Swim Where 5
She awoke to the aroma of coffee mingled with toast and a hint of mint toothpaste. Scott Wagner had left a silver tray on the bed beside her and was gently blowing the smells towards her nose. The breakfast included orange juice, a stack of toast, a pot of coffee with the fixings and strawberry jam. The platter held a cardboard jeweler’s box of about the size to contain a diver’s watch and her eyes occasionally drifted to it while they ate.
“I told you in the restaurant that I always speak the truth and that is now especially so with you.” His eyes held hers but his fingers found the box lid and he opened it. The billfold inside was badly weathered and the stitched seams appeared to have at least once suffered from bloating. A plastic laminated driver license clearly showed Hoffa’s name. “I won’t be able to back up everything I tell you with physical proof, so we will need you to try trusting in my honesty.”
“You really do know where Jimmy Hoffa’s body is?”
“It does seem so. It’s true that haven’t been back there in years, but I’m fairly certain his skeletal remains are where I found them and where I left them.”
“Why didn’t you tell anyone? Or did you report it to someone? Your father maybe?”
“You are the first person I’ve ever told and my father is the last one I would’ve told. If he were still alive, I wouldn’t have let it slip to you now lest he could learn about it. I would’ve taken the knowledge of Hoffa’s final resting place, to my grave.”
“You really hated him?”
“Let’s not talk about that ass-wipe yet.” He ran a hand up her thigh and flirted with his eyebrows. “I have another scintillating idea of what we could be doing.”
The reminder of the exquisite pleasure she had enjoyed in this bed last night swiftly put her into the same randy frame of mind as his. A condom was again absent from their fun and it was almost as good in the morning as it has been at night. He didn’t pull out this time either.
‘An unplanned pregnancy wasn’t part of our deal.’ Belinda Lyle formed the sentence in her mind while they snuggled afterwards but she didn’t utter it. Her reporter’s second sense advised her not to broach that topic. He hadn’t given her the personal information she wanted and needed yet. ‘I can always have an abortion if needs be.’ Her female instinct supplied a niggling premonition that for him, her being pregnant might not be totally ‘unwanted’. Scott seemed to have no qualms in blasting his seed into her conception zone. ‘But maybe he’s had a operation that I’m not aware of?’
Belinda joined Wagner in a long hot shower. Then they went to his kitchen for a second round of coffees.
“Do you mind if I use this now?” She had brought along her notebook and a pencil. Her digital recorder’s battery was flat-line deceased in her handbag.
“Can we talk about your father now?” She began by flipping to a fresh page and comments. “He was a policeman, right?”
“He was that.” Scott frowned. “In fact the word ‘policeman’ defines his entire life because he was nothing but one. Actually, I want to strongly stress that he wasn’t my true biological dad. I don’t share any of his features or family traits and his marriage to my mother was less than four months before my birth.”
“He gave a girl in trouble some respectability.” Belinda winced slightly at the words she was speaking, as they were poignant to her own possible future situation.
“The man you refer to as my father was scum and he never did anything for a noble purpose. He was ignorant white trash who found a vocation in policing that meshed with his vile nature. Instead of saying ‘father’ let’s refer to him Luther Wagner.”
“Luther and your mother were young when they married but they didn’t have any children.” Belinda remarked. “Did your mother have a problem birthing you?”
“I was too young to remember that event clearly.” He chuckled and it lightened the somber cast of the past moments. “I don’t believe she did though. I like to think my mother had a way to prevent herself from conceiving again. She would’ve already known that Luther’s genus was descended from the Suidae family and wouldn’t want his Sus-domesticus chromosomes polluting her Homo-sapiens DNA. Or it might’ve been that Luther was sterile, just as a mule cross-bred from horses and donkeys are typically incapable of reproducing.”
“Was he abusive?” Belinda surmised from his litany of derogatory terms.
“Physically, mentally, sexually, conceptually, spiritually and even my memory of him tortures me to this very second.”
“I’ve never heard of the term conceptual abuse. How would you define it?”
“Luther’s views of how society operates soured my taste for the world because I can’t intellectually refute his opinions, or find real examples to the contrary. Some suggest our society is Democratic Capitalism but Luther showed that it’s really an RBR system. Reciprocally Blind Rectalism is where shortsighted assholes rule and everyone pretends they don’t see anything wrong. The press fully supports the RBR by insuring that nobody gets to see the crappy stuff the assholes are really up to.”
“This seems like philosophy and I’ll be the first to admit that isn’t my strong suit.”
“Instead of in the abstract then,” Scott took a long drink of his coffee, “I’ll explain it in concrete form with an anecdotal description of why swimming became such a vital aspect in my life.”
“I’m ready.” Belinda flipped to a fresh notebook page: she had used the last jotting down the RBR description.
“Laws and rules were the entire structure in Luther’s existence. Non-police had to obey or be punished but officers were free to transgress to facilitate their perverse pleasures. The lawyers, lawmakers and judges were also able to break the laws but they did so only by invoking or enacting the mystical power of a technicality.”
“Did Luther break the laws he was sworn to protect?”
“Continuously. He smoked confiscated weed and drove after drinking seized liquor. He stole valuables collected in evidence. He abused prisoners and molested victims. Luther would speed and blow through red lights on his way to a coffee shop. He was involved in at least two vehicular homicides that the official record later deemed as single car incidents. I suspect he killed my biological father to usurp a hot knocked-up girlfriend. He likely murdered my mom but the cause of her death was attributed to suicide because no signs of foul play were entered into the police investigation.”
“His official dossier has been perused and found spotless.”
“Nobody polices the police and none govern the government either.”
“That’s touted as the media’s sacred duty.”
“The scared duty uses the same letters to describe a more appropriate adjective but if we continue that vein, we’ll not get to the rest.” Scott Wagner laced his fingers and rested his palms on his muscle-rippled abs. “My life was comprised of Luther’s laws and I was subjected to assorted penalties for breaking them, whether I did it or not. My home’s justice wasn’t constitutional but rather, it was on police jurisprudence. That functions on the premise of policemen knowing much more about the bad guys than the courts do: a competent cop must therefore dish out excruciating corporal punishment before the too-liberal court gives the offender a overly light sentence.”
“Luther beat me morning, noon and evenings. Sometimes he would wake from sleep to hammer me for something I did in his dream. I was in my first elementary school years when I observed that Luther only punished me when he was breathing. That suggested to me that I was safe where he couldn’t breath and that was underwater.”
“You would’ve been 7 or 9 years old?”
“About in that age bracket somewhere.” He confirmed. “It was before Luther went from exclusively using his hands to his adding implements like belts, bats, whips and a car’s radio aerial to his repertoire: that started in my fourth grade and water was already offering me some respite by then.”
“Luther hit you with a bat when you were only 10?”
“Your question’s ambiguous phrasing could lead a reader to wrongly assume we are referring to only one event when in actuality, it was in the multi-multiples of times.”
“Numerous sessions of bat beatings, comprising several bat strikes per.” He paused to allow time for her pencil to catch up and then continued. “I was only truly safe when I was underwater, in my lake or a public pool. I dreamed of living aquatically like a fish. In the local swimming pool, I would blow out enough of my air to sink. I would sit on the bottom fanning water into my open mouth and trying to grow gills. Then one time I stayed under too long and I blacked out. Nobody really knows how long I was out for but a lifeguard saw me stretched out on the bottom. I was rescued and revived. Fortunately, my mother was there alone when they called my home. If Luther had learned of it, I’m certain the incident would’ve broken numerous laws ranging from breathing water without a license and not drowning while failing at a suicide attempt.”
“Only your mother ever knew?” Belinda asked but she also jotted and underlined the word ‘blackout’ in her pad’s margin.
“Mom collected me at from hospital where I was breathing from an oxygen bottle. She bought me some scuba gear; a mask, snorkel and swim fins on the way home. I think getting me the snorkel was her first priority so that I wouldn’t drown again. She told Luther the stuff had been on sale so waiting for my birthday would’ve made the swimming gear expensive.”
“Did you see anything in your blackout?” She asked and stroked out her reminder.
“Yes. I had a vivid and prolonged death experience. It was wonderful and up until last night, I’ve had nothing in my life to compare it to. That also happened in water so it positively reinforced my already strong affinity for water.”
“Is there more on your experience in death?”
“That query is also an unfocused one.” He chastised light-heartedly with a smile. “It leaves me to choose between expanding the description of my first DE, or going into the circumstances of the following ones.”
“You had more of them?” She narrowed the inquisition’s beam but it wasn’t done by her will to go there: it was her exclamation of surprise at there being more NDE and a slight lilt in her voice at the end turned it into a question.
“Sometimes Luther would be feeling his sadistic oats extra keenly and his beatings would intensify dramatically. My mother’s present of scuba equipment had given me increased ability in the water and I found that eternity’s gift let me swim from my body when the pain was the most unbearable. I could float up to the ceiling and watch Luther pummel me but while feeling nothing. Unfortunately, I always had to return to my physical body and acquaint myself with its fresh hurts and bruises.”
“Did Luther hurt you worse than your mother?”
“What is worse? Is the intensely localized pain of a fractured clavicle worse? Or is the all over agony of internal bruising worse? Is living an abuse free life until you suddenly find you’re shackled in matrimony to a sadist worse? Or is experiencing hurting that predates earliest memories worse?” Scott paused after his barrage of rhetorical questions. “Mom shouldered the lioness’s share of the sexual cruelty.”
“But you got some of that too?”
“Buggering a minor is a serious crime. As such, Luther’s sacred duty to the police department meant he had to experience enough of it first hand, to be better able to deal heavy handedly with the deviants suspected of having committed that crime.”
“Your book’s sub-title could be – ‘For an illustration of the word ‘cynical’ read on’.”
“The RBR world is a place of abject cynicism. I know it as such and I tell the truth.”
“No one ever became aware of Luther’s nefarious actions?”
“Nearly everyone knew of it.” Scott’s words were upbeat and he even gave a small chuckle. “That’s the sublime beauty of Reciprocally Blind Rectalism in operation. A town doctor realizes that a lad of twelve, who has suffered 4 fractured ribs, a broken leg, a dislocated shoulder and a crushed cheekbone during one year, is not merely ‘accident-prone’. However, this physician occasionally takes his Mercedes into the seedy part of town looking for drug-addicted teenaged girls as a prescription for his flaccid dick syndrome. The doctor wants the police to be blind so he needs to show good faith in his being reciprocally blind. My next-door neighbors knew of it, but they were also aware of both the doctor’s periodic indiscretions and the policeman neighbor’s hyper-violent nature. They required health care sometimes and would prefer not being on Luther’s bad side. Those are two leading causes of blindness.”
“The scornful plot descends even further into the dark alleys of cynicism.”
“That statement hinted at your wishful blindness.” Scott confronted. “I’m telling of my horrendous childhood and I’m surmising your natural human empathy gives you some mental pain from it. A defense mechanism offered by RBR enables you to limit your bad feelings to just me. By grasping at straws that offer a remote possibility of folk being innocently unaware of my real situation, you’re enabling a slim chance of my case being an isolated occurrence where the system failed. If that slim chance is enough: then you don’t have to accept the true fact of the precious system failing far more often than it succeeds and you can spare yourself from having to empathize with the suffering of the many other children subjected to similar maltreatment.”
“This isn’t about me.” Belinda said in a meek voice.
“It doubly involves you. First, you’re human and you should share a 1/x-billionth percent responsibility for the problems experienced in the world shared by other humans living on earth—but you willingly allow yourself to be nudged into blissful blindness. Secondly, you’ve chosen a career path into journalism. In the hard news, a media person makes the event story finite. Harsh action is on the television screen but surrounding the appliance, the pastel-painted walls and soothing décor lets a viewer be blind to the fact that beyond the camera’s frame, comparable things are likely happening in an expanding ripple effect, that tomorrow may be pounding as surf on his very door. A talented newscaster will point out how authority has the situation well in hand, when in truth, it wasn’t in control when the victims had their lives sundered, and it won’t be in check tomorrow, because not one damn thing is being done today—but the authority gets the thrill of looking officious on TV.”
“I’m in sports.”
“You’re in the blindness support squad. You divert the viewer’s attention from the real problems, to a fantasy realm where life is beautiful all the time. Imagine what would’ve happened if on emerging from the Olympic pool, I had spoken the truth. Producers would’ve suddenly cut to a live feed from the track-and-field venue. They know that people want to be blind and they eagerly facilitate it.”
“Then why,” she almost said ‘why me’ but managed to snip it in time, “are we here?”
“Because you’re paying me with your supremely enjoyable sexual services.”
“Uh.” Reversing the payee-payer but with a sidebar of her possessing a courtesan’s flair was to Belinda like a hard slap in the face with a hand gloved in gossamer. “I wanted to ask you how escaping from your body compared to being underwater?”
“That was by a wide measure,” Scott Wagner reached out his left hand and gently grasped her lower jaw. He used his grip to slightly reposition her chin so that her eyes were directly on him. Were it not for the nearly infinite tenderness of his odd gesture’s performance and his benevolent, almost to the point of angelic smile, it might’ve seemed that his left hand was holding her face steady to receive a solid punch from his right fist, “the most deftly accomplished segue from a touchy topic that I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness.”
“Thank you.” She wasn’t entirely sure if he meant it as a compliment or as sarcasm.
“And as to the question currently on the table,” Scott stood, “in my pre-Lyle period of media relations, a likely answer might’ve been ‘same, same, but different’—and that pretty much sums it up well enough today too.” Wagner walked out the apartment door without any explanation of where he was going or when he might be back.
Swim Where will continue….
Russell Twyce is the Author of Shiva’s Messenger