A lesson on housing ‘filthy animals’

Unfortunately, kind gestures are not always reciprocated.

by Ross Anderson

I use âÄúfilthy animalâÄù as a term of endearment. It describes an individual who is unashamed, or in this case unaware, of his animal nature. Gary was one of the finest filthy animals IâÄôd ever seen. He was a brutish, muscle-bound mass of mindless testosterone who measured his worth by the number of pull-ups he could perform. It was by pure chance that Gary came into my life. I was drinking on the sidewalk when I saw him across the street, standing alone in his entire animalistic splendor. âÄúJesus,âÄù I thought. âÄúWould you look at that filthy animal? What a fine specimen.âÄù It was clear by his posture and apelike saunter that Gary was a man not to be messed with. His freshly shaved skull and many tattoos made him look like a cross between a skinhead and an ex-con. He wore an exasperated scowl and was observably distraught about something. I had no intention of finding out what he was brooding over, but I couldnâÄôt help but to admire his stature from behind the veil of my sunglasses. He shuffled closer. âÄúStupid question,âÄù he said as he approached, âÄúdo you have another cigarette?âÄù I didnâÄôt, so I offered him the final half of the one hanging from my mouth. Then came the pivotal moment: I kicked out the chair next to me, âÄúTake a load off,âÄù I said. âÄúYou look like you could use a drink.âÄù Little did I know this fleeting gesture of compassion would lead to a bloodied and extremely pricey life lesson. Over a drink, Gary explained that the source of his scowl was not inborn nastiness but a girlfriend that he had moments earlier found in bed with his roommate. âÄúOuch,âÄù I said. âÄúThatâÄôs a bad day.âÄù âÄúYeah,âÄù he sighed with the most sorrowful expression, âÄúand now IâÄôve got nowhere to go.âÄù Then he stared off at nothing and I could see the subtle repression of tears in his eyes. He spilled his sorrows over a few more drinks. He didnâÄôt speak as much as he whimpered. With alcohol impairing my judgment, I determined Gary was a harmless, gentle creature. Under the weight of my sympathy, I invited him to stay at my place while he licked his wounds and found more permanent lodging. It was a dicey play, but I figured the gods would look kindly upon my benevolence. Our first days together were defined by GaryâÄôs eagerness to show his gratitude. He cooked and cleaned and was generally pleasant to have around. But as the days went on, and he grew more comfortable, the lewdness of GaryâÄôs nature became increasingly apparent, as did his erratic, disturbing behavior. He worked downtown at a popular bro-bar. Soon Gary was bringing home hefty young girls and parading them around the apartment to display his superior skills as a ladiesâÄô man. He insisted on telling and retelling the tale from the bar in which he had scored with a lady in the back alley whilst his co-workers watched and cheered him on from afar. He was especially proud to have displayed his thrusting talents to the higher-ups, thinking this may help with his chances for upward mobility within the bro-bar hierarchy. As I was learning, Gary was chock-full of cockamamie ideas. So now I was stuck with this grubby beast living on my couch, and he was becoming increasingly volatile and unruly. To make matters worse, Gary began to feel entitled to my things. He was especially fond of my 1982 Suzuki GS 850 motorcycle and was constantly bothering me to ride it. Thinking it might placate his throbbing, raw machismo, I let him take it for a spin one afternoon. Of course, this only led to further badgering. The madness multiplied with the introduction of a second filthy animal, my former friend Jon. Jon had been a longtime guest of our stateâÄôs correction facilities and since his release has been operating purely on some type of twisted, maniacal survival instinct. Gary was also a product of incarceration, and the two animals hit it off immediately. Together they were insanity squared. One would pose an absurd idea and the other would corroborate its validity. I was now outnumbered, and when the three of us were together, sanity didnâÄôt stand a chance. I left the two fanatical fiends at my apartment one Saturday evening. âÄúYou two are on your own.âÄù I told them with disdain as I walked out. I was taking a much-needed break from the lunacy. I returned home a few hours later to discover that my Suzuki GS 850 was gone. âÄú[Expletive]!âÄù I said aloud. Gary and Jon had stolen my motorcycle. I was determined not to let the offense ruin my Saturday, so I grabbed a beer and waited patiently on the porch for their arrival, expecting to hear the gentle roar of my bike at any moment. Instead, I heard GaryâÄôs bellowing moan coming from the side of the house. He turned the corner limping, his clothes tattered and his body covered in searing, bloody road rash. Considering GaryâÄôs condition, I didnâÄôt even want to imagine what my bike looked like. With Gary clinging on the back of the bike and police in hot pursuit, Jon had crashed my motorcycle, sending Gary skidding across the pavement. Today, Jon sits in jail and my motorcycle in the Minneapolis impound lot. Because it was involved in a criminal incident, it remains on âÄúpolice hold,âÄù and I cannot retrieve it. ItâÄôs difficult to come up with a comforting moral to this story. Perhaps compassion for your fellow man is not always advisable? All I can say is, be careful about giving into your sympathies. And be especially careful about housing filthy animals. Ross Anderson welcomes comments at [email protected]