This is in honor of Mandi, who is bravely fighting for our freedom. In Shickley.
Mandi is a wild child; has and always will be, I’m afraid. She’s got an untamed spirit that begs to roam free. She scoffs at authority figures, abuses the elderly, and likes to flash the cameras as they roll on past her. I love Mandi.
Our junior year of high school was a tumultuous one. We were antsy to be out of school, out of Deshler, and eager to start our new lives in the world. We took chances that year. Some were risky, others were dangerous, and others still….well, we’ve been told we can never talk about those, unless our lawyers are present.
Mandi was constantly surrounded by drama; she thrived on it. I think drama was her energy source, much like Doritos and Mt. Dew are mine. The story revolves around the drama that hung around Mandi like buzzards over a dead body in the desert.
Mandi always had a gentleman suitor. Sometimes two or three at a time. Mandi was also a whore.
It was a Friday night during basketball season. Mandi was a cheerleader and I was on the girls basketball team. After the girls game was the boys turn to tear the court up. Mandi came up to me after my game, eyes blazing.
“Erin. Joe’s here. With HER, ” She was fired up about something.
“What’s going on? Is everything ok?” I was concerned.
“No, it’s not ok. Joe’s here with Nicole. He wants his class ring back. Well, he ain’t getting his fucking ring back! That’ll teach him to break up with me for a whore!”
Mandi and Joe had been dating for a few months and as customary with young loves, Joe gave Mandi his class ring as a token of love. I’m not clear on what occurred for Mandi and Joe to break up, but I do remember that as a sad sort of retaliation toward Mandi, Joe started dating Mandi’s arch nemesis. He was in town to get back his ring so he could bestow it upon his new love, Nicole. Mandi had other plans.
“Are you coming with me?” she snapped. “That son of a bitch is messing with the wrong woman!”
I could tell this was going to be an adventure, so I agreed to go along.
We walked out of the hot, stuffy gymnasium to the cool November night. An ancient Chevy pick-up sat idling in the parking lot, headlights off. Mandi half walked/ran over the truck and beat on the driver side window. Joe rolled the window down casually.
“Hey. Give me my ring back. My new lady wants it.” He had such a way with words….
“Fuck you, asshole.” So did Mandi…..
“Stop being a bitch and just give it back to me. It doesn’t belong to you anymore.”
“FINE!!” Mandi screeched. She yanked the huge ring off her finger and threw it through the window into the cab of the truck.
With that, Joe flipped on his headlights and tore out of the parking lot, spraying us both with gravel. We stood there for a while. I was following Joe’s taillights with my eyes and could still here is shit-kicker truck squealing through town.
“Well, that was fun. Now what?” I asked. I was a little disapointed that nothing big went down. I was half expecting Mandi to leap through the open window of the truck and start wailing on Joe and his new girlfriend. Mandi let me down, so I was bored. I sighed and shoved my hands into my jeans pockets. Mandi was still standing in the same spot, her shoulders heaving up and down, fast and furiously. She was pissed.
“Get in my car. We’re going to follow him.”
Yes! A car chase! If only we had some machine guns or something like that so I could stick my body out the passenger door and fire wildly into the night at the speeding truck. Images of every gangster movie I’ve ever seen rolled through my head. Eager for excitement after the initial let-down of earlier, I was all for a good old fashioned car chase.
We ran over to Mandi’s car and hopped in. She roared her engine to life, threw the car in reverse, and it was our turn to peel out.
“I’ve never felt so alive!!” I screamed as we sped out of town. I wasn’t sure where we were going exactly since we had stood around for a few minutes after Joe left, but Mandi seemed to know where to find him. We got on a gravel road that runs behind the high school and followed it out of town for a few miles. I was exhilarated. This was so fucking awesome. I was involved in a bona fide car chase. I could die happy…
We drove on, making turns here and there, when after a few minutes of driving, we saw taillights up ahead. Could it be? No, not possible.
But it was. We were pretty close behind the truck and then Joe must of realized it was Mandi. He stepped on the gas and shot ahead of us, leaving us blinded in a huge pile of dust and gravel. Oh shit, this just got real. Not to be outdone, Mandi hit the gas and we lurched forward after Joe. I now knew what the expression “wild goose chase” felt like.
Joe tried to lose us several times and was almost successful, but Mandi was determined. Hell hath no fury like Mandi Mitchell scorned. By now, the thrill of our chase was starting to wear off and I was getting nervous. We were going pretty fast, and on loose gravel roads, no less. I realized I wasn’t wearing my seat belt. I was just about to reach over and pull it on when I heard Mandi cuss next to me.
“Motherfucker!! Hold on!!”
My life flashed before my eyes. I always thought that was a cliche, but it’s true. Sixteen years of my life played out in my mind as Mandi grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and yanked on it like a sea captain trying to navigate his ship during a storm.
What had happened was wehad caught up to Joe again and were right on his tail. He slowed down until we were practically on top of him, then he slammed on the gas and sped off, enclosing us in a thick fog of dust. Not to be out done again, Mandi sped up to catch up with Joe. That’s when she saw the stop sign. And the headlights coming from beside me. I had no clue where we had managed to end up, we were taking all sorts of back roads, but I got my bearings straight just then. It was the highway. And a rather large semi was traveling west toward town just as we were about to blow through the stop sign. Mandi slammed on the breaks, grabbed the wheel, and was pulling hard to the right. I struggled for my seat belt to finally put it on, but the force of us spinning around kept me from connecting the belt.
The truck zoomed past us, horn blaring, just as we spun a perfect 360 degree angle through the intersection. We ended up facing the direction we had just driven. Mandi looked over at me and I at her. We were panting, gasping for breath, our eyes huge with terror.
“Holy shit!” I screamed. “You almost killed us!!”
“I know, wasn’t it amazing!” Mandi was laughing wildly. “Are you ok?” she asked me after she calmed down.
“I think so. I might need new pants because I think I soiled mine, but other than that, I’m good.” I was still panting and realized I was holding on to the dashboard for dear life. I eased my grip and relaxed. Then I started laughing.
So here were the two of us, laughing like lunatics in a car that was parked precariously in the middle of a highway intersection.
“Oh my god, I think we were on two wheels for a while!” Mandi seemed proud of herself. I admit, it was pretty cool.
Another car was coming down the highway, so Mandi quickly drove back onto the gravel road.
“Well, I may not have caught him, but goddammit that was fun!”
I had to agree. We drove back into town, stopping at the gas station to get snacks and beverages to soothe us.
That was the night that I almost died because of love.
Years later, the whole ordeal seems ironic to me….Mandi is in jail as I write this. She’s on death row for killing Joe. See, after that fateful night, Joe realized that he loved Mandi because of how passionate she was about catching up to him. A week later, they got back together and at the beginning of our senior year of high school, they got married. It was a small private affair, but lovely nonetheless. Oddly enough, Nicole was Joe’s best man, but whatever.
After graduation, Mandi and Joe moved away to a small town in Vermont, where Joe got work as a syrup wrangler and Mandi worked as a lumberjack. Times were tough for them, but their love survived.
Until Joe got caught sticking his willy where it didn’t belong. Mandi was out of town, working in Massachusetts and Joe was left behind. A pretty new gal had just started at the syrup ranch and ol’ Joe to a shine to her. He showed her around town, and eventually, showed her inside his pants. Terrible timing is what got Joe dead. Mandi got done with work a week before schedule and was coming home early to surprise her man. Too bad it was Mandi that got the surprise.
Mandi had pulled into the driveway, hauled her lumberjack gear into the garage and was on her way down the hall into the bedroom when she heard the giggles. Joe had a womanish laugh, so she didn’t think anything of it. But that’s when she heard two people laughing. She stormed through the closed bedroom door and saw Joe and his mistress, covered in syrup. Turns out they brought their work home with them. Unfortunately for them, so did Mandi.
She raced back out to the garage and grabbed her chainsaw. Ripping the pull cord, the great machine burst to life, thereby ending Joe’s and his syrup sluts life, also.
At her trial, Mandi’s lawyers tried to get her off on the insanity plea, but to no avail. Mandi was a sentenced woman and was ordered to death by lethal injection. Her lawyers have tried appeal after appeal, but Mandi is still sitting on death row, awaiting her final day on this cruel earth.
I visit her sometimes, but being in jail has robbed Mandi of her livelihood. She’s nothing of the girl that she was a few years ago.
But that’s cool with me. She always was a crazy bitch. Plus, she almost killed me! I mean, what the fuck?! Some friend she is! Shit. Who does that–trying to kill your supposed “best friend”? Whatever. Goddamn.
Fare thee well, Mandi. God bless you. Go play with the angels.