Buildings are inanimate; they have no life, no thoughts. They are neither good, nor bad. But can they be evil?
It was an ordinary job. Lay out the steel, and pour the concrete. Probably take 4 or 5 days at the most. Then starts the high work, floor by floor.
Dave was an old hand at laying foundations. He’d been doing it for 27 years, very since he got out of high school and had married his high school sweetheart. He served two tours in Viet Nam without a scratch. Her dad got him in the union and Dave had never regretted a day. Except the day Mary had died 2 years ago. Dave was on a foundation job that day.
Mary had been at the sink washing the dishes when it happened. Doctors said the stroke was so massive she died almost instantly. She didn’t feel a thing, they said. They said.
Dave didn’t know that for sure. He always suspected. Maybe that was on his mind that early summer day. They had just started pouring the deepest point of the foundation Fresh concrete, 21 feet deep, was being poured when Dave turned and struck his hand on a piece of the foundation steel. It wasn’t bad, just a deep gouge really. But lots of fresh hot, red blood gushed from Dave’s hand into that deep pool of foundation cement. Some workers would latter swear that for a moment that deep pool of inanimate concrete heaved upward an extra 2 or 3 feet and some of it splashed on Dave’s cut hand. But they wouldn’t go so far as to say it grabbed Dave’s hand. At least not to anyone else. Not while they were sober.
Whatever the facts are, Dave gashed his hand rather badly and as the blood splashed into the deep pool of concrete, Dave fell into the pit. Several workers were watching and seemed too struck still by the sight of a fellow worker falling into the wet foundation. Dave never came to the surface.
They never recovered the body. When someone slips into that deep a pool of concrete, there is just no way to go after them. You just finish the job; have a drink or two for the brother worker, and go on to the next job.
At night, while the concrete cured, some late night workers would claim to have heard the sound of laughter. Deep, nasty, evil, laughter but the night winds will play tricks on your hearing. Everyone knows that.
Structure steel workers are a tough breed. Men who climb the girders of a building frame are a little off center. They have to be, to continue working 35 to 40 stories in the air. Especially after seeing a man fall to his death.
Bobby was a good iron worker. His brother had gotten him into the union right after he had come home from Desert Storm and had been discharged. That was just a few years ago but Bobby was a good worker. Never careless. Always wore his safety harness. Always “hooked up”. Always.
Bobby was working on setting the frame beams on the 32nd floor. Almost all the beams were straight and set but Bobby felt one was out of line. He was walking the beam to the outside end when, he just fell. One guy said the beam seemed to twist under Bobby. But everyone knew that guy drank a lot. Nobody could explain how the safety line came off the beam. “Just one of those things”.
There were partial floors below him, but Bobby missed all of them and landed on the foundation 32 floors below.
If anyone had known, Bobby landed on the exact spot that Dave had fallen into the foundation concrete. The exact spot! If one was to look very closely at the spot where Bobby’s life blood touched the concrete, a small crack appeared. Bobby’s blood disappeared into this small entrance to the foundation, into the exact spot where Dave’s blood had first touched the foundation of the building. The exact spot where Dave had fallen into the pit of the building and where Dave was entombed forever. The exact spot.
They closed the job site for several days in a kind of remembrance of Bobby. Even a couple of the older workers remembered Dave while they were lifting their glass of beer.
That night the site guard felt a chill as he was making a check. He could hear someone sighing deeply, but the kind of a sigh one hears someone making after having a really good meal. A deep sigh of contentment. The sigh of a full stomach.
Charley was a simple accountant. He was the senior accountant. He’s been in the same job for 17 years. He’s been with firm long before they had moved into this new building. He even got his own office in the corner of the new building.
Charley was a married man. Married to Laura for 15 years and never once thought of playing around. Besides, who would want an affair with an accountant? Charley was in a simple word, boring. He never went to girly bars, or for that matter any bar. Charley barely drank at home and never at lunch. Fool around with the typing pool punch-board, Tammy, never. Until he went to work in the new building.
Every once in a while Laura would bring Charley a homemade lunch. It was one of those little things she did to keep their marriage happy. The kind of thing she would do unannounced. She would spend the morning making something special, something that Charley couldn’t get at any of the small diners near the new building.
That’s what she was doing that day she walked in and caught Charley and Tammy on Charley’s desk. Tammy’s dress was up over her hips and Charley was standing behind her with his pants around his ankles. There was little doubt as to what was happening.
Laura probably didn’t mean to throw that ashtray that hard. It was just a heavy, square glass ashtray. Who would think that such a thing would hit him in the forehead as he stood up trying to pull on his pants? The impact made Charley step backwards several times. Tammy tried to get away from Laura by moving away from the desk and she bumped into Charley.
Charley tried to keep his balance by pin wheeling his arms but it did no good. He struck the window with more force than he thought. The window seemed to fall out of the frame.
Some on lookers later claimed the window was whole until it hit the concrete 28 stories below. But since that meant the window would have had to come out of the frame in one piece and that was structurally impossible, they had to be mistaken. Everyone was so distraught with what happened that none noticed how Charley’s blood seemed to run under the edge of the building, into the foundation itself.
Into the exact spot where Bobby had fallen some time before, the exact spot where Bobby’s blood had seeped into the foundation. The exact spot where Dave had hurt his hand. The exact spot.
The firing of a typing pool bimbo made no news. The weekend suicide of a distraught wife in jail for killing her husband made only a little news.
The building watchman complained that weekend. In fact, he quit. Said there were too many sounds at night. Sounds like someone chuckling all night. And right after that poor accountant died.
Mike had been troubled for many years. His parents and first two wives always said it was because of Afghanistan but if the truth be known he had always been that way. As a kid he often hurt his and other kids, pets. By accident of course.
The one thing he did get from the military was the superb skill with firearms. In the passing years Mike had practiced, practiced and practiced. Mike was very good.
Mike could work when he wanted, and he was a very good house and interior painter. It was the kind of job he could work as much or as little as he wanted. And always have time for his shooting practice. Mike was very good.
At his present home Mike had to walk by that new building every day. He was there the day the worker fell in the concrete.
He watched the steel workers set up their frame. He watched the structure workers every day. Even the day one fell.
Whenever possible Mike liked to eat lunch in the park across the street. He was having lunch in the park the day the accountant fell out his window.
Today Mike is loading all his guns. Then he is going to the building on the corner and show people how very good he is with those guns. Mike is very good.
Ever listened to your building?
Every notice how air conditioning sounds just like laughter?