September 3, 2011

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF MAI LI HASTINGS 29

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.

Dr. Douchebag – Dr. Chazhukaran, the director of the nanomachine experiment that had taken Mai Li from a mentally handicapped, child-like adult to a genius-level woman – pounded on the door. He shouted, “If you don’t open this door now, I’m going to get a fire axe and chop it down!”

From somewhere beyond him, CJ Hastings heard someone say, “If they’re contagious, why are you trying to get in there, Doctor?”

Dr. Douchebag sputtered then said, “I’ve been inoculated!” Pounding again, he shouted, “I’m going to count to ten! One…”

CJ’s mom stepped up to the door, leaning into it with CJ. She whispered to him, “On ‘ten’, step back.

Outside the room, Dr. Douchebag shouted, “Five, sixseveneightnineten…” He slammed into the door as CJ and his mom backed out of the way. It burst open and the doctor stumbled through, nearly catching his balance except when he tripped over CJ’s mom’s outstretched foot.

By the time he was on his feet, the two of them were standing between him and Mai Li. “Get out of my way,” he growled.

“Or you’ll what? Beat us both up?” CJ’s mom said.

“I’ll call the police!”

“And report that we what? Protected my daughter from your crazy experiment?” Mom snorted, “You know normal people better than that, doctor! You’re the one who would lose that battle.”

Standing shoulder to shoulder with Mom, CJ suddenly felt a hand slip along his side from behind. Mai Li pushed them apart and swinging her legs to the edge of the bed, sat up.

They turned to face her. She said, glancing at each of them, “All right. Enough of this. I’ll talk to the doctor from here.” She looked past them at Chazhukaran and said, “I’ll see if I can use small enough words for him to understand.”

“Understand what?” the doctor snarled. “That you’re ruining my research?”

Mai Li laughed, though it was a weak laugh, “What you refuse to understand, Doctor, is that your experiment is a failure.”

“Impossible! What do you…”

“Don’t be an idiot, Doctor. I understand your work better than you could possibly even begin to.” CJ’s cellphone rang. He ignored it.

Chazhukaran snorted and tried to stand taller. But he’d clearly twisted something because his haughty demeanor was ruined when he winced. He said, “How could you possibly…”

“You designed the nanomachines to reassemble my brain for maximum efficiency and optimal connectivity, right?”

“I wouldn’t characterize it in such a simple…”

“Please, Doctor. Try for a nanosecond to remember to whom you speak. My intellect is so far above yours now that the difference between you and me is the same as that between an amoeba and CJ here.”

“Hey!” CJ exclaimed as his cellphone rang. Without thinking, he answered.

“Christopher Hastings?” it was a woman’s voice.

CJ scowled. “Yeah?”

“This is Ms. Jacobson, the Carter High School math team coach?”

His voice caught for a moment and he wasn’t aware that his mom, Dr. Douchebag and his sister were staring at him. He cleared his throat and said, “Uh…yeah?”

“I saw you in the middle school meet a few days ago and as you’re going to be an eighth grader next year, I was wondering if you’d like to join the high school math team next year.”

“I…I…”

“You don’t have to give me an answer…”

“No! No! I want to! I want to!”

There was a short pause. “Well then, that’s settled! I’ll make sure you get on our listserve and have the captain email you an invitation. Thanks.”

“Thank you!” he said and hung up.

“What?” his mom and sister asked. He told them.

Mai Li smiled, nodded and said, “See Kid, you’re not a retard – just an idiot!” She glared at Dr. Chazhukaran and said, “So you gonna listen to a genius victim’s assessment of what’s going on or are you stand there being a douchebag?”

Image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AI6ddzUYWFU/TjBDbKRPNlI/AAAAAAAAAJ8/kZX-TXK9-Xk/s1600/bb-15.jpg

No comments: