I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about the goodness in people, and whether people's worst actions and transgressions can be justified or at least forgiven indefinitely. Is there a line that someone can cross after which there is no redemption?
When I first stepped foot on European soil it was Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport, July 18th, 2014. I got off the plane and went through customs with everything I owned in the world stuffed into two bags, then waddled out to the train station speaking not a word of French and looking excited and confused – the perfect target. I walked up to the ticket machine to get a ticket for the train into central Paris, and in an instant was approached by a girl in plain clothes, asking in a helpful French accent if I needed any help. I said sure, and she started fiddling with the menus on the machine, while another guy, presumably her colleague, started chatting to me in Spanish. I was comforted at the human interaction, and jumped at the chance to show off my skill with language and worldly experience – I am an intrepid explorer, you see.
When I walked away from the interaction holding two Euros change from a twenty, and a train ticket worth about four Euros, the realization I'd been swindled dawned slowly. Resignation turned to anger when I put the ticket into the machine and had it spat straight back out, and as I looked up to the concourse above me I saw my two adversaries walking above – they looked down and laughed with pity. The guy threw me a ticket, and I called him a cabron. Twenty Euro, that's Thirty Australian Dollars. Welcome to the old world, pussy.
I've never been able to harbour any hatred or resentment towards that guy for breaking my trust after what I thought was a nice conversation in Spanish, or the girl for that matter, for playing the silent second fiddle to the scam. “It is what it is.”, I have rationalised time and time again, with a shrug, “you get me, maybe next time I'll get you, and who's to say I wouldn't do the same in your situation?”
Andy though... I mean, this is a completely different animal – and that's what he is, a fucking animal. I can safely say that I could never do what he has done.
He told me yesterday that he was leaving the house, and that the agency had put a new girl in the flat, on the phone his exact words were, “The agency have moved a new girl in, cute English girl, she's quite nice actually, you'll probably fuck her.” I'm familiar enough with this kind of manipulation now to know that what had actually happened was he'd got someone into the flat, taken their money under the now-familiar pretence that he was the owner of the property, and was trying to distract me from this obvious fact by presenting her as a romantic interest. He knows my weaknesses.
I never got to meet her. I got a call from Nadia (property manager from The Agency) yesterday saying that she'd organised someone to come round and clean the whole property. Andy was gone, he'd left without a trace, probably because he heard she (or Luis, or Flat Owner Lady, or whoever else had a dog in this fight) had finally got their shit together to get the cops after him. He took all his stuff and disappeared through the cracks, and is now barred (again) from visiting the property. Nadia rocked up with her cleaner under orders from Luis up top to evict anyone who hadn't paid – this girl had definitely not paid. Not The Agency anyway, she paid Andy, she paid him ONE THOUSAND POUNDS!
So to break that down, Andy realised the game was up, decided he needed money to skip out with, advertised the property on Facebook, and within 24 hours found someone willing to move in straight away, paying a month's rent plus another month as deposit UP FRONT, then left. With her money. Nadia told me she broke down in tears when she was told her money was gone. She cried and said she wouldn't live in the flat now even if she got her money back.
So when I got home around midnight last night, the cleaner was in the house, under strict instructions to not open the door for anyone except me. I called him, and he opened the door for me. We chatted for a minute, maybe three, and then a knock on the door. It was Arron and Alai, the Moroccan/Spanish guys living in Andy's old room for the last month or so. I looked at the cleaner in a panic. Should I let them in? Nadia had said if I let anyone in it'd mean trouble for me. I don't want trouble. I never wanted trouble. They were knocking at the door now, they heard my voice when I told them in Spanish that I was calling Nadia to confirm that I could let them in. The phone dropped out. Calling again. More yelling. “QUE PASA PRIMO! QUE PASA! NOS HA CONOCIDO TRES SEMANAS!!” I'm panicking. Looking at the cleaner. He has no idea what's going on. BOOM!! The door is kicked in and the boys with another friend storm through. Right in my face yelling. All in Spanish. “WHY DID YOU MAKE ME KICK THE DOOR IN?! WHY DIDN'T YOU OPEN THE DOOR?!! WHAT THE FUCK COUSIN?!! WHAT THE FUCK!!! AND WHO THE FUCK IS THIS!!??” They bundle the cleaner out. He bounces off the walls like a pinball. Arms over his head. We spend the next half an hour shouting and my heart is beating like a broken engine. Once we calm down a little I take my bag and jacket off that I've been wearing this whole time, and lean against the nearest door frame, then slump down to the floor, and hold my head in my hands. I feel my hair, and run my fingers through it. Needs a cut. What have I been doing these past two months? What the fuck am I doing here? I look up at Arron and say sorry again for not opening the door, and we all feel defeated.
More than anything now, I'm angry. I hate Andy for what he did to us, and to that girl. He took her fucking money, like just straight up robbed her blind, of £1000 – that's a month's wages where I work. And his games and manipulations meant that Arron, Alai, their friend, and I, were stood in the passage screaming at each other at 12:30am last night – that's four people who have only ever been good to each other, turned sour and wrong by the filthy influence of one broken person who just couldn't bring himself to shoulder the burden of his own existence. Andy. That name has been ringing in my ears for so long, and I'm about to let it go.
I've always given myself over to the assumption that there IS some good in everyone, I've never even really had to try, it just comes naturally to me, that kind of belief. It's not something I've ever had to fight for, which I've always thought of as a good thing, and something to be thankful for. I'm naturally predisposed to passivity and forgiveness. But maybe it's not so great – any belief not considered, no matter how virtuous, is still arbitrary and therefore worthless. Maybe I need to think a little bit harder about people before allowing them free reign – I never let Andy walk all over my life too much, but I could definitely have stopped him from hurting people around me, and I didn't.
I have a lot of guilt around that now. I let this thing get way out of hand – that's assuming I had any control over any of this situation whatsoever. Let's say I did. I let things keep going exactly the way they were going, letting Andy do everything to everyone, and I just sat back and watched, the silent observer. Quietly gathering material for my story. This story, whatever it has been. Some sort of document that I've convinced myself is an important snapshot of some unique corner of space and time I've inhabited. The portrait of a sociopath? Or just a part of someone else's life, seen through my eyes. Who knows? Is this important? Is it even entertaining? What is the end result for the strife and turmoil that have been the price I've been willing to allow myself and these others to pay.
I'm sorry I guess, although I don't know that I wouldn't do it all again. Because the uniqueness, the emotion, the feeling, it's all been so real. Visceral. These moments of being caught up in the maelstrom with no way out, staring into the eye of some beast I have no hope of understanding and trying, trying, trying to feel my way around its terrifying form. These moments have been inescapable. They force you to exist through them, and that's what I want. To not be able to run away from the present, because I know that given the chance, I will escape to hope or memory every time, wishing my life away into the future and the past, while ignoring the present, because it's all too daunting and fearful.
It's been worth it I think. I hope, anyway. I can't take it back now.
These are the last words I said to Andy, and this I know now really is the end of the story. I've made one last decision actually, just since starting this last chapter, and that is that he will never see this. Not from me anyway, so probably not ever. I'm going to change his name if I ever print this outside of the blog it was born on. Thanks for reading guys, it's been something.
“Don't ever speak to me again, you're a worthless piece of shit and you will never know anything but loneliness. Don't think that I say these words lightly, I've known you long enough now to really know you - REALLY know you. And I have given you every benefit of the doubt, even when I could plainly see your transparent manipulations and lies.
I thought there was some good in you Andy, so I ignored a lot of what I shouldn't have because I thought something decent might come of your lies, but you've proven me wrong. You have taken the miniscule, almost insignificant amount of belief I had in you and proven it to be wasted. It's sad, and you are sad. Fuck. I feel sorry for you, but more than that I'm angry.
When you die alone, remember this and every other moment in your life like it, and know that each time those countless people turned their backs on you, one by one, this is what every single one of them felt. I wish that the weight of all this guilt and sorrow would break your heart and leave you dead in a heap on some sad street corner somewhere, but I know it wont, so all I have to say now is go fuck yourself.
Click here for an important announcement about the girl who lost £1000 - So Here's the Plan