TARGETS – Flash Fiction

Published December 8, 2020 by Nan Mykel

My folks had retired to Costa Rica, that’s why they were unable to accompany me to the meeting with my rapist, as had been recommended. The Restorative Justice people made an exception and allowed a friend to join me in the session, for emotional support. They didn’t realize that Mitzi had also been raped by Hairy Harry Findley, the perp.

I’m Allison, another survivor, I first met Mitzi in my livingroom, when she attended a small women’s consciousness raising group composed of women survivors of sexual assault who were slowly learning to think of themselves not as victims, but as survivors.

We waited for Hairy in the prison psychologist’s office at Greenville State Prison. The phone had been pulled to avoid interruption, and Mitzi and I had ten minutes to wait, alone in the office. A one-way mirror offered reassurance of safety. At the time I remember wondering who the reassurance was for, him or me, since although my rage had cooled during the last year, I knew it was capable of swift re-ignition. For all my moxie, I was conscious of a dry mouth and banging heartbeat.

Mitzi and I both wore loose shirts, loose jeans and tennies, presenting as asexual as possible for the session. The stated purpose of Restorative Justice was to heal, not to dissuade reoffending, but my purpose was the latter. I’ll admit, however, that the motivation for the meeting (I thought “confrontation”) was a tad murky–I wanted to look my attacker in the eye.

We heard a small click, the door nob turned and a corrections officer ushered Hairy in, handcuffed, and guided him to a chair opposite us, across a table. He was anything but appealing as he sat slouched in his bright orange prison suit that revealed long black hairs that covered his arms and the back of his hands. A five o’clock shadow had apparently sprouted in the past hour or two, but his head was shaved. The officer left us alone.

Although I assumed Hairy’s presence was due to the hope of making a positive impression on the Parole Board some day, I said, “Thanks for coming.”

He dropped his head in acknowledgement, without making eye contact. My ears started ringing and I had to briefly shut my eyes to get centered. I said, “Why are you here?”

“Here? Do you mean in prison or in this room?”

I silently gritted my teeth. “I know why you are in prison, believe me. But why are you in this room with me?” He paused. “Curiosity.”

“What do you want to know?”

He was silent.

“Do you regret the sexual attacks?”

“I regret prison.”

“But not causing the physical and psychological harm you did to me?”

He did not answer.

“Have you ever been raped? I hear that sometimes happens in prison.”

He rolled his shoulders and snarled, “Not likely!”

“Were you mad at me? Did you want to hurt me?”

“Yes. Yes, I wanted to hurt you and all women who play so hard to get. I belong to Incel, and women won’t have anythjing to do with us. We can’t get any!”

“Any–love? Tenderness? Friendship?”

“Pussy!” He shouted.

I had read about this group of unattractive men who had clustered on an internet blog, and that their activities have been referred to as “weaponized misogyny.” Mitzi beside me was squirming uncomfortably in her chair as he ranted.

“It’s true,” I said in an aside to Mitzi. “Evolution scripts females to be attracted to males who have the most regular features.”

Hairy’s face turned red and he gave a subdued roar when he overheard me speaking to Mitzi. “It isn’t fair!”

“Nor is it fair to rape and destroy a woman’s healthy sense of self for a life in which she sees herself a victim of herself!” I frowned, regretting having used the victim word myself.

Hairy didn’t respond immediately, but began fingering his fly, whereupon I rapped sharply on the one-way mirror. I was glad to note that he wore a puzzled expression on his face as he was led out to rejoin the prison population. Mitzi sighed. I squeezed her hand.

“No, a lot’s not fair.”

By Nan

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