You can read parts one and two of Larry, WPITW, here and here.
People sometimes ask me how I could possibly have been so blind. Of the women involved they say, "How stupid could they be? They deserve what they got."
Of the second statment, I will say nothing until I have finished telling the story. Of the first, I can only say that it was a classic case of not finding what I was not looking for. I simply did not want to see it. No one did. That's why it went on for as long as it did.
Back in January, Larry and I got into a fight.
We were in New Hampshire and we had just finished a climb. Everyone was tired. I was pissed off that I hadn't summited. It had been a long day and the drive home was going to be longer. Larry said something to me about riding back with Ethan, and I told him I needed to get my other bag out of his trunk. His response to this was to turn to me and snarl, "I told you NOT to leave anything in the trunk."
In Larry's defense, he had told me... not to leave anything in the trunk. However, I had two arms full of gear and thirty pounds on my back, and I didn't have a third hand and... so what? Anyone will tell you I am excellent at following directions, normally. I said, "Don't talk to me like that. Be pissed off that I didn't follow your arbitrary rule, but you don't talk to me like that, ever. Is that clear?"
Larry did not say anything. He just put down his stuff and walked out. A few minutes later he came back in with my bag and placed it at my feet. He still wouldn't look at me. When he let go of the bag, I kid you not, his hand was shaking. He absolutely would not look at me, and he did not speak to me all the way home.
The next morning, he sent me an email asking me if I was ok with not summiting saying, basically, we'll try again another time, and then all casual like, apoligized for being a jerk to me.
Well. Alright already. What's the big deal?
The big deal, as I would find out, was that Larry was afraid of me, and he had reason to be. I had no idea at the time, but I had the power to destroy his empire if only I had been willing to see what was right in front of me. Had I found what I was not looking for, I would have blown the whistle instantly. Other people he could count on to take his side, but he knew if I ever found out, I would not take it well, nor would I protect him.
This is why several months later, when we were all camping in the Catskills and he drove up to meet us, he was scratching and fidgeting and pacing. It must have been right about then that Larry realized he had taken it too far. We had all climbed together that day - and you had to know Larry spent all day wondering if anyone would mention her boyfriend - the guy she wasn't supposed to tell anyone she was dating. He had to realize it was very possible one of them would talk.
No one did. But something else happened, something that was so obviously wrong that not even I could ignore it. A woman we'll call Gwen was on that camping trip, and she was, as usual, sitting near Larry, hanging on his every word. I noticed that when no one was paying attention, she would reach over and touch him - grab his elbow, pinch his ear, tug on the bill of his baseball hat. It was annoying to watch, and I know it was driving Larry, who was nervous to start with, crazy. Finally she did this one too many times, and Larry got up, grabbed her by the hood of her jacket, and dragged her into the clearing, where he proceeded to wrestle her to the ground. He did not let her up until she screamed.
It was not until then that anyone really suspected anything was amiss. We'd seen Larry play fight lots of times and most of us had done some form of it with him ourselves. Larry stepped back to the fire, but Gwen did not. Everyone was looking at Larry as if to say, "What the fuck?" but no one said anything. After an awkward silence, he said, "She's fine."
Now, it just so happens that Bibi and I were sharing a tent with Gwen, and when we returned to our tent to find her most assuredly not fine, and in fact missing, we were concerned. Bibi went to go find Larry while I checked the bathroom. I find Gwen there, leaning over the sink, clutching her head, sobbing. When she saw me walk in, she ran out past me, into the darkness. I stood in the bathroom for a few minutes thinking she might return - or that perhaps I was mistaken about manner of the sobbing, ie, that the sobbing was unmistakable man heartbreak crying.
I knew, as did everyone else, that Gwen liked Larry and that Larry did not much like her. So I stood there, thinking, she's either going to the tent, where she'll find Bibi, or on her way to find Larry, in which case there's also a good chance she'll run into Bibi, or she'll come back here. From the window next to the sink, I could see our tent. I could watch for her both places, so I stayed put.
Fifteen minutes later, Bibi walked in and she was visibly upset. She couldn't find Gwen - or Larry. Then she said, "tell me everything."
"Everything? About what?"
"What did she say?"
"Nothing," I said. "I think she might have a crush on Larry. That's all."
Bibi, aggitated, said, "Do you think she is sleeping with him?"
"I doubt it," I said. "He does not appear to like her very much."
"Yeah," she said. I could tell she wanted to say something but couldn't tell what.
"What else?" she said.
So we recounted the entire trip, going over every detail of her behavior and every detail of his. I, because I do not see what I am not looking for, did not even once think that Bibi was perhaps a little overinvested. I cared about Larry, too. I didn't know Gwen very well, but her behavior toward Larry bordered on harrassment, so I was not all that sympathetic to her. Bibi's concerned seemed to me no more than charitable interest in the welfare of a friend. Right as we were wrapping it up, I looked out the window and saw Gwen returning to the tent. And from the depths of memory, a moment I had forgotten all about thrust itself in.
"You know, Tess once told me he is a terrible, terrible womanizer."
"She did?" Bib turned pale.
"Yeah, she did. I had forgotten all about it until now."
"Yeah, now that I think about it, what she said was really strikingly awful."
"Yeah. She said that he 'murders three women a week with his dick.'"
At this point, Bibi was frantic.
"I have been dating him for over a year. He made me promise never ever ever to tell anyone. He said relationships were bad for the group. He said it would ruin the group for everyone if dating became a focus. So I have never told anyone."
So Bibi and I spent the rest of the night, until say, 4am, discussing in lurid detail whether it was in fact possible that he was also seeing Gwen. We considered and weighed and measured and finally concluded that he was not, that he could not possibly be "that much of a monster." We calculated how much time he spent working, how much time he was spending with her, and how much time he was spending planning all our little adventures. He was frantically busy. It was a wonder, we concluded, that he had time for Bibi, let along anyone else. Plus, why risk ruining all the fun everyone was having by introducing all this drama? From every angle we could see, it was not worth the risk.
Well, were correct. He was not sleeping with Gwen. But about all the angles, we were mistaken. There were apparently angles we could not see, because Larry was sleeping with at least seven other people, three of which were sitting around that camp fire that night. He had told every single one of them, in very stern, daddy knows best terms, to never, ever tell anyone, ever, about their relationship.
Because it would be bad for the group. Because it would ruin the dynamic. Because... in truth, it would limit his access to all the ass he had an appetite for.
I should have known, when he pressed Gwen's face into the dirt, that there was something very, very wrong with him. But I just didn't want to know. None of us did.
And now we come to the end of Larry, Worst Person in the World, part three. Sadly, we haven't gotten within a hundred miles of the money angle of what he was doing, nor the emotional abuse he doled out to his several girlfriends. Check back next week for part four.