See Jack Die

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Chapter 20

28 minutes later . . .

Ricky called me from the parking lot to inform me that he had the safe with him. I met him out in the hallway where he’d rigged-up one of those little chrome suitcase dollies, and a couple pieces of square-cut plywood. He was struggling, the dolly bent and groaning, as he drug it towards my door. But the scene was priceless.

When I pointed out to him that it looked heavy, he sneered at me, “. . . you think?” Ricky is the kind of tall and lanky guy that would be more suited for golf than, say, basketball. And, not wanting to steal his thunder, I let him curse and spit, saying things that would offend a sailor. He actually referred to my apartment’s door threshold as a, “. . . slutty-assed, puke-faced whore!”

Several minutes later the safe was inside, shoved up against a real bookshelf that only had four or five books on it. This safe, the door on it is covered by the backs of fake books. And actually, the fake books look much more interesting than my real ones. That could be problematic.

I hope the thugs don’t like Moby Dick, I say as I kneel down beside the new altar for the Book of Sighs.

“Anybody that would like any of those old books should be pretty easy to whip,” Ricky said glancing around the room. “Where’s the book?”

Oh, I say, it’s on the bed . . . under that pillow.

He squints his eyes and opens his hands as if to say, why? As he approaches it. He looks at the pillow covering the book, then back at me. The book, again. Me.

I ask him if he wants some pizza. I tell him that even without the mushrooms, it is still quite exceptional.

“Fuck the pizza, Jack! What did the book say?”

Oh, that.

I made my way over to the dresser and grabbed a sheet of paper that I had used to write down everything I remembered from my stint.

I cleared my throat and read the first sentence, “The Creation . . .” My eyes glance up and back to the page of scribbled words. My handwriting rivals the Book of Sighs, or Doctors’ handwriting, for its level of illegibility. My cursive might as well be an ancient codex.

“One,” I continued. “. . . In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth, and the places in between.” I glance up and Ricky’s looking at me like something is off kilter. Out of place. Like a puppy does when it hears a noise it can’t understand.

“Two . . . and the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness and chaos was upon the face of the—”

“Hold on!” Ricky interrupted. “You read it wrong. Read it again. The first one.”

One, I repeat. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the places in between.

I glance up, again, my eyebrows raised and waiting.

Ricky started chewing on his bottom lip, his eyes looking up at the Martian landscape of my ceiling. And he’s whispering the line I read over and over. And then something seems to click in his head and he points at me, “You got a copy of the Bible?”

Somewhere, I said. Since this place is part of the hospital, there would almost have to be one.

Three cabinets later, Ricky’s holding up a King James Bible, “Those crafty Gideons. They’re so thorough.” He opens the Bible, placing it on the dresser next to my chicken scratching. “Look!”

His index finger is on the first page, after the word Creation. I read. Then I shrug. And?

“See that,” he says. “That part about the places in between. That’s not in the original Bible.”

So, I wondered aloud, Constantine has another Bible written and he keeps it a secret? And this version, it’s got something to do with this other place. Why would he do that?

“Could be a million reasons,” Ricky said, falling to my bed to sit. He glanced over at the book. He reached over, knocked off the pillow, and just stared at the Book of Sighs for a while.

Another thing you should know, I explain to him, is that the book isn’t in the logical order. The verses are all, um, not complete. Like, in that first page, it goes from verse 1 to 2, then to 7, and then to 19, then 30 and 31. Like these are corrections or something.

“Oh, man,” Ricky said softly. He tapped his fingers lightly on the cover. “This book, this is the one we’re not supposed to see. The one nobody was supposed to see.”

“Should we stop reading it?” I ask.

“No,” Ricky says as he slides it towards me. “You need to read every bit of it. Every last word.” He then looks around the room, through my patio door, past my balcony, and beyond.

His eyes searching the darkness, he says, “. . . you need to read this book as soon as possible.”

“Why, though?”

“The world we lived in two hours ago,” he says cryptically, “. . . it no longer exists.”

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