“Oh, he was for sure, a man of secrets, though they didn’t come to surface.”
“If he were standing here, would you tell it to him,” Detective Douglas Sexton asked Linda Macaulay.
“But he is dead, and so is the question.” She answered, staring at the Detective.
Unmoved by her answer, he, with a slight motion to his hand, placed his over her hand.
“Sounds like you’re counting his money again, and he is all dead…!” said Douglas.
“All right, for the sake of argument: if Cassandra, whom is back in that hospital in Wisconsin now, if she never shot her self, and he, Jason Hightower was back to normal-yes. You guys want us to love you from birth to the tomb, and I’ve only known you a while, since that day in December of last year, now it is March of 1977, so let’s say three months and a week, for that matter, you are still a stranger.”
“I was there Linda, I asked you out, if I recall right!”
“Yes, I remember that too,” answered Linda.
Detective Sexton was getting a bit bitter, and spitting out some sarcasm, “…perhaps it’s my bad luck to be a poor detective.”
“Oh yes, bad luck, not for you but for me, since I am dating you…” she said, hands clinched on her lap, as they sat in his apartment watching T.V., eating popcorn, watching ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ now she took his hand off her’s.
“Maybe if you’d just act rich, it might help; you don’t act like you want to keep me, rather as if you own me.”
“It goes both ways, there is only sex between us anyhow, and I suppose Jason was worse than a father or uncle, he became worse when he got his wealth I heard, so the neighbors said, insurance, and the plantation, and the furniture, you looked kind of eagle-eyed for his money if I recall.
Linda, pauses for a few seconds, then gets up, walks over to the window, looks out it, it is a nice spring evening.
“He wouldn’t let me out of his sight, but bought me snazzy cloths, negligees and all that girl stuff. All to make me happy and you can’t buy me a stick of gum. Is it that child support you have to pay, or is it that you get a little when you visit your kids, from your ex-wife? I really was happy also you know; I just had to be there for him. He made an effort to make me happy, but there was an eccentric side to him, a placid side, a side that when he talked, was emotionally flat, he had many sides I suppose.”
Doug, stops speaking, reaches for a cigarette from his shirt pocket, lights it, with his lighter, watching Linda look out the window, puts it in an astray, and sits back, after a few puffs off the cigarette, puts it out, almost a whole cigarette, and wants to speak but stops himself, then says:
“How was Jason with his daughter, and you, I mean, did you see her much?”
“I drove him around town in his new Cadillac, he liked me to go fast around those corners, and into the alleyways, perhaps missed it as a kid, Cassandra never left her room, and we were gone quite a lot. He liked me taking him to the red-light district, if only his wife knew what was in his head, how he got there before I’ll never know, and he never told me, but he knew Jenny and Kathy and the whole lot of the whores there. I even waited outside of the car for him a few times, while both those gals took care of him. You just don’t know people, do we? You’d think his item wouldn’t work-because he’s in a wheelchair, it was really his legs that didn’t work, the item worked well, he even had flashy pants underneath those blue jeans of his.
But not me, not Linda Macaulay, I did not stop him, I worked for him those months twenty-four hours a day, doing his laundry, even her’s, Cassandra’s: yes I was in the middle of sin, and we didn’t see Cassandra all that much, her mind was too much for us, fathoms deep, so we left her alone, and I did what young girls my age do, shop, shop, make love with the rich, and drive the Catholic around and showed off.”
“Ah,” said Doug quickly as if to hear more, but Linda seemed to have hushed up, “What about Betty, did he cheat on her?”
“Does a cat meow?” replied Linda, “of course he did, and he called it moderation, with little truth, something like that; although he was known in his own circles as the pillar of truth, and honesty, and fidelity, and the most faithful of the faithful. He was not a criminal of course, not in the since of how we see them nowadays, not a thug, god forbid, but he’d go into a few nightclubs, they knew him at the few he had me take him to. He never talked Betty out of going to Saigon either, I think he wanted his time in the bars, he’d go to them when she visited her sister in North Carolina, Caroline, and he put the pistol in the house, even told me were it was, loudly, as if to let Cassandra know, although I cant’ say there is a connection here.”
“I see. This-Hightower guy-” and Doug just shook his head without finishing his sentence, then added, “funny no one discovered his betrayal, he used to have servants did you not, I mean, Jason Hightower?”
“That was long ago, I don’t know a thing about that, he was very efficient, even in his debasing moments; with a spark of dignity everyone saw him, servants, I don’t know. But I do know he was likened to a spider after the fly, when he wanted something, he even could produce a mindless outrage for what he wanted, and we around him were really armatures compared to him.
“When Betty was in Saigon, he went unchecked, and his capacity for rage and revulsion, seeped out of him.”
“I see these are the parts his wife never knew!” said Doug.
“And what does that matter either? Whether he was or not? What can anyone do about it, he’s dead, and Cassandra will get all the money, all the $200,000 left for the furniture, and the land which sold for 1.8-million, and the house, yes the house that sold for a cool million. If the hospital doesn’t take it all away before she recovers, if she recovers.”
“No more, Linda.”
“So you had enough of the Hightower’s and Abernathy’s for an evening, and love also?”
“Thank you for that remark, I mean, love, we make love, but neither of us have fallen in love, have we? I thought I was ready to, but somehow I lost it. You said to everyone he was a good man, Jason Hightower, now this.”
“I said he was a good man, yes, after I left them, I simply just told my second self, I lied, you see, he’s dead, you know that, so what’s the difference.”
“Sure, yes, he’s dead, oh yes, he’s very dead, but seems to be alive tonight, I seem to be angry I can’t have vengeance on him, tell his wife, yes, I’d like to go tell his wife, but she’s dead too.”
Now they stared at one another, continued to stare at one another, as if this was an agonizing affirmation.
“You could have black mailed him,” said the detective.
“I got $10,000-dollars worth of materials, things, a place to live a while, a Cadillac car in my name, I suppose you can call it what you want, but I don’t call it blackmail, I produced a service, with another set of rules, it’s all fair in love and war, so they say, you just got to lay all your cards on the table, and I did, I never lied to him. And he never lied to me, we didn’t have to lie to each other, we didn’t want to reform each other either, we liked it how it was. Do you want me to tell you all?”
“Not for anything, I heard enough, an old man died, and a young girl became a woman, just so you don’t have to climb down the drainpipe when you get married.”
It is the summer of 1978, and the two children of Nguyen, are ten and eleven years old now. Vang has been dead for a few years, and Zuxin who worked with Vang in Cam Ranh Bay during the war years is Nguyen’s new wife. During the past couple of years Ming has visited them during the summers. Cam Ranh Bay is being used as a Market Place now, in particular the Air Base there. Things have changed. He worked for the underground in Saigon in those war years, a civilian sanitary engineer, an army-trained sniper no one knew he was, who was assigned to collect data for the underground fighting of the Americans, thus, he was also a spy, his wife never know much of what he was, Vang, although being a one time sniper she did now, thinking he was retired at the time she was with him.
This summer Ming is staying at the house with Zuxin, it has been enlarged to six rooms, instead of three. They now have a sturdy roof and a dog on it to warn them of the midnight robbers, and there are quite a few. He now works in interrogation of the new order, that in which many of the citizens that worked for the Americans were sent to for relearning, to be reprogrammed for the New Life in Vietnam, the new city, his boss is Major Manh, he himself is a Sergeant, it equivalent, he also works for him at his man job. They are even constructing a museum on the victory they had over the Americans. Ming had to attend reprogramming classes within the new order, as to have a new attitude, heart and mind for nationalism, being a friend of Nguyen, she was only limited to a few, she had met Major Manh once, but never talked to him, and thus, because of him and Zuxin’s husband, no harsh punishment was given her, and each summer she had told Nguyen she’d come to help Zuxin with the children and household cleaning, and so forth and so on, and of course, he had and has had, and continues to have a personal agenda with her, during the summers.
She is taller than Vang or Zuxin was, slender, and is younger than Vang, who would be thirty-nine this year had she lived, whereas, Nguyen is forty-nine-years old, and Zuxin, thirty-seven, and Ming twenty-eight, long silk like black hair, and deep dark eyes.
She is not really attracted to him, he is ugly, thin, and his face is sunken in like a squeezed sponge; he has bony hands, and is a very prideful man. But she cannot escape his grip on her, lest she run to Cambodia, where her parents are living still. She also has aunts and uncles in China.
Saigon, now from the ashes of the late war, has been renamed Ho Chi Minh City, is growing not only with new markets, and reprogramming clinics, but with many new cloths shops, Ming has taken a job in one, a part time job, as Zuxin has also-they work sometimes together, allowing the boys to run wild as boys often do anyhow, so they feel, and it brings money into the household.
Nguyen Khoa, is working with Yoon his friend, and the superintendent Mr. Manh, conduction on a preliminary blueprint, witch will enable Mr. Manh to finish his job on the septic tank system for a section of the city. Both Yoon and Manh have been over recently to Nguyen’s house, and have recognized Ming from the reprogramming, and recent years she has visited Nguyen and Zuxin, quite a pretty woman, whom seems quite educated yet fanciful in a almost ill way-as if she is manic if not at times depressed, bored with life, and yet intelligent, and perhaps a little promiscuous, so she seems in the eyes of Manh, and so Nguyen had felt likewise, neither one sharing this opinion with one another. Mr. Manh, sixty-two years old has told Nguyen he thinks she, Ming, if giving a chance will take a liking for him, he feels she has given him the eye, flirting with him, and Yoon over some wine this morning, has said the same thing, but if you were to ask Ming, it would be a simple no, she was being kind the few times she was introduced to the two men, and so often, she has come to the realization, making a man feel good, or smiling, or being kind, seems to give them the wrong message, as if she would like to bestow her womanhood upon them, how wrong can a man be, but she is in a man’s world, and thus smiles and tries to get away like a cat chasing a mouse, or a bear scenting his honey–thinking it belongs to him, and she, trying to cover the scent up, before she gets eaten up because of her honey.
Manh, asks when Nguyen’s shift will end, as for Yoon also, his shift, and Nguyen says, at 4:00 PM. He tells Nguyen to bring Ming to the outside truck, parked in the back where all the trucks are park when they arrive back from their trips throughout the city. There he will wait for her.
Nguyen, when he asks Ming to come to the plant, he doesn’t tell her exactly the truth, he says,
“It’s for showing you the place, Mr. Manh wants you to see it,” and she replies,
“I expected something like this, he’s always checking me out,” but she wasn’t thinking what Manh was thinking, she had never been married, and was thinking along those lines, and perhaps he’s interested.
She somewhat resists, even though Nguyen pleads, she knows there is something there she can’t escape and therefore, doesn’t want to go, call it in tuition.
Zuxin is at work and the boys are running around in a gang.
Nguyen starts to think about Vang, shakes his head as if it wouldn’t happen again, couldn’t happen again, that was in wartime when she got her disease, this is different (he had gotten medication, but it was too late for her, and that child of her’s, Langdon’s child).
On the other hand, he doesn’t want to upset Mr. Manh. Hence, she calls Zuxin at work so she can let Vy Hoang know, Ming will not be to work, and she is going with him to see the plant where he works. Zuxin hesitates, says, “Oh, I see, tell her I love her.”
Funny response, thought Nguyen, I mean, was ‘I love her,’ necessary, simply going to the plant.
In his own way, he loved Vang, but it was all too late to save her from syphilis, and as soon as that thought came and left, thus, he allowed Zuxin to go on with him to the plant, no more pauses.
As Mr. Manh waits he continues to examine into the phases of the new drainage system construction, he and Yoon and Nguyen were looking on, or at. Then they arrive, Zuxin and Nguyen, he sees Nguyen bringing her into the plant, and several other men see him do it, and Mr. Manh sees that all the men are watching, attracted to her, he then whispers something to Yoon, and greets Zuxin.
“I will take you on a tour of the back area of the plant,” Manh tells Zuxin, “and Nguyen, he can come with,” now Yoon is talking to the workmen that saw Ming come in.
“Miss Ming, in a plant like this one, as you can see we are many serious men, seriousness in anyone of them, sometimes here we work twelve to fourteen hours to make sure the city has a sanitary drainage system in place, we all call it part of participating in nationalism, the new national government, where North and South now have been united as one, as you are one of us, as you remember your reprogramming.” (Although he is concealing his real motives for showing her the plant, and brings her to the back parking lot; she smiles, nods her head as if she understands the word patriotism.)
Ming, for the most part is a good observer, and knows something is up, but feels helpless, and is hoping for the best, but she also knows the evil in men, those with power, and feels she will have to cooperate, and unable to confront at anyone. And they, both Manh and Nguyen, and now Yoon is keeping her company, and will not tell her why.
It dawns on Nguyen, that Manh would do such a thing, plan such a thing, didn’t think he had it in him, and is quite bold on the situation, meaning, he did not think much about asking him to do what he was planning on doing, he didn’t know exactly what he was thinking, but it was one of those things, that strain you, until you can figure it out, and hopefully when you do it is not too late. He says to himself, aloud,
“My wife, I should call my wife let her know I’ll be late.”
“Didn’t Ming call her?” said Manh, “she knows you’ll be late.”
Then they arrived at the truck (among many trucks), Yoon opened it, there was a mattress in the back of it,
“You must be careful dear, you don’t want to fall. And if you do not go onto that mattress for me, I will have you sent back to the reprogramming… and this time harsh punishment will prevail.” and said no more. And he took her by her hand and led her to the mattress, and he took her, and Yoon took her, and several men from the planet came down and waited for their turns.
“Fine, Nguyen now you can go call your wife, tell her we are done today with Ming, for her to bring her back tomorrow,” said Manh.
“Why her?” asked Nguyen.
“Why not her,” replied Manh.
“Because she is my wife!” said Nguyen, with a struggle holding his anger back.
“Because she knows her way down her, and I need you to finish the work we are working on, she’s been here before, you can’t tell…!” said Manh.
Then Nguyen looked at the several men going into see Ming, and Yoon, and they all laughed at him, smirked, and tears came down his cheeks, shame filled his face. These men you see, along with twenty others are willing to sacrifice you for your wife, they are what you call, stockholders in her,” and he laughed, and the men ganged up on Nguyen, and beat, and beat and beat him to pulp, and there he lay in a pool of his own blood, as the last man, carried Ming out said, “We’ll send his wife his checks, he will not be needing them,” Manh added to that little monologue, telling Ming “And tell Zuxin, I will be seeing you both tomorrow, be here at 4:15 PM, sharp.”
“All right,” Rosa said, “here they come.” Papa Augusto, I and Rosa my wife were at the Lima race track, and the horses had finished their walk around the track.
“Who did you bet on,” Rosa asked me.
“Miss Saigon, the same as you…” I said.
“Just remember,” She remarked, “it’s a triple header (trifecta), if you win, meaning you will get three times the amount on the ticket, on the third winning horse.”
Old Papa Augusto had been reading the horse race magazine all week long; this was his trial to prove all his efforts were not in vain.
And that was all, the horses were off. I think my brain had not yet found out it was a race, as I leaned over the railing, confronted with solitude, until the horses raced right in front of me, like lightening, then vanished, going into a second lap. The young jockey seemed to be holding Miss Saigon back, and the other horses-eight in all-were setting the pace, a black horse drew up against Miss Saigon who was third from the front, and in spite of all the jockey could do to keep Miss Saigon in line, the black horse moved in back of her as if trying to annoy her, and the jockey had to hold tight onto the reins, and pull her head back.
All the horses were really going now, Miss Saigon neck to neck with the spotted horse, and the crowd roaring with excitement, I would guess, everyone felt they were getting their monies worth, and even Papa Augusto’s heavy breathing, hoping Miss Saigon would win, for he convinced me to bet on the horse, as evidently he did with Rosa.
The jockey on the black horse gave a terrific whip, to his horse, and near hit Miss Saigon, and now there were three horses, neck to neck. The spotted horse had seemed to be running on lost momentum, because it appeared to have given one last glare and slowed down, and everyone saw it, and heads and shoulders and backs all over the crowd stood up. And like the Andes suddenly appearing out of nowhere, Miss Saigon took the lead, and her jockey cringed, clinging to her bridle as if he was handcuffed.
I could see the jockey hollering at the horse, in hoorays! And then the race was finished, Miss Saigon had won, and Rosa, Papa Augusto and I had won.
Then a man said, “Go down to the winners circle, and take the bridle of Miss Saigon, all three of you get your picture taken, you won big!”
“Yes,” I said. Then I pulled out my ticket from my hip pocket. Next a voice said again, “Get down to the winners circle, as soon as you can, they’re waiting for you.”
After that a man down in the winners circle told another man “Bring that horse here,” and the jockey was still on the horse. “Stand still,” the man told the horse,” then looked at all three of us, “take the bridle,” he told me-and I did, followed by him saying something to the jockey, and the jockey put down his hand to shake mine, and congratulated all of us for winning and betting on Miss Saigon. And Papa Augusto was the most confident and content of us all.
Did you ever notice the things you do without thinking about them? Things that you do “unconsciously?” For instance have you pressed down on imaginary brakes in a car while you were in the passenger seat? When you brush your teeth, do you think, “Today, I’m going to get this right.”? Have you ever wept during a film or while reading a book? Even when you consciously know you’re only reading a book or seeing flickering lights on a screen, somehow the experience has bypassed your logical conscious mind and has engaged your subconscious mind which is where your emotions are.
I distinctly recall seeing the musical Little Miss Saigon on Broadway. We had third row seats so we could see everything. It’s a very powerful story with a heart-wrenching climax. As it was unfolding, I could feel my eyes beginning to tear up. I fought it hard. I knew the lights were about to come up and I didn’t want to my friends seeing me all teary-eyed. I looked at the curtains. I told myself, these are just actors. None of this is real. It didn’t help. Sure enough, the curtain rose and I was all wet faced. But, I quickly discovered I wasn’t the only guy touched. There were a lot of men and women wiping tears away.
The subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what isn’t. That’s why we respond emotionally to film and plays. That’s also why we stomp on brakes we know are not there. Top athletes operate on a subconscious level. A fighter doesn’t have the time to decide, “Oh. Here comes a hook kick. I’ll slip under it and counter punch. No wait, I have a better idea…” He has to respond on a subconscious level instantly or he will get leveled himself.
Emotions make up the next part of the subconscious mind. Have you ever had a broken heart? It’s a lousy feeling and such a strong emotion. It actually feels as though your heart is broken. You don’t want it and wish you could get rid of it, but it has to run its course. That is not an intellectual decision. You don’t go into your conscious mind and say, “I’d like an order of a broken heart and severe chest pain, please.” Emotions pierce the conscious mind whether you like it or not. Just like me watching “Miss Saigon” and tearing up.
When the movie, Jaws, was released in the mid-seventies, many people got an irrational fear of going into the water after seeing the movie. Even though a shark had never attacked them, the fear they experienced watching the film pushed them from respecting the water to fearing it.
Films are wonderful because they can penetrate the conscious mind and take us into a trance state where the subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Even though you know that the film is nothing more than light projected onto a screen and everything is fake, you go into a trance that records the fear into your subconscious mind. Since one of the main jobs of the subconscious mind is to protect you, it pushed some Jaws viewer’s respect for water and sharks to a level of irrational fear.
That’s why people with irrational fears will tell you, “I know it’s silly, but I can’t …” Consciously they know it’s irrational. That’s also why it’s difficult to get over the fear in the conscious state. It was installed in the subconscious mind and often requires a process on the subconscious level to correct.
When you sleep, your conscious mind rests. However, the subconscious mind works 24/7 quietly beneath the surface. It works much like a computer. When you are born, it’s as though your computer was empty. It didn’t have an operating system. With every experience, emotion, influence, touch, taste, sound, sight and feeling, your operating system begins to program you. Some programming is fine while other programming may be harmful in the long-term. Keep in mind that the subconscious mind’s job is to mold us into the person it perceives us to be based upon the programming. If your dad told you that you were stupid over-and-over again when you were young, you begin to believe your programming and act accordingly. Your programming becomes you.
This programming is created by the various components of the subconscious mind starting with long-term memory. Your subconscious mind is like a full color, full sound security video camera that is recording everything and sensation that you have ever seen, heard, felt, tasted, smelled, experienced or that has happened to you.
The subconscious mind is the opposite. It’s a non-stop camera recording from the inside.