographic solution – it rarely works because you carry your family baggage with you wherever you go. They’re in your head and in your habits, and like Obi-Wan, your family only becomes more powerful after death. They are, arguably, the most powerful memes there are.
Okay, that and two bucks’ll buy a cup of coffee, which Judy could use. And some food at the gas station, right there in front of her. So she clambered out of the car, wove her way to the hot dog counter and loaded up one with everything, part of everything ending up all over the counter, and Judy trying loudly to clean it up before being shooed to the checkout. They escorted her to the restroom later, when she’d finished her hot dog and coffee out in the car and needed to pee.
She returned to the car after attempting to straighten up a bit in the restroom, and began driving aimlessly once again. But she was a little more unsteady after lunch (all the msg in the hotdog, no doubt), and it was a dreary day, so she pulled over in a sheltered spot down the street from Mom’s house, and sat picking her teeth with a safety pin she kept on her lapel. Mom’s house looked so comfortable. It always had. It was always a secure, warm place where everybody had a space they could retreat to.
But it wasn’t Judy’s house anymore. It wasn’t any of their house. Only Mom. And they weren’t welcome back. She really just wanted to go back to being a kid again; nothing complicated. Just Mom and Dad, and all her brothers and sisters, and they’d all know better this time, and be a loving family, and not so fucked up. Then everything would be alright.
Everything revolved around Mom. And Mom wanted it that way. That way she controlled everything that they did. Nobody would believe how intense Mom’s attention was when they were growing up. And how manipulative she was, getting her way every time, no matter what. Judy used to have nightmares that she was going someplace special and had forgotten something Mom then called everyone’s attention to. Like she was out in public in just her underwear, especially that silly undershirt she always had to wear so her little nipples wouldn’t show, because she was fat. For years that undershirt dream haunted her.
She hated it when she grew breasts because Mom got even more hysterical about the way she looked. As if she could change how she looked. Other girls anxiously learned about makeup and other lies, but Judy stolidly remained Judy, and couldn’t see why you should try to improve on what you’d been given.
Everyone else snickered and followed fashion, but Judy stuck to her principles, and in the days since Frank died, she dressed even more uniquely than usual. And she smelled. And now that her home was in her car, everything smelled. But at least she had a change of clothes in the car. Lots of clothes, towels, old papers, trash, food containers, empty bottles and cans. and a whole garbage bag full of old clothes in the trunk, ready for the thrift store. Well, not any more. The trunk was now her wardrobe. She’d get around to cleaning the trash out of the back seat tomorrow, and make it really livable.
Considering her meager resources – a car full of junk – Judy still felt hopeful for the future. She had learned a bunch of new habits and had a lot more control over her evil thoughts now, even if her grief was heavy at times. After this little bout with alcohol was done, after she’d had enough of mourning, in a week or two, she would come out of it, find a place to live, get a job, straighten herself out, and move on with her life. Maybe she would move to somewhere else, but not until she proved to herself that she could survive all by her lonesome.
Except for Mom, who would never be satisfied, no matter what. The pathways in Judy’s brain were such ruts that she couldn’t go three flashes of thought without circling back to Mom, feeling a painful throb in her soul every time. Like a lie bump on your tongue, and you have to work up your courage to bite it off.
So she proceeded to torture herself with the fact that she was just like her mother. Especially as the eldest child; she got the largest dose of Mom at the beginning of her run as great mother goddess.
Judy had done her research. Castaneda said that women have holes in their middles after they give birth, and a sorceress had to steal back her missing substance from her children. She combined this with the idea of goddesses that eat their children, and decided that Mom was a psychic vampire. And that no matter how far Judy might run, Mom had her hooks in Judy’s aura and would feed off her as long as she was alive.
So Mom had to die. She kept coming back to that. It’s just that Judy wasn’t going to be the one to do it. She knew she didn’t have the heart to kill Mom, even tho Mom had pretty surely killed Frank. That alone should send Judy into a rage blind enough to stick something sharp into Mom’s eyes. But why bother? Judy was just like Mom, so Mom would haunt Judy the rest of her life, as Judy came to resemble her more and more. Thirty years from now, Judy would be worse than Mom.
But if Judy was like Mom, then Mom was like Judy. And Judy was her own worst enemy, so why not leave Mom alone to screw her own life up?
Except that Mom really didn’t seem to be screwing her life up. She seemed to be right in the middle of a nice, comfortable old age in a nice comfortable old house, with a fresh young victim willing to let her manipulate and abuse him to her heart’s content.
While Judy went thru a dark night of the soul that might well last the rest of her life. Homeless, wet, smelly, drunk, and depressed. Not depressed; angry. Depressed with an attitude. Snarky depression, sitting and muttering to herself in a dark smelly wet beat up old car in her old fucking neighborhood with nowhere to go, while all her relatives partied and cavorted and didn’t give a damn that she was alone in the world.
After a good cry, Judy rolled another joint and had a couple of whisky chasers. Then the rain slackened a bit, and she decided to see if the lock on the sliding door was still broken, because if it was, she was going to crawl into bed in her old room and attempt to turn the clock back all night in her sleep.
She got out of the car, stepping into a puddle and soaking her left shoe. It squelched as she walked to the driveway. She limped up the drive to the carport and noticed the doormat lying in the mud. Snorting disapproval for something out of place, she picked it up by the edge and tugged it back onto the driveway. Intending to put it back on the porch where it belonged, it was so heavy she decided to leave it there and let it drain. The puddle she took the mat out of was brown and ooky, and looked deep. Somebody could have broken an ankle on the mat, sitting over that hole like that.
Judy was a good person. She tried to think of others, tried to be the unknown hand that was always doing nice things for strangers. She went out of her way to help whenever she could. How could life turn out so shitty when she was always trying to be good? Did anybody ever notice? Did it benefit her in any way to be good? No. It benefited them, it meant she was quiet and never made any trouble and never demanded to get her way for once.
This was what she’d been thinking about before, how she was thru doing things because people expected her to. She was going to make her own karma from now on, decide to do things because they were good for her, or just because she wanted to do them. Freedom.
To do what, tho? Freedom to kill Mom for killing Frank? What would that benefit her?
No, fuck killing Mom, fuck being angry with her and blaming everything on her, even if a good case could be made. Blaming Mom just made Judy a victim, and fuck that.
Nope, the kind of karma she was going to create right now was to do a nice thing for someone without being asked, and go find a warm bed in her mother’s house to spend a wet and sorrowful night.
Sam and Dave noticed Cindy’s car, as well as Gordon’s, and even Judy’s, when they entered the neighborhood. Rick’s car wasn’t there, but that wasn’t surprising, because Rick was freshly dead and his widow was still negotiating to get her children back. Their new informant Ben was over there lending a hand, and promised to turn in a report.
They were there because a fair number of their secreted GPS devices had converged in a known location. But this time they were prepared. They had parabolic mics, infrared cameras, and lots of stakeout drugs, as well as standard issue trenchcoats to keep the rain off, and a whole bale of paper towels for when they couldn’t.
After Judy stalked past they decided they should move into place closer to the action and prepared themselves properly, saluting Gordon as they finished off a bag of marching powder they’d found while organizing things. The rain had slacked off a little, so they made their move, Dave snickering when Sam stepped into a puddle beside the car, Sam whacking him on the shoulder when Dave slammed the trunk getting the equipment out. “Like anyone’s going to hear,” snarled Dave.
But Judy heard the trunk slam, and the wet thwack of Sam’s slap. And so did Gordon and Laurie, who had rolled off each other, and were actively avoiding Judy behind Mom’s car.
Judy scuttled off across the front yard, crouching and keeping close to the bushes as she made her way around to the back porch. Feeling safe, Laurie knelt down and started going down on Gordon, who leaned back on the car and rolled his head from side to side with pleasure.
Out of the corners of his eyes Gordon saw Sam and Dave struggle by with armloads of gear, heading for the back yard. Somehow they avoided being fried as they turned the corner; maybe Frank’s invention didn’t work.
Gordon finished quickly, before the distraction got to be too much, and left Laurie wiping her mouth with the back of her hands. She’d scratched his ass while he was coming; really dug her nails in. She checked to see if her manicure was still perfect.
Gordon was annoyed to see the mat o’death sitting on the driveway. What the fuck. Damn that Judy anyway. He prodded it with his foot but it didn’t go off. He lifted it by the corner. Everything was still attached. The little light was still on. So he put it back over the puddle and stood admiring the placement. It had to work.