Spirit of the Coral Castle

(Unearthed in a long-distance conversation with Rebecca)

(from p. 200 of the novel)

     "My biography project on Dr. Peterson is over half-done," I told Rebecca. "Guess I've earned an honest ten thousand dollars so far. But to be perfectly honest, this whole Pete Peterson thing is making me sick."
     "Why?" Rebecca asked.
     How could I tell her without getting into my theory that he was murdered?
     "It's his goofiness that's the real problem. It's wearing off on me."
     I told her about Pete's goofy call-ins to the radio talk shows, about his goofy appearances on the local TV news and about his quixotic letters to the editor. I told her how he had pissed off physicians at the medical center, had pissed off the dean, and had been getting ready to make trouble for the meat-packing industry. I finished by telling her that he was a crackpot loner with delusions of grandeur.

     Rebecca laughed. "He's something like the man who built the Coral Castle . . . and had a crazy theory on electricity and magnetism."
     Rebecca's comparison was so brilliant that it left me wordless.
     "You remember when we visited the Coral Castle, don't you, Ben?"
     "Yes. And your comparison is right-on."

Visit the Coral Castle

     Yes, I remembered Coral Castle, down in Homestead where U.S. Highway One leaves the mainland to jump along the Florida Keys. The Castle is a walled enclosure formed by 4x4x7 foot coral blocks stacked maybe 15 feet high, built single-handedly by a man named Ed Leedskalnin. He had quarried the enormous blocks from coral bedrock. He had hoisted them with the help of cables, pulleys, and I-beam tripods that he had grubbed together from junkyards. He'd called it the Eighth Wonder of the World.
     He died there as an old eccentric some time in the 1950s.