Friday, November 17, 2017

The Cerebral Assassin


            The date is March 24th, 2002.  Lary Couchmanos is about to have one of the most stressful days of his life.  He’s going to attend the wake of his best friend Drew Bliss.  The wake is at 6:00.  It was going to be a closed casket.  Lary had heard from Drew’s widowed girlfriend that there would be an open casket at 5:30, to which the Blisses invited her.  Lary contemplated going, but he wasn’t invited.  He then called Mr. Bliss and mentioned that he wanted to see the body.  Mr. Bliss, with obvious restraint, invited Lary to the showing.  Lary couldn’t help but feel bad for cornering him and Mr. Bliss had asked him to not tell anybody about it.  Later, one of Lary’s friends called him and asked if they wanted to go to the wake together.  Lary was hesitant but felt he couldn’t say no.  He then decided he would go to the wake at 6:00 like everyone else.  One mistake he would make is not telling Mr. Bliss this, who had the funeral home keep the casket open a little longer thinking Lary would show up before finally shutting it.  Lary was never sure if he should have seen it.  His mom told him that Drew wanted Lary to be there with his closest friends and go together to the wake rather than he go separated.  Also, Drew would want everyone to remember him before the cancer tore apart his body.  As he stood by the casket, he broke down for about 10 seconds.  Lary had cried in privacy before but in public he was always the one to lend a shoulder for everyone else to cry on.  His tears were not mainly for Drew’s loss since Drew no longer had to suffer.  What pissed Lary off the most is that he felt he betrayed his best friend.  When Drew was sick at home, he lied about his condition so people wouldn’t feel sorry for him.  Lary had a policy that he didn’t like to invite himself over to places.  Mrs. Bliss made references to Lary’s mom for him to come over but Lary needed an invitation.  He felt it rude to just march through the door.  During the past three days since Drew died, Lary kept telling himself these things.  But he knew what he was doing; only trying to justify it and convince himself.  For this, he would never convince himself.  He didn’t deserve to be one of only two non-family members to see the body.  Lary was invited, regardless of how he got the invite, to see the body but he was too much of a pussy to face Drew and see his body lying in a casket knowing he had betrayed him.  He vowed he would never pussy out like that again.  He also hoped that he never had to bury someone he considered a best friend.

                Around the same time of Drew’s funeral, in the tri-state area, a kid named Ben decided he wanted to pursue a friend of his named Vonnie Yankolov.  Vonnie put forth a very strong exterior and was hardly phased by the many guys that tried to whew her.  Ben saw it as a challenge to take this strong girl and break her down and control her mind.  It was going to take a lot of work and a lot of persistence, but he knew he could do it.  Besides, it would be a huge boost of his already colossal ego.  He knew her well enough to know her weaknesses and he would use each and every one against her.  Vonnie and Ben ended up going out.  Vonnie was a senior in high school and Ben was two years older.  Vonnie had never been in very long relationships, she often became bored of significant others and wanted to go back to her partying and independent lifestyle.  Since she had very overprotective parents, breaking out and being independent was a desire she couldn’t bypass.  Ben had managed to break this about her and stayed with her for eight months, more than double any of Vonnie’s previous boyfriends.  Vonnie is a very emotional and intuitive person.  With that said, she believes in love.  She knew she fell in love with Ben.  Despite their love, however, after Vonnie started college, things were going downhill in their relationships.  Ben then made one fatal mistake; he broke up with Vonnie.  After about a week, Ben tried to take Vonnie back, it worked.  But this time, Ben couldn’t keep Vonnie long and she broke up with him.  This started massive fights back and forth and many sleepless nights on Vonnie’s part.  To Ben, it was just a game; there was really no stress.  He didn’t really give a shit about Vonnie; he wanted the ego boost.  Vonnie dumping him was just a shot to his ego.  Who was this bitch to dump him?  He had convinced Vonnie that he loved her.  Despite them being broken up, Vonnie could not divorce her feelings for him and could not break from his control.  At will, Ben would call her and tell her to drop what she was doing and come meet up with him.  Vonnie couldn’t say “no” because her master/lover/puppetmaster was calling.  If Vonnie brought friends, Ben expertly asked politely if he could speak to Vonnie alone.  While alone, he almost always would get to make out with Vonnie and when Vonnie went back inside, there was no more party left in her.  She sat with her head low ashamed that she couldn’t break her feelings for him.  As Vonnie started building strength to not speak to Ben, Ben started getting a little desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

                Vonnie was a student at NYU and was out with two of her friends from school and two other guys that she had known from her hometown.  Then, Ben’s friend Ben walked in the door.  At seeing him, Vonnie froze and hoped that he wouldn’t recognize her.  Little did she know that she was already spotted and Ben was a decoy to see Vonnie’s reaction.  Ben then went to the table and politely asked Vonnie to go outside.  Vonnie obeyed like the puppet she is.  What resulted was a very intense and heated debate with Ben with Ben watching on.  The only other girl there, Katie, decided that she had had enough of Ben’s yelling at Vonnie and went outside.  Her friend Lary also followed to make sure Ben didn’t hit Katie.  Lary was a cold-hearted kid.  To him, Vonnie got herself into the Ben mess, and she should clean up her mess but with Katie out there, that’s involving too many people.  Katie tried to step in but Ben yelled at her and she backed off in fear.  Lary made a pact to himself that he was going to stay out of it unless Ben hit Vonnie or Katie.  Ben came over to Lary and asked him to go back inside and let the ex-couple fight it out.  Lary refused and while arguing with Ben, saw Vonnie slip by Ben only to be dragged back by her jacket.  Lary’s impulse was to strike but his brain told him that a pull isn’t a blow.  The argument got so intense the restaurant owner came out to see if there was a problem and whether to get the cops involved.  Vonnie said everything was fine.  Ben knew that his grasp was strong enough that Vonnie would never go the cops, even if he did hit her. 

                Back at the argument Lary was explaining to Ben that he was outside to make sure Ben didn’t hit her.  Ben said that he would make sure of that and Lary, making the only bold move of the night, told Ben that he didn’t trust he would do that but instead may even join in Vonnie’s beating.  As they were arguing, Ben appeared behind Lary, and Vonnie went inside.  He had blocked her path inside repeatedly and Katie would later tell Lary that he was wrong in not stepping in.  When Ben showed up, Ben immediately shook his head and said, “Alright she’s inside just go back now”

                Lary didn’t have any more business out there so he did.  A little while later, Ben came in to tell Vonnie that she owes Ben some money.  Lary responded, “For what, any time he paid for her as a boyfriend?”

                Ben responded, “Just shut up, you’re really pissing me off and I don’t want to have to fight you”

                Lary didn’t respond and Ben asked Vonnie if she knew what he was talking about, to which Vonnie said she did.  He was referring to all the times Ben gave Vonnie money to get her towed car out from the impound.  This was part of Ben’s complex strategy.  To the outside, it seemed like an absurd comment, and indeed it was but not without purpose.  Ben knew that Vonnie fell for the, “I did something for you now you owe me something” logic.  In the back of her mind, Vonnie would think that she owed him something for the amount of money he had spent.  Ben isn’t the only one that uses this mentality.  After all, most girls give in and have sex with guys simply because they spent so much money on food and things.  I’m sure everyone knows an example of this.  Vonnie didn’t say much of anything the rest of the night, but did yell at the other two guys for not coming out when Lary did after only knowing her for about two months. 

                Lary openly regretted the decision to not get involved.  Lary considered Vonnie his best friend still alive.  Nobody could replace the best friend status that Drew had, but the still living one could be captured and Vonnie had it.  Lary knew that if Vonnie watched him systematically get his ass kicked by Ben and Ben (The two guys inside said they would have helped if that happened but I doubt it), then she could have broken his psychological hold more easily.  Vonnie’s friend Boris and Lary offered to kick Ben’s ass but they didn’t understand the situation that well.  Vonnie’s friend from before college, Morgan, who was dating a fireman and had two firehouses worth of people to back her up offered to join forces with Lary, Vonnie’s friend Boris, and Lary was pretty sure he could get his cousin Vicki to use her gang ties to help.  With this force, Vonnie’s response was, “Ben has more backing that anyone I know, he can not only match all that but overcome it, his friends are little dogs that do whatever he says and will follow him to death.”  Funny she realized this, but didn’t realize that she was also Ben’s little bitch that would follow him to death and do whatever he said.

                For my reader, (which if it’s not Vonnie or Lary shouldn’t be reading this) to understand Ben, I ask you to imagine someone that you have changed your phone number multiple times to get away from him but still ended up tracking you down, someone that hearing his voice takes you out of any scene you're in and you can't have fun nor be cheered up that day.  Imagine someone doing this to you for two and half years, and then convincing you after all that, to be friends and keep in contact.  Imagine someone that knows all of your weaknesses and attacks every single one of them and the one thing you can say about him is that "You love him.”

                Ben later tried to justify his being at the hookah bar considering Vonnie didn’t tell him where she was going and Ben lived in Brooklyn and this was in downtown Manhattan.  Ben said that he was at some restaurant in the area with friends and saw her go in.  I may be guilty of giving Ben a little too much credit, but then again he is a criminal who has been in and out of jail.  I call bullshit on his story; he tracked Vonnie down to the restaurant.  Vonnie would never believe this.

                Ben went home happy with his victory in the battle.  His luck was about to change, however, because Vonnie built up more and more strength, changing her number and cutting off all contact with him.  Ben had repeatedly tried to convince Vonnie to take him back but that was a series of battles Vonnie won. 

                Ben made random appearances here and there.  He knew Vonnie’s class schedule and waited for her at her car, not allowing her to drive off by standing in the door yelling at her.  He also would beat up her car to emphasize his anger.  Vonnie submitted like the soft lamb she was underneath her strong tiger exterior.  She did manage to try to push him out of the door but she wasn’t going to move this street thug.  Ben was mentally unstable and mentally unstable people could do anything.  In the incident at her car, Vonnie wished cops would show up this time to help but they never would.  Also, Ben would randomly show up at her garage to continue his psychological assault on Vonnie.  His goal was that of a terrorist.  To take her out of her natural flow of life always looking over her shoulder, always afraid Ben would be there if she turned the corner.  Ben called her house phone and would verbally assault her parents and sister for trying to protect her.  After all, genuine love for Vonnie was what Ben was fighting against.  He wanted Vonnie to eliminate all the people that genuinely love her to be with him, who loved controlling her.  Her parents would have Ben banned from the building later.  But that didn’t stop Ben in trying to get her to leave her close friends and family for someone that convinced her to not be herself and to be a domesticated obedient pet.  He convinced her to be with someone that took away more independence than her parents and turned her into a morphed object unrecognizable to all, including Vonnie.  And he did all this while convincing Vonnie, that he loved her. 

                One incident, in which Ben made an appearance and berated her, Vonnie went home and checked her e-mail.  In her mailbox was a story her friend Lary had written labeled the Emotionally Cornered.  Its contents contradicted and refuted everything Ben had said in their confrontation.  For the first time, the terrorist Ben’s meeting didn’t put Vonnie down for the rest of the day.  Instead she called Lary in excitement and elation calling him a genius for predicting everything and being right on the money. 

                Even Ben recognized Lary’s influence on Vonnie.  Which is why he was sure to mention that he liked Lary.  He liked that he came out to protect her, and this that and the other thing.  But all this praise for Lary only was a ploy to convince Vonnie that he would let her have other friends and a life.  His ego wouldn’t let him give Lary too much credit though.  He was sure to mention to Vonnie that if Lary tried to go against him that he wouldn’t do much.  Vonnie took it as physically but Ben meant it as psychologically as well.  Ben thought his psychological stronghold on Vonnie could withstand Lary’s positive effect.  All he really was doing was admitting that Lary was the closest thing he had to a formidable opponent in his mental take over of Vonnie.  Who would win?

                Ben went away for the most part of summer and first semester of Vonnie’s sophomore year.  Vonnie even moved on to have another person she was seeing.  This person was the exact opposite of Ben, weak.  But at least Vonnie could be herself.  This new boy whined and Vonnie had to be there for him.  He was also there for her and would do anything she said.  But someone like that Vonnie couldn’t keep for long.  She wanted a man, not a boy.  But like Ben, the new boy tried to use Vonnie’s friends to his advantage.  He was nice to all of them and did things for them to get to Vonnie.  Also, so that they would be in his pocket and feel they owed him something.  Vonnie’s friends all picked up on this eventually and maintained mere civil relationships with the new guy.  Vonnie wouldn’t drop him as a friend because he did nice things for Vonnie.  Sure he did it to get in Vonnie’s pants but that was a more noble cause than to get to a girl.  Also, Vonnie believed that she owed the new boy for everything she did for him…exactly what the boy wanted.  Boris, the boy, realized something that Ben did too.  Vonnie truly believed in that false logic that if someone does something for you, you’re not allowed to divorce him or her from your life.  The reality is, nobody should ever possess that power.  If they do something like try to morph you or psychologically assault you (like Ben) or a number of anything worthy of eliminating you from your life; you drop him or her, regardless of who it is. 

                Second semester Sophomore year, Ben makes a comeback.  This time, the frustration builds more.  Being the mentally unstable obsessed for a victory human being that he is, he had an ex-girlfriend (a girl that tried to date any ex’s of Vonnie) to find out Vonnie’s number.  She went to one of Vonnie’s ex’s that she remained in contact with and asked for the number.  Stupidly, the kid gave it to her; she gave it to Ben, Ben called.  Why would Ben keep calling when he knew it would result in her changing her number and starting from square one you ask?  It was just a reminder that he could find Vonnie no matter what happened and fuck with her at will.  He wasn’t going to lose; no matter how long it took he would control Vonnie again.  Vonnie changed her number again.  Ben didn’t go away though and showed up at random places.  This time, the terrorist had succeeded.  Vonnie didn’t go anywhere alone; she waited for Boris to come to her classes before walking to another one.  Any time she was alone, she sensed Ben might appear.  Vonnie didn’t have Lary since he was in Italy.  The one person she relied on was the one person that also used Ben’s strategy against her.  But Boris certainly was the lesser of two evils.  For the countless time, Vonnie’s stress built up inside her.  Ben’s stress had caused ovarian cysts before, but this time the physical anguish would reach it’s peak.  While home alone, the fear the terrorist instilled in her, the stress, the worry, the paranoia all culminated in the most intense and sever ovarian problem for Vonnie.  While in the bathroom she collapsed on the cold tiled floor screaming in agonizing pain.  She managed to call her sister who took her to the hospital.  Since Vonnie’s sister genuinely loved her, she told Boris never to leave her side, which he didn’t.  This was the biggest proof that Ben’s psychological assaults were taking physical tolls on her body.

                Months later, Vonnie’s hard exterior broke for a second time.  Ben, after a year of being a terrorist had broken Vonnie down enough to keep in contact with him.  But if you gave Ben an inch, he would take a light year.  He stayed calm building up Vonnie’s confidence in him.  Vonnie began feeling the detrimental love that she had before.  She let him know that she was going to London.  As Ben hung up the phone from this conversation with Vonnie, he smiled.  London was the perfect place for Vonnie to go.  She was alone and she was an easy target.  No Yelena, no Boris, no Lary.  Hell without Lary, he managed to instill so much fear in her that she collapsed and was hospitalized.  Without all the above, his victory would be so easy it would nearly take the excitement out of victory….nearly.

                Vonnie asked him not to come.  But what do movies teach us?  A girl says for you not to come and then you go it proves he loves you.  Bullshit mentality but that’s the media for you.  Ben was going to be given a bigger boost.  Lary, who tried desperately to get to London, hit a roadblock.  His parents had bought a new house and had trouble selling their old one.  He kept telling himself “where there’s a will there’s a way” he tried working for his brother, but his brother wouldn’t pay him until he had money.  After months, he wasn’t sure when that would be.  Lary also made the mistake of not working in his summer in Greece.  He told his cousins what his goal was toward the end and they were upset he had not said anything before.  They were willing to get him a job to help him with his goal and give him a month head start.  And he would have been paid in Euros, which were more valuable than dollars at the time.  He tried asking his parents for the money but they just financed him to go to Europe for four and half months.  Lary had been consistently going to Greece all but one year since his Junior year of high school (in which he went twice).  His parents weren’t financing this trip to London.  He asked his brother who said he would if a deal went through, the deal didn’t get through.  Lary contemplated asking his grandma but she didn’t like his mom.  She was very generous with her money, but that’s about all she was.  She always sided with his Aunt on fights with his mother and often stood by and let his Aunt badmouth his mom.  After all the money she had given him, he felt greedy asking for 500 more.  What occurred to him after Vonnie returned was that if he borrowed a portion from the three of them, he could have possibly done it.  Doesn’t matter, timing is everything and Lary failed.  To Vonnie, Lary may have tried to visit her, but no matter how much she believed the justifications, no matter how much she knew Lary cared about her, no matter any of those things, one thing remained…Lary didn’t come and she had come to Italy to see him.  Vonnie didn’t expect repayment for it.  After all, her trip to Italy got her away from Ben and all the psychological and physical problems she was enduring.  But still, there was one fact….Lary didn’t come but Ben did.

                Ben visited Vonnie in London regardless of what she said.  He knew that he couldn’t make too big of steps so he kept things civil and plutonic. Vonnie’s parents were coming and Ben was supposed to go home.  He had one last meal with Vonnie before rushing to the airport….a flight he never intended on taking.  After all, he had to remind Vonnie of his terrorist nature that he was everywhere.  Sure enough, Vonnie’s parents came to London and while they were spending time with Vonnie, Vonnie saw Ben in the distance.  They met up that night and had one more plutonic night.  But that wasn’t the point.  The psychological damage had been done.  Vonnie thought he was leaving, he missed a plane for her and even though she actually believed it was an innocent mistake, it was deliberate.  He knew that she thought he was not going away, just when you think he’s gone he’s there.  He’s too mentally unstable and egotistical to lose.  Vonnie is not a fighter, she is not confrontational, she is submissive and so once again she gave in to Ben’s fake charm, and restored their friendship.  The cycle had taken 2.5 years to pull a complete circle and was right back to when Vonnie and Ben were friends prior to going out.  So Vonnie thought.  The reality was that all the events that had happened in the last 2.5 years since they dated made the friendship that they had gone and could never be restored; it was not clockwork orange.  It was irreversible But Vonnie was too na├»ve to believe this.  Vonnie gave in to Ben like she had before.  When they returned, Vonnie kept in contact with him.  She didn’t mention to any of her friends about him prolonging her time of being alone and an easy target and Ben capitalized at every turn, and built himself back up trying to get to boyfriend status.   This time he took a different angle.  The first time he was strong and had backing from Ben and all his friends and convinced Vonnie that no force could overcome him.  Now he prayed on her emotions saying that everyone had abandoned him and she was the only one he had and only one keeping him from a mental breakdown.  He even feigned panic attacks if he never got his way.  Ben was like a child, throwing a tantrum for every time he didn’t get his way.  Although I said Vonnie didn’t want a child, this was Ben, the exception.  She mistakenly thought that since he was an exception, it was love.  Reality was he was an exception because he broke her down and psychologically controlled her.  Ben gained a lot of ground and it all would shortly culminate.

                One night, Vonnie and Ben were alone together in a room.  They began kissing and one thing led to another as things with males and females normally do, and Ben ended up penetrating Vonnie’s vagina with his penis.  As he thrust his sword into Vonnie, his mind rushed was elation.  Not from fucking an attractive girl but because with every thrust, Vonnie’s defenses broke down more and she became more controlled.  Oh how the restoration of his power elated him.  He kissed her profusely keeping her involved.  Vonnie’s psychological defenses were running on fumes, but Ben was relentlessly attacking them.  The worst part is she didn’t know it.  At its most basic level, Ben spent a lot of time and money to visit her in London, that’s a reason for him to get some ass and play.  He hadn’t pushed it in London so he would just cash in later.  If it were anyone else, that would have been true.  But this was the mentally unstable, egotistical terrorist-like and capitalizing Ben.  Human psychology worked even more in Ben’s favor.  Women like sex; it’s a fact that society tries to deny.  But women are more inclined to feel emotionally attached after sex.  The only times they don’t is when they are overwhelmed by the feeling of being used or taken advantage of.  A woman can only have these two feelings after sex.  Vonnie didn’t feel she was taken advantage of.  As Ben continually jammed his physical instrument for the psychological damage he was causing into her, he realized the fumes had died down and Vonnie was running on 0 defense.  This thought excited him so much that he had complete control over her again that he achieved orgasm. 

                Lary, as a joke wrote down predictions for his friend’s lives such as describing their husbands, occupation, and various other things.  Vonnie was a little offended by hers since Lary said she wouldn’t go to grad school and described her husband as a middle-eastern guy that her family wouldn’t approve of…Lary had just intuitively predicted what was happening, Vonnie getting back together with Ben.  That’s why she took so much offense to it.  Lary thought Ben as he was writing but the implication was too great that he had to kick it out of his mind.  Unfortunately, his intuition was dead on. Vonnie loved her friends.  She couldn’t keep this a secret any longer.  On October 2, 2004, she had breakfast with Ben in the morning and told him that she had to tell her friends.  Ben voiced his opposition but he lost this battle.  Vonnie left deciding she would tell all.  Ben stole a page from Lary’s book and made a prediction what would happen…Vonnie would call it off with Ben after talking to her friends.  An easy prediction to make, he didn’t have psychological control over her friends so they could see right through his bullshit.

                She got Boris, her friend Alyssa and Lary liquored up and told them that she had been seeing Ben for the past five or six months.  Alyssa had brought it up making Lary think that Vonnie lied about saying she planned to tell them all that day.  Boris and Lary drank a little bit more alcohol and Lary isolated himself while Boris bitched Vonnie out.  Alyssa already knew and took the passive approach of not yelling at Vonnie but allowing her to do what she wanted.  She yelled at Lary for not being supportive, but Lary just needed time to cool down.  He didn’t want to tell Vonnie what to do; he wanted to just educate her on her options.  They managed to convince Vonnie that this could only end bad, and she vowed to call it off with Ben.  But Vonnie’s defenses were on zero and it would take time to build them up again.  The next day Ben berated her and cried and pretended he was weak and would have a mental breakdown if Vonnie broke it off with him.  He lied that all his friends had turned his back.  Maybe they all realized what Vonnie did, that they were just obedient little dogs that did whatever Ben said.  They broke free of the strings and chains, causing Ben to become desperate.  Maybe that’s why he pursued Vonnie again to get her back in his control.  I personally think his friends had not abandoned him.  Regardless though, you try to control someone and they realize it, they deserve to let you go.  Obviously Ben was going to be against this.  Once again the terrorist aspect of Ben took hold and he didn’t let her be a good hostess to Alyssa and Lary (Boris left the night before).  Alyssa gave up on thinking Vonnie was going to take her to the train station and had her sister come and pick her up.  Lary was going to stay with Vonnie; something told him that she would need him that night.  Vonnie was going to her friend Vonnie’s birthday party that night.  Lary planned on leaving before then but not anymore.  Ben continued taking Vonnie out of her normal routine of life.  While Lary was writing down exactly what Ben’s current strategy was, he heard her scream out and heard tears in her voice.  He leapt up and massaged Vonnie’s shoulder as she cried on his shoulder momentarily.  Lary wanted to grab the phone and bitch Ben out himself but he knew that Vonnie could get a victory.  He had faith that Vonnie could break the terrorist grip.  He coached her through the conversation constantly reminding her that she had to be there for another friend for her birthday…a day Vonnie took very seriously.  Ben made one fatal mistake, he hung up on Vonnie.  Although he repeatedly called her back, he didn’t realize her phone was in Lary’s hand and he just hung up on him.  Finally even Lary got frustrated and shut off the phone while Vonnie got ready.  Lary was charging Vonnie’s phone since it was running very low on batteries.  After Vonnie got ready and was almost out the door she gave Lary her cell phone.  Lary turned it on and saw that Ben was still calling.  He respected his opponent’s persistence but he knew that he should hold on to the phone.  At the end Vonnie in a calm voice said to him that she needed the phone to call Vonnie and she promised she wouldn’t answer his calls.  Lary only relinquished the phone in the promise that Vonnie would talk to him the entire way to the party.  Her and Lary made a pact that she would not meet Ben that night. 

                While she left, she told Lary to wait 10 minutes for her to get to her garage than call her.  He did exactly that at 10 minutes and 3 seconds.  Vonnie answered but she told him that she had to call Vonnie and tell her when she was going to be there.  Vonnie also said she would call Lary back after she called Vonnie.  Lary waited 15 minutes; patience was not a virtue then.  When he called back, Vonnie said she was at the party and was looking for parking.  It was around 10:05PM.  That mistake would prove costly.

                Vonnie stepped outside of the party to have a cigarette.  She was going to call Boris when Ben called and she answered it.  Boris was invited to the party but decided not to go.  Boris’s mistake gave Ben a window.  He used the common convincing vocabulary such as “I need you” “You’re the only one I can turn to” and more bullshit phrases like that.  Vonnie gave in and went to see Ben.  At 2:30AM Vonnie called her house phone.  They had made a deal that Lary would answer the house phone if it rang twice consecutively.  Lary fell asleep from 10:30 till the phone woke him up.  With the first phone call, Vonnie’s phone allegedly ran out of batteries. 

                Lary’s patience would prove another burden.  He waited five minutes just in case Vonnie called back.  Vonnie didn’t.  He then called her back.  The phone kept ringing but got the answering machine.  He then realized it took him 15 minutes to read a chapter of the book he was reading.  So he would call back every chapter.  The first couple chapters he got a bunch of rings and an answering machine.  Then he would only get the answering machine as Vonnie’s phone ran out of batteries.  Vonnie’s story that the phone ran out of batteries so she couldn’t call back doesn’t make sense since the phone rang the first few times Lary called.  This made Lary think that she didn’t see Vonnie that night but went to meet up with Ben.  The book he was reading was A Clockwork Orange.  Ironically, Ben was morphing Vonnie in the same way that the authorities morphed the main character in the book.  Would Vonnie go back to being cured like Boris (main character in book) did?  Boris needed some help from people; Vonnie has help from the people who genuinely love her.  The formula was in place.  But then there’s a controversial 21st chapter (technically seventh chapter of the third section) in which Boris naturally realizes that he’s too old for the kiddy violence he once participated in.  The story is about change.  Characters must change.  In real life, people don’t change, but now with the last chapter a clockwork orange was not realistic anymore but a story. The morph that the authorities tried inevitably did happen after he was cured and would have if he continued on his path.  Does that mean that with Vonnie we have two options?  The American version to the story where Boris goes back to the way he was, or that inevitably she makes the change Ben wanted naturally?  Is Vonnie’s life the addition of the last chapter or the omission of it?

                That question will be answered later.  Lary wrote more things about Ben.  Enforcing to her that everything she thinks is wrong, Ben is a manipulator, terrorist mentality, not weak or alone, but a psychological torturer.  Vonnie naturally didn’t believe this.  She knew Ben…didn’t she?  Lary understood this because he had a similar mentality to Ben.  He also looked at the world as black and white and win or lose.  Just that he didn’t mind losing like Ben did.  Vonnie was too spiritual (meant in a eastern-thinking way not religious) to think of the world like this.  She would never fully understand the mentality, just that people close to her had it.  Lary asked her that if it came down to choosing between him and Ben who would she choose?  She responded she would pick Lary.  Lary doubted this and told her that if Ben were to kill him, Vonnie would forgive him and be with him.  To the horror of Lary, Vonnie admitted this.  By doing so, Lary knew that dying for her wouldn’t be enough in this situation.  In death, he’d accomplish nothing, if he truly believed he would, he would want Ben to kill him right then and there.  Vonnie insists Ben is incapable of murder, but Lary thinks that if he were pissed off enough he could murder, and Ben is a street thug with a criminal record…he is definitely capable of murder.  She still insisted that she would pick Lary.  Lary then told Vonnie about a realization that he had.  This conflict could only end in death.  Ben was a cancer plaguing Vonnie, either the cancer kills the host, or the host kills the cancer.  One of them must die, who would it be?

One of Lary’s friends told him to say to Vonnie, “If you don’t end it with Ben than I can’t be your friend” Not only did Lary not have the strength to do that, even if it could possibly help Vonnie, but he also would think that Vonnie wouldn’t be stupid enough to believe that he was serious.  He also didn’t want to find out whether or not Vonnie was that stupid.  Instead he took a step back and let her know that he was always there for her and she shouldn’t be afraid to go to him for help.  He knew he gave Ben room to work, but Lary thought that this was necessary.  It worried him a little bit because Ben is not someone you give a window too.  Lary knew that from experience but this seemed like the only way. 

                As I mentioned, Lary stayed at Vonnie’s house while Vonnie went to the party.  He thought that if he were there, Vonnie would come home.  He was wrong. 

Vonnie met up with Ben after the party.  Allegedly Ben told her to call Lary but his phone couldn’t call long distance.  Every 15-minute interval from 3:00AM-on Lary was calling Vonnie’s cell phone and checking his voice messages.  Lary’s cell phone is not a long distance number; Vonnie didn’t even think to call it.  So she says, Lary would never believe that.  Ben didn’t try to convince her to call Lary and let him know where she was.  He’s not that stupid.  Vonnie needed to be isolated from those like Lary that legitimately loved her.

                9:30AM Lary called his friend Katie for a second time.  The first time was 4AM, he was using Vonnie’s phone so it would come up as a private number.  Katie picked up and Lary told her that Vonnie had not come home the night before and he was scared.  Lary knew she was with Ben but couldn’t tell Katie this.  Katie after thinking about it for a while decided to abandon her sorority meeting to meet Lary at Vonnie’s house in Jersey to calm him down.  At 10:30, Vonnie walked through the door being very vague about where she was.  Boris called before Vonnie got home and Lary lied to him telling him that Vonnie was sleeping, he did hesitate a while before answering the question “Did Vonnie come home last night?”  Boris left work early to go see Vonnie. 

                Katie sat on Vonnie’s couch while Lary went into her room and calmly talked to Vonnie. Vonnie was emotional and apologetic.  Lary wanted to believe that she went to Vonnie’s party and tried to call but something told him he was wrong.  Vonnie answered the phone while driving down to Vonnie’s party and Ben convinced her to miss the party and see him.  Her story was the one I mentioned earlier and then she just fell asleep cuddled in Ben’s arms.  The story Lary believed was that she missed the party and saw Ben, and Ben used his sword of psychological torture to break down any defense she had picked up in the last night.  When Lary brought up the pact, she felt bad but when he started talking about being against Ben, Vonnie gave him scary words, “Okay, I won’t ever mention Ben again to you.”  Words Lary didn’t want to hear and tried to plead with her to get out of that mentality.  She said she would.

Boris barged into Vonnie’s apartment and into her room feigning that he thought Lary said to come in (bullshit) and saying he didn’t have much time. Lary left because he felt bad leaving Katie alone.  Boris then locked the door so that Lary couldn’t disturb them.  Boris unknowingly was letting Ben divide her friends in helping Vonnie.  Lary was going to try to keep the arsenal together.  No matter what his differences with Boris were he knew he would need all the help he could get.

                Katie got fed up with Vonnie and left, she was there to help Lary, and now that she had done her job she went home.  She lost a lot of respect for Vonnie but she knew nothing about the situation.  She just assumed that Vonnie met up with a random guy and he hit her.  Vonnie also had a bruise on her nose and eye.  This, ironically enough, was the only form of proof Lary had that Vonnie and gone to the party.  If Ben had hit her, Vonnie wouldn’t have talked to him for a while and would be scared rather than her calm self that she was when she walked in the door.  Vonnie’s calm was contradictory to a blow from Ben so Lary believed the birthday girl accidentally elbowed her.  Something in his gut told him that she still didn’t go to the party though. 

                In the next week, Vonnie was a little edgy with Boris.  Lary talked to Vonnie a couple times and wrote another thing about Ben.  Vonnie talked to Ben and Lary allowed it.  Boris stopped talking to Vonnie because she was a little too defensive.  Boris had yelled at Lary earlier for being too passive with Vonnie but as the week progressed he realized Lary was handling the situation right and gave Vonnie some space.  He did spend the night the last night before Vonnie’s parents returned from Florida (they had been there since the day Vonnie had people over to tell them the news). 

                Vonnie told Lary about when she talked to or met up with Ben.  Lary remained emotionless.  He knew Vonnie could take care of herself and let her be independent.  He didn’t want to be guilty of the same thing Ben was in telling her who to be friends with or not.  If he tried, she would drop him like she dropped Boris.  Lary was conceding that this might not be a war he could win, but he was just going to be there to do what he could.  Lary was curious to see if Vonnie trusted him.  If she did, she would give him information to work with the authorities to stop Ben.  Lary knew Vonnie would never allow this.  She had gone to the cops a couple times, and lied about Ben’s last name.  But even when his psychological torture resulted in a visit to the hospital, she still protected him.  Lary was curious if Vonnie trusted him enough with the information.  Vonnie lied to Boris about Ben’s last name, what would she tell Lary.  Lary asked the question, “By the way, what’s Ben’s last name?”  He didn’t really care about the response.  Lary wasn’t going to the cops.  He was actually asking Vonnie “do you trust me?”  Vonnie’s answer, “It’s not important” translation “No.”  Lary wasn’t offended.  Hell, Lary didn’t trust anybody, how is someone supposed to trust someone that lives by not trusting people.

                Ben realized that any talk about them seeing each other would only anger Vonnie.  Vonnie’s friends had cut that tie off.  A victory for them and a setback for Ben back to the beginning.  So he picked up from scratch for the third time.  He was a friend to Vonnie.  His linguistic ability was nothing short of genius.  He said something along the lines of that since he loved Vonnie, he didn’t want to pressure her into doing anything she didn’t want to so since he didn’t deserve her he would just be her friend.  Bullshit.  He realized he needed to rebuild his psychological torture.  This time it wasn’t scratch, after all, Vonnie was still talking to him.  Lary stood on the sidelines and Vonnie divided her time between Lary and Ben.  It seemed that they would go head to head.  A week later, Vonnie’s parents were back, she was going to the city to study, meet up with Ben and then Lary.  We shall see what the results of that are.  I’m writing this seven hours before I’m supposed to meet up with Vonnie.  Will I meet up with her?  Not important. 

                Ben built up his momentum again, and got Vonnie to go out with him again despite Lary lurking in the shadows.  He systematically continued to control her and put on this vulnerable front that didn’t work.  Vonnie and Lary believed people couldn’t change, which is why the last chapter in A Clockwork Orange makes it fiction.  Then again, you can grow out of things, so it’s possible Boris grew out of his violent nature so the book can be realistic just not in the way the author described since he used the word “change” for Boris.  Ben morphed Vonnie to become his own personal little bitch, chained at home and obedient to his every whim.  Meanwhile convincing her that she was stronger than him and he didn’t deserve her.  To his mind, this elaborate plot took too much time and effort, Vonnie devoting her entire self to him was the least she could do.  Since Vonnie lives by the mentality that if someone does something nice to you, you owe him or her something in return, she committed her whole life to him.  She had morphed, but people don’t change, just like Boris in A Clockwork Orange couldn’t function in the real world after being morphed, Vonnie couldn’t function either.  Boris had help to go back to the way he was before growing out of it.  Vonnie wouldn’t be so lucky.  She ended up not going to grad school because Ben promised he would take care of her.  Vonnie submitted to his every whim.  Systematically Vonnie began eliminating friends and family from her life.  She kept in contact with Lary for the longest since he was supportive and helped with the natural fights with going out with a guy.  Lary kept subtly hinting to break it off with Ben but Ben was growing stronger and stronger and Vonnie wasn’t going to eliminate him from her life again.  Finally Vonnie got in a big fight with Lary over Ben and she cut off her last tie to who she truly was and committed fully to her morphing.  The equivalent in the story would be if Boris never left the authorities’ custody.  Ben and Vonnie got married and didn’t even tell Vonnie’s friends or family.  Vonnie’s intuition was right; this story can’t end happily. A Clockwork Orange was right; a morphed creature can’t survive in the world.  But Boris has an advantage that Vonnie didn’t.  Boris escaped the authorities, AKA the morphers.  Vonnie never escaped her puppet-master.  The next couple of months, the psychological anguish that consumed Vonnie since she was in a kidnapped mentality (after being kidnapped a person loses all her defenses and falls in love with her kidnapper since she is left with no other option.  Better way to put it is if you can’t fight it then join it) took its toll physically.  She was in and out of the hospital and Ben coldly stayed by her side.  Vonnie mistook this for his love for her; really he was just not allowing her to see the reality of the situation.  Ben was causing the problems.  Ben was putting her in the hospital and playing the caring husband.  Vonnie’s body would give in and she died in the hospital with her puppet-master by her side.  The cancer had won, and had frustrated the body to death.  Like Lary predicted those short few years ago, this could; only end in one of their deaths.  Unfortunately it had to be Vonnie’s. 

                Lary found out about Vonnie’s death and put on his nicest suit and went to the wake.  This time, the casket was open.  As Lary stared down at Vonnie’s lifeless stone cold body sadness overwhelmed him.  He contemplated what would happen to the next person he considered a best friend still living.  Even though every logical thought in his mind told him that there was nothing he could have done to avoid this, he knew that there was.  His mind jumped to some conclusions but he knew that it could only end by the death of one of them.  He stared down telling himself that he should look a little longer since he was a pussy when he was 18 and didn’t look at Drew’s body.  He had officially lost to Ben in the battle for Vonnie.  Lary tried to protect her, Ben tried to destroy her.  Vonnie, blinded by detrimental love, had let Ben win.  Lary thought that if he had been hard on her, then Vonnie would never have been open with him about Ben.  He also wouldn’t have lasted longer than anybody else.  He looked at his prediction about Vonnie that he had written only a few years ago.  He looked at the part where he wondered who she’d still be friends with down the road.  He looked in fright as he saw “no” across the board.  Little did he know that his intuition had predicted that Ben would convince her to not be friends with anybody.  He leaned over and kissed Vonnie on the cheek feeling cold and hardness.  He remained strong and did not cry.  Instead hatred pumped through his veins.  A feeling he frightfully felt most comfortable in.  He turned around and saw Ben.  Ben gave the slightest of smiles when Lary walked over to him and Ben remembered he had to play the grieving husband.  He hugged Lary and said, “Thank you for being a great friend to her.”

                Lary responded, “Congratulations on your victory”

                Anger now pumped in Ben’s veins.  He said a little too loud “What?!”

                “You systematically broke down Vonnie’s defenses, you saw a strong girl that you had to break.  You wanted to boost your ego and you loved every minute of it.  I got to hand it to you, anytime I made a mistake you capitalized”

                “She was my wife, my life, I loved her”

                “I love her Ben, Love doesn’t die in death, and you would know that if you were in love.  The mere fact you use the past tense confirms you’re full of shit.  She was like a sister to me.  Don’t bullshit, rejoice in your victory”

                “Can we step outside and talk about this?”

                Lary walked toward the door and they exited the funeral home.  They walked to a deserted ally and  Ben said, “Turn around so I can check you for wires”

                Lary turned around and spread his arms; Ben thoroughly checked his chest and coat for any recording device.  He found a slight thing clipped to his waist but realized it was a knife not a wire.  He asked, “What’s this for?” without taking it out.

                “I’ve been carrying one since 8th grade just in case I needed it.”

                “Hmm, do you need it now?”

                “You’ll see”

                “Even with that knife, I’d kill you”

                “I know” Lary said with a smile.

                Ben turned him around and Lary stared coldly into his eyes and lowered his arms.  Ben said, “Do you want to repeat what you said in there?”

                “Yea, congratulations on your victory”

                Ben laughed at Lary’s boldness.  Did this kid realize that the only reason Ben didn’t kick his ass yet was because he didn’t want Vonnie to build up any defenses.  I mean, Vonnie’s dead, there’s nothing stopping him.  Lary didn’t seem this stupid before.  Had he really been dealing with such an idiotic opponent?  Ben’s ego took a little blow since Lary had succeeded during that year when she constantly changed her number and dropped him for a little while and now was proving very stupid.  He looked up and said, “Thank you, but you were my toughest opponent so give yourself some credit”

                “Ben, I didn’t need the complements you gave me through Vonnie, I don’t need them now, but I do respect that you are not really being a sore winner.”

                “Well I can’t lie, you did set me back a little, but I rebounded well and in the end I proved I was better than you.”  Ben was daring Lary to make the first move but Lary didn’t bite.

                “I am not a sore loser, I accept defeat unlike you, but how manly are you?”

                “Excuse me”

                “We’ll get back to that later, do you feel any regret now that it’s over.  I mean all that hard work and you can’t continue to keep her under your control, there’s no more work involved.  Do you feel regret?”

                “A little, I mean it was fun.  I won based on very few mistakes on your part.  And it’s over now, and I don’t think I’m ever going to find someone that big a challenge again.  I mean I’m 25; to get a girl to go against her parents and friends for me is a little easier.  Girls naturally do it for their career, and if I go for college girls the fact that I’m so much older gives me a huge advantage.  It’s almost too easy.  So, don’t worry, I can assure you that your best friend will be my greatest victory.”

                “That’s not going to make me feel better”

                “I know, but it should”

                “You can’t manipulate me like you did her”

                “We’ll see” Ben said with a smile.

                Lary took out his knife and opened it seeming to prove Ben right.  But then he flipped the knife and gripped the blade lending Ben the handle.  He said, “I asked how manly you are.  Getting a psychological victory over a girl and driving her to her death is only slightly manly.  You lured me into an alley so nobody would know what you do to me so why not just kill me?”

                Ben finally understood.  Lary wasn’t so stupid, he knew Ben lured him it the alley to hurt him.  After all, Ben had wanted to kick the shit out of Lary ever since he walked out on that cold December night outside the Hookah bar.  He smiled as he regained the slight loss of his ego at when he believed Lary was stupid but did so well against him.  He looked up and said, “I guess a man would finish the job wouldn’t he?”

                “Add to your victory”

                “Before I do, why didn’t you kill me?  Are you that against killing?  I mean if you’re smart enough to realize this was all a game and I’m rejoicing in a victory tonight.  Why didn’t you kill me over the past few years?”

                “Vonnie would never have forgiven me if I killed you”

                Ben chuckled and turned away, “Love, my greatest weapon.  So you didn’t just figure this out?”

                “Ben, I’ve known this since that night at the Hookah bar, it was my writing that gave her strength because I predicted everything you would say before you said it and when she read it after a night where you broke her and took her out of her life like a terrorist, she broke out of it and became happy.”

                Lary squeezed a little too hard on his knife as he spoke causing blood to ooze from his hand. “I had not known that but that was only one time of the many of times I did that to her.  You had a couple victories, she had a couple victories, but I won the war.”

                “Which I already admitted”

                “But you were a formidable opponent, I don’t want you to deny that to yourself.”

                “Not formidable enough”

                “Yea last three years you proved very ineffective.  Why didn’t you kill me after you lost and she turned her back on you as a friend”

                “Because she would mourn you, and she still would never take me back as a friend.  I lost my best friend still alive and killing you wouldn’t change that.”

                Ben kicked himself.  That explanation was a little too obvious, he should have known that, “So, you got selfish, she would have renewed her friendship with everyone else but not you so you let her die”

                Lary squeezed the knife harder digging the cut deeper, “She’s been dead for a while Ben.  I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life in prison and live with the knowledge that I had lost all my trust in Vonnie that she could beat you herself.  She would have moved on from you.  She would have been fine, but she would have hated me.  I couldn’t have her hate me.  And her friends all have their lives, she would have had to go back to school and waste more time and trying to rebound would have been hard.  I should have killed you in college, but I wasn’t willing to give up my friendship with Vonnie, even if it meant her eventual safety.  Then when she called it off with me, it was already too late.  I mean hell that was only a couple months ago.  I’m not a stalker like you; I don’t know how to track people down. Besides I couldn’t bare the site of her mourning your dead body.”

                “You really loved her didn’t you?”  He said with a condescending smile

                “Yes”

                “But you couldn’t kill for her if it meant that your friendship would be shot, that means you are a little selfish.”

                “I know, which is why I offer you this knife.  I was selfish because I would die for her but I wouldn’t spend my life being raped in a prison for the rest of my life and have her irreversibly hate me for her.”

                “I should just let you live your whole life knowing that your best friend is dead because you were selfish.”

                “Your choice”

                “No, like I said, I respect you as an opponent.” Ben said while nodding, he gripped the handle with his right hand and looked directly into Lary’s eyes.  “it has been fun Lary” Lary then offered his right hand for Ben to shake.  It was very bloody.   

                Ben stared at the hand, “You are a very graceful loser, and I admire that your last moment before death is going to be the agonizing pain of shaking the hand of your best friend’s killer.” As he switched the knife to his left hand and gripped Lary’s hand.

                “I find it sick that you take pleasure in this shit, but there’s nothing I can do to stop you, if I kill you, Vonnie’s still dead, no point.  So I’ll let your sick mind rejoice.”

                “Come on Lary, you know I’m only killing you as respect for an opponent”

                Lary smiled, “Oh I know, but try to see if you find somebody that doesn’t think that’s a tad sociopathic” both men gripped down like a vice. 

                Ben laughed, “Yea you have a point” He looked down at the knife and back into Lary’s green eyes.  Ben let go of Lary’s hand and Lary let him pull it away.  Ben then switched the blade to his right hand and while looking into Lary’s eyes slit his throat.  Lary inhaled deeply as his last moments of life were leaving him.  He had buried his only two best friends and now he would be reunited with them.  He hadn’t feared death since March 21, 2002.  Ben looked at him with admiration and said, “You didn’t even close your eyes, damn I respect you.”

                Lary stared Ben down as his life began fleeing from his body.  He didn’t grip his throat he just stared back emotionless.  Ben nodded for he knew that Lary was not going to go down in his presence.  Ben walked out of the ally out of respect for his soon-to-be fallen foe.  As soon as he turned the corner Lary dropped to his knees and lie down in the dark cold ally as his last breath fled from his body.  Ben was very regretful now, killing a worthy opponent hurt more than killing Vonnie.  His life only went downhill from there.  The night of Vonnie’s wake was the highlight of his life, the funeral was close to the height but then it plummeted.  He died many years later still calling his greatest achievement the psychologically breaking down and killing of Yvonne Yankolov.