Venturing Out

I decided that I really needed to leave to sanctuary of my flat. I had this really crazy idea that if I didn’t now I never would and would be trapped in here forever. I went to the Grafton Centre where, to me dismay, I bumped into a couple who hereafter shall be known as Mork and Mindy. They looked like the perfect couple, holding hands and whispering intimately into one another’s ears. Mork is a guy I met when I was in the nut house in 1998 (after my disastrous year of teaching). An instantaneous attraction developed between us. Inexplicable really as he isn’t exactly my type. He is, however, a man with a fascinating history. He studied theology at Cambridge, travelled around the world and returned as a Muslim. He was not exactly super-devout when I met him as he was up to sharing a cheap bottle of plonk in the hospital grounds (Please note, that is all I shared with him). He was recently sent to a secure unit for pushing Dr. H. down a flight of stairs.

Mindy has an equally fascinating history. I met her in hospital as well (during my 6-month stay back in 1993.) She was a very creative and artistic young woman. She planned to go to drama school. Unfortunately, her life deteriorated after that. She became pregnant. As soon as the baby was born (it (a little girl, I believe) was removed from Mindy’s care by Social Services. The genius Dr H. had a hand in that, apparently. Years later Mindy was incarcerated in the same secure unit as Andy. When she was released, she and her common-law-husband, Geoff, were housed in a flat opposite me, in a block called Hanover Court (the block in which Doug lives). Geoff died there of a heroin overdose. Mindy was arrested and charged with manslaughter but was never tried. There was a lot of malicious gossip at the local user-run drop-in centre. Ironically one of her most valiant defenders was John Thompson (One who had fallen victim to Andy, ironically). Andy’s foolishly faithful friend Sean participated in some of that verbal garbage. ‘Dreanna’ (Mindy’s bestest bestest friend at the time) reckons that she did kill Geoff’

Members of the circuit are so loyal to one another

Mork and Mindy had heard what had happened already. My, news certainly travels fast in this town. I wanted to race away from them as fast as possible but they insisted upon expressing their sympathy

‘He should be banned from lifecraft,’ Mindy said.

‘We read your book,’ Mark told me. ‘We though it was excellent.’

I thanked him politely but what Mindy said next both astounded and infuriated me. I wondered whether her motive was malicious. There is – and always has been – a mutual hostility between us, a kind of undeclared war. Seeing her reminds me of why I have more close male friends that those of the female variety. In my experience, women aren’t particularly loyal to one another.

‘Half the men there think you brought what happened upon yourself,’ Mindy said. The provocation defence, huh? After a sharp cough from Mork, she added, ‘But the other half think his actions were completely unjustifiable.’

‘I see. Well, Andy has this natural ability to manipulate people into taking his side. I should know – he’s done it to me often enough.’

‘Yes,’ Mork replied. ‘He did something to me last summer that was kind of manipulative’

He didn’t elaborate on what that ‘something’ was and I didn’t take the trouble to enquire.

Before we parted Mindy pressed something into my hand. It was scented candle from Evolution.

I walked hurriedly away. So, half of the men at that testosterone-ridden party thought I’d provoked Andy into attacking me so viciously, did they? Did I expect anything more from that bunch of malevolent misogynists? So, why exactly should I care? He’s a pseudo-Messiah and they are his ‘followers’. In addition, they are terrified of him. I’m no psychologist but the reason is obvious – a room full of big, strong but cowardly men who failed to protect a five-feet five woman from a six-feet four man (the policewoman made a point of emphasising the difference in our respective heights and builds when she was writing up my statement) and they failed to intervene. So they try and justify it in the only way they know how. Andy’s behaviour was justified because I provoked him; thus negating the need for any kind of intervention. What a neat little psychological trick to play on oneself. An even more horrifying thought is that the whole event turned them on in some way. Well, I hope they choke to death in that moral vacuum they choose to inhabit.

Mindy made it sound as though it was acceptable for these men to excuse Andy’s actions. Maybe that’s what she expects from men. Maybe in her world it is justifiable. Well, it isn’t in mine.

And Andy is about to discover that.

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