September 29, 2011


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. Chazhukaran crossed his arms over his chest, scowled but said, “I’m listening.”

Mai Li Hastings snorted from her seat on the hospital bed. “Right. Just like you listened to Mom’s objections…”

“She’s the one who signed the papers OKing the surgery!”

“Based on your intentional misrepresentation of the both the exact procedure and the projected outcome!”

“What?” Dr. Chazhukaran expression was genuinely startled. Thirteen-year-old CJ Hastings felt suddenly sorry for the man he privately (and sometimes publicly) called Dr. Douchebag.

Mai Li made a brushing motion as if getting rid of him, and said, “First of all, I want out of the hospital.”

This time, all three of them – Mom, CJ and the doctor – exclaimed, “What?”

“There’s absolutely nothing they can do for me here.” She glared at the doctor, “You’re going to have to call off your stupid Chihuahuas.”

“My what?”

“Send your University students home with their fake ambulance,” translated CJ.


“You already tried to kidnap me and failed miserably, Doctor. How much more do you want to embarrass yourself?” said Mai Li.

“I haven’t failed…”

“I’m not at the University under the tender ministrations of your Josef Mengele interns in some hidden basement laboratory,” she said it the way people in horror movies say the word. “My mom and brother will knock your head off and call the real cops if you so much as touch me; and it’s very likely your experiment may revert to its original state.”

This time, Dr. Chazhukaran made only a faint wheezing sound. Mom and CJ turned to face her. CJ said, “What do you mean, ‘revert to its original state’?”

Mai Li reached out, tousled CJ’s blond curls and said, “See, little brother? You’re not retarded, you’re only an idiot.” Her smile was the same one she’d given him just before she’d taught him how to read: unrelated in any way to her old smile – the one she used when it was gap-toothed and drooly-mouthed and only for him. This smile? Not even close to what he remembered was normal. This smile was related more to the one you’d see on a Great White shark moving in on a kill… She added, “As you can see, Dr. Chazhukaran knows of what I speak.” She locked her photon torpedo gaze on him, smiled again and said, “I’m assuming you’ve read ‘Flowers For Algernon’, Dr. Douchebag?”

It took a long time, but finally the doctor nodded slowly.

“Good, then you probably have some vague, primitive idea of what we’re up against.” She paused then amended, “Did I say ‘we’? I meant ‘I’ – because I’m the only one here risking anything at all. Isn’t that true, Doctor?”

It took a long time, but finally the doctor inclined his head in a tiny, tight, bare nod.


No comments: