Chapter 1-The Site

Walter Bailey had just finished hanging the 14th floor trusses for the huge window panels that would wall the new bank. He’d had a headache all day and was glad for this one to be at last over. In 40 years of working he’d never really become accustomed to the disaster area, that was a construction site. The smells, churning and commotion, agitated him, the long dark drive to work depressed him, the cacophony of racket that erupted pounded his eardrums until his head split and they all had one or more ass holes, who would work their own mother to death. Walter couldn’t help noticing that most of the guys he worked around for 40 years had never been to his house.

In 40 years of working, he’d come to realize that one site was pretty much like all sites, but in less than four weeks he knew that this one was by far worse in every way than any he’d ever seen. It was smack in the Coral Gables business district. Coral Gables was built on the swamp just west of downtown Miami. The sun there is a furnace whose relentless heat gave in only to the late after noon monsoon, which gave way in turn to the sun turning what had been unbearable into a steamy sauna that was unbreathable.

And in the swamp which became a business district parking was a royal bitch. Every day about two pm, he’d have to drop whatever he was doing run down the however many flights of stairs he was up to sink money into the well, just so the meter sluts couldn’t write him up. The round trip more often than not involved a near death experience with a Dade County fire engine, hook and ladder as they rumbled through the downtown canyons. The blasting air horns nearly lifted him off his feet on his first day on the job and he’s been a target of one or more since. By the time it was done it was a good day, just to not have a hell of a bad headache.

After 40 years of work, Walter felt as though he had been worn down to a nub, most men his age were pitched in a losing battle with a pot belly, Walter was thinner than the he graduated high school. He knew that this would wear him down more, but privately he began to wonder if it would kill him too. He was not thinking metaphorically, but literally the way it had killed, the concrete finisher.

He heard about that just before he came on the site. They were pouring the concrete for the 11th floor when it happened. Walter was an iron worker, but he had seen many a pour, and on a high rises like this it was a cluster fuck. The cement trucks circled the base of the building like a swarm of ants, pouring their loads into huge vats that the cranes –or storks as they were called— lifted buckets of the liquid rock to pour on the flying frames set up on the top floor.

The frames looked for the most part like a gigantic rectangular kitchen table with about a million metal legs under it. They were called flying frames because they were set up on the highest floor. The new floor was poured on top of them and ounce it set the frames were pulled and placed on top of the new one. On this site there were nine frames to a floor for all 41 floors.

The commotion during the pour was frenzied because all the action had to take place before the concrete dried. The dare devils –other than the iron workers who walked on and fastened the beams— were the concrete finishers who stood on the frames as the buckets dropped the rock and spread it out and around column forms to speed up the spreading before the concrete dried. One of them was a young Haitian apprentice named Jean Claude Bastile.

They were pouring the 11th floor when it happened. Bastile was working on the western edge above Pounce De Leon Blvd. when “For reasons OSHA could not determine”, the legs on the form on which he was working collapsed. The form tipped and thousands of gallons and tons of liquid rock cascaded over the side, down 10 stories and cratered the street, splashed up and flowed back in swirling eddied of tidal concrete. As soon as men who had just scampered for their lives, realized that one of them was missing, they had to search for him in the great concrete cistern, Pounce De Leon Blvd. had become. It was impossible for the concrete to dry so fast, but they didn’t find him until it was rock-hard . It took hours to chip it away until they could see his body, hands clawing for the surface, silenced in his scream. For the funeral they had to chisel concrete out of his mouth, eye sockets nostrils and ass hole.

Metaphorically, at least.

After that guys started pointing out all the little accidents that they’d never noticed before, but now it added up to something unexplainable, something evil. The Cubans and Haitians were just too dam superstitious Walter thought. He passed it off as being after the fact, he didn’t believe in evil, he went to church when he had to but for the most part he was a working stiff who believed in God, Country and Larry Csonka. But Walter Bailey had no idea how close he would soon be to pure evil.

Chapter 2-Jack Napoli:

“Baily get your old sorry ass up” Jack Napoli yelled when lunch break was over. Walter wasn’t sure which was weirder, that’s he could be so tired after only half a day’s work or that some freak like Jack Napoli could be foreman. Napoli was a big bully ex-pro fighter with a barrel chest and arms bigger than a man’s torso. He got his kicks out of humiliating and maiming other men. He was dirty and lost as many fights on disqualification as he won.

But win lose or draw in the ring Walter Bailey knew all too well how much damage Jack Napoli with his hands. 10 years ago, In a skyscraper job in downtown Miami, Walter was walking down the stairwell when he heard a lot of noise coming from one of the floors. As he stepped out of the stairwell onto the floor in the middle of men screaming and cheering, he watched Jack Napoli beat dog shit out of a huge mean black ex-con who got this job on parole. It took Napoli a week to goad the kid (to Walter every body, except Napoli was a kid) , but when he came out on the 33rd floor where the kid was working and announced,” I don’t work with no niggers”, parole or no the kid was rough and ready.

Yet when Walter walked out on the floor Napoli was just mopping up. A left to the jaw sent the kid’s body straight up and a right boot to the groin sent his face smashing to the floor on his knees with his ass sticking up in the air. The raucous routing ceased and you could hear a pin drop on the street 33 floors below. And even as a kid tried to crawl away, but couldn’t move Napoli put his huge boot to the kids ass as it protruded there and every muscle the kid had went loose, including his bowels.

They had to scrape the remains of him off the floor and he spent two months in the hospital before going back to prison. Walter was spooked. He had never seen a man beaten that way before. He had the crap beaten out of him, literally not metaphorically. He had never seen another man possess such viciousness and callous indifference. He had never been afraid of a man. But since that day he had no trouble admitting to himself that he was terrified of Jack Napoli.

Jack Napoli never made it big in the ring, but not because he was ever beaten. Instead his career had come to an end when he nearly killed his stablemate and number one heavyweight contender Wily White in Vegas one night. The two were playing poker after a workout and White caught Napoli cheating. He went to do something about it. That was his mistake. A flurry of crashing blows to the head and a stiff knee to the groin had reduced the number one contender to a trash pile of flesh in less than 20 seconds.

After that Jack Napoli couldn’t buy a fight.

Chapter 3 — Walter Bailey

Walter was an Irish Catholic who grew up in Boston’s tough south side. Anyone could get beat up, but he had it ingrained in him as a kid that only the lowest scum backs down from a fight. “You don’t back down from no body”, his father Sean said, to him when he was just eight. “I don’t care if it’s a 10 foot tall nigger , you don’t back down from no body”. Walter didn’t have anything against 10 foot tall niggers, but he knew he rather fight ten of them than one Jack Napoli, and he knew that his father would be ashamed if he weren’t part of the pavement of Lincoln Blvd. in downtown Boston.

Sean, like his son was a sky-walker, that meant he worked hundreds of floors high, welding the iron beams and girders together that would comprise the skeleton of the finished building. Walter had done it too, walking, sometimes jumping from beam to beam with death just six inches on either side of your boot. But his father walked the beams in the Boston’s sleet and snow, not under the Miami sun.

On a winter morning when hurricane force winds whipped around Boston’s downtown corridors Sean and the other skywalkers were testing each others testosterone to see who would go up and work and who would stay, back down, on the ground, on a day when no one should have gone up. Every man in the union hall knew that Sean was by far the strongest sky-walker there, but the strongest walker in Boston would have had to been a bird to be saved on that day. Sean Bailey was far too strong a walker to get blown off the beam, but the beam wasn’t strong enough to hold its mooring. The wind whipped through the guts of the new building and the beam that Sean was walking on, had it’s welds and pins blown apart, so that it and he were blown from the 117th and the largest piece of Sean Bailey they ever found was the size of a finger nail. It was an impossibility that the wind could rip that beam loose like that, but it happened as sure as Sean Baily met Lincoln Blvd at about a 117 miles per hour.

Soon after his mother moved the family to Miami and Walt learned a life lesson in being a parentified child. The only conscious thought he ever had about it was that he would never ever walk on that pavement, in downtown Boston for as long as he lived. Unconsciously he thought that his father sacrificed him to the altar of machismo. His father didn’t care about him.

Walter was tough, but he was also a 54 year old iron worker with a previous heart attack. The doctor told told him not to work anymore and he told the doctor to screw himself, but even in his prime Walter knew he was no match for Jack Napoli , worse he knew he’d back down. It still got to him, that which was inculcated at his fathers knee, he owed it to his father god dammit.

“I don’t care if it’s a 10 foot tall nigger, you don’t back down from no body”.

Sean wasn’t a pussy, he didn’t back down, he got to be a million little permanent pieces of the pavement in downtown Boston, but he back down. Sean was tough but he never fought Jack Napoli, it was something Walter didn’t like to think about.

When he thought about his own kids, he didn’t want to think about that either. He loved his kids, but they came from different times and places. Walter believed in working even if he didn’t like it. An honest man works he told his kids, even though he was already tired of it by then. The oldest, Dan, never got that straight. He moved out at 19, worked part time jobs, sold dope to make ends meet and didn’t have a fucking clue of a plan for the future. For Dan there was no future. He had gone to his dealer friend Eric’s condo to pay him $200 he owed. Then he and Eric went strolling down Biscayne Blvd., when the jealous boyfriend of Eric’s ex-girlfriend stepped out from the corner of Eric’s condo building and sprayed the air with nine millimeter shells like he was misting Patagonians. He missed Eric entirely, but Dan had his brains blown all over Eric’s condo wall.

In order to cope with the tragedies gravitational pull, Walter needed to process, make sense of it, instead he summarized succinctly. To Walter, for the net sum of $200 Dan had his brains sprayed all over that condo wall on Biscayne Boulevard .

His two daughters Karen and Sarah both graduated high school with honors, married nice boys, and moved out of Miami so fast that he might of seriously wondered if Jack Napoli had hits on them. Ungrateful bitches, he still hadn’t seen his grandkids.

That left just Mark and Mark was his pride and joy. Mark just adored Walt, he was still 13, 13, tops in the seventh grade class, and Walter thanked God for him.

He believed in family and work and not necessarily in that order, but as Walter Bailey was finding out, none of those things are real. Reality isn’t real not the way he thought of it anyway.

Chapter 4 — The Stairwell

“Move your sorry old ass Baily”, before you make me make a comeback” Napoli said as he gave Walter his daily rousting. Who the fuck did you kill, or kill for, to get this job, Walter wondered again. Outside of cheating and beating to a pulp a one time confident heavyweight, Napoli was just a big dumb bomber who did know is ass from a hole in the ground. But hits on the side, that was something Walter imagined Napoli would do quite naturally.

He packed up his tools and started into the stairwell, then caught a whiff of something that made him stand bolt upright. “Jesus Christ, I wish those guys wouldn’t piss in the stairwells,” he mumbled to himself.

By then Richie Zettle was already on the fifth, where he just finished cutting another fart. Being so tired put Walt in no mood for Richie today. No one heard it, but they all knew where it came from. Richie was famous for raunchy jokes and farts that could burn paint off the walls. Sometimes they lasted 30 seconds and sounded like a loud barf. Outside of being covered from neck to toe with more tattoos than a comic book, Richie wasn’t a bad kid really. He was just a fuck up, and Walt wasn’t fond of fuck up’s, they reminded him too much of Dan. Passing the fifth floor, Richie Zettle was laughing and cursing as usual, but somewhere between there and sixth floor, something made Richie stop laughing, and that something changed a lot more than just his mood, when Richie staggered out onto the sixth floor he had been ripped to shreds.

“It looked like a pack of wolves chewed him up and spit him out”, one of the electricians said, “It took the ass right out of him.” Blood dripped from every pour of his body and matted his hair down the front of his face, that he didn’t even bother to push back, he just staggered across the floor, bounced off of a support column, then dragging his boots on the concrete and spitting blood walked up to the floor’s edge. Then he just kept walking, fell 6 floors and broke his back on a pile of cinder blocks. After that Richie Zettle never moved another muscle on his own.

OSHA called it an attempted suicide, but never explained the cuts covering his body. In fact only Walter Bailey would know what carved Richie to pieces, and know it

Chapter 5 — The Omen

 

Walter thought that Richie Zettle was dead and felt bad for him, but not so bad that he didn’t take the rest of the day off. OSHA was going to be around asking a lot of questions, and there was nothing the Walter could do for Richie anyway. Walter was parallel parked on Alhambra Street, he stood on the sidewalk as he packed his tools into the back of his truck. Then he walked around the back of his truck, looked down. Alhambra Street towards Ponce de Leon Blvd. and seeing that it was clear stepped around to the drivers side of his truck.

It was then that the hook and ladder seem to have materialized right on top of him. First of the engine rumble by turning his insides to jelly. The Horn hit him like a punch in the face as he was pressed against his truck, pinned. The tires shaved the front of his boot, then came the ladder. When Walter looked up at the ladder driver he saw death.

Its operators spinning its slender vertical steering column madly, clutching at it so tightly that he could see the bare bones in his fingers. And that’s what’s weird. They were bare-bones, his hands and arms too.

The ladder tillerman was a skeleton wearing a black raincoat, black boots and black fire-men’s hat. It stared at Walter through dark eye sockets, turning his head in an eerie slow motion as it passed. That moment seemed like hours to Walter so, he was sure of what he was seeing, a skull glowing white. The huge beast’s wake ruffled Walter’s clothing and dragged his hair down in his face. Then it lifted his stiffened body off its feet and smashed it into the pavement elbows first. Walter’s gaping eyes dropped with his head as his jaw slammed his bottom teeth into the top.

He was looking straight down at the pavement,” your dads in there, in the pavement “, the thought said. A fucking horrible thought, he shouldn’t have had it, Walter chastised himself. But you’re fucking dad’s down there and some day you will be too you piece of shit, the thought said. Looking up he could see the fire engine rumbling down Alhambra Street with circling eddies of trash and black smoke swirling behind. Gasping he rolled over and fumbled for the aspirin can in a shirt pocket. He swallowed the precious little heart pill inside and in physical agony forced himself to start the truck on its way down Alhambra Street in the same direction as the fire engine. His arms hurt so bad he could barely steer or shift gears, but somehow managed to bang second. He no sooner thought that he was on his way home when he locked up the brakes, screeching, burning rubber, sliding sideways over his dead dads, up right from out of the street, torso. There was no mistaking it, the sound of his dad’s skull crushing against the pavement, and thud against the underside of the truck. Alhambra street was somehow empty in the middle of the day and his dead dad was right in the middle of all four lanes of it.

What to do? RUN stupid, just drive the fuck outta here. Wait you hit some-fucking-thing. What? He knew it couldn’t be–THAT, but he knew what he saw Goddammit! What was it, then? Walter warily cracked open the door, and slowly put his foot halfway to the ground, then knowing that he couldn’t have hit what he did, he couldn’t even have seen what he saw, dismissed it. Denied it. He snapped his head forward, engaged, the clutch and forgetting about his agonizing body entirely made the trip home without blinking.

Walter had looked death in it’s cold dead eyes, with no way to know that what was happening to him was far worse.

Chapter 6-Schizophrenic Thoughts:


If Walter thought he was going to get any rest that night he was sorrowfully, wrong.

He had trouble getting to sleep and when he finally did, it was the thought he had when he imagined that he’d run over his father that he dozed off to. Fucking horrible thought I shouldn’t have had it, I had no right to have it.

Later, Jack Napoli had just finished beating him to a pulp right in front of Mark. He was coming around now and Mark was sobbing over him, “You all right Pop? How come you let him beat you up Pop? You all right? You son of a bitch you let him whip you, you let him win. The incongruity of Mark’s sobbing and concern, against his accusing tone rattled Walter more than real punches could. But when Mark went over and listened wide-eyed to Jack Napoli’s old flight stories, he woke up thrashing and woke Kathryn up with him.

Neither of them slept again that night. After 20 years of marriage, or was it 30 years, it didn’t matter anymore, Kathryn was the only thing beside Mark that didn’t make him feel tired. Nothing could make up for the disaster his oldest children had become, but she at least was on his side. Kathryn and Mark were all he had left, the only thing he worked for; but what did he work for? Kathryn would say “you’d keep working if we won the lottery. ” We ain’t won no fucking lottery,” he’d say indifferently to the one who would always stand by him. Walter wouldn’t begin to see how much he’d taken her for granted, he’d kill himself. Never mean to her, but she always stood in the shade of his not noticing and after 30 years some marriages don’t grow in the dark. And of course she was right. We wondered how much longer could she stand by him, knowing she should have left years ago? He only had 11 years to go,..

” You’re going to die on that site”, the thought said.

Fucking Stop It Walter said and slapped himself in the face, hard. Why am I thinking these things? These fucking thoughts are out of control he thought. But it would take a lot more than a slap in the face for Walter to shut off the spigot to the cesspool of self talk cluttering his consciousness.

Walter was not the type to think naturally about such things, but Walter was no longer thinking the way he once thought natural. What he couldn’t know is that all his thoughts had always been out of his control, but now they were attacking him, like schizophrenic whisperings in an echo chamber, they were out to drive him mad, his own thoughts making him think, am I crazy?

They kept coming around again and again, the thought of his father in the road, the thoughts about Jack Napoli , the thought of feeling old and tired. They tormented him, like swarms of killer bees driving a man over a cliff. Buzzing and thumping against you, stone cold sane without a suicidal bone in your body given enough time you’d gladly sprint for the cliff, like a stark raving lunatic, just the way Richie Zettle did. That’s how Walter knew that whatever made Richie jump in 10 seconds, musta seemed like years to him.That’s how he knew Richie really fucked it up. Instead of killing himself he became a vegetable,but his minds ears could hear those wicked wispers, the buzzing like a jet engine, yet he unable to tell anyone or move a muscle. Fuck that Walter thought I’ll jump from the roof when I do it, and wished he could do something to help Richie.

” You’re going to die on that site you fucking pussy”, the thought screamed at him, “You wont jump, I’ll kill you.
Then Walter came up with another idea and went to get his gun, but by the time he put it to his head he was more than ready to blow his own brains against a wall, just like Dan’s. Then that thought took control and Walter put his gun down.
Who will kill me Walter wondered. If I am the one thinking these thoughts, then I must have been the one who thought, ‘ I’ll kill you’. If I kill myself, and who said ‘I’ll kill you”? Actually Walter continued thinking and self could thought the thought, ” I’ll kill you”? like most people Walter was not accustomed to examining his thoughts.He had difficulty getting in touch with his feelings, and usually didn’t think much beyond words and deeds. But now under attack by his own mind, he reacted not with a gunshot or a swan dive from the 41st floor, but by deeply, unknowingly, examining his own thoughts.
In paying attention to the thoughts, he thought of father Diego Sanchez.

Despite his Irish Catholic upbringing Walter and the Catholic Church had split up years ago. He went to church with Kathryn in Miami, but not as a matter of choice. The only thing he remembered was Diego Sanchez seem to pay attention to him. That was at least 10 years ago, and Walter felt old even then so, he couldn’t figure out why the young priest took an interest in him. Was he a fucking faggot? If so he was Goddamn desperate faggot.

Sanchez was no faggot, but he acted like he always had something to say to Walter, but then was afraid to say it. Walter wondered now, had Sanchez been trying to warn him. How would he have known back then.

The only thing anyone knew about Sanchez was that he’d been a priest and psychologist in Cuba, but was now living in exile in Miami and that he claimed to be an incarnate of the big J Jesus himself. Further he said that he was fixing what the church had fucked up, for 2000 years. It didn’t take long for that kind of talk to get him eventually defrocked by the Church. Even after kicking him out, the Vatican continued a smear campaign for years Kathryn told him.

Preposterous or prophetic, doctor or quack, Vatican smear campaign and all Walter knew it would not be long before he would be talking to defrocked,  Diego Sanchez himself.

Chapter 7- Fathers are Like Brothers


Some things can bring men with nothing at all in common, closer together than brothers. One is being a father. John Smith and Walter Bailey had never known each other before that hot mid August afternoon. Glenn Smith was a 19-year-old interior carpenter working summers with his dad. He had a newly reconditioned 1964 Mustang convertible, a letter of acceptance to the University of Florida law school at Gainesville, but most important it was Friday, and he had a date with his girl Sarah and the whole weekend to spend with her. So maybe that’s why Glenn wasn’t watching what he was doing. Maybe it was through an act of careless that the skill saw he was cutting the drywall with, jerked suddenly and cut his left hand off at the wrist landing at Palm up on the floor with a nasty, bloody splat.

But what would explain why he buried the skill saw in his stomach and cut himself up to his throat? Funny, though Sammy Burgess said. It almost looked as if he were fighting the damn thing off. The way he held it away from him with his right arm and how it jerked back and forth its cord whipping around like a tail, then it just went screaming, whining into him.” Glenn didn’t live long enough to feel pain or terror, only astonishment at the attack. The pain would be felt by the fathers,John Smith and Walter Bailey.

Walter came out on the floor just after it happened. He knew exactly how John Smith felt. He’d had this feeling before, first as a kid in Boston when he learned that his dad had died, and how.

“He’s part of the fucking pavement now. Stop it.”

Then when he learned that his own kid had gotten his brains splattered against a condo wall on this Biscayne Boulevard, for $200 worth of marijuana. “How much was a brain worth”, Walter wondered now. “Brain transplant anyone, got a cheepy here, but you will have to scrape it off the wall”. Stop it, stop thinking these fucking thoughts. Stop it. He kept trying to stop it, until he saw Dan get up from the ugly pile ofbutchered flesh and plainly say “Shouda lent me the $200 pop, shoulda just lent me the fucking $200”, he vomited right then and there.

Dan’s ghost would have terrified him, but it was the shocking, disobedient flashback to a desperately suppressedmemory and the tsunami of guilt,that washed over him, bringing his guts up in dry heaves now. Most of us live behind a mask, a thin veneer of goodness covering the murderous rage we carry for our brothers, our sons to which we can never admit. To admit to such atrocious feelings would bring down the weight of self judgment that no one of us can stand. So, what felt like losing his mind was the pain of learning the truth about himself, of his veneer being ripped from his skin in chunks. To punish Dan for disappointing him and being a fuck up, he had taken the hard line, refused him $200, it cost the kid his life and he died with his brains nowhere near his skull.

 

Chapter 8- Coconut Grove

http://images.travelpod.com/users/takinbetz/1.1237673580.coconut-grove.jpgBiscayne Bay reflected the sailboats perfectly in the mornings dead calm. South Bay shore Drive was abroad four lane with center divide. Walter drove the until he turned into McFarland Road where it twisted away from the sailboats, went past Bayfront hotel and up towards Coco Walk and dead ended at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Main Highway.

It was more than simply to roads that intersected there, more than showed on a map.

The streets branched off, lined with expensive exclusive little retail shops, sporting the latest in European fashions. Only a few blocks away, children play in filthy garbage ridden streets. There on any day you could meet beautiful fashion models rushed to catch a plane on the way to another high-paying photo session, or a mean gang banger waiting to blow your brains out at a stoplight just to get your wallet. There could be no other place in the world like Coconut Grove, it was exclusive to Miami.

After Diego Sanchez was defrocked he moved to a supporters home in Coconut Grove according to the Church. He continued “teaching” until he died in a private plane crash returning from a seminar. Like everything else that’s fucked up in life,when Diego Sanchez was alive Walter didn’t want to see him and now that talking to him seems like life or death he’s dead. Now all Walter had was an address and hope he could learn something from someone there.

Walter pulled the family wagon, up next to the curb. It was the same family wagon that Kathryn had made countless many shopping trips in, taking kids to and from school. Walter drove on the annual August madness called family vacation, and to church on Sundays, when Walter used to take his family to church on Sundays. He missed those days now , weeks and months and years, huge chunks of the best times of his life that he’ll never see again. Cursing the releaseseatbelt , that pissed him off that he had to wear it or get a ticket. Then he lifted his aching body up out of the car. Unlike his work truck from which he could step down, the station wagon made him work just to get out of it. But the wind picked up briskly and sweetly as he got out rustling the palm trees and scattering a few leaves, while messing his thinning hair. It stayed that way, and felt good. He didn’t bother to drop money into the meter. It was early Sunday morning, the streets were deserted,

He searched up and down the streets until they all became a vast jumbled assortment in his mind. A resting world now of high of prices and high fashion, things he knew nothing about. Across the street, a beautiful girl walked her ridiculous woolly dog with a graceful sexy stride. The wind blown sheer dress billowed out in front, then swirled around, pushing up between her legs in back and wrapped her in it, like a piece of cellophane. But especialy here nothing is as it seems, ahead of her lay a homeless urchin, covered with newspaper sleeping between the street and the sidewalk under one of the gently rustling palm trees.

The wagon door creak as Walter shut it hard and it closed with a clunk which said that the door no longer lined up with the lock cylinders. The address was the one that the church gave him, the house was a big one story, but not flashy. Spanish barrel tile covered the roof and textured stucco was on the walls. Walter was an construction worker and notice things like that. He liked the stucco. It was solid, something you could depend on in a hurricane, not like the glass that they used instead of walls at the site. He pushed the buzzer and could hear it ring inside. He expected a Hispanic servant to answer, all rich people had servants, and homeowners in Coconut Grove were definitely rich.

Wealthy or not there were no servants at this house. Instead, the diminutive man who opened the heavy wooden door he recognized immediately as Diego Sanchez.
Chapter 9- The Watcher

http://www.mrbartonmaths.com/images/Optical%20Illusions/vase.jpg
The ex priest recognized Walter as well, but Walter almost thought he wasn’t thrilled to see him. Kathryn was the one who set up the appointment between the two, making it a weekend so he wouldn’t miss work, but it was Sanchez who suggested Sunday morning for Walter’s sake because of the traffic. Walter didn’t want a sermon this morning, he needed just the facts maam; but which ones. Walter hadn’t spoken more than two words to Sanchez when he was a priest, what the hell was he going to say now?

They exchanged small talk and Walter followed Sanchez to the kitchen, where he poured 2 cups of Cuban coffee and they both sat at a plain rectangular table. He was pleased that they went not to the sitting room, but the kitchen. They sat at the corner so they could look at each comfortably, but not directly opposite. Walter’s left arm was against the wall and without knowing it, he felt comfortable enough to turn his back and lean against it.

Walter: I wasn’t sure you’d remember me father, egh Deigo.

Deigo: Please, I never liked all that father shit anyway, especially from people older than me.

The shit word made Walter feel even more comfortable, and he knew that he didn’t have to say that he didn’t like it either. In fact Deigo was easily young enough to be his son, just a few years older than Dan, a few years older than he would be, anyway.

Walter: Do you remember everyone?

Deigo: Not by a long shot.

Walter: Who stands out.

Deigo: It’s difficult to say. I forget the weddings and baptisms, the mindless stuff. Unfortunately it’s the troubled people and things that I can’t forget.

Walter: You remember my son then.

Diego: I remember him and the tragedy, but I never considered Dan to be troubled.

Although he didn’t show it, Walter was seriously taken aback, because he had always considered Dan to be troubled. He had always considered Dan to be a fuck up.

Walter: So I’m in trouble then?

Deigo: (laughing) You never said word one to me in church, but here you after what, three years.

Walter: ( laughing) I am here, but what the hell am I doing here?

Deigo: Runaway thoughts? Voices in your head like schizophrenia, only you’re not schizo; stuff like that Walter?

Walter: Jesus Christ father, egh Deigo. They said you went nuts and thought you were talking to Jesus, but I’m gonna believe you did, or I’m gonna shit my pants.

Deigo: Well wait a second Walt I know you don’t believe…

Deigo: I don’t want you to believe in the church or that there’s anything special about me because I talk with Jesus. You need to make up your own mind about me. But know this, Jesus is constantly talking to all of us, constantly trying to break through, the problem is we constantly refuse to listen.

Walter: Why?

Deigo: Because most of us aren’t ready, most of us are afraid.

Walter: Of what?

Deigo: Ourselves. Our preconception of our universe, ourselves and God. Our collective unconscious guilt for a crime that could have never been and a never was and unconscious fear of a retribution that can never be.

Walter: What the hell?

Deigo: Not hell Walt, purgatory. Let’s start with where we are which is purgatory.

Walter: How’s that?

Diego: You know purgatory?

Walter Stilled shocked that Sanchez was reading his mind, but chuckled.

Walter: Sure, it’s your last chance, screw up there and off to hell you and your fucked up immortal soul go.

Deigo: Yea, but for most there is no chance, they are going to hell is anabsolute certainty. And it is especially true for the church, it’s entire hierarchy and anyone who follows their teaching. The church isn’t just leading you down a dead end, but off the cliff. But I gotta say the followers of any spiritual path are equally condemned, any path that doesn’t recognize the illusory nature of reality.

Walter didn’t grasp he significance of that sentence, but he would and how. For now though he relaxed as with his misgivings about Sanchez evaporating the young man, old priest pushed back his chair, spun around in it,got up and went to the fridge, grabbed two beers popped their tops and put one in front of Walter. The two men tipped their bottle tops toward each other and Sanchez proceeded.

Deigo:Condemned though only through ignorance, or blindness. It’s like this, say the bank is gonna foreclose on your house.

Walter: I’m free and clear, burned the mortgage last year.

Deigo: Excellent, but imagine the poor outta work slob, who gets foreclosed on, but had a treasure chest in his basement, but just didn’t know it. Maybe he even passed it or climbed over it a few times, or maybe even thought to look into it someday, but never did. The answer to all his problems, his salvation was always right beside him and he never even knew it. It’s just like that.

The church says that good deeds has nothing to do with being saved, but that you must be forgiven to go to heaven.Well it got the no good deeds part, but screwed the forgiveness part all to hell and back.

Walter: Poor bastard.

Deigo: Who?

Walter: The one with the treasure chest that couldn’t do him any good.

Deigo: It could, but he just didn’t know. Suppose he got around to looking inside, or better yet, supposed he droped something that busted through the top of it, exposing the gold inside. Then that poor rich bastard would know exactly what to do. Now imagine that all that rich bastard’s neighbors had a treasure chest in their basements just like he did, and they were just as ignorant as he was, but he was going around telling them what was up. That’s just what it’s like with me. Only I had to have a hole punched into my skull the size of a sunny side up egg before I saw the light.

Walter: Ouch. What happened?

Deigo: Cuba is poor, for most kids there was only one of two ways out, one was to become a priest, and then not say anything that would piss Castro off too much. It wasn’t a sure thing, but it could work. The other was to leave the island and that was an almost certain disaster. I don’t know which was harder, but I did both.

I was already a priest when I was regularly helping Cubans escape to Miami. I forget how many round trips I already made by boat or plane by then. For this run we had a little trinity of three speedboats and the fairest conditions you could ask for, calm seas and no moon. I was captain of one of our fair vessels and honestly can’t remember what I was doing when my boat collided with one of the other two. I don’t know how it happened, but the other boat must have taken flight because it crashed down on top of us like a whale jumping out of the water.

I was out, then laying on top of something that wasn’t sunk, yet. I could feel my brains oozing out of my head when whatever I was floating on would float no more. I thought I was a goner. I was nearly 30 years old then, had spent my entire life preaching salvation, but I didn’t believe it, I never did. And out there swimming in the water I believed it even less. I kept having this strange thought, more like a voice in my head really, You can’t make it, you got no chance.

The water was warm,I was in shock I guess, not afraid, I just didn’t think I could make it. The other two boats were circling and they even used their lights, –a big no no–, but I was listening to that stubborn thought, “You can’t make it”, and going under. It didn’t even matter to me then if I did, but that though simply seized me. Who was the you that said you couldn’t make it, better yet who was saying it. I didn’t say it, because I would have said, I can’t make it, but the thought in my head said, you can’t make it. So it must have been someone or something else saying to me you can’t make it. Whoever it was they were right because salt water went into my lungs and I gagged, under the surface.That’s when it happened, that’s when I got it or should I say, that’s when I realized reality. I saw my body, not through my eyes, slipping under the waves and realized that I was no longer in it. It’s not so much that I was no longer in it, but I never was.

Walter thought he knew something about being out of his mind, but here was Deigo Sanchez saying the same thing.
Deigo: I don’t know how, maybe the head trauma, or maybe I was in shock and prepared to go down, but I got knocked out of my mind and into my true self. My body that was sinking needed oxygen, my true self needed nothing. My thoughts kept saying “You can’t make it,” my true self could make up any version of the universe it wanted to. I realized what I was and finally saw myself in the driver’s seat.

Walter: But if you not your own thoughts who are you, the thinker of your thoughts?

Deigo: Not the thinker, but The Watcher of my thoughts. That’s what any of us truly are, not the thinkers, but the watchers. Each and everyone of us is our own watcher, but here’s the rub, Walter, there is only one watcher.

We are seemingly seperate, but we all have the same true idenity in The Watcher of which there is only one so, we are all one.

Walter: I don’t get it. Deigo (Walter put his elbows on his knees) there this thug on the job, Jack Napoli, youre not telling me I’m one with him? Please say it ain’t so? (Walter straighten up again)

Deigo: Thug on the job, huh?

Walter: Yup.

Deigo: Well I can tell you this Walter, there is no Jack Napoli. There is no job site, there is nothing anywhere, except in your head and that is what The Watcher sees. The Watcher of any of us is The Watcher in all of us and it sees the one true reality.

Walter: Ok maybe I’ll regret this, but what is that one true reality?

Deigo: It’s simply this: This universe is an illusion, it’s no more real than a projection, a movie. It’s a spiritual optical illusion and once you see it you can change it (the universe) like a script writer. It gives all those miracles Jesus performed a whole different perspective.

Walter: (incredulously) You make up the universe as you go along?

Deigo: Yup! shaking his head.

Walter: Why don’t you just make up yourself a lotto winner then?

Deigo: I made up a hell of a lot more than that.

Walter: Huh?

Deigo: I made up me living through that boating accident. I was a dead gonner and it was a wrap for me in this movie, but as I said,it’s a spiritual optical illusion. I didn’t theorize this Walter I saw it and still see it. It’s like Escher’s Staircase it’s anything you want it to be, only restrained by our inability to see it in all the ways it exists. And with all of the infinite possibilites we usually see the universe the way we expect to and that’s what we get.

Walter didn’t know Escher, but instinctively knew that Deigo was talking about the same thing as the black and white poster he’d seen in Mark’s room. The white part was a vase and black looked like two people facing each other. When you stared at it the image morphed back and forth, which ever one you wanted to see is what you saw. He knew Deigo wasn’t crazy or putting him on, but he had really seen the nebulous nature of the dream of the universe. The old Walter would be leaving now, this one was transfixed.

Walter: So, that’s how did you get rescued, you saw the universe in that way and it happened.

The remnants of his Boston accent coming out.
Deigo: Not bad for a Catholic, Walter.

Walter: So, when a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one to here it, it still makes a sound though.

Deigo: Nope. It makes sound waves, but there is no sound because there is no receiver. It’s just like the radio waves in this room are just waves, but there is no sound because until someone turns one the radio.

Walter: You mean no sound until some hears the radio.

Deigo: I was just testing you Walter.

They both chuckled. Deigo pulled his left foot on the edge of his chair, wraped his left arm around his knee, and sipped his beer, Walter didn’t flinch.

Deigo:The universe isn’t real, but reality sure is. That’s what I saw, the brutal duality of it. I could see the universe, as a dream. Beyond the dream I saw God in heaven, and I could see hell.

The bible says “In the beginning”, but there is no beginning or end, there is just those two distinct states of being, heaven and hell. In heaven there is only eternal bliss and it’s always now. The bliss was beyond your imagination here in this dream we call reality. The bliss comes from being in perfect oneness with God. Being perfect oneness with God means that you could not imagine anything that was not God or yourself. There was no separation, you are one with God, you are God. The only difference is that God created you, you did not create God. We are not part of God, each and everyone of us is one with God. God is everywhere and everything and we simply say God Is.

Walter: If God Is, why can’t I see him? How the hell did I get here then?

Deigo: Not hell remember, but purgatory, that’s where you are. You got here and the universe got here, because you had this one tiny mad idea, not a thought but a partial thought that was not a thought of God. The thought, the question, was, what would it be like to be apart from God? You waited for God to answer, but he didn’t. It’s not that he couldn’t answer, but he wouldn’t. To God it was a non-question, there was no such thing as separation so, it would be like asking, what would it be like to live in a place that does not exist. There is no such thing as separation so, there was no answer from God.

The non-answer from God to your non-question, you mistook as rebuke. You mistakenly believe that God is angry with you for leaving him, this is original sin, for which all mankind feels deep, subconcious, unabiding guilt and expects severe and merciless retribution for a crime that never was.
This is where Satan comes in and says, “look I’ll show you a place to hide” He’s not a demon or a devil, but a device of your mind. My background is in psychology so I call it the Ego, but it’s not the same ego most psychologists talk about. The ego is the part of your mind that makes up and protects the thought of separation from God. It was the ego who came up with the grand idea of the Big Bang, this great big universe and everything in it to hide from God. It’s the ego that tricks you into believing that the universe is real. How silly, could we really hide from God? But burdened by original sin and mistaken guilt we easily denied the reality that God is.

So, the false universe that we fill with cruelty, inhumanity and bloody wars, with all of our self centered, senseless, vicious defense mechanisms, all stems from the fact that the ego has tricked you into thinking that God is angry at you for leaving him. This makes you angry, not at God, but at yourself. You then unconsciously displace this rage at the rest of the world, even though it’s not really there. You anticipate and create the universal backlash that you receive from the outside world. It’s the Ego’s trap.

The ego’s trap is projection of self hatred, but the Ego’s nature is hate. The Ego hates. That’s not what it does so much as what it is. It hates all that is pure and love and joy. It hates all that we call life even here in the illusion. It hates humanity and will try to leed it into hell and your Ego hates you. Remember that: the Ego hates you.

That leaves us, you, me and humanity with only one purpose in life Walter, which is to break free of the Ego and get back to heaven from where you came, and you have only one way of doing it, which is complete total unrelenting forgiveness, the Ego has only one purpose, to prevent you from it.

Walter: Why?
Deigo: The Ego like anything else even in the dream wants to survive, once you see the light of heaven, the Ego is instantly undone.

No one will choose hell over heaven so, the Ego tricks you into thinking its real with love and hate, good and bad, duality. Just like a movie nothing in the universe is real, nothing can hurt us unless we get caught up in the movie, and make it real to ourselves. We make real the preceived

attacks of others when we don’t forgive them, but no one did anything to us because no one of us is real, the universe is not real.

We make the universe real by giving credence to thoughts of unreality. Via the Ego we project our hidden hate onto our brother then crucify him for them, happily unaware they are in us. The Ego hates us and wants us to hate our brother, blame him for our sins, and keep the illusion alive. So, to see beyond the dream you must you must forgive everything in it. To return to heaven you must forgive.

In heaven there is only love, no hate. In the universe the Ego perverts love via duality, adds to it the flip side, hate. Now we love some and and hate others, and fall deeper into the illusion. This is why the only way back to heaven is through complete and unremitting forgiveness.

Walter: God won’t let a pissed off soul back in?

Deigo: It’s not that God wont let us in.God Is and heaven is a timeless state of being in perfect oneness with God, unaware of anything that isn’t God. Something cannot be both separate and not separate from God anymore than it can be both real and unreal, exist and not exist. Whatever you have not forgiven, is separate from God. It’s not that God won’t let you, it’s just that you can’t go, the key won’t fit.
Walter: But even the good things? What about my wedding day? It wasnt God.

Deigo: Then it wasn’t real so it wasseparate from God. Forgive it Walter, that just means don’t make it real to your true self anymore. The good and the bad are equally illusory, but the good are even more dangerous. Good deeds will do no good. Not for the doer or receiver, because no one does anything to anyone except in a dream. Something that’s real in your dream cannot be real when you wake up and when you do, the universe disappears and there is only heaven and hell. The question is: which one do you want to be in? The answer is easy.

 

Chapter -10 The Ego Monster


The Dolphins were playing in the Orange Bowl and much of the usual early afternoon traffic was absorbed by the game. So, when Walt got northbound on I-95 his mind relaxed and thought it’s own thoughts. He had spent five hours with Deigo Sanchez, drinking up everything he said. Walter didn’t know about mysticism or the Big Bang, he didn’t have a Ph.D., he had a union card and carried a lunchbox. Even so, Deigo Sanchez was able to let him understand everything to at least a first approximation, and as he drove the concepts kept gestating.

It wasn’t all that hard to see why The Church had such a beef with Sanchez. The Church taught that our salvation lie in being forgiven, Sanchez said it lies in forgiving others, the church teaches that God is the creator of the universe and is out side of us, Sanchez taught that we created the universe in our minds and that we and God were once one, the Church wants us to believe in it, Sanchez said God wants to reunite with us in perfect oneness. These are each diametrically opposite teachings, but Sanchez said we must reunite with God, because the alternative is unthinkable.

And if not unthinkable, then certainly unbearable. It is a state of being which is the worst of all your sick perverted thoughts and self loathing. It is a state of perpetual punishment for your assumed guilt.

Sanchez made him think of his worse mood of his life. Walter couldn’t pick a number one winner for being the loser, but he had a 54 years of hard life candidates.

“Try to imagine your body on fire Walter, imagine being on fire for eternity.” But Walter didn’t have to, he only had to think of the time, the one time that Kathryn left him. He could still feel the sorrow and panic, rushing from one place to another, bar, bowling alley, any place that wasn’t here just to feel one bit better, but everywhere he went, he carried the pain of certain knowledge that she had left him. That had been so many years ago nearly forgot it, and it was worse than anything the Jack Napoli could to do to him.

He thought of the deaths of his dad and his son, and finally allowed that he really missed his daughters. He he never did think of it before this, but there was plenty of pain to round out his life.

Then he thought of his heart attack, pinned to the ground with a truck parked on his chest. If that’s what hell was like that Walter knew he couldn’t handle it, but what Deigo Sanchez was telling him was that he would have to bear it for eternity. He didn’t really give a shit about heaven, but he knew hell was no place for this old ex catholic.

That what was at stake. Your universe and everything in it are made up by you, it was dreamed up by you and would pop out of existence once you resolve them, one way or the other. Forgive everyone who shit on you for life you identify with the Holy spirit and reunite with God. If you don’t, get faked out by the ego you are shit of luck for eternity. Simple.

Impossible!

“Forgive, forgive, forgive God dammit.” he shouted slamming his hand on the steering wheel.Saying it, not getting it. Seeing the world in terms of forgiveness or judgment was fine for most things, but what about that freak Jack Napoli, there was only one way to judge that.

Outside of Napoli, who was there to forgive.

Sanchez said that even in the dream, we all play all the roles, victim, victimizer, the condemned and condemning, the predator and prey,morphing from one to the other and back again unconsciously. And wasn’t he right he now thought. Had he not always blamed Dan for going off and getting his brains blown out? Had he not treated it as though he were the victim, as if Dan had it done to him when in reality the only thing Dan was guilty of was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for that he lost the rest of his life. Who was the real victim there? He knew.

And what about his daughters, did they really get married in a hurry so they could move out of the house, or did they fall deeply in love and go off to start lives and families of their own as he said he wanted them to do? He knew.

So, in an extraordinary display of forgiveness Walter unknowingly forgave all of them. Unaware of the power he had and had just demonstrated there remained one black marker on his score card.

Walter knew that he was thinking in worldly terms about things for which there was not earthly representations, so it could get muddled, but the point about Jack Napoli is that he isn’t real, but a projection of Walters subconscious guilt. Forgive Jack Napoli goddamit and he would pop out of existence along with the rest of the universe, and he’d be home free in heaven. So, forgiving Jack Napoli meant not simply forgiving himself, but realizing that there had been no crime to begin with. Walter would have to begin to see things in a much different way.
Before Walter really thought he absolutely needed this job, but now he thought he needed to at least save his life if not his immortal soul. He knew the next job that would be ready was at least six weeks away, but now he didn’t give a shit. Driving on he felt the fog clearing as his thoughts coalesced around a six-week vacation, getting away from Jack Napoli and having more visits to the ex priest Deigo Sanchez. He remembered him saying how his mind’s device called the ego sometimes attached itself to certain people or places as he unconsciously pushed the old war wagon up to 85. Obviously his personal Satan had a fondness for Jack Napoli and the site and he intended to avoid them both. But Walter Bailey’s personal demon had different ideas.

He was the only car on the road as he sped over the downtown flyover. About a mile south of the 836 on-ramp to 95 it happened. The 836 Expressway was a road he took west to work each day, but he wasn’t even thinking about the fact that he was on about the same latitude as a site when when he noticed that he was holding the steering wheel in his hands, just the steering wheel all by itself. Without announcing itself the steering wheel had somehow simply come off the column, and now with Walter was holding the useless rim in his hands. Reflexively he tried mightily to push the steering wheel back into the steering column. Pushed so hard that he jammed the horn on, but did not return control to the driver. Walter’s family wagon crashed into the left lane concrete guardrail, while spinning to the right it crossed eight lanes of traffic, hit the right lane restraining wall sparking and with metal peeling and curling off in chunks it spun back across the eight lanes collided again with the left lane median wall, jumped it and landed upside down in the southbound lanes and slid another 300 feet to a grinding sparking stop. The horn stayed rammed into the on and shrieking position. Walter should’ve been unable to hear it, he should have been dead. But for Walter Bailey there was no such luck.

Chapter 11-Pop Goes The Universe

Soon after the rollover Walter abandoned any thoughts he had of contacting Deigo Sanchez or of quitting work. Whenever he dialed Sanchez’s number somehow he always got the wrong number, no answer or as in the last dozen or so attempts, the line simply was dead. Instead his crew had been working 10 hour days for three weeks now and it was killing him. He had spent most of the week working in the generator shack that jutted up from the middle of the roof like a guardhouse, welding the generators to their trusses. There were five iron risers from the rooftop to the door of the generators shack, that you could fry an egg on. The only break in the heat came with the afternoon monsoon, that lasted for less than an hour. When the sun came back out it was just as hot, but so humid you could drown.

The only other structure on the roof was the stairwell housing on the far east side. Walt’s apprenticed Donnie Blade was talking about the Richie Zettle thing, again. “What do you think Walt”? ” I think you’re beginning to sound as superstitious as those damned Cubans”, he growled. Walt didn’t want to talk about the Richie Zettle thing, he didn’t even want to think about it so, he sent Donnie to the 6th floor for the rest of the day, then Walter was alone.

It was the 2:00 pm break time, the hottest part of the Miami day when Walter put down his torch down, and stepped out of the generator shack for smoke, but when he saw Jack Napoli come out of the stairwell, he crushed out his cigarette and slid back inside.

Napoli walked slowly to the generator shack, his boots making a casual clump, clump across the rooftop. The wind pushed Napoli’s jet black hair out of his eyes and billowed under his loosely buttoned denim work shirt, revealing the huge barrel chest as he was rolling up his sleeves. Unlike Walter the sun and heat didn’t bother Jack Napoli.

Inside the generator shack Walter picked up his torch. The same torch he had just been using which was full of fuel, was somehow empty and usless. Walter would have to hide.

Napoli was walking slow, but closing in. Walter looked around and knew he’d have to move quick. He caught sight of the twin I-beams that ran down the length of the building on the west wall that was the back of elevator shaft number 3. Called I-beams they were really a three dimensional T and there was about a one foot gap between the T’s crosses, like so T T. The only approach to the twin beam cubby hole was the 2 foot wide girder between the elevators that ran right up to the slit and a crawl beam that protruded one foot from the west wall that the I-beams them selves protruded from. Napoli could never walkthe crawl beam, his shoulders were way to wide. His only approach would have to be right up the front. He would walk the 20 foot length of girder to the slit entrance, but once again he was much too wide to get inside.

One good thing about working for 40 years is that he wasn’t fat. They were a long way from where he was and he couldn’t be sure that he could fit through that slit, but if he could then it was a good bet thatNapoli wouldn’t find him. When he heard a heavy boot drag across an iron riser Walt leaped like he hadn’t since he was a kid leaving school. In the same motion he dropped his tool belt and skipped toward the bay of elevators where elevator shaft #3 was located. He moved fast not worried about the noise, it was all drowned out by the ancillary racket of the site. Walter walked the 20 ft length of the 2ft wide beam like he’d walk to the fridge for a beer. After 40 years it was one athletic thing he could make look easy. He knew Napoli was inside now, but as he tucked his stomach and forced his tired body through the 1 foot slit he felt that for once he may have just made it.

“Bailey get your ass out here, I have something for you”, Napoli bawled. Walter knew that something would hurt. As soon as he squished inside he turned his body 90 degrees, putting his shoulders to the wall and he looked directly ahead. He had no peripheral vision, only the straight forward view offered by the slit. He couldn’t see Napoli, but then Napoli couldn’t see him either. Better yet it was darker in there, even from head on Napoli would have to know that Walt was inside to see him, and the and one thing about Napoli is that he didn’t know much.

Napoli kept calling and crooning for him, but for Walter not moving was his best move.

Standing in the heat there, hiding in fear, safely trapped,a kid stuck in a refrigerator, he was oddly struck by a strange familiar reference to Richie Zettle. Familiar because he remembered it, strange because he had never known it. His remembering was Richie’s and it wasn’t subtle.

When Richie was a kid he hidfrom his older step brothers Tommy and Everett under an old overturned refrigerator in the woods behind their dad’s garage. The brothers found him by the sound of his breathing. Instead of beating the shit out of him as was routine they put a nearby engine block on top of it and left him there all night, but even the callous brothers never intended for what happened to happen. Walter could feel their embarrassed remorse, they truly never thought about the rottweilers. The three guard dogs their dad released each night just before going home. The dogs wouldn’t bite their dad or them, but anyone else was dog meat including Richie.

Walter could feel the cold sweat running down his back, not his, Richies’s. He felt the cold ground under his body. The growling, spitting, snarleing beasts slammed continuously into his tin can so hard the small boy thought for sure, they would penetrate it. He could hear the engine block rocking on top, threatening to fall off leaving nothing to keep the beasts out. Pinned there in the dark he could feel blinding, paralyzing, terror running through his senses, like a street sign in huge capital letters- TERROR blocking his entire field of vision.

Walter curled up in the fetal position, hearing Richies mind repeating itself over and over,this isn’t happening, this isn’t real. As Deigo Sanchez had taught Walter, it wasn’t, but a small boy trapped by vengeful brothers, and vicious dogs was helpless to undo the universe of his own making. Richie was trapped like men in a submarine in the old black and white war movies he would watch. Following hours of relentless attack on his tin can the animals rested briefly, just long enough to fake the kid out that they would leave, but just as the small boy thought they would go instead they resumed the attack. As the growling and banging carried on and he closed his eyes tighter and tighter. Although he wasn’t keeping count in all he spent 18 hours in self-imposed darkness, because the dark wasn’t nearly as horrible as the light. And trying with all his might to squint his eyes and make it go away, still the reality flooded in. Not by overturning the refrigerator, but digging under it. When little Richie felt the huge hairy paws brush against him as they clawed ever closer, he hit the hit back button and kicked and punched as mightily as a small boy could, he even managed to stab one of the paws with a small pocket knife, but when the Rottweilers finally dug under the refrigerator, they dug into every pore of Richie, dug in to the bone. There was no one to stop them. The only thing that saved Richie was that dogs tired of him. Somehow that small boy found a way into that universe in which the dogs showed mercy. To Richie and the rest of his universe it just seemed that the dogs stopped, but Walter knew that Richie had finally subconsciously chosen his own universe, just as Sanchez said.

They didn’t find him bleeding, near death on the ground, until the next morning when Jimmy Palmer was opening the garage. Only the hospital saved Richie from another beating by his stepfather for being late and getting himself chewed up by the Rottweilers.

Shit Walter thought, fucked up as he was no one deserved to be treated like that. And there was more that he understood about Richie, the deep shame that Richie carried through life with him, and what he expected from it.

Young children have an unconscious expectation that their mother will love and protected them. But Richie’sunconscious expectation of maternal protection was carved out of his psyche by the rottweilers, who at least stopped, even when his mother never showed. Walter felt her more concerned with her abusive new husband and not making waves, than protecting Richie. Richie felt far from unloved, but unlovable, and confused, what had he done that was so wrong that she threw him to the dogs? To Richie that is why there was no one to help as the dogs chewed into pieces. Although he was able to subconsciously morph his universe into one where the dogs displayed mercy, he was unable to create one in which he had a loving, caring mother. Richie subconsciously blamed himself for it, subconsciously he expected, demanded more punishment. As Walter knew he would get it. So he covered and recovered each mark of shame with tattoos, masked his rage in a clown suit, and surround himself with biker pals, who neither got too close nor went too far, they beat the shit out of him for initiation rights, but eventually stopped short of killing him just as the dogs had.

And Walter realized that as with his son, in a rush to judgment had summed up a man’s entire being with the two words fuck up, completely unaware of the depth of the judged and the shallowness of the judgment. As he was finally learning the true reason for all things run much deeper.

And now Walter knew something else now about Richie. Walter knew they saw Richie go from the fifth to the sixth floor in less than 10 seconds, but to Richie it was about 18 hours, 18 hours was just long enough for Richie to re-experience that childhood nightmare andmore than long enough to send him over the edge. But, Richie did more than just remember it, he re-experienced it for the first time. Unable to control his thoughts still haunted by the guilt instilled at childhood, as he was climbing the stairs, his mind ripped him to shreds again. And the 10 seconds in the stairwell that Richie experienced as 18 hours proved that time was a joke as well. But the worst thing about Richie Zettle is that sitting there a vegetable in a wheelchair without even blinking, he was re-experiencing that thing every second of every day and would be until the day he died. Richie Zettle lived in hell.

<——————————————————->
How much better it would have been for Richie if he had jumped from the 36th floor. If Walter ever got out of this he was going to kill Richie himself. If he ever got out.

Walter wondered how long he was going to have to wait. In 40 years he’d long ago given up wearing a watch, it made it way to easy to watch the clock and that made time drag. He figured it had been an hour or so since Napoli first came up. It was hot and he was sweating profusely, but then came that feeling the someone had just turned on an air conditioner and that meant the afternoon storm was blowing in from the West making it about 4 O clock.

The cool freshness lifted his spirits and he was surprised at his own calmness. How long to wait now was the only question. In a couple of hours the site would be deserted and he could find himself alone with Napoli. Between now and then Walter figured that Napoli still had his own job to do, which was telling everyone else what to do, a job he loved. So, Napoli must have moved on, he figured. But when Walter head the pop of his own torch lighting up and saw the blue flame shoot outside past the narrow slit that now trapped him he nearly jumped out of his pants. The blow torch hissed and seemed suspended in air, but obviously Jack Napoli was attached to the other end of it and as if to make the point Napoli announced,”Hey Bailey, I got something for you.”

It was fucking impossible! Naploi had carried Walt’s rig (torch and fuel tanks) along a hundreds of feet along a one foot wide ledge with nothing to hold onto except the flat wall to the outside and 41 floors of thin air-to -the-ground to the inside. He did it without making a sound. How? Then he knew how. Napoli wore the rig like a back pack, but instead of walking the crawl beam he hung from it with his finger tips and went hand over hand to from the north west corner to the twin I-beams. Then he pulled himself up. Only a monster!

With the torch in his left hand Napoli waved the flame around in front of the slit, then with his right hand on the corner of the I beam and the torch still in his left, he casually swung his huge frame around, in front of the slit like a door slowly closing. Walter was trapped like a sardine. Napoli casually pointed the flame up, “Hey punk, I said I got something for you. You’re not afraid are you”? -pause–“PUNK.”

Walter actually wasn’t afraid now, so long as he knew that Napoli could never fit his massive chest and shoulders through that slit, and though honor demanded a response Walter was way beyond such thoughts now. This was life and death and Walt knew that all he had to do was sit tight and he was determined to do just that. And the weather was now on his side as the wind ripped the rain sideways into the generator shack. Maybe Napoli would let it go till another day. Walter wasn’t going to answer or move, until Napoli dropped the flame tip and pointed it right at him, scorching him badly on the left cheek.

His scream was partially drown out by the wind and a thunder clap followed closely. Reflexively he brought his left hand up to his cheek as he fell back on his ass kicking up frantically at his attacker as he did. Napoli pulled the flame thrower out, then reached in with his right hand and grabbed one of Walters flailing boots, lifted it straight up, so that Walter was hanging upside down by an ankel, then dropped him, reached down and pulled Walter by the scruff with his right hand while slowly, deliberately moved the flame closed to Walter’s left eye with the left hand. As Napoli stood on the beam, like he had drawn back a bow to shoot an arrow, Walter noticed that he wasn’t holding on to anything. He tried to push away, no chance, tried to break Napoli’s grip on the back of his neck, but it was a vice. Napoli was pulling him closer to the hissing flame, he turned his head away to the right until it almost twisted off, reached into his back pocket and pulled out a wire cutter, opened it around the little finger of the hand holding the torch and cut it off from the lower knuckle.

With that Napoli dropped Walter, the torch and the acetylene tank. The tank was heavy and would probably kill somebody 42 floors down, but the wind was strong enough to deflect it 45 degrees sideways. Walt could hear, it’s pounding fall for what seemed, hours.

If Napoli was in tremendous pain he didn’t show it. He just took a few steps back, cupped his left hand in his right and brought them both to mouth. His coal black eyes bore through Walter. He reached into a pocket and came out with a handkerchief, that’s when the wind gusted, and blew him off. Walt couldn’t believe the good fortune, but didn’t wait. He scurried out from the slit holding his own hands and ran across the beam past the elevator shafts, the way he had come and out the door onto the roof. His left cheek was swollen now so he only had 50% vision from it. Otherwise when he looked back, he would have seen gigantic arms give the beam a bear hug and Napoil pulling himself up.

Holding his left arm, descended from the generator shack touching every step. The rain ripped at his face and Walt squinted his eyes almost shut under an afternoon sky that had turned gunmetal black–the same gun that had blown Dan’s brains out. Even now his minds thought wouldn’t leave him alone. The storm was a veritable hurricane now and the rain ripped at his flesh. He felt his heart bang, bang, banging the hallow inside him. How much more could it take? Not much. Strange that he of all would be the one to make Napoli bleed, but almost wished he hadn’t, almost wished he’d taken it right there, almost.

Staggering against the hurricane force windsout on the roof it seemed to him that he might just make it, one way or the other. Either to the stairwell, or the ground being blown off from here. He nearly made it to the stairwell, but Napoli closed in at light speed from behind. Walter turned and somehow brought his left arm high enough not to block so much as make contact with Napoli’s vicious right. The brutal impact of the blow broke his left arm so that bone shown through the skin. He staggered two steps back, both knees buckled and crashed to the concrete.

There on his knees Walter could see the raw force of the thing he called Jack Napoli.The winds had ripped Napoil’s shirt off but otherwise had no effect on his massive body. It stood there impervious, indifferent, a robot sent to destroy him. There was not other explanation. Walter gathered enough courage to put his right knee up and try to rise, but Napoli kicked him hard in the right shin, just as Walter put weight on it. The leg broke, would not support his weight and again Walter crashed to the concrete, but this time he had help getting up his Napoli grabbed him by the throat and by the groin and threw him down the stairs.

Walter hit the first landing with the pain, crushing his chest so hard that he forgot about his broken arm and a broken leg.

He was frozen for moment in eternity, it seemed. What the hell are you waiting for a voice inside of him? He descended the raises two at a time.

Walter was in agony. His ankle is the size of a football, and his arms and ribs were bruised and his head and face were bloody mess. His heart pounded like a sledgehammer in his chest and he knew that he wasn’t going to escape this one. He leaned on the iron railing hands bloody and bruised and blistered and ascended the steps two at a time I has decent left leg. By the 11th floor Walter could see the vapor of his breath in the feel the film of ice on his skin. At the ninth floor and he could feel the blood oozing from his head, with each tremendous smash of his heart. It was as if someone had stabbed him in the chest with the Red hot Blade. Between the sixth and seventh floors, he shared an experience with Richie Zettle.

When Walter reached sixth floor landing he leaned against the wall with his right shoulder, standing on just his left leg. He held his dragging right leg in the air, his right hand coddling his left forearm. The broken arm did not even take precedence in all of the places that he hurt now.
What he needed most right now was to breath so, he put both shoulders flat against the wall and reclined more fully.And though he was running from Jack Napoli evil was closing in, breathing down hot onto the nape of his neck as the foul breath of the something beastly with a low rumble of it’s guts that rattled his insides. There was a brilliant flash as from of someone snapping a picture. And though he was leaning against the wall in a split second of stark photo phosphorescence he could see the black shadow of a rottweiler behind him projected onto the opposite wall, a rottweiler the size of a horse.

The lines in Walter’s face deepened as he opened his mouth in a silent scream, his left cheek the size of a basketball, he was grotesque. Then there was another flash of stark white and there was Jack Napoli. There stood Napoli in front of him they were in the same building on the same floor that he first saw Napoli beat the dog shit out of the huge mean parolee. But the parolee was nowhere to be seen this time it was just Walter. He didn’t even bother to ask how this could be happening, he was making it happen. How could he make it stop? Napoli grinned, preparing to toy with him, but even playing the kick to his groin was faster than Walter could see. He could just make out the blur of Napoli’s leg as he grabbed his crotch and fell face first to the concrete floor.

Walter writhed there on the floor in a toxic and combustible mixture of fear and rage, hearing the shots of other men screaming and cheering. Writhing there on the floor fear morphed into blinding rage. Raged so blind that Walter would attack Jack Napoli , the monster, the man who broke his arm with one punch. Still holding his left arm Walter rose to both knees. Then he snapped those knees straight and slammed his body into Napoli’s legs wrapping his flapping left arm round his knees as he did and drove Napoli to the floor in a fit total range. But when Walter saw Jack Napoli pop out of existence he knew that Sanchez was right again. And Napoli didn’t just disappear, he popped out of existence, as though he was never there and Walter’s left arm, cheek and right leg were both restored to the state of having never been broken. Walter felt cheated and now the guttural scream came from him, a murderous rage with no vent was turned outward to the next closest living thing he could find.

Donnie Blade happened to see Walter pass the sixth floor and thought something must be wrong, it was. Donnie caught up with Walt on the fifth floor landing in just a few seconds as Walter had spent several minutes, first getting the shit beat out of him, then disappearing Jack Napoli from the universe. “Hey Walt,” Donnie yelled. Bailey reached out with his left hand snapped Donnie’s neck like he was swatting a fly, then brought him down across the front and with a flick of the wrist tossed his entire body like a piece of trash sliding and banging over everything in it’s way all the way across the fifth floor. The last thing that Donnie Blade saw just before his eyes popped from their sockets was the walls beginning bleed.

With Jack Napoli “disappeared” he turned his homicidal rage to those on the ground, when that was done downtown Miami was next on the menu. And as the thing that Walter Bailey was becoming descended the stairs to the street to kill, the walls began to bleed.

The thing never touch the risers as it jumped from half floor landing to half floor landing on the way to a blood orgy in the street where the kills would be most plentiful. At the mezzanine, then the ground, then it burst into the street and top-flight, pursuing an unwary pedestrians like a lion chasing a gazelle. The thing that was Walter Bailey neither heard nor saw the hook and ladder.

The engine caught him square in the middle sent sailing over 100 feet and smashed side of his head and face into the pavement. Before his body could bounce the engine caught up with him ran over him again, Walter’s body spun over and over and over as it did in the car wreck, but this time it ground against the pavement and the underside of the truck each time.

He continued to feel body parts bouncing against the pavement. By the time the back tires ran over him Walter was becoming was indifferent to the critical thumping sound of his body, like tennis shoes in a laundromat dryer. The tires of the hook and ladder finally cleared him and Walter’s body rolled for another thousand feet down Alhambra Street street, then slithered to a halt. It laid there barely a lump, he was a piece of the pavement now, just like Sean. “You’re down here too you piece of shit” But Walter wasn’t down there, he was not his body and knew that he never was.

Neither was the universe that was popping out of existence around him. It isn’t real he thought, what is, is horrible and much more so than the Hell Richie Zettle lived in. It was the last human thought Walter Bailey had before dissolving into pure evil.

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