I guess she played it smart and left him in the woods that first day. I mean, while my fevered imagination causes me to rush to the end of the tale, she could not have truly won him over so totally in a day. I suppose I just told it all wrong. She took her time. She visited him each day. He’d wait in those woods and think of her. It would give his poor vacant heart pleasure to know that she was his friend. She cared for him, and she shared things with him. She would come, and he would not be alone anymore! Oh, I bet he waited and anticipated her visits like an eager child.
“Pretty! Pretty!” he said to himself in that guttural voice of his. It was a mantra for a madman. It was his way to hold her in his mind until she would come. They could not have talked much. She would have done most of the speaking, and she would let those eyes say so much, too! Kid Grundy would cradle her in his arms, and he would listen to her tales about the way they hated her at home. They beat her! They called her names. They used her! They robbed her! How she feared them. How she loved them. She was theirs. She came from their union. They made her. How could she hate those who gave her life? Could Kid Grundy remember who gave him life? Did he ever think of that being with feelings of hatred, or did he long to ask that person why he had formed him in such a manner that brought no joy to others and left him so very much alone?
Kid Grundy would drink in her every word and her every line. He would die for her. He would kill for her! She’d be so shocked by his passion. She’d lower those emerald eyes, and through her thick lashes, she would demurely look up at him and touch him on the chest as if to say how precious he was to her, how very dear he was to care so very much for her! The very idea brought her pleasure and tears, since she could never deserve such selfless love.
Grundy would ask her what love meant. He would be confused by the term. She would wait and, perhaps, idly pick a flower as they walked among the fields and the tall sunflowers that lingered around them. I bet it was a scene out of a gallery! She with her blonde perfection, and Grundy with his odd symmetry! Maybe, I should say it was a scene out of a Night Gallery. Submitted for your approval, “Beauty and her Beast!” No, that was Serling’s other show. He didn’t use that line on Night Gallery. In any event, Grundy would say, “Love? Grundy loves? Grundy loves Deena!”
She would embrace him. She would gush, “I do love you!” It would all seem so natural; she was just that good. I can’t believe she really loved him. Oh, he offered her puppy-like devotion. He gave her all he could give, but at heart she was shallow and vain and felt she deserved all anyone could give her. It was that willfulness that spoke to her parents. That’s why they hated her. They saw her as evil. Her evil reflected back on them. How could good people have such a vile daughter? Where had they gone wrong?
As I said, I imagine Deena told Kid Grundy that she loved him. She said it suddenly, as if she had not meant to confess it, but her feelings had been too much to suppress for even a second longer. Grundy would have been beside himself. He would have never felt so alive. I loved her, and I know he is nothing more than a corpse with delusions of glory, but even so, I can say that I could hate Deena for inspiring that misguided creature with such blind vitality! He exulted in being alive because she loved him! He lost his sense of being an outcast because she cared for him! Dare I say it? Kid Grundy may have given humble thanks that he was as he was because, in spite of his flaws and his cursed existence, she loved him! Perhaps that act was her greatest sin of all!
Deena would have finally told him that the reason she was so sad and water came from her eyes at times was because her parents hated her. They would not let her leave, and they would not let her have friends or see other people. They told her she was bad and had to be punished. The belts, the curses, and the other more subtle ways to inflict pain were all she knew of a home life. Still, she was evil if she did not obey and honor her parents, no matter how they hurt her!
She would deliberately cut short one visit and rush home with the promise to see her beloved Kid Grundy tomorrow. He would regret her leaving. He would pace the woods in a passion.
“Kid Grundy make Deena happy! Grundy want Pretty to be safe!” he would grunt. I know later they found broken trees in the forest. They were not marked by any lightning strike or fire. They were literally broken like kindling. It had to be that Kid Grundy rampaged in that forest when he thought of his new love and how others dared hurt her. Her pain drove him wild! Funny… that monster had enough humanity within him to feel sorry for her.
She was using him. She was perhaps making up most of all she said. One of her enemies whispered that she was secretly seeing an older man from the next town. He was a flashy type with a glib manner and a quick hand. I think I saw him once when I was walking her home. I can’t swear to it. She didn’t speak to him, but I saw a look. I saw a small exchange between them. I saw it when others would have missed it. She and I had a certain rapport. It went beyond façade to the point where she thought I was blind, but in truth I saw her more clearly than anyone else. But I digress.
She was rumored to be seeing this old man. He was a drunk. He was a cocky beast with less humanity about him than Kid Grundy. He beat her. That’s what I was told. It may not be true. I think it is. I think all the bruises and the pain came from him or other men she met at night. Her parents were merely honest, simple folks who could not control their wild child. What if they never did anything to her but love her? She was like a writer in that she had read much and could weave a pattern of deceit from many sources until she had formed a story pleasing to the ear and capable of lulling the listener. Could she truly have lied about those poor people? Did they never in truth raise a hand to her?
I only know Kid Grundy fell for her, and in his mind her every word was truth! Isn’t that they way we all live? Those of us who pride ourselves on our civilization and our society and think that we can discern the correct ways to live our lives may be as blind as that chalky white freak! We decide what is truth and what is fiction. We cling to what we determine to be right, and we reject the paths others follow as being totally wrong. Yet all we are truly doing is making our own decisions based on what we see, and what we see is not always what is real. Grundy believed her. Kid Grundy loved her. That was enough. That was more than most of us have.
See, I can admit that my love for her was pure… to a point. I wanted to care for her, but deep down I wanted to own her. Kid Grundy didn’t think that deeply. He only wanted to make her happy, and that may make that monster more of a saint than a sinner. His motives were pure! He came from the swamps. The toxic pools of poison and filth spawned him, but he was pure in his love for Deena.
She did not come to visit him the next day. She did not show up the day after that. He had to be going mad. He had to wonder if he had hurt her? Had he said the wrong thing? Had he made her mad? What if she no longer loved him? How could she ever have loved a monster like him? These questions would have raged through a more coherent mind, and they did plague Kid Grundy as well. Finally, his fear was too much to stand. Kid Grundy made his way to the house. He had watched her leave the woods enough to have an idea where she lived. Maybe the brute could even read her name on the mailbox. Wouldn’t it be bizarre if Deena actually taught the creature to read during their time together? She was smart, and she would have been gratified by the idea that she had managed to work such a feat!
Anyways, he lumbered toward the house and saw her through the window. She was alone. He stood there silently and waited. He stared at her, and then she saw him. Maybe she felt the weight of his stare. Maybe she had been sitting there for two days like an actress enjoying her own private psychodrama. She saw Kid Grundy’s eager and pathetic features, and she smiled a small smile. She opened the window and looked out and seemed to glance back at her room door with a fearful anxiety.
“You must go! You can’t be here! They’re home. They won’t let me leave to see you! If they find out about us, they will hurt me more! I can’t stand it if they… do it again!” she whispered.
Kid Grundy would beg her to run away with him. His lack of wit would rob him of the words, but his feelings would add a potent sincerity to anything he did manage to say.
She would shake her head and touch his huge hands and say that she could not do that. As bad as they were, they gave her shelter! She was frail, and, unlike Kid Grundy, she could feel hunger and cold, and she could not live without some type of shelter! So, she would beg her dear friend to leave until she could somehow find a way to see him again. She hoped he was not mad at her. She knew she did not deserve such a loyal friend. She was not worthy of him!
Kid Grundy would listen, and he would ache for the desire to help her. He would see himself as some white knight. He’d picture himself defending her against every foe. What if that super-villain in training saw himself as a mystery-man type? Can you see that freak in a cape? He would be like Green Lantern or the Hawkman! He would protect and serve! Oh, yeah!
Kid Grundy would see her tears, and he would want to die. He would want to end her pain and his own, but the only way he could do that would be to make her come with him, and that might make her hate him. No, it was better to have her here and still see her rarely and still have her love than to risk losing her precious concern for him! He stumbled away, and before he managed to go very far, he heard her scream.
He turned and ran back to the house and smashed through the window like it was made of paper and clay. Kid Grundy saw her on her knees before the old couple who raised her. He acted out of sheer mindless passion. He broke in and ignored everything as he charged at them with raised fists. He acted without malice as he broke them like discarded dolls. It was swift. One blow was enough to end their lives. Then he turned to his Deena. He turned and waited to receive her thanks and her love! He turned and saw a look of horror as she darted out the broken window and screamed for help.
“Deena! Kid Grundy help you! Bad people won’t hurt you!” he pleaded as he followed. No doubt he fell as he tried to catch her. He felt his whole world tilting out of balance.
Deena’s cried attracted the neighbors, and soon she was in the arms of a matronly old woman from across the street.
“That thing killed… it killed my folks!” she shrieked.
The men came out from around the block. The local cops pulled up. The good citizens rallied to the aid of endangered womanhood. Kid Grundy ignored their shouts and their blows and the stones they threw. The rifle shot merely bounced off his thick hide.
Nothing they could do could hold him. Nothing they could do could hurt him. All he saw or felt was Deena’s look of fear and hatred as she begged them all to keep that thing away from her!
He pleaded with her, but his fear, anxiety, and anger all overwhelmed him. He became more of the brute than the brutalized as he lost his speech and merely roared in rage and sorrow.
A man in a uniform spoke into a radio. He heard the words Justice Society. He knew those dread men and women were his foes. He knew he could not stand against them alone. He looked at Deena, and he cried out in pain as he lumbered back into the night and lost himself in the woods.
He continued his heedless charge and walked for days. He needed no rest. He needed no food. All he wanted to do was get away from people. He knew now that Deena hated him. He had no idea that she had used him to get rid of her parents. He didn’t know any more than I did about the truth of the situation. Was she an angel tormented by a painful childhood, or was she a scheming witch who wanted only to claim her family home and what little money her parents had so she could live life on her own terms?
I don’t know what became of Kid Grundy, but I believe the blonde woman who worked with him during his criminal career eventually found him. She was his original Pretty, and maybe they belonged together. I’d wager that poor sap never trusted anyone normal again. I hope he found some peace.
I know he has never forgotten Deena. I know I never have.