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J.A. Aarntzen

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My Name is Space
By J.A. Aarntzen
Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Recent stories by J.A. Aarntzen
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           >> View all 143


This is a tale of a man trying to make sense out of his life in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.

My Name is Space

 
 
 
My name is Space and onto these pages I set down my brief story. I would have a professional writer do this for me but I am afraid that I do not know any and unable to procure their services if I did.
 
I need to start with an explanation of my name. It is not normal, I will be the first to agree. It sounds like something concocted by some science fiction writer or some advertising agency. But I assure you that it was not designed by anybody of either of these vocations. My grandfather was Italian and bore the name Spacelli, Vincenzo Spacelli. He immigrated to Toronto back in the early 1920’s to avoid Mussolini’s Fascists who had taken an interest in the profits of his bakery in his native Tuscany.  When my grandfather arrived in Toronto, it did not take him long to integrate himself into the Italian community there where he was soon set up with enough money to open a bakery in Scarborough. This tight-knit ethnic community did many things to ensure my grandfather would prosper including providing him with a wife – a woman of Sicilian extraction although she was born in Dorval, Quebec.
 
Through this marriage, my grandfather sired nine children, six girls and three boys. My father Michael was the seventh in this line and the youngest son and as he came of age in the l950’s all the interest in the bakery had fallen into the hands of his two older brothers and two of his brothers-in-law. There was nothing there for him to claim and he had to seek his fortune elsewhere. He came into the employ of an automotive plant that manufactured headlights for the car assembly plants in the nearby city of Oshawa where he moved two years later. There he picked up the nickname Space, a shortened version of Spacelli, from his union brothers. It was a name that he liked and soon legally adopted as his own. He told me years later that he had done so as an act of spite towards his older brothers who were unwilling to share in the family business with him.
 
He met my mother at a dance at the Jubilee Pavilion in Oshawa. She was not an Italian. She was a first generation Canadian. Her heritage was traced back to the Ukraine where she had lost most of her family to the famine brought on by Stalin when he was on one of his pillaging campaigns. Her parents, my other set of grandparents, managed to survive the suffering and somehow they along with their two children which included my mother found their way to the Black Sea where they were lucky enough to gain passage on a cargo vessel bound for Liverpool, England. It was not long after that they too were bound for Toronto and a new life in a new country. Sadly, when hostilities broke out in the old world in 1939, my grandfather on my mother’s side was conscripted into the Canadian army and he went overseas and died in action in southern Italy in 1943. This completed my Italian connection.
 
My mother grew up not knowing her natural father. Her mother had remarried in 1946 and moved to Oshawa where her new husband, a man by the name of Gregory Hunter worked at the car factory. My mother at first refused to take this man’s last name and insisted that her name remain Flazinski even though all her paperwork had been changed and showed her to be Elizabeth Hunter. In time my mother came to accept the Hunter name and it was by Hunter that she met Mike Space at the Jubilee Pavilion. Despite my mother being several years older than my father, they hit it off instantly and just about nine months after meeting at the dance, I was born. By then my parents were married as my father did the honourable thing as determined by the standard back then and wed the single woman that he had placed in the family way. Interesting enough my mother chose to be known as Elizabeth Flazinski-Space, a name that my father never favoured but never sought to crush either.
 
As a side note, it was through his stepfather-in-law, Gregory Hunter, that my father Mike Space became employed by the car factory – a place that he remained for over thirty years until his retirement in 1986.
 
Within five years after I was born, there came three more children – Lisa, Mary and my brother Ricky. By the way, I forgot to properly introduce myself. My name is John or Johnny. Hardly anybody knows me by that name. They all just call me Space, you might have heard of me.
 
Collectively the four of us children were called the Space Cadets by the other kids at school. School was a Roman Catholic one in Oshawa. It was a tough place where lower income children were grouped together and made to fight it out in a community that placed a strong emphasis on working class values. If you weren’t tough then you would face a daily debilitating struggle trying to prove yourself. Having the name Space made it especially tough on me and my siblings. We were subjected to all manner of insults and cheap attempts at puns upon our last name. 
 
But it was also the 1960’s – the decade of the Space Race. Everybody was interested in whether it would be the Russians or the Americans that would be first in landing a manned spacecraft on the Moon. Everybody but me. You would think that with the name Space I would be more keen on this subject than anybody else. But the fact was that I wasn’t. It just never connected to me. Maybe it was because I knew I could never be an astronaut. You had to do well in the sciences to ever hope to get there and the sciences were something that I just could never get a handle upon.
 
So what did interest me? I really can’t say. It wasn’t academia. It wasn’t the arts. Sex, drugs and rock and roll really meant nothing to me. It wasn’t the anti-war movement. It wasn’t even sports. I honestly don’t know what motivated me back in that decade where everybody was supposed to have a heightened sense of community and love for one another.
 
The one thing that does stand out in my mind in the Sixties was my addiction to television and in particular the Westerns. I loved them all and had a wish that I had been born a hundred years earlier and lived in one of those wild towns like Dodge. My dad also loved these shows and when he saw my interest in them, he arranged for me to have riding lessons at a stable just north of the city. When I went there however I quickly learned that I was scared of horses. It was one thing to see them on TV but to approach one in real life and to see how big these animals actually are is something else. Needless to say that this did not go over well with my dad. He was ashamed of my lack of backbone.
 
After that things between my father and me were never quite the same. I had somehow lost a degree of manhood in his eyes and he never truly put in an effort afterwards to teach me the practical things that I needed to make myself sustainable in a modern do-it-yourself culture. I am referring to learning how to use tools properly; how to fix a car; how to lay down tile; how to reseal a driveway; and so on. All these things he neglected to teach me yet he invested a lot of time teaching my brother Rick and even my sister Lisa who seemed to have a great interest in these things. I was left to be a dreamer and a burden upon my family.
 
As the Sixties turned into the Seventies, I still drifted. I cannot say that I was actively searching for meaning and direction in my life. I was not looking for that one great thing that I excelled at. I just lived each day as it came along and as it passed into oblivion, I just moved along to the next. I had no goals. I simply just existed.
 
Of course I was getting older and I was wearing out my welcome in the home of Mike and Elizabeth Space. It especially irked my father. Even though he was not a Protestant that work ethic that that faith had created was deeply ingrained in him. When I dropped out of high school he was very instrumental in landing me my first job at the car factory. It was on the motor line of the truck plant. This proved to be a disaster as my mechanical ineptitude and lack of manual dexterity quickly led to my dismissal. I was just not cut out to do this sort of thing. My poor father took a lot of riding from his cohorts about the pansy that he had brought up. It also undermined his credibility with management. They would never hire anybody that my dad recommended ever again. This included my brother Ricky and sister Lisa. Both never received summer employment at the factory while attending university the rest of the year. Both never were hired by the company after graduation even though they both had MBAs.
 
After my fiasco on the motor line, I became loathe about the prospect of landing any kind of employment in any kind of setting. I was no good for the office. I was no good for the plant. I possessed none of the skills that these environments were seeking and it was only these environments that existed in the city of Oshawa. If I wanted work I would have to go elsewhere. I just did not know what kind of work I wanted or what kind of work that I could do. Neither did I know where I would go.
 
The city of Toronto had its attractions and its allurements. It was close by – just a half an hour down the highway from Oshawa. A lot of people in Oshawa did make Toronto their playground and admittedly now and then I did so as well but not to the extent of most others. It cost money to go there and I just did not have any. My dad gave me no extra cash. He said that free room and board was my allowance. The only coin that he would give me was for bus fare to go downtown and check the listings at the Unemployment Office. I was expected to do this on a daily basis.
 
I quickly learned that going there was a waste of time. Hardly any new jobs ever came up and the ones that were posted were always the same ones that I could never do. They were either housekeeping or some skilled trade that was beyond anything that I could ever hope to accomplish. Soon, I stopped going to this government office and instead would spend a few hours over at the mall where I would meet with other friends in the same boat as me and do nothing other than watch people walk by.
 
They were rather idyllic times for me. My life was relatively carefree even though I was unemployed and had no future ahead of me. Just to sit back and watch life take place in front of me gave me a kind of fulfillment that I did not have before or would ever have again.
 
The only problem was my dad was looking to bring it all to an end. I can’t really say that I blame him. He was financing the whole thing after all. Every night he would ask me what I did about finding a job that day and every night I would give him the same answer. He was growing tired of hearing the same thing. He would occasionally bring up instances where he heard of other people getting jobs in the vicinity and that these were jobs that I was fully qualified to perform. He just could not understand why I was not getting any of these. I would always answer that these jobs were not posted at the unemployment office even though I had no way to verify my claim. He would always reply that they had to have been posted somewhere and that I should be trying to stay on top of opportunities no matter where they show up.
 
Finally his patience had come to an end. After once more going through our nightly ritual, he exploded. He told me that I was lying and that I had not gone to the unemployment office. When I countered saying that I did he asked me exactly what jobs were posted there. I started bumbling but still managed to produce a likely list of positions that always seemed to be on the boards. Then he asked me specifically if there was anything there about tobacco pickers. Were there any tobacco picking positions listed on the board? I thought about it. It was only mid-May. Tobacco was usually picked later in the summer so my response was ‘no’. This was when he blew his top. He said that such a listing was posted at the Unemployment Office. He had gone there himself during his noon-hour and saw the post. They were looking for thirty people to pick tobacco starting mid-July. How was it that I missed this post, he asked. The ad was prominently displayed and not tucked in some obscure little corner of the office. He wanted my answer. I did not know what to say. He had me. I was caught in a lie. I was expecting to be thrown out of the house then and there.
 
And then he surprised me. He had acted on my behalf and submitted my application for the job. Moreover than that he saw to it that I actually got the job. He told me that the tobacco farm had called a few hours ago and that I would be starting with them come July 14th
 
Instead of being thankful I was outraged. How dare he act on my behalf! There was no way that I was going to pick tobacco. I had friends that had done that before and they all testified that it was a back-breaking job. I did little to keep my temper in check and I blasted him with a fierce burst of ill-chosen and excessively nasty words before I stormed out of the house. The last thing that I heard him say to me was not to come back.
 
When I stood at the end of the driveway, I paused for a moment and looked back at the house. Somehow I knew at that moment that I would never be returning. I had turned a page in my life and what was on the other side of that page I had no way of knowing as I stood there. Then without thinking any more of it, I started down the street. I had no idea where I was going except that I was going.
 
That entire summer I just kept going. I had become a drifter – my means of transportation was my thumb. Within a week I found myself on the West Coast in one of Vancouver’s more rundown districts. I chanced upon a few acquaintances that I had known back in Ontario. I spent some time with them but I could not abide their lifestyles. They were hippies with their concomitant long hair and liberal attitudes towards sex and drugs. Although I did not condemn their choices I still could not adopt them as mine. I was still waiting for my calling although I had no idea what this calling would be.
 
Towards the end of August, I somehow ended up in a community of what was termed Jesus freaks. These people made Christ their drug of choice. My religious convictions had never been entirely cemented to any one dogma despite my strict Roman Catholic upbringing. I never ventured to any non-Christian sets of belief and I never strayed from the notion that the universe that I lived in was overseen by Jesus and his father. But the Christianity that I knew from Sunday church and catechism at school varied vastly from what these people practiced. Their eyes were Jesus-coated and they could not see anything without it being filtered through the Lord. To me they had taken one step away from reality and as much as I loved Jesus and wanted to be in his kingdom after my days were over I just could not dive head first into their lifestyle and I soon parted company with them. 
 
Somehow or other within the month I found myself in L.A. I do not know what drew me here. I had no Hollywood dreams or any desire to be a part of the West Coast scene. Perhaps it was just a need to stay warm and dry that brought me to Southern California. Warm and dry I stayed but I also became high and dry. I had gone through all the money that I had and was now forced to panhandle. I soon discovered that this was a surprisingly lucrative venture. It meant swallowing your pride and exposing yourself to the occasional tirade from righteous lots but it did reap benefit. I could well imagine what my father would have thought of me had he seen me begging at street corners. Yet, I did not have to worry about that as he would never come here. I was among strangers who did not know or care for me but the odd one would stoop to pity and toss me a few coins. This added up and by the end of the day I would have enough money to buy myself a decent meal before going off to one of the many shelters that were offered to the homeless of Los Angeles.
 
I did not really want to stay here but I really did not want to go either. I had found something that worked and I was not about to give up upon it. Soon a Christmas atmosphere had taken over the city. Even though there was no snow I sensed that the spirit of the season had overtaken most residents. It revealed itself in an increased generosity towards me and my fellow panhandlers. And it was during this season that I met my first celebrity – a standup comic who regularly appeared on late-night television. 
 
I had no idea who she was as she walked by me with her entourage which included a film crew for a cable special that she was doing. I surmised that she was the leader of this group by the way that the others followed her. To me she looked like someone who had money and one that would gladly part with some of it to help out those down in luck. When I approached her I was quickly surrounded by her bodyguards. They were muscling me away from her when she called them off and asked me what I wanted. I simply asked if she could spare a few bucks. She responded by asking me if I knew who she was. I did not know and answered frankly. She took my ignorance in stride even after she identified herself and I still showed no recognition of her name.  The two cameras were pointed at me and I realized that I was being filmed. My first thoughts were that my father was going to discover me after all. And then she asked me my story. I started my response with, “My name is Space,” and that is when my life changed forever. My celebrity had begun even though I was not aware of it.
 
It was not for another three months before this incident had ramifications in my life. By then I had moved away from Los Angeles and had trekked back east to New York City where I resumed my career in panhandling. At first, I was just one of many beggars plying our trade in the Broadway district. But then one day people started recognizing me and asking me if I was the person on TV. My early responses were to deny that I was. These were honest replies as I was unaware of the forces that were moving behind the scene.
 
It was not until I learned that the comic’s special had aired and that a segment of it featured me that I realized that I had attained a degree of notoriety. Moreover when word got out that I was now in New York did I notice that I was being hounded by a steady entourage of strangers. Some of them even wore shirts with ‘My Name is Space’ boldly emblazoned upon them. It had become a catch phrase among the young and those that were considered hip. Apparently it spoke of being disenfranchised from society at large. It was the battle cry of the Me Generation that would soon wash away the credos and mores of the hippies and flower children and replace their social consciousness with the self-centered desires of the yuppies. 
 
Supposedly I was at the vanguard of this movement although ironically I was an unemployed vagrant and was not upwardly mobile in the least. Yet once my whereabouts were discovered it was not very long when those seeking to capitalize on my newfound fame flung themselves around me and began offering all manner of ideas and schemes on how to translate this notoriety into profit. It was not very long before my likeness was splashed onto billboards, buses and clothing. These were all unauthorized and I never saw a penny from any of the proceeds. The only thing that I agreed to do was to have a documentary made about me and the only reason that I did so was because the filmmakers were Canadian.
 
For three weeks I had a production team follow me every day as I rose from the flophouse and made my way to the theater district. They tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, blending into the background with all the people milling about on Broadway. Many were there to see me and to ask me to say my catchphrase. I was cooperative at first but I was beginning to tire of it. I did not want to be a freak show. I soon refused to say it and the people around me soured. Their numbers began to dwindle and I had come to believe that my fifteen minutes of fame had ended.
 
A year later the documentary was released at a film festival in the state of Wyoming of all places. It was picked top short-form doc by the judges and was later nominated for an Academy Award. With this recognition it began to draw in crowds. People who fell off the “Space” wagon were back on it again and I had become a phoenix in the public eye. But this time around I was not to be found panhandling in New York or any other city on the continent. I had been amassing my wealth from my begging career and now had enough money saved to buy a plane ticket for any place on the planet. For some reason I picked Japan. 
 
The night “My Name is Space” lost out to another documentary at the Oscars, I was in Tokyo meeting with a stockbroker that wanted me to buy into a little known computer company. He convinced me to procure a hundred shares at first. Then as this company’s fortunes began to take off and my shares were worth fifty times their original amount I purchased another thousand shares. Within two years this company was in the top five electronic firms of the world and I had become a millionaire several times over.
 
I moved back to the U.S. and bought a residence near San Antonio, Texas and kept an apartment in Manhattan. I had re-established contact with my parents and purchased a retirement home for them in the Florida Keys. Life was well for me and the money kept rolling in. Despite my success I still felt a failure. I had not achieved any of my goals in my life and this was because I had yet to establish any goals. Everything that had come my way had come to me through default and some good luck. I had not merited any of it. I guess my father’s Oshawa work ethic had entered me after all and was at the source of the nagging guilt that sat like a congestion at the back of my mind. I needed to do something to absolve myself of it for I found it unbearable.
 
I spoke of my demons to a colleague and he pointed out that what I needed to do was find myself a cause. It would be cathartic. It would be a payback to the community at large. His suggestion sounded like the solution to me but I could not pinpoint anything that could whoop up a rallying cry inside of me. Sure, there were issues that stirred me and that I had a strong desire to see corrected but none of these seemed to have found any path to my core. They were important but they were not my fights. I needed something that would be my fight. For five years I strove to find something that I could believe in and that I would tag my name upon and in those five years I never found anything.
 
There were a few false starts where I thought that I had finally latched upon something that was a true reflection of my inner core but I discovered that the enthusiasm that I had for these projects quickly withered and I was once again wandering in a void uncertain of what I stood for.
 
In the meantime the comic that had given me my fame and fortune became involved in a very nefarious and publicized scandal that entirely alienated her from the emerging religious right. This demonization was not just contained to her. It had drifted outward to anybody that was associated with her and unfortunately this included me. Smear campaigns were beginning to pop up everywhere and there soon were spots on television where the famous footage of me saying that my name was Space had been altered and I was now saying that my name was Satan. I had been equated with the devil and soon I was beginning to receive hate mail from right wing lunatics. They claimed that I was some sort of behind the scenes puppet master and that I was instrumental in all the woes that were besetting modern society. Companies associated with my stock portfolio were targeted for boycotts and they began to try to disassociate themselves with me. There was pressure on me to liquidate my assets. In a very quick matter of time I had become a heinous figure in the eyes of Americans and had even been called the Antichrist. 
 
I began receiving daily death threats and there were at least two attempts on my life. Both attempts involved motor vehicles. In the first incident, a crazed woman tried to run me over with her car as I crossed a street in Ocala where my parents had their winter home. She narrowly missed me before she crashed into a nearby parked vehicle. In the second attempt my car blew up after the key was turned. My chauffeur suffered serious burns in the explosion. I, myself, was not in the car. I was safe in my condominium and saw the whole thing unfurl.
 
There is no need to emphasize that I was very rattled by what was going on. My safety could no longer be guaranteed and I knew that I had to move on. I chose to leave the U.S.A. and headed south to Rio de Janeiro where the people did not know me and I could live in obscurity. But word got out to the Brazilian press that I had arrived in their country. They did not want anyone associated with the devil living in Rio or anywhere else in Brazil. I was kindly requested by the Brazilian government to leave as quickly as I could. Before I knew it I was on a plane bound for Syria, only one of a handful of nations that would have me.
 
Upon my arrival in Damascus, I was whisked off to a police station where I was questioned by Hezbollah agents. They needed to know what my designs were in Syria and what kind of ties I had with the Government of Israel. They believed that I might have been an American spy sent by the CIA to undermine the Syrians. I convinced them that I was nothing of the such and that all that I wanted to do was to obtain sanctuary from those that wanted me dead.
 
When news of my new asylum reached the U.S.A. there was a public outcry for my extradition. They wanted me back in America. There was a problem with that in that in all the time I spent in the U.S. I never obtained citizenship. On paper I was still a Canadian. The only way that the Americans could get me was to charge me with an extraditable criminal offence. They soon found one – sedition. Stories started to unfold in the U.S. that I had stolen military secrets from defense companies and had sold these secrets to the Chinese. These allegations were unfounded but there was no way that I was going back to face trial. If convicted I could be facing the death penalty. The American government demanded that I be returned but the Canadian prime minister refused to give in. The Canadians were not going to have one of their own be put to death. The Chinese, for their part, stayed out of it, neither confirming or denying that I had sold them military secrets. The U.S. did not have any extradition treaties with Syria and as long as I remained in countries holding similar policies I was safe.
 
As you are aware though if you have been following the news at all, this was not going to be. Israeli commandos in a daring nighttime raid into Damascus managed to kidnap me and several other alleged spies and steal us back to Tel Aviv.  There they made us available to the Americans and before I knew it I was in a military jail in Maryland awaiting trial. The Canadian government did protest as did most nations of the Middle East but the Americans were not letting me go. They maintained that I had undermined the security of the western world by selling information to the Chinese. They wanted me dead.
 
Despite the Canadian protests, a trial date was set and it was made very clear that the death penalty was going to be sought by the prosecution. Amnesty groups around the world were not interested in me and would not donate to my legal defense.  They figured that I was guilty and that I had enough money to look after legal expenses.  I had to rely on my own resources and I found a top-rated attorney to represent me. When he was presented with the evidence that the prosecution had on me he frankly admitted that it appeared very grim for me. I felt outraged for I had not been involved in any of this. I had not stolen anything from anybody and definitely not sold anything to what was considered an enemy state. My attorney however showed me what the State had against me and as flabbergasted as I was, I had to agree that on the surface it did appear that I had committed high treason.
 
It seemed that a company where I had invested considerable sums had gotten involved in some shady business with businessmen that turned out to be Chinese agents. Through some counter-espionage by the CIA these illegal transactions were discovered and eventually became public. I was not the only investor in this company yet I was the only one that was going to be prosecuted. I had no knowledge of these business dealings but because I had obtained some previous notoriety I was singled out to be crucified.
 
In the press I was painted as a greedy money-mongering capitalist that had no moral core. I had diabolically traded some vital state secrets for an amount of money that would have paid for a small country’s national debt. When the trial started, forensic auditors spent weeks trying to explain a complicated set of facts that was staggering to comprehend. The members of the jury clearly did not possess the acumen to even remotely understand what these auditors were trying to say yet they accepted everything that was presented to them prima facie. Even then I could see that I was in very big trouble. It took the prosecution nearly three months to unfold everything that they had in their damning dossiers. And then the case was handed over to the defense.
 
My team of legal experts quickly went on the attack with a series of counter-explanations that refuted what the prosecution had presented. I could see that some of the jury was buying into what my attorneys were saying but most of them were holding fast with what was said earlier. They had me pegged as a demon and they were not going to let me go. My only hope appeared to rest on those members of the jury that gave the impression that they were being swayed by what my lawyers were saying. If they could remain convinced that I was not guilty of the charges set down against me then I could walk away from all of this a free man. It would be a hung jury. Better for me that they hang rather than me.
 
It took a month for the defense to go through all the material that they had gathered to hopefully show that the prosecution’s case was only smoke and mirrors and that none of it applied to me. Most of it was very technical and well beyond the comprehension of the common man. It was extremely dull material as well and it was more than once that I caught yawns emanating from the jury bench. One time I actually saw a man sleeping there. He was missing vital facts that could prove my innocence.
 
There was some question whether I should take the stand. Some of my team of experts believed that it was a good idea but the majority felt that because of my ignorance of the technical detail that it would make me an easy pigeon for the prosecution in their rebuttal. In the end I never was called to the stand. I would never say anything in my defense until this paper.
 
Finally the defense rested and it came time for closing remarks. In his summation of the case, the lead prosecutor resorted to pleading towards the patriotism of the jury. He had wrapped himself in the American flag and spoke of how the reputation of this great land had been besmirched around the globe by power-hungry moguls like myself. I had painted an ugly picture of Americans to the world. The nation could redeem itself by finding me guilty and giving me the maximum penalty. This, the prosecutor said, would send out a message to all those watching that the U.S.A. does not tolerate amoral capitalists that seek profit at the expense of the nation’s integrity and moral compass. When he concluded his diatribe, I could see that the man had won over the hearts of every man and woman on that jury. It would take a miracle for my attorneys to sway them once again.
 
When my lawyer took his turn at a summation, he told them to disregard what the prosecutor said. He said that the jury must look at the facts. Every argument that the prosecution made was rebuked by the defense. He did acknowledge that some of the material was rather cerebral on the surface but when one cracks through that veneer one would see that the case was actually simple. It all boiled down to just a sales transaction between two parties, both of whom could be considered as responsible and legally capable of entering into such a contract. A fair price had been agreed upon. The goods being sold also could be deemed legal in that there were no laws in place that established conditions upon the distribution of this intellectual property.
 
I quickly gathered that what my attorney was doing was looking for a technicality or a loophole that would get me out of this. Whether the jury understood this was another matter. They all stared back at my lawyer. Their faces were blank and did not betray what was going on behind their skulls.  This did not faze my attorney. He concluded his one-hour summation by saying that it was up to the jury to carry out justice and that justice is to be extended to not only the poor but the affluent as well. It was a statement that gave a nod to the prejudice against the rich but begged that the jury should overcome this attitude if true justice was to prevail.
 
The judge gave instructions to the jury and charged them to deliberate over the facts of the case and to exclude any preconceived notions that they might have brought into the courtroom with them. His instructions coupled with my attorney’s summation gave me reason to feel hopeful that the jury had been swayed and that they would find in my favor. When the twelve peers left the room to begin their discussions I caught several of them looking back at me. I could not tell what was in their eyes. I prayed that it was compassion.
 
My attorney estimated that they would be out for some time for they had a lot of complicated material to go through. It came as a shock to see them return just two hours later with a verdict. My lawyer whispered to me that this was a good sign. Had they found me guilty they would have still been deliberating. 
 
The judge called for the foreman to read the jury’s verdict. I grew tense even though I believed that they would find me not guilty. When the foreman read his brief statement, I fell to the floor in near faint. They had found me guilty and it was their recommendation that I receive the maximum penalty. I could not believe that fate would be so cruel. Despite my physical reaction to the verdict, mentally I remained stoic and did not voice my extreme objections to it.
 
The actual sentencing took place two months later. During this interval my legal team started the appeal process, challenging what had come to pass and demanding a retrial. Although we were going through this ritual my head lawyer told me not to have much faith in it as there were no irregularities in procedure and that was what was looked at it in these kinds of proceedings.
 
It was also during this interval that the Canadian government had made an official appeal to the American government for clemency in my case. They made it very clear that they would not tolerate the death penalty. They even went so far as to say that I should fulfill any sentence given to me in the Canadian penal system.
 
When I stood before the court to listen to what the judge had determined would be my penalty for being convicted of selling state secrets to an enemy nation, I had reason to believe that I would not be put to death. The American nation and the Canadian nation were close allies for almost two hundred years. The Americans would aver to the Canadians’ pleas for mercy. Yet when my ears heard that I was to be put to death I was so far removed from reality that the words held no meaning to me. It was beyond my senses. People were not put to death in the modern world.
 
As the days and weeks passed after my sentencing the judge’s decision came in and out of my thoughts. Sometimes it would be articulate and crisp and sometimes it would be just a fuzzy recollection that was so far divorced from reality that it seemed a paranoid dream. Now, however, in a moment of clarity I realize my fate and I try to come to grips with it. On an intellectual level, I have no problem about leaving a world that never gave me the time of day or tried to succor me. I may have been rich in my latter days but I had also been poor. I ran the full gamut of socio-economic conditions and in all of them I never felt that I belonged. I should have no desire to hold onto what I have and continue into the future. The world doesn’t need me and I don’t need the world.
 
Yet, there is something in me that wishes to cling to what I have got. It wants to seek fulfillment. In my days this desire had driven me even though I could never establish the channel where I would reach my goals and apply my motivation. I had been a hunter coming home empty-handed every day of my life. I wanted meaning and only found emptiness.
 
In these pages I strove to explain my life. It was given to me and then it was taken away. In between I never could determine exactly what it was and why I had to go through the exercise. I go to my death full of regret yet full of enigma as well. If there is something after this I pray that it is something worthwhile and something tangible. 
 
They named me Space and that was all that I ever was – empty space between life’s two brackets. At one time I belonged to something but now I am being discarded. My name may live on in a catalogue of the notorious for the decades ahead but I will eventually be forgotten and then it will be like I never was and that may be a blessing for it will be the fruition of all my experiences. 
 
I thank you for taking the time to listen to me and now I bid you to forget me.

       Web Site: Storyteller on the Lake

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Reviewed by Donna Chandler 4/22/2011
A moving, well written story that fills the reader with sadness for the fate of Space.

Donna

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