Strange New Brightonians…

Life is an absurd series of billiard ball bounces. As I mentioned, in my first try at college, I went on adventures all over the place, including to New Hampshire, to a group house of furries called Berry Grove. While I was there, I met a future boyfriend of mine, Tad. We’ve fallen more out of touch than I endorse, and that saddens me; he’s a good guy and I’ve bounced off him a few times, to my benefit.
After I started dating Tad, I got interested in meeting his other partner, a man living in Pennsylvania. When a friend of mine went on a trip down there to meet her boyfriend, I tagged along to meet Theddie. I spent the weekend at his sister’s trailer, where I also met Kierstal, who I would date later.
Theddie was kind of amazing. He’d been dumped on by his history and health, and kept struggling against to be a man full of joy and life. He made most of his earned income through being an artist, but he was also a brilliant chef, and like me, a jack of all trades. Most of the time I spent around him, we spent in a house in New Brighton, where I moved, having nowhere else to go, after a falling out with Martina.
He welcomed me into a borrowed home, which we spent a fair amount of my time there fixing. That house had been trashed. The owner’s son, who went by the nickname “Shaky” due to having a tremor from malnutritive choices, had kept a dog inside the bedroom all winter long. Not, the dog stayed in the bedroom, except to go outside. The dog lived in the bedroom 24/7. There were ammonia crystals in there. Awful. Prior residents had put holes in the wall, and fixed them with cereal boxes. There was another hole in a different wall that let in the worst infestation of fleas I’ve ever seen – walk on the floor and watch your legs look peppered.
Not that the upper house was much better – in some ways it was worse, since Theddie started fixing his place when he moved in. The upper house didn’t see attention until it was condemned, filled with old newspapers, wrecked furniture, car models in boxes, and what I will genteelly call, “cat byproduct”. Shaky’s dad was a hoarder, and Shaky didn’t care / actively interfered with cleaning efforts.
Honestly, aside from having talked his dad into letting Theddie and Kierstal occupy the lower house, Shaky was short on good qualities. He knew Theddie from a gaming store they frequented, and he’d dated Kierstal, which is how they met each other. He was paranoid, and not a little vicious, and he hated me; after Kierstal broke up with him, she eventually started dating me, which he regarded as my having “stolen” her from him.
In and of itself his hatred of me was fine, but he fantasized online about harming / killing me. With that, with the way his paranoia led him to actually act in the world rather than idly fantasize (he once cut his way through a screen on his back porch to have an escape route because he heard us passing by), and with the way he treated his father (“The old guy”, in his words – a wallet who could drive him places) give him the dubious notability of being the only person I decided the world would be better off without enough to pick up a sword and start walking. Theddie and Kierstal talked me down, which I thoroughly appreciate from my current perspective, years later. Current me would definitely regret bringing harm or death to someone who was himself already harmed by the world, and the world would not, I think, be better for it.
We also had an issue with the woman who lived on the other side of the alley / street that ran behind the lower house. We had many cats, who lived indoor/outdoor lives. She hated free roaming cats. This would have been a minor neighborly dispute, aside from the fact that she had access to poison and a willingness to use it. SNA (Subject Not Available, all the cats in that litter had web-related names) seized and convulsed to her death in Kierstal’s arms, and that was enough to convince us that they needed to be indoor cats, since the environment was particularly hostile.
That was towards the end of my time in New Brighton, but there is one more event I wanted to recount in this piece. As I mentioned, Shaky had once dated Kierstal and still sought her affections, which cashed out to him doing her favors. The last was when she asked to borrow his Starcraft disc so she could play it. He loaned her the case for the game, which contained a burned CD, hand labelled, “Little Angels”. When inserted, it proved to be full of child porn. This was not a little shocking to us, and we discussed what to do about it for a while, eventually deciding to bring it to the police in town. Not long after that, they raided the upper house, leading Shaky out in cuffs and causing the building to be condemned. When they went through all of his things, they eventually found seven hundred gigabytes of child porn on burned cds – a truly staggering amount, considering he was on dial-up internet. I don’t know how he’d accumulated so much, given that even dial-up internet wasn’t commonly available to consumers nine years earlier, that being the length of time he would have had to have been continuously downloading, according to a back of the envelope calculation I did at the time. Even today, more than a decade later, I find it hard to believe how very invested he was.
So Shaky went to jail, and Theddie, a number of his friends he called in for help, and I cleaned out the upper house, a nightmare of trashed paper, furniture, and worse things. We managed to get the house to a point that the condemnation was revoked, and Shaky’s father was able to spend the rest of his life in it; it was not in any way an easy task. It was made a little easier, in the sense of not getting worse as it went, because the police had had little regard for the cats when they came through, letting them all out into the world. We attempted to recover them where possible, but even this was ill-fated. One of them, a very sweet calico known as, “the Hippie cat” showed up across the street one day. I tried to call her to me, and she started to come, just before a car sped up the hill we were on, and crushed her in front of me.
New Brighton has a lot of bad memories for me.
Kierstal and I moved on not terribly long after that, and while leaving Theddie was painful, we had reason to go and many unhappy remembrances urging us on. Martina was in need of someone to work for her, and I had both gotten over our last falling out, and felt a drive towards earning income again, so leave we did.