I remember this girl in my neighborhood named Susan who just hated me starting around, I think, sixth grade for me, seventh grade for her. By seventh grade the Richard hate from her was at a fever pitch. In eight grade I don't remember her at all. Moose and Stewart had moved by then, so I figured that there was no occasion to hang out with her.
In like ninth grade, she'd done a complete, I mean complete one-eighty on me. She had blossomed into one of the hottest white girls at Austin High by then. I would only see her at school. She was on the gymnastics team. Vernon Hoe said that the shop teacher used to stand in the doorway and watch her as she walked in the hall from the dressing room to the gym upstairs.
One time Vernon saw her give me one of her million dollar beaming smiles, which had become par for the course for me by then. Vernon said, "Hey man, that's Susan G. smiling at you!" I said something like, "Yeah, she lives over next to Jody, I've known her since third grade." I might have said that I really didn't know why she smiled at me so much. wimmen etc.
In college, when I had such a hard time with the wimmens, I thought about Susan. I would think, "If I just be nice enough to Julie or whomever, she might come around as Susan did." One time Susan hit me and Jody said, "Why don't you hit her back?" Susan said mockingly, "You're not supposed to hit girls." I didn't really argue with that. In college, I thought that I could just kind of suck it up and they'd come around. Tripping on ecstasy helped with that. Man, that line of inquiry played out with the coming of Wanda. I've mentioned Wanda in previous posts. She's in issue eight, I think, most prominently in my comic books.
So of course, the reason Susan G seemed to love me forever only really make sense in the context of the Legend of Richy Vegas, of course. Not long ago I called Vernon's younger brother and asked about this kid we grew up with named "Ben." When I was sick in 1995 I had a hallucination centered around the time my dog, Toby, got out and ran into Ben's yard as his family walked to the car. Ben saw my Toby run up, and said, "Sic 'im Toby, sic 'im!" to his Toby, and they fought. My Toby won this time, something that I bragged about in Speech class later that year. That was in the seventh grade.
Oh, but there's more, isn't there always? In my sick state I "remembered" straightening that little bastard Ben's issues out as I held onto Toby and his Mom had just tried to blame the fight on the fact that my dog ran into their yard. I told Vernon's brother that I only remembered Ben one other time that year, when he threw an egg at Moose's door. I wanted Moose to really go off on that brat, but Moose said, "Shut up, Richard," and proceeded to try to teach Ben right from wrong. I'm pretty sure that the family stayed in that house two lots down from me, but I don't remember Ben at all after that.
I said to Vernon's brother, "I figured that Ben would be the kid from our school most likely to get really drunk and kill a family with his car." Vernon's brother said, "No, that never happened with him," and that was about all he said. I also remembered how Vernon's brother had said sometime in the 2000's that Ben was down at the Tavern around Christmastime, and that it was this big old home week. The kid I remembered had to change schools in his third or fourth grade because he was so unpopular.
Vernon's brother didn't have anything more to say about Ben, really, just that he knew him when he lived on a street before he lived on mine. Anyway, Ben had an older sister who was in Susan's grade, I do think they were girlfriends. Maybe I remember this girl saying hi to me once or twice in high school, I don't know.
Yeah, Toby! The voices in my head told me that he was the shit! We used to let him run around the neighborhood before the sixth grade, but he kept getting picked up by the pound, so my dad had to spring for a fence. He used to say, "You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but that's a $900 dollar dog." It really was a case of, you can take the boy out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the boy, and he became a master escape artist.
Those bastard voices didn't really give me any details about Toby, who, if the legends are to be believed, was a herald to me. The cops couldn't take a statement from a dog, I guess, and so maybe Vernon's people told everyone to handle all later matters concerning me with suitable discretion. In my pseudo science class in college they attribute these kinds of explanations to the "will to believe." The stuff of conspiracy theories.
The only thing the voices ever really told me about Toby was about his last hurrah with Robin. In 1985 my brother and I moved like three times during my Fall semester at UT. It was from one parental rental property to another. The third property had a gap in the fence that he got through. He went missing for two or three weeks before I found him at the pound. He was found miles from home with an old belt and a straightened out wire coathanger for a leash and collar. The voices in my head said that those two items had to do with Robin, they were things she had handy at time when they, 'ahem,' met each other. I remember telling my brother about the wire coathanger and the belt they found on him years after my diagnosis and recovery, and he seemed rather quick on the draw with his, "That was a dragworm. A dragworm must have adopted Toby and used him for protection," explanation. Yeah, the will to believe.