Destroyer, Part 1.
The Destroyer, Part 1.
If I have been given one talent, it is to destroy. I can destroy anything. Anything at all. Give me anything – I can disassemble it slowly, screw by screw until the entire thing collapses on itself, or I can rip it to shreds in just a few seconds. I can make things fall onto other things, and break them too. It takes you three years to build it? I’ll turn it into junk in three seconds. My jeans last one month and my shoes last one week. I’m on my seventh car, my fourteenth stereo, and my 34th girlfriend. Check me out. I have a very impressive resume.
At the age of three, I destroyed approximately 47 jars of pickles haphazardly stacked at a Georgia Winn-Dixie. It wasn’t stupidity, innocence, or curiosity that made me kick that corner support out, it was spite. The thrill of sheer destruction was pure sugar to my three-year-old mind, and I cherished every wasted spear that lie shriveling amongst the shards of broken glass, in green puddles of evaporating pickling solution. My fast thinking mother snatched me off my feet and yelled at the store manager whose deadly display nearly decapitated her darling Driver, threatening to sue as she left her nearly full shopping cart where it stood and dragged me out of the store. My only regret was that no one slipped in the juice and hurt themselves.
At the age of five, my next great feat was accomplished, but not before two hard years of demolitions training. While rather impressed by my previous pickle holocaust, I knew I had plenty to learn. I studied the physics of destruction, building barns, trucks, and people out of blocks, and then pulling out the least amount of support to topple them. I studied card pyramids, and the way the fine china was stacked in the glass cabinet in the dining room. I studied my father’s shelving system in the garage, how the heavy, sharp tools would fall onto the grease stained cement, bending and warping themselves, and cracking the pavement on impact. But, unlike most destroyers, I chose not to, if you’ll pardon the phrase, shit where I sleep. I knew I had to keep it out of the home.
The daycare I was forced to endure for one day a week was excruciating. It smelled of stale urine and spilled grape juice. The paints were dry and the paper was wet. I never got along too well with the other children either. It was as if the word ‘DANGER: STAY AWAY’ was tattooed on my forehead and framed by my bad 70’s bowl cut. I think the teachers saw the far off glare of a destroyer as well, for they kept me busy with lists of meaningless chores, hoping my innate need to win the appreciation of my elders would override any desire to see the entire class die at my small, five-year-old hands. That’s when the six foot tall toy shelf crashed into the middle of the playroom, shattering Fisher-Price plastic and spilling Golden Books out into the hallway through the open door. My timing, however, was off, and I missed Timmy McMurphy by a good three feet.
As the years went on, so did the destruction. I burnt down the woods near my house with a red gas can I usually used to fill the lawnmower. During my ‘traps’ phase, a jogger mysteriously broke an ankle in the mini-Malaysian Tiger Trap I built on the running trails at the high school (the nails at the bottom, however, had not penetrated the shoe, vwhich sent me back to the drawing board). I threw bricks through picture windows, watching and taking note of the amount of glass that entered the house when I threw at the middle of the window as opposed to when I aimed at the bottom of it. Fistfights, BB gun window removal, cans of sardines dumped down the windshields of Porsches, throwing eggs at moving cars. I was the neighborhood fucker for sure. Not the biggest neighborhood fucker, I could smile and lie my way out of anything, so less stuff got pinned on me.
For a while I tried to channel my destructive urges into sports. Baseball is a stupid sport and was totally out of the question. It was Georgia, so there wasn’t a lot of hockey, which would have been my first choice. I eventually went with football, but my inability to play well with others, as well as the insufferable stop-start-stop nature of football itself, soon found me kicked of the team for biting. Soccer wasn’t much better, but at least the running made me too tired to do much of anything after the games.
I suppose the destructive triumph of my young life occurred in my twelfth year. At the time I lived in the middle of the woods with my family. It’s not that we had lots of land, we just lived in an area that hadn’t been developed yet. That soon changed with the economic boom that hit suburban Atlanta around the late-80s, and before I knew it, houses were springing up in every direction. One in particular sprang up what seemed like five feet from my bedroom window. I watched and stared as it slowly took shape over the summer, watched with a blank fascination that told me this house was what I had been training for all these years. But what to do? I checked the secret stash of books I kept hidden in my room for an answer, The Monkey Wrench Guide, The Anarchists Cookbook, photocopied pages from the Poor Man’s James Bond. Back in those days, we didn’t have the Internet to look up all this good stuff.
I decided against a bomb. They’re pretty dangerous to make, and my friend Shane had just gotten sent to juvenile for blowing up a mailbox with a pipebomb. Before getting caught, he almost blew himself up when screwing on one end of the pipe, small chunks of gunpowder left in the threads of the screw ignited and blew the cap off, making his hands shake and his ears ring for about a week. I liked my fingers a lot, all ten of them, so a bombing was out. Most of the construction had already been done, so disabling the bulldozers with sand in the gas tank and cutting the oil lines wouldn’t accomplish much. Burning the house down seemed a bit drastic, and there was always the risk of fire spreading to our house as well. So I just walked over and looked around.
The house was nearly completed, and ready to be moved into – but not for long. Taking advantage of the lack of neighbors, I smashed out a window in the front door with a rock, reached through, and let myself in. The beige carpeting of the living room absorbed the mud from my shoes quite readily, so effectively that I went back into the yard and reloaded. The house was a nice one, plenty of windows let in the daylight, presenting a cheerful, happy environment where no doubt generations of snot nosed kids would be raised into worthless adults. A chandelier hung centered over a spot in the dining room where a big table would eventually serve dinner after dinner to voracious, ungrateful mouths. A few tugs at one of its spokes did nothing more than make it swing a little on its chain. The chandelier came down surprisingly easily, however, once I appropriated a four-foot chunk of 2 inch dowel leaning against a wall, probably left over from the closets upstairs. I grabbed the dowel by the end, stepped up to the plate, and beat the chandelier like a glass birthday piñata, showering myself in broken light bulbs and flaking chrome in the process. After a particularly severe hit, the base separated from the ceiling, exposing a spinal cord of wires and a metal rod holding it steady. Finally, some progress. I smashed, and smashed, and smashed until I could barely move my arms. The chandelier was still hanging, but was little more than a twisted ball of metal, loosely swaying on a few frayed wires. I walked to the kitchen and took in the extent of my damage. A pair of muddy footprints led from the front door to the dining room and ended in a pile of shiny glass and twisted metal. The assault was so obvious. It was almost, well, funny. Funny to think that someone would just walk in off the street, stride over to a chandelier, destroy it, and exit, upsetting nothing else, stealing nothing else. I laughed. Out loud. And then I left.
I sat in my room and watched through my window as the cops drive up to the vandalized house about an hour later. They looked at the broken window, probably tracked mud on the carpet than I did, and left five minutes later. Open and shut, I suppose. Some stupid neighborhood kid, vandalism. But that image of the footprints stuck with me for a while. I tried to put my finger on just what had me so humored by it all. It was then that I discovered that, while physical destruction is good in it’s own sense, true destruction needs a psychological element to be truly disturbing. A logical explanation. A story. It was this revelation that set my mind working, feverishly, to up the ante of my destruction. It was becoming obvious that sheer violence was no longer going to be enough. In fact, physical destruction seemed like something to suddenly do away with completely, because of it’s simplicity, its easiness. Anyone could do it. If I wanted to be a true destroyer, I would have to operate not on physical terms, but in psychological terms. It was then that I began my work of destroying other people from the inside out.
Part 2 soon.