Garo Zamrutian is the only person I’ve ever met who had absolutely no redeeming qualities. He was the person for whom the word “odious” was invented. He was odiousness and odiosity made flesh. He looked like a pile of shit, he had nothing but evil thoughts, and he hated everyone who wasn’t white, straight, and/or Armenian.
He wasn’t always that way, or so we heard. Primarily from Gary himself. He loved to tell the story about how he got hit on the head with a baseball bat years ago and now he has the seizure disorder. Those were exactly the words he used when he told us the story. “Hey man,” he’d say. He sounded kind of like Cheech from Cheech & Chong, like he said “meh” instead of “man.” “Hey meh,” he’d say, “I got hit on the head with a baseball bat and now I’ve got the seizure disorder.” He told us this story every other time we ran into him, always unprompted. It was his catchphrase.
Son of Talgot confirmed Gary’s story. He wasn’t sure whether it was a random beating or if Gary was involved in something illegal. Gary was pretty cagey about what happened, so I would assume he was partly at fault. But according to Son of Talgot, Gary was a relatively normal guy before the accident. The beaters must have knocked his frontal lobe out of whack or something. We felt a little bad for Gary the first time we heard that he told us the story. After the tenth time, we wished he would shut up. After the fiftieth time, we wanted him dead.
It would have been a lot easier to have sympathy for Gary if he wasn’t such an unconscionable bastard. On top of being a dog-beater, which we observed with our own eyes often, we had suspicions he beat his mother. Twice in the time we lived above her she had black eyes. When we asked her about them, she’d say things like, “Fall … chair … waters … no trash.” To be fair, she was nearly blind, so if she ever actually had cause to stand on a chair, chances are she would fall off. But what kind of 80 year-old woman gets black eyes? Twice? Ones who are being beaten, that’s … what kind.
The bruises weren’t our only tip-off; about once a month, we’d hear Gary fly into a rage-filled tantrum through our floorboards. His Hitleresque screams, pulsing with fury and hatred, still haunt my nightmares. We never knew what he was angry about because his tantrums were in Armenian. But we knew he was yelling at his mother – throughout the tantrum her mousine squeaks would interrupt his screams, ramping his rage up to ever-greater heights. We never heard anything that sounded like physical violence, but I’m not sure what we would have done even if we had. We were prisoners in our own apartment … if the police showed up, they would not have done anything, and there would have been no question which tenants in the building made the call. He wouldn’t blame the Talgots, I’m sure of that, and the Egyptians flew so far under the radar we all pretty much forgot they were there. And after the police left, we would still be in our apartment, right above a lunatic who was prone to fits of fury and who now hated our guts. We weighed our options and decided if Blueberry Ankles had managed to live this long with that nutcase in the next room, she must know how to handle him.
All that having been said … and that’s a lot for me to admit, that I sat by like a scared rabbit as a man beat his dog and possibly his own mother … Gary was not all terror. He was all terrible. But after awhile, we began to see him as all talk, no action. He had no trouble kicking a defenseless dog and slapping an old woman (again: unconfirmed), but he had a strange respect for Don and me. I feel horrible even thinking this, but we were probably his best friends. At no time did we ever like or respect Gary, but as a source of ridicule, he was unparalleled. The comedy begins … tomorrow.
And by tomorrow, I mean later today. I’m really behind on the story of the day.