The Exorcist 1973/Bill Gold/Photo

The Horrors

Pasadena, CA 2020

I’m not too fond of the dark; horrible stuff always happens in the shadows. For that reason, I doubt I’d like Hell, either. I have heard from reliable sources that it sucks down there. During my tortured childhood, the Devil moved into my bedroom closet. It was his respite from home. Growing up, I always slept with one eye open and never left any body parts hanging over the edge of the mattress.

The truth is, I am not a big fan of horror movies either. I live in fear from dawn to dusk anyway; why add the stress of the world’s demise during the daylight hours? I need a break between the Vampires and Zombies running around my hotel at night.

The common denominator of fear in horror films appears to be the physical body’s demise. Whatever form the evil assailant embodies, dying, especially painfully, must be avoided at all costs. Being a believer of Jesus Christ, the Devil is my primary adversary, though white sugar runs a close second, with hot dogs rounding out the top three.

My current job keeps me close to the evil one. Working security at the hotel overnight, I watch the transformation from the late-arriving regular guests to the horrific zombies that shuffle in and out of the hotel all night. Around two-thirty in the morning, the change is complete.

The dark forces are ready to screw with me. On my nightly patrols to secure the overrated property, I carry a Bible, a handmade garlic necklace, holy water, the required Covid mask, and rubber gloves thick enough to withstand hydrochloric acid. Even then, I pray incessantly under my breath.

Every shift, I have an orchestrated detailed plan to finish my duties exactly when I need to clock out. I’m tired by four o’clock in the morning, and even the weaker demons have snuck off to grab some shuteye. After seven hours and forty-two minutes of work, I want to go home.

On the hotel’s top floors, premium marijuana sneaks out from under the hallway doors. Becoming ravenous, I contemplate eating discarded pizza crusts from the boxes left in the hallways. Wrapping up the guest floors, I take the stairs to the large second floor. This floor houses large meeting rooms, tight hallways, and an ominous dark hall that leads to the banquet ballrooms.

Checking my time, I cruise around the floor and enter the long hallway leading to the back guest bathrooms. The moon’s rays bouncing through the tall glass patio doors create tall, eerie shadows. I turn my phone light on to ease my suspicion, which grows by the second. My heart beats wildly.

Entering the bathroom foyer, I can’t see anything. I sweep my iPhone light in a cautious arc. I jump back a couple of feet and scream like a pre-woke society girl. A streetwise transient lies stretched out on the room’s bench seat. His worn Los Angeles Laker basketball shoes hang over one end, and his massive head of unkempt hair dangles over the other side.

I radio the front desk — no answer, just loud static or snoring. I am minutes from safety or being a crime statistic in the Los Angeles Times.
Keeping a safe distance from the monster on the bench, I whisper, “Excuse me, sir.” The grizzled beast doesn’t move; it groans loudly.

I inch closer. The muscular body odor hits me square in the face. It reminds me of a Jewish deli in the burbs of Brooklyn. I am repulsed and yet now hungry for a pastrami sandwich.

I raise my tone, “Excuse me, sir, but you’ll need to go.” The maskless monster lies stone cold on the bench. I brandish my light inches from his face.

“SIR, you’ll need to go, or my boss will be forced to call the police.” The colossal man jumps from the bench screaming, “Get that light out of my face bitch!”

Standing tall, he towers over me. I back up, holding my ground — the beast wobbles. I note the weakness, hoping to add points to my favor.
I try the radio again, “Front desk, I need some back up NOW!” The radio crackles without a reply.

The beast draws closer; I turn the radio upside down in my hand if I need a club. Inflating my upper body to Mr. Universe’s proportions, I make the monster’s only exit out of the foyer and into the large hallway with the glass doors leading onto the outside patio.

“You gotta’ go man” I plead. Trying to turn the tables, I offer him some anti-corporate camaraderie, “Listen, man, my boss is a real jerk, so, I’m doing you a favor here sir.”

The transient pauses, grabbing up his torn backpack and flame-darkened meth pipe. He stares. Screaming LOUDLY, he slowly moves out of the foyer, throwing “F” Bombs over his shoulder. The profanity bounces off my armor of God.

The beast blasts out of the glass doors, I follow him out at a safe distance. He quickly turns, breaking the rules of social distancing. Taking my attention, I lose hold of the door. It slams behind me. I am trapped outside the hotel foyer, the beast smiles. He knows I am screwed.
“I got you, b***h!” he yells. My adversary blocks my only escape down the outdoor stairs.

Screaming, he pushes over the tall exterior heater in my direction. I catch it with one hand. Standing up the heater with my huge bicep, the evil one encroaches.

I raise my left hand. “Sir, by the letter of the law, I must warn you that I am professionally trained to protect myself.

“I’m gonna’ kill you, you cracker-ass motherf****r” he yells. Throwing down his bag, he rips off his dirty, wrinkled shirt.
“CRACKER-ASS,” I retort. “I don’t eat carbs!”

Pulling up my shirt to show my taut midsection, I show the dark forces the rewards of healthy eating and a religious exercise program.

He pauses, gathering a thought. I smell a whisper of smoke escaping from his ears. He wakes up from a drug-induced trance. Focusing on his mental facilities, he charges.

Taking a defensive stance, I look my fear in the face. “I’m not messing around here, you lay a hand on me, and I will protect myself with years of physical training” I yell.

I don’t budge an inch. I move forward, and he backs up. Picking up his bag, he grabs his shirt and stares me down. My growing confidence drives him back towards the stairs. I manipulate him to the edge of the first step.
Moving closer, I give him no respite. “Move it, and don’t ever come back on this property again,” I bark as he heads down the stairs.

Stumbling down the ornate concrete staircase, “You’re a dead man, you white trash piece of sh*t,” he throws over his shoulder. “I don’t live in a trailer, dude,” I yell back.

Waiting for him to clear the stairs and out onto the deserted street, I gather my senses. Breathing hard, I thank the Lord. “You need some help,” the lazy front desk radio cackles. Thanks for waking up slacker. But no, the sheriff is in control.

Lying in bed later that morning, I couldn’t sleep. I replayed the confrontation in my head. Reaching for my rosary, I hung it over the head of my bed.

I drifted off to sleep when an incoming phone text buzz woke me up. The front desk manager let me know that my nemesis had returned. They arrested him in the underground parking lobby foyer I walk through every night after my shift.

Sitting on the worn leather bench across the elevator, he waited to settle an eternal score.

Luckily, I had worn the garlic and relic blessed by his Holiness under vest of the Holy Spirit.

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