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.
WRITER’S NOTE: I HAD AN IDEA FOR THE END OF THE STORY THAT I LIKED BETTER, SO I’M GOING TO BACK UP A BIT AND REWRITE IT…
“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.”
“Put your hands up into the air slowly, sir,” said the woman officer.
Dr. Douchebag’s eyes bugged out, but he didn’t make any move to put his hands up. Instead, he glared at CJ and snarled, “How are you doing that?”
“Doing what?” CJ asked.
“Throwing your voice like that.”
The male officer said, “He’s not throwing his voice, Sir. You’re being covered by two full amp
taser stun guns. If you don’t put your hands over your head, we’ll have to stun you.”
Dr. Chazhukaran’s hands slowly went into the air, but he said, “This boy is a menace to society! His sister told me he’s not only retarded but he can’t read and he’s possibly violent! Please, you have to believe me! Let me stop this incident before it turns deadly!”
Both officers scowled and lowered their stunners slightly.
This time CJ’s eyes bulged and Dr. Douchebag started to grin. He kept talking, too, his voice smoother and oilier than CJ had ever heard it – except when he was talking to his staff or other doctors, or even CJ’s mom. It’s how he talked when we was conning people. He’d tried it on Mai Li and it had failed miserably, even when she was her brain was still scrambled or whatever had been wrong with her.
With that voice, the man would be able to get whatever he wanted from them. He’d get off the hook.
There was only one way out of this. His pulse suddenly began to pound as CJ said, “I can read.”
Dr. Chazhukaran said, “You can’t! Your sister said you can’t!”
CJ looked at the cops and said, “Do you have something for me to read?”
They glanced at each other. The woman raised an eyebrow then reached behind her back and pulled out a organic computer tablet. She activated it then handed it to CJ.
He swallowed hard. He hadn’t read in front of people out loud since he was in like, third grade. That was the last time that ever happened. His teachers must have passed word to each other that if you asked CJ Hastings to read out loud in class, you better have a barf bucket or a mop handy. He started skimming like Mai Li had taught him then smiled a little. He looked up at the doctor, then down at the tablet and read, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights I have just read to you?”
Dr. Douchebag shouted, “He didn’t read that! He memorized the Miranda Warning!”
CJ said, “Whose warnings?”
The doctor lunged forward, crying, “You little...”
As the doctor screamed, the woman motioned CJ down. He dropped as their 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 scrambled to his feet and 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 kicked the doctor 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.
The other two squirt guns sloshed in his pockets as he scurried around the corner.
Another doctor was standing in front of Mai Li’s room. Mom was there – her head was in her hands. Job stood to one side, trying to be invisible. CJ said, “What happened?”
They all turned to look at him. Mom ran forward, bent down on a knee and said, “We thought the doctor kidnapped you!”
“Nah. He got stunned by security. How’s Mai?”
Mom bit at her lower lip. The doctor moved down the hallway. Mom shook her head. “Not good, honey. I told this doctor everything I know and gave him and the rest of the hospital complete access to your sister’s files. I also threatened a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota and promised to make sure to be ready for the lawsuit I was going to bring against them as soon as your sister died if they didn’t allow this hospital complete access to the research Dr. Chazhukaran’s been doing. They said they couldn’t do that – exactly, but that they would cooperate as much as they could.”
CJ snorted and said, “We don’t need their help any more. Mai sent me home to get the cure. I have it in my back pocket.” He almost pulled out the squirt guns, but didn’t know where the security team was and didn’t want to get zapped like Dr. Douchebag so he said, “I’ll go in…”
Mom held out her arm. “We can’t go in, Sweetie. Mai is in critical condition and she...”
CJ dodged around her and shoved open the hospital door, leaning back against it then looking at Mai.
His breath caught. She looked like she was tangled in a web of plastic tubes, wires, bags, suspended monitors and stands.
She looked like a monster.
Her head turned and she moaned…