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The International Writers Magazine:
THE PASSION OF NINO DE JESUS - Excerpt from "Follow Your Dream" by Dean Borok

The Passion of Nino De Jesus
Dean Borok

[Scenario: Niño de Jesus Benitez has escaped from the mental hospital on Ward's Island and made his way to Hell's Kitchen on the West Side of Manhattan, where he goes to the object of all his dreams and desires, a garishly-painted fuchia forklift truck parked in a vacant lot]

Niño de Jesus frequently had marveled at it on his way to work and one day, when the proprietor had left the gate unlocked, he snuck in for a closer look. Climbing up the ladder on the side and peering into the control booth, he noticed that they had left the key in the ignition. After all, one might reason, who would steal such a monster? Only a crazy man!

From that day forward the machine became a constant landmark of his scattered emotional terrain. The idea of it would pop up when he was riding the subway into town from his rented room in Corona, when he was eating beans and rice in the shared kitchen of his boarding house, when he was watching Mexican gangster movies showing smartly tailored guys with mustaches smattering each other into fragments with machine guns.

If the average person is distracted by thoughts of sex every eight seconds as scientists contend, then Niño de Jesus Benitez, who had not the slightest interest in any form of human contact, who was a fanatical Catholic fundamentalist sober or drunk, had found the ideal vehicle of transferal for all his earthly animal tendencies. The fuchsia forklift took over all his waking thoughts and dreams. He changed his commute so that he could pass it twice each day, crossing himself and uttering a devotional prayer on his way to and from his job as (what else?) a forklift operator.

The fuchsia forklift came to have a deleterious effect on his job performance at the industrial bakery where he worked. His previously close relationship with the dependable little yellow forklift that he drove became strained, the same way a man might devalue his plain but faithful wife after becoming infatuated with a younger, lovelier woman. He began treating her with contempt and insouciance, letting her battery water run low and forgetting to recharge her when he went on break or ended his shift. Sometimes, out of spite, he intentionally banged her against concrete surfaces, damaging her fiberglass body and exposing her insides. Occasionally he would drive her around without first raising her fork, causing sparks to fly as the prongs scraped painfully across the reinforced cement floor. The yellow forklift, which was named Teresa since its last driver had painted his child’s name on it, sadly deteriorated from her previously spunky self and now dripped tears of hydraulic fluid as she dragged herself forlornly about the premises. Finally, the loading dock foreman, Bolivar Marticorena, took notice and stepped in to champion her.
“It’s a crime the way you abuse this machine,” he asserted.
“Why don’t you go to hell!” retorted Niño de Jesus with the defensive indignation of somebody who knows perfectly well he is being justly accused.

Whether Bolivar was right or wrong was beside the point. Niño de Jesus knew the Mexican foreman had it in for him because he was from Ecuador. Besides, he knew Bolivar’s hideous secret, that he was a demon from the depths of hell who had ascended into the world by way of a stairway behind the furnace in the sub-basement of the factory, a filthy, hellish place where the slops from the drainage system fell into a slop sink which connected it to the city’s sewer system. Niño de Jesus sometimes went down there because the foul odor kept others away, and he could get some peace and quiet while he sipped from a pint bottle of Ronrico to steady his nerves. As the old saying goes, once you get past the smell you’ve got it licked, and Niño de Jesus passed many agreeable solitary moments there, alone except for the occasional water bug or garden variety rodent.

That is, until the day when he heard whistling, chuckling voices coming from behind the giant hundred year-old furnace in a dark corner, towering like a steel mountain behind a blackened lagoon of a cesspool of shiny sewage and putrefied rat carcasses. Intrigued, he squeezed his skinny body into the narrow passage separating the furnace from the wall until he had gotten behind it. There was a solid green door. He tried the handle, but it was locked.

The voices behind the door had gone silent when they heard somebody trying the handle. There was total silence for several seconds, when suddenly a terrifying chorus of howls and screams startled and frightened Niño de Jesus. Panicked, he tried to scramble back through the narrow passage from which he had come, but in his haste he snagged part of his clothing on a piece of metal protruding from the furnace. Unable to move, he heard the voices come right up behind him, mocking him and threatening him in unknown languages of gibberish. Disembodied faces spun around in the air, laughing and menacing as Niño de Jesus, soaked in sweat and praying to Jesus for salvation from these infernal spirits who, enraged that he had discovered their hiding place, now laughingly taunted and threatened him with destruction and the loss of his immortal soul.

He passed out, hanging there like a marionette in this dark, stinking subterranean pit of filth and demons for an immeasurable period of time. Once he woke up to find giant water bugs crawling all over his clothing and body, sucking the salt perspiration. At the end of the short passage, rats stuck their heads in curiously, wondering how long it would take for him to die there so they could begin eating him. Passing out again, he retreated into a dream state of delirium.

At length, he was discovered by the old man, Tato, whose job in the factory it was to search out and kill bugs and rodents, for which purpose he carried with him a little tin first-aid case that he called his “maleta de muerte,” stuffed as it was with the traps and poisons that were his instruments of destruction. He would assemble all the little dead critters he had collected during his shift in a white bakery bag and show them to his boss as proof of his indispensability to the company. His manager, a hardened man of fifty, might very well be biting into a sandwich at the time of such an exhibition, where a glance into the bag would transport him into another little unique dimension of hell, one of water bugs stuck to glue traps, their shells and wings in disarray, many still alive with antennae furiously thrashing about; maggot-ridden corpses of mice stuck to traps with blood flowing out of their mouths and laying in their own droppings. “Muy bueno”, the manager would tell the old man as he chewed his sandwich. And he meant it. Tato, with his small body and unabashed enthusiasm for squeezing into dark corners of the factory, flashlight in hand, performed an invaluable function. The manager, although repelled by this little menagerie of loathsome filth, was nevertheless heartened by the knowledge that none of these animals would contaminate the food product or, even more horribly, intrude their pointy little heads during a factory tour by customers or a government inspection. “You’re doing a fine job,” he would compliment the little man in fluent, though heavily anglo-inflected Spanish. “Get out there and kill some more!” The old man, elated by this encouragement, would recommence with renewed ardor.

Tato found Niño de Jesus Benitez suspended in the narrow passage behind the furnace, his clothes tangled in the machinery, and helped cut him free with a box cutter. After he had cut him loose, the toothless old man cautioned Niño de Jesus in barely comprehensible Spanish, “Never go there. There are bad things.”

This episode had a major impact on Niño de Jesus’ mind, and he started going down to the sub-basement on a regular basis, not to nip the bottle but to monitor the activity behind the furnace. In the silence, punctuated only by the gurgling and plopping of the rancid, filthy factory waste water flowing through the drainage pipe into the slop sink, he could make out the sounds coming from the green door at the end of the narrow passage, the infernal whistling and chuckling of rats mixed with human voices shrilly screaming and the shouts and pleadings of tortured souls being impaled on spikes, branded with red-hot pokers, having their eyes gouged out.

Armed with this knowledge, Niño de Jesus Benitez came to develop a clear understanding of the events of September 11, which, though having occurred many years before, were still the major preoccupation of New York society. He came to realize that the buildings’ collapse, while precipitated by the airplanes having collided into them, actually resulted from fissures in the earth’s crust caused by aliens burrowing underneath them and weakening their foundations.

Niño de Jesus, straining to hear, could distinguish over the roar of the furnace and the rushing flop of sewage into the slop sink the barely audible moans and pleas of priests who, stripped naked and chained to posts, bleeding and sweating, their pathetic moans and pleas for mercy and salvation drowned out by the hellish baritone laughter of the lesbians, were flagellated unmercifully with barbed wire cat o’ nine tails whips.

He decided to alert a priest, Father Guzman, a saintly man who ministered to the unfortunate Central American undocumented aliens out of St. Anthony’s Parish in Corona. Father Guzman listened sympathetically to Niño de Jesus’ description of the events taking place behind the green door and wrote him a referral for psychiatric counseling, which Niño de Jesus immediately tore up after leaving the priest’s office.
“If they think they’re going to get me, they’re crazy!”
© Dean Borok October 2007 RIP

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