The Devil in Me

Ever take a trip down memory lane and think to yourself, I can’t believe I actually did that? Most often such thoughts are reflections of achievements, accolades, and awe-inspiring events which years later seem nearly impossible to have undertaken. Upon such reflections, I usually conclude I’m pretty satisfied with the kind of person I turned out to be.

Then I remember moments where clearly the devil was in me, because my actions can only be described as thus.

My middle brother, Joel, trails five years behind me. Now it seems like a mere blink of time, but growing up it was miles and miles of distance. For the most part, I was a nurturing older sister. It was my older brother, Justin whom I have memories of going toe to toe with.*

*And neck to neck, and fist to fist….

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A few years before the time period this incident occurred. My favorite part? Justin’s feet.

While on a weekly* visit to the library, somewhere around my ninth or tenth year on this earth, my mother left Joel and me in the car to run inside for a quick book drop off. She must have ended up doing a little bit more, because boredom soon began to overwhelm me, swiping away all sense of reason.

*Weekly, because back then, when the internet barely existed, mothers like mine made us read continually…even without any coordinating school assignments.

Instead of the dreaded family van, my parents’ vehicle of choice in the 90’s was the ever popular Ford station wagon. You know the kind…the backdoor opens to reveal a backseat that faces behind and can be dropped down into a flat surface.

Being able to sit in that backseat trumped sitting shotgun. There may or may not have been a time still vivid in my mind where my best friend and I sat in this spot making faces at all the drivers who had the pleasure of pulling up behind us. Imagine our shock when a woman actually made a rather scary face back!

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Getting closer…(and look how loving!)

On said library visit, the backseat was flattened and whether we started out there or had climbed our way back, I don’t know. This was, after all, a time where car seats for four-year-olds didn’t exist and a nine-year-old rolling around the back of a station wagon wouldn’t fall under cause to pull a car over.

Though Joel was a spirited child filled with imagination and a knack for playing well, he also had moments of calm. During this waiting period, Joel was calm and I, on the other hand, was feeling rambunctious, and also, a bit theatrical.

Pointing towards the library, where no person was present, I whispered to Joel, “Do you see that man? He’s coming after us.”

Ducking at the back of the middle seat, I peeked over, insisting that Joel get down because he was coming right for us. What I did next, I blame on the scene* in the movie, The Mask, where The Mask is facing off two thugs at a night club. He goes through a variety of costumes while avoiding their gunshots and ends dressed as a cowboy. One of the thugs finally shoots him, or seems to, which leads to him staggering towards them and dramatically ‘dying’ on the thug’s arm, only to snap out of it, and receive an Oscar from the audience.

*If you never saw the movie, Google ‘The Mask cowboy scene’ and this will make much more sense.

I looked out the window, told Joel the man had a gun, and then proceeded to perform my own version of The Mask’s cowboy death scene grabbing at my wound and dropping with great exaggeration.

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Justin, Joel, me, and Jon during what I’m guessing was close to the year of the incident

Here’s the problem, aside from the obvious inappropriateness of my behavior, Joel was too young to have seen that movie, and also, quite gullible…I mean, what toddler isn’t? Yet, somehow, in my bored preteen mind, I expected a different reaction than the immediate crying that ensued to my lifeless body resting comfortably in the back of that station wagon.

I also may have waited a couple seconds into his first burst of tears before popping back to life.

But then, pop back to life I did, when I suddenly realized my mom would soon be coming back. I tried reasoning, hugging, calmly talking, showing him that I was alive, but nothing helped. My mother returned moments later to a tear-stained Joel and a guilty-faced, apologetic, Jessica. I’m certain the punishment must have been severe because I still can’t remember it to this day, yet the memory of this being the worst thing I ever did as a child is etched in my mind.

The moral of this rather hysterically horrible story? Behind every person breathing a sigh of relief for the kind of person they have become are moments they danced with the devil.

Remembering these moments helps keep us humble.

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