Riverview Apartments may have been a safety disaster, by far, but they had ridiculously good insurance. I was well taken care of in the years that followed. My mom’s distant cousin, Tina, ended up taking me in. The move to Alberta was the best thing that could have happened to me, considering. I won’t plague you with the various therapy and counseling measures I needed to adjust to a life without monsters; just realise I was generally less stable than your typical teenager and young adult. Who am I fooling? I have never been a completely stable adult. I never did tell the truth about my experience with Grandma and the monster. Who would have believed me if I had, right? I told everyone I woke up to the smell of smoke and tried to get Grandma out, but ran for it when the smoke was too bad. The knock on my head happened when I fell in the stairwell, not when Grandpa slugged me in the basement. Instead, I tried to forget about it and move on. At eleven years old, I had already dealt with the loss of family once, so doing it again wasn’t as brutal. Therapists would prattle on about survivor guilt and mourning while I secretly dealt with my fear of basements and sick, grumpy people. I went on with my life, despite the quirks, fears and neurotic tendencies that stuck with me, even to this day.
There’s nothing I could say or do to prove my sanity; even though my last two psychiatrists gave me a pass. The proof burned down that night. God knows, when I’m having a bad day I still deal with the guilt of Grandma, the people who died in Riverview Apartments that night, and, in some completely screwy way, even Grandpa.
You may have wondered why I’ve written all this down. If you guessed I was seeking closure or some type of redemption, you guessed wrong. No, I am way past that. I am sixty-four, now. I am a vegetarian. I spent most of my adult life working as an airline stewardess. I was married for a few years, and divorced. No kids. Airline work was perfect because I have trouble settling in one place, and airplanes have no basements. Therapists would suggest I have attachment issues, and they would be right; not that it bothers me, really. I retired from the airline a few years back. Now, I work part-time in a flower shop in Kitchener; yes, back to the start. The house I live in has no basement. I still keep in touch with Tina, even though she is living in a Regina retirement home. She would tell you otherwise, but she’s showing the early signs of dementia.
Anyway, I’m already trying to avoid answering the question; story of my life. Why write this? Why now? What’s the point? I’ll spit it out.
Earlier this year, I began having these flashes of anger, verging on rage. It started with difficult customers at the flower shop, but the spiking emotions began to happen almost randomly, after a while. I worked as a stewardess long enough to be immune to crap from customers, and I didn’t feel burnt out, so I was confused. At first, I wondered if this was some sort of delayed reaction, post traumatic behaviour; so I wrote it off. On especially bad days I took a depressant, which didn’t solve the problem but kept me calm. About a week ago, I noticed the skin on my left arm was irritated and dry. That developed into a rash that I used vitamin E and aloe to soothe. Yesterday, the green spots showed up. After the mother of all panic attacks had passed, I went to the emergency room of the hospital and waited forever to see a doctor. His diagnosis: probably an allergic reaction or infection. Of course, he wasn’t sure.
On my way back from the hospital last night, I realised two things had gone completely over my head, until then. A few months ago, I started craving, and eating, the odd bit of meat, contrary to many years of dedicated, vegetarian living. This was roughly around the time I started experiencing the angry spells. It was just the odd craving, here and there; I would have a hamburger at lunch or a hot dog in the park. The other thing I noticed was that the meat always seemed overcooked. I found a street vendor willing to undercook my burger for a few extra bucks, and it tasted almost perfect to me. All of that went over my head until last night, and I realised what was happening. The left arm was where he grabbed me, and now there are green, smelly spots on it.
Three hours ago, I ate a package of raw hamburger; and it tasted better than anything I’ve had in ages. If there had been more, I would have eaten it. That was the last proof I needed. I am the monster now. That old bastard got me, after all.
So, to answer your question more concisely, I am writing this as a warning. I plan to mail copies to the authorities. That will force me to do myself in because I might chicken out, otherwise. I don’t want someone else left in the same position I was at eleven years old. Years of being neurotic about personal security, among other things, have put me in possession of a thirty-eight calibre pistol. I took it out last night, but was afraid to use it. Even now, I’m afraid to do it. I have the email addresses for public tips to the regional, provincial and federal police; and, for good measure, the public health unit. Once I send this, I’m sure I can do the right thing; at least, I hope I can. I don’t want to become a monster.