Back when I was an adolescent and was growing my hair long and listening to that thar heavy mental and punk rock music, my mother decided I must be doing drugs. Maybe it was guilt by association, given the looks and actions of some of the cats I'd sometimes run with. Perhaps she just figured I was my father's son, he'd been dancing with Mary Jane as long as I can remember, even though my mother would remind him the substance was illegal. During one of our discussions on my presumed drug use, I double-dog-dared my mother do a blood or urine test on me.
"My, my," my mother said somewhat condescendingly. "Thou doth protest too much."
It was then I figured out how that game was played. When you got defensive, when you tried to justify and do damage control, you were guilty. I should've figured this out before that debate with my mother by virtue of what was on the television screen; evangelical preachers being caught red-handed fucking their whores of Babylon whilst parting the gullible from their cash, the whole time denying it until their tearful confessions were squeezed from them like filthy sponges. I would observe the same things with politicians and show-trial murderers.
When I was eighteen, I was coming home from a night out. My parents in the parlor, having fallen asleep attempting to watch whatever film together for the umpteenth time. It being a rule in the household at the time, I announced my presence.
"Did you do any drugs?" My mother asked me.
"Whatever, Mom," I said. "I'm going to bed."
My mother might have been ready to say something, but then my father, having been awaken by the exchange, jumped in;
"Goddammit, woman! Back off!"
Apparently, I won that little game. With my father's words, I was vindicated. My mother never questioned whether or not I did drugs ever again.
Ever since I was somewhere between eight and ten, I've always carried a knife of some kind on me. Sometime, during my adolescence, when I was growing my hair long and listening to that thar heavy mental and punk rock music, I somehow gave the impression that I might know how to use such an object as something other than a tool. I'd not read Sun Tzu yet, but, as someone who had been horrifically bullied growing up, I found nothing wrong with perpetuating this particular bit of deception. Maybe that's sociopathic of me, but I still find nothing wrong with it.
"You always look like your ready to cut someone's throat when you pull that thing out," one of the waitress at the restaurant I once cooked at remarked once whilst she was watching me break down boxes with my knife at the time. Some almost fifteen years later, another lifetime away, the sempi made a similar observation as I broke down boxes with my present knife.
"Usually I'm convinced you're one of the most gentle souls in world until I see you pull that thing out," he said. "Then I wonder if you're not one of those scary guys who collects knives and dreams of eviscerating people."
"Just dreams?" I said with a smirk, letting him wonder. Sempi has heard some of my being bullied stories and knows I have The Art of War all but memorized.
I could've handled my break-up with the jewel-eyed girl better. Even shortly after the fact, I realized that, but I was much younger and not nearly as clever as I solopsticly gave myself credit for. The first time I saw her in a vampire den, Madam Lung took me aside and implored me to not sleep with her.
Even though the Dragon Lady was one of my best friends and my adopted grandmother, I was impetuous. Copulation with the jewel-eyed girl was infrequent in the waning years of our relationship and I was jonesing. Besides, Madam Lung had once waxed erotica about the fun of x-sex and I decided to ride that bit of snake's tail for all it was worth.
Some of my nightmares stand as testimony to the price I've paid for my hubris...
When it all came down between the jewel-eyed girl and I, the air between us was that of tigers and cobras. There was broken glass and me forcing her out of my home whilst phoning the constabulary. For my trouble, I spent an hour in manacles whilst the men in uniform tried to decide if the one who called for help was at fault. After all, I was the male. I have long hair and tattoos and hoops in my ears, and both of us were more than a little drunk. Besides, the social construct of reality dictates it's always the boy's fault, even when it isn't, and who would dare question the social construct of reality, let alone defy it?
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name...
During the altercation, the jewel-eyed girl became cut on the broken glass. The same glass she tried holding to my throat as I slammed my door. As someone who cut herself willingly in the past, it wouldn't have surprised me if it was a self-inflicted wound. Maybe she fell down, because she was drunk. I honestly do not know. I only closed a door.
First, her story was that I pushed her. Then, because I've carried a knife of some kind on me since I was somewhere between eight and ten, that I stabbed her. There was a certain number of friends I gave my side of the story to and then let lie. Strangers who had at least the courtesy to ask would get a curt no and that was it. Remembering that lesson I learned from my mother about protesting too much played heavily into my approach of being thrown smack in the middle of a game of Machiavelli. Madam Lung advised me on a tactic I was already taking; don't rise to the bait, but rise above.
One night after the juke joint with Dragon Lady, I did vent. All the anger about the circumstance of the break-up from the jewel-eyed girl and its subsequent shrapnel bubbled to the surface in a beer and whiskey-lanced rant. Madam Lung for the most part just listened, allowing me to purge my ire to small hours shadows.
"And I didn't fucking stab her," I growled.
Madam Lung gave me her soft and sardonic smile as she reached over to draw me in with a tight embrace. It was then, from the mouth of a dragon in tones of liquid silver, I received one of the most profound statements of vindication I've ever had;
"It's okay. We all know you. You wouldn't have missed."