Short Story: Imogene in Disguise

There might be a hundreds of different ways to kill a bird. There might be a thousand different ways to shatter a window. There might be a million different ways to punish a wrongdoing. There is only one way to tell this particular kind of story. This story that involves someone you don’t know, you won’t want to know, and you probably shouldn’t know. This story must be known because no one else will tell it. No one else will have the guts to tell it the way I do because I was there. I was there when the invisible cracks became larger: longer in length and wider in width. I was there when the crack opened large enough for someone to peer inside and see the ugliness that resided there. I was the one who heard straight from the mouth what happened and why it happened and how it happened.

Looking back, down the dark halls of this person’s mind, I realize she might have been lying this whole time. It is hard to tell what sentences were true and what ones were lies. She had her own motives. She had her own guts inside her wanting to spill out her horror story. Yes, the presentation wasn’t correct, but it was what she knew. No matter what she told me, I knew the essence of it was true. She received a lot of criticism for what she said, for how she said it, and the message it sent. This was not her fault. She didn’t know any better. People pegged her as dangerous, as someone unstable and unsuitable to be in the same room as them. She was misunderstood in the worst way and still is to this day by these people. These people never gave her the benefit of the doubt. People viewed her as unredeemable. She had carried this inside her for a long time, hidden deep down until it came spilling forth, bubbling over by the time I met her. There was nothing but molten lava inside her: red hot and seething with rage. She was a living version of Pele.

I ask these people was it worth it? Was it worth it to label her as an outcast? To disregard her feelings. Her emotions? Her sanity? Now, she has something wicked to prove because that is what you forced her to be. She is your product of hate. She is your result of indifference. You smile your big fat smile with your fake white teeth. You think you did the right thing when you did the complete opposite. You embarrassed her. You made her feel stupid. You made her feel inferior. You made her want to kill herself after the incident. She felt lost already and everyone involved made it worse. So what did you do that she will never forgive her for?

This is what you did. You turned your back on her. She viewed you as mentors, all of you, educated mentors. You might as well have slapped her on the face with your hardened academic hand. All she wanted was to belong. All you gave her was misunderstanding. I doubt she’ll ever bounce back to the way she was before, back when her rubber band was not stretched, about to break with a loud snap. I mentioned before you probably wouldn’t want to get to know her. The reason I said this is the following. This woman had her faults. She had them plenty. Her personality was abundant with elements bordering on dangerous. A part of her wanted to be caught. She knew from past experience that people like her would never live up to their own standards and definitely not the society from which she lived.

From the initial meeting with her when I interviewed her up to her last, she never wavered or changed her views of anyone, not me, not her, not her victims. The first words that came out of her mouth were “I have done many bad things, but I never killed anyone without a good reason why.” I had asked her why she had killed to begin with and followed with why she remembered her first victim much more than the ones that followed. She justified her behavior by saying because he was Russian, that he had such a nice face, one she could have kissed had it been different circumstances.

“I had to kill him because long ago he had killed someone dear to me.”

When I asked what evidence there was. she looked at me and threw her hand in the air.

“You’re all like the rest. You never believe the unbelievable. I was born during a time when the animals weren’t in cages, waiting to be slaughtered by greedy men with electric prods in their hands. I was born when tigers fought real men in a ring, always to their death without a weapon.”

She slammed the table with her hand.

“I killed him because he deserved it. He brutally raped and killed my sister. My father was poor, and he had no choice but to sell her to the highest bidder. That monster was him. Not in this lifetime but in a prior lifetime. He had to pay because no one made him pay when he wasn’t as tall and muscular. In fact, he was fucking ugly and don’t know how he got to be so powerful back in the day.”

I asked her how she knew he was ugly. She abruptly changed the subject to something I wasn’t interested in the dream she had the previous night. She had been having trouble sleeping and the nurse thought this sleep medication would help her. It was better than the alternative which was hitting her head on the wall to knock her unconscious. After a week of being locked in a padded room and admitting several she wasn’t trying to hurt herself, they released her and gave her pills to help her sleep. They triggered something within her brain. She dreamt of rhinos and elephants walking to their death. She dreamt of commercial airplanes circling back because of lack of fuel. She dreamt nothing of freedom or innocence. She wanted to live the rest of her life in peace and believed her enemies would not allow her to do this. After years of not wanting any publicity, she sought my attention, for if she could convince me to reason with these so-called enemies, she could then live her life without revenge. I knew, deep within, this wasn’t possible.

When I told her this was overstepping my reach, she became morose and didn’t want to talk to me anymore. It was months where I hadn’t seen her when I received a letter in the mail. I don’t know how she got my address. I recognized her handwriting. I half expected smoke to come out of the envelope. I saw her initials in blank ink. She had come back, but she was no goddess, not with the name of Imogene.

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