Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Revenge, like most cold dishes, is not satisfying

A few weeks before deployment, my idiot roommate had his idiot friend over late on a Sunday night. They were playing a video game on the giant tv and had courteously turned the volume of the speakers down (a point of etiquette wildly uncommon). After a while, I turned my lamp off and dog-eared my book, and drifted off to a peaceable slumber.

Then around 1am I was awoken to a drunken roar alongside an increased volume exposion blasted through the speakers. The beer had been flowing, and my companions had become whipped into some masturbatory war fever. They were on the brink of their grand adventure, and it was going to be a thrilling and rewarding experience, much, if not exactly like the video game they were playing.

I pried open a dry eye and asked them to keep it down.

The friend, a person I'd never seen before, immediately threw down the controller, pitched his beer can to the ground and charged toward me. I stumbled up out of bed, ready to give him a worthy effort, and just as he approached me, the roommate came between us. He pushed and shoved him out of the way, apologizing to me while the friend knocked dishes off the counter, tried to topple my dresser, opened the 'fridge door and hollered threats at me the whole time.

I slinked over to the cabinet and took a shot from my small Irish whiskey bottle. I punched a kid in the nose when I was in 8th grade, but other than that, I've never been in a fight. He looked like a wild animal, unconcerned with any consequences of his behavior, living in the moment, completely convinced of his right to thrash me.

After I calmed down, and lay back down in my bed, I opened the book again. After a few pages, I heard a scratch outside my window. There was a block of wood that locked it from being opened from the outside, but I saw it start to shift. I heard him muttering and cursing under his breath at me. I swept the block away, opened the window and saw his bloodshot eyes staring at me through the screen. He jumped down off the ledge and ran away.

I stood there dumb with, I don't know, admiration of his imbecility? Who the hell was this savage? To have the insolence to threaten someone in their own home after screaming and hollering in a drunken state, then come back and try to break back in through the window? It was a stunning feat of self-assuredness.

I felt a red hot hatred for him, a lust that visited me at night. I wanted to see him embarrassed and beaten, and I wanted to do the beating.

I came home once after work and reached into the fridge to get a beer, and they were all gone. I asked my roommate what the deal was, and over his shoulder, (concentrating on the video game), he said "C. drank them all". He came in during the day and finished off 5 cans of beer!? Hot coals were being heaped upon my head. I fought him nightly in my mind, the madness of this sociopathic brute incensing me. I was obsessed, but not for long.

We mobilized, packed up our things, moved out of the building and caught the plane to Afghanistan.

I hadn't thought about him for months, and then one day, there he was.

He walked with tight legs, like he was flexing his gluteals. His rank was crooked on his chest, and his eyes were wide. He looked like a cart-pushing homeless man in some metropolitan gutter. He muttered under his breath and continued on with his strange gait towards me. He looked at me, stopped, and asked where the flight terminal was. I pointed out a direction, and then saw that he recognized me. The last time I saw him was through the window screen back in Kentucky. He said his hello, and I asked if he was all right. He told me that he was in an ambush recently, and saw an RPG round come at him and miss. He had just come back from R&R and had gotten arrested for domestic abuse and gotten a DUI on top of it all. He thanked me for the directions, and continued down the walkway with that stiff, gun-shy half-trot.

Orwell said revenge is never satisfying. He wrote of an SS man being beaten after the surrender in '45, and even though the man had no doubt committed countless atrocities, he could not gain any pleasure from seeing him supine and submissively absorbing a beating.

This man once bought a hot hatred from me, and then I would have been happy to see him suffer, but now... now he is a shadow. It is beside the point to say I felt no pleasure from his suffering. I felt despair for him. Psychological damage plus a penchant for drink and an eagerness for violence. I don't want to think what will become of him in the future.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of a few lessons I needed to be reminded of. Reminds me of a "Chicken Soup for the Soldier's Soul". Excellent story telling skills. :)