November 1, 2012


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.

Mai Li couldn’t speak because she had a tube down her throat, but CJ knew the look in her eyes.

It scared him, because it wasn’t the look of his genius sister any more. It was the look of a person, not mentally challenged, but no great shakes, either. The burning intensity of her brilliant mind didn’t shine through her eyes. He exclaimed, “Did they drug her?”

Mom was right behind him and said, “Of course they did, sweetie. She was starting to suffer.”

“But how’s she going to figure out how to make herself better if she’s high?”

Mom shook her head, gently put her hand on his arm and said, “They say that she’s not even going to wake up, Chris. We have to...”

He turned on her then, “You’re just going to let her die? Who said she should be drugged? Who said we should just give up? She’s a mega genius, Mom! Dr. Douchebag is...” he struggled with the word. He’d been trained for ten years not to use under any circumstance. It still stuck in his craw, but he hawked and spat it anyway.

Job staggered back, eyes bugging white in his black face. Mom raised her hand to slap him.

Mai Li made strangled noises from the bed, the hand closest to them twitching. Her head turned slowly and suddenly her eyes opened. She looked directly at CJ and for a moment, they burned wildly.

As if compelled by a zombie master, he lunged forward, and yanked a tube hanging down from the IV tree. Mom screamed. Job cursed. There was an alarm on the IV tree that went off, making a sound like a tiny London police car.

Close to where the IV was taped down, CJ grabbed the tube and pushed it toward the end he’d pulled free. Golden IV fluid gushed on the floor in the direction of the door. He pulled the squirt gun from his pocket and pressed the nozzle to the tube and started pumping. A nurse, an orderly and at least one other person ran into the room.

All of them slipped on IV fluid, their arms pin-wheeling crazily as they accidentally hit each other.

He heard Job go down with a voice-cracked wail. Mom must have as well and the two of them being there first made for a pile up at the door. By the time the first orderly reached him and jerked his feet out from under him, the squirt gun was empty.

CJ wrestled free of the orderly, scrambled to his knees and pulled himself up alongside the bed using the rails. At that moment, the security guards arrived at the door and the nurses both tackled him, dragging him down and slamming his chin against the railing, flipping him backward where he slammed his head against the ground.

Mom screamed again, Job bellowed in a tenor voice, the Security guards both shouted, “Freeze!” and CJ didn’t notice what else was going after that.

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