a patsy: the unofficial story
‘so here’s the thing,’ says sal. ‘nobody was supposed to use the boss’s bathroom but him. the guy even had a sign for the door made with his name on it. only thing is, there are two mens-only crappers in the entire office; one for him and one for all the other men. does that sound fair?’
i shake my head.
sal laughs. ‘of course it’s not. but that’s how it went around there. the boss screwed us all over, and nobody said anything about it. so we just went when ours was open. but on that day i didn’t care. i didn’t have time to care. i wasn’t even thinking about making him upset. i just had to do my business like any other person.’
‘it was on the elevator that the pain came back–you know my office was on the sixth floor. most days that elevator ride was a breeze, but that day it was an eternity. by the fourth floor i couldn’t clench it tight enough. i let out a little fart and some runny poo sort of squirted out.’
‘it was me and this young guy from marketing in there. he smelled something and sort of laughed. he started to say to me, ‘did you just rip one, man?’ but when he looked at me, he stepped back and started hugging the far wall like he knew he was in imminent danger of being blasted with diarrhea.’
trevor hogan is a tall, lanky man of twenty-four. he’d worked in the meyers building with sal winkler since graduating from northwestern in 2005. he remembers sharing the elevator with sal that morning and he remembers their elevator ride well.
‘yeah, he looked pretty on edge that day. he was sweating. veins were popping out of his forehead. he had this look on his face like he was going to kill somebody. i could tell that there was something very wrong with the guy. and of course, there was. and he did.’
i ask trevor, ‘might sal have been frantically trying to reach the bathroom?’
trevor laughs, and says, ‘is he still telling that story? i don’t buy it. and you shouldn’t either. i mean, he did smell like shit. that’s for sure. i remember he farted this ungodly awful one on the way up. that’s when i saw how distraught he looked. but he was always farting. and he always stank. i mean, we are talking about sal winkler.’
i ask trevor, ‘did you see sal with any weapon that morning? any unusual case to carry one?’
‘i didn’t,’ says trevor. he adds, ‘but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have brought one before.’
i say, ‘that is true,’ and i thank trevor for his time.
it’s early. not quite eight. sal drags into the visitation room. he stretches out his arms and yawns a big bear yawn. he rubs his puffy eyes. he scratches the back of his head. burps.
‘i’ve been eating so much macaroni lately,’ he says.
‘what happened after the elevator, sal?’ i ask.
‘you know something, it’s funny. we’ve been talking all this time and i haven’t even told you what happened when the shot was fired,’ he says. ‘don’t you want to know that?’
‘not yet,’ i tell him. ‘i just want to make sure we get everything down.’
‘yeah,’ says sal. ‘i guess there’s a lot to it. and it’s kind of nice this way.’
‘what way?’ i ask.
‘getting to tell how it really was. i can’t say that i feel that i’ve been represented accurately. or fairly.’ he gets quiet. his face twists in lumps. he’s thinking.
‘it’s like they want me to be a murderer AND a monster,’ he says, ‘when in reality, i know i’m not either.’
‘i’m just this guy,’ he says.
he looks at me sad, like he just learned that santa isn’t real.
i say, ‘i know, sal. just keep telling me what happened and maybe something will change. if it can. as long as you’re telling the truth. if you are… then you at least have a chance.’
‘yeah,’ he says, though he says it without conviction.
‘so about the boss’s bathroom,’ i say.
‘yeah,’ says sal.
‘well when i got off the elevator, i hurried to the can. of course when i get there i see the bathroom for us normal people is in use. i almost cried. a little bit more is leaking out by then, but i felt like my butthole was still under as much pressure as the hoover dam.’
‘so i said to myself, ‘i’d rather risk it in his bathroom than have to crap a wastebasket.’ i got a sort of second wind then, and marched down the hall towards the boss’s special bathroom.’