“Get Back Again” by M.T. Williams

There was always some bottom feeder trying to take what I built.

Yeah, I see you.

Picking through the clothing rack at Niemann’s like nothing’s ever been wrong. Holding up paisley blouses and ankle length skirts, like you’re trying on a new persona. You’re gonna need a new persona. After what you did to me.

Look at your face. That sheen of serenity, skipping around from clothes to kitchenware to electronics. It’s all so put on, isn’t it? Holding up bathmats and kitschy glass vases, like you got nothing to hide.

And yet, you got something to hide, don’t you?

You think you look inconspicuous, like you don’t got something looming over you. You hail taxis and smile with perfect teeth at the driver as you hand him a big tip. Yeah. I got a big tip, ripe for you. Always had one, didn’t I? The biggest. I know you’ve never seen one so big in your whole damn life. Never. And you’re never gonna see it again.

But I see you.

You step out of the cab, into the sunshine, onto the street. Bare your face to it, like it exists for you and you alone. You and your little friends.

Tell me how big I am. Go on. Like you used to. You remember that? Down on your knees before me because that’s the way I wanted it? Yeah. I liked that. You knew exactly how goddamned big I was. The biggest. The best you ever had. Everything was right in the world, then.

You’re at work now, slicked down in a pantsuit, with your hair swept back in an uptight bun, all professional and hip. Coworkers swirl around your desk and perch on its edge, begging you to go out to lunch or happy hour or some cottage for the weekend. You think these people are your friends? They wouldn’t stop to pick you up off the pavement, if you were run down.

I’d like to run you down, after what you did.

You and your friends. Your happy, smiling little friends. All those little urchins. Those little nobodies.

There you go. Fucking charity work again. You think you drop a couple of pesos in Santa’s bucket outside Macy’s and that makes it all better? You work the soup kitchen once a week, tutor some underprivileged kids, and it’s gonna erase what you done?

You always were too weak. Too soft. A bleeding heart.

Look at me. Look at me, damn it! I was strong. Bigger than the tallest mountain. Like a goddamn monster truck. The biggest. The baddest. And it was written all over your face, lying there on the floor, mascara all smeared, because you couldn’t take a fucking joke. Christ. It’s not like I beat you or anything, not really, not bad. But sometimes, you deserved it. Sometimes, you were out of line.

Maybe I ought to say those words, see if you hear me after that.

Pay attention. Look at me when I’m talking to you.

Look down from your ivory tower, way down, into the trenches. Where the real people live. Real men. Men like me. A man nobody denies anything. The man in charge. In charge of all the rabble. I’ll be standing there, match in hand, hell, a fucking flamethrower, and I’m gonna burn it all down. Every last inch of your precious little castle.

But not before I get you first.

Yeah. I see you. At a party now, done up real fine, like you’re showing off. Like you’re on display. Is there no decency left in this world? Dress like that, you deserve what you get. Knock me off and then hit the town, dressed like some kind of whore, all legs and tits and bedroom eyes? You trying to shame me? I’m not here to defend myself, so you skip on out willy nilly with whoever the hell you want? Doesn’t matter to you, does it? No, you’re out with your slut friends, leaving it all out in the wind. One sicko orgy, where everyone fucks everybody else, until the whole damned world starts claiming rape and lack of consent? And then what?

You threw a wrench into the works when you did what you did. Twisted the pecking order all up. And now you wanna argue with God.

That what you want?

The whole goddamned world, feasting on itself? Goddamned bleeding hearts?

And I’m no longer here to blame.

You don’t know what you did, when you disrupted the natural order of things. Me over you and you in your place. The way it’s meant to be. The word from God himself. You threw a wrench into the works when you did what you did. Twisted the pecking order all up. And now you wanna argue with God.

You think you’re on top of the pile? All that sweetness and kindness, the sham charity and new age hippie bullshit, putting guys like me under your heel? If the people around you knew what you did, what would they say? If they knew about that night, the night you made the error of picking up that hammer.

Watching you is like staring into the abyss, through a distant windowpane, shimmering behind a trickle of raindrops, a mist on the window of reality, and me stuck out here beyond it.

Because of you, and what you did.

You’re going through the motions, wherever you go. I can see it. I see you at home. At work. At a cafe with friends. I see you, everywhere. You and your bleeding heart buddies, out there pretending like the world is anything but cold, hard hierarchy, whipping your hands out for every down-on-their-luck sob story that hits your ears. Don’t you get it? The goal is to step down and step down hard, because the world is the way it is, the way it ought to be and anything else is just slick Ricks telling you what you want to hear in order to take your hard earned cash and give it to some lazy fuck who doesn’t deserve it. I’d fry the whole lot of you if I could.

You hear me?

Look at you. Skipping down the street, not a care in the world. I see you on the couch, scarfing down wine, eyes locked on some elitist Hollywood shit on the TV. I see you undress at night. When you’re in the shower. I see you when you’re out with one of them, one of those soft boys, and it makes me wanna howl with rage. I’d put you all down if I could.

Where was that when we were together? I treated you good. Better than you deserved, that’s for sure, but you didn’t treat me anywhere near well enough. But you learned, didn’t you? You learned what I needed, eventually, the hard way. Couldn’t be any other way. What you should and couldn’t do, what really mattered, before you went all Cain and Abel on me.

That hurt, you know. After all I did for you, to put up with your craziness? Everything I did to make you understand, how things really were? I did it for you. Your benefit. It didn’t make me feel good, you know. I suffered for you. It’s not easy being The Man. That you’d just turn around and plunk, crack, right on the noggin, until I bled and bled and bled no more. The vegetarian, taking out the carnivore? Who’d have thought? What did I do to deserve you? Anything I did, I did because it needed doing. Because you needed smartening up. Because there was always some bottom feeder trying to take what I built. What I let you enjoy. I did it because you needed a firm hand. Because you needed to be taught a lesson. Because, even though you didn’t fucking get it, because you didn’t appreciate anything, I loved you.

I sure don’t love you now.

Where were those kinds of kisses, when I was around? Where were those tender touches, those acrobatics, those shameless affronteries? Christ, I’d’ve killed you for that. What you done, what you’re doing right here, right now, where I can see you?

I liked you better back when I was in charge. When you knew your place. All your squeaking and squawking. You looked better then. Now, you just look old. Ugly. Like a bitch. Do you remember the old days? The days before you betrayed me? When I was the Man? Nothing’s like it was. Now you walk through the world, drenched in sunlight, when you should be scurrying like a rat, cowering in shadows and cracks in the wall. You should be hiding, but here you are, “making the world a better place.”

Show me something on that face. It’s too goddamned peaceful. Too goddamned happy. That smile when you greet your friend, when you stroke the petals of your garden? It’s too goddamned genuine. Do you even remember me, after all this time? How can you be so happy after what you did?

Was I that bad? Was I so horrific? I liked things the way they were, was that so wrong? Why the hell did you need to go and change everything? I liked us, how we were. The whole world, in the palm of my hand. And I’m supposed to feel bad about that?

You called it patriarchy, but it was just the way we did things. Was that so bad?

So bad you had to end it forever?

MT Williams has been published in Better Than Starbucks, Fleas On The Dog, and Cough Syrup Magazine. He lives among the corn of southwestern Ontario with his wife, daughter, and too many cats.

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