PRISM, Volume 1, Part 6
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PRISM, Volume 1, Part 6
Dangerous Dwarf Proudly Presents
George C. Chesbro's
PRISM: A Memoir as Fiction
Volume One: "Dark Engine"

Published by Apache Beach Publications

Click here to purchase Prism

Copyright © 2001 by George C. Chesbro. All rights reserved.
Reprinted here with by permission of the author.

Installment #6
prism

I buy a soda from a vending machine in the staff area, return to Shangri La, and then let myself out of the hospital through locked double doors at the far end of the bullpen that open onto a patio with a stone bench and a pleasant view of a meadow where a flock of wild geese have taken up residence. 1 light a cigarette, try to clear my mind to think about just what I want to write about when I summon up enough energy to start writing. I must, of course, describe the children's hospital and its patient population as well as the Alternate School Program and my role as its head, but all that comes to mind is Dora.

The problem with writing about Dora, our meeting and our marriage, is to find words to capture the experience without making myself and the situation appear totally ridiculous. I suppose I could begin by describing her as the strongest and healthiest of the bunch that was her hopelessly dysfunctional family. Or I could approach a description of that time of my life from a more oblique angle, writing about her older brother, Andy, and his self-destructive efforts to free himself from that family. The black hole he'd created around himself had finally sucked my son into its maw, and Alan had never found his way back. A link between past and present is that I have spent so much of my life, sometimes earning a living as I am now, swimming in strong, treacherous currents of madness.

I don't recall how or why Andy and I became friends, but it probably had something to do with the fact that we both detested Bertha, his mother. Also, for some unfathomable reason, I was simply not afraid of him, as most people who knew him were. That may have led to a mutual respect and the fact that we enjoyed each other's company. After Dora and I moved to Rockland County, Andy often came to visit.

Unlike Dora's younger brother, who'd once fired a rifle in the house and narrowly missed our infant son, Andy was intelligent, perhaps highly so. He was also artistic, but the only way he was able to express his talent was by copying other people's work, usually calendar art. Had Andy been sent to a facility like Little Ark when he was a child he would probably have been diagnosed and coded as displaying Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He was most certainly a sociopath, with no conscience but with the ability to con just about anyone, from the women he persuaded to pose for the pornography that got him in trouble with the law at an early age to the succession of employers who gave him high-paying jobs based upon the false resumes and manufactured degrees and other documents he was so good at producing. Andy, who used a number of aliases, was fearless, dangerous and reckless, routinely driving at speeds approaching a hundred miles an hour no matter where he was going.

I recall the period when Andy, using a pseudonym and one of his fictional resumes, was working as a top designer for Jantzen Sportswear in New York, and he would visit his sister and me on weekends. As often as not, he, my oldest friend Will Nichols and I would go out drinking on Friday or Saturday night, and sometimes both.

In one bar on a Friday night at closing time Andy was in a foul mood, having failed to go home to bed with a woman for whom he had been buying drinks all evening and who had slipped out a rear exit after telling Andy she was going to the toilet. Earlier in the evening a fight had broken out between a drunk who looked to weigh upwards of 300 pounds and a lighter, quicker man. The drunk had first been decked, breaking a table in two as he had fallen backward over it, and then ejected from the bar by two bouncers. When we left we found the drunk in the parking lot, determinedly waiting to begin round two. The man had torn the passenger's side door off a car, presumably one belonging to the man he had fought earlier, and was sitting sideways on the front seat, his face illuminated by the car's interior light, his feet resting in a mud puddle. He glared at us as we passed by, squinting in the dimly lighted parking lot to try to determine if one of us might be his intended quarry.

We were using Andy's car, and as we approached the parking lot exit the drunk suddenly lurched into our path, shielding his eyes against the glare of the headlights as he tried to see who was inside. It would have been a simple matter for Andy to back up, then pull around the man, but instead Andy rolled down his window and said something I couldn't hear as the drunk stumbled around the side of the car. The man's hammy fist shot through the open window and glanced off the side of Andy's head. Instantly Andy, who was half his opponent's size, was out of the car and all over the man who had hit him, punching and kicking the man, screaming, "My drill sergeant taught me to kill! My drill sergeant taught me to kill!"

The drunk buckled to his knees under the rain of blows and kicks, and then toppled face forward into a mud puddle. Andy, still screaming that his drill sergeant had taught him to kill, proceeded to try to kill the man, jumping on his back and pressing his face into the mud. I finally managed to pull him off and drag him back to the car, and we drove off.

Andy gradually calmed down, and after about ten minutes I exchanged worried glances with the ashen-faced Will. I asked Andy if perhaps we shouldn't go back; we had left an unconscious man face down in a mud puddle, and he could be dead. Andy's response was to laugh and ask who cared, but I insisted. We passed no ambulances or police cars on the way back, and I felt a considerable sense of relief when we found the bar's parking lot where we had left the man dark and empty.

On another occasion, in a crowded bar, Will and I had lost contact with Andy as he pursued various women in one room and we drifted off into another. When we went looking for him two hours later, our bellies bloated with beer and our heads swimming, we learned he'd been arrested a half hour earlier when Andy had told the cop who had come into the bar looking for the owner of the red Thunderbird parked by the fireplug outside that it was his car and the cop could go fuck himself.

Will and I had walked the streets for an hour, trying to sober up enough to present a respectable appearance and not slur our speech when we went to the local police station to try to arrange for Andy's bail. When we did finally enter the station house, Andy was not there; we learned he'd been released with a warning after he had identified himself as a New York City detective and flashed a very authentic-looking gold NYPD badge.

Read the next installment.


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Last updated 25-MAR-2018 21:42:42.28.