The Baby in the Trashcan by Devon Pitlor

Prologue: What interests me most about Slayton Travitor III is not his celebrated psychic propensities, which have been so much in the news lately since he both solved the case of the unfortunate Shauna Gainor and prevented another child abuse homicide in the Craig Murtance matter, but how a twenty year old boy wavered between good and evil and finally decided on the good. Because of his so-called “psychic” assistance, the police, always sluggardly and laggard, were able to incarcerate a serial kidnapper and rescue a nine year old boy from an absolutely invisible case of heinous maltreatment which would have certainly, if left undiscovered, resulted in the boy's brutal death. Then Slayton Travitor III, at the height of his media popularity, disappeared suddenly. This is the story of how and why.

I. The early life of Slayton Travitor III Before Slayton Travitor III became Slayton Travitor III, he did not have a name and was found wrapped in a plastic bag at the bottom of a trash barrel near the entrance to Everest Park on the south end of Severton. He was a pink and lovely baby with enormous pale blue eyes, a solid baby who cried very little and was found with a kind of engaging smile across his lips when his adopted mother, a woman by the name of Lucille Mitcham pulled him out of the garbage and decided that she would use her network to adopt him. Lucille wanted a baby, anyhow, and she had very little interest in any sort of liaison with a man. So the find was serendipitous for both Lucille and the soon to be

Slayton. Lucille, an ex-felon who had done five years in the State Penitentiary for Women on forgery charges, had the contacts necessary to turn a baby in a trashcan into a real person with a real birth certificate and to almost effortlessly become his legally adopted mother. All it took was a few phone calls. Lucille had gone into prison as a very clumsy forger of municipal bonds but, like all clever inmates, had received the best education possible while incarcerated, honed her skills, and made friends who, like most intelligent criminals, could accomplish nearly anything. Turning an unwanted child into Slayton Travitor III was not as difficult as it may have seemed, and by the time Slayton was five and entering kindergarten his paperwork was seamless. He became an attractive, popular, athletic and affable young man and loved his mother as much as any boy could. Lucille was a realist and she told Slayton numerous times about his beginnings. Slayton had no regrets. Lucille was the best mother possible, and Slayton exhibited no particular interest in his own biological origins. As his real story opens, we see Slayton, now somewhat of a preemptory snob, walking through the tree lined central arcade of Babbington Preparatory Academy in a neat blue blazer with the exclusive school's emblem proudly displayed on his breast. On each side of him was a girl, visitors from the nearby Martha Inesco's School for Gifted Girls. These were pretty girls and issued from some of the wealthiest families in Severton, and not one of them ever had an inkling that Slayton had begun life in a garbage can. Slayton played his role perfectly right down to the part about totally ignoring his mother as she passed in her cook's frock along the central walkway. She winked her eye at him, and he managed to return the wink without being noticed, but by agreement neither spoke. Lucille Mitcham had found a way into the employment at Babbington as a kitchen worker and had thus been able to get her son into the fashionable school. Only the academy president knew of the relationship, and he knew better than to reveal it. Lucille had some other goods on him. So Slayton had fabricated, with his mother's help, a rather dramatic resume of genealogy which more than qualified him to walk amidst the scions of the old money crowd. And that is where we find him today, a senior within five days of graduation and already accepted, almost without scrutiny, at Yale.

II. Partying, sex, girlfriends and something else Like all rich kids, the graduating senior boys of Babbington and the graduating senior girls of Martha Inesco had a big bash planned to celebrate the end of preparatory school and to bathe their hormones in a common pool. Kegs of beer and exotic pharmaceutical substances would abound, and any boy worthy of note at Babbington had a Martha Inesco girlfriend to invite to the gated mansion where the event was to be hosted. Slayton Travitor III was no exception. His major interest was in a stunner named Bashira Minlock whose father owned one of the few working gold mines left in American hands in Venezuela. Bashira was gorgeous and sought after by many of the Babbington boys, but of late she had seemed to capriciously settle on Slayton, and Slayton was blinded by Bashira's absolute sensual pulchritude and, though he realized the frighteningly lessened morality of the established rich, he followed Bashira everywhere like the proverbial hound dog in heat. Bashira by age eighteen, of course, had slept with many boys, but she had withheld her gifts from Slayton because she wanted to hook him as deeply as she could before discarding him. That had always been how she played the game. Her own university plans involved a far away place with an exotic name, and it was certain that she would totally evaporate after graduation in the following week. Other than being ultra pretty, uber rich and beyond any sense of conventional propriety, there is very little else we need to know about Bashira because after the big revelry which would take place this very Saturday night, Bashira will, as predicted, totally vanish both from Severton and from this story. So let's not get too hung up on this gold miner's daughter. Call her irresistible and leave it at that. The boys of Babbington and the sponsors of the graduation party did not skimp on alcohol or drugs or empty bedrooms or any other orgiastic accoutrements. How much need is there in describing one of these parties? The wealthy are reckless and destructive, as Fitzgerald said, and they "get away with everything." A few naked Martha Inesco girls would run out

screaming naked into the night, and one was ceremoniously gang raped by some of the more aggressive boys around two AM, but who cares? This story is about Slayton Travitor III, not some wild sex festivity. What the reader needs to visualize is that upon entering the party all normal restraints of generally acceptable morality vanished, and laws which pertain to the common herd of mankind were summarily suspended in a world where Saturnalian license ruled without the intrusion of legal restraint. Bashira, despite being at Slayton's side, was almost immediately surrounded by a cohort of other boys and kept fading into one of the many rooms provided by absentee owners for the event. One of the young men who assailed Bashira had his own plan for Slayton. His name was Quentin and his pockets were full of pills. He put an arm around Slayton's shoulder, handed him a huge mug of beer, proposed a toast, and slipped a white tablet into his hand, indicating that Slayton should swallow it. Quentin showed Slayton his own tablet and faked swallowing it. "Something like Mexican Quaalude," he said. "Great stuff!" Slayton drank the beer and swallowed the pill, and very shortly afterwards Quentin evaporated into the crowd, and shortly after that everything in the house turned to shimmering and incomprehensible jelly before Slayton's eyes. As with everyone else who seemed "out of it," unidentified hands threw Slayton into a vacant bedroom onto an empty bed. But his drama did not end here. After an indeterminate period of time, Slayton became very aware of his physical self outstretched on the bed. Loud screams, competing music and frenzied party noises pounded away behind each of the four walls of the dark room he was now in. Heavy footsteps were heard on the ceiling. Perhaps there was a dance upstairs. Slayton had no idea, but he was not naïve enough to permit himself to become befuddled by his situation. Someone…probably Quentin….had slipped him a strong drug which had caused him to trip, and it was not the first time. So the fear and paranoia that initial drug users often feel never reached Slayton. Like his mother, Slaton fancied himself as savvy. He knew all about the ways of the wealthy and socially endowed, and he found it totally reasonable that, given Bashira’s desirability, someone would have wanted him temporarily out of commission. Slowly he felt his body and tried tensing his muscles. Nothing. The drug still had a strong hold on his mobility. Only his mind, apparently, was clear. He could neither move his arms or legs, and his body felt tingly and

paralyzed. He told himself that it was only a matter of waiting for the substance to wear off. The cacophony of mixed noises was lulling him back to sleep, and all seemed pleasant enough for a few uncountable minutes, but then suddenly Slayton was simply up and out of his body and looking down at it stretched across the bed. As in reports of the classic out of body experience, Slayton found himself floating above himself. He felt like a thin leaf wafting in the air, wanting to redescend to his body, but unable to approach it. Instead, he began drifting. The walls of the bedroom did not prevent his consciousness from leaving the room, and he wafted leaf-like near the top of each of the adjoining rooms, which appeared to be empty on first sight. After a time, he began seeing the silhouettes of people in various rooms. Some were on the beds; others were on the floor. In some rooms, a dim or even bright light burned, and Slayton could clearly identify who was there: couples making out, couples and triples and quadruples entangled en masse, couples naked and locked in coitus, couples performing other sex acts, couples and other groups talking and passing joints or drinking, Lesbian couples, male couples---a virtual panorama of sexual escapades, and Slayton, totally unperceived, recognized most of them. His mind seemed now to be able to steer his out-of-body essence where he wanted, although he could not navigate either too close to people or in any way reach the floor. He did the rounds of the rooms again, noting the activities and felt the rise of his own physical longings watching the couples and groups having sex in various forms. Apparently, lust did not remain with the supine body when the individual essence was set free. Slayton steered into still another room, a sort of long corridor with an elongated sofa, and on this sofa were Bashira and Quentin, naked and engaged with one another. Slayton felt a pang of regret but then remembered all the advice his mother had so often given him about the rich and reckless. Bashira had been a hopeless cause to begin with, and Quentin, this time, had simply been cleverer than he. If ever there were another chance…

But there wasn’t, and the thing that really began to absorb Slayton as he passed out of view of Bashira and Quentin was how he could control the experience and be so totally cognizant of all that was happening. With every move, every room, every view, Slayton was learning. And it was a type of learning he became fascinated with. It was something that he suddenly wanted to perfect if ever he could manage it again. It was something that he would talk to his mother about soon. Slayton successfully found his own sleeping body and was instantly inside of it, feeling refreshed as if nothing had happened. He sat up on the bed without difficulty and looked about. He had just had a most interesting out of body experience and was none the worse for it. In fact, he was better off. If he had wanted, he had the goods on a lot of his classmates, and there was, of course, the issue of Bashira---something he was now totally cured of. He grinned to himself and slid out of the room. Walking past comatose and dazed young people of his own age, he realized his awesome secret, smiled and pushed his way out the front door and toward his car. From a distance the mansion was still pulsating with action. The party wore on. Slayton had had enough of it. III. The clear pool Aroused by his out of body experience, Slayton Travitor III forgot for a time about nearly everything else in his life. He gave up worrying about Bashira and failed to return the messages and voice mails of several other Martha Inesco girls who were pursuing him. He made an excuse and did not attend his graduation ceremony at Babbington, something which for a time greatly displeased his mother Lucille, who had worked long and hard to get him through a school where only pedigree and privilege were recognized. He even disregarded the acceptance and partial scholarship he had for Yale that coming fall. What he did was decide to isolate himself from everyone for a time and try to duplicate the experience of the wild night of the Babbington party. His own bedroom did not seem to be the place to do it, and, having lost contact with his classmates, including Quentin, he had no idea of just what drug he had ingested during the event. He told his mother that he was going camping with a few friends at a place called Clear Pool, which was an isolated pond in the foothills near Severton located on the property of an anonymous

corporation which kept away visitors and made sure the pond remained pristine and lived up to its name. But there were no friends. Slayton had decided to camp in a tiny pup tent at Clear Pool totally alone. He asked for and received permission to pitch his tent at the side of the pond, and that is where we find him twelve days after his graduation from one of the most sought-after preparatory schools in America. He had decided moreover that his out of body experience might be duplicated if he totally fasted and so brought no food with him to the pond. Somewhere he had read that meditation and abstinence from food and any other sort of stimulants could enhance the possibilities of an out of body experience. Meditation and solitude were the keys. Clear Pool was exactly that. An unfathomingly deep pond filled with the clearest and coldest water that Slayton had ever seen. The owners had granted him permission to remain at its side for only one week and had duly warned him that in the past other such reclusive campers as he had experienced strange happenings near the pond. They did not, however, elaborate on what these happenings may have been. It was just a kind of open-ended, generalized warning that Slayton chose to ignore. He felt he was in the process of becoming someone else, and no sort of rumored "strangeness" would deter him in his plan. The woods surrounding the pond were dense and devoid of trails and hikers. The pond was still and frosty. Slayton stared into it and saw his own handsome face looking back up at him much as in a perfect mirror. There was no bottom in sight. After pitching his tent and readying his air mattress as a bed, he stripped naked and stood beside the pond. A cold chill rose up from its waters. Dipping a hand into the pond, Slayton felt a frigid jolt that seemed totally uncharacteristic for early July. Surely the pond was spring fed and of an unknowable depth. The motionless waters seemed to call him, and without hesitation he plunged into their silent depths. The shock of nearly freezing water electrified his entire body. He knew he could not long remain in the water without losing too much heat and perhaps passing out, but in his newly

created identity, Slayton had begun fancying himself to be stronger and more durable than what he was now calling the "common flock," a flock from which he had now made a permanent rupture in his mind. After a time, the chill became too great for even a super being, so he pulled himself from the pond by holding on to one of the large boulders that formed its circumference. Dripping and frozen to the core, he collapsed on his air mattress in front of the tent. An exhausted calm came over him, a calm which lasted beyond the setting of the sun screened by the tall pines of the impenetrable forest which surrounded him. And at the precise moment where he felt he was drifting into sleep, his body became immobile and without further warning he became aware that he was wandering once again up and away from it. He looked down at the tent, mattress and pond and calculated that his elevation must have been about ten feet above the Earth. And then he began experimenting. Through an action of mind and willful thought, he lowered himself to where he could touch the tent. Then he moved upward again and to the right and left. His mind determined his movements completely. Without fear, he raised his essence far above the tallest of the trees, perhaps 300 feet into the night sky. In the hazy, obscure distance, he could see the lights of houses near the outskirts of Severton. He realized that a simple action of cerebration could propel him toward them, but hesitated. He needed to stay close to the pond and continue to learn. Learn was in effect what Slayton did, and after a time, he became very skillful at soaring wherever he pleased while his body slept. He also learned that other people could not see him in his out of body state. He was totally undetectable and did not even leave a shadow. He learned moreover to regulate his speed as well as his altitude and direction. But most importantly, he learned at length how to successfully re-enter his supine body at will, wake up and resume his life in the flesh. What he did not learn was exactly what he looked like when out of body. His eyes seemed to function fine, but he had only the vaguest impression of precisely what his head or body resembled. Coming close to the mirror surface of Clear Pool didn’t help either, as there was no reflection. But Slayton was nonetheless exhilarated. He had developed not only the gift of bilocative mobility but invisibility as well. Within three days of these exercises, Slayton became an expert in his own eyes, and his skill exerted a strange influence over him. It gave him a sense of power and control, although he was

unclear exactly how to use it. Certainly he could go places, see things and gain information without being perceived, but what did he want to see and where did he want to go? The sense of power filled him with grandiose ideas of superiority, and he was literally faced with the ages old decision of whether to use his gift for good or for evil. Evil, being more interesting, tempted him very strongly on his final day at Clear Pool. He could become omnipotent and cause people to do his bidding. This produced a very strong draw. He realized furthermore that he would no longer need either isolation or Clear Pool to achieve his miracle. His own bed would or any other safe place of rest would henceforth do just fine. After rolling up his tent and deflating his air mattress, Slayton prepared for the trek back into Severton which would take him several hours. As planned, he had not eaten any solid food nor drunk anything but the crystalline water of Clear Pool for five days now, but weakness did not grip his body. Instead, he was energized by the limitless possibilities his new skill held. Chancing to look down into Clear Pool before taking off on foot, Slayton was shocked to see a second face looking back up from some unknown depth in the water. It was one of the most beautiful faces he had ever seen in his life, that of a young girl. She had wide almond-shaped and imploring eyes, beautiful pursed and full lips and a broad and intelligent forehead. Long ringlets of flowing hair reached out from her face on each side, and Slayton was so taken by the sight that he needed to restrain himself from jumping fully dressed into the water. Who was this vision of loveliness and what was she doing under the waters of the pond? Surely, it was a ghost of some sort, and he had been warned more or less of ghosts, but smitten by her supernal beauty, Slayton harbored no fear. He was preparing to speak when the girl beat him to it. Her lips moved far under the water and words flowed into his head without the agency of his ears. “Do it again,” she said. “Externalize.” Then she vanished into the pool. Slayton unrolled his tent and lay down upon it. He closed his eyes and

meditated on his own distance from the human race, his superiority. He became so involved with the idea that he momentarily lost consciousness and was immediately in the air, so automatic had become his recent ability. No sooner was he freed from his body, that he found himself uncontrollably drifting in the direction of another entity which hovered somewhere above the lofty pines surrounding the pond. IV. Paige Romard, an entity The visible being which now shared air space above Clear Pool with Slayton had a name, and it was Paige Romard. The name slipped soundlessly into Slayton's mind as he neared the floating body. Though his eyes functioned perfectly well when it came to people and things on Earth, Slayton suddenly came to realize that when externalized from his physical self, he could not clearly perceive another disembodied traveler. Rather the essence of Paige Romard, along with her name, came into his senses through another channel of which Slayton was totally unaware. Before his eyes, he saw only a bright and somewhat formless shape in the sky, but in his mind a total image formed, and Paige was, he at once noted, the same beautiful girl whose face he had seen looking up at him from the pristine waters of the pond. Her entire body was visible in his mind but only as the trim figure of a human female. She wore no clothes as it were but she was not naked or exposed in any way. She had, Slayton noted, a sleek form, and her face and hair were beyond ravishing. She moved face to face with Slayton and gazed at him with her huge incandescent eyes. A look of vague disdain began forming on her face. Then without further prologue, the words came into his head. "Be careful," she said, "don't end up like me. I am in a coma somewhere else far from here, and I might never return to my body. I live in the pond now. You saw me. It is as good a place to be as any other, but beware this departure from the body can sometimes be forever. I think it will be in my case." Slayton formed some thoughts toward a reply in his mind, but hesitated, wondering whether he should try to use his mouth or speak directly from his brain. "We are very near the astral plane," said Paige. "Other beings live here, and the things we see and the entities we meet are only astral projections, but we are not that close yet. All we have done is liberate ourselves from our bodies.

There is still supposed to be another level. I have never reached it." Slayton found a way of replying. It was just another learning experience for him, and he found it exciting. "You're very pretty," he said, not knowing exactly where to start. "I know," said Paige. "Men thought so. I was only seventeen, but I made a lot of money. I had the right contacts. I had the right keeper." "Keeper?" "Or pimp, if you like. I was a prostitute. I traveled in some very high rolling circles. We made money. I used drugs. One day, I just left my body. I guess the same way you must have. The only difference between us is that I never could make it back in again. Something to do with an overdose. I never quite knew what I was taking in those days." "Those days?" "Yes, it has been about three years ago. I found the pond finally. When you're out of body, the pond is very warm and inviting. I scared all the boy scouts away, ha, ha. I was thinking of scaring you too until I saw you externalize." "How did you become a prostitute and why? You were so young...." "Usual story. I was an abused kid and a runaway, bad family and all that. I lived with this guy and needed to pay my way. I did porn for a time. Then I found another guy to hook me up. It went from there." Slayton suddenly found himself amused. Here he was drifting high above his supine body which lay on a tent canvas about twenty feet beneath him talking to an entity of some sort who was enticingly exquisite and a teenage hooker as well. It struck him as funny. "I have come all this way to meet a whore," he

said suddenly. Paige laughed. "I'm not much of a whore now," she said. "I'm just a wraith and a face in a pond that no one visits. But there are benefits. Other than getting lost and not being able to re-enter your body, there are very few risks here. Did you know that a rabid coyote lurks day and night around the pond and it might have bitten you or even tore your throat open? It won't do that to you down there now. Something about your being more a corpse than a person. And up here, there are no real risks. So I am going to show you something if you don't mind. You say you find me pretty. Okay, I like you too. I only like what I see. You were cute naked a few days ago when you jumped in the pond. You are cute in this projected state too. There is absolutely no reason why we should not make it together...and right now if you want. There are no practical or moral restraints here. And you don't have to pay me, teehee." "Out of body sex, how quaint," said Slayton. "I've had a few girls, but I'm not at all certain how one does that here. I wouldn't know where to start." "I do," said Paige. With that her entire essence seemed to assail and envelope Slayton all at once. Every fiber of his pseudo-being felt invaded by Paige. An explosion of total warmth throbbed violently within each sense of his near-astral self, as if each and every cell of his body was experiencing a simultaneous and dramatic orgasm. He felt totally invaded by Paige, and the desire to return the invasion overtook him to the degree that he spontaneously found the way and the energy to do it. The fusion was total and overwhelming. The sensation was beyond the range of Earthly adjectives, even for a literate Babbington graduate who knew lots of words and many ways to describe sex. It was like the strength of the entire cosmos had come to invigorate their coupling, and the eruption lasted for a long and frenzied time until gradually it drained away as orgasmic experiences do, leaving only the most pleasant of residual memories. And yes, characteristically for a boy of 18 who had just been blow apart by the most forceful orgasmic sensation possible, the first word out of Slayton's mind was "Wow!"

"Yeah, wow!" said Paige separating and becoming once again an disjointed shadow with a pretty face and a vague corpus. "Wow is a neat word, and I suppose it is all one needs to say. I don't suppose you write poetry, so don't start now. Anyway, I have ruined you for life, and for that I have to apologize. Do I need to tell you that you will never experience anything like what we just had back in your meat?" "Wow!" Slayton repeated, not really digesting the importance of Paige's words, an importance which would play a great role in his life to follow. "You need to go now," said Paige. "The coyote might decide to eat a chunk of hibernating human. As for me, I'm at the pond. And, by the way, in case you are wondering, you are not the only external person I have sex with, but right now you are the cutest. What I am saying is that we can do it again. You can find me when you want. You are a lucky guy, you know. This experience comes with no strings." With that, Paige seemed to twirl into a whirling spiral which dived straight for the surface of the pond and vanished beneath its undisturbed surface. Slayton manipulated himself back to his own body, regained his functions, rolled up the tent and began heading back to Severton. His head was filled with the ecstatic memory of the sexual union with Paige. He also was mentally making some other plans. These involved telling his mother. Everything. V. Lucille Mitcham revisited After she had fed her son, Lucille poured them both a large glass of whiskey and sat down on the couch beside him. She eyed him with great curiosity. The heat of hotter than usual July penetrated their living room, and the air conditioning suddenly jolted into action. It made an initial loud buzzing sound that interrupted their conversation until the unit leveled off and became quieter, a pause that gave Lucille her first cause to speak.

"So," she began with a certain air of cynicism that always tinged her voice, "what does this all mean? That you are forgetting about Yale and all the strings I've pulled to get you into there? That you are devoting your life to hanging around girls' locker rooms and sneaking into houses where a bunch of stuff is happening that you want to see? That you are going to fly up from here every day and out to that godforsaken pond to fuck a spirit girlfriend? That I have to become the tender of your body every day or night or week or however long you decide to navigate in the skies? Sounds like a waste to me. Okay about Yale. I don't want you to go to college if you really don't want to. The whole point of that was to get you into a job where you could have made some great money. I was never really big on college either. But there are other ways you can use your skill. I have contacts, as you know, people who know of those in high places who are cheating on their wives, stealing their firm's money, embezzling, doing all kinds of shit that they will never be caught at. People with money and clout. Some of them are even Babbington families, the biggest criminals of them all. I can make you a list, tell you where to take your flimsy self and how we together can gather their information and blackmail them, and I did say blackmail. Get the details we need, and I will take care of the rest. You may know how to rocket up and away from your body, but I know how to collect money from people who have the means to pay it. A partnership, Slayton, that is what it has always been...you and me...ever since I found you." "In the trash," interjected Slayton "Yeah," mused Lucille, her eyes clouding with a far away look. "Almost nineteen years ago. You have a Babbington degree now and a lot of power. Let's use it right." Slayton drank a mouthful of whiskey and agreed. He was just a trash baby anyway. The thought of unlimited supremacy inebriated him more than the whiskey. His mother was the perfect companion in crime. She had always been. With their partnership, they could become the richest and most powerful people in the region, maybe even get a political office and wield more authority. The attraction of pure evil was making him intoxicated. "Let's see how it works," he said. "You said once that Capstan down the block

was screwing his secretary every day in some south end motel. Let me go check on that to make sure we are both on track." Swigging down the last of her whiskey and pouring herself some more, Lucille smiled in agreement. "He owns seventeen auto paint dealerships," she said. "He'd lose them all to his wife if she knew. Yep, sounds like a good start. Then we'll go a lot higher. A lot." "It's two in the afternoon," said Slayton. "Isn't this the hour of secretary fucking? I need to go to my room. I have a little mission." "Go ahead," said Lucille. "Go see if you can do it. And don't go buzzing off to bonk some pond girl in the foothills. I presume you know which motel they use?" VI. The first big check Ernest Capstan, who due to his nouvelle richesse could have never sent his children to Babbington, was happy to hand over a perfectly good check for $90,000 to Lucille Mitcham. In fact, all things considered, Capstan felt it was a bargain seeing as how much he stood to lose if Lucille made good on her threat. The money went in the bank, and Capstan told Lucille that he had more if she needed it. Lucille said she did not. $90,000 would do nicely. Lucille knew when to stop bleeding her victims. Next came the president of the city council of Severton, a matter of favoritism to certain developers. Next came a town matriarch who owned the second tallest building in Severton, this followed by a Brazilian immigrant couple who were making a fortune brokering babies over the internet, followed by the pastor of the Holiness Deliverance Church--who due to his evangelical religion was forced to pay twice, as Lucille hated clucking Christians more than stinking dung itself. The latter was not only screwing as many underage girls from his congregation as he could but also paying for their sometimes needed

abortions. Then came the state senator from the Severton region whose main interest was to remain in office despite the tapestry of unlimited graft that he had woven for over twenty years while in office. Next came...well the reader gets the picture. It went up and up the social and political ladder and probably would have gone as far as the White House itself if Lucille had not always followed the dictum of "Don't get too greedy." But she had another motto: "Everyone has some shit on them." Fortunately, Lucille knew all too well how to balance the two. As for Slayton, he basked in power and enjoyed every minute of it. Lucille had made sure long before that they had a joint bank account, as all partners should, and by age nineteen and a half, all thoughts of higher education evaporated from Slayton's mind, as he was rich enough to retire and never do another day's work in his life. Lucille had kept him very busy over the seven months since he had camped at Clear Pool, and it had paid off enormously. He had enjoyed some fun along the way himself: sleeping with rich girls who he had leveraged by learning their secrets, visiting locker rooms, watching rich boys who were engaged to rich girls have sex with other rich boys--and of course, vice versa. These activities did not pay much, but Slayton loved them. He had gotten to the point where he could travel wherever he wanted at will and pass through any barriers without the slightest effort. He was, in short, delirious with power. Just as a cover, he one day opened a small office and advertised himself as a psychic in the part of Severton where psychics were in high demand. There was very little money to be gained from his customers, but he impressed many of them by finding lost objects and by giving them intimate information on family members and criminals who had stolen their possessions. When asked to contact the dead, Slayton always refused because he "simply was not that kind of psychic." But little by little, his reputation grew in the poorer community at social levels where people believe in the power of card readers, fortune tellers, healers and other assorted charlatans. Over all these people, Slayton exerted considerable influence just as he did over the rich and wellplaced. He became very democratic with regards to his skill and took great pleasure in revealing even the most insignificant of secrets to the most insignificant of individuals. It was always a shock to many customers to enter the quarters of a so-called psychic and find themselves in a well-lighted office face to face with a preppy boy in a button-down shirt and dockersiders rather

than a pimpled gypsy glaring from between the shadows of dark skulls and chakra vases. VII. Paige Romard revisted No, it was not at Clear Pool. Rather it was just a few miles outside of Chicago in a place called Arlington Heights. And no, Slayton did not go there by any sort of astral route. He took the train. The miracle of the internet and newspaper archives revealed to him that a young girl, now aged 22, a girl characterized as a "one time teenage prostitute" was lying in a self-inflicted, drug induced coma in a special welfare clinic. She was visited by no one and not expected to recover. Her body was being kept alive on life support. It had been five years since her collapse. She had thus ceased to be a news item. Slayton, in the flesh, was denied entry at the door of the clinic. Paige Romard was not a "museum item" said the guard, and the police still had the case under investigation. Still Slayton, who had neglected to return to Clear Pool during the period of his initial partnership with his mother, was curious about Paige and how she really looked in life. So he rented a room at a nearby motel, got in bed, left his body with the ease that he now enjoyed, and went back into the clinic. In a dark room near the back, a room that smelled like stale urine and old gas rags, Paige Romard lay on a dirty sheet spread across a wheel-less gurney pushed into a corner. Tubes ran into her nose and mouth. Her eyes were shut and her skin was sickly gray. She was shriveled and shrunken, and her fingernails, which no one had obviously bothered to clip, had grown long, pointed and yellow. Thoughts of Paige had been haunting Slayton for months now. He navigated here and there examining the body. Its withered state convinced him that the best thing Paige could do would be to remain at Clear Pool, and he made a mental note to visit her there as soon as he got back to Severton. It turned out to be unnecessary.

Paige was in the room somewhere in a corner up near the ceiling. She was as dazzling and lovely as ever, and Slayton felt a pang of guilt for engaging himself so long in larceny without bothering to revisit her. Her prediction had, after all, been true. No sex with fleshly creatures had ever even come close to the explosive ecstasy he had experienced that day above Clear Pool. No woman on terra firma would ever equal what they had done in unison. And other tender thoughts also came to his mind, thoughts that didn’t involve sex. Paige spoke through whatever mechanism they both used in the OBE: "Pretty pathetic," she began. "Hydrocodone mixed with Dilaudid and washed down with brandy, I think." "Sounds like a great cocktail," agreed Slayton. "What are you doing here?" "I'm going to die," replied Paige with genuine sadness. "No more Clear Pool and rabid coyotes and sex in the air for me. I'm going to die, and so are you pretty soon unless you do something about it." "Whoa," said Slayton. "Two things at once. Tell me about you first. Then me." "State of Illinois is going to pull the plug on this place, and a judge decided that I'm too brain damaged to ever recover, so they are just going to let it happen. It will save taxpayer dollars of course. When this piece of crap is gone [she pointed to her body on the gurney] I go with it. I suppose that is a part of the whole projection thing you have never thought of." Being clever, Slayton required no further explanation. "And me?" he asked. "I've been watching some of your little theatre over the past few months. You haven't seen me, of course, because I drop in when you are corporal. But that mother of yours has gone a bit too far. That judge, whatsisname, he figured it out. You know you're not the only drifting spirit in Severton. It seems like you have let everything go to your head. The judge has been talking to an assassin. Better find another room to sleep in. My advice. You and your mother can relocate to bigger place and put you in a vault or hire a guard or whatever. Remember I said that. Protect your sleeping body. Or else you die."

"We have enough money to protect yours as well," said Slayton suddenly overcome with the closest thing to genuine sympathy he had felt for a long time. "Don't bother. I'm sure you and your mom could scam it somehow, but I am wasted. The brain damage part is right. Also, I've had my fun and good times. I'm getting a little bored now. I'm not into all this power the way you are. And there is a hint of a higher plane, as I once told you. Only you won't be able to find me there." "Unless I die." "No, don't do that. Go out for once in your life and do some good. I know about some serious stuff in Severton, but I don't have an Earthly agent like your mother to tell it to. I know you probably hate cops as much as I do, but button-down Psychic Pete on the south side could always find a cop to convince of just about anything he wanted." "I do hate cops. They are stupid and arrogant. What kind of bad shit is going down? What do you want me to do?" "The first thing is for us to get out of this crap hole. Let's go back and check on your body. Then let's make love. You still are cuter and livelier than my other OBE options--who, incidentally, are getting fewer and fewer. After we have a little fun, I'll tell you about two cases in Severton, and I'll even give you the name of a detective who has a scrap of intelligence and decency to him. Deal?" As before, the sexual union was beyond spectacular and fiery. When it was finished, Slayton wondered how he could have stayed away so long, wrapped up in his own sense of unlimited potency. "I want to save you," he said. He felt a certain fresh complex of new emotions not totally associated with personal pleasure.

Paige shook her head in refusal. "I really want to die. I want to see what comes next. The promise of that astral plane and so on. So please...please...leave my body to its fate. I ask you that one favor." Then she added rapidly: "That and go help with these two cases. One is a child who was kidnapped and murdered. You can go listen to her crazy killer talk about it into a recording device hidden in his room. He gets off telling all the details to a CD. I can give you his address, a cheap flop house room on Devancy Street in your town. Second is a boy who is being beaten and starved by his demented parents. You can check it out or just take my word for it. I'll give you his address too. All the police need to do is visit. You'll be a hero. I'll give you the name of the hit man too, the one who might be coming after you. The cops can repay your kindness by arresting him. Severton cops might even make sure he never makes it to court. He has a record of unsolved murders." Slayton made mental notes of all the information Paige then proceeded to give him. He promised to act immediately as soon as he was home. "Will I see you again?" he finally asked. "No, I don't think there will be time. Do what you have to do and then come to Clear Pool. I'll either be there or not. Now get back into yourself and get home. Rent a car. Don't bother with the slow train. Go now!!" VIII. Lucille Mitcham shows more talent When Slayton explained to his mother that a paid assassin named Turk Rendall had been engaged by a disgraced former justice of the state supreme court, a man that Lucille and her son had successfully and profitably brought down from his longstanding throne of corruption, Lucille wasted no time with the details of other things her son may have told her. She contacted her ex-con network without hesitation and found that Turk Rendall was only the most recent identity of a paid killer that had been used by various interests in and around Severton for years. He had another name, and Lucille found it out and summarily arranged for his elimination by an even stronger arm of the organized crime world. She acted with an amazing rapidity and also arranged within hours not only to move to another, more secure, dwelling but also to have Slayton protected day and night by a team of ex-police thugs. It took a

few inside favors and some information on other crooks, which Slayton provided; also there was a slight pay off, which Lucille and Slayton were very able to meet. The new house was an enormous brick residence surrounded by a wall on Leopard Spot Creek near the limits of Severton, and Slayton had a special windowless room that he could be locked into when sleeping. During his waking hours, he was shadowed day and night by a protector, who also served as his personal secretary at the psychic shop. Assuring himself that his life was no longer in danger, Slayton, without elaborating further to his mother, paid an unexpected visit to a central city police detective named Caleb Freebold. Freebold was the sort of jaded cop who wore a waistcoat and sported a rather ridiculous fedora complete with a brush protruding from the band. He wore his side arm visibly around his enormous girth and smoked one cigarette from the burning stub of another, filling an ashtray with a pyramid of smoldering butts as Slayton outlined for him exactly who had kidnapped, raped and killed a fourteen year old girl named Shauna Gainor earlier in the year. The case had blazed across the press for a time, but no leads had been found. Much of the information about the condition of Shauna's mauled body had been withheld from the press but was supplied accurately by Slayton. "And you know all of this why?" said Freebold after hearing Slayton's full account. "Why, you know how," grinned the neatly dressed and perfectly groomed Slayton. "Because I am a psychic. People pay me for this kind of information, and I'm sure you know where my consultation room is." Freebold shook his head in resigned agreement. He knew something about the south side psychics, "a bunch of scamsters," he called them. The fact that an ironed and pressed Babbington boy had decided to become one of their number had not been lost on the police, but he had a valid business license, so not much had ever been done to discover the why and how of his choice of

careers. Likewise, his mother's sudden wealth. That too had been briefly investigated, but there was a clear and legal-looking paper trail behind it. "Just go arrest the guy at the Shady Grove Hotel and confiscate his CD," said Slayton. "It is the easiest case you will ever solve. You'll be a celebrity, and you have no need to mention me." Freebold stared intently into the young man's deep set eyes. Then something turned over in his police brain and he put on his fedora and made a call for a couple of uniformed officers. "I'll get back to you" was the last thing he said to Slayton as he left the interview room of the police station. In the next day, there were not enough vacant hours for Freebold to get back to anyone. He posed for photo after photo, talked to a legion of reporters, stood in front of multiple video cameras, shook hands with the mayor of Severton and later the state lieutenant governor, and then did it all over again in the evening. Shauna Gainor's murderer had not only been apprehended but a full and gruesomely detailed confession was crisply recorded on an audio CD found in his room near the rundown waterfront row. Freebold, thus, became a civic hero. The next day Freebold became a hero again. Craig Murtance, a child starved and abused by visibly deranged parents in a hidden compound---a former 1950s style bomb shelter dug behind the house---was collected by Freebold and his cohorts and taken to the city hospital just hours before he probably would have died from dehydration and the multiple wounds and lacerations covering his fragile body. Again Freebold was all over the news, both local and national. The scrutiny on Freebold became so intense that reporters from a multitude of agencies began dogging his every step, even to his favorite tavern where he had once enjoyed the privacy of escape. For Freebold the pressure became suddenly too great, and he was compelled to admit that a local psychic had aided him but wished to remain anonymous. As is known now to readers, the anonymity did not hold for long, and the name of Slayton Travitor III began telegraphing across all news media. Slayton at once became reclusive and shut his doors. That part is history. IX. What was not history

One day shortly following the press commotion over Shauna Gainor and Craig Murtance, a handwritten sign appeared on the door of Slayton's psychic quarters. "Closed" it read. Slayton had received all the attention that he would ever want and was weary of the constant stream of inquirers. He had no particular interest in fame nor in finding lost items or relaying the fabricated wishes of dead grandmothers. What he really wanted now was solitude, and he knew where to find it. He realized that he had done the right thing by most social standards, but also realized that he had drawn much undue attention to both his mother and himself. Assailed by requests to assist police all around the country and even the world, he politely refused on the grounds that whatever powers he once possessed had deserted him---which in fact they hadn't. But now at a mere twenty years old, Slayton's contempt for the world of the "common flock" became so intense that he began to ardently want to begin causing trouble again. He wanted to learn secrets and divulge them just for the sheer spite of it. His main focus was on the police, whom he continued to loathe. Every cop in Severton could have been his target, and he had to restrain himself from starting a campaign of mass exposure against all the socalled righteous people of society. His solitude, of course, could only be found in one place: Clear Pool, and it was up that long country road leading to the gated property that early October’s first onrush of fall found him treading. As he'd done the first time, he brought no food, and for some reason decided not to wear shoes in this final trek. Five miles of pavement out of Severton and his feet were bleeding. The tracks of his fresh blood energized him. He was indeed a being apart and above from the muddling crowd. The blood and pain and his ability to endure them proved it. As he had expected, there had been no news from any media source on the fate of Paige Romard. Perhaps the state of Illinois had already disconnected her, perhaps not. The only way of finding out was going back to the clinic, and Slayton had no desire to do that. He sought a different Paige, and if this Paige were gone already, then he would be eternally alone. He knew that now. He

had no use for the world of flesh and thought he would simply secrete his body near the pond and remain in the projected state for as long as his sorry carcass survived. The trivialities of mankind were not his problem anymore. Lucille, for her part, was not happy, but she was resigned to watching him go. It was one of the few things in her life that she was incapable of changing by making a few phone calls. She sadly realized that as she watched him trudge off down the street. Her baby from the dumpster had finally left, and, in her own intuitive way, Lucille knew that she would not see him again. Freebold, however, felt differently. To his police mentality, Slayton had an obligation to keep on assisting. So in typical cop fashion, he put out a warrant for his detention. But he had no idea about Clear Pool, and Lucille had sent him totally off in a direction so wrong that it may have taken him years to extricate himself from the mistake. After all, he was only a stupid cop. And one really can't go any farther with it than that. Stupid cop. Let it drop. X. Conclusion: Reunion at Clear Pool She was there. In the pond. Her face beamed as radiantly as ever, and her eyes beckoned Slayton to join her above the pines. The union, as ever, was frenzied and euphoric, an encounter beyond description. When it came to an end, Paige filled Slayton with a full vision of her delicious being. Somewhere deep in the visual recesses of his mind, her magnificent face dominated his awareness. And her words came in the same crystalline voice as ever. “You know,” she began, “this is really all we have in common. I suppose you could just say sex because that is what it is.” Slayton protested: “No, there is a lot more. If I say I love you, it is because we have from the beginning onward removed ourselves from humankind. I knew that the first time I hovered. I suppose you did too. I can regain my body, you can’t. But the fact is that I don’t want to. I am a separated being just like you, and unlike you, I have not met any others. You are all that I have, and I feel now that I can’t go on without you.”

A sincere smile blossomed on Paige’s face. “I wanted you from the first time you saw me in the pond. I could see the good part of you, the part that loves and honors. Then you did perform good works. I was there part of the time, and I know. I was battered and maltreated before I ran off from home. They used to take turns trampling over me in cleats. You saved another abused child, and you can save more if you try. You put a vicious killer in prison for life. There is good behind your veil of temporary evil. I can and do love you. It’s more than the sex. You’re right about that, but who cares?” The sky began to darken over the towering pines which circled the pond. Large drops of rain started to pelt down from the dark clouds farther above. Although both were immune to the cold, the early fall chill that was blowing in with the rain became a sort of annoyance. “Let’s go above the clouds,” said Paige. “I have something else to tell you.” They rose into a sunlit vista of pure sky, a firmament that had only the heavy clouds below as its floor, its ceiling the limitless wonder of what might lie beyond. Bars of orange afternoon sunlight made the visible essences of their spectrally disembodied beings glitter and shine. “I really am dying now,” Paige continued. “They are starving me to death. I do not feel any weaker in this state, but as soon as I die I will disappear from your view. That is the way it works. But I have learned that the astral plane does exist, something higher and worthier than this detached limbo we are in. There are privileged beings there. I feel absolutely sure that I will become one of them. I don’t know whether I will remain there for eternity because I have no idea of what eternity is, but I know I am going. That is my good news!” “I’ll go with you,” blurted Slayton, the words bursting in his communicating mind. “I’ll follow. It is all I can do now. I have left anything in the world that ever meant anything to me behind. All I have is you. I will go with you.” Paige soared downward beneath the clouds, and Slayton automatically

followed. The rain had grown heavy and obscured most of the pond with an impenetrable, dancing mist. Beside the pond, on a pile of gathered leaves at the edge of the tree line, lay Slayton’s sleeping body. “You’re getting wet,” chuckled Paige. “If you want to go with me, you know what has to happen.” Slayton examined his supine body. It seemed like a lump of unnatural flesh. “How long do we have?” he inquired. “You can’t last forever there. There are wild animals, and the winter is coming early this year. As for me, maybe a day or so. I feel the onset of death. I wonder where they have shoved my body.” “Then it’s the pond,” said Slayton. “Let’s go.” And they did. The otherwise freezing clear water embraced their detached essences with a warmth associated with the coziest of homes. They locked into each other’s embrace, each thrusting their spirits into the other in the purest and least contaminated form of love and blending conceivable. A traveler happening on Clear Pool at that moment---and there were none---would have seen two faces side by side looking upward in the most authentic and uncorrupted expression of bliss. And the faces remained joined until at length one of them suddenly winked out and was seen no more. The other remained for a time, but only for a time. The winter was brutal that year, arriving in mid-October and lasting until April. The heaviest snow in years blanketed the forest and dark, thick ice covered the pond surface. After the first thaw of spring, a groundsman, a caretaker came hiking with a large walking stick. His first find by the side of the hidden pond was the half-eaten and nearly decomposed remains of a young man that he could not identify. “Stupid campers,” he said aloud to himself. “Probably on drugs. Fell asleep and died of exposure. Need to recheck those fences.” Far adrift on an even higher terrace of awareness, two humanly incomprehensible entities moved in unison through circles of awareness that only the privileged would ever know. They traversed the cosmos as one, hoping together that there was such a thing as eternity. _________________////

Devon Pitlor -- December, 2009

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful