Sep 22, 2007
guns and fudge
Three houses down the street from where I grew up, there lived a woman. Her name was
Karen. Karen had two children, a son and a daughter. She was a bit younger than my mother, and her children were perhaps ten years younger than I was. I used to baby sit for them occasionally. The girl was all right, but the boy seemed a little disturbed. Not that he didn't come by it good. Her husband was a young attorney with political aspirations, and Karen was a young wife, attractive, intelligent...
A few years later things started to unravel. Her husband left her. He married his mistress. He moved to a nicer neighborhood, not far. She and the two children stayed. I was in college by then and started to refuse her babysitting requests. Her children were on the verge of high school themselves after all. It didn't seem necessary. As soon as possible her son left, went into the Army. Her daughter followed soon after, leaving the state to be near her brother. They wanted nothing to do with their mother.
Sometime around this time, Karen became involved with a man, a former military man whom she had met at church (she had also become involved with some sort of evangelical church). He was horrible. Every time they'd have a fight, which was often, he'd stalk her. He would drive up and down the street constantly, blowing his horn as loud as he could, waking everyone up on the street. My father once went out brandishing a shotgun at him. It was a pretty impotent gesture, but as a general rule, don't fuck with my father's sleep.
It didn't matter much, because not long after, the boyfriend went away, and Karen was alone.
It was then that she decided to "befriend" my mother. My mother is an outgoing, social sort of person, but she most definitely doesn't like "friends." She's a paradox like that. I, of course, had to listen to my her constant complaints about how Karen would show up at the door just about every day, to talk for hours and hours...delaying her getting her hair done. Just for future reference, don't fuck with my mother's hair appointment, or God so help you.
My mother eventually took my advice and started not answering the door. If I were there and the door bell rang, we'd be forced to be deadly silent, hoping the predator would walk away. Every now and then, when she'd open the door, she'd find a note, sometimes some badly baked cookies. Then the gifts devolved into crudely carved animals, hunks of wood that looked like they'd been whittled with a homemade knife.
Once, she opened the door to find a pot of brown, crusty liquid...which thankfully turned out to be half-made fudge.
It was all too bizarre.
A few months go by and she seems to have gotten the message. We hear nothing of her.
Then, one day we open the paper. Her husband, now a full fledged very minor political figure, has been shot in his gated community. Karen was found quietly sitting in the middle of his fountain. From what we learn, she is put away in some sort of institution. She stays there a good long time. I'm not even sure how long. A year of so later, however, she is released and goes home. Again, thankfully, we hear nothing from her. My mother does keep track of her car however. She's always on alert. One day, I come home to find a swat team blocking the street. There are police everywhere.
It's a beautiful early autumn evening and Karen has attempted suicide.
In the middle of this pandemonium I see a small army of young men in black slacks, white shirts and ties, riding bicycles.
Of course they are Mormons.
Karen's mother, a devout Mormon herself, way up in Missouri, after getting her daughter's call threatening to kill herself, made two phone calls. One was to the our local police, the second to the local Mormon church.
Guess which one got there first. It's really quite frightening.
In the end, she didn't succeed in killing herself. She was taken away and went back to the "facility." A while later she moved somewhere out West, and the house was sold, and she all but disappeared from my memory...
until the howling of my neighbor across the hall last night (full moon is on the rise) kicked in again.
Guess what her name is, by the way.