Friday, March 17, 2017

Freshman (Part 10)

     The next morning I had the courier service schlep Fang's new toys up to Venice Beach.  The only message I sent was a sheet of paper with "GET TO WORK -- LENNY" written with a Sharpie.  Right around noon I got a call from Fang, who was nearly hysterical with joy.  "Oh my God, you are so fucking awesome, Lenny!" she shrieked.  "I've got the bass and pedal and amp set up in the spare room, and the drum machine is next....  Although it'll also be playing through the bass amp....  And I'm gonna need to learn how to program it.  Have you ever used a drum machine?"

     "Nape, I'm a fan of music, I can't create the stuff," I said.  "I always figured I'd make a decent front man.  I can come up with lyrics, and I'm enough of an obnoxious prick that I'd have good stage presence."
     Erica got on the phone and told me, "This is too kind of you, Lenny, Fang is overjoyed.  I'm going to pay for lessons.  Do you know of a music school up here?"
     "I'm sure there's a few around, but it would probably be simpler, cheaper, and more effective to find a private tutor.  They're just come to your place and work with Fang for a couple hours a day, however many times a week.  I figure LA is stuffed with people who'd like to make it in the music industry, there should be plenty of itinerant bass players who'd like to pick up some extra bread by giving lessons.  When you're hunting for one, make sure they are familiar with the style Fang wants to play.  It wouldn't matter if you got Larry Graham as her tutor, that's not the style she wants to play."
     "Uh....  Who's Larry Graham?"
     "He is the inventor and pioneer of funk bass.  He started as a kid, playing bars with his mom.  It was just the two of them, they'd lost the rest of the band.  They needed a heavier beat, so Larry figured out how to thump a low string with his thumb, and keep a melody by sharply picking the other strings with his fingertips.  The playing style blew everyone away, nobody'd ever done that with a bass before.  Um, Larry Graham was the bass player for Sly and the Family Stone, and has done solo work and session work since.  He influenced Bootsy Collins, if that's a hint at the playing style he has."
     "Okay, now I understand," said Erica.  "Yes...  Bootsy Collins played bass for George Clinton, right?"
     "Spot on," I replied.
     "Yeah.....  Not the style Fang wants.  I guess Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers plays like that, too.  Fang doesn't mind the Chili Peppers, but they aren't really in rotation around here."
     I switched subjects and sighed, "Um, I kinda screwed up.  I forgot the drum machine will need an amp, too.  Fang said she'd just run it through the bass amp, but not only will the amp have competing sounds, the drum machine will sound like crap, going through a heavy cone like that.  Do you think you could find a local pawn shop, and pick up a small amp for the drum machine?  Just something cheap, it doesn't have to have a lot of range, and it doesn't need to be loud.  If you can pick it up, I'll send you a check for the cost."
     "Don't worry about it, Lenny," said Erica.  "Jesus, you've given us a hot rod, a brand new bass and amp and stuff, you've been too helpful.  I have money, I can blow a hundred dollars on an amp so Fang can learn to play bass, and I guess learn how to operate a drum machine.  Where should I look for a bass tutor?"
     "Local music stores that have bulletin boards," I answered.  "Make the rounds, see if anyone is offering services.  If you don't see anyone, put up your own flyer: 'Bass tutor wanted.  Novice player, just starting, needs lessons.'  Then explain her playing style and give examples of who she wants to sound like.  You'll get a few bites soon enough."
     Fang got back on the line to squeal more thanks, and tell me, "I swear, Lenny, if I didn't hate dicks so much, I'd whip some skull on you in thanks!"
     I snorted with amusement and said, "Uh....  Yeah.  And if you did that, you'd definitely get to meet Becky Page, and very soon.  The only problem is, Becky would be more in the mood to pull your liver out through your asshole than sign an autographs.  Remember, she's Sicilian.  She can be a bit jealous, and while she doesn't have a short temper, she's as controllable as a hurricane when she's pissed off.  Just as destructive, too."
     "It'd never happen, so don't worry," Fang assured me.  "I hate dicks."
     "Oh, really.  Any particular reason?"
      "Yeah.  I've never been interested in them to begin with.  And because of my fuckin' dad, I really, really hate them now.  I told you who the father of my little sister's baby is, right?"
     "You have," I mutterd.  "Um, it's absolutely none of my business, and you can tell me to fuck off if...."
     Fang cut in and said, "No, he never did.  I don't know why not, to be honest.  Maybe it just didn't occur to him when I was a few years younger, and by the time I was fourteen, he knew he'd be in for one hell of a fight if he tried.  My sister was --- is ---- small and timid."  She paused.  Then, I could just barely hear the sound of whimpering.  She was desperately trying to not cry, or at least not make any noise while she did.  Gotta keep the armor in place.  She finally said, "You asked me what I want to do with my life once, and I said I had no idea.  I do have one goal, though, and that is to kill my father.  And I won't use a weapon, at least not to kill him.  I want to kill him with my bare hands.  Think about how long it would take.  I want him to suffer, and I want him to see my face the entire time I'm slowly killing him.  I'd.... I'd use a gun to trap him, then tie him to a post or something, and then, just.... Go to work.  It's what he really deserves, to watch as his own teenage daughter slowly kills him.  And see my smile while I do."
     I sat and pondered briefly.  After a few ticks, I said, "I may have someone I want you to talk to.  You have a lot of anger built up, and justifiably so.  But you need to exorcise it, dump it out.  I'm not saying you shouldn't hate your father, but anger is a byproduct of hate, and having anger built up inside you can really mess you up."  I chuckled.  "I'd like you to have a more objective hatred of your dad, one you can more easily deal with, and one which won't poison you."
     Fang sighed, then said irritably, "Yeah, I know.  Erica wants me to see a fuckin' shrink too.  Here come the happy pills, here comes group counseling sessions, whoop de doo."
     "Nope, not what I had in mind at all.  This is one person, fairly close to your age, who went though some very ugly shit with her dad.  She's never seen a shrink, but she's managed to fight off her demons, and hasn't let her father poison her life.  Maybe she could give you some advice, I dunno.  At the very least, you can talk to someone who knows all about being abused, they'll know exactly what you're talking about, and genuinely empathize.  You see?"
     "All right."  Another sigh.  "What's her phone number?"
     "Actually, I need to tlak to her first, to see if she's willing to go along with my idea.  She might not want to play peer counselor, I'm not sure.....  But I think she'll be willing to help.  Lemme call you back in ten minutes."
     I hung up, then rang Jane's place in Berkeley.  No answer, so I hit her pager.  She called back two minutes later from a pay phone in downtown Berkeley, inside the BART station.  "What's up?" she asked.
   I explained the situation: the girl I'd told her about, the one named Fang, had a little sister who suffered through the same abuse Jane had, in fact she'd had a child because of it.  Fang was carrying huge amounts or rage, very unhealthy amounts, almost certainly.  She would be a happier person (and probably less aggro) if she had someone to talk to who would understand the situation.
     "I'll be happy to talk to her," Jane said.  "I'm not sure what sort of advice I can give her.  How much coercion was involved?  How much force?  How long has it been going on, and how often?"
     "I can't really answer any ot those.  The general impression I got was it started off the same way as your abuse, with Dad raping her by force.  With you, your dad got you to cooperate by convincing you he did it to show you his love, he got you to believe it was something special you shared.  This guy almost certainly started with force, and instead of using psychology like your dad dit, this little girl only cooperates so she won't get beat up.  Your dad built up a sense of intimacy between you two.  I doubt this asshole even says anything after he'done, just puts his pants back on and leaves."
     "Hmm," Jane muttered.  "Okay, big difference between the situations.  The psychic poison my abuse created didn't morph into anger, it turned into my sexual hyperactivity.  My dad made very sure I didn't hate him, he constantly reminded me how much he loved me, how important I was to him, how beautiful and special I was, blah blah blah.... And at this point, I don't think he was kidding, he really did love me.  But you can't have that kind of love for your own daughter, it's contradictory to instincts that are hard-wired into all our brains.  The idea of incest being taboo is universal.  No matter how isolated or primitive, every culture in the world knows it's wrong.  You don't need to teach it to any culture, they already know.
     "So....  My dad's brain was mis-wired.  Call it mental illness, that's fair enough.  Not only was he sexually attracted to his daughter, he believed we also shared a mutual romantic connection.  To him, I'd sort of stopped being his daughter and become his girlfriend.  I'm sort of glad I disabused him of that notion by phone from Dallas, while I was riding the bus out here.  I'm sure he was heartbroken, and that could lead him to....  Act out.  Get angry with me, and have the anger get physical.
     "In the situation you're talking about, it's always been violent, it seems.  There's nothing else to do except get pissed off.  My anger came later, when you and Bekka were helping me stop acting like a psychotic nympho.  I realized where a lot of my behavior was rooted, in my dad's abuse.  When I figured that out, I was pissed, it was like, 'I can't believe he'd do that to me!  He really screwed me up!'  So my anger wasn't directly related to the abuse, but to how it had impacted my life.
     "Anyway, yes, I'll speak with her.  I've got a pen, give me her phone number.  Tell her I should be calling in about ten or fifteen minutes, as soon as I'm home."
     "You're not worried about the roommate from hell listening in?" I asked.
     Jane chuckled.  "It's the damnedest thing.  We both demonstrate impeccable manners on the subject of private phone calls.  If one of us wants the other one gone while we make a phone call, we only have to ask the other person to split for fifteen or twenty minutes.  Kaitlyn is totally gracious about leaving the room during a call.  It's odd, that she would be gracious about that and nothing else, but it's something, at least."
     I called Fang back and said to expect a call shortly.  Also, the mystery guest is Jane, our friend up in Berkeley.  She's eighteen, she's as punk rock as you, and....  she will understand what your sister went through, or is still going through, and understand it well.  Circumstances were different, but the end result was the same.  You two have never met, but she still want you to be a happy person, and not let your anger destroy your intellect and soul.  Talk to you later.

(*click*)  "Hello?"
     "Hi, this is Jane.  Is this Fang?"
     "Yeah.  Um....  Thanks for talking to me, I guess.  It's kinda weird, I'm not the one who's been attacked by my dad, but....  You know....  I'm the one who's been affected by what he did."
     "Lenny said it was your little sister.  Did he ever come after you?"
     "No.  Well, he tried to once, when I was thirteen, but he was so fucked up I ended up hitting him with a golf trophy in the head, and he went down.  He'd been up for who knows how long, and had knocked back most of a fucking bottle of Old Crow.  Asshole.  He was literally trying to tackle me, but I'd just step out of the way, and relocate myself.  The only reason I knew what was on his mind was that he never shut up, just listing all the shit he wanted to do with me --- to me --- and was using my name while he did. 'Come on, Fiona, daddy's gotta get his dick down your throat, it's training for high school.'  Shit like that. Fuckin' asshole."
     "Do you mind sharing what you know about your sister?  How much do you know?"
      "Oh, God....  Um....  He first started fucking her when she was twelve.  She'd started her mense, but hadn't developed yet, she still looked like she was nine or something.  Robby --- my sister --- told me what happened a couple days later.  He'd told her to never breathe a word about what he'd done, or he'd kill her.  She had to get it off her chest.  He just went in her room, way late at night, held her down, and fucked her.  Robby wasn't even eighty-five pounds, he was holding her by the throat and pinning her like that, saying if she made any noise, he'd strangle her with that hand.
     "She said it took a while.  He had a hard time getting it up, then kept falling out.  She was really sore afterwards, she was totally dry, but my dad didn't seem to notice.  He came, got up, pulled up his fucking boxer shorts, and went out without saying a word.  Robby didn't know what to do.  She tried my door, but I was, uh...."
     "Um, I used to deal drugs when I lived in Edina.  I was out slinging.  In fact he probably did what he did because he knew I wasn't around, my mom would be either out smoking rock with friends or dead to the world from Dilaudid, and my brother would be stoned on China White at that hour.  Anyway, I wasn't there, and there was no point in trying to get at my brother or my mom.She swabbed herself out with Vaseline and went to bed.
     "I was pretty much nocturnal at that point, I was on the same schedule as my customers, sort of.  Late at night, the tweakers would be jonesing and want something to keep them going, and the junkies would be snapping awake, realizing the junk had worn off and it was still six hours before the methadone clinic opened.  I'd just make my rounds, seeing who wanted to score.  I'd get home around eight in the morning and crash.  My sister had already left for school.  She would stay at the library until they threw her out at night, then go home, and by then I was out slinging.  It was sheer chance we ran into each other two days later, she'd come home right after school instead of hitting the library, and I was up and about.
    "She told me what had happened.  I gave her a Buck knife I'd traded for dope and told her to keep in open and on the floor on the far side of the bed.  If he came in her room again, go ahead and start stabbing."  Fang paused, Jane could hear smothered sobbing.  "The motherfucker must have figured she'd try to protect herself if he tried again.  He was back two days after that, and this time he had a kitchen knife.  The fucking motherfucker held it on her throat the entire time he fucked her, he'd come in the room naked, so he wouldn't have to deal with his pants.  And afterward, he hunted around and found the Buck knife.  He told her if she tried to defend herself, he wouldn't kill her right then, he'd take her into the woods to do it.  I guess he painted a really ugly word picture about how he'd torture her before eventually killing her.  And he said the same things would happen if she told anyone.  So.... she was too scared to say anything.  I asked if he'd come back a few days later, and she said no.  She lied to me.
     "So....  After a few months she was knocked up.  Also, I was tired of trying to keep pace with my customers and had told them they had to score on my hours, not theirs.  They could plan ahead at least a little, you know?  So I was at home again.  Robby started getting morning sickness, so she went to the school nurse.  The nurse was hep, she told Robby, 'Go get a pregnancy test from the drug store.'  Sure as shit, Robby was knocked up.  She told Dad, and....  I dunno.  The news made him leave her alone.  I don't know if it was a sudden stab of realization, like he became aware of what he was doing, or if he decided she wasn't hot anymore, or what.  He stopped the rapes, though, and Robby said he didn't start up after the baby was born.  But I don't know whether to believe her, she lied to me once about it already."
     "Is there anything you can think of doing to help Robby?"
     "Oh, fuck yeah.  Kill my dad."
     "That won't help Robby, that'll just put her big sister in prison.  Try again."
     A long sigh, then, "No.  Not really. I mean, in a perfect world me and Erica would live in a great big house, and I"d send her plane tickets, and she could live with us.  We'd get her in school somehow, and have a fucking nanny for the baby, and we could send Robby to a shrink so she wouldn't be too fucked up when she was grown....  And I'd be able to hire someone to kidnap my father and rive him to California where we'd take him out into the desert and torture him to death and I'd be that last fucking thing he ever saw, me looking down at him and smiling while he's tied to a fence post or something while I keep hitting him with a tire iron and a sledgehammer, I'd break all his fucking limbs with the sledge and laugh at him while he screamed, and then just beat him to death with the tire iron, caving in his chest and ribs and shit, crushing all his organs, and if I was feeling benevolent first I'd drop my pants and piss on him then cave his head in with the tire iron but otherwise I'd keep bashing at him so he....."
     "Fang.  Fang.  Fiona."
     "You're wallowing.  You need to stop."
     "What the fuck are you talking about?"
     "You're wallowing in a stream of consciousness fantasy, you're letting a daydream take over too much of your head, you know?  And your fantasy is very unhealthy to wallow in.  It's all about violence and hate.  Yeah, you want to make your father suffer, you want him dead.  Right now, that notion is running rampant through your consciousness, instead of being contained where it can be examined, but not let loose."  Jane took a moment to think.  "Um....  Have you ever hurt your hand, and not known how?  Like, your knuckles are bleeding and it hurts to make a fist, but you have no clue why?"
     "Uh.... Yeah.....  How did you know?"
     "Fang....  You let your violent fantasies take over when that happened.  You punched something, a wall or a door or whatever, and you didn't know it, because in your head you weren't hitting a wall or a door, you were hitting your father.  You could see him, you could smell his breath.....  But he wasn't there, it was just your imagination getting the best of you in a big way.  What was in your head was real to you, but....  It's like, you worked yourself into a state of psychosis.  All the anger boiled up, mixed with your fantasy, and took over your head.  Your revenge fantasy was manifest right then, in your head it was real.  Why else would you punch a solid object, right?  Be glad you were probably alone, you'd be up on assault charges and not know why.  You wouldn't remember punching that person.  You were thinking about punching your father, that's all."
     There was a very long silence.  Then soft sobbing again.  Finally, "I hate him.  I hate him so fucking much.  He did what he did to my sister.  She has a baby that is a living reminder of what he did, she's told me she doesn't love her baby, she sometimes thinks about killing it because it has evil blood in it.  Parts of the baby's DNA comes from my dad, and....  It's like....  She'll think she sees my dad in its eyes, like the baby is possessed or something.  My dad is fucking evil, and he passed it along to the baby.  What better way to reproduce evil than raping your own child?  Goddamn motherfucker, sack of shit, asshole scumbag....."  The smothered crying started again.
     Jane let her finish, then said, "Here's a totally pragmatic question.  Has your sister considered giving the baby up for adoption?  Um....  Lenny has told me what your house was like, he was passing on stuff you and Erica told him.  He wasn't gossiping, he really was just venting.  Lenny doesn't like hearing friends are living in a small compartment of hell, you know?  He just had to air what he'd heard.  But uh....  Getting the baby up for adoption will be fairly easy.  Most hospitals have infant rescue programs.  Basically, a mother can surrender her child without having to give a name, or any other information.  She just says, 'I can't do this, I can't take care of this child,' and the hospital will...."
     "Robby is taking care of the baby!  It's healthy, it's clean, it's fed...."
     "And you just told me she says she hates it.  Robby is providing life support.  She isn't caring for the baby.  And when the baby is cognizant, it's going to realize that its mother doesn't like it, he or she....  Which is it?"
     "A she.  Ruth."
     "Ruth will become more and more cognizant of the fact that Robby doesn't love it.  Robby may never actively engage in any abuse, but her contempt for Ruth's very existence will come through in subtle ways.  With no source of maternal love or caring, or even empathy, Ruth will engage in a lot of self-hatred starting early in life.  The negative feelings she has for herself will be externalized, so she'll start getting into a shitload of trouble in school,  Then she'll start fucking up in all sorts of different directions, a drug habit, crime, reckless behavior, whatever.  Ruth's life will be fucked.  If she goes up for adoption, she'll have a chance.  If Robby keeps Ruth, all she'll be doing is sharing the misery.  If she cares at all for the baby, she'll give her up."  Then Jane said quietly, "Why did she choose to carry it to term?"
     "Shit.  First, Robby didn't tell anyone she was pregnant for a while.  She was thinking like a little kid, hoping it would go away on its own or something.  She didn't even know what a miscarriage was, but she was hoping for one, I guess.  She finally told me, and we did go to the clinic in Minneapolis, but they said, 'Sorry, she's in her second trimester, we won't handle it, she has to visit a gynecologist.'  Yeah, that's money we didn't have.  So she carried it to term.  I'd suggested adoption right away, but my fucking mother, oh my God.  We'd told our parents what was up, and my mom got into this airhead tizzy, she was being all happy about a new baby in the house, and wasn't it wonderful?  Yeah Mom, a baby being carried by your thirteen year old daughter, and is the product of incestuous rape.  There's fucking bundle of joy.
     "Mom shoved herself into a state of denial about who the father was, and is still there.  She kept telling Robby, 'You must have got laid at a party, and you don't remember.  Robby was a virgin when Dad started with her, and wasn't about to hook up with a guy.  Her sum experience with sex is being raped by her father, she's probably gonna need years of therapy to have anything like a normal sex life.  Mom is running around to every church in the area looking for handouts....  Okay, not a bad strategy on the surface, but the baby should be going up for adoption to begin with, it shouldn't even come home from the hospital.  Mom was telling Robby to not worry, her and Robby would handle things together.  Yeah, right.  Then Mom would run out of rock and be a surly cunt to everyone.  One day she's telling Robby, 'I raised three of you already, I'll help with this one too, it'll be wonderful!'  The next day she just slouches around the house drinking Olde English and telling everyone to fuck off, Robby can go live with the kid's father.  Yeah Mom, she already is.
     "Dad's solution was we should get Robby drunk and punch her in the stomach a dozen or so times."  Jane heard Fang sigh down the line.  "That day was the first time I put my dad in the hospital.  He suggested the stomach-punching plan in the afternoon.  Around six, me and Robby were headed out the door to get something to eat at the Foster's Freeze, we didn't have any real food in the house.  Dad was drunk by then, and when he saw us headed out, he tried to grab Robby.  He was yelling, 'I'll take care of the fucking problem!' and he tried to kick Robby in the stomach.  I tackled him and told him to fuck off and leave her alone.  So he came after me.  I ran into my room and grabbed a length of rebar I'd wrapped with duct tape at one end."  She giggled.  "I called it my redneck katana.  He came at me and I swung at his side.  He sorta stumbled, so I hit him in the back, and he went down face-first, then rolled over on his back, sorta curled up.  I think I did want to kill him, I just hadn't let the idea into the front of my brain yet, 'cos I swung at his head.  He put his arm up and I broke his lower arm bone.  Then I just started beating on him, about seven or eight swings.  Robby and my mom came in, so I stopped.
     "Dad was groaning and saying he had to go to the hospital.  Okay, fair enough assessment.  He started yelling he was gonna call the cops on me, and I told him if he did, I'd tell them who the father or Robby's baby was, not to mention telling them about his meth habit, Mom's crack habit, and Davey --- my brother --- heroin habit.  My stash was very well-hidden, I wasn't worried about the cops being in the house.  Mom got Dad in his truck and drove him to the ER.  He told them he got jumped in Minneapolis or some shit.  Me and Robby walked to Foster's, then to the hardware store, so I could buy Robby a locking knob for her bedroom door.  We put it on before my parents were back."
     "And this was the first time you put your father in the hospital.  How many other times have there been?"
     "Three others.  Every time, he was drunk and coming after me.  Every time I used my redneck katana.  One time, he was just pissed off about who the fuck knows what, and the other two, he got all pissy when I asked him to pay up on what he owed me for dope.  He decided he didn't owe me shit.  'If you're gonna be a cunt about a few lousy dollars, I'll throw you outta this house!'  Actually, eighty dollars, and today's the first, Dad.  He'd try to attack me, I'd grab the redneck katana, beat him up, then go through his pockets and take the money I was owed.  I'd go tell Mom to drive Dad to the fucking ER again."  Fang laughed in an unbalanced manner.  "I've put everyone but Robby in the hospital.  Davey broke into my room one night while I was sleeping to try and steal shit, try and find my stash, take my TV and stereo, whatever.  I told him to get out or I'd hurt him like I'd hurt Dad, and he didn't believe me.  He could still walk, and he just went out the front door.  We didn't see him for three days.  Turned out they patched him up, and made the mistake of giving him a prescription for Vicodin.  Him and some bitch he was seeing ate sixty Vicodin in two days.
     "My mom....  Oh, fucking hell.  I don't know where she'd got the money from, but she'd scored a fat sack or rock.  She got high as shit for three days straight, without sleeping.  Then the sack was gone.  She drank a bunch of Olde English to cushion her crash, but she still wanted to score, so....  She took an ax to my bedroom door, to try and break in.  Only thing was, I'd bolted a sheet of quarter-inch thick metal on the inside, because I knew someone in the house would try to smash their way through the door sooner or later.  I wake up to the sound of my mom bashing the door with the ax.  She's skinny, she's drunk, she's spun out from coke.  No way was she gonna get through the door, even without the metal plate.  I got up and opened the door to tell her to fuck off, and she tries to swing the ax at me.  I jumped back, then grabbed the redneck katana and, well, so much for that.  And afterwards, I drove the bitch to the ER myself!  She's wailing and yelling about how her own flesh and blood can to that to her.  I was all, 'Yeah, Mom, fuck you, you were trying to break in my room to steal, then you swing the ax at me.'  I told her I'd have the hospital do a blood test on her, so they'd know what she had in her system.  If she tried to call copper on me, I'd have the cops get her drug test results from the hospital, and she'd go back to jail for violating probation.  I dropped her off and went the fuck home again."
     Jane sat on the sofa,  She felt rattled and numb.  Finally she said, "Damn, girl....  I really don't know what to say.  Um.... I guess, first off, congratulations on escaping and coming out here with Erica.  You two are lucky you found each other, from what I understand....."
     Fang snorted derisively.  "Yeah. Tell that to Erica's friends.  They think I corrupted her, like I somehow brainwashed her into going hardcore.  It's total bullshit, I knew I loved Erica by the third day we were together, and I was just fine with how she was.  Erica had never heard punk or hardcore before she met me.  I was playing music in her apartment, and she kept saying, 'This stuff is amazing, who is this?' every time I changed tapes.  Her going hardcore was her decision, I didn't encourage her.  She just....  Punk rock was a huge revelation for her, and she jumped in with both feet.  I mean, I won't complain, I already thought she was hot, and she's even hotter as a punk, personally.
     "And of course, since I'm still a teenager, I'm gonna lose interest at any time now and leave her, and break her heart.  Uh huh.  Fuck that shit.  I am so totally, unbelievably, helplessly in love with Erica it's not funny.  I really don't give a fuck about the age difference.  Erica says what got her hung up on me was that I seemed to do what I wanted, and she'd never met anyone who was totally unfettered by any restrictions.  I had to explain to her, 'Baby, I live the way I do to survive, I'm not having a lot of fun.  I deal drugs because I need to buy food and clothes and shit, have money to live on.  I run around Edina and the Twin Cities all day and night because it beats the shit out of being at home.  And I'm hardcore because the world has fucked with me my entire life, so I want to fuck with it back.'"
      There was a pause.  Then Fang continued, "Erica was.... Okay, when we first met, she'd never even met a punk in her life.... and what was weird is she didn't seem to have any preconceived notions about punks, she had somehow avoided the media bullshit.  She was asking why me and my friends had cut our hair like that, and how did we get it that color, and where did we get our spike bands from.  And she was asking just, like, totally free of guile.  She was honestly curious.  Erica thought we were the most interesting people she'd ever met.  Shit, maybe we were.  And she was amazed we'd have such independent attitudes at our age, that we'd think for ourselves, you know?
     "Me and my friends crashed at her apartment for a weekend.  The first night, my friends crashed out, and me and Erica sat up and talked for hours, telling each other about our lives.  I tried to explain some of the ethos of hardcore punk, where the attitudes come from, shit like that.  We'd been listening to music the whole time, and Erica told me she felt more alive and energized listening to my tapes than she'd ever felt before.  She said my music was better than drugs.  And uh, well..... She met us outside a dyke bar in Minneapolis called 19 Bar.  It was safe to assume she was dyke, and she assumed it about me and my two friends.  Actually, my friends are straight, but we figured we could get some change for beer a lot quicker outside a dyke bar than we would anywhere else.  Erica was dressed really mousy, like she was a librarian or something, but it was still obvious she was hot.  So, uh, I made a pass at her.  I knew she was older than me, but that didn't really figure into my decision.  I thought she was hot, and a really good person, and my fucking life has been pretty much void of good people.
     "When I made a pass, she looked at me like I'd suddenly sprouted butterfly wings out of my back.  She told me later she was amazed I'd be interested in her for any reason, I was so cool, and she was, at the time anyway, as mousy as she looked.  Well, at least until we got naked.  Oh my fucking God.  She turned into the dyke Aphrodite once we were alone in her room.  Erica just blew my mind, the quiet mousy naive chick who cut herself off after three beers did a Jekyll and Hyde routine.  Okay, I'm a pretty horny bitch and I can be aggressive.  I figured I'd have to be with her, once things started moving along.  Nope!  Ten minutes after we closed the door to her room, she had me hearing angels and seeing stars.
     "My friends headed home on Monday, and I stayed with Erica until Wednesday.  When my friends left, one of them said they felt like they were intruding, because me and Erica were all over each other constantly.  Yeah, fine, the sex is what got me initially hooked on her.  But we also did a lot of talking, and by Monday night I had a major crush on her just as a person.  I learned she has more guts and bravery than I'd ever have guessed at.  So far as I went, she said her first, second and third impression of me was I was a mega-tough chick, like some sort of street trash superhero.  Then she said I seemed to drop my defenses --- yeah, fair enough --- and she was amazed at how sensitive and thoughtful I was, I was much more feminine than I let one.  Again, fair enough.  And, uh, we've gone from there.
     "It's like, everybody says, 'Oh, she's only sixteen, she's too young to even conceive of a long-term relationship' and 'The age difference is too much, it'll never work out.'  Yeah, bullshit.  Erica is so incredible.  She....  After, what, five months at this point?  Um, I can't imagine living without her.  And she says the same about me.  We'll lie in each other's arms, and when we do, I'll feel at peace with the world.  I'd never felt that way before.  It's like, wow, the world isn't actually the shit-hole I always thought it was."  She giggled.  "And the best part?  The sex keeps getting even better!
     "Oh my God.  Fuck.  Um, listen Jane, I'm sorry for running my mouth like I have.  I know you wanted to talk about how I should deal with my dad, how he's fucked with my head by fucking my sister....  I know I need to deal with it.  Erica worries about me, because I do get really aggro sometimes..... And you and Lenny are probably right, a lot of it comes from my fuckin' dad.  Uh....  Lenny alluded to you having gone through the same shit my sister did.  How did you handle it?"
     "Well...." Jane started.  "Our situations are very different.  The commonality is we both were in coerced incestuous relationships with our fathers.  But beyond that...."
     Jane went on to explain about how, yes, the initial encounters with her father were forced, but her father hadn't been physically using her the way Robby's father had.  Jane's father hammered into her how much he loved her, reminding her constantly of that, how they had a "special love" together, and on and on.  Jane was sort of aware her father was manipulating her psychologically and emotionally, and Jane let it happen anyway.  It was mostly to protect herself, she wasn't sure if her father would force himself on her, like when they first started, if she didn't go along with what he was saying.  She also explained that she'd come to enjoy the hell out of the physical act of what they were doing....  And how her libido had become turbocharged, affecting all aspects of her life.  "I never thought of myself as a nymphomaniac.  That implies a lack of control.  But my view of everyone else on the planet was based in carnality first.  They can be people in a little while, right now I wanna try to decide what they'd be like in bed.  I'd have preferred if guys had introduced themselves by telling me how big their dicks were, and not their names."
     They agreed to talk again the next evening.  Fang promised Jane she'd do as Jane had suggested, and try to spot triggers: things that would bet her thinking about her father, and then doing what Jane called "wallowing," becoming too absorbed in her violent revenge fantasies, which would work her into a rage, which would be easily externalized.  Jane would be calling from a pay phone, so as to not monopolize the phone in the room.  She'd take the bus to the Albany Bowl, which had old-fashioned phone booths, the big wooden ones with seats and ashtrays, totally enclosed.
     Jane sat back on the sofa after hanging up, and reflected.  She decided that while her life had some hairy moments, she'd had it real damn easy.  Fang hadn't, she'd had to survive an unending shit-storm her whole life.  Fang was a real survivor.

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