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.
“Why should I? You’re just gonna steal Mai Li’s invention and claim you were the one who made it!” CJ Hastings said.
“I made her, so I made this!” he growled. The hospital around them was dimly lit, every other bank of lights out for the night. The floor was lightly staffed, relying on a monitor station in the center of the hospital. Robot cleaners buzzed silently past them, sweeping and polishing the floor. Faint beeps and blips and whooshes! filtered into the hallway from the rooms.
But there was no one nearby and the waiting room where Mom and Job were sleeping was a long way away. Dr. Douchebag grinned and said, “Whatcha gonna do, kid? I’m the grownup here; an MD grownup no less! I know more than you’ll ever know! Even if we get caught, if I say I was here for a grownup reason and caught you sneaking around and up to no good – with squirt guns no less! – not only will they believe me, they’ll arrest you!”
“They won’t arrest me for just coming into the hospital at night! My mom is here and if I scream loud enough that you’re molesting me, who do YOU think is gonna get thrown into jail faster?” Dr. Douchebag looked uncertain for an instant.
CJ shoved him aside and sprinted down the hall.
Dr. Douchebag shouted a vulgarity, spinning around but lashed out with his foot and caught CJ’s ankle and he fell. Rolling to his feet, he twisted out of the evil doctor’s grasp and pelted down the hall.
He hadn’t gone two steps when red lights started flashing along the ceiling. The room doors swung silently closed and he heard the clear sound of a deadbolt locking each one. A quiet voice said, “You have been detected and identified as an intruder. Please remain where you are. Hospital Security will arrive shortly and you will need to explain your presence in the hospital and on this floor. You will also need to provide a picture identification issued either by the State of Minnesota or this hospital. If you have neither, you will be stunned and detained by Hospital...”
“Nowhere to go now, kid!” said Dr. Douchebag.
“What world were you born in?” CJ said and sprinted down the hallway, running on tip toes.
“Hey! You can’t...”
CJ ran. He’d snuck out of the hospital a different way than the one he’d come in. Then he remembered that he’d waved to the security guard – the same one who’d signed him out on the computer. He stopped suddenly, turning to confront Dr. D. CJ said, “Is that how you do business? Scaring people?”
“You just wait until Security gets here, kid!”
“That’s OK, ‘cause I checked out with Security and I checked back in with Security.” CJ paused and smiled wickedly. “Did you, Doctor Douchebag?”
“You checked out and in?” The man’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why?”
CJ reached into his back pocket and pulled out one of the frozen squirt guns he’d taken from the freezer at home. “Mai Li said that she filled this gun with a liquid of some sort. She said that when she drinks it, it’ll put nanos into her that will stop the other ones from rebuilding her brain.”
“She can’t have…”
“What, Dr. Douchebag? Having trouble believing that someone is smarter than you are?”
“She’s not smarter than me!” he shouted.
“Huh. Funny you should say that. If my sister isn’t smarter than you, I must be.”
“You’re not smarter than me! You’re a retard!”
CJ’s raised his eyebrows and said softly, “That’s not a very politically correct term, Dr. Chazhukaran.”
“What, getting all formal now?” the man said. He hadn’t stopped moving, creeping up on CJ, acting as if he wasn’t stalking him. “If the shoe fits…”
CJ rolled his eyes, but he let them slip back to the two Hospital Security officers sneaking up on Dr. Douchebag. The woman officer’s eyes widened slightly as she and her partner moved smoothly and silently up toward the doctor. Both carried stunners. CJ said, “My sister says I’m not retarded, just stupid.”
“She’s just being nice.”
CJ could see the man’s muscles tense. Security saw the same thing. Just before they fired, the woman motioned him down. CJ dropped, the stunners hummed. He felt a tingling sensation – like when he hit his crazy bone – for just a second. Dr. Douchebag crumpled like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
CJ said, “Thanks! Now, I’ve got to get to my...”
Without lowering their weapons, the man said, “Hand over the gun, son.”
CJ frowned, holding up the blue plastic toy. “It’s a squirt gun.”
The woman said, “The last time someone came in here with a squirt gun, it had acid in it and they were set on attacking their ex. So give us the squirt gun and you can get to your mom and sister.”
CJ nodded and handed her the gun. She nodded, as her partner got on his com and called in back up and a cart. CJ hurried down the hall, hoping she wouldn’t ask if he had other squirt guns. She called after him and said, “Why did this guy want your squirt gun?”
CJ turned around and shrugged, saying, “He’s my sister’s doctor and he wants to go out with her. She thinks he’s too old and sorta stuck up. He thinks I can make her like him more, so he’s trying to pressure me into taking his side against my sister.”
The man shook his head. But the woman muttered, “Douchebag,” and kicking him between the legs.
“Hey!” the security guy exclaimed.
She gave him a look and said, “Let that be a lesson to you, Maynard.”
CJ had no idea what was going on, so he turned and hurried through the halls of the hospital until he got to Mai Li’s room. As he turned the corner, he saw that Job and Mom were awake and three hospital people were standing outside her door. An older man shook his head, said something to Mom – who started crying…