April 15, 2010


Daniel Keyes’ FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON: the story has stayed with me for decades, a symbol for both the overwhelming possibilities of the human intellect and the overwhelming impossibilities faced by a profoundly challenged human mind. I’ve started and stopped this novel a half a dozen times in eleven years. I want to bring the original idea into the present millennium. To read RECONSTRUCTION from beginning to here, click on the label to the right and scroll to the bottom.

The door slammed behind him as he sprinted for the garage and grabbed his bike.

Disgusted, he wiped away the tears that sprang up in his eyes. He didn’t have time to cry now! He didn’t have time to be “sensitive” – which is what the girls at school called it. They said that’s why they wanted to date him. That’s why Mom always said, “Not yet. Your heart’s too young.”

He wished Job Doe, his best friend, was around. He wasn’t sensitive or any other crap like that! He was a real guy, even though he came from Liberia! But CJ didn’t have time to go over to Job’s house. He didn’t have time for Job to argue with his parents. And they’d invite him over for supper and then cook it while he was waiting, sitting in the living room…

This was life or death and he was gonna have to take care of Mai Li himself. Mom wasn’t gonna be any help now. He rubbed at his eyes with the back of his wrist. It was really, really dark out, and what he hadn’t told Mom was that it was supposed to rain tonight.

No time to wait, though. No time at all.

Ever since they were little, CJ had known stuff about Mai Li. Knew when she was going to cry. Knew when she was going to get sick.

Right now, he knew that she was heading into trouble.

No…not trouble…he knew that in some way, her life was going to be in danger. He pedaled hard, the googlemap clear in his head. It’s why he was great at math – he could remember formulas and equations and could do them in his head. It also didn’t explain why he sucked at reading and couldn’t read a word out loud without slobbering all over himself with mistakes.

He turned on to the divided highway heading west, past the college and into Sugarmaple Grove, a city with lots of money. He wished they lived there…

No time for that now. He had to save Mai Li. She needed him.

He snorted and tears sprang to his eyes again. She didn’t need him. She didn’t need anybody anymore. He scanned the streets, blinking hard. There was no way Mai Li was going to be hanging around now. She’d gone three hours ago. But he knew her – at least he USED to know her – as good as he knew himself. Sure, she’d probably been born with terrible brain damage. If the Neisen’s hadn’t been at the refugee camp to take her, she’d have been thrown out with the garbage.

But she had a brain that worked still. She had moods. She figured out problems all the time. She knew him.

The Neisen’s were about five miles from home. He figured he’d gone a mile already. He pedaled hard past the community college. He looked over at the parking lot just as the first sprinkles of rain started to fall.

A totally hot classic, 2009 BDY F3DM hummed in the parking lot. A rear door popped open, a woman screamed. A body tumbled out as the car snarled away, the owner having rigged the underside to fire off static electricity bolts when he floored the accelerator.

He knew the scream instantly. From one side of the divided highway, he nearly hit the divider but jumped it then jumped the following curb and flew through the parking lot until he slammed his brakes on at the head of the body.

As the rain began in earnest, pouring around him, Mai Li rolled on to her back, looked up at him and burst into tears.

Dropping his bike and pulling out his cellphone, he did the same as he called the police.


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