Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dayna's High-Speed-Come-Apart and Defining Faith for the Fatally Flawed

Every single word written here is an extraordinary exaggeration of events that have played out in my head... based on the stories I have heard from people I have met in jail or while I was dealing with my own stupidity and carelessness, resulting from my own addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is in no way a glamorization of drug use, but a tool to lend some humanity to a subculture that has been demonized and written off as a hopeless and worthless part of our human family. I do not condone or promote any of the behavior or activities herein.

Chapter Six

             The unsettling idea that my marriage was in trouble soon took a backseat to other issues at and around the farm.  The first of which was the deteriorating mental state of Bull’s girlfriend, Dayna.  
             Dayna was almost twenty years younger than Bull, and startlingly attractive when she put her mind to it.  She had a singing voice that could rival any of today’s pop princesses and a set of lungs to back it up that could rival Janis Joplin’s.  It was very clear that she had a sheltered and torturous childhood, as discussions about parents, being a parent, knowing somebody who is a parent, or parents-to-be often times deteriorated into an informative, if not offensive discussion about Dayna’s father… a Southern Baptist Minister -- which inevitably and with clockwork reliability for room-clearing prowess-- the horrible way Dayna perceived her childhood upbringing.  
            From what I gathered, Dayna was your stereotypical ‘preacher’s daughter’.  She had a very strict and often times abusive childhood, riddled with a few stories of unsubstantiated --  but emotional enough to be believable -- sexual and physical abuse.  
            When she finally graduated high school, her graduation cap had barely hit the ground after the ceremony and she was living in her own apartment and exploring an entirely new set of morals and values.  My impression was that this did not sit very well with her father and her family; the lifestyle switch quickly became a point of conflict between young, naively rebellious Dayna and a father who still believed humanity was somehow capable of living up to Leviticus standards.  
           The more Dayna rebelled against her strict religious upbringing, the further her family distanced themselves from her.  The more they distanced themselves from her, the lonelier Dayna became -- and thus began a cycle of increasingly destructive behavior.  This was a cruel Catch-22. 

            Dayna had married a man who had gotten her pregnant in the hopes that the appearance of normalcy and a family life would bridge the gap that had been steadily building between her and her family since she was eighteen.  It apparently worked for a couple of years, until her husband and father of her son became increasingly erratic, violent and abusive himself.  According to Dayna, during one argument he cut his pinkie-finger off of his hand to prove that he was more committed to the relationship than she was.  
         The violence spiraled out of control, and Dayna’s family turned their head to the obvious signs of a storm brewing.  Their belief was that a woman weathers any storm in a marriage, and does it quietly.  
          This was not in Dayna’s nature.  
          She began fighting back, and sliding into raging insanity along with her husband.  The last straw was when her husband held a cocked and loaded pistol to her head in front of their two-year-old son, and held her and their son hostage until neighbors called the authorities.  He was promptly arrested on domestic assault and kidnapping charges.  Dayna promptly procured a restraining order, and began a lifestyle of aimless wandering between doomed relationships.  
          Her husband was sentenced to 3 years in the Department of Corrections, and was due out on parole within the next couple of months.  I personally had been taking Dayna back and forth to court to try and secure a divorce from this man before his release.  Just recently she had been granted that divorce she so desperately hoped would free her from the nightmares and memories of the years spent helplessly trapped in a house only two doors down from her equally troubling childhood home.  Her family spent years ignoring the bruises and audibly violent arguments.  As her ex-husbands release date was approaching, Dayna’s drug use increased significantly, and with that her number of resting or sleeping hours diminished to almost nothing.

            Living in a perpetual state of fear, paranoia, and drug-induced hyperactivity -- Dayna began to develop a twitch, heard voices in her head, and often took to acts of physical violence upon herself including breaking a Pyrex baking dish over her head.  She was also a habitual cutter, and in the spring time, I was shocked to see a stack of scars starting at her elbow and working its way up to her
shoulder on both arms.  If she had been without sleep for several days she often took to picking at imaginary blemishes on her face and extremities until she was bleeding freely, and her forearms, legs and face were a mangled mess. 

I usually kept Bull informed when I discovered new information about Dayna’s activities or additional disturbing behaviors she was developing.  Her antics would usually clear the farm of any and all non-residents, one of whom usually had Dayna’s son in tow, to secure his safety and try to keep him from witnessing his mothers deteriorating state.  Bull and I would do our best to try and keep her stable, which often involved large amounts of marijuana, and if there was no pot… Tequila.  It wasn’t long before some of our close companions began openly voicing their distaste for Dayna, and stating that Bull would be better off if he just packed her up and sent her down the road.  This was never considered by the smitten Bull.  The open declarations of opinion were mostly greeted with hostility and often led to broken friendships and lost opportunities.  The visitors to the farm were becoming scarce, and word in other circles like ours was that if Bull didn’t relieve himself of Dayna, that the law or child-protective services would soon be paying him a visit… and nobody wanted to risk being there if and when this was to happen.  Nobody… except for me…

I continued showing up daily and helping Bull with his chores around the farm.  We were still getting high, only it wasn’t very fun at the moment.  It was more like addiction maintenance, while the Dayna situation loomed over our heads like a black rain cloud.  One day, in the morning I arrived to find Bull getting ready to leave in his jeep to go and collect a tank of Anhydrous Ammonia from a source of his whom I didn’t particularly trust or care to spend time with.  Traveling off the farm was always risky for Bull.  I often told him that he must look like a huge piece of delicious chocolate to the local authorities.  It is even riskier for him to travel outside of the farm to retrieve a chemical that was volatile and possession of which could land him in prison for another decade.  He asked if I would stay put while he ran this errand.  I asked what he needed me to look after, at which point we were interrupted when the front door exploded outward and a wild-eyed and savagely sleep-deprived Dayna burst through it raising all kinds of hell about Bull not loving her, and offering a barely intelligible slew of apologies for whatever it is that she perceived he was angry with her for.  Bull tried at several points to alleviate her unjust assumptions with declarations of his love for her, and assuring her he would be back within the hour, but she was so vacant and disconnected that these words seemed to fall on her ears as if they were spoken in an alien language.  She finally declared that he should leave, and she will probably have done herself in by the time he makes it back, if he was actually intending to come back at all, she asserted. 

She disappeared back into the farmhouse, and we could hear things falling and finally a door slam shut.

“Just babysit…” he finally said flatly, pulling himself into his jeep.

“Babysit?  Are you for real?  Dude… I think pulling shenanigans like she is right now with you is similar to an army wife sending a video of her fucking the neighbor kid and his buddy to her husband on the front lines in Afghanistan.  How are you supposed to keep your head in the game if your thinking about whether or not she is gonna cut herself up or something worse?”

“Probably because I know that you’re here watching her, and you wouldn’t let something like that happen while I wasn’t here.” And he smiled fleetingly.

“Man, Boss… that’s putting an awful lot on me… she looks pretty rough today.”

“I’ll make it worthwhile for you.  I’ll be right back.” The jeep started, and he was gone.

I didn’t really know what to do, so I peeked into the house from the porch, and Dayna was nowhere in sight, and there wasn’t a sound coming from inside.

“Hey… D????” I tried to sound jovial… but I’m pretty sure I just sounded scared.  Upon hearing my voice she started audibly crying and talking to herself.  I thought that was alright.  As long as I could hear her crying then I knew she was still drawing breath.  I sat on a rickety old swing bench just off the porch within earshot of the house and lit a cigarette and pulled out my glass pipe and what was left of my personal supply of dope and proceeded to get high, right outside in the yard… in broad daylight… in front of the farmhouse… sitting on the swing bench about fifty feet from the county road that ran past the farm.  I sure as shit didn’t want to be inside if Dayna produced herself from wherever she was hiding, and I definitely didn’t want to get her any higher than she already was.  At least out here I could hear a car coming from either direction and I could also hear Dayna’s movements inside the house with plenty of time to ditch any contraband. 

The hour passed, and then a half-hour passed, and just ten minutes before the two hour mark was about to rear its ugly head I heard Bull’s jeep turn onto the gravel road about a mile down.  I breathed a sigh of relief… and pulled myself up off the swing bench.  Bull took one of the other driveways onto the property, and I followed the sound of his jeep as he was clearly finding every mud puddle and swampy area that he could on his way towards the back acreage.  When I finally caught up with him, he had already stashed what it was that he had left to retrieve, and was wrenching on his dad’s old tow truck, looking puzzled. 

“Everything go okay, boss?” I said in a voice that wouldn’t normally be distinguishable from the distance I was speaking to him from.  I had learned very early on in my relationship with Bull that he heard and processed anything more audible than a passing thought.  It wasn’t necessary to raise my voice while I was anywhere within earshot of the man, and I was quite certain that if I couldn’t see him or wasn’t within normal ranges that he knew most of what I was thinking and saying anyways.

“What’s that?” he asked vacantly.  “Everything go okay?  Shit… I’ve been back here working on my dad’s truck since I left you up at the house, man.  You know better than to ask me if everything went okay.”  The last sentence he more or less grumbled under his breath, meant to alert me to his disapproval of my announcing at any volume that he had gone and done anything -- let alone anything like what he had just done.

Quickly catching my mistake, I played right into our new reality.  “Well, fuck man… I’ve been sitting on that uncomfortable, goddamned swing bench for the last two hours listening to your old lady cry just loud enough so she was sure I would hear her.”

“That’s why I came back here…and hey, motherfucker… my grandpa made that swinging bench.  If you don’t like sitting in it, then find someplace softer to park your candy-ass,” he laughed and continued to ratchet some bolts out of the engine block of the old truck.  “I don’t know what the fuck to do about her anymore, brother.”

“Yeah, she’s gotten a little out of hand, I guess.” I was careful to keep my tone in a questioning, submissive quality.  I didn’t want to sound like I was making any hard statements of my opinion.  To be truthful, I didn’t really have one.  Bull was a dope cook, and as far as women went, dope cooks had their pick of a multitude of girls who would readily slave over their dope cook boyfriend as long as he was bringing home what they wanted.  Dayna, up until later in our relationship was merely a footnote to me.  She was something that had to be tolerated as long as my friend was tolerant.  At this given moment I was sure that her days on the farm were numbered.  I truthfully kind of hoped for it.

“Where the fuck is everybody else at?”  Bull dropped the ratchet onto the engine block and turned around to lean on the grill of the truck.  He finally engaged me with his eyes, and I knew we were about to have a conversation of some significance.

“Well, I guess most of them lost faith, man.” I really had no idea where this was going, but I could feel Bull’s intensity rising as I had sparked his curiosity with my answer.

“Yeah… what the fuck is that?” He knelt on the ground to gather up some sockets and tools that had spilled out of his toolbox.

“What… faith?”  I wasn’t sure whether he was still inquiring about where our acquaintances were, or if he wanted my definition of faith.  I was hoping he was asking about our absentee associates.

“Yeah, what the fuck is faith?” He stopped picking up tools and locked his gaze onto mine.  He stayed knelt down.

“Well, boss… I think faith is a function of the human condition.  It’s necessary for most people’s instinct of self-preservation.  People generally have a hard time functioning without a safety net, and their faith provides them with a sense of being protected.  So they pray to increase their sense of security.  Some people pray to Jesus, some to his mom Mary, others just pray directly to God.  You got those dusty savages in the desert praying to Allah, and Asians pray to Buddha or whatever twelve armed elephant, she-goddess those Indians pray too.  It makes no difference really.  It’s all faith-based living, and most people have some form of it functioning in their life on some level.  Well, maybe not you… but most people.”  I laughed at this little musing I had concluded my answer with only to find Bull knelt in front of me, still locked onto my gaze, more determined than ever to pick around in my head.

“How about you?  What do you have faith in?” He went back to picking up tools and arranging sockets in a box set.

“Well, boss… if I find myself in a crisis or if I feel like my life or liberty is in jeopardy… or even if I don’t think I can handle a personal problem without counsel… I don’t throw myself onto my knees and throw a hopeful, directionless prayer up to God or Jesus or any of the previously mentioned saints, prophets, or deities and hope that a solution will present itself miraculously.  If I find myself in any sort of trouble I get in my vehicle and drive eight minutes down the road and take my problem to Bull-Motherfucking-Gunville and I don’t have to wait in vain for an answer from a God that might never come.  My friend tells me how to solve my problem and that is the action I take.  I have faith in you, Bull.  With you in my corner, I haven’t encountered a situation that has baffled me at all.”  I took a deep breath, as I realized that this sounded almost like I was canonizing him.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to laugh or approve.

He held up his fist and we bumped knuckles, “Right on, Brother.  Just do me a favor, man.  Keep that shit to yourself.  I don’t need people thinking I’m running some kind of fucking cult out here…” He closed and latched his toolbox, got up and slung it onto the front seat of his dad’s truck. “C’mon man, let’s go try to get high.”

“Fuck, I’ve been trying since you left motherfucker.” I laughed and followed him.

“God damn man… I told you, I didn’t fucking leave! ” He shook his head in contempt.

“Oh yeah… I forgot… I was too busy thinking about faith.” I smiled at his back, walking a couple of paces behind him.

“Faith…” he was still shaking his head, “how come I’ve known some of our friends since I was a kid, and I’ve only known you a few months, and you’re the only one who hasn’t lost his…uh, Faith?” The word seemed to trouble him when he said it out loud.

“I don’t know, man.  Maybe they’re more concerned about the dope than they are about their friend.”  I didn’t know if I really thought this or not, but there it was.

“Yeah… I guess so,” He affirmed.  “Fuck ‘em all anyways.  I’m glad I met you.  I’m glad you’re here.”

I didn’t immediately respond to this.  I was glad he was walking a couple of paces ahead of me because what he said nearly split my head in two with the smile it raised.  He noticeably stood up a little straighter while he was walking though… like he had heard the smile almost crack my skull. 

“I am too, boss.”

This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo


  1. Reading about Dayna being a cutter sure hit a sore spot for me... love your stories Panozzo. ;)

    1. I appreciate that... the person that she is based on is a very dear friend of mine who has suffered so much. She has since found spirituality and a better path and I am very proud of her!