i called her a ‘commandant,’ but not aloud, & to-myself – the manager of our subsidy building – ‘a building full of retards’ as one local comedian said (after our underground power line caught fire & displaced 150 of us. we’ve had a lot of fires becausewe’reabuildingfullofretardsapparently. but that’s another story). & i often reiterate she was completely the wrong choice to manage a low-cost building of the mentally-ill, disabled, blind & elderly, since she was so insensitive, sadistic & passive-aggressive. i often thought: how could the holding-company appoint her? i even wrote a detailed letter to her superiors/my ‘advocate’ there, relating 18 months of mean-spirited victimization (& a ‘failed inspection’ due to boxes that had just come out of our family storage & hadn’t been distributed, but that’s still another story). more recently, she intentionally kept me waiting – procrastinating – & casually walked round the building while she got me a set of replacement keys, which cost $45 for three. i had asked her for a copy of the mail key until one could be made, but she told me “I never get them back.” i told her “i was a First Class scout; i’ll give you back your key!” i often wondered if it was just me she bullied or treated coldy, or everyone. (in hindsight, however, i really think it was everyone.) -what an odd choice to assign one so gratuitously stern, like some villain-marm. she seemed to get off on draconia, along with affixing excessive fines for simple maintenance or replacements that i always felt were personally pocketed.
-now i wasn’t responsible for her getting fired. the letter might not have helped, but it was 15 months old. one weekend i just saw a box or two of her materials by her office door: various files & a placard that read Margaret. i stopped seeing her car – always parked in the No Parking elbow of our driveway like a showpiece (with all its patriotic bumper stickers). at last i could discern that the office was virtually empty. finally i saw her the second-to-last time down in the basement – our ‘first floor’ – speaking seriously & quietly with our Resident Maintenance man (having replaced long-time repairman Tom, who died of swift & aggressive cancer & was the agreed heart-and-soul of the building). the next thing i knew; she was out & another woman was shuffled in – threw an Introduction Party – & was mysteriously & quickly replaced with another woman. (even since then the holding company has changed again along with the management).
& that was the last time i saw Margaret, again in the basement; coming to join the festivities of that mysteriously-vanished first girl. & i tell you: i felt bad. i shouldn’t, of course. i had no reason.
once we talked – briefly – of her passion for Civil War history. i don’t remember much other non-building discussion. i never saw her as anything but invulnerable. but this seems to be a story of one ‘mentally-ill’ narrator’s – humanity? – vs. another’s out-sane inhumanity, or some misplaced .. predator? i had every right to feel vengeful; i had every reason to feel righteous. but i didn’t. her karma burned up in the atmosphere. no, i don’t know what inevitably ‘caught up’ with her ..
i just think of that line ~ perhaps speaking of my own sensitive & even rigid mental illness ~ from Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion: “Damn this world that just won’t hold still for us! Damn it anyway!”
David Christopher la Terre is an old punk, advertising brat, artist, writer, hit-and-run orator, humorist, exfilmmaker, “asexual icon” and sentimental Modernist pursuing work in new formats, hybrids, language arts, Sound Poetry, decon, “post-mod,” prank-art … ‘living satire’ … he has been published in the Slate, Spleen, Lost & Found Times, Rag Mag, Roar Shock, Open Minds & Monkeybicycle.