February 2nd, 2016
Sometimes I forget I started writing this blog halfway through my problems.
If anyone feels left out, I’m sorry. I never expected to do more than one or two entries. Really it was just enough to make my friend… well, to show her I had at least tried.
Today at work, I was so excited. This is by no means a glamorous job. It’s just a part with the custodial crew at a museum you’ll forgive me for not naming. I helped crate some old native American artifacts, helped clean the skeletal exhibits, and yes, I scrubbed the bathrooms. It was just about the best day ever.
I didn’t realize until I went in that I have no passport, no birth certificate or social security card. Those things were all in my apartment. When the boss asked me for them, when I realized I had no real way of proving I can work in the U.S…. Honestly I sat there and tried to explain when I would be able to get those documents. My voice started to break. My eyes became wet. I hoped he wasn’t able to see me coming apart.
He just said he’d pay me in cash.
He said when I have the documents, I could bring them in and he’d make me official. Until then, he said he needed someone and since Charlie had put in a good word for me, he wasn’t going to let me go.
My last job fired me.
“Dick!” I was folding cloths, hungry and eager to go on a break I should have gotten an hour earlier. “Hey, Dick!” And I had been ignoring a guy with Ratfanger’s Disease for five minutes.
Everyone has gotten used to ignoring people with Ratfanger’s. The odor of blood causes their breath to linger, their tendency to develop repetitive behavior spontaneously also draws people’s attention. Of course, I’m much better at ignoring them now than I was then. But that guy? He was there for me.
“You’re going to want to look at me before I do something you regret,” he said.
“I’m really just hoping my break comes and I get away from you entirely,” I said, turning. “I don’t even know why you came in here, Rob.”
He had that banana-bruised appearance across bilious skin and his gum line was drawing up around his teeth. I don’t remember anymore whether or not I knew he had developed Ratfanger’s before that day.
“You tried to take the most important thing from me, Dick.” Honestly, I have always done my best to know as little as possible about him. “So, I’m in here to give you a chance.”
He was shorter than me but broader. He’d stepped in so even though I suppose I could have gone right or left, I felt pinned against the display table where we kept the chinos covered in stitched sailboats and red crabs. “I don’t want anything from you,” I said to him, holding myself up on the edge of the table.
“No more than you already have.”
I tried to step away but he placed his hand on my sternum and pressed me against the table. Those who were trying to ignore the situation were now gasping and stepping away. It was my manager, the man who would, six days later, be firing me under pressure from a group of people who wanted me to turn myself in.
Back then nobody wanted me to turn myself in, though. Back then, the only person who seemed to know my name was Rob.
“Excuse me, sir,” my manager said, “but this man is needed elsewhere.”
I think about all the times I have wondered why I am such a pussy, why I get my ass beaten and run away… and it usually goes back to that moment. That last, whole moment, when I should have put my fist through his face. But that has never been me and to walk away from a person who shoves their palm into my chest and pins me against my will? Well, that has a certain Richards’ panache.
So, I slipped away from Rob, turned my back on my manager and began to make my way to break room. Looking back, what I heard then was the sound of Rob breaking my manager’s jaw. Before I could process it at the time, though, a mannequin-bust smashed against the back of my head.
Then he was on top of me, screaming “you took her! You took her!” and, back then, I was quite unused to being straddled by psychopaths. Though I admit I responded much in the same way I do now.
I wrestled myself free and began running out the store, towards the front entrance. That was the last time I saw someone on their phone with the police as I was being brutalized. Sort of a bittersweet memory, I guess.
By the time I made it out the store, he tackled me, brought me to the ground. I remember thinking he looked like he was rotting from the inside out, but he hit like something was breathing new life into him.
Crawling, I tried to get out from under him, but he was pulling my shirt in fistfuls, climbing his way up me as I shimmied to escape.
I turned on my back, swinging my hands. His mouth was trying to catch each swing in those overexposed, bleeding teeth.
My shirt ripped open. My head hit a wall. There was a bench on either side of me.
He pulled himself up me, mouth snapping. Blood and saliva dripping onto my stomach.
That smell of rotting gums is still what I remember best about being trapped there.
I drove my fists into his side uselessly. One throw cracked him beneath his ear and he lashed out.
He bit down into my chest, and now the blood spraying was mine.
With obstinate refusal, he shook his head left and right until what he had behind his teeth ripped away.
I don’t remember screaming. I probably did. But I remember the people who were watching it happen scream.
He threw his head back opening his mouth wide and closing it again, pausing to let my left nipple slide down. Beneath him, inside of him, feeling like I wasn’t really there, like there was no real danger to worry about, I watched his head lower and he seemed to think.
He could have taken forever. I lacked the self-awareness to have any idea how long I spent under him. However, I know from the video that was posted to the internet, it was ten seconds or so before he began to laugh.
He looked up at me, my blood still running down his chin and laughed. And he said, “I feel full.” He said it with the greatest relief. “I feel full!” Then it was no longer funny to him.
I got free and ran away.
In the videos I’ve seen on YouTube and Facebook, labeled with things like “RD CURE” and “RATFANGER’S DISEASE RECOVERY”, he seemed to cramp all over before becoming loose and relaxed. Rob began posting these video to his Twitter page with side-by-side pictures of him the week before and the day after. On the left he was gangrenous and disheveled. On the right he was peachy and smiling.
After only a day.
And at the bottom of every video he linked, every day he posted, he wrote “@A___DICK is the #Ratfanger cure! IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE EAT @A___DICK!”
Within two days a pharmaceutical question was willing to pay money for me to come in and “answer a few questions”, saying they were willing to pay $75K to anyone who “convinced” me to come. Within the week groups were protesting me at school, at work, to turn myself in. That’s to say nothing of the fact that I had to get rid of my old Twitter page because I was being harassed.
And that was the last day I worked.
I took a brief hiatus that I was told I wasn’t welcome back from.
My lunch is probably still molding in their mini-fridge.
Today I got paid sixty bucks in cash. Charlie had lunch with me and shared her sandwich. My new boss patted me on the shoulder, not realizing he was smacking his huge paw into a gunshot wound, and told me I had “done good”.
And as I walked out to my car, he said, “It’s good to have you here, Pepe.”
Do know how long it’s been since I’ve felt so welcomed anywhere?
Oh, yeah. And everybody there calls me “Pepe”.
I don’t know why.