Jan 21, 2009


* When last we visited with the good Doctor, he had begun ranting and raving about "discipline" from the 20th floor balcony of his Houston Hyatt Regency hotel.

Nobody down in the lobby seemed to catch that one, although I sensed the first stirrings of action on the balconies just below me. It was almost time for the Free Breakfast in the Imperial Ballroom downstairs, and some of the early-rising sportswriters seemed to be up and about. Somewhere behind me a phone was ringing, but I paid no attention.It was time, I felt, to bring it all together... my voice was giving out, but despite the occasional dead spots and bursts of high-pitched wavering, I grasped the railing of the balcony and got braced for some flat-out raving:
"Revelations, Twenty-fifteen!" I screamed. "Say Hallelujah! Yes! Say Hallelujah!"
People were definitely responding now. I could hear their voices, full of excitement - but the acoustics of the place made it impossible to get a good fix on the cries that were bounding back and forth across the lobby. Were they saying "Hallelujah"?
"Four more years!" I shouted. "My friend General Haig has told us that the Forces of Darkness are now in control of the Nation - and they will rule for four more years!" I paused to sip my drink, then I hit it again: "And Al Davis has told us that whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire!"
I reached around behind me with my free hand, slapping at a spot between my shoulder blades to slow the thing down.
"How many of you will be cast into a lake of fire in the next four years? How many will survive? I have spoken with general Haig, and - "
At this point I was seized by both arms and jerked backwards, spilling my drink and interrupting the climax of my sermon. "You crazy bastard!" a voice screamed. "Look what you've done! The manager just called. Get back in the room and lock the fucking door! He's going to bust us!"
It was the TV man from Pittsburgh, trying to drag me back from my pulpit. I slipped out of his grasp and returned to the balcony. "This is Super Sunday!" I screamed. "I want everyone of you worthless bastards down in the lobby in ten minutes so we can praise God and sing the national anthem!"
At this point I noticed the TV man sprinting down the hall towards the elevators, and the sight of him running caused something to snap in my brain. "There he goes!" I shouted. "He's headed for the lobby! Watch out! It's Al Davis. He has a knife!"
I could see people moving on all the balconies now, and also down in the lobby. Then, just before I ducked back in my room, I saw one of the glass-walled elevators starting down, with a single figure inside it. . . he was the most visible man in the building; a trapped and crazy animal descending slowly - in full view of everybody from the busboys in the ground-floor coffee shop to Jimmy the Greek on the balcony above me - to certain captivity by that ugly crowd at the bottom.
I watched for a moment, then hung the DO NOT DISTURB sign on my doorknob and double-locked the door. That elevator, I knew, would be empty when it got to the lobby. There were at least five floors, on the way down, where he could jump out and bang on a friendly door for safe refuge . . . and the crowd in the lobby had not seen him clearly enough, through the tinted-glass wall of the elevator, to recognize him later on.
And there was not much time for vengeance, anyway, on the odd chance that anyone cared.

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