He had a collection of guns underneath his bed. They were casually stored there, the way one might store useless winter sweaters over a hot summer. I kept clothes under my bed, and he kept… guns.
I didn’t really know how to feel about the guns. We didn’t have children in the house, so it wasn’t a safety issue. It just seemed kind of intense and odd to sleep over a herd of guns; to fuck over the guns; to watch sitcoms on the television in bed, while laughing above the pile of guns.
The guns languished beneath us the entire year we dated, listening to our arguments, sex and snores, waiting for their moment in the sun.
The biggest gun was an SKS rifle. He took me to some land on his parents’ farm one afternoon, and let me shoot the SKS. It kicked back into me with a force I’d never felt when I shot guns on my own parents’ farm.
I didn’t like the way it felt. The SKS took the usual video game tomfoolery of smaller guns into the realm of certain death and destruction. It felt ominous. Apocalyptic.
He was hung up on power. He could never have enough power. He was a computer hacker who worked a straight job safeguarding the city’s computer system from other hackers. He referred to himself more than once as the Dark Horse.
He was also very secretive, and his browser history showed young girl porn websites I didn’t even want to begin to understand. His poorly hidden dresser drawer porn showed rape scenes with girls tied up by groups of men. It was more than disturbing.
I ran into an old friend at a local rock show who visibly blanched when I mentioned that I was dating this guy. He pulled me aside to talk about him.
“You know he worships Satan, right?”
“Ha ha, very funny,” I said dryly, assuming this person was exaggerating for effect.
“No, really, he worships the devil. I’m not kidding around. He’s totally into all of that black magic bullshit. Ask him.”
I assumed this person was just the victim of rumors gone wild. People see a guy who dresses in black, and they assume things like this because they need to categorize and label things they don’t understand. My boyfriend had never mentioned this to me before, so I did an inner eye-roll and dismissed what my friend in the bar had said. Mostly.
Eventually it started to nag at me. Yes, it seemed like a pretty big secret to keep from the person you were dating. But what kept making me wonder were the other dark secrets. The information my friend had shared made me uneasy. The boyfriend was obsessed with power, and the idea that he might play around with witchcraft and alternative philosophies to make himself feel mysterious wasn’t beyond comprehension.
But a Satanist? It made me cringe in embarrassment for him to think about it. It was so trite to dress in black and cast “spells” on the people you dislike. So childish. He was in his mid-twenties, for Chrissake. Surely he was past that high school-ish phase of rebellion?
I waited until he was taking a shower one day, and searched through his closet to see if I would find anything. The shower was downstairs, so this afforded me fifteen minutes of time alone.
Hurrying, I dug into the packed closet, scooting clothing, board games and boots aside. I didn’t know what I was hoping to find, but I knew that whatever it might be, it would be in the back.
Buried there under some sweaters, perhaps the sweaters displaced by the collection of guns under the bed, was a stack of books. Many of them were by a man named Aleister Crowley. There were books about black magic, rituals, the occult, voodoo, and ceremonial spells. I couldn’t believe it. My friend in the bar had been telling the truth.
I quickly looked through the books, then hid them back where I found them before he came back up the stairs from the shower.
The books were creepy, but what bothered me the most was the realization that I was being intimate with a complete stranger. I had no idea who this person was, or of what he was capable.
I’m not at all religious, and would have laughed along with him if he’d confessed that he’d dabbled in such things in his youth, because we’ve all done stupid things.
But I was haunted by this discovery, because what I really discovered was that I would have sex with someone I didn’t know very well.
I discovered that I was so superficial I would date someone who hid ugly things like rape porn and black magic spell books.
I discovered that I was shallow enough to be with someone completely pathetic, simply because it was better than being alone.
That was when the realization finally hit me that it wasn’t better than being alone at all. Because I was already alone the whole time. He wasn’t sharing himself with me in any way, and never would.
The incident completely changed the way I viewed him, and the way I viewed myself. I broke up with him soon thereafter.