I am tapping a finger to my chin. The sickle-shaped claws of my mind are extending and retracting, slowly -- an unknowing flap of feathers has drawn their attention and made them ready to sever something as if of their own accord. I am weighing words like gun powder, harmless enough in the wind or on the scale, but in skillful hands, capable of delivering mortal wounds.
To write, or not to write, about the most despicable woman I ever knew?
She is perfection for my purposes, for the mission of this blog, which -- you may not know up to now -- is purely my attempt to exercise old writing muscles. Peaceful farmscapes and the unexpected hijinks of the animals are safe fodder for meeting some sort of regular schedule, sure as sunrises and puppies to deliver words and chuckles. Trust me, they will be back, but this space has the equivalent of a movie's NC-17 rating -- for its uncertainty of topics not even imagined yet and so impossible to classify for the reader in advance.
How delicious then, to have this character from more than a decade in my past come back into view. My grown daughters were in a stream-of-consciousness banter when they landed on the memory of this woman, an "authority figure" from their childhoods, and burst into laughter.
See her: a bouncing spill of blond curls, the hairstyle sometimes long and sometimes short but otherwise never changing in her nearly 50 years. (She discovered a long time ago the value of the blond flounce -- the effervescent flag whipping in the wind of the male periphery.) The only other innate physical attribute worth mentioning is the one that magnetizes some women to her side, so in awe are they of an impossibly diminutive figure. This she has covered in a dark, fake tan and flashy jewelry; horse teeth she learned from a young age to handle by hiding them in plain sight. Smile big, smile often, and perhaps people will think they're just another set of cubic zirconia adornments.
So diminutive and blond, she speed walks (honing in on victims like a bullet) and ticks her butt from side to side, enough to notice, but not so much that anyone could with perfect confidence call into question her motives. (She has found a church where good manners and good intentions allow grace for a broad expression of such "gifts.") Feigning innocence, she blurts in front of groups whatever is most likely to hurt or embarrass or make a timid person cry.
"How dare you tell everyone here your dream about walking on the ocean floor -- Mary here had a child die of drowning 10 years ago!"
"You know, according to Leviticus a birthmark like the one your baby has is the sign of the devil."
"NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO!" (Interrupting a solemn ritual and marching herself through the crowd, to accost one individual. A woman, of course.) "You are supposed to be focused on Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, and it doesn't matter that you got cold. Take off that coat!"
Group IQs can be gleaned by whether a table full of partygoers leans in toward her as she approaches, or away. Intelligent, confident, or talented people fall away from her like rich people from a smelly beggar -- you will not see them in her close company. But imagine the women who join the bullet of her to become the "Church Torpedo," as I call them collectively, fanning out behind her as she moves to keep other women in line. Horse Teeth leads the charge, cornering a lone female not to her liking, and doing all the talking:
"You say you don't love your husband? You've filed for divorce from a good, God-fearing man? Well let me tell you what you need to do. You need to get your ass home and give that man a good country fucking. Right girls? Am I right?"
* * *
To write, or not to write, about the most despicable woman I ever knew? You see the dilemma. What a great character for someone who is exercising her writing muscles. But it is also true that words are capable of delivering mortal wounds, sometimes most worryingly, to the reputations of their writers. One could be seen as jealous, petty, the pathetic victim in a given scenario. Even if the writer could successfully protest, but not too much, that she is none of those things in a certain case, just an observer, don't negative sentiments reflect most of all on the person who has them?
What to do, what to do.
I'll be sure to let you know what I decide.