Weldon H. SanduskyI X
MEMORY: TIMBERLAWN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Before all this, mental institutes, Hollywood, the gas station, and, after law school, is San Mateo: apartments in Dallas—pool, walk-in-closets, and struggling divorcees, got back together Peggy and Sandy. They sort of slide back into the city, he a cer-ti-fied lawyer who didn’t make the grade, and, she, much more astute, successful, as it were. A U-Haul truck marks their arrival and an empty apartment fireplace full of promises, doubt and old lovers ashes. They hold themselves out for a while as “international”, Peggy, especially, fluent in Spanish, and, he, Weldon, with perhaps really only the law school hornbook (International Law) tucked away conveniently. Resumes, contacts, knocking on doors, networking, etc., ….nothing pays off, Peggy, landing a car salesperson job finally, and, the now joke, Weldon, staying in the apartment smoking pot, occasionally appearing at Labor Force at Six A.M., and, then, one day, at last, acquiring a car wash boy job at the dealership where his wife is. Where once there was love there is now a cold bitterness, the ivory towers of scholarship and grades withered to rent and food and any bargain sex can strike.
“I sold a car today to a man who does, exporting—you ought to talk to him.” Weldon nods, allowing his wife to continue.
“If only you could find something—you know, get a start!”
“Yea,” Weldon agrees. “ But,…” he starts to touch on some vague truth but only shies away from it waiting for her to finish hitting off the joint they’re smoking. Stephen, now about nine years old, watches T.V. as slowly the buzz of commercial chatter thickens; and, they try to be together as a family—Stephen, neglectful, slovenly, Weldon, apprehensive, paranoid, and, Peggy, full of the wine of nights rather best forgotten. While television heroes sock it out; and, Steve nibbles priggishly at pizza, Weldon at last yields a newer version of his most recent philosophy:
“…without transaction cost to establish ourselves in a small business we have no choice but to participate as slaves in the work-a-day world, a world in which we don’t seem to have a place.”
“Then why did Sammy see you acting crazy in the car wash?”
Stephen says, “Mom,” desperately to forestall an argument.
“Yea,” Peggy reiterates, “…like you’ve become a flake, a weirdo.”
“The reason,…” He’s cut off.
“The reason,” her voice rising, “…is that your always ‘tripping,’ going crazy. That’s why we can’t get anywhere! You’re a goof-ball ; and, I didn’t want you back to begin with!”
“Mom!” Stephen cries.
“Shut up darling,” she says. “Either you act straight or I want you to leave—go back to your mother.”
“I thought I would try to make sense about our predicament.” Weldon tries to crack the ice that’s frozen the room, but, the three consult each other with stares and a kind of brutality, nothing to stand on and nothing to feel proud about—indeed, at that spot in the road where life has become hopeless and to go any further only a bottomless suggestion. Stephen falls asleep by the T.V., Peggy crashes on the bed; and, Weldon, finishes the last of the joint and steps outside on the balcony of their new residence to stare at the darkness. The luxury of books and pens and notes and teachers has turned not just sour but to Weldon and no doubt his once “little girl” something surmounting to crime and revolution and bloodshed. While daily he attempts to glorify his car washing—keeping a fresh chamois, a clean rack, and turning out spank, shinny cars—he, nevertheless, has no future having by now, he realizes, wasted twenty-three years of schooling. Similarly, there’s always talk of affairs, and escapades and sex and rumors of the same, etc., so that when one day Jack Scruggs, the new car sales manager, fires Weldon in a word for being late on washing a car, a picture of not just cold jade is conjured up but also a memory of crime—assault!
“You’re a son-of-a-bitch,” Weldon confronts him sheepishly. And without another word Jack begins to take a swing at the car wash boy, held back, fortunately, by another man. The job is ended (with cause or without), only an academic afterthought.
Society holds no place for him, again, condemned to the apartment patio, the solitude of the balcony, the books that bear no fruit. A guitar Peggy gave him in the first years of their marriage is silent and symbolic of such horrible despair, Weldon smashes it in the apartment Dempsey dumpster like the torn heart he feels. He puts on his cheap suit he once thought would get him noticed in interviews and confronts his wife, at last, a couple of days after the firing.
“You need to see a psychiatrist,” Peggy comes up with.
“No, I, ah,…” her husband mutters.
“If you don’t, I’ll file for divorce.”
Stephen’s not there but neither are any witnesses to their domestic war. Weldon’s feelings hardly evidence of anything, and, Peggy’s ultimatums only stock and trade barroom tactics. A few days pass—jobless cigarette chains of day and night, sun and moon, hour upon hour, when, at last, no alternative in mind, Weldon does, indeed, put back on his cheap three-piece, gets a bus and goes to Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas,
United States of America, where he can receive evaluation: Peggy, yelling all the way!
MEMORY: TIMBERLAWN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Like some unidentifiable black civil rights leader about to be slain, an indeterminate goofy mass about to be bonded, a molecular pool ball sailing off a table, Weldon sits on the bus unaware of any legal status or scientific state. Twenty three years of education and mediocrity on a kind of pilgrimage, he hopes will at the great Canterbury—Parkland Hospital—resolve itself—go by, Dallas landmarks he has known from childhood punctuating the tiresome journey. The asphalt the tires wade through in the summer heat sound sticky and provide a kind of relief to the doldrums of another hot day, a day in which in less than ten minutes an agent of the State, County of Dallas, Parkland Hospital, Southwestern Medical School, finds Mr. ‘Sandoosky’ to be insane. Whatever pre-gas station consciousness it is he has, Dr. Ronsayro terms, schizophrenia, and, whatever force he contrives to open the door back out into the summer passes like a bullet in the air. Another meek protest follows, a telephone call to Joe Hill Jones (a family lawyer friend of Peggy’s), some fleeting images of his son perhaps saluting the now disposed general and habeas corpus legal talk begins with the fellow inpatients who likewise are not insane and who, too, seek immediate discharge. Whatever the issue was he had hoped to raise :
“Sandieeeee,” Wayne Mize says as they snack at snack time, before shower time, before bed time, before breakfast time, before group time, before activities time, … “ …will we ever get OUT?”
“I don’t know,” says Weldon, unable to concentrate and smoking Pall Mall Gold incessantly. “I don’t know!”
“Habeas…what?” Wayne looks into Weldon’s eyes through the smoke.
“Corpus,” says Weldon, blowing off a fresh cloud. “Corpus is ah, where,…” says the institutionalized attorney.
“Oh, I don’t really know.”
“Or care,” says son-like Wayne.
Then they play dominoes or walk the halls or smoke another cigarette or get drugged or eat or try to talk to someone as health care professionals say, about ‘…their problems…’. Peggy sees him one more time and with a social worker—Dan Bruce—says, “I WANT A DIVORCE!” None of it makes sense – the car, the phone, like a noose behind him…or, the locked door. A mystery? A corpus? A story? A witness. A trial that never …LOCK … takes place. She goes out a door at the nurses station, free; and, they sort of yell, ‘Bye.’ The government has spoken, Peggy has spoken and
Before ever any words of any particular import or any acts of any “ordinate” significance or any girls or any bonds or atoms or DNA or Hiroshima or Zonko—Bam—GaZong—there was Sanklee.
“Yes,” she says in a little kitchen, in a little house, in a little voice far away.
“Is this a drum?”
A tree glows pale in the darkened living room; and, he rubs the Christmas paper like it were some lover’s skin.
“An ottoman,” she replies.
“A what?” says Sandy, Sanklee, Weldon, now thumping a singular guitar string as if to change things.
“Just wait ‘till the morning,” she says. “Your brother will come and …” Her voice halts, there’s another thump from the string of the Sear’s Harmony guitar and the house not far from the front yard near White Rock, not far from San Mateo, not far from the lake itself, not far from Hollywood, not far from the gas station, not far from Restland, where just Thanksgiving his father was buried, is cold and dreary and the loneliness agonizing—thump—the memory providing not just a big moon tear but a stream of little tears that fall like rain sometimes.
“Is dad really dead?”
“Yes.” She says assertively.
“Will I die?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can I open my gifts?”
“Are we going to eat?”
And, so on a table his aunt gave them, on a Christmas eve when Jesus was born, Mother, widow and son, share the holiday pretending like all poor people Santa will come and they will receive their ‘just do’ even if that becomes just a song.
A guitar, stolen, smashed, borrowed for the night, bought new, is always somewhere like an alter ego or, to be sure, a shadow—no lyrics, nothing really to say but just thumps.
‘B a n g i n g’ !! “Quit that banging,” his mother always yelled long ago. Maybe then a strum. At the private psychiatric hospital his brother brings him a Checkmate guitar; but, Dr. Unterberg says there’s an issue with the guitar and it’s locked in a closet. For the front yard at White Rock, his mother buys him a Yamaha brand guitar. Never electric! Acoustic. Only. Acoustic. Even when Peggy purchases from a friend a Gibson Jazz Electric for husband Sanklee’s birthday—no amplifier. A circle of friends sit smoking pot around the birthday boy, ‘thumping’—a strum—then, a kind of fingering-a—look—look—look at me! Then, good-bye they all say like quarter notes filing out the door. In Hollywood, it’s an Epiphone. These days it’s a Mexican Fender Electric. And, then, someone dies…THUMP. Cancer, heart, zonko! Sanklee, while at the gas station, indeed, knows the poem—the car or the door or even the extended key parts—producing and performing in private on the Fender and a little four-track studio he keeps in a kind of coffin-like box on a banquet table more than two-hundred songs, most copyrighted and registered with BMI. “Demo” tapes of four or seven or ten songs are sent out—all over, back to Hollywood, to Europe, to New York, to friends, to his ex-wife (‘here,’ he tells her in the hallway of the motel in Alabama when his son graduates from Officer Training School—“like the White Album”) ; but, mainly, it’s just the old ottoman, auto man, what man, SANKLEE, he says—going at it, then, listening to the results like they were solid gold. There have been no deals, no offers, no compliments; but, then, every once in a while, the gift of a song pops up: ZONKO! “This Girl” by Sanklee. © year. Deceased 2026. Lunatic. Hobby: guitar. Basketball. Riding bicycle.
MIDNIGHT—THE GAS STATION
“…had hoped to raise an issue!” Yes, indeed, the course of human events has done not just that ; but, this night, the ebb and tide of (…Weldon is to the part where the coffee beans have to be “roused”…) has returned to him his son—the joint result of a private computer search and a telephone call to Weldon’s ex-wife’s husband, Ronald Edwards, in San Juan Capistrano, California—facts now known to neighbors, co-workers at the gas station, and, if it were Weldon’s judgment, the furthest corners of the earth! A kind of terrestrial king, a momentary Hispanic dictator, he watches the coffee beans swirl in their container. Stephen, Maggie—Stephen’s daughter by Mary-beth (Italian)—Chuck, Colby—her children (divorce, Mathis)…, Weldon reviews his family, while meanwhile a loud rapping on what could be a coffee bean has become increasingly audible. Weldon stares, thinking—“…how could a coffee bean?”—and, then, fixes in the correct frame a customer at the window.
“Oh, that’s all right,” says the experienced night man to what now appears to be a Dallas police officer.
“I need gas and a hard pack of Marlboro Lights,” he says, giving Weldon a twenty dollar bill which Weldon snaps adroitly and from the cash drawer produces at once the correct change.
“Five twenty seven is your change,” he says. The two pennies he even kind of clicks so skillfully the officer is given to a faint Mona Lisa smile.
“Have a good night.”
Returning to the coffee machine in the general fountain area, Weldon accidentally skids on a free bean fallen on the floor, nevertheless, momentarily reunited with his work. One piece in a previously distorted jigsaw puzzle has given the aging man a kind of youth, a rebirth of thumping emotions psychotic in overtone and worthy of evidence of the other hand. Weldon hits the -start- switch. While beans are joyously reduced to brewable size, the night man observes the serene lunacy of a near summer moon, crowds of friendly stars peering, as it were, through the windows of the neon station. Successful, he draws a fresh cup and presides general-like over the flag colored pumps outside and his new world of hope, love and joy—standing there on the entire world, undaunted, victorious and quite unaware that Rueger and Gary P. are adjusting the color tint knob on their panel screen closed circuit television receiver across the street. Weldon’s shirt, once too blue, now contrast perfectly with his navy pants and what appears to be an approaching green BMW, license…RWL 154, TX. Pictures of his son, ( number NL15704372 ), are superimposed at the bottom of the hidden screen as Rueger and Gary P. record the transaction and go about their midnight paper work—pages at the top denoted…HOUND DOG: File D3—Data Base—National Security. Section I.
Weldon pinches himself after a while, his coffee cup near drained, the green car gone, and begins stocking the cooler. So proud is he at having located his son, he pictures himself signed with a major record label, a cigar lit, basking in his fame—a public, hardly private, figure worth millions and his son and he and Mary-beth and their children all similarly admired by the envious general public. These illusions are promptly destroyed, however, as Weldon enters the cooler a riotous Mexican burst magically opening the cooler door followed by several trailing explosions so artfully done even Gary P. and Rueger giggle at the gas station employee.
Rueger comments wryly: “At least he had enough incentive to do a search.” He then “mouse’s” the cursor to page—
Notice Los Angeles Police Department—Los Angeles—California—dateline, San Juan Capistrano…
Rueger is first surprised, then, rather taken back...
--Peggy, (Dorothy) Edwards—incident, 11:00PM, stalking…D3…1891724…case file sex assault. Unknown assailant, San Juan…Mexican, age 40-43, heavy set, driving green sedan, perhaps Camry. Last seen vicinity Edwards’ home, investigation continue…will advise—
Weldon graduated from Texas Tech University in 1968-a B.A. in English. He then got an M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree (J.D. l975) from the same school. Divorce followed as did commitment to, first, the private psychiatric hospital, Timberlawn, in Dallas, and , later, the State Mental Asylum in Terrell, Texas. Mr. Sandusky petitioned for habeas corpus claiming a conspiracy to unlawfully commit him existed in violation of his constitutional rights.
Upon release, Weldon got a job at Exxon/Mobil where he worked twenty years as a cashier-nightman. During August, 2005 he underwent open heart surgery at St. Paul’s Hospital in Dallas and have since been declared totally disabled. He has coronary heart disease.