Destroyer Part 2
Destroying people is a lot like destroying buildings. The physics are the same, at least. When destroying a person you must survey the psychoscape, find the main support, and take it out. The method is up to you, but once the weak point is established, it shines. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about; that one thing you can say to any particular person that you know will hit them hard. Well, don't stop with the offhanded comment, push forward with action, chip, chip away at their bonds to sanity. The human condition is a fragile one, especially considering the state of the latter 20th century's media raised children, who do little more than react to a world they could very well control. But, I digress.
People crumble much in the same way an old downtown hotel falls when it gets demolished. The explosions start somewhere around the knees, and in slow motion, the person gets knocked askew, twisting into a pile of broken promises and shattered confidence. Look close, you can see the pain split their faces as the entirety of their frame atomizes into a pile of choking dust, arms flailing, the air carrying a resonating thud as they hit the floor. If you rush in soon after such a controlled demolition, you might even get a few souvenirs to remember the event by, a guitar, a record collection, some teeth, a few bucks.
My first attempts at human destruction were clumsy at best. Physical assaults rarely caused more than a bruised ego and a call to my mom from some irate parent whose precious little Bobby's head was kicked in by the Driver boy again. Besides, once everyone knows you'll fight, they lose all incentive to act against you, which means you stop having reasons to destroy people, and as awful a person as you may be, you should always try to have a reason before you destroy someone. Taking out an innocent is unchallenging and unrewarding, and should be left to the weak or the mentally deficient.
I learned this at a young age after asking a girl out as a joke. She was plain looking, mildly unpopular, and as defenseless as a kitten in a bag. I asked her out to the movies, fully planning to tell her to fuck off when she said yes. Things got a bit more complicated when she said she'd have to go home and ask her mom first. There was a choice to be made at this point. Do I smash her on the spot, or wait until her mom gets involved? The damage would be more significant if her mother knew, she told a few friends, and got to think about it overnight, so I waited. The next day I told a bunch of my friends what was going on, and they stood in the background as I walked across the lunchroom and dropped the bomb on her. She started crying. She ran to the bathroom. Everyone was laughing at her. I started to feel really bad. Terrible in fact. It was too fucking easy.
Public humiliation, while crudely effective at causing personal discomfort, is hit or miss, because it involves many other people. You must depend on the cruelty of others for the plan to work, and while that's a variable you can usually count on, it should not be taken for granted. Had the surrounding people not been insensitive, cowering sheep (as I suppose everyone is in 7th grade), the situation could have blown up in my face and I could have been exposed as the creep I was. But that day I was lucky. The tears ran down her red puffy face like rain down a hospital dumpster and everyone laughed, sure that unless they aligned themselves with the predator, they would be next. But like I said, there was no challenge. Seven words, twenty four hours, and blammo - tears aplenty. And the damage was only temporary. She's probably happily married and beating her kids as we speak. No, to truly destroy someone, you must first gain their trust. Smile a lot. Be there for them. Bide your time and learn. Let the poison bubble inside of you. Feel the rushes of prickly anticipation. And then, when the time is right, let it rip.
The first person I ever truly destroyed was my best friend. He lived in a big, nice house, and had parents that never drank or fought. His sister was a freshman at Princeton, and he was next in line for the Ivy treatment. He was smart, funny, popular, and generous to a fault. He was dating the cutest girl in school and was the star of the soccer team. It never seemed right to me that someone should get everything, while the rest of us went without even one nice thing in our lives. Here I was, floundering, scraping, and sweating every day out, while my friend, wrapped in the fuzzy blanket of smug success, had smooth sailing from the beginning. I always joked that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, while I was born with a chicken bone up my ass. We'd both laugh, but when he looked away, I'd stop laughing. Why was a he best friend with a fucker like me? Who the hell knows. He shouldn't have, that's for sure. In 8th grade he was on top of the world and I knocked him off.
The first support I destroyed was the trusting relationship between him and his parents. They got along so well, it was disgusting. Life at his house was all smiles and snacks. His mother was motherly, his father understanding with loads of good advice. There were no belts, no backhands, no drunken swearing at the dinner table. I mean, how the hell did they expect to raise a quality kid without hitting and yelling at him? I don't think they even smacked him on the ass when he stumbled wet and naked from his mom all those years ago. He had it sweet, that was for sure. They respected his space, they listened to what he had to say. They always gave him the benefit of the doubt, and how did he repay their blind trust? He behaved. All those opportunities to sneak out at 2 in the morning and get drunk, to skip school and go get high by the river, to have the class slut over while mom and dad are out romantically dining at a five star restaurant, all those opportunities, wasted. He was a fucking angel.
Well, mom and dad's little angel developed a little porno problem, or so it seemed as a series hardcore magazines full of squirting diseased penises and battered, naked crack whores were left open in the bathroom over a period of a few weeks. "But mom, they're not mine" only goes so far with any set of parents, even liberal ones. Pretty soon it seemed like Mommy's #1 Guy was Mommy's #1 Liar. A few conspicuously placed joints from my dad's personal collection furthered the illusion that there were serious problems in the home. His parents were very concerned. He thought he was going crazy, or that his parents were trying to test him. I simply offered my understanding and compassion for him.
The relationship with his parents deteriorated with the loss of trust between them. They didn't want him out of their sight. They didn't want him around me anymore. They assumed I was a bad influence on him, and they were right, in a way. This new rift with his parents provided me ample opportunity to really start breaking down his character, and I got him into drugs for real. Just pot and booze at first, but to and 8th grader, that stuff can be devastating.
Next on the chopping block was his popularity - his, and any other's 8th grader's greatest source of personal strength. Pathetic now in hindsight, but back then, it was big stakes. Fickle, almost randomly assigned group adoration was the goal of everyone. But once someone is marked for a downfall, you can almost smell it on them. The packs part and make way for the leper who's dropping skin like it was out of style. This was the case, as rumors circled around his head like a swarm of killer bees. He seemed to float on desperation. 'Have you heard? He's a fag! Someone saw him with a hard-on in the showers!' 'His mom and his dad aren't even really married!' 'I heard he beats off to the school yearbook!'. 'He's crazy, he has to go to therapy because he cries so much.' As strange as it might seem to the adult world, a string of these rumors can be devastating to the fragile social structure of children. Imagine a political candidate accused of rape, fraud, and selling crack to minors two days before the election. Even if false, the damage is still done, and no one knows the truth until it's too late.
Poisoning someone's stature should not be confused with public humiliation, where injury is based on a sole incident, soon forgotten as something funny happens to someone else. Stature destruction is permanent, or at least takes a few years to work out of. I was out to destroy every tie my friend had to the human race, except to me. That was next.
As it became popular for the sheep to hate my friend, he relied more and more on me to be there for him, despite his parents' wishes. And I was, for a while. But pretty soon, I was hanging out more with his old buddies than I was with him, capitalizing on his new misfortune and the misinformation I could spread with 'inside information' of a former best friend. Then I stopped returning his calls altogether. In our last conversation, I told him I didn't want to be friends with perverts. He said that he wasn't one. I told him to clean up his act. His family moved the next year, but I don't think anyone missed him. I sure as hell didn't. Much.
While bringing down my best friend was certainly a great experience for me, it lacked a certain, sexiness. Sure, it was rewarding to see my planning and hard work pay off, and it was fun to take the place of popularity my friend once had, but it lacked a complete fulfillment, and an intangible gnawing kept me from being completely happy. I then noticed that with my new social stature, new girls were suddenly made available to me, girls that I was invisible to just a few short weeks before. Fickle, shallow, marginally intelligent, and beautiful, soon became my 'type' as I walked out into the world of dating. The targets were sexy. The battlefield had changed.
For me, it has always been much easier to destroy women than it is to destroy men, simply because of the fact that most women want to believe what you tell them. And to suddenly have access to girls whom I secretly resented for ignoring me previously was a sweet thing indeed. Destroying someone of the sex you are attracted to has much, much more of a charge (bisexuals are once again lucky in that they have open season on everyone). Once you tie your sexual gratification to your destruction games, the real thrills begin. Sexual and mental domination over another is truly the most rewarding sort of relationship, as I soon found out.
My popularity carried me into high school as a somewhat desirable guy, and I had no problem getting dates. My relationships started out simple. I'd go out with a girl, get her drunk, fuck her a few times, break up with her for some fickle reason (usually citing a physical shortcoming for her to obsess about for the rest of her life), and then tell everyone what a slut she was. It was a good, efficient plan that I used on over a dozen unsuspecting innocents, people I would later refer to not as ex-girlfriends, but victims. Things worked smoothly for about a year, but pretty soon I was noticing that my behavior, while completely endearing me to my guy friends, was starting to affect my ability for attracting new 'relationships'. Besides, things were so easy; they had almost become a routine I could have run in my sleep. I needed a challenge, I needed something serious to sink my teeth into. It was at this point I made the very mature decision to go for quality instead of quantity. It was the summer between tenth and eleventh grade.
Her name was Sheila, and by all accounts, she was a great girl. Smart, cute, funny, and smart enough to stay away from me, at least at first. She had heard the rumors, she knew what I was up to. But I did everything to get her to go out with me. I called her, I showed up at her house, I left love letters in her mailbox, I even beat the fuck out of some ex-boyfriend of hers that was giving her grief. For three weeks I gave that girl my undivided attention, and then, finally, she agreed to go out with me. 'You won't regret this', I said, quickly leaving before she had time to change her mind.
The first date was great. I had friends working at every fast food place and movie theater in the city, and we got some free pizza, saw a free movie, ate some free ice cream after, and snuck a free 6-pack of beer out of a gas station, which we took to the top of a big hill near my house. I popped open the back of my hatchback and we just laid there, watching the stars, talking about anything that ran through our heads. We didn't make out, we just lay there, holding hands, under a blanket, talking. A few hours later, I dropped her off at her house with a goodnight kiss on the cheek, and asked her for another date.
Our second went just as well. We rented Taxi Driver and watched it in the damp basement of her house, tangled under a quilt, shooting to opposite ends of the couch whenever her father's heavy foot creaked the top stair. It seems he had to get something from down there every half-hour of so, his not-so-clever way of checking on us. He knew there was something wrong with me. I remember thinking that 30-minute intervals were pretty weak if he wanted to truly ensure the sanctity of his daughter. I could have fucked her, strangled her, and struggled out a basement window in 5 minutes flat. As I thought this, my face must have given me away. Her father's eyes locked onto mine, and he was never pleasant to me again. Girls, listen to your dads. They were 16 once too.
A year later we were still together, although I had probably cheated on her five or six times. We hadn't had sex, but the fringe benefits of dating a rich girl were in full effect. Her brand new, convertible red rabbit became my car of choice, replacing the beat up old Toyota my family had to offer. I even fucked one of her friends in the back seat of it. I ate over at her house all the time, convinced her that she should buy the new CDs I wanted, let her treat me every time we went out, and sheepishly accepted the small bits of money she gave me when I was running low. I had a pretty good racket going, but after a year of dating, she was still a virgin. This was the weak point I began working on, her virginity shined.
I had told her that I was a virgin too, and that all the evil rumors about me were ones I started myself so I wouldn't seem like such a wuss to the guys. I really was a virgin, and I wanted to, eventually, lose it to another virgin, one just like her. I would never pressure her, or expect anything, it was just a thought in the back of my head. Hell, I didn't think I was ready for sex either. I told her that I truly and honestly was in love with her. I gave her that whole line of bullshit, and she believed me.
Two months later, it happened. We had sex. It was messy, but I'll spare you the details. Let's just say the sex wasn't worth waiting for. In fact, I told her exactly that, in so many words, as I got off her and put my pants back on. I told her about the other girls I had been with, that the rumors about me were true, how I was using her for the money, and that she was an idiot for not listening to her dad. As I was leaving her bedroom, I remember saying this: "You gotta learn, Sheila, that you can't trust anyone. No one. Not even yourself". And I walked downstairs, got in my car, and squealed away.
And then something strange happened: I started to cry. I was never prone to crying. This should have been my great moment. Why was I crying now? Was it guilt? Was this some sort of a conscience finally asserting itself in what must have been an extremely hostile environment? Had I gone too far? Or was it something else? A door slammed shut in my head, and I stopped crying all together. I still didn't feel normal. I didn't feel good, like I should have either. I felt nervous and empty, like what I had just done had torn something out of me. I didn't understand, everything was out of focus. I never before cared what impact my actions had on others, but I never thought to think what impact they might have on me.
I've always wondered about terrible people, wondered if they look at themselves in the mirror and said, "I am a terrible person", or if they just went on being a terrible person without much thought. Or even if they somehow justified their actions, and didn't think themselves terrible at all. I stopped at the top of my driveway and looked at myself in the rearview mirror. I didn't cry.
When I got home, my Dad was passed out on the couch. I grabbed the bottle of tequila off the table and took it upstairs, shutting my bedroom door quietly so I wouldn't wake him up. I kept the light off and drank the rest of the bottle. I was shaking. I threw up. I think the phone was ringing. I remember yelling. Someone came into the room and took the bottle away.
I woke up the next morning with a bruise on my face and a head that felt like it had been split down the middle. No one was home. I lay down on the couch and turned on the TV. The phone was ringing.
Coming soon: Part 3, The Self-Destroyer.