Friday, November 1, 2002

Flashback Friday: November, 2002 through March, 2003

When we last left Daniel, he had moved into Xanna's house, (his alternative to jail) where some unusual things had started to occur...
His girlfriend had become convinced that there was a blond haired woman in cohabitation of the house, and having an affair with him. The "blond bitch," as she referred to the woman, had the uncanny ability to remain out of sight.
Chapter 5
Things got more intense, living in Xanna's house.
She was finding "clues" all over the house, pursuant to her meticulous investigations, like what she believed were the initials of "the blond bitch," carved into the back of a stool in the piano room. I must admit that the way the paint had chipped off of that particular piece of furniture did resemble the initials "B" and "S," (perhaps the blond marking her territory...and playing games with Xanna, or perhaps, just B.S...)
I tried to reason with her. After all, our relationship hadn't started out this way at all.
I said, "Xanna,(cupping her chin in my hand and forcing her to look me in the eyes) why don't you believe me when I say that there is no other woman in this house?"
She couldn't believe me, because there was another woman in the house; it was Xanna herself, when she was in her "other" mind.
She had a dual personality, and was jealous of the other woman, who was actually herself, in her other mind.
There were times that I made love to her when she was manifesting her other personality, and when she came back to her original self, she was pissed. She just knew that I had been with another woman; she had left clues. She wanted to kill that other woman.
And then, there was the ghost.
I came to believe that there was actually a ghost in the house.
I wasn't scared at all, though.
I talked to it (her). I was pretty sure it was the ghost of a little girl, after hearing the voice on the tape, which Xanna had covertly made, and; how scared can you be of a little girl?
I told her, one afternoon, as I lay on the bed with the late winter afternoon's sunlight streaming in through the window, that she could appear to me, if she wanted to; I wouldn't mind. All that happened after that was, I heard the distinctive sound of a little girls footsteps walking down the hall, away. I guess that creeped the ghoul out, somewhat.
"I'm not appearing to you, you're weird.."
The thing that I still think about, and you, dear reader might be wondering about is: Were the footsteps the sound of a shod foot? Did it sound like the ghost was wearing shoes?
I have to say, and this is one of the things that makes me think that "ghosts" just might be manifestations of our own psychic energies, that the only thing that registered with me was that it was the sound of footsteps, half barefooted, half shod maybe.
The Stray Cat
Then, Xanna took in a stray cat, which she had found somewhere -a rust colored one 
We kept it until it urinated on our bed.
"Oh, no. That's just plain aggressive behavior. It's being territorial!" was Xannas conclusion.
The rust colored cat  had to go.
I was the only one home when it happened and discovered the cat pee, after I had gone to the main bedroom to use the phone on the night table.
As I sat on the bed, I felt a wet spot in the middle of it. I smelled it and determined it to be urine of cat. I checked the extent of the damage. I was particularly concerned about the pillows, being of the mind that one could never wash cat urine out of one. I was most glad that the pillows were not affected.
I took them off the bed and placed them on the couch over by the window, the one with the tape recorder under it. Then, I stripped off the quilt, blankets and sheets, and put them in a pile in the middle of the floor. The urine had soaked all the way to the mattress, leaving a dampness there.
I went to the kitchen and got some foam spray cleaner.
When I returned to the bedroom, I froze for a second in the doorway, staring in bewilderment at the bed.
My pillow was sitting atop the wet spot. Xannas was still on the couch where I had put both of them, not two minutes sooner.
I was hard pressed for an >explanation of how it got there, being the only one there, as far as I knew ...maybe the blond bitch....but I was starting to suspec that the house was haunted, though it didn't frighten me in the way one might think it should have. Perhaps because it seemed like the ghost of a little girl, though one apparently strong enough to lift Xanna off the bed and throw her out into the hallway...
I continued to hear the footsteps of a little girl in the hallway, on on the staircase leading to "the attic" when the house was otherwise quiet.
I continued talking to it, telling it that it could appear and I wouldn't hurt it. ...just don't hurt me...
Xanna was becoming as haunting as any specter could be, by this time.
After that cat incident, I became a little bit spooked by the house, though.
A couple of nights later, I was there alone; again.
I went to the back bedroom to lie down and try to sleep.
I left the light on, though; because of a slightly "creepy" feeling that I had.

As close to Xanna as I could find...
As I lay there awhile, and thought about sleeping with the lights on, I started to feel like a little boy who is afraid of the "boogy man."
This is ridiculous, I'm a grown man!
With that thought, I reached over to the switch on the wall near the night stand and flicked the light off.
Simultaneous to the room snapping into darkness, something jumped off of the dresser and onto the floor.
I snapped the light back on. It was a comb, which had been on the dresser, laying there on the hardwood floor, now.
I slept with the light on that night..
The Last Episode
We were close to breaking up. Xanna was ranting like a crazy woman.
She had developed a mantra, which she repeated almost non stop. It went something like this:
"That's just disrespectful -coming up in my house when I'm not home! She ain't nothing but a tramp; ain't nothing but a bitch and a whore. Let me catch her in this house one time, I'll show that bitch that I'm no one to mess with!. Coming up in here when I 'm at work...that's just disrespectful...She ain't nothing but a tramp; ain't nothing but a whore.... 

Sometimes when I was trying to sleep, she would seemingly sense the exact point of my driftng off and would then jar me awake by starting the mantra -always the same words, same cadence, same inflection, over and over.
To Make Matters Worse..
I inadvertently added to the confusion once.
I had bought a tuning "hammer" (28 bucks for the darned thing) and was going to surprise Xanna by fine tuning her piano. I worked on it covertly (if you don't count the ghost as a witness) for hours. I wanted to see if she would notice the difference and say something like "The piano sounds great today." But, I made a mistake and turned a wrong peg, unwittingly leaving a string dreadfully flat.
The C sharp that I flattened almost an octave, just happened to be one of the notes of prominence in "The Maple Leaf Rag," which was one of only three pieces that I ever heard Xanna play. She played each of them as if she were taking out her frustrations on the poor piano.
She went into the piano room one evening and attacked the keyboard in her usual way, hitting the "clunker" note at a point in the music which seemed to be a showcase for it. It was the musical equivalent of hitting the listener totally unexpectedly in the face with an ice cold bucket of water, or as if the piano had imploded suddenly.
At that point, Xanna flew into a rage. "Oh, no! Now, she's messing with my piano, now she's really playing games with me!"

It was interesting to note that her reaction to an actual quantifiable wrong (her piano was certainly detuned) was pretty much the same as to her "imagined" injuries at the hands of the blond bitch. If she had any suspicion that she might only be imagining things, the piano would have been a different matter. But she seemed to take the reality of the string being way out of tune the same way as she did the other things, like the initials carved into furniture...
That wasn't the
kind of "surprise" that I had had in mind. I felt that I had to spoil it by showing her the tuning hammer and taking the blame for the seventh measure of "The Maple Leaf Rag." I didn't want to give her any (more) reason to think that there might be unusual, unexplainable things happening in her house...

January, 2002
"If you think you might be poisoned..."
I was sitting  at the house one morning, when I got a call from the manager of the Pizza Hut where Xanna worked.
I was basically told  that I needed to pack up my stuff and move out of the house. She said that that was Xannas wish, but she was too afraid to tell me so much, to my face. She was telling her co-workers that I was trying to kill her and take her house from her; she was convinced.
I told her manager that I needed to hear it from Xanna herself and that I would honor her wish for me to leave if it is as such...almost gladly, at this point.
That night, at the gas station, a couple of Pizza Hut workers came by to gas up. They gave me icy stares, and treated me like a guy who is trying to kill one of their co-workers and commandeer her house.
When Xanna arrived at about her usual time, at her usual pump, I asked her how she had gotten the notion that I was trying to kill her and take her house.
"You must think I'm stupid," she said through a clenched jaw. "You were singing a song about poison last night, right in front of me, like you're trying to taunt me!"
The prior night, I was singing a jingle which I had been hearing several times a night on the radio station that I listened to. It was a public service spot from the National Center For Poison Control, or something. The refrain kind of went: "If you think you might be poisoned, and you don't know what to do, call 1-800-222-2222..."
The jingle became "stuck" in my head and I had been walking around humming it to myself, while performing my nightly tasks. When Xanna showed up that night, I was in a good mood and just busted out with the jingle, thinking that she had probably heard it a hundred times on the radio herself. I didn't think much past that at all. She wasn't amused by my rendition. Not exactly.
She Just Died!
By March, Xanna and I were still sleeping in the same bed, but had stopped having sex.
I was making plans (behind her back) to move out of her house and into the tool shed behind the gas station after the manager, who was sympathetic to my plight, offered to allow me to put a cot and a TV back there and live for a while.
He was both concerned that Xanna might get me in trouble with the law by making accusations based upon her imaginings, and he also saw the value of having the assistant manager always be on-site; always available to cover for other employees who couldn't make it in to work.
Xanna and I were at the house. I went to lay down on the bed in the back bedroom.
She followed me there, as usual, and assumed her regular position beside me.
I was laying on my stomach with my arms folded under my pillow and my head turned away from her. I felt her lay her hand on my back; the "cat paw" which I had grown accustomed to.
I didn't drift off to sleep right away, rather, I lay there trying to relax my mind and let my thoughts drift.
I started to become aware of how cool Xanna's hand felt on my back, and how it seemed to be getting even cooler. Within a minute, it felt so downright frigid that the thought occurred to me: She just died!
Now wide awake, and with my heart sped up and a lump in my throat, I turned my head to look at her. She had both her arms folded under her pillow. Her hand hadn't been on my back at all.
Into March...
As fate would have it, Xanna's behaviour at her job became such that her co-workers started to question her claim that I was out to get her.
One night she called the police on another delivery person because that person had taken a pizza off the rack and gone to deliver it. Xanna thought that she had been next in line for it. She reported the pie "stolen" to the officers.
"I think we owe you an appology. Xanna's acting really crazy. At first we didn't know who to believe, but now we're pretty sure that she is probably imagining things," said a contrite Pizza Hut manager to me at the gas station, shortly after that.
I probably would have been out of her house already by the middle of March, but I got a call from my mother in Massachusetts, informing me that my father had passed away.

The Ghost

The gravity of the situation kind of kept us together, bonded by the crisis, and seemed to give Xanna a temporary return to reality, enough so that she offered me her condolences. It was the first time that I had seen her face soften in weeks.
I hastily made plans to drive my Jetta the 800 miles to attend the wake and funeral.
Xanna insisted that I drive her Mustang instead. She came along with me.
She spent almost the entire week that we spent in Massachusetts in the car, wrapped in blankets. My surviving family members seemed to be conspicuous in their avoidance of her and even the subject of her. They kept their comments to her brief and impersanal, them not knowing what to "make" of her, starting with her odd name, and probably extending to a sense that there was something not quite right with her. They didn't ask me much about her.
My mother gave me some of my deceased father's stuff, as I was leaving. His electric razor, his watch (which had stopped at around the time of his passing; and which began to tick again after I put it on my wrist) and a sweater made of a silky material. The sweater looked like it could have been worn by either a man or a woman; a point which would have been trivial, had I not had Xanna as a roommate.
After driving 12 hours from Massachusetts back to Virginia, I had less than 3 hours left before I was scheduled to work my shift at the gas station. I was going to try to grab as much sleep as I could.
I wasn't able to get more than a few seconds in, though.
Xanna started the mantra: "She ain't nothing but a bitch; nothing but a tramp and a whore -coming up in my house when I'm not here; that's just disrespectful..."
She stood almost over me, as I tried to sleep. At the instant that I dozed off, it seemed, she broke the silence: "Let me catch her, just once in this house..."
I tried to reason with her, but that option seemed to be long gone. "I have to work in three hours, sweetie. I have been driving for the last twelve hours. Can you please let me get some rest?"
Sleep deprivation, stress and grief over losing my father combined to bring me to a boiling point.
I jumped up and yelled in her face, cutting her off in the middle of "ain't nothin' but a whore" and told her that I was packing up and leaving as soon as I got off work the next morning."I can't stay here any longer, you're acting absolutely batshit crazy!"
"There's nothing wrong with my mind!!"
I tried again, to get as many winks as I could before my shift at work was to start.
Again, I had just drifted off when I was woken up.
She was standing in the doorway holding the sweater which my mother had given me.
"Who's sweater is THIS!? This is a womans sweater! Let's see you explain this one!!"
I snapped.
I jumped up, flew across the room, snatched the sweater from her, and got in her face, yelling "Are you saying that my father wore womens clothes!? This was his sweater, which my mom gave to me!! You...!"
My fist was coiled, the muscles in my arm were tense. I was one nerve synapse away from letting it fly and pounding her face, I could see it in my imagination, I could feel it in my imagination. But, I held back. I've never hit a woman in my life, but that was as close as I have ever come.
I grabbed some things, and went off to sleep somewhere in my Jetta, for at least the couple hours I had left before I had to work.
The Return Of The Jetta
I knew that I wasn't going back to her house. I would talk to Modou about allowing me to stay in the storage room behind the gas station. More than a year after meeting Xanna, at the same gas station, I welcomed the prospect of being "homeless" once again.
I set up a mattress and a little table in the storage room, along with bringing my computer there from Xannas house.
I was going there to retrieve stuff when I knew Xanna was at work. There were ways to get into the house, even when it was locked, like climbing up on the lower roof and entering through any of the glassless windows of the second floor.
The next afternoon, after getting off of work, I had opted to sleep for the first time in my new quarters, surrounded by boxes full of cigarettes and palettes of soda.
I was just drifting off to sleep when the door flew open and Xanna was standing there, glaring. Her arms were akimbo and her eyes darting around the storage room, as if looking for the blond bitch.
"So this is your little love nest!"
"No, this is where Modou is letting me stay until I find a place."
Looking more closely at her face, it appeared that she had been punched in the eye that I never hit, as it was black and blue and swollen.
After she stormed out of the storage room, she paused to glare at the Jetta, which had been her Christmas gift to me, a few months earlier.
The next time I got in that car and turned the key, the motor started to turn over, and then stalled.
It never started for me again, even though I had several of the best mechanics in Charlottesville, replacing suspect parts, downloading schematics and pulling their hair out over it.
I eventually brought it to the junkyard where all of the newly installed parts had come from and selling the parts back to them, along with the Jetta itself. 

The Return Of Tom

I continued to live in the storage room and to save money.
I saw Xanna about a month after our breakup, after I had bought another car. She was sitting in a black Monte Carlo in a parking lot; with Tom, the guy who had beaten and sodomized her after their breakup, but before their reunion, apparently,