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Big is Better
Into Thin Air
|The kitchen door suddenly creaked, nudged by a sudden gusty breeze that came through an open kitchen window. It was a crystal-clear Fall day with the concomitant northwesterly wind. That loud sound momentarily distracted me. Glancing over at the wide-opened door, I recalled that the State Police had failed to shut it behind them when they'd left abruptly. Then I remembered that whole surreal scene, too, had only happened a few minutes ago.
They'd unexpectedly arrived at my door only moments after I'd returned to the apartment myself. I'd walked down to the town police station earlier in the morning to meet the lawyer and get Sam bailed out of jail. I was so out of breath from having finished my first ever cross-town marathon that I could barely utter a word when the police walked in and began firing questions at me. I'd run at least 7 miles, I reckoned. I reckoned? Reckoning was one of Sam's expressions I'd assimilated.
The State Police were deadly serious and intimidating. They expected both fast and detailed answers from me, and I could offer them neither. I was still gasping for air, and I knew nothing anyway. Well... practically nothing. At least I'd had the common sense not to divulge a couple of items of information. These were just little things that I'd randomly stumbled across - things that were, to me, only Sam's personal business anyway. By themselves, they'd never made much sense to me. They seemed insignificant and unrelated at the time I'd first become aware of them. These were little things that, taken individually, would not have caused me to ask Sam more about them. But given everything that had happened in the past 24 hours, some of these now seemed possibly of importance. I wondered if they might be somehow all tied together, however unfathomably.
The `Staties' were irate when I wasn't able to give them any useful information. As they departed, they left me a verbal list of "do's & don't's" that I was sternly warned to follow to the letter. I'd instinctively kept my mouth shut. There was no sense throwing more potential fuel on the already blazing 5-alarm inferno that suddenly erupted very early that morning when I'd gone to the police station to bail Sam out.
I'd decided to walk down to the station. After such a restless night, I needed a long walk just to clear my head. It was one of those last gorgeous, lingering warm `Indian Summer' mornings before the weather would turn sharply colder and the snow would inevitably begin to fall.
As soon as I entered the station's small lobby, I looked for my lawyer. He wasn't there yet, so I took a seat near the duty desk to wait for him to arrive. It was shift change time, and a few officers were hanging around in the vicinity of the front desk. It was a moment later that I heard someone yelling. The sound was coming from the cellblock. Suddenly a very excited cop raced out of the block hollering, "We've got a big problem! Come here quick! You are NOT going to believe this," as he urged the other cops with frantic waves of his arms to follow him back into the cell block.
The commotion reminded me of a Three Stooges movie at first, and I watched the antics with mild amusement. Seconds later, however, a cold chill suddenly shot through my entire body. I had this really awful feeling. Impulsively, I jumped up and quickly followed behind the last cop heading back towards the jail.
There was complete pandemonium inside - hollering and yelling everywhere. My immediate impression was that a bomb had been detonated. I looked instantly for Sam. I didn't see him in his cell. In fact - I didn't even see his cell anymore. It was only an opened area now between the two other cells on either side of where it had once been. A large pile of twisted steel now laid precariously against the opposite wall, so mangled that it wasn't immediately recognizable as the entire intact front of the jail cell - bars, door and all - still encased in a horrifically-distorted thick steel frame that originally had held everything in place. As I looked at it more closely, I saw that the solid welds all around the fractured frame had been literally ripped apart.
I heard another voice, distinct from the rest, calling out, "Get me down! Jesus, my balls!"
Turning my head, I saw Sam's stout cellmate hanging suspended by the belt on his pants high up the side of one of the remaining cells, hung like a coat on a hook with his feet well off the floor. He was semi-lethargic, as if he might have been hit and knocked out, and was only now beginning to move his arms and legs about. There was blood on his face coming from a real ugly-looking gash on his head that was still bleeding a little. That `hook' on which he was hung appeared to have been custom-manufactured right on the spot. A steel bar had been snapped cleanly immediately above cross-brace, and then bent down to form a very crude - but effective - hanger. Another cop was unsuccessfully trying at the moment to lift the heavy guy up enough to get him down from his crotch gallows.
I looked back at the mangled frame of steel bars again, studying it more carefully this time. I could see where two bars on opposite sides of the door had been either pushed out or pulled in, not being sure which side of the frame I was actually looking at. It was obvious though that the thick bars had also been pulled violently in towards each other as well, snapping some of the horizontal cross braces in the process. These two bars were more twisted than the others, and to my eyes anyway, were apparently the handholds used. When I bent over for a closer look, I could even make out precisely were a hand had obviously gripped each one. There were ridges in the compressed steel showing where each finger had been distinctly placed as if squeezing a cylinder of clay. But beyond that, the entire wall of steel bars had been deliberately crushed even further, giving the whole outer encasement it's now wracked three dimensional hourglass appearance. I backed away as some officers began struggling to lift the twisted steel wreckage in an attempt to unblock the corridor.
Amidst the ongoing confusion, I continued to just look around. The other prisoners were still inside their crumpled, but still relatively intact adjacent cells. They just stood there rather quietly, looking a bit dazed and bewildered. The one closest to me caught my eye. He was pointing his finger towards a gaping breach at the far end of the cellblock that I hadn't even noticed yet.
Speaking quietly just to me, he said, "Your friend went that `o way...."
Only twisted pieces of the steel hinges remained where I remembered seeing a solid steel rear door the night before. Then I spotted the actual door itself through the hole in the wall. It laid outside on the ground in the rear parking lot, many feet from the back of the building. Even at this distance I could see that the door was incredibly bowed out. It looked as if it had been hit roughly in the middle by an artillery shell that had not only blown it right off it's hinges, but also taken out a goodly portion of the cement wall around it as well.
My attention moved back inside when I caught one of the cops saying over and over again excitedly, "You should have seen this guy. Man, was he BIG!" The implication was immediately, of course, that at least this cop thought Sam was responsible for this bomb-like devastation. "You should have SEEN him, Sarge! The guy was a MOUNTAIN!"
The sergeant in-charge, having heard quite enough of this nonsense, decided to squash this preposterous notion entirely before it got any more attention.
"Well, I don't give a damn HOW big he was. This guy had help. It's obvious that there were other accomplices. Call the state police and put out an A.P.B. We've got a manhunt on our hands." He barked out the names of a few of the cops and, pointing outside, ordered, "Get going. Fan out and nail the bastard...."
In all of this non-stop pandemonium, it didn't seem that any of the cops had really noticed me yet, or at least they weren't paying any attention up to that point. But the word `manhunt' was all that I needed to hear. Pivoting on my heels in a full-blown panic, I ran out the front door of the station at flank-speed. With my adrenaline now in full control, I continued at a full gallop all the way across town until I finally reached my apartment again. That was only moments before the State Police had arrived.
"So where the HELL ARE YOU now, Sam," I hollered out one more time in frustration, as if I'd hear his voice suddenly answering me now from the bathroom. "And Why the HELL did you DO THIS?" Still no answer. "And where HELL are those GOD DAMNED keys! This place is a fuckin' pig sty!"
Lashing out in anger, I nearly put my foot through the door as I kicked it shut. I apparently couldn't even do that right, the door hitting the jam so hard that the latch didn't have time to catch before the recoil swung it wide open again. I could never find anything in the apartment; the irony was that Sam could always put his finger on anything, and at any time.
I knew that the police, and even the Staties, probably wouldn't catch Sam - well, at least not right away - especially if he'd thought to head off the beaten path somewhere. But I was worried that he wouldn't necessarily have thought to do that. Sam wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed - only the biggest. The events of this morning had only reconfirmed that for me once again. However, I knew the big lug could really move with some serious speed when he wanted to - exactly like a freight train building up momentum. The police would no doubt underestimate his top running speed - and rather dramatically so. When Sam got that gargantuan physique of his rolling, he was astonishingly fast for his immense size - for ANY size, actually.
And over time, I'd learned some other things about Sam that the police didn't know yet either. Granted, I didn't understand them all - but regardless, they were undeniable, at least to me. For awhile, I'd even believed that possibly no one else knew but me. But now, I couldn't be so sure about that anymore.
One of them concerned Sam's stamina and endurance. It was beyond anything the police could - or more importantly at the moment - WOULD ever imagine. Sam could move like a locomotive. He also had a few other characteristics in common with a locomotive, too - and those, at least I hoped, the police were still not fully aware of. But for the time being, I didn't think the police would honestly buy that Sam, even being a very big guy, could even remotely possess the strength needed to make case-hardened thick steel yield to his will. We're not talkin' about bending some little `ol piece of steel rebar, here - and even then, I'd only seen one of the big regulars at the `Big IS Better' who could even do that!
But it remained however that the police might consider this a wild possibility at some point, and that worried me right out of my mind. I wondered if anyone had actually seen anything. Maybe the drunks in the other cells were still passed out when it'd happened. I remembered that Sam's cellmate certainly looked as if his lights had been turned out intentionally. Although the thought that Sam might have assaulted anyone also upset me greatly, for the moment I chose to overlook it. So maybe... there might be no actual witnesses. I simply didn't know. Beyond the fact that Sam had clearly busted out of jail and was currently a fugitive from the law, I didn't understand why he had fled, what the circumstances were around his arrest, or whether - heaven forbid - he was even dead or alive.
So there I sat, helplessly glued to the kitchen chair by incapacitating fear - feeling like a mushroom in the dark, firmly rooted deep in shit. I had no viable ideas of who I could possibly turn to, or what to even do next.
My thoughts began to quickly wander off. That old fail-safe mechanism in my brain was once again activated, turning on like a safety-valve to automatically prevent me from reaching critical mass. My mind drifted farther away from this current nightmare, slowly but surely transporting me to a place that felt far more safe and secure. I began to retreat into my memories where time itself became benevolently suspended - and I began to remember and then relive in vivid detail every single event over the entire past year. At least for me, such intense `daydreaming' had always been my time- tested ultimate escape.
I found myself genuinely marveling at how very much my life had changed, almost from the moment that Sam and I had met. A short- lived smile spread across my face as I acknowledged again to myself how unbelievably wonderful it had really been - how having Sam in my life had become a joy I could never have even imagined. My eyes even got a little misty momentarily as I recalled that it also had been much the same for Sam - how much he loved me, too. For me, these special feelings were something of a miracle, for Sam dwelled in my heart now. Perhaps it was merely chance, though Sam always maintained that it was our destiny all along. Given who we both were, perhaps it simply could have been no other way. But whatever the reasons, the bond between us was almost immediate - and magical.
Through Sam, it seemed that I'd found and then slowly reclaimed a large piece of my soul. Although it had taken time, eventually I'd learned to `let the genie out of the bottle.' However, for me it was not a single or one-time event, as perhaps I'd rather naively thought at that time. It was not something that, done once, was completed forever. For me, learning to `let go' had been a process - and a slow and difficult one. It was something that I had to willfully choose to do, over-and-over again, quite consciously. For me, it had not come easily. I thought of how Sam had been infinitely patient and understanding, as if he somehow implicitly understood in his own way my struggle was about `self and soul' - and eventually, I learned.
And that journey began on the very first night we'd met - my birthday too, I remembered. I'd thought about it many times in these months that followed. Every moment of that first night with Sam I could still recall in vivid detail. It will always be, for me - unforgettable. I thought about Samson and how genuinely pleased he was to be able to `do some liftin' for me just to fulfill a birthday wish; moreover, I remembered how I'd struggled to even ask him directly - the pain of embarrassingly expressing that to him aloud. I thought about that giant barbell that he'd curled, and how he'd done that just for me. I recalled how the ground literally shook when it hit the floor. I remembered how thrilled Sam was when I told him that, yes - his biceps were `big enough' for me. I pictured those utterly-engorged, rock-hard, planet-sized Titan's once again, and what it felt like to touch them for the first time, recalling anew their salty taste, and the erotic cataclysm that followed.
My whole Earth had moved forever, and I'd thought that experience was the real birthday cake � the delicious dessert - and that nothing could ever be hotter. But in retrospect, that was only the appetizer for what followed. The party had only just begun.
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