by Bargis Tryhol on 27/08/11 at 6:48 amLife at Moorview Institute
Chapter 14-The Final Chapter
‘The Good Old Days’
Moorview Institute was a blaze of lights and activity as the General Alarm forced all inmates into a general lock down mode. The recent discovery of Dr. Ward’s body, and the subsequent Springfield Police investigation, left staffers bewildered and anxious as police questioned each person who had daily contact with Ward.
Guard Gertrude ‘Gertie’ Helmuth breezed through the questioning and was eliminated from being a suspect, since she had rare contact with the doctor for the twenty-five years she worked at Moorview. Her only one on one with Ward was over three years ago when he lanced a festering boil on her ass. She remembered that incident well, his skills weren’t that great she thought, as the man poked and prodded her large behind. Gertie had ‘Mr. Happy’ fully charged and close to her hand if she needed it.
Gertie took the metal staircase to the second floor where she wanted to check on the male inmates in the Deviant Wing one last time before she retired for the evening. All were accounted for as each bunk was occupied. At least two of the bunks were double occupied and a quick jolt from the electrified cattle prod known to all as ‘Mr. Happy,’ sent several scurrying toward unfilled bunks. She checked the brightly lit shower area and noticed scores of cigarette butts strewn about in violation of her standing no smoking rules. She’d overlook it tonight because she knew sirens and flashing lights disturbed the unbalanced men and made them even more nervous.
She checked locker 14 as she did every night and was pleased that all the empty quart bottles of Mr. Natural’s homemade vodka were carefully placed back into the cardboard boxes ready to be re-filled. The stipend she received from each bottle was her retirement fund and by the morning, fully filled replacements of the clear liquid would mysteriously re-appear in locker 14, ready to calm the inmates and line her pockets with ready cash. Lastly, she checked the communications room which was comprised of several long, metal desks and un-padded intuitional chairs perfectly lined up. The personal laptop computers were in place, covers closed, and noticed the power stand-by lights flashed in unison. She turned off the room lights and locked the door for the night.
The walk to her room on the vacant third floor took a few minutes. From a grime streaked window, she could see the last few remaining police cars parked below. A light rain was falling now and she could see a few bright flashes on the horizon. A few uniforms milled around the cruisers, drinking coffee and talking, oblivious to the increasing patter of rain. Slowly, the Coroner’s van pulled out from the ramp and sped away.
Rumors were rampant that Dr. Ward’s murder was a pay back for the troubles over at the surgery building. Some suspected Luther, others claimed it might have been the owners of Springfield Meat and Provisions who were under investigation by the authorities. ‘Goodbye asshole,’ she murmured to herself as visions of the naked doctor lying on anautopsy table with a stupid what’s-a-ma-bob stuck on his puny dead dick came back to her mind.
The remaining officers finally felt they were wet enough and they too departed in a quiet rush of flashing lights and hissing tires. Quiet once again descended on the gray and dreary Moorview as window lights began to wink out and the main gate groaned to a close.
The hallway to her room was empty as usual. All twenty dorm rooms on this part of K Wing hadn’t been lived in for many years and she chose the last room at the end as hers. No one to annoy her at night with silly conversations, prodding questions, or random noise.
The institutionally painted two-tone walls reflected little light, and the hard and cracked linoleum flooring tiles did little to quiet the noise from her trade-mark hob nailed jack boots. Most of the light came from naked bulb fixtures over each dorm room doorway. She made sure all were in working order since most of her nights were late and the light from the dirt streaked windows was poor.
As she approached her doorway, the door light was strangely out. She had replaced that bulb, along with several others, two nights before. She tapped the bulb and saw it flicker, it was loose and a quick turn brought the bulb to life. She removed her heavy key ring from her belt and used the large brass key to open the three padlocks on her door. She didn’t trust the normal door lock, since she knew there were duplicate keys floating around the institute. Once inside, she turned on the overhead lights and triple latched her door closed.
The room was painted like the rest of Moorview, dark green walls half way up and the rest a lighter green. The high ceiling was flaking, ancient white paint and was almost lost in the room’s ever-present gloom. In one corner was a 1960s vintage black and white TV, a single bed, two chairs and a table. The other corner had a toilet, shower, sink, a large wardrobe, and a small refrigerator. The click-click of an overhead fan could be heard above the gurgling murmur of the refrigerator’s motor.
Helmuth took off her black garrison belt, deposited the can of mace and holster near her bed stand. ‘Mr. Happy’ was dutifully plugged into the recharger on the small wooden table, a small light indicated the charge being applied. The shocker baton saw everyday use and had to be recharged each night. It gave her pleasure to use it first thing in the morning when the sizzling blue arc was at its strongest. Next, she removed the heavy custom made boots. The steel toes added weight, but were formidable when she needed to hurry someone’s ass along.
She pulled up one of the chairs and reached for the bottle of Life Club Bulgarian vodka. A smudged glass was filled halfway. The oily tasting liquid slid easily down her throat with warming sensation that radiated to her broad face. The effects were instantaneous. Next, Gertie pulled down a worn photo album from the shelf and opened it under a small table light. Inside were sepia toned photos of her life in her native Communist Bulgaria where she lived and grew up as a younger person. The first photos were of an older man. Stocky and tough looking, he stared at the person taking the photo with dark, brooding eyes. He was dressed in a military uniform and had a chest full of brass medals. A holstered Makarov pistol hung loosely on a black belt. He looked directly into the camera with a large peasant’s smile showing steel-capped front teeth, and a stern, business like face. Gertie traced her fingers lovingly over the photo’s face and whispered, “ Dearest Pappa.”
The next photo was larger and in color that was fading more and more each year, it showed the same man standing in a Russian convertible Zil limousine waving at throngs of smiling people during the annual May Day Parade in Sofia. He looked official because he was official. General Evtim Ignatov was head of Bulgarian State Security also known simply as the dreaded ‘DM’ and during the height of the Cold War, General Ignatov often had senior Russian KGB officers over to his home where they lavished caviar and trinkets from Moscow on Evtim’s wife and children.
A rare, but pleasant smile creased Gertie’s face as she remembered the good times in Communist Bulgaria. Yes, those times of proper order, and politeness, and respect from other Bulgarians toward her and her family. She fondly thought of the May picnics with other Communist Youth members in the People’s park. Her visit to the album was a nightly affair. A quiet time to reminisce about the good old days in a time now almost forgotten, except those who were viciously victimized by the cruel Communist government.
After checking to make sure the thick cloth covering was in place over the room’s only window, Gertie moved toward the wardrobe and removed her intuitional uniform’s gray shirt. The heavy gray woolen trousers and socks came next. Turning toward the mirror, she removed the closely cropped black wig she always wore. Her partially bald head shone pasty white under the glare of the naked overhead fluorescent bulbs. Next, she removed the tee shirt tightly fitted over the fake brassiere.
In a few fleeting moments the nightly transformation back to Mr. Gerzin Ignatov, a man in his mid-fifties, was completed. It was his secret and his protection of sort from any political assassins. Many pledged after the great fall of communist Bulgaria to eradicate all remaining vestiges of the communist atrocities and the perpetrators who defiled human rights in pre-democracy Bulgaria. Being the son of a secret policeman was one thing, but to be the only remaining son of the head of the dreaded ‘DM’ was another.
For over twenty-five years Gerzin felt safe at Moorview. He kept to himself. He walked the fine the line and never caused trouble. He had no contact with the few remaining family members back in Bulgaria, and his Bulgarian passport was real, though the actual owner, a woman named Gertrude Helmuth, was buried twenty some miles outside Sofia in a shallow grave. Even the US citizenship procedure was easy and gave his identity a solid core and believable origin.
Gerzin poured himself another glass. In a few more years he’d retire to a small town in Idaho, raise prized Persian Bezoar goats, and live life as a true man. He had enough money stashed away from the booze sales, plus some drug sales that no one knew about and of which, he didn’t have to share in the huge profits, especially the Administrator who partnered with her on all other elicit sales. Not to mention a reasonable pension from the State. Gerzin chuckled to himself thinking how screwing over the Administrator gave him great personal satisfaction. He turned back to the album and the dusty memories of better days.
A shadowy figure walked down the long, empty hallway. At each light a gloved hand loosened the bulb turning the small oasis of light into darkness. The tennis shoes muffled the figure’s silent passage; the black clothing left little for recognition. Occasionally, the figure winced as the soft soles cracked an edge of the ancient linoleum tile flooring, but the sound was muffled by the distant and ever present sounds of the Institution. A rat darted back behind a silver radiator, its glowing red eyes briefly met with the figure’s eyes giving it added haste to its journey into its own private darkness.
Soon, the shadowy figure found the door it wanted and the door light was extinguished. The bulb gave up a slight squeak as it was turned in its socket. Ready, a hand struggled to free a weapon from the long, black coat pocket. With weapon in hand, it knocked loudly on the solid oak door.
The loud knocking jarred Gerzin back from memories of a day in May back in 1978. ‘Who the fuck could that be at this hour?’ From habit, he reached for a long bathrobe and placed his wig on his head as he walked toward the door. Ever wary, Gerzin grabbed Mr.Happy, then he pressed his eye to the door’s peephole.
In the darkness on the other side of the door, a Heckler-Koch 40 caliber pistol with a long suppressor attached was cocked and ready. When the room’s inside light vanished from the peephole, the figure placed the barrel of the weapon over the peephole glass and pulled the trigger. The clatter of a spent shell and the cycling of the pistol’s metallic action was the only sound in the hallway. A split second later the sound of a heavy weight hitting the floor from inside the room precluded the steely silence.
In the last one-thousandth of a second, all Gerzin witnessed was a bright flash in his right eye. He felt himself silently falling on collapsing legs. The dying nerve cells in his brain released hundreds of images, each a bright flash of color ending in darkness…A bright, sunny May morning with blue skies and white clouds…Children laughing on a rusted swing set… Cherry blossoms floating in the breeze as fingers tried to capture them… Images of a gray-haired uniformed man waving from a black open-topped car, and then…Closing darkness and the sensation of forever falling slowly into still blackness.
From out in the hallway, the figure picked up the spent shell casing, and quickly walked away. The second part of the job now completed, he smiled to himself as he pocketed the weapon and pulled his jacket collar tighter around his neck. The only sound that could be heard in the silent hallway was the nervous hand-clicking of three large marbles faintly emanating from the black trouser pocket as the figure walked back into the darkness.
(all installment chapters in magazine section)