I always imagined that it was her hair that caught the monster’s eye. I bet Kid Grundy, or Grundy Junior, or whatever the creature’s name is, saw her long, blonde hair gleaming like spun gold in the sunlight. He was drawn to it. Don’t you see? That had to be what lured him out of the sewer or the swamp and into Stuartville.
Later, I learned that some super-heroes had captured him, and that he and his partners in crime were being transported to prison when their vehicle was attacked, and a gang of thugs attempted to liberate the group of misfits. They wore weird Halloween masks that made them look like nothing as much as psychotic Raggedy Andy dolls come to life with murderous intentions! I think the blonde prisoner expected them. The report in the Stuartville Press said she giggled and squealed something like, “Daddy!”
In any case, the plan worked too well. The gang was set free, but in the confusion Kid Grundy became separated from the others. He made his way through the sewers until he emerged near our sleepy little town. You know, if that thing came from the refuse and garbage cast aside by a callous humanity, then perhaps he is Nature’s own avenger spawned in inhuman form and meant to bring wrath down on those frail humans who offended the natural order with their arrogant disregard for the environment.
Then again, he could be a freak. He could just be some poor sap born that way due to the very same pollution and toxins in the world. I don’t really care.
Anyhow, Grundy made his way through the dank and dark sewers, and he liked it. I bet he felt at home down there. It’s odd how he must have felt so alone and so apart from everyone, except that he relished some of the very things that made him so very unique. Who else could have willingly traveled so far within those raw and rank drains? Still, I digress. I suppose he found his way to Stuartville and survived like some postmodern Robinson Crusoe, or more like a graveyard Tarzan in the woods. I rather like that phrase.
I want to try to use my imagination. I want to do the bizarre and unreal task of placing myself in that creature’s chalk-white skin. I want to test myself and see if I can breathe humanity into that walking dead man. So, here I go. Again, I think it was her pretty hair that attracted him as he lurked in that eternal twilight, that preternatural stillness found only in wooden areas.
She used to go out to the forest to get away from them. Irony! Like the fairy-tale princess she so resembled in her beauty and innocence, she would escape from the pain at home by heading into the woods. I like such literary patterns. They appeal to me. She would seek solace in the solitude, and so, while the rest of the town remained behind in their pickup trucks parked at the K-Mart in search of lustful needs and petty vices, she was apart from her so-called peers. Like any of those shallow girls or redneck boys could truly be her peers! Still, she left behind their sweaty hands and leering eyes to be alone in the woods.
Grundy staggered through the forest. His ragged suit was a mockery of the values and proprieties of the civilized world in which he could never belong. His Sunday-go-to-meeting black suit carried a glossy funeral sheen about it, like the fragile shine on a sympathy card to remind you of old losses before you crumple it up and toss it aside. He had that infamous pale complexion like a tombstone worn smooth by the elements. He spoke in a guttural grunt, but there was something about his whole demeanor that spoke of what might have been had he been given a greater chance to live like normal folks do. He was not so much a ruined man as he was an unfinished one. It was as if he was being put together on the instalment plan, and someone was behind in the payments.
I don’t know still if he had much of a mind to recall past events. Maybe every day was a new beginning for him. Maybe, rather than being a cursed mockery of mankind, he was a blessed being who never carried yesterday’s pains or lingering sorrows or guilt around with him. That would be a state of mind to be envied.
To never feel afresh the scorn and pain of previous days! Grundy may not have remembered his own past. He may have been like a twisted newborn with the incoherent needs of a child and the fresh view of the world around him that could only come from lack of experience. I can’t say for sure. Let us suppose that something from his past spoke to him. He had affection for that blonde from the police van! He liked her pretty blonde curls, and just maybe something in Deena reminded him of her. Didn’t they say he called her Dolly like a Barbie, or maybe like that other criminal he was with when they captured him? Does it even matter now?
He saw her that morning. I like to think it was morning. She must have worn that pale yellow dress that made her look like a primitive goddess of the dawn with a hint of dew or a promise of untold possibilities about her. I remember that dress and how she looked in it. I wish I had a photo of her in that dress. She sat there in the still forest and wept. No one could see her tears, so she wept. She was the kind of girl who would only cry when she felt the need or needed to be felt. She cried. He heard her sobs and was drawn to her.
I bet that monster forgot himself and came out to where the light of day could shine on them both, and he could stand before her as if he had the right to do so. He may have grunted or just snapped the dry twigs by the passing of his rough boots. She would have turned and screamed. No, that’s not right. Deep down she carried a steely resolve beyond anything that peaches and cream Miss Apple Pie America look of hers revealed. She would have looked at him with wide, expressive eyes, and she would have immediately assumed her customary pose of demure helplessness. His powerful body was enough to made anybody helpless, since he had the strength to shatter stone in those oversized hands of his. Still, with Deena, it was always second nature to project a sense of being as easily broken as a China doll.
Grundy would have said something inane like, “Girl… sad? Why girl cry?” as he hesitated before her and, perhaps, stared vacant-eyed at her beauty.
She might have known what he was. It is funny, but it is true. Out of the entire town, only she could have been smart and informed enough to recognize that this juvenile creature was akin to the nightmare, because she read so much. She was something of an intellectual. How shall I put it? She was a Heather Locklear body carrying a Diane Sawyer mind. She knew about the heroes. What did she call them? Men of menace? No. Mystery-men. Yes, she loved the mystery-men with their easy charm and rugged good looks. She liked their colorful costumes and broad shoulders. She enjoyed their cavalier ways and devil-may-care manners.
So she knew about Solomon Grundy and could have told you the exact date of his cross-country terror spree in the late 1940s, and would likely have heard about this younger, somewhat smaller version of the legendary marshland monster from the recent news reports she followed closely. (*) She always liked to conceal her mind with an act of feminine weakness, because she knew the men like a dumb woman. That was smart of her. She always presented herself as exactly what the man wanted. That was wrong of me. I don’t know that for a fact. I may be coloring my memories with bitterness, since I was never what she wanted. Oh, help me! I still don’t know if she was truly innocent and loving or was always pretending to be like that! Was she dirty or as pure as snow? I can’t be sure! Even now I cannot be sure!
[(*) Editor’s note: See Junior JSA: The Junior Injustice Society.]
Grundy would have reached out and stroked her hair. His dead nervous system could not have truly allowed him to feel things like the silky texture of her hair. That was beyond his ability. Still, I bet he liked to put his hands on her! I bet he treated her like a living doll! He was so much larger than her that, to his warped perspective, she must have been like a talking, walking, living doll designed to be played with at her whim. I’m sure that she was in charge of their playtime.
She must have turned to him with that killer pout we used to joke about even as we all fell over one another to please her. She must have set that pouty lip a-trembling as he bent over her and tried to comfort her in his brute beast way! I can imagine how Kid Grundy responded to her tenderness, for she knew how to be tender! Break my very heart, she knew how to be tender!
He would have held her and tried to soothe her tears and her fears, and, all the while, he would have grasped at the faint but powerful notion that here was someone he could relate to. Here, he had found a girl who was like him. They were apart from others. They had no one but each other. I just bet that deluded swamp thing must have imagined that love had come into his wet and sticky world at last!
Deena would have taken him by the hand and led him out of the glade. They would have waited until night. How stupid I was to think all those years that, when night came, my Deena was inside! I knew she had no car, and I was numb enough with love and blind passion to think that vital and vibrant female thing was sitting meekly in her room while I was in my own pining for her! Still, she would have known the ways of night, and she would have taken him home after the shadows had lengthened and the night was still.
I bet the sweet sound of crickets filled the night sky as she spoke to him in her honey-sweet tones and told him that they had made her cry again. They had hurt her. They hated her. They wanted her dead. Oh, she could pull it off like a homespun Jessica Lange. She could bet those eyes and put that little break in her voice that said exactly what she wanted it to say without truly saying anything! She would try to change the topic. She would try to talk about his pain and assure him that she would do anything to help him.