"You sure you want to get out here?" the driver of the truck yells. Why do people who are hard of hearing always yell? Tony thinks. He doesn't try to answer the man but nods. The driver shakes his head and Tony hears the growl of the gears as the old truck slows down. Fairmont Drive is around here someplace. I've been by here, but never sold insurance to anyone. That's good -less of a chance of bumping into someone who knows me.
The truck stops with a jolt and Tony yells a "thank you" and hops out. Walking down the business district, he studies passing faces to see if he knows them, but mostly if they know him. The people are well dressed, in a hurry, and pay little attention to what is going on around them. Tony is startled when he hears someone talk in his direction.
"Mr. Manza, you've come back early. Did you have a good trip? At first Tony didn't understand the person is talking to him. He looks up to see an older black man dressed in a doorman's uniform.
"Mr. Manza, what happened to your little red Ferrari?"
Tony remembers his new name and has to think fast. "Some bastard stole it."
"From the airport?"
"That's a dirty shame. You had that car only a few weeks and you go off to San Francisco and come back to see it gone. Now don't worry, I'm sure the insurance company will settle up quickly and you can be back on the road soon," The doorman says, as he opens the door for Tony.
This must be where Alberto lives. Nice. He remembers the key in Alberto's wallet and removes it. But what room is he in? He glances around as he makes his way to the elevator. No one took notice of him as they go about their business. The elevator door opens and Tony gets in. He doesn't say a word when the man dressed much like the doorman, takes him up to the sixth floor. Ritzy, even have a man to run the elevator for me, and he must remember me because he knows what floor I live on.
Getting off the elevator, he bumps into a maid. "Mr. Manza you're back. I just filled your kitchenette with fresh food," she says, pointing at room 618 and then she hurried to the next room. This is really working out. I must look enough like Alberto, and I'll have a place to stay and something to eat while I figure out how to downsize a thousand dollar bill.
The key slips easily into the lock. His heart raced, when the door swings open. Will someone be waiting for me?
Sunlight filters around the closed drapes, and it takes a while for his eyes to adjust to the dark room. He calls out to anyone who might be there. No reply. Cautiously, he enters the room and opens the drapes. Light flooded in revealing a clean and comfortable suite. A desk is next to the window and a sofa sat against the wall, a coffee table in front of the sofa and end tables at each side. Two large comfortable chairs sit facing each other. A tiny kitchenette with a small bar attached fits neatly into a corner. He slowly walks through the living room to the door of the bedroom, and then stops to listen for any sound. The partly open curtains let in some light. Looking into the room, he sees a queen size bed, dresser, and nightstand. Slowly he walks towards the bathroom, where the door is ajar. He almost chickens out, but getting his nerve up, he pushes the door open. A large enamel tub stands in one corner with a shower curtain surrounding its interior. He sees the shadow of someone behind the curtain. He stands in fear waiting to see if the figure heard him. Is the person just about to start a shower? The figure doesn't move.
Tony waits his heart beating fast. Still there isn't any movement. His hands shakes when he pulls the curtain back revealing a large terrycloth bathrobe hanging on the showerhead. He let out a sigh of relief. More relaxed, he checked the closet. Three pairs of black shoes and three dark gray suits were lined up neatly with matching dark gold and blue striped ties. Did he have the right man? Alberto had been dressed in a cheap plaid jacket and cotton pants. No other clothes so he must live alone. Something bumped his leg. Looking down he sees an expensive suitcase. Tony looks inside. It's empty and without labels or nametags. Going to the dresser he pulls out the top drawer. He finds boxer shorts, socks and a Gideon Bible. Second drawer is full of freshly laundered white shirts.
Back in the living room he looks in the small refrigerator. Good old Alberto knows his brand of beer, Tony thinks, as he reaches for a Coors, opens it and takes a long hard draw from the contents. Looking at the desk, he's sure he will find information he needs to know: receipts, bank statements, at least where he works. The desk is void of any personal information and contains only courtesy hotel postcards, stationery, and envelopes. Maybe Alberto has been at the hotel for only a day—but why wouldn't he have some kind of information in his belongings? Maybe it's at the bottom of the river in a brief case. But why did he have this hotel address on his driver's license? Do I really look like Alberto? Or had he been here such a short time they don't remember what he looks like? Can I continue to fool them?
His mind flashes to yesterday, what is the news saying about the bridge collapse? There isn't a paper, magazine, radio or television in his room, only a shelf where a television once stood. What's wrong with this hotel room it doesn't have a television?
Tony flops on the sofa and takes another long draw from the bottle. I'd have to go out and get a damn paper—but how can I pay for it? I sure can't buy it with a thousand dollar bill! Stealing one off a newsstand is too risky, I might get caught. Weary from all the excitement and drinking his third beer, he falls asleep.
He awakes at first light. Glancing at Alberto's wristwatch, he noticed for the first time it's a Rolex. I've always wanted to own one of these. "It's only six, I've slept the clock around," he said, out loud to the empty room. He shuffles into the kitchenette and finds a Mr. Coffee. Going to make it the way I like it, strong, not the way Angelina does, so weak you can see through it. Thinking of Angelina's coffee brings him back to his problem do people think he is dead? He must find a newspaper. He picks up the phone and calls the front desk. "Do you have today's paper?" He asks the clerk.
"No, but I can have the doorman pick one up and deliver it to you. Which paper do you want?" Tony stops. "Forget it. I'll pick one up later." He remembers he would have to tip the doorman and also pay for the paper. I can pawn the Rolex but I don't know of any pawn shops in this ritzy part of town. Besides I've always wanted a Rolex. Damn that thousand-dollar bill! I'll wait and go to the bar and watch the news, no- I'd have to buy a drink, no change. I'll find an appliance store and watch a television there.
The four-hour wait for a store to open is a long time to kill. He eats cereal and drinks milk to lessen his hunger pangs, but it doesn't help his anxiety.
Wearing one of Alberto's suits, he finds a store two blocks away and waits for it to open. When he enters the store, twelve televisions suddenly come alive around him with rap music, but none with the news.
"Can you please put the news on?" he asks, a young clerk.
"Bet you want to watch about that bridge breaking," the clerk says in broken English. "It's been on all the time for the last two days, but now it's on only at noon. But what kind of television you wish to buy?" Tony realizes he can buy something with the thousand-dollar-bill. He looks around the store and his eyes fall on a 32" flat screen television. He has always wanted one. Angelina had little interest in television because she couldn't understand English. Many years ago they settled on a twelve-inch screen with rabbit ears. He'd found little satisfaction watching sports on it, and had gone to a bar to watch the games on a big screen. This made Angelina angry. His wife didn't understand that selling insurance, he had to interact with people, and sports were something most people had in common.
"I'm thinking of that one," Tony says, pointing at a model sitting on a shelf. "But I'm staying at the Fairmont Hotel and don't know much about hooking one up."
"Not to worry. We will deliver and that includes setup for only an extra one- hundred," the salesman says.
"Do it before twelve and I'll throw in an extra fifty."
With the extra one hundred and fifty for delivery, tax and cost of the television, the extra cash back from the thousand came to a lousy sixty-five dollars and sixty cents for pocket money, but now he has the change for a newspaper and money for a hot meal.
True to his word, the man who sold him the television talked to a man sitting behind a desk and then grabs a huge box from the storeroom, put it on a dolly, and follows him to the hotel. Tony figures the clerk will pocket the extra money and claim the customer took the merchandise with them, but he doesn't care. On the way back, Tony picks up a newspaper.
The screen is too large to place on the television shelf, so they place it on the coffee table. The clerk then has to return to the store for an extension cord for the cable.
"Sorry, but I have to charge you twenty dollars for the cable cord," the clerk says, extending his hand. Tony hands him a twenty, now he's down to forty dollars and six one thousand dollar bills. All this spent to obtain a lousy newspaper. And to beat it all, he'd seen a newspaper lying on a table by the hotel's front door. It was free for the taking. Oh, well, now he can watch television.
Tony grabs himself a beer from the small refrigerator and sat down to read the newspaper. It's only ten thirty in the morning, but he's hot from the walk home. The front page is covered with pictures of the bridge. Cars smashed and large hunks of steel and cement hang over the sides, and the angry river appears to grab at any part of the bridge it can reach, trying to pull it under. Tony recalls how that felt and a shiver runs through his body. He glances through the part of how, where, and what happened. At the bottom of the article was "River-page seven." Quickly he flips through the paper. Shock, he sees a large photo of Angelina with tears streaming down her face. Strange, he hadn't thought about his death bringing sadness to her.
The article goes on to tell of his death being among the thirteen killed and one hundred injured. His body had been found three miles down river. At the bottom of the article information told of a bank to which one could donate money to help the victims' families. He realizes it's a bank only a few blocks from the hotel. In the morning he'll go over and donate a thousand. That's the least he can do for his own funeral. His eyes keep going back to his name listed with the deceased. Now there is no going back! Excitement gives way to anxiety and fear.
The next morning he kills time by eating breakfast out. He isn't hungry because the night before he had a wonderful Italian dinner. The cash left over from the television was gone. He needs another thousand downsized.
Entering the bank, he stands behind a line of people and waits his turn.
"Mr. Manza, why are you standing over there?" A middle-aged woman waves at him. Should I know her? Tony thinks, and then remembered his new name is Alberto Manza.
Panic makes him want to leave but there is no way he can ignore her, so he walks over. This is a good time to see if she notices if I'm different. Maybe my face or voice is different.
"Mr. Manza, how can I help you?"
"I understand you're taking up a collection for the families of the people killed in the bridge collapse,"
The woman nods.
"Is there anyway I can give to just one family? I'm thinking of Anthony Aluzzi's wife."
The lady nods. "Yes, that can be arranged."
"We were very much in love a long time ago. I want to help her out, but stay out of the picture, if you know what I mean. So I don't want my name used."
The woman giggles and a then nods. "I can do that. How much do you wish to give?" Tony pulled out two of his thousand dollar bills.
"I'd like to give twelve hundred, and please give me the change back in hundreds and twenties."
While she fills out a receipt, the women talks about the accident and how wonderful Tony is to be helping the poor woman with her husband's funeral. God, I wish she'd shut up. If only she knew I'm paying for my own funeral. Tony says good day and starts off.
"Mr. Manza, did you need to get into your safety deposit box?" the woman asks. Tony stops in his tracks. He has a safety deposit box?
"Oh, sure I almost forgot," he says. She extends a paper and pen under the teller's window. "Please sign." At last Tony can see what Alberto signature looks likes. He copied it as closely as he can then followed the teller into the vault where she extends her hand. Tony is thinking. I hit the jackpot! He keeps all his important papers in a safety deposit box.
"Mr. Manza, I need your key." Tony knows he doesn't have it but pretends to search his pockets. "I think I lost it. Can I give me another one?"
"Shame on you, now you have to pay twenty-five dollars to replace the key," the clerks says. "Fill out this form and tomorrow we'll have another key for you.
Tony looks at the form. Social Security number and mother's maiden name, he doesn't know any of this, but he knows the answers are in that box.
"I think I remember where I left the key. I'll be back later," he says, and quickly retreated. That was close. The key can only to be in two places, in the hotel room or at the bottom of the river.
As he enters the hotel lobby, his mind isn't on what was in the newspaper but finding that key.
"Mr. Manza, Mr. Manza," the desk clerk calls out.
Again Tony forgets his new name and continues walking toward the elevator.
"I hate to bother you on a Saturday morning, but would you like to settle this month's bill?" Tony looks up to see the desk clerk.
"Of course, how much is it?"
The clerk gave him a strange look. "Same as it's always been, eighteen hundred. Oh, you mean for supplies: liquor, and food for the kitchenette." Let me see," he says, going back to the desk and looking through a ledger.
"Because you were gone most of last month, it only came to two hundred and sixty eight dollars. You wish to pay that now?" Tony nods. Didn't think it would cost that much!
The clerk filled out a receipt and handed it to Tony saying, "I'm surprised you purchased a television. We offered you one of our 28'flat screens two months ago and you declined saying you hate television. We do hope this means you won't be leaving us soon. We hope you have enjoyed your stay with us for the past ten months."
Tony doesn't know what to say, he can only mumble, "One never knows what tomorrow will bring." But he is thinking, Damn, I didn't need to buy a television.
Passing two maids in the hall he hears them whispering. "I hate to see Mr. Manza leave he's such a good tipper." Not anymore, little ladies. At the rate this money is going I'll be broke in two months. I must find that key. That's the answer to everything.
Tony searches the rooms looking everywhere for the key. He even looks under the desk drawers and the bottom of the coffee can. The key can only be one place, the bottom of the river and there is no way to get it. What can he do now? He'd paid for the month of September, so he might as well stay the rest of the month. But what will he do after that? He could hock the television, but without a car, how can he take it to a pawnshop? How can he get into that safe deposit box? When he was young he could move objects and bend metal with his mind.
Can I still do it? Can I make the lock to the safety deposit box open? No, I know I can't because it takes time and two keys. He remembers back to when he and Angelina were first married. How he loved her. She didn't want to leave her family and friends to go to America. Being his new bride she had been forced to go.
It had been his grandma who had unlocked his paranormal abilities and wanted him to get more training. It had been her desire that he go to America and accept a job in the FBI's 'Remote Viewing' training, but first he had to learn English. While he waited until he was old enough he continued to study under different psychic teachers and gained the ability to induce an altered state of consciousness that would dramatically increase his psychic ability.
He had been studying transcending his body when his grandma died. After her death he was devastated for months. It had been marrying Angelina that brought him back to the living and revived his Grandma's dreams. Shortly after their marriage he and Angelina left for America so he could get into the 'Remote Viewing' training. He made the mistake of putting all his hopes into this one program only to find he hadn't even had the chance to get his foot in the door.
Not wishing to give up he tried to get into show business. He thought he'd be invited to different television shows and nightclubs where he'd display his gifts of moving objects and bending metal with his mind. This had been great entertainment for the people of his community, but not for the American public. He'd been in demand in his country, but no agency in America was interested in him.
It had been his damn pride that kept him from returning home. Thank God grandma had died and she didn't have to know he was a failure.
He sets a fork on one end table and tried to bend it with his mind. It didn't bend. He tried to move the newspaper on the couch, it won't move. He picks the paper up and looks at the front page. More stories of how they're trying to discover why the bridge collapsed. He opens the paper to the obituaries:
Anthony Lawrence Aluzzi
January 11, 1966- August 4, 2007
Died Wednesday in the bridge collapse
He leaves behind a loving wife of fifteen years, Angelina Aluzzi
Survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends in Southern Italy.
Visitation will be held Sunday August 9, 2007, at
2:00 p.m. at the Sunset Mortuary.
Burial will be in the family plot in Ivera, Italy.
Donations can be made to assist with burial expenses at the
Minneapolis Federal Bank.
Rage fills Tony, rage with him self. Why didn't he think this through? Alberto will be taking his place in the family plot. Where did Angelina find the money to ship the body back to Italy? Why, of course, he donated most of it! He never dreamed she would have the money to send the body home, but buried it in one of the surrounding cemeteries. He wanted her to use the money to return to Italy. What angered him most was the plot next to grandma. It should be his and not a stranger's. What could he do now? Tony reaches for a bottle of hard liquor from the small bar and gets drunk.