You can love until you shake. Love until you cry. Love until you’ve hugged the breath out of someone; but you can still go further. You can always love just a little bit more. You can build layers of love, on top of love. There is no reason for love to stop.
Hate is not the same. Our bodies have an upper limit to the amount of hate they can take. This is to protect us from ourselves. Hate can be felt so suddenly and so strongly that if I had been able to act upon my hate, I’d be writing this from prison.
It was too hot in my room, the Son-T-Agro bulb was glowing so bright I couldn’t sleep. Mike was upstairs making noise; I thought he was on the Wing Chun Dummy.
We used to do a lot of martial arts. Mike would occasionally turn to me and say ‘I want you to hit me as hard as you can.’ But I never did. We both loved that film.
A strong joint of Rob’s Lebanese blonde put me over the edge. I dreamt I was hacking the roots off our plants and shoving the stalks into bin liners.
I woke up seconds before the knock. First I thought it was a joke. Then I thought I was still dreaming. Then the handcuffs went on. The arresting officer was the same one who beat me up at the anti-war protest. (I told him that his baton technique needed work).
Of course I had to show them where the stuff was, I was trying to cooperate. When the plants were in Mike’s room even a dog would have had a hard time. We used a wardrobe as a secret door to get into the grow room. We were growing for two months before Dave, our flatmate, realised what we were doing. You should have seen his face when he saw our set up. Four 900 watt bulbs, two hydroponic grow-tanks, extractor fans, and everywhere was covered in silver plastic. Not an inch of soil in the whole place.
Five of the strongest plants were all that was left in the shitty little cupboard I opened for the cops. Down from forty. When you look after plants day and night for five months you begin to love them. It was a nightmare letting them go. I could tell you how much water they needed, if they were low on nitrates or if it was too hot. I looked after those plants better than I looked after myself.
Mike knew me very well. That was how he roped me in. For a while we were almost the same person. This is a curse now, but it was a blessing when we first met. We clicked. At one point we were working, living and doing the same course together.
He is a very persuasive person. When he wanted me to start smoking he knew that the direct approach wouldn’t work. I am stubborn and I’d argued against drugs before. Instead he interrupted anyone who tried to encourage me and told them that I could make my own mind up, he did the opposite of peer pressure. As soon as I thought I had a choice to make, I was on my way. Two years later I was spending 40 to 50 pounds a week on marijuana.
Mike sucked people into his world gave them a ride and then threw them back out.
About a month into my second year one of the original housemates called Mathew asked Mike to sleep with him. This was a big mistake. Mike had hidden his bigotry well.
A week later when Mathew was going home Mike asked if he could borrow his laptop. Eager to make amends Mathew let him. Within the month I was in the (now overly familiar) police station telling the vice squad all about how we had discovered a member of a gay paedophile porn ring.
He made me into the hero whenever he told the story, the person who he came to for help, who would know what to do when there were pictures of babies being raped on a housemate’s computer. He always portrayed himself as a victim.
Mike put the images there himself. He really enjoyed this shit. He did it to everyone he met.
I bought most of the food for the house in our final year. I bought most of the skunk too. Mike hardly left the house. I looked after Mike almost as much as I looked after those plants.
When you are forced to look after someone, you get used to forgiving them.
A day before the police came knocking, Mike asked me if I could takeover growing.
‘The plants were nearly ready’, he said. ‘I want to quit smoking and I don’t trust myself’, he said. ‘You’ve put so much effort and money into this project’, he said. ‘I owe you money, take the plants in payment’, he said. ‘There’s only one week until they’re ready to harvest’, he said.
Nothing he said was untrue.
It turns out that Mike wasn’t doing martial arts the night before the arrest, he was trashing his room. He threw his bed down stairs and, even though he had the key, he smashed his door down.
He didn’t injure himself. He was too smart for that. You can use forensics to find out if an injury has been faked. He claimed that he'd come to the police to escape one of my attacks. The raiding squad, about ten too many in retrospect, took a look around and saw our martial arts weapons. They assumed that they were mine.
When I arrived at the police station I was charged for cultivation of marijuana, but everyone treated me as though I was dangerous.
Mike managed to get the police to feel sympathy for him.
I didn’t know anything at this point. The neighbours could have seen something or heard us talking. It didn't cross my mind that it was Mike; it was against everything he stood for to grass us up.
Then it happened: my lawyer told me that Mike had handed himself in. That’s when I realised that the happy whistling from the cell next to me was Mike.
I snapped beyond the upper limit of hate. I was catatonically detached. I couldn’t speak. I might have been calm on the outside but internally I fumed like my body was made of condensed fire. I was the opposite of a Zen master. I hated him so much I couldn’t make a fist.
That is why hate has a threshold.
If I could have acted on the level of hate I truly felt; the police couldn’t have stopped me from getting to his cell.
I hated him so much I couldn’t think in words. I literally saw red. My mind was at the level of ‘Mike’s face + blood = good’. Slowly my imagination came back to me. I drew my world inwards, I focused on his pain.
Behind my vacant face, brown glassed eyes were being gouged, greasy spotted skin torn, acid baths poured, lye moistened. I killed his dog, burned his house to the ground and let him hear the screams of his family inside. I cut his tongue off taped his mouth shut so he would drown in his own blood. I used him to earth a mains cable. I wrapped him in lit magnesium fuse and threw him into a barrel of thermite. I hung him from his intestines, skinless and salted in a tree. I cut his stomach open with a sword and watched the acid burn his penis off. I made him overdose and used him as a poster-boy for the Just Say No campaign. I buried him alive with hungry rats. I had him raped to death with a broken bottle.
Names haven’t been changed. This is all true, I’ve actually left some of the weirder stuff out, like the time he trained for a year to beat a guy at Teken3, or how we used to come up with plans for terrorist attacks with emphasis on humour (like planting a bomb in the foundations of the re-built World Trade Centre and setting it of during the opening ceremony. Funny Ha Ha.) We once broke into a castle and hung a twenty foot banner from the walls which read: “Fuck Bush”.
I’ve just remembered that he used to store his semen in jam jars.
Yep, Mike was a pretty weird kid. I think he saw himself as a cult leader. Sometimes I think he went to the police because he couldn’t control me as much as he wanted to. At other times I remember his jaunty whistling and I think he considers that day to be a victory. His charisma came from these unstable thoughts; they encouraged you to think about him. I wanted to know him more because I didn’t know which way he would act.
Mike’s Dad (ex-SAS) rang and threatened to have me killed. At the time I thought that was quite a nice offer. The gang Mike used to roll with rang me up and threatened to kill me too. The fact that I can compare the relative authenticity between the death threats I’ve received is worrying in itself.
I never saw Mike again after that. When I got to court my lawyer could barely disguise her joy at Mike getting off with a warning. I did fifty hours community service, which was actually quite fun. I worked in a charity shop hanging clothes. I spent my time telling the others how to grow pot. Glad to be a service to the community!
The five years it takes for a criminal record to become spent is more of a problem. It has basically messed up my career options. I can’t work abroad, with children, as a civil servant, lawyer, policeman or politician. I would probably find it hard to get a job as a gardener too.
Eventually I forgave Mike. I couldn’t do it face to face but the hatred I was suppressing became too much to carry around. The day before my graduation I attacked one of my friends. I projected my hate onto Ralf in Mike’s absence. When I realised what I’d done I tried to jump out of a third floor window. Ralf grabbed my legs and pulled me back inside. I still find it difficult to express my gratitude. Ralf is my best friend. He is too good a friend to me. He’s the friend I thought Mike was.
This is an entry for Hatequest 2007. It has been really good to be able to write this down. When it is put into perspective its no big deal. There are people on death row who are innocent. I just hope it made a good story!