The Land of Ghosts

1971.  California.  A California still coming to grips with Vietnam protests and a hippie commune out in the desert that decided to show society a thing or two about evil, free will and the Beatles.

May 19.  Yuba City.  Sutter County.  10 years earlier a plane carrying nuclear weapons crash landed there.  The nuclear bombs didn't detonate, but the city knows tragedy.  The city wasn't prepared for this, however.

Just outside of Yuba City, police made a startling discovery in an orchard.  It's a man.  Freshly raped and killed.  Seven days later, Juan Corona was arrested.  Because he was sloppy, this serial killer, rapist, employer and all-around eager beaver was eventually tied to 25 male bodies.  Corona, male rapist and serial killer, had survived the December 1955 flood of the Yuba River.  He believed everyone had died and that he was living in a land full of ghosts.

Maybe he was.  Maybe he was living in a Ghost World, and his actions -- the rape and the murders -- would have no consequences.  You can't kill a ghost.

Horace Walpole once said, "The world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel."  Truer words have never been spoken.  What was the world to someone who thought he was living among ghosts?  Obviously a slaughterhouse.  A killing field.  A playground of sex and murderous delights.

The body the police found on May 19 was in a shallow grave.  The man they found had been raped and had his head split open with a machete.  He wasn't the last they found like that.  Corona used his employees for sadistic sexual purposes.  Not the most obscene thing a boss has ever done, and it goes with the title, but Corona, a man no stranger to shock treatment therapies, had such little regard for his victims that he didn't care if he buried evidence with them.  They were drifters, alcoholics, nomads.  Nobody would miss them.  Nobody would care.  Use them and cut them.  Split them open.  Bury them.  Move on to the next one.  Corona's half-brother was even accused of sexually assaulting and beating a man.  Apple.  Tree.

Corona's ruled supreme in his land of ghosts.  He dug his graves on the farms a day or so ahead of time, picked a name in his book, entered the man's body with his penis and then with the surrogate penis of the knife or machete.  He was putting those ghosts to rest, but only after tormenting them the way he felt tormented.  Two cuts across the back of their heads in a cross formation.  Best to keep them ghosts down.  Bury them shallow.  May want to revisit later.  May want to return to make sure they stayed down.  Make sure they stayed ghosts.

Masturbate to memories.  Pick another from the group.  Take a liking to him.  Use him.  Use him again.  Dig that grave.  Early morning hours.  Before the sun gets too hot.  Look at that empty hole.  Imagine it full.  Rub.  That erection feels good.  Imagine entering the body.  Imagine the grunts.  Unzip.  Masturbate into the hole.  Imagine ejaculating into another.  Zip back up.  Throw the shovel in the back of the truck.  Drive.  Nod at the passing drivers.  Ghosts.  All of them.  Turn on the radio.  AOR drowns out the sounds.  Talk to your ghost.  Tell him you need need to see him.  You've got a job for him.  He looks worried.  He knows what you've done in the past.  He's still sore.  Drive out there a day later.  No one talks in the truck.  The radio guides you.  Does he try to run?  Does he try to fight?  Have you broken him enough?  The rape is quick.  It's always quick.  Not because you are afraid of getting caught.  No.  You are excited.  Pull out.  It always hurts a bit when you do that.  Stab.  Hack.  Grab the shovel.  Fill in the hole.  Tamp it down with the flat side of the shovel.  You can smell his alcohol sweat on your clothes.  It's like perfume.  In the days to come, while masturbating in your bed, you'll see his eyes, how they open wide when he knows.  How they tear up.  How the pupils are so small in the light.  You'll smell his breath.  Did you try to kiss him, or was he just a hole?

25 life sentences.  25 known victims.  Corona is still alive, at least as far as I know.  He's spending his days in Corcoran, minus his left eye.  Fellow inmates don't take too kindly to being bumped into.  He's approaching 80 years old.  I imagine the sex is still violent.  I don't imagine he's burying them anymore, but he's sure as hell living with the ghosts.

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