Eleanor lived in a blue and white house located in the worst section of town; Alabama Street. To the right of her home was a hotel in which various criminal activities took place, and to the left was a large, derelict yellow house. The yellow house had no stairs leading to the porch and all of its windows were covered with white linen sheets. The house- that is, the yellow house- was of great interest to the neighborhood as visitors could be seen pouring in constantly at all hours. The center however, is of great interest. That is, the blue and white house that belonged to Eleanor.

Eleanor was a bit like the rodeo clown of this particular small town; she was highly intelligent, socially awkward, spoke in a near whisper, and had the unfortunate habit of wearing thick framed brown glasses and brown cardigan sweaters. Unlike the rest of the children her age, she didn’t catch the bus to school or ride with friends; she walked. In true Eleanor fashion, she refused to utilize a book bag as the other children did. Conversely, she carried a rather large stack of books- this required both arms- on the nearly three mile walk to the high school every day. At certain points in the walk she would spot something that interested her- this could be a tree, a dandelion, a cat, or perhaps a trash bin- and would set her large stack of books down on the ground and mime as if she were taking a picture of whatever object it was that intrigued her. As difficult as it may be for someone of this generation to comprehend, Eleanor didn’t possess a phone. Actually, it was common knowledge that Eleanor didn’t possess a computer either; for whenever a report or essay was assigned Eleanor would spend the lunch period in the library accomplishing said task on the school computers. In fact, Eleanor spent most lunch periods in the library; that is, if she wasn’t eating her lunch in front of the door to her next class. Yes, one could argue that Eleanor was a very strange girl indeed.

In spite of her oddities, Eleanor achieved high marks in school. Rumor was that she had been accepted to an Ivy League school and intended on pursuing a career as a pediatrician. This seemed to be an odd choice; it would seem that one would need to possess strong social skills to engage the fluttering minds of children. It was also rumored however that she worked at the YMCA in the next town over four days a week. Most people, even though she seemed a bit odd, would find her strong work ethic admirable. In this town however, she was just a rodeo clown. Her existence, that is her oddities, provided a direction for attacks to be aimed. This town, like this world, is full of self-loathing and pressure to find a group or category in which one can belong. These feelings and pressures can be overwhelming and often need to be released; often on a particular poor soul. Here that poor soul was Eleanor. You see, in their minds, if all of the vitriol is directed towards Eleanor maybe they can escape unscathed. The rule was a simple one; do not be caught speaking to Eleanor. This was a commonly accepted rule amongst all of the children in town. To speak to Eleanor was to become a target right along with her.

In the next town over her reputation was entirely different. They saw her as a saint; she volunteered at the YMCA four days a week and prepared after school meals for low income children. She often collected used goods and organized rummage sales to raise funds to serve breakfast to the homeless on Sundays and Wednesdays. Often times she was able to raise enough money by selling used goods as well as her own original art and poetry to feed all that were hungry in the town and still have a little money left over to put into the centers general fund. Eleanor knew how to stretch a penny. They certainly loved her in this town. For the life of her, Eleanor couldn’t understand how she could be so accepted in one town and so harshly rejected in another town that was less than ten miles away.

On her trip to the YMCA Eleanor rode the bus the entire way; she didn’t want to show up sweating from a long walk. The trip home however only required her to ride the bus until she entered the city limits of her town where she got off at the first stop which was located next to an apartment complex. From there it was a four and a half mile walk to Alabama Street. The walk didn’t bother her, in fact she looked forward to it. It was a time for her to think about her day at the center, think of projects she could accomplish around her home, plan for her future, imagine what college life would be like, the friends that she would make on campus, the goods that she could collect for rummage sales, and ideas for her future art projects. This was her routine four nights a week. On this fourth night Eleanor would be raped and killed.

Surprisingly, he was one of her main abusers at school. He seemed to be repulsed by her but to also take great pleasure in humiliating her. His favorite past times were shouting out cruel names as she passed and throwing objects at the back of her head in class. All of this was done to the delight of his friends. On one occasion he even asked her to prom only to loudly declare that he was only joking and wouldn’t be caught dead with her. At this moment however, he seemed to be possessed by two entities. One second he was grabbing her by her throat and smashing her head into the ground; the next he was caressing the side of her head and gently kissing the wound. Then, as if embarrassed by his own display of affection, he was jerking upward violently and striking her with his fist at least seven times. Then he was leaning down with his face buried into her neck and weeping loudly. She could feel his warm, wet tears on her skin. Again embarrassed, he jerked upward and began to choke her with his left hand; with his right he ripped of her pants. His strength surprised her. Violent, angry thrusting ensued followed by louder weeping into her neck. More violence, more weeping. Finally he hit her with his fist repeatedly and then began to strangle her with both hands. The curious residents of the apartment complex didn’t investigate soon enough; for Eleanor was already gone.

 

     I was the officer that initially responded to the disturbance. Upon my arrival I discovered the boy kneeling beside the body weeping loudly. I was unable to ascertain exactly what happened because the boy would only say “Dead like me,” before continuing to weep loudly. After turning both the boy and the crime scene over to other officers I was tasked with next of kin notifications. Upon arriving at the blue and white house on Alabama street and knocking for five minutes to no avail, I entered the house. In the doorway I called out and identified myself. A response came in the distance and I moved towards the voice. Past the dining room that was just inside the door to the open door on the right. A woman was in bed; Eleanor’s’ mother. The woman, I later learned was in the final stages of lung cancer and was a single parent. Eleanor was her only child. I had never before heard or seen such cries as I did on that evening when I informed her that her daughter was dead.

It’s quite strange the conflicting reports that are received after the death of a person. On one hand, they were the greatest human being that ever lived; Jesus Christ reincarnated. On the other hand they were the biggest freaks and lived as though they were exponentially more intellectual than those that surrounded them. This was the story that I got from the kids that went to school with Eleanor. In fact, they seemed to paint the boy as the nice kid and Eleanor as the wench. I suppose this makes it easier for them. Their own insecurities and hatred led to the vitriol that was directed at Eleanor; but this was accepted because she was an outsider. The boy, however, was an insider. If it turns out that maybe something was wrong in his own mind the entire time; that perhaps Eleanor was not the troubled one, what would that imply about the rest of them who joined the boy in his attacks? My grandmother used to say, “Fine cuisine before a hog is just slop.”

Published by Montrell Carter