The Mexican in the Bathroom (Continued from Issue Twenty)
Weldon H. Sandusky
Mary-Beth, STEPHEN, COLBY, MAGGIE AND CHUCK
While within the icy confines of the cooler, cashier composite Franco Lopez-Sanklee, chronic paranoid schizophrenic, Weldon is busy stocking soda and again using the no-man’s land of cyberspace to humorously draw his son, he thinks, perhaps into the gaseous realm:
“Where, where, where,…[blast], [blast], [blast],
Where is the man?
He’s probably somewhere doing the best he can.” [BLAST], ETC…
A waiting and puzzled customer looks vainly at the gas station cooler, the murky figure of someone amidst a chant-like series of farts only discernible. At last the customer knocks with a quarter on the window. Exeunt cooler, Weldon still absorbed in his drama is unaware as well of a California hacker’s success at breaking into Exxon’s security video system and with a web site producing a Northern California cable show called “El Luno.” The purchase of Jolly Ranchers, Super Fruit Chew’s and some Marlboro Lights is thus seen by a new audience—added to a growing list of audiences and successful pirates who “tap” the antics of the conspirator.
Still concerned about Federal agency reports on the California stalking, Rueger and Gary P. are too busy tracking the site of a pirate known as BLACKBEARD to notice this new addition to the family of royalty thieves. As the customer is leaving (a bathroom request denied), the phone rings, Rueger and Gary P. quickly monitoring the signal:
“Exxon,” says the night man.
“Dad, Steve.” A sergeant in the Air Force stationed in Goldsboro, North Carolina, his voice is like gold to be sure—careful, steady and pleasing to hear. What becomes a series of long distance Dallas-Goldsboro calls follows, the decision made finally and day-certain set for the father-cashier to visit in Goldsboro: the United States Air Force base, Seymour Johnson. Whereas some twenty years ago an arguably ‘schizo’ drunk stepped out of a failed marriage then onto Hollywood, today, a neat, tailored, sober man arrives by way of contrast in Goldsboro. Waiting in the airport are the children, Stephen and Mary-Beth, Weldon first approaching and, yes, holding his gut hard not to let his emotions show. He hugs first Mary-Beth, then, managing a dual-shake and hug with his son, sergeant, U.S.A.F. The children (Weldon peering as though indifferent) at Maggie, his granddaughter, to see if there are any resemblances, are mannerly—Chuck, a football sized fifth soon sixth grader and, Colby, a “picture-pretty” blond. Maggie has a straightforward appearance like her mother with, however, paintbrush features that along with Colby’s sand hair and Chuck’s manliness balance the twin-like father, Weldon, and, son, Steve. As they leave the airport, Mary-Beth, a tiny woman, has to inadvertently catch Weldon who falls down the escalator some two metal stair steps that disappear into each other as first they ascend and then descend out the airport lobby. Streaks of blood trail down Weldon’s leg, embarrassed and then offering the most credible explanation—imbalance. Intent still upon their introduction, a nifty Mercury Voyager, luggage carrier on top, makes its way out of the airport parking facility and onto a North Carolina freeway—pieces in a jigsaw puzzle that has been reassembled and, if it were up to Weldon, proudly, but cautiously, gleaming at his son, framed and put on display. The cooler and gas pumps are just suddenly other tiny pieces in a new life. Maggie is by now obviously a ball of fire as speechless they travel home. It has been twenty-two years between separation and reunion!
“Nice to have you here, Dad,” Steve acknowledges, their eyes kind of touching.
Not far behind the sovereign-like Voyager, its two still hapless generals motioning and signaling each other, are Rueger and shadow Gary P. carefully monitoring electronic surveillance equipment.
“Good signal,” interjects Rueger.
“Yea Steve,” the seeming ‘homo-ed’, complacent night man says.
“If there is a conspiracy and you win in court…,”
“Unit 318,” breaks in Gary P. “Tape S.J. X -19-N.Carolina.”
“Not really.” Sounding unsure, Weldon leans as though to introduce Colby and Chuck, then toddler Maggie, “…the essence of the cause is not really the existence of some underground, but, the difference between love and sex as the cause becomes identifiable—an event, for example. The Church maintains marriage; the State-the police, force.
“How then…,” Steve begins as Mary-Beth suggests better that he pay attention to steering the vehicle.
“Oh,” Weldon agrees as the Voyager slows to avoid the rear end of a slow-moving truck, touching Mary-Beth on the arm to ease tensions.
“That Mary-Beth,” Gary P. briefs Rueger, likewise an attentive driver, one-half mile behind the Mercury in an unmarked government unit, “…was a ‘tech-sergeant’…”
“Rank-up on the “sarge”, Rueger hits record on the console menu and Dual Play so that her file is played while the two vehicles randomly or not scramble on a rather modern map of signals likewise random or not.
“Rueger!” Gary P. rewinds the subject tape—800-200=625—“…here…”, “…diagnosed manic depressive.”
“Then any motivation might be diluted!”
“Like water!” agrees Gary P.
“…not withstanding…”, like some babbling poet touched by a fresh emotion Weldon now apparently is commenting on the future of the children—Colby, Chuck and Maggie—a toy car zooming to the floor—obviously his target, “Hitler or Titos or, yes, Montezumas—youth—there is always…”
“Dad,” interrupts Steve, the night man following his son’s finger to observe an Andrew Jackson historic monument as they drift up and over the bridge where once opponent Cherokee Indians fell to popular Jackson in a battle marked with debate and debauchery. Completely unaware of the surveillance unit the night man, reunited father is lambasting the Government, his son part in agreement, and, …
“Station ground Seymour assign Lufbery contact Adam: communication specialist.”
“Love is the Church …” at last his son insists—Mary-Beth touching his arm gingerly.
While another vehicle sails to the car floor, Maggie, having apparently pulled a Franco Lopez, watches as Chuck cracks a rear window allowing the ripe molecules to escape. Weldon begins a new angle:…………
“No wonder!” the old night man is or was a mental case Rueger notes towards the conclusion of the Mary-Beth tape. “He seems obsessed!”
“Yea,” notes Gary P. cautioning Rueger to maintain a good distance.
“And now there’re two of them,” he ends.
The Voyager and surveillance unit exit Goldsboro,
their turn signals each a kind of juxtaposed mimicry while at once secret,
and, then, perfectly obvious together, and then not.
SEYMOUR JOHNSON: HOME
“Ground Zero, Adam…”
As the troop hits the base and receives clearance as well, the house at last appears—cute and on the corner with Sgt. SANDUSKY in black letters on the front eve of the roof. Steve parks, like Weldon used to, and, as all must do—home from the sea, journey’s end.
“Wait, Maggie,” Mary-Beth says as with bomb-bay door like diapers dragging the almost ‘two’ child leads the pack to the front door, Grandpa last, carrying his luggage, his leg still blood-marked from the escalator fall, and, then entering: an adorable furniture filled, design couches, tables, T.V.—console, paintings included, living room, Maggie already sprawled on the carpet, her diaper being changed by Steve, the sergeant, and, obviously, very much in command father. Weldon occupies Chuck’s room, Mary-Beth heads to the kitchen and Colby instructs fruitlessly their dog, ecstatic Franny, barking, Maggie, whimpering, Weldon (Franco) amazed watching the Labrador retrieve endlessly a musical terrycloth ball that when bitten hard enough emits several bars of a kind of electronic song.
Rueger and associate shadow Gary P. meanwhile fine tune a chorus of surveillance devices in a house cattycorner across the street. Chuck as though more aware always drifts into the background assuming a judgmental role, Colby, his sister, most often remanded and, then, he, Chuck, himself, by step dad Steve---a chain of command as it were. The ball musically bubbling in Franny’s mouth is friendly offered to the night man, Grandpa, who finds the dog then resists giving it up, beginning a kind of sequence: Colby, first, scolding the dog, the ball at once yielded thus to Grandpa, then, Chuck admonishing his sister for being mean to Franny, and, he, likewise, in sequence, admonished by Dad.
“Everyone, start getting ready for dinner! Grandpa, do you want a shower?” Mary-Beth is always straightforward.
“Why, yes,” says the now almost broken-in visitor, beginning to unpack, inspect his new surroundings, and, once shown the bathroom, entering and closing the door—a Mexican sombrero hung on the back, ornamental and giving Weldon a kind of resounding second welcome.
“Dad,” his son says from the hall. “Everything all right?”
“Yes, ah, yes,” says the
night man. “Si!” thinking is it true-a national celebrity! “The Mexican,
indeed, in the bathroom!”
SEYMOUR JOHNSON: HOMECOMING
As others of the family emerge from the bathroom, a beautiful main dish of manicotti is centered on a likewise beautiful ash table, chairs matching, in a what seems wave of colors from paintings hung in the living room, the dining room itself and even Weldon, now grandpa, then, Mexican in the bathroom, wearing a red, white and blue American flag embossed T-shirt. While Chuck is being scolded for erasing Colby’s game board from its present page, other dishes in Polish-stone ware are produced, Mary-Beth obviously stealth-like in and about the kitchen, seating, first, Maggie, a kind of centerpiece in the reunion drama.
Her highchair is a combo chair-car seat strapped thereto arrangement, Weldon, just then, assigned to a side-table chair, then, Chuck, Colby, Steve and Mary-Beth, last, taking their places. Noticeably, as all begin on what is indeed a delicious meaty pasta, salad, tea, bread, etc., Maggie’s fork is being congruously, slowly emptied on the floor where Franny waiting patiently like some accomplice gobbles up the airdrops. Steve returns, at once, a man, always like stepson Chuck, waiting to appear out of the background, to the current topic of an in progress cause of action in conspiracy, aiming a salad loaded fork at his dad to make the point:
“…so without a gun, you’re going to play guerilla trained hand-to-hand combat Marine.”
“Exactly,” Weldon agrees and rising directs himself to a container of tea in the kitchen acquiring an all too polite accord from Mary-Beth on the way, Franny meanwhile torn between a fresh airdrop of Manicotti and the electronic terrycloth ball having unnoticed actually placed the ball in Grandpa’s chair. Weldon, still absorbed in the training part of the hypothetical, reseats himself in the land mined chair to engage a sudden hilarious burst of electronic notes from the activated ball. Steve scolds the now war criminal dog aptly identified , “FRANNY” , then, Granny, with a ‘G’, like the missing family member-PEGGY and Mary-Beth’s former husband-CHARLES. Other assigns and accessories to the eternal possibility of a developing ‘cause’ seem mysteriously ever present as well the North Carolina night in full progress, kind of cold; and, Weldon, at last blurting out…
“Steve! Chuck,…” the moon huge in the pine trees through the door to the backyard, “do you think Mary-Beth would let us have dessert out back?”
“Sure, of course,” says the sergeant glancing at Mary-Beth then at Colby, caught in the act of supplying enemy status Franny with a handful of manicotti.
“Coffee!” Mary-Beth announces, pert and undeniably, and, then, everyone files out the door into the night. A sturdy green table and chairs Steve bought Mary-Beth for Mother’s Day appear, canopy overhead, as well green in a wash of night and cold while with Italian cake and coffee intermittent electronic bursts (coordinates unknown) arise from various locations in the yard. Maggie, somewhat later, is indeed pinned down in a small sandbox, yelling for assistance then yielding to tears as Franny is at last quarantined on a leash. Military, order, family…, there is some balance of justice thinks Weldon in bed now.
“Night, Dad,” from the hallway, Steve announces.
“Oh, Goodnight,” he returns, and, satisfied somehow begins to sleep knowing that once love came in judgment, was held dead and buried only to rise again here in a sixth grader’s bed in a room with outer space jets, aircraft other, and ships—a huge poster of tiny men scaling a glacier-like sheet of ice on the side of Mt. Everest on the wall above his bed.
“Oh, well…raise an issue…:
“Hello, this is Lt. Sandusky.”
“Mr. Sandusky. This is Dr. Don Mierzwiak. I’m afraid I have some bad news…(like a wave from a sound from an atom from then nothing)…,ah, your father is dead. He had a heart attack—I had admitted him here into Robert Dedman Hospital. He stabilized briefly in Intensive Care but then the attack was complicated by heart failure…”
“Please, Dr. “
“Yes,” says Dr. Mierzwiak. “I’m listening.”
“I just graduated from Officer’s School, now I’m here ready to…”
“I understand your at Vandenberg AFB.”
“Yes Sir.” There is a pause, then, Steve continues. “He was fine when I saw him in North Carolina and seemed all right too at graduation at Maxwell in Alabama.”
“Steve, I understand your upset…” (nothing from something, indeterminate space from space, an atom from quarkish chaos)
“Doctor, I’m going to make a few calls and get a plane. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
“Fine, Sir,” says the doctor. “Before he died he’d said he wanted you to know and thought you might come.”
“Yes, sir, I’ll be there.” The air is silent now, Steve phoning both Mary-Beth in North Carolina and his mother, Peggy, in San Juan Capistrano, California, little vignette like pages creeping in and out of his mind—a lunatic, a failure, a gas station night man—as he packs enough for the funeral and a couple of days. The plane ride to Texas is uneventful—an album of memories Steve tries to collect so as to piece together some sort of consciousness he can rely on, a point of view from which he can negotiate values: a conspiracy! That’s what his father thought…
“Ah, excuse me.” A girl slides past and out into the aisle of the plane. A conspiracy! That’s probably why his father was considered a lunatic; but, then, there was never a trial, no hearing, no witnesses save the State’s witness, a doctor who read his diagnosis and then gave hearsay reports of people who believed his dad was dangerous.
“Excuse me.” The girl slips back into her chair and cracks a magazine. Steve kind of smiles and then sees the lunch cart at the far end of the plane. More thoughts and memories become like clouds the plane plows through outside the window, vague and speculative and circumstantial. Logic eventually becomes as well hypothetical and conjectural if not conclusionary so that within the distant whine of the jet engines and the occasional flourish of magazine pages (a man in a wine bottle), (the story of a one-armed hockey player), Steve falls to sleep, the food cart some chromium casket, his head now dissolved into the reclining airplane seat.
Awakened some minutes outside Dallas, the jet is on approach, Steve using the restroom quickly, then, buckling up prepared to land. The squeal of the wheels on touchdown turn to the forward motion of soon a rent-a-car, the man courteous and still thanking him for his business as Weldon’s son drives away. It’s a Tuesday afternoon in Dallas, the sky clear, the sun some awkward arrangement of yellow against a moon that’s still visible, the hospital EXIT sooner appearing. His cell phone reaches the doctor ; and, they schedule an office meeting. Thanking, then, Dr. Mierzwiak, the doctor replies, “Your quite welcome, sir.” No remorse or sorrow seems appropriate so there is none. A slight wait in the outer office and at last the two men shake hands, the unpleasant visit to the hospital morgue only yet a remote suggestion.
“It seems,” says Dr. Mierzwiak, your father’s attack was subsidiary to a block in the left ventricle of his heart, water had collected and briefly we thought in the I.C.U. he’d pull around, but, despite medication and another slight attack it was too much, the atrium and ventricle collapsing and necrosis of the surrounding tissue following…I’m sorry…oh, he wanted to be sure you got this briefcase—something about a conspiracy.”
“My father was a lunatic doctor, mentally ill.”
“I see. Nevertheless lets confirm the identity of the body and some papers must be signed and our business is done.” Like he’s got a gun Dr. Mierzwiak points his finger at the door.
Before the men start to leave, however, Rueger and Gary P. are at the office door flashing official I.D. and requesting a ‘hearing,’ bringing with them as well a search warrant.
“We’re with tactical intelligence—a unit of government associated with the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., doctor. May we see the briefcase?” Gary P. presents the warrant and while the two agents sift through what are medical records (the County Hospital of Dallas, Parkland, the State Mental Asylum in Terrell, Texas), Weldon’s son protests as it were:
“It was your failures in procedures that got him locked up to begin with. He never had a trial; he didn’t even see the witnesses who had accused him of being dangerous. Meanwhile, my mother was a victim of assault! Now, here…,”
As Gary P. snaps the case closed, Rueger interjects, “Mr. Sandusky, I’m sorry about the mental illness thing. I’m not so sure myself. Actually what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think he was either crazy or dangerous. Under the law you got to be both and like you I don’t think he was either. “What…,” Rueger continues, indicating to Dr. Mierzwiak they’ll be done shortly, “…I do think is that he was manipulating the system—the airwaves—the national security—some way. Did you ever hear of FRANCO LOPEZ, the Mexican in the bathroom?”
Steve is startled. “I might have. I really don’t see…”
Gentlemen, Dr. Mierzwiak interpleads, Mr. Sandusky and I have business, if your…”
“Oh, we’re finished. My card, Mr. Sandusky.”
STEVEN RUEGER. UNITED STATES GOVT.
Washington, D.C. 1-800-…………
We’ll be in touch.” With that Rueger and Gary P. leave and the Doctor and Weldon’s son head for the hospital morgue, a series of hallways, an elevator and swinging doors and a sign NO ADMITTANCE. They go through and to a table at last among other tables with draped bodies. As Mierzwiak pulls back the green sheet, Steve acknowledges his father’s identity with a little touch on the dead man’s arm.
“Dad!” Steve quietly begins to cry.
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.