Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Stubby Stalker

I met the Stubby Stalker when he came to the restaurant I run looking for a job. He had experience, wanted to live in this part of the world and appeared for all practical purposes a “normal” human being. A little strange looking, short and barrel-chested, his lack of height a function of short legs more than anything else. His face was pleasant and he seemed happy and confident. Plus he was good at his work, not gifted, but competent and willing.

Within a year I’d made him my number two.

There was a certain “magic” to SS. He seemed competent, confident, intelligent, but it was all a trick done with mirror and strings to deflect notice from an overwhelming “little-man” complex and a disturbing lack of comprehension. The magic dwelt in the remarkable veneer he had built to disguise these flaws.

SS had two goals in life; to own his own restaurant and to be paired with a beautiful woman.

I became SS’s mortal enemy due to my entanglement in both of these goals.

After my second year working with SS the owners of the restaurant told us they would shut it down unless we would take over the business and lease the building from them. I was a bit taken aback that this was presented to the two of us, but after some discussion agreed to the terms of the lease and SS and I became partners. I secured a controlling interest in the firm because I put up the money to get us going.

The realization of SS’s dream changed him a bit. He began to strut, would puff out his chest and suck in his gut and swagger through his work day filled with the pride of ownership.

Soon he met an attractive divorcee with two young girls. He moved in with the woman in short order. She was smart, thin and attractive. She was also just emerging from years in an abusive relationship.

SS’s veneer was beginning to wear thin, his intelligence was built on a remarkable ability to parrot the wisdom and witticisms of others, his repertoire so vast that it took months of exposure before I realized that it was all just a recording, that the concepts and words held no meaning to him other than their repetition. There was also trouble at work. SS believed that authority was granted not earned. He complained that I failed to make the employees respect him. His relationship with the beautiful divorcee (BD) also consumed much of his time. She was recovering from her previous relationship and beginning to see through his veneer. SS fought a rear-guard action to keep BD in his life, ingratiating himself with her family and making certain that the relationship was fast and fixed in the public eye. The problem was that he wasn’t getting any work done and the employees grumbled about his lack of effort and the disorganization and his constant disappearances as he fled work to try and prop up his relationship with BD.

It came to a head when he took a two-week vacation and it was apparent to all that his absence from work made less work for everyone.

I moved to dissolve the partnership.

I offered the restaurant to SS. Buy me out and you can have it. SS didn’t have any money. BD’s family was wealthy and she offered to finance the buyout. SS BD and I worked out the details and then approached the leaseholders. Things were going good but SS kept opening his mouth in the meetings and what came out was all about betrayal and conspiracy and his absolute lack of responsibility for all that had happened. In the end the leaseholders approached me and said they could not lease to SS unless BD, who had demonstrated her intelligence and acumen throughout the meetings, signed the lease. I met with BD and she could not accept the thought of being tied to SS.

I ended up with the restaurant. SS believes I took it from him and reinforces this belief through the small town grapevine. In the meantime BD and I have moved from adversaries to mutual respect and even admiration.

BD has had enough. She tries to make him move out but he worms in deeper with her family and stalls on finding a place of his own.

BD finally removes him. SS cannot let it go. He drives by the house, phones constantly, publicly creates the illusion that all is well, shows up at all of BD’s family functions.

In a matter of months BD begins to fall for a local artist, a talented painter and outdoorsman. SS’s stalking becomes merciless, constant drive bys followed by telephone calls whenever Art Boy’s vehicle is in the vicinity, if Art Boy isn’t in evidence SS tries to come through the door. BD cannot walk through town, if SS spots her he runs to her side, will not let her be. BD and Art Boy begin to meet almost exclusively at my restaurant since SS cannot bear to walk into the hall of his defeat.

Soon Art Boy moves in with BD, it’s the only way she can conceive of, short of the police, to keep SS out of the house. An interesting insight to the workings of SS occurs after a couple of verbal confrontations with Art Boy. SS interprets these confrontations as a demonstration of Art Boy’s irrational jealousy. According to SS Art Boy’s relationship is threatened by the true love demonstrated by him.

Fast forward a couple of years. Art Boy is out. I am finishing up the process of an ugly two year divorce battle. BD and I become friends and then, slowly and secretly more. SS still calls BD constantly. He’s noticed BD and I together, calls to warn her of my duplicity and evil nature. He is plugged into the town gossip and calls to let BD know of any infractions or rumors of my misdeeds.

BD and I “come out” during a wedding reception. SS witnesses our dancing, can see the connection and the implications in the way we move with each other, against each other. SS is horrified, stops in his tracks and turns beet red while staring at us on the dance floor. He flees the reception. There are twelve messages from him on BD’s answering machine when we return to her place after the party.

BD was involved with SS for all of six months. It is twelve years since she forced him out. BD and I have been together for nine years. SS still calls when he thinks he’s found dirt in the gossip mine. SS still runs out to stop BD in the street. SS has yet to find another relationship, he is saving himself for his one true love.

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