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 several pages back until you get to the bottom first entry – which happens to be Chapter 2...
In the front row of the church during the funeral, Job leaned over to CJ and whispered, “I can’t believe she’s gone.”
Talking out of the side of his mouth, CJ said back, “I can’t believe it’s like a million degrees in here.”
CJ’s mom gave the boys a side-long pained look and they stopped.
The service was short, quiet and small.
School had been out for four days and after the late nights and rushing around was more-or-less over, CJ had finally gone into the back yard and stood over another grave. This one he had dug himself. Him and Job had buried Butterfly Beardsley. He died the day after Mai Li and CJ had cried harder for the guinea pig than he’d cried for his sister.
After the service, Mom said, “If you boys want to leave you can. All this is going to be is a bunch of old people mourning their own dead.”
“You mean it, Mom? You gonna be all right?”
She sniffed. “I’ve handled you and your sister for the past fifteen years, I can take care of the relatives.”
Job said, “Are you gonna handle the reporters outside, too, Mrs. Hastings?”
She smiled sadly and said, “I hired lawyers and bodyguards for that.”
“I thought you hired the lawyers to sue Dr. Douchebag?”
“That,” she smiled. “But I got other lawyers to take care up us...”
CJ cut in, “They’re going to sell Mai Li’s inventions.”
Mom said, “More like patent some of the inventions – like the reading teacher, the brain-repair nanomachines, and the silicon brain.”
“Silicon brain?” CJ asked.
Mom nodded. “You remember when she started her research? When she tied all those electronic toys together, she made a sort of human brain. The lawyer company I hired will get the patents so that CJ can go to any college he wants to go to.” She smiled at Job and said, “I’ll be setting up some scholarships at Carter High School. You can probably apply for one to go to college, Job. No go before one of my old aunties starts patting your cheek.”
CJ and Job ducked out of the meeting room that was filling with people dabbing their eyes and walking toward Mom. They were outside a few minutes later. The sun was hot on their heads and they were only a few blocks from CJ’s house, so they started walking. Job said, “You buried Beardsley the Killer?”
He wasn’t sure why, but all of a sudden, he got teary-eyed. He nodded, “Let’s go. I gotta put some flowers on Beardsley’s grave.” Job nodded slowly. CJ took a deep breath and said, “You know what the French word for bearded is?”
Job scowled. They had to take a language in middle school in eighth grade and they knew that there’d been lots of pirates who were French, and their favorite flatties were THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, so they figured it’d be fun. He said, “Isn’t it something like Algernon?”
CJ smiled and nodded as they headed for the house. Summer was starting and he had a lot of time to have a lot of fun. He looked at Job, said, “Race ya!” and sprinted down the street.
“Hey!” shouted Job and raced right after him.