As many of you know, I live in West Virginia, in a very tiny (unincorporated) town of less than 200 people. A couple of years ago someone in this town was murdered. It wasn’t just any someone, it was a girl who I knew, and went to school with.
She was a year or two behind me at school, but I knew her. She lived not too far away from me, and her best friend was the younger sister of a kid I knew quite well. I had to walk to catch the school bus and so did she. I remember seeing her quite a lot, and even talking to her occasionally.
After she died, the news was full of stories that growing up she was a good middle class girl that got into some really bad drugs that messed her up, but that wasn’t my recollection. Even at the age of 13/14 she hung around with the “bad boys” and was known to sleep around. She always hung out with the wrong people and was smoking cigarette’s and weed at a young age, and drinking at a young age with certain pricks from my class who used to hang around with younger girls because no one else would be impressed by the fact they had the ability to score some weed. I remember at 15 beating up the “leader” of the group she hung around with because he hocked a loogey on a plastic ruler and then flicked it onto my shirt in class. Apparently he did it because he thought my reaction would be “funny”. Guess I showed him.
In no sense was I friends with her, and I can’t really say I ever had a genuine conversation with her. She was a few years younger than me, and hung out with different people. I don’t know what I feel, if I feel anything, about her death. Of course, I wish things hadn’t worked out like they did. I wish she hadn’t been killed, but only in the general sense I would feel the same about anyone in that situation or anyone who had such a bad end. From what I read in the papers she was in and out of work, drifted into some hard drug abuse, and ended up working as a prostitute, more or less. It’s just so hard to connect the image I have of her from school, walking past my driveway, past my house on her way to school – to a corpse dumped in the woods by some monster.
Obviously she made mistakes in her life, and chose to go down the wrong path. There were so many other lives ahead of her, so many other paths she could have went down. I don’t know whether to think that she was just a random victim of a terrible force, or if destruction was more fixed in the path she took. You could blame life, her parents, the world, drugs, and the sick bastard that killed her, or, (D) all of the above. I’ve known people who have died because of drugs. I’ve known people who died because they were sick from cancer. I’ve had several family members that have died, and I had a friend who died from a four-wheeler wreck when he was riding with another kid who was messed up on E and booze, but sometimes I just can’t get my head around the girl who was murdered.
By no means is this grief (this did happen some years ago.) She was someone I could barely remember and who I hadn’t seen or thought of for 10 years. But what strikes me is that the nature of the crime is so awful, and so foul. Her killer seemed to be nothing more than a pompous ass during his trial. How can such bad things be reconciled to a man like that?
I guess this is one of the disadvantages of living in such a small town. I know everyone that lived around me while I was growing up, and I remember them to this day. It’s always a shock when something like this happens here. Thankfully, they are few and far between.
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I’m right there with you. I found out last month that a childhood friend of mine had been arrested for assault, and it sounds like she’s a drug- and/or alcohol-addicted stripper. I haven’t spoken with her since we were in junior high, but it causes conflict within me. I wonder if I had kept in contact, could that contact have helped. Or, would I have just been dragged down with her?
As a friend of mine once told me, “I will not should on myself today.” No sense in wondering.
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Now that I live in Syracuse, a lot of my friends have stories/experiences like this. The worst thing I heard of growing up was that friend of a friend got run over placing pennies on the train tracks. (Makes it sound like I grew up in Hicksville, but I swear it was just outside Seattle!) Around here, it’s normal to have a few old classmates in jail or dead. It’s very disturbing.
I have a similar memory of a girl I went to school with. At one point we were friends but she got in deep with some bad people and we parted ways. The last time I saw her I couldn’t believe my eye’s. It was like like those ‘before and after’ pictures of meth users you see on the internet.
In a way, I guess she died a long time ago too 🙁
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