I read the play version of Daniel Keyes’ FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON when I was in eighth grade. It has stayed with me for decades, a haunting 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.
Job Doe, Edison Saroyan, Trevon Frazier-Jackson, Jude Hildebrandt and Luc Castillo-Vargas – the rest of the Math Team – rushed across the cafeteria and mobbed CJ Hastings, pounding his back, punching him in the shoulder and shaking his hand. Even Sentury Millner nodded in his general direction. That was almost better than the back slaps and shoulder punches and “Congratulations, finally!”
Mr. Bates strode across the open area following his team. His eyes practically glowed as he said, “I didn’t believe the advertising on the package and the ‘testimonials’ on the website, but it worked! It’s amazing!” He leaned back, held his hands up into the air and cried, “It’s a MUR-UH-KUL!”
Several of the other coaches stopped to stare at him.
The kids stepped back from him, giving him a very, very wide berth as well as wide eyes.
Even the PI-that-everyone-thought-was-a-secret-agent moved closer to CJ. Mr. Bates shoed everyone away, hurrying them to the auditorium for the fun part of the meet. He said, “Hang on, CJ.”
CJ blinked and said, “Am I in trouble?”
Mr. Bates laughed, “Hardly. You came in fifth out of a hundred and six. Last year you were ninety-eight out of a hundred and two. I’d say that was a miraculous improvement, wouldn’t you?”
“Uh, sure, Mr. Bates. Shouldn’t I go and sit with the rest of the team?”
He laughed, “I’m sure they’re saving a seat for you. Hurry on!”
CJ followed the stragglers and got into the auditorium as the first round began. Mr. Bates had been right, there was a spot saved for him in the middle of the team. Job was on one side; he grimaced, Jude was on the other. He slid in past everyone’s knees and soft catcalls of “Sit down!” and “I can’t see!” and dropped into the chair. He looked around the auditorium. The lights had been dimmed a little, but it was easy to find the PI. He was still watching CJ, sunglasses on his face.
Job saw him looking and whispered, “Who’s that?”
CJ considered. Job sort of knew what was going on, but he didn’t know anything about Mai Li taking the nanomachine treatment. Him, Mom and Dr. Douchebag had kept pretty quiet about it. Mom didn’t want any publicity. Dr. D. didn’t want any publicity until Mai Li was a success. CJ clenched one fist – he was starting to really, really not like that man. He leaned back to Job who was watching him, frowning, and said, “Mai Li’s missing and that guy’s a private investigator Mom hired to find her.”
“What’s he doing here?” CJ shrugged, but Job stared at him for a few seconds then lowered his voice and whispered, “They think you killed Mai Li?”
CJ looked away then back into the glowing whites and eyes of his best friend and nodded. “Yeah. The guy’s watching me.”
Job blinked twice then whispered, “Did you?”
CJ shoved Job. Sentury, on the other side of Job, leaned forward, glared and whispered, “Grow up!”
“You grow up!” CJ said out loud. From up the aisle, a teacher or coach stood up and walked toward them. The PI stepped away from the wall, watching intently. Job leaned away from CJ who shouted, “I didn’t kill Mai Li!”
The teacher and the PI reached him at the same time. The teacher motioned CJ to follow her and when he was in the aisle, she grabbed one arm and the PI grabbed the other, marching CJ out of the full auditorium – while everyone watched…