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Page 45



Within a couple of weeks Jeff, Dorinda, and I skipped town. All the extra cash they saved by not paying their last month’s rent in Yakima gave them enough cash to afford a deposit on a third floor apartment in Everett. As it happened, we secured an apartment directly above my old friend Shawn Mrowiec and his wife Mary.

I’d known Shawn since I was kid. I’d cut through the woods behind my grandparents house and across the cow pasture and McRae Road to the blueberry farm that his mother, Dalia, owned and operated. Shawn’s mother was Lithuanian and his father Polish. To the average non-European, there is no appreciable difference between Poland and Lithuania, besides a pesky difference in language. The fact is, there is great enmity between these two countries and a marriage between a Lithuanian and a Polish person is similar to Hitler marrying a Jew. Suffice to say that things didn’t work out, and Shawn’s mother did the vast majority of the child rearing and was left to run the farm by herself.

I’ve known Shawn since I was in about fourth grade. We would often get together and have rubber band fights- or goof off in the berry fields. As we got older the rubber bands became beebee guns and without ever considering that we might put each others eyes out, we would pump our guns up about twenty times and have all out wars in the fields.

Shawn has always had a very strange and bizarre sense of humor- even from the time when we were just children. His tastes were always eclectic and he abhorred the pedestrian and banal. As a consequence he always kept me a little off balance.

For awhile he got heavily into punk bands like the Circle Jerks, DOA, and Black Flag. Then one day he decided that Black Flag was getting too political, and the love affair was over. I couldn’t understand the sudden switch, but hey, that was made Shawn interesting. You never knew when he was going to throw a left hook.

In high school he would keep us all entertained by drawing bizarre cartoons. One time in his physics class, to demonstrate a theorem, he drew a picture of his instructor, Mr. Hoback, being catapulted from a spring mechanism toward a bed of spikes. It was pretty graphic. I never bothered taking physics, but I got to see the illustration by virtue of the fact that I was in another of Mr. Hoback’s classes, and apparently he loved it. For years afterward, Mr. Hoback showed the drawing to all his students.

Despite being my best friend, I felt strongly competitive with Shawn. Every time he did something, I would have to see if I could do him one better. This competition was sometimes one-sided, but at times we would engage in fierce battles of one upmanship. If he was collecting figures for a wargame, I would collect more. If he did a great paintjob on a figure, I would have to do a better one on mine. If we were having a battle with padded weapons, I would get really pissed if I lost to Shawn- which I did most of the time.

As we got older the competitiveness faded, but we remained good friends. Somehow we were able to get on the same wave length and there were times that I could just look at him and know what he was thinking, and he could look at me and know what was going on in my devious mind. If we were to go to war, I wouldn’t want Shawn fighting against me, because he would be able to anticipate my next move. We’ve done a lot of role playing and war gaming together, and he knows my tactics better

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