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Editorial…On Watching and Joining

She said, “They pissed all over my car.”

I said, “They pissed in my car.”

She said, ” At least my doors were locked.” 

I said, “So were mine.” 

She said, “Oh no.” 

I watched as the light bulb went off in her eyes. I hadn’t told her about what had happened. Someone else told her. Word was out in town. 

She was going through a divorce. I was going through a divorce. We laughed a little, not that there was any humor in the situation.

The constant acts of cowardly harassment, sometimes bordering on terrorism were exhausting. She reached out.

We shared a bond neither of us wanted. We swapped stories. She went back to school. I went back to school. She was trying to find work. I was trying to find work.

She was trying to escape the terrorism that came before the divorce filing. She was trying to escape the terrorism that continued to keep her clawing her way out. She had dealt with it before.

I wasn’t amused as her friends watched her talking with me. They held fear in their eyes as they tried not to look directly at us. Their ears were straining to hear what the exchange would bring.

I hoped they would fall flat on the ground as they teetered backward to listen.

She said, “I moved.”

I said, “They tried to break into my house.”

She said, “I have neighbors close on both sides.”

I asked, “Are you renting?” She said, “Yes.” Her chin quivered.

I said, “They probably have a key.”

Again, I watched as her eyes widened – as the wheels turned, the realization materialized. Her eyes welled up, but she maintained. She wouldn’t let them see her weaken. She nodded. I nodded.

They had been in her house, too.

They were part of a closed community, a somewhat false elitist, somewhat sectarian populace that opposed outsiders, even though most were not natives themselves. Some had already paid their dues, succumbed to the bizarre village norms. Some enjoyed the power involved.

Most were trying to protect an incestuous and bygone way of life. Most were hypocrites. I had been in their midst long enough to know that as fact.

They weren’t my friends, but they called her friend. I wondered why they watched, why they didn’t stand up for her, why they accepted, why they joined.

She said, “I called the cops.” I sighed. I said, “So did I.”

We laughed.

Sirens sounded in the background, chilling the air.

They watched and in watching  joined.

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