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.
By the time Christopher John Hastings had called 911 and Mom, he was crying so hard he didn’t make any sense. Mom said, “Stay where you are. Let the paramedics take Mai Li to the hospital, but tell them that under no circumstances do I want your sister taken to the University of Minnesota and any order they get from anyone else but me is null and void.” CJ snorted hard, blubbered a bit more until Mom snapped, “Tell them right now or you’re going to lose your sister forever!”
He shouted, “Our mom says that you can’t take Mai Li to the University of Minnesota no matter what anyone says.”
The paramedics looked at each other. The woman said, “We just got a call to take her there. Doctor’s orders.”
“My mom is in charge of Mai Li,” he lunged forward and grabbed hold of the cot, wrapping both arms around it and threading them between the collapsible X-legs. “You have to take her to...” he thought then said, “North Memorial! That’s where I went when I broke my arm! That’s where our real doctor is!”
“Doctor Douchebag is what we call him! He’s experimenting on my sister! He wants to cut me and Mom out of the deal so he can sell his discovery,” he spat the word like it was a cat turd in his mouth. “Take her to North Memorial!”
They looked at each other again and the guy opened his mouth. CJ shouted, “If you don’t do what Mom says, I’ll scream rape and abduction and ‘Someone call an Amber Alert’!” He paused as they looked at each other again, “And if you try and pull a fast one and take us to the U, I’ll have the same tantrum there.” He looked at the guy, “And I’ll accuse you of sexually molesting me.”
CJ’s mom’s voice sounded loud even through the cellphone speaker, “And I’ll press charges! I’m her mother! Do what I say! The doctor is a douchebag!” CJ gave the cellphone a startled look.
The guy paramedic nodded and the woman smiled a little and said, “North Memorial it is,” she said and more loudly so CJ’s mom could hear, “And I’ll let you deal with the doctor.”
“Fine!” Mom shouted then hung up. CJ slipped the cellphone back into his pocket and pulled his arm out of the cot.
The woman paramedic said, “You must love your sister an awful lot.”
The guy said, “Bloody crazy!” Then he tugged the last strap and lifted the cot, doing something to make the legs retract. “Come on, kid. Make sure your sister isn’t intercepted by body snatchers then get on the phone and tell your mom she has to ick you up here.”
“But can’t I ride in...”
The woman said, “No one can ride in the ambulance, Kid. Regulations. Your mom will pick you up and we’ll meet you there. At North Memorial.”
CJ nodded and followed them up the stairs, held on to the cot until they loaded it and then stood on the curb and flipped open his cellphone as they pulled away. “Mom! Where are you?”
Her car roared around the corner and the door popped open as she said, “Right here here!” He jumped in and she gunned the car, following the ambulance around the corner it had taken up the block. “Keep an eye on the ambulance while I drive. You’re my navigator.”
The hospital wasn’t far away and they pulled into the ambulance drop off just as the paramedics stepped back outside. The woman saw CJ and said, “She’s stable right now and right inside. Tell the nurse we just dropped off your sister,” she glanced at Mom, “your daughter.”
They left the car and ran inside, Mom relating what the paramedics had said. The nurse brought them to Mai Li.
Dr. Chazhukaran was standing beside her, holding her hand and smiling at them. For a moment, no one moved, then without thinking, CJ lowered his head and charged Dr. Douchebag…