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 four pages back until you get to the bottom.
Job stepped up beside CJ and said, “Who do you think you are?”
The college student in the U of M Police uniform snapped, “Corporal Mat Bassinger.” He leaned forward, “Who are you, boy?”
Job glared up at the student, then in a flash, stomped on his instep and brought his knee up into the student’s face as he hunched over the painful strike. He staggered backwards, falling on his back side, blood gushing from his nose.
CJ stared until Job grabbed him and said, “Let’s go before he gets up. I think he’ll be mad.”
The two boys dashed down the street, keeping near the houses until they were past Dr. Douchebag – Dr. Chazhukaran from the U of M’s research hospital – and his fake army. Then they ran full out until they got to Job’s apartment building. Job led the way to the garage and stopped to open it. Inside there were five bicycles, boxes, suitcases, lamps, tables and kitchen chairs. CJ said, “This is all your stuff?”
“No, I just broke into someone else’s storage locker and we’re going to steal their stuff.”
“Come on, stupid! It’s our stuff. We gotta ride to get the hospital or there won’t be anyone around to protect your mom and Mai Li.” He stepped in, grabbed a bike and fed it to CJ, then grabbed another and rolled out on it, adding, “By the way, I was on rLife and Coach Jalfroun said you got an offer to compete on the math team for MacDonald-Chandrasekhar Academy next year!”
“Dr. Douchebag has a high school and he wants me to go there?” Job gave him a weird look so CJ said, “That doctor who wants to take Mai Li? His name is Chazhukaran – he has an academy…” They biked down the street, side-by-side, taking less busy streets but still making their way to the hospital.
“Not your doctor, stupid! Chandrasekhar was an East Indian astrophysicist – he liked math. There’s a school that gots his name and they want you for their math team when you get to ninth grade.”
“But I’m going to Hosterman with you and everyone else!”
“Not if you can go to an exclusive high school. You need to go there so you can get a good education.” The street intersected a busy road and they took to the sidewalks instead of the street, occasionally riding up on the grass when there was a walker.
CJ said, “I don’t want to go to some fancy school!”
“You gotta go where you’ll get the best education,” Job called as the boys split to go around a lady with a double stroller and two sleeping twins. “Don’t matter where it is. ‘sides, we live two blocks away from each other, we’ll still be friends!”
They reached the hospital and stopped, looking around for a place to leave the bikes. Job said, “You get in there. I’ll find someplace to stash ‘em and catch up with you. Got your cell?” CJ nodded and jumped from the bike, looked back at Job then sprinted into the hospital.
It didn’t take long to find them. There was cop talking to Mom as he stepped up beside her. She patted his shoulder while she went over the details of Dr. Douchebag’s attempted kidnapping – the cop’s words – and he entered them into his palmpad.
When he was done, CJ said, “What’s happening?”
His mom shook her head and took him by the hand – she hadn’t held him by the hand since he was eight! – leading him deeper into the hospital. They took an elevator up, riding in silence with a couple doctors and an old man with no hair in a wheelchair. The others got off, leaving them alone. Mom finally said, “They said that Mai Li is unconscious and is running a high fever. There’s a chance she’ll have a seizure if they can’t get the temperature down.”
“What did you tell them?”
“I couldn’t really say anything. They asked if she was using drugs, but I don’t know. I couldn’t exactly say she was a Dr. Douchebag experiment.”
They were silent until the elevator doors opened again and they walked out.
That was when they saw the five police officers standing around the door of one of the rooms. They all turned to look at them and one stepped forward and said, “Ma’am, we had a call from the U of M hospital to place your daughter under quarantine.” Mom stopped then walked ahead, pushing past the cop. “Ma’am, you can go…”
“Then you’ll have to shoot me, officer,” she said as she kept walking.