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Was it Walt Whitman?

Web Del Sol 2000

May 8, 2012

Was it Walt Whitman?

Just suppose that you are the type of person to harbor a grudge and forty years have passed since a major injustice was perpetrated on you and time has not diminished your feelings of shame at all.

This individual that caused this life-long embarrassment crawled along the rear of the stage, while you, in all of your sixth-grade nervousness, stood center stage in the school auditorium reciting your declamation. Suddenly a pair of hands appeared through the curtain on either side of your pants and the next thing you knew, midway through Walt Whitman, your pants, both outer and under, are lying around your ankles and the entire world is laughing at you. And the red-headed, gap-toothed culprit takes a grinning bow and flees.

Some months later he moves away but you never forget his face or the humiliation and over the years whenever you've spotted a red-headed person around your age you plot his demise--sometimes by a quick bullet or a garrote, and sometimes by way of a slow and painful and degrading death. You have experienced dozens of these scenarios and you enter into a trance-like condition that lasts for minutes or just a few wonderfully fulfilling seconds.

On one of these episodic days, this ne'er-do-well, this bully, this egg-sucking sidewinder, this four-flusher, materializes from your past and appears in the cross-hairs of the windshield of your Mercury Sable on a foggy dark night, on a lonely stretch of road with no other car in sight except for his with the hood up and the emergency lights flashing. Each time your wiper reaches the upright position you see the cross-hair and that red-headed felon standing in your path next to his car, waving his arms trying to flag down help.

In your reverie you pride yourself on split-second thinking and timing and you turn towards him as if to pull over to help and just ten feet away you punch the gas at that no good stick-it-in-your-guts from childhood humiliator and just before the thud of his body attempting to occupy the same space as your hood you see his eyes and the terror therein and you remember in a fraction of a second the same terror that was caused to you on one sixth grade day. You remember the terror and the humiliation in that nanosecond just before you envision him getting pinballed from your hood to his trunk and imagine him flying awkwardly, limbs askew, back down to earth and then you are aware of the sound of your screeching brakes skidding and your mind begins to formulate your alibi.

Another exercise--another innocent.

One cloudy night you are driving home after having gone through four erroneous sightings in as many nights and you are exhausted--the moon and its light are darting in and out of the clouds, and you see an older red-headed priest standing next to a broken-down car by the side of the road and he reminds you of that heinous individual and you wonder if you could wipe out those never ending nightmares and headaches and mind-destroying grudge thoughts by wiping out a look-a-like. After forty years it makes sense and you go around the block knowing full well that it is not him but something has to change so as you turn the corner you start to pick up speed only to suddenly realize that someone has stopped to help your intended victim and redeemer.

Reflexively you slow down and keep an even foot on the gas and cruise by slowly and look over, only to see the vapid stare of your very enemy looking back at you, grinning his gap-toothed grin, as he helps the priest to his waiting police cruiser.

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