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Rated: 18+ · Chapter · Emotional · #1931476
Alexis and Andy post-ceremony and Alexis "disappearing down the rabbit hole"
Walking down the aisle holding hands, we both smiled at the guests who came to observe this farce. We both noticed the stoic face of Mr. Bautista and the somewhat sad, hurt and angry face of Sophia.  We kept walking to the back of the room and stood outside of the open double doors.  Then Mr. Bautista and Sophia came through the door and stood next to us. He did not console her as I thought a father would for his darling princess, but we were in public so he expected her to maintain her composure.  I noticed that the guests waited until Mr. Bautista and Sophia took their leave from the makeshift chapel before beginning to empty the room. Noverto and Pisciotta stood next to the door on the opposite side of the doorway.  They knew their responsibilities as did the rest of the guests.  These two men were not guests but employees. Guests filed by us shaking our hands and exchanging greetings with Mr. Bautista and Sophia.  I thought to myself that everyone must be thinking how awkward this is considering they are attending Andy’s wedding and wishing the new couple happiness while standing in the same reception line as his ex-wife and ex-father-in-law. But the more I thought about it, unconventional events and activities such as this were commonplace in their daily lives so no one gave it a second thought.  They knew their roles in this play. They performed well.
After the last of the guests disappeared from the small lobby by way of the elevator and the stairs, Sophia said to me, “It was a beautiful ceremony. Congratulations, Alexis! He is now your husband, your responsibility and your problem. Thank you for ensuring that he minds his manners, behaviors and attitude!”  Her sentiment was not malicious toward me but to be hurtful to Andy. I understood her feelings and her relief but her choice of words and approach left a lot to be desired. I knew her anger was justifiably directed at my new spouse. I was sure that I hadn’t seen the last of the ugliness between the two of them and would probably see it many more times again in the future, but perhaps not since I had no intention of being active in his daily life. 
Then Mr. Bautista spoke to Andy, “Now that the transaction is complete, go take care of your new bride, Andy. See to it that she has everything she needs and wants.  I expect you’ll do as we have agreed,” then he turned to me. “Young Lady….I mean Alexis,” correcting himself, “If you need anything or feel that Andy is neglecting his responsibilities to you, contact me through Sophia. I will also be monitoring his financial activities.”  He then said to us, “You both will be expected to attend tonight’s celebration at 5 pm with wedding rings on your fingers.”  He turned from us and left via the elevator with Sophia following close behind him.  I was somewhat amazed that he knew of our intentions of removing the symbols of absurdity. 
For the first time as a married couple, Andy and I were alone.  There was a period of silence that seemed to last for hours. I finally spoke to break the silence, “Well, Husband of Mine, what do we do now?”
“Whatever you want to do as long as you take Twiddle Dumb and Twiddle Dumber with you.”’
“Hmmm……well……what happens if I decide that I’d like to take you back to my suite, rip that suit off you and utilize my new husband’s muscular body as a sexual Jungle Gym to consummate our marriage? Do I have to bring them with me?” I said to relieve some of the tension in the air.
“I say, do with me as you wish, Wife of Mine! Or should I say Mrs. Salvucci?” Andy replied while laughing. Then adding with a more serious tone, “You can do whatever you want to do.  If you want to go shopping, swimming at the pool or do nothing in our suite, you’re free to do it. But if you leave the hotel, you’ll have to go with the Dynamic Duo.  I am sure that whatever you decide to do, you’d like to change out of that gown first.”
“You read my mind! I feel like I’ve been squeezed into a tube of toothpaste. I don’t have any clothes to wear, remember? You and the Hardy Boys wouldn’t let me pack anything yesterday.”
“There will be a change of clothes for you in our suite.” 
This time I noticed the possessive adjective our and commented on it, “OUR suite?”
“Yes, OUR suite.  Now that we are married, we will be expected to share the suite tonight and anytime we attend functions together.  You shared it with me last night.”
“Yes, but that was a mistake because you fell asleep there.”
“You wanted me there last night, you know.”
“Yes, I did…..in a moment of weakness,” I admitted with some shame.” I’m better now,” I saidu with confidence.
“It’s a king size bed. We can share it without ever touching each other.”
“Alright, I can agree to that arrangement. I will suspend my rule of no clothing permitted in the bed.” But I really did enjoy seeing him without his clothing when he was in the tub and when his robe fell open this morning.  I could admit only to myself that he is a sexy man, and now, as a sobering thought, he is my sexy husband.
“I can agree to that,” Andy said with a grin. Then he said, “I think we should save any further discussions until we get to our suite.”
“I think you’re right.” Then Andy pushed the elevator call button.  In a few minutes, the doors opened.  He gently touched the small of my back while I walked into the elevator; his way of comforting me. Andy also had a fob-style key and used it to grant us access to the penthouse. I was not privy to a fob-style key or to a cell phone or to money while in Las Vegas, my abstract prison. When the elevators opened again, no one was present in the common room of the penthouse where I detected Andy’s cologne two hours earlier.  I could hear faint voices coming from the main balcony where we sat last night.
We were silent until we reached our suite within the penthouse.  When he opened the door, I noticed that his belongings were stacked neatly on the dining table. “Looks like you don’t have a choice about where I stay tonight.  It’s been decided for you,” Andy said as he hung his suit jacket and tie on the back of one of the table chairs. I found the ways of men to be alluring and sensual. I found him alluring, sensual and irresistible at that moment. My emotions and female hormones were jiggling the hinges of my Pandora’s Box. My self-regulation was truly being tested. 
“That doesn’t mean you can’t sleep in the tub or on the floor like other dogs,” I said with a chuckle and devilish smile.  He tackled me suddenly and we landed on the bed with me under him; our faces a few inches apart. We made intimate eye contact for several seconds. I had to admit that I liked the warmth of him covering me, but I knew I shouldn’t. His cologne and presence were like invisible restraints to me as my perfume was to him. He tried to tickle me. I said, “Sorry, I lost my ticklishness in my divorce settlement but good try!”  He rolled off me and laid on the bed next to me, both of us on our backs staring up at the white with dark green trim canopy over the bed.  I started, “Where did you get those generic vows? They were quite antiseptic about love. I have no problem with that but they certainly did express your responsibilities to me and the unique life you live.”
“They came from Sophia. I don’t know if she wrote them or not. I didn’t ask her.  The less contact I have with her, the better.  She’s still pissed.”
“What do you expect from a scorned and betrayed woman?!  You brought this onto yourself, Andy, and now I am being punished with you and because of you.”
“Do you really think it’s going to be that terrible being married to me? After all, we are a perfect match for each other. We’re a match made in Hell. I’m Irish-Italian and you’re German. We both are cold, calloused and damaged throwaways,” Andy said as he rolled onto his right side, propped himself up on his elbow, and grabbed my hand that was laying on my stomach with his.  I turned my eyes to his but still laid flat on my back. I didn’t want to admit how accurate he was. I knew I’ve always been disposable. My self-acceptance level was realistic. My chosen life path was evidence of this.
“I don’t know and I don’t care to find out if it will be terrible to be married to you.  Tomorrow we both go back to our regular lives with nude fingers and I with my maiden name which means we will not be sharing a home for me to find out what sort of bad habits you have besides having a wondering penis.”
“You have no choice about changing your name so get used to it, Alexis Salvucci. I won’t deny that I had wondering penis. That is the past. I’ve learned my lesson. I am a good provider and will treat you well as I always have.”
“You mean you will treat me well financially? As you know, money isn’t everything. It cannot buy you love, inner peace, tranquility and trust, as much as you try to. You can’t buy back your soul. You can’t buy or use a financial leverage bandage for emotional health and matters of the heart. Have you learned your lesson because you got caught and punished or because you have found your own morality and integrity without threat from your ex-father-in-law?”
“Alexis, I know that my priorities are rarely in the right order and I don’t do things for the right reasons. I’m selfish. But I am trying to learn to have some morality and integrity while still living the life I was born into and have known all my life.  It is not easy to straddle the moral fence with my forced life. To answer your question, yes, this situation forced me to look at my life and what I do and did do.  I have to make peace with my past and make changes but I still have to live and work.”
“How can I be angry with you with such a valid, well-founded and realistic explanation? I can’t be! I have no refute or rebuttal whatsoever. You were born into and molded by the family you have; nature and nurture. You didn’t have a choice. The past is the past. It cannot be changed but tomorrow is another new day.  As I’ve always done, I will stand by you as the friend that you need but I will not be an enabler.  You have to fix you and to find your life balance. And when you mess up, you can rest assured that I will be there to put my foot up your ass and to give you a warm place to land if you need it.” Given my life, I very much understood, appreciated and sympathized with his situation and explanation.  I refused to be a hypocrite, at least about this topic. I was not holier than thou, and neither was he.
“WOW! That was almost sentimental and supportive, Mrs. Salvucci!” Andy pointed out.
“Hey, don’t push it, Husband of Mine!” I said with a wink. “I won’t fight you over the name change. It is not worth the wasted energy.” Our eyes connected for several seconds again as we each attempted to see through the other’s window to the soul. For a split second, we were both naked despite still being fully clothed.  Andy leaned forward and kissed me with a real and passionate romantic kiss, not a peck like he normally did.  I found my right arm wrapping around his shoulder and pulling him toward me with my tongue in his mouth.  My left hand started unbuttoning his now-wrinkled white dress shirt. I locked my leg over his and started to push him onto his back so I could lay across his chest. Then I stopped.
“No, this isn’t a good idea,” I said as I pulled away from him and got off the bed.
“Why?  We did this before when I was married. I’m still a married man but I’m married to you this time and not someone else,” Andy said to alleviate the change of pace.
“This isn’t what I want. I’m just acting on impulse because of the euphoria of the moment and your cologne. It’s not what you want either.”
“Damn you, Alexis! Don’t you dare tell me what I do and do not want! I thought we already had this discussion about you pushing me away.” He paused and continued, “Why can’t you just be a loving woman for once? Hell, I’d even settle for you being human, if not a loving woman.”  That low jab hit me hard because I knew that he spoke a truthful assessment of me. I prided myself on being devoid of human emotions. I kept all my emotions tucked neatly inside my Pandora’s Box where they should be and always remain. On this topic, my hypocrisy was enduringly static.
“Fuck you, Andy! You’re one to talk, Mr. Violent Mobster who can extort, maim or kill with no conscience whatsoever! You’re no different. How can you call yourself human? If it weren’t for your poor choices, we wouldn’t be here now in this situation; and I would not currently be your legally wedded wife forced to take your last name.  I will not further fuel this mess by making more poor choices. It’s all about volition. If I have blurred focus, it causes too many people too much change and too many repercussions.”
I did not expound on this last point because I did not want to be reminded of the mess I once made for myself when I did not land firmly on my feet and the regret I had to live with from the loss I chose to lose; previous collateral damage with which I’d already made peace.  I gave him one last look with my jaw clenched and then turned to leave for our private balcony. On the way out, I grabbed the bag of clothes that was left for me to change into after the ceremony, took off my white satin bridal shoes and left them on the floor by the bed, and then walked through the wooden door to the balcony.  I did not look back or say another word to Andy. I very much regretted that I did not hold my tongue. I allowed the unfair but truthful violent mobster verbal jab to come out of my mouth. I was not proud of myself. My new husband could do nothing but watch me take my leave. Perhaps he was thinking that he’d join me on the balcony in an hour or so once I cooled off, regrouped and retracted my claws and canines. He may have also thought that he was now married to a cold, distant, unyielding bitch; Sophia’s punishment idea a reality already within 45 minutes. I was not happy with myself for being so predictable to make for such an effective punishment tool.
I put the bag of clothes on the table where I ate my breakfast earlier in the morning with Sophia.  I stood with my arms resting on the top of the balcony while looking out across the dry, arid drab landscape towards the Spring Mountains. I didn’t want to stand too close to the concrete balcony wall so that my silk gown wouldn’t snag on the stucco.  I still had regret for my lack of self-control and for my hurtful words to Andy, but he has been called far worse by far worse people. His thick skin is effective. Mine normally is too but not when it comes to Andy. I violated the number one rule of engagement; I let someone discombobulate me.  How dare I let a man blur my focus! The last time I had blurred focus, I suffered an emotional loss that was not easy to resolve away. I could hear the traffic below. Somewhere near a brisket was cooking on a grill.  The smell of barbeque sauce and charcoal filled the balcony.  I looked down at the pool area below.  People were playing in the water and sunning themselves on the chaise lounges around the pool.  They seemed oblivious to the stresses of life. 
After a few more minutes of watching the people below while clearing my mind and regaining my cognitive organization, I decided it was time to change my clothes.  I removed the Baby’s Breath from my hair and pulled my hair from the upsweep. I tore one of the twine handles from the white bag and tied my hair into a ponytail with it. Without humidity in Nevada, it was easy to remove the white silk gown.  I slipped it over my head and then draped it over the back of the chair that I sat in this morning.  I pushed the white g-string to my ankles and stepped out of it. I bent over, picked it up, removed my rings, tied them to the g-string with its strings, and then laid it on the table. I thought it was an appropriate and conspicuous display venue. I put on the navy blue sports bra, navy blue nylon athletic shorts and the white Penn State t-shirt.  There was also a new pair of gray and blue Nike running shoes and dark blue ankle socks in the bottom of the bag. I sat in the chair with my gown draped over the back and put the socks and shoes on.  It was still a beautiful expensive gown, but I really did not want to see it again.
Once dressed, I decided I should take my leave of Andy, the penthouse and the situation for awhile; to do some exploring on my own without my rings, my cell phone, money and the watchful eyes of the Dynamic Duo babysitters, who required me to relinquish my cell phone before leaving Florida. Besides, a cell phone would be a liability; something to worry about dropping and something that could be a tracking device with or without the GPS feature. I wanted time to clear my head and re-order my Pandora’s Box. I knew I was forbidden to leave the penthouse without Pisciotta and Noverto. I’d be leaving without them. I’d be back by morning.  I knew I’d face some chastising from an angry husband and from Mr. Bautista but I decided the cost/benefit ratio was worth it. As his new wife, Andy was going to have to get used to me being independent, doing whatever I want, and never asking permission for anything.  I am nothing like the subservient Sophia; the basis for her using me as her unique punishment idea.
Being the determined woman that I am, and a rock and ice climber and a caver in college, I decided that I could leave the balcony without using the door. I leaned over the side of the balcony and looked in all directions to survey the available choices for an exit. Then I opened the little door under the hot tub that housed the controls and the textured metal water pipes that fed into the tub.  I saw that the water pipes were housed in a 4 foot wide vertical open space. As a caver, I was very adept at squeezing myself through tiny, dark openings and at using prusik knots. I removed two hanging plants from above the hot tub from their rope hangars and sat the plants next to the hot tub. They looked like they belonged there which would probably buy me some head-start time if anyone looked for me on the balcony. No one would think that I used the rope plant hangars as a means of “escape” through a tiny door. Alice was about to disappear down the rabbit hole.
I sat down on the balcony floor at the open tub door and wrapped the rope plant hangars into prusik knots around the metal pipes; one on each pipe. I tugged on them firmly to test them; to make sure they would grip the textured pipe. They slipped slightly but still held. When I was sure they would grip, I put my feet into the plant hangars where the pots would sit; using them as makeshift foot loops traditionally used with prusik knots and ascenders like jumars. With my feet in the makeshift foot loops, I slid forward until I was almost standing up in the loops in the vertical open space. I found the plant hangars were rather short after tying the prusik knots so I would have to endure the descent with constantly bent knees. A little discomfort was tolerable for a short descent.  After a bit of wiggling like getting into the wedding gown this morning, I was able to begin my descent into the unknown.  I closed the little door under the hot tub and waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then I began alternating between the left and the right prusik knots while dropping into the darkness.  I could see light below but it was not strong enough to emit up the shaft so I could see what I was doing.
Sweat started forming on my legs, hands and forehead. I felt sweat trickle under each of my breasts. Using prusik knots is quite physically taxing. I took my time but didn’t teary. I was getting closer to the light source. Ten minutes or so later my left foot landed on metal grating.  I estimated that I dropped 6 floors on the prusik knots. I sat down and extracted my feet from the ropes and then untied the prusik knots from the water pipes. I did not want to leave behind the hangars because I might need them again.  For no particular rhyme or reason, I decided to follow the metal grate catwalk to the right.  After a couple of angular turns, I walked down a few steps that put me into a small area with a concrete floor.  I saw a heavy metal door. I tried the knob. It turned so I opened it and looked both ways. I saw a door to the right at the end of the hall that had an exit sign over it.
Using the stairs to descend the remaining16 floors would be much easier than using prusik knots. I thought about taking the elevator but that could be risky since many of the wedding guests were staying in the hotel. I was also wearing a Penn State t-shirt. I’d stick out in a crowd. Taking the elevator would increase the chances of someone seeing me. I continued down the stairs until they ended at the ground floor.  I had no choice but to step into the large lobby of the hotel where someone or something might see me.  I was aware of the security cameras in the hotel lobby.  I started across the lobby while carrying the rope plant hangars to the doors on the other side that led to the underground parking garage.  After a few steps, I saw Sophia getting off the elevator so I turned around quickly and entered the ladies’ room next to the stairwell door. 
I ran into one of the stalls and closed the door just in time as the ladies’ room door opened.  I stood on the rim of the toilet seat and peaked over the top of the stalls.  I saw Sophia standing at the mirror; she didn’t see me. The mirror reflected a wall with a window instead of the row of bathroom stalls. She put her purse on the counter and pulled out a compact, lipstick and cell phone.  She scrolled through the numbers and then dialed one.  She started talking, “Hi, it’s me. Do you want to get some lunch?”
In response to the person she was talking to, Sophia responded with, “Yes, I’m glad it is over. It was a nice ceremony. Alexis looked beautiful. Andy even looked good but now he will finally get what he deserves from her.  She’s a strong woman and will rip his ass apart.  She isn’t scared of him like I am.”  I thought to myself, “Is there a reason I should be scared of him? Is there something I don’t know about him that I should?”
The other person spoke again. Then she said, “Actually, from the little time I’ve spent with her, I like her.  Now that I have met her, I kind of feel bad for forcing her to marry him.  I changed her life. I don’t have that right. I chose her life partner; she didn’t. This would have been easier if I hated her.” At least I learned how she truly felt about me; not that it mattered to me one way or the other.
“Yeah, I know that she will be taken care of very well. That makes me feel a little better about my decision, but I do feel guilty for messing with her life. I don’t give a damn about what I’ve done to Andy’s. He’s a fucking ass with no conscience and no regard for anyone but himself.  It won’t be long until he fucks up and she rips his ass apart. I wouldn’t want to see how much of a bitch she can be. She wasn’t intimidated by Daddy. She even put him in check a few times, if you can believe it!”  She was right about my propensity for bitchiness. I already ripped Andy’s ass apart before taking my leave to the balcony. Was I that transparent and predictable?
“Andy doesn’t allow anyone to have control or power over him by not letting himself care about what others think of him. But he actually seems to genuinely care about her and what she thinks of him. I think he does love her. I know he never loved me, not like he does her. Maybe now he’ll know how it feels to have his own love cut into him like a knife when she treats him like shit. I think she may love him too. She beams when she’s with him.” I hadn’t realized that I beamed when I was with Andy.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about this assessment. Perhaps she actually did see something I didn’t. Or perhaps she was sadly mistaken. As always, I denied any possibility that I was subject to human emotions and reactions.
After she listened to the other person for a minute, Sophia said, “Would you mind if Alexis came to lunch with us today?  I want to introduce her to my friends since she will probably be a part of my life.”  Then, “Thank you. I will see if she wants to join us.  I will meet you in 15 minutes in the lobby. Then we can decide where we want to go for lunch.” There was a pause, then “Ok, bye.”  I was flattered that she wanted to invite me to lunch. Had I still been on the balcony, I would have accepted her invitation primarily because I enjoyed her company, and because I knew it would piss off Andy.  I realized that it’s not good policy to make decisions just for vindictive reasons, especially against my new husband.
Andy was sitting in the armchair watching TV in our suite waiting for his new wife to get the bug out of her ass when his cell phone rang. The caller ID showed Sophia.  He answered, “What do you need, Sophia?”
“I see your new marriage and new wife haven’t improved your mood and disposition. What’s the problem? She didn’t lay you yet or hasn’t laid you enough? Is the honeymoon over already?”
“My sex life and when or if I get fucked are none of your business. It never has been. Stop whining. You called me so you must want something. What do you want?”
“I want to ask Alexis to lunch.” Her lack of reaction to his unkind words showed me that Sophia was used to Andy’s lack of common decency, but I was still wondering why she was scared of him. 
“She’s on the balcony. Just a minute.”  Andy walked through the heavy door by the bed and down the hallway to the glass door while holding the phone to his ear but not speaking.  He opened the glass door expecting to see me in the hot tub or sitting in one of the chairs.  He looked in the hot tub to see if I was under the water or floating in it. He saw my gown on the chair and my g-string displayed on the table. As he picked up my g-string, he noticed my rings tied to it. Then my disappearance hit him. His jaw dropped and his eyes widened as he realized that his new wife was gone. But how?  Where could she have gone? This is the 22nd floor! How could she just disappear? His mind tried desperately to make sense of how she left, and why, for that matter; cognitive dissonance at its best. Then his jaw clenched and his anger grew. He stuffed the g-string with my rings in his pants’ pocket and then went back through the glass door as if a man on a mission looking for his wife, but he would settle for his binoculars first.
Then I heard Sophia echo Andy’s words by saying, “Oh, she’s asleep? Well, don’t wake her. Tell her I’ll see her later before the celebration tonight. Bye.” Obviously Andy lied to Sophia because I was standing on a toilet and not asleep on the balcony.  I could only imagine Andy’s reaction when he found my g-string with my rings and when he realized I wasn’t on the balcony. I’m sure my absence further fueled his unhappiness that started with me leaving our embrace on the bed, compounded with Sophia’s inquiry about his sex life.
Sophia powdered her face, put on her lipstick and then put all the items back in her purse. She left the ladies’ room. After this close call, Sophia waiting in the lobby, and now Andy on a mission to find me, I decided the lobby was not safe to cross. The bathroom window was my only viable option. I was on the ground floor so it would be an easy drop to the ground outside the window. I’d be out into the city in only a few minutes.  I tried to pull up on the window but it wouldn’t move. I realized that the window was European-style.  It either tilted inward at the top or it swung open from the side. I swung the window open and removed the window screen.  I placed the screen outside against the wall to the left. I ran back into the stall I just came out of and ripped the empty toilet paper roll from the dispenser. I threw the plant hangars and roll through the window.  I put one leg out and then the other. I never learned to vault like men do. I envied them for this innate ability.  I turned and pulled the window closed but could not latch it from the outside. I put the empty toilet paper roll between the window and the frame so that the tension would hold the window shut. After I put the screen back into the window, I turned around and realized that I was on top of an entrance to the underground parking garage. There was nowhere to go besides back into the hotel or to go over the side of the parking garage roof.  Perhaps the rope plant hangars would come in handy again.
Re-entering the building was not an option. I also realized that I needed to take my leave of the hotel post-haste because Andy would be looking for me. His mood would be quite less than pleasant.  I didn’t want to experience the reason Sophia was scared of Andy, or his self-proclaimed notion of I can be a real prick and asshole. It would probably just be a one-man search mission anyway since he would not want to alert anyone just yet. He wouldn’t want anyone to know I was ever missing. I walked to the southern edge and looked over to see an entrance to the parking garage.  Too many people, cars and hard pavement here so I checked the western edge. Looking down, I saw no people but plenty of grass, hedges and shrubs outside of the open first floor; a potentially semi-soft landing zone. I also noticed that the parking garage was constructed with concrete pylons at set intervals except for near where I was standing. Here, there was an expansion seam so there were two pylons close together; about four feet apart.  I leaned over the side to look for hand holds or for an anchor to attach the hangars to, but to no avail. If I could make it to the top of the pylons, I could chimney, a climbing technique, to the ground.
As I stepped back from the edge in frustration, my heel stepped on a small metal protrusion in the gravel roof top.  I picked up the two hangars and looped one through the other.  I clove-hitched the connected hangars around the metal peg in the gravel so it wouldn’t slip off when it was pulled tight.  I threw the rest over the edge to see how far it reached.  It was about four feet too short but it was still useful nonetheless because with my arms extended, I’m over 6 feet tall. Theoretically I had two feet to spare.  I used the hangars like a rope ladder.  I sat down on the edge and put my right foot in the hangar like I did earlier.  I turned my right foot so that the inside of my ankle was vertically against the concrete roof side.  I dug into the gravel near the edge to find the concrete lip.  With my right foot sideways against the concrete, I put my weight on the hangar and stood up in it with my palms flat on the gravel.  My weight caused the hangars to stretch another foot or so. Once stabilized, I grabbed the concrete lip while I bent my right knee so I could put my left foot below the right foot in the hangar.  Unbeknownst to me, as I was about to dip below the edge of the parking garage roof, Andy saw me through his binoculars.  He focused them squarely on my face, mumbled You bitch!, and wondered how I could be hanging off the side of the parking garage roof. He had a good idea how when he noticed the rigging I had set up. His jaw clenched again. He turned from the balcony wall and ran down the short hallway into our suite.  He grabbed his cell phone, wallet and revolver from his shaving kit. He left our suite.  No one was in the large penthouse room when he passed through it and waited for the elevator to come. The doors opened. He got in, put his fob-style key in the slot and pressed G1. 
         Now completely vertical against the side of the parking garage roof, I moved my right foot below my left. There was no remaining rope ladder.  From here I would have to be creative. I reached down to the bottom of the first rope hangar and grabbed the available strands with each hand, pulled up with my biceps and took both feet out of the rope hangar at the same time. My arms stretched straight as I swung slightly against the concrete. It was similar to being raked across a cheese grater. A few brush burns appeared on my knees and elbows. With my feet dangling free, my hands descended down the rope ladder until they were at the very bottom. I was grateful that I left my rings behind so I wouldn’t accidently lose a finger.  Jewelry can be hazardous. I was able to touch the right column with my right foot which helped me swivel at the hips and turn myself enough to put my left foot next to the right.  I let go of the rope ladder with my right hand so I could face the right column but I still held on with only my left hand. I pressed my back against the left column making an L with my body. Once comfortable, I let go of the rope hangars leaving them behind.  I started back-peddling as I walked down the right column with my feet while sliding my back against the left column. 
         I was about 12 feet from the ground when my back slid over a metal shard protruding from a vertical seam in the pylon. It ripped my shirt and dug into my flesh near my left shoulder blade as gravity forced my body over it toward the ground.  I heard myself exclaim “Oh shit!” as the pain caused me to drop my feet. I fell to the ground, rolled over several times and stopped next to the hedges. As I was laying on my back with pain pulsating from the laceration, I saw a blood trail on the pylon that stopped about eight feet above the ground. I said to myself, “Yep, this one will leave a scar”. I was still on my back taking personal physical inventory when I heard the sound of a cocking hammer and I felt the cold iron of a revolver’s barrel pressed against my temple. Again, but quietly I said “Oh shit.” 
“That’s not proper language for a lady, but you are no lady, are you? Why are you always on your back and married when I see you?” I recognized the scent of his cologne, his deep voice and his foreign-accented fluent English. Again, like with Andy, part of my past was here in my present which was going to alter my future. I wasn’t sure which was the lesser evil; this central Asian-Russian man with a gun or the Irish-Italian American man with a gun.
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