When monkeys fly…

Not long ago, I watched the 1976 version of the film, Carrie. It’s one of my favorite movies from the 1970s. I’m not sure why I like it so much, but I do. I haven’t seen the remake and don’t really care to because, to me, Sissy Spacek is the only Carrie. She played the part of a terrorized “freak” with special powers like no one else can.

There’s a scene in Carrie that comes to mind as I write this morning. It’s right before Carrie and Tommy get crowned Prom King and Queen. We can see Tommy’s girlfriend, Sue Snell, realizing what’s about to happen to Carrie and Tommy as they smile for the camera. Sue sees a rope leading to under the stage where Tommy and Carrie are standing, listening to applause. Her eyes follow the rope up the side of the stage, where it is eventually connected with a pail filled with pig’s blood. She can see Carrie’s tormentors under the stage, getting ready to pull the rope.

Sue tries to stop them from succeeding in their prank. If she had managed to stop them, the film would have probably had a much happier and less interesting ending. But the gym teacher, Miss Collins, catches Sue before she can do anything, throws her out of the gym, and saves Sue’s life… or, at least her physical life. She will be haunted by the horrors of prom night for the rest of her existence on Earth.

In January 2018, I wrote a post on my original blog about “flying monkeys” versus “abuser groupies”. Flying monkeys is a term frequently used in pop psychology to describe people who get co-opted into doing “dirty work” for narcissists and other personality disordered people. “Abuser groupies” is a term I made up to describe people who hang around abusers, admiring them, and not seeing them for who they really are, but they don’t necessarily do any “dirty work” on their behalf.

This is where “flying monkeys” come from… and they are scary as hell!

I can’t help but draw some parallels between what Bill and I have experienced in the last week to that scene in Carrie. Although thinking about it some more, I’m sure people will have differing perspectives.

I found out that the woman who lived in our former landlady’s house was monitoring my blogs and, perhaps, sharing them with the landlady and her daughter. I made no secret of my idea to start a fiction blog as a place for me to vent using fiction. To me, it seems like a good idea. I can express myself without involving “real” people. No one has to read what I write and, in fact, most people don’t read my fiction posts. I will admit sometimes I get kind of snarky and vindictive in my fiction, but I don’t get that way offline. It’s a harmless way for me to exorcise my demons. The worst that can happen is that someone’s feelings might get hurt.

I suppose if you’re obsessively reading what someone writes and you have an ego, then maybe the fiction blog idea seems cruel. Maybe, in the previous tenant’s eyes, I’m like Chris Hargenson on Carrie, the hateful bitch who fixes the prom so that Carrie wins the title of prom queen, and then, when the moment is right, plans to humiliate Carrie in front of the whole school. I guess in her eyes, my idea to write a fiction story that might include elements of my experiences with our ex landlady is a “mean” thing to do, especially since she knows the landlady’s daughter reads my blogs. She worries that the landlady’s daughter’s feelings will be “hurt” if she sees herself in one or more of my characters. Meanwhile, she has no empathy for how I might be feeling after dealing with our ex landlady’s abusive behavior for four years and then having her unfairly withhold our deposit. In fact, she doesn’t even know that’s what’s happened, at least not from my perspective. I didn’t explain it to her. Why not? Because it’s none of her damned business.

You see, while I can understand why someone might equate me to the character of Chris Hargenson on Carrie for writing fiction stories about people who irritate me, I think the former tenant is a little like Chris, too. In fact, if you take a look at the way she’s been behaving, her behavior is very much like that of a “flying monkey”. First off, I wonder who turned the landlady’s daughter on to my blogs? I wonder why she turned her on to them? I wonder who really is the “mean” person? And secondly, is it worse to write a fictional story about someone who has inspired me– negatively or positively– that most people won’t read? Or is it worse to yell at someone in their own home, be inconsiderate, domineering, and insulting, and steal money from them, then giving them no right to defend themselves?

What do “flying monkeys” do? They abuse people on behalf of a personality disordered person. Now, I don’t actually know if our former landlady has a personality disorder. I don’t know her well enough to see how she relates to other people. I have, however, been on the receiving end of her verbal abuse. Bill has received nasty emails from her. I also heard from our insurance agent when she was not happy with the settlement she got from them. I gathered that her emails and letters were not pleasant. On the day Bill handed over the keys to her duplex, she behaved as though she was very angry with us. According to Bill, even her husband was telling her to calm down. While I can’t know for certain how the landlady behaves with other people, I do know that people who are verbally abusive are usually habitual about it. In fact, her husband’s body language often belied a man who walks on eggshells every day. I don’t know if he does or not. That’s just how it appeared to me.

The landlady’s passive aggressive and hostile behavior is despite the fact that for four years, she got her rent money in full and on time every month. She had tenants who were reliable and basically respectful, even if I evidently don’t clean to her standards (not that I even knew what they were). We weren’t doing anything illegal or immoral on her property. We didn’t throw parties or antagonize the neighbors. We didn’t call the landlords at all hours, nor did we demand that they make repairs. We simply dared to live in their house rather than flutter around it without making a single fingerprint. Oh… and I guess she was upset because I apparently didn’t humble myself to taking her abuse. In the 51 months of our time in that house, by my calculations, they got at least 88,230 euros from us in rent and “other costs”. I’m sure it went a long way toward paying their bills. And what’s another 2500 from our deposit so the old couple can get themselves a new awning at our expense? I’m sure they assume we can afford it. We can, but that’s beside the point.

According to the former tenant, though, this lady is nothing but sweet and kind– akin to an angel. For all I know, that’s the only side of her that she’s seen. She may very well feel like she needs to defend her against me, because she can’t imagine that the landlady would be passive aggressive, hostile, and unfair to other people. Or, maybe she does realize that the woman has this unsavory side and doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter why she engages in this behavior. She may not even know she’s doing it. However, you won’t convince me that there’s not some triangulation going on. I get the feeling that the “flying monkey” is somehow being encouraged to silence me. Former landlady isn’t going to talk to me directly. She talks to the former tenant, who then talks to me and appeals to my sense of shame and decency to continue to accept this crap. I’m supposed to simply behave gracefully and accept that for the first time ever, ex landlords are going to rip me off. I don’t understand how or why she thinks we’re going to let them get away with it. If she were in my shoes, would she simply let this bullshit go without a word?

I will admit, I probably seem a bit obsessed about this. I usually get this way when someone behaves in an abusive manner towards me. You might say I’m “saturated” when it comes to abuse and I don’t take it lying down. However, I can promise that I’ve never so much as “Googled” ex landlady or her friend, the ex tenant. Meanwhile, they’ve been enjoying my admittedly public postings and talking and probably laughing among themselves. And after they’ve enjoyed themselves, they expect me to treat them differently than I treat anyone who annoys or abuses me.

I see creating stories, whether or not they’re good, kind, or even entertaining, as a constructive way to deal with my angst. I don’t force anyone to read the things I write. It seems to me that these people can grow up and show some self-control. Or, better yet, they can simply behave in a way that doesn’t inspire me to write snarky fiction.