Kelly: Chapter One continued
Kelly was working on his awe at the moment. The man was naked and looked like the ones on the TV commercials for bodybuilding equipment, except he was a great deal bigger. He began to be sure there was something very unusual about him when he talked to him again.
"I lift weights so I can lift people. You can't get this kind of muscle because it takes working against resistance. That thing was too strong. My guess is it didn't start that way, but I don't know. I couldn't figure out what the tiny filiments attached to it were made of. I'm sure they were sure the material was non-toxic, Kelly. It was intended to be permanent with easy access to the control unit when necessary. That might have been the ONLY question Mr. Amunson knew to ask, but I'm sure he asked it. I don't know where the filaments lead. You'll like this. I cut them loose with a soldering iron. I had a nice new tip and I'm GOOD with one. Sst and loose. I'd probably have been working hours if I'd tried to cut them. I thought of the iron because they reminded me of synthetic material thread and I've used that iron to keep a pulled thread on a sweater from becoming a hole. Uh, oh, phone. I've got a number tracer on it in case someone needs me, but expects me to recognize a voice and I don't. Gizmo! Hang on. I'm putting you on speaker so Kelly can hear."
"What the hell do you mean you're coming here?!"
"Now who else would I go to when I really need gizmos? How much brief did you get?"
"Dr. Hoskins briefed my dad. I figured it would be faster to get it from you than wait for him to stop laughing."
"He was laughing?"
"She did it! She got them off our backs! I WON'T spend the next several years in jail!"
"Oh, I kidnapped an eighteen year old rich kid I was sure wanted to be rescued. You'll like Kelly. He's gorgeous and will have a great sense of humor about it now that it's not just a record of how many times he had surgery. He's the triumphant work of several of the best cosmetic surgeons in practice. You're the one person I'm sure will look for it and see it in his eyes, Gizmo. I'm counting on you to help me give him a life worth the seventeen years of hell he survived. He needs gizmos, Gizmo."
"For HIM, not you."
"I already told him you hated my guts with good reason. I need sleep bad, at least four hours. We'll be in sometime late tonight."
"I'll leave the workshop door open and the back door unlocked. You know the alarm code. Kelly, I'm looking forward to finding out why my dad's laughing and to meeting you. Sounds interesting."
"Gizmo, you might get a patent or two out of it. Kelly isn't the only one who needs some gizmos to improve his quality of life."
"You can't patent friends. That's what everyone needs most. You're a damn good one. Later."
"Told you she still loves me. I kept hoping she'd fall in love with someone else. She deserves to. What the hell?!"
Jim got him off the couch and on the floor fast. It looked like every muscle in his body had suddenly contracted, even his eyes were clamped shut and his face was a horrible grimace. He checked his heart and started working to get the muscles loosened. He decided massage wasn't enough and ran for the bath with him. He held him in his lap under the shower while the tub filled and worked on him while it did. He got out and laid Kelly back in the tub as soon as the water got about two inches deep. He switched from shower to faucet and worked on knotted muscles. He was nearly ready to call an ambulance when Kelly's muscles began to relax. He lifted the warm cloth off his face and gently lifted his eyelids. He was suddenly hanging onto him and crying.
"Bad scare. I was about to yell for help real loud. Should I, Kelly? I don't want to. Ow. I've had a cramp in ONE muscle. Now I'm scared to take you on the road for nine hours. I don't have a tub with hot water in the van. Hell, I'm afraid to sleep too. Hmm... I'm going to tie a string to our toes. If your legs suddenly knot, mine will get jerked. I usually sleep on my right side. I've used a string on my toe to keep me from turning onto a sore shoulder. I much preferred waking because my toe was tugged to waking because my shoulder screamed. Oh, I played football from the time I was eleven until I was twenty. My parents could afford to pay for junior college. They're both gone now. They were in their fifties when they adopted me. Yes, I was adopted. Mom told me SHE'D tried to find out who my natural mother was and couldn't. I never bothered to try. If she couldn't learn, I knew no one except my natural mother knew who she was and she didn't want it known. There. Two dry and dental floss for a toe string. Kelly, if it happens more than once more, we're going to a hospital. I won't LET you hurt like that and twice more means I need help preventing it, not just easing it."
Kelly liked the string. He didn't like the idea of going to a hospital. He didn't know how to 'relax,' but he worked at thinking about it. It wasn't enough. Suddenly he was in knots and the man was running for the bathtub with him again. He kept working at thinking of relaxing though. He wondered if it had helped when the spasm passed much more quickly. He got his first shower after it had. He'd 'relaxed' a bit much and both he and the tub needed a rinse.
Jim laid Kelly down, got the phone and put it right beside the couch and tied the string back on. He entered the number of the nearest hospital and hung up before anyone answered. He now had it on redial. He explained what he was doing to Kelly.
Kelly worked harder at thinking of relaxing. A hospital was one of two places he didn't want to go. He'd been to too many. The other one was the room where he'd spent the rest of his life. This time the thinking worked. He fell asleep too. He woke when his toe was tugged.
"Whoops. Sorry. Yes! We slept five HOURS, Kelly. At least I did. I know I woke you, but I went down like I'd been slugged and don't know how long you watched cartoons before you fell asleep. Oh, this channel JUST has cartoons. One of the reasons we're short cash is a bunch of boxes in the van. That's a borrowed TV. I sold mine and bought one for the van. Since I bought a satellite dish to mount on the van to go with it, I spent more than I got. There's a nice stereo, a CB radio and a cellular phone too. I paid a year's sattelite subscription and a guestimate of a year for the cell phone. Kelly, I got you some blue jeans and T-shirts. Blue jeans are wonderful AFTER they've been well broken in. There are places that BUY broken in jeans and sell them to people who hate breaking in new ones. They DO make money at it. Jeans that are nice and soft, but don't have holes worn in them, are perfect. I found you four perfect and some GREAT concert T-shirts. I plan on taking you to one, but not til we both learn who you'd like to see play live. They call the kind of stuff they played in your room elevator music."
Kelly was delighted with the jeans and T-shirt and the explanation of "elevator music." The man showed him himself in a mirror and his eyes were suddenly wet. The man noticed.
"You're crying! Oh, damn, Kelly, you're welcome. No one was ever more thanked."
Kelly realized he really was crying and the man was right about the reason. He couldn't tell him it had never happened before. His eyes had teared, of course, just as they'd blinked, but he'd never cried. He'd never experienced happiness before. The man had understood again and he still didn't know his damn name!
Jim fed Kelly. Swallow was a reflex. He began to wonder if that was all it was while he fed him. He was sure he liked the taste because it seemed like the 'reflex' was a bit slow. Was he holding it in his mouth to taste just a bit longer? Or did he just want it so badly he thought he was? He fought to get a surge of hope under control and got them ready to leave. He explained the arrangement while he strapped Kelly into the front seat of the van.
"The best I could think of to support your head so you could look out the window was a cervical collar, Kelly. I figure Gizmo will take one look at it and go to work on your seat. Of course, she may build a whole new vehicle around the engine and transmission and tell me to paint it again when she's done. See, I expected people to be hunting us. We were here because I decided they wouldn't expect me to take you home and they'd be looking for the van on the road. You decided to prove you do know what's going on around you a LOT faster than I expected, Kelly, or I'd have gotten us to a motel as soon as I got it painted. It's titled and registered in your name, but I left off Nathan and the Fourth. I have a commercial license and your vehicle is insured for a driver who has one. Planning all this kept me from just buying an airplane ticket and coming after you. I did realize it would be next to impossible to convince a customs officer you were a shoulder bag, but I thought about it anyway. You're smiling! Kelly, what's going on? First tears and now a smile. Was your life so terrible you just never felt like smiling? The answer is probably yes. A smile can be consciously controlled, but it comes without volition. It's a great deal more difficult to keep from smiling when something is funny, but you're sure it wouldn't be appreciated under the circumstances. Hang on. I'm going to use the phone for the first time and I need the directions."
Kelly listened to him call the dotor he'd said he wouldn't call again and leave another message. He told her he thought she might need a bit more "ammo" and told her about both the tears and the smile. It took him a bit to identify what he felt when the man backed the van out of the big garage attached to the small house. He'd never felt excitement before either.
Terry listened to the notice the 'all points' had been cancelled and whooped. Doctor Hoskins and Judge Hernendez had done it. He came out of his office and grinned at her. She offered him half of her sandwich.
"Amunson yelled leave them alone and asked for a recommendation for a good therapist for himself. You were right about him. He does care."
"Did Dr. Hoskins find out why they suddenly shipped him home, Mike?"
"All three others with the implant suddenly died. Two died while having convulsions and the other died while they were trying to remove the implant. They want to know why Keller Holland didn't die when his was removed. Elaine said she told them it was probably because Jim was determined to give him a life and God was helping."
"Oh, brother. She was upset."
"She told Amunson she recommended herself and it was too bad she was retired because HE could have afforded her. I need you to carry some papers to him. Take your notary seal. He's putting Keller in Jim's care legally before the board of trustees meets and decides to have sixty lawyers make recommendations AFTER several months of tests to try to prove they were right all along. Oh, this you have to hear. The proof Keller is aware was... "
Terry giggled all the way to Amunson's office, but stopped fast when she saw him. He was in rough shape. She could see he hadn't slept the night before.
"I'm taking a lunch break. I'm officially off for a half hour. Let's get out of here. You need to talk."
"Do you do this often?"
"No, I'm usually the do the job and keep my opinion to myself type, but the judge knows me well enough to ask for me when he thinks a bit of off the record talk might be in order. I meant it about getting out of here. There's a place right around the corner with terrific coffee."
"Merrie, I'm taking a coffee break. Don't tell anyone I'm taking it at your favorite coffee shop. Let's go."
"You had a rough night. Did you tell Dr. Hoskins how rough?"
"No, but I told my wife I was planning on a long talk with her."
"There's no one better. I've talked to her about a couple I had since this thing started. Mr. Amunson, you DO care about that young man. You always have. Every medical professional told you that you were caring for a body with no one in it until Jim Waters came along. He worked with him quite awhile before he was sure enough to ask for tests. Feeling guilty is a sign we're civilized. It would be nice if we could just pitch guilt we don't deserve, but guilt is a very hard thing to get rid of. You don't deserve the load I can see you've got. There are going to be a lot of other people carrying a load they don't deserve when they find out they were wrong, but doctors know it CAN happen. Their colleagues help them with the load until they get it reasoned down to manageable levels. I've got help for your load from my colleagues in this document case. Since neither of us expect you to get much from yours, we'll spend about twenty figuring out if there's anything more we can do to help with it."
"You already have. I needed someone besides my wife and a psychiatrist to say I didn't deserve it. I argued with a surgeon who DID insist on anesthesia that it was an unnecessary expense."
"Feels odd to be glad you lost, doesn't it? Mr. Amunson, did you ever meet Jim Waters?"
"Briefly. I primarily remember thinking he was not going to have difficulty carrying Keller."
"You know, I've met a number of men as big and a few bigger. I only met one other who just made me feel safe when he was close. He runs a shelter for runaways. I met him when the court said a woman should get her son back, so she could get him professional help, and he refused to even allow her to talk to him. The judge yelled wait and the next morning we had two hours of testimony from the boy that got HER professional help. NO one else knew that boy was sexually abused, no teacher, no counselor, no neighbor and no friend, but he was sure of it and GOING to protect him whether he told him he had been or not. Jim Waters would have known too, Mr. Amunson. You and I wouldn't have. Dr. Hoskins might have if she talked to the boy or the mother, but he'd have known he needed to be protected instantly. I've never been more sure of anything in my life. HE doesn't think you deserve the load you've got and he knew just how big it would be. So, how do we arrange for them to have lots of Keller's money to use so they have a real good time?"
"Well, don't you want to? Not to salve your conscience, but just because he deserves a good time and it IS his money."
"I have to get board approval for that."
"I beg your pardon?"
"He's eighteen. Does he still have to get board approval to use any of his money?"
"I don't know."
"Let's proceed on the assumption he doesn't and threaten to tell Twenty-Twenty if anybody argues."
"That probably would work if they believed me."
"You feel terribly guilty and Twenty-Twenty would definitely get the word out that ten year old tests that didn't include a CAT scan can be wrong."
"They might believe me at that."
"How about you put the regular budget for his care in a bank account and I see the bank card and pin number get to them?"
"You know where they are?"
"No, but we're about to make it so they don't have to hide out and learning where someone is who's just being discreet is LOTS easier. Ready?"
"Show me where to sign."
Mike Hernendez was still laughing when he called George. Amunson had asked if there was another terrific psychologist he could pay marshal's wages for really good advice and help. Terry had turned him down when he'd offered her the jobs of personnel manager, vice president and head of security. Since he hadn't been able to think of anything else but secretary he talked to often enough, and his had him thoroughly trained, he was still looking for one. George called Elaine. She was laughing too.
"Merrie, Mr. Amunson's secretary, called me and said thank you. I knew exactly who she meant by MY 'young associate.' Tell Terry I have a large Christmas package I must get mailed VERY early. She's drafted to help gift wrap. Next year she helps shop. I'm pooped."
"Order pizza. I'll call her and tell her she's the excuse I'm sending you for not cooking."
Martin Fuller rather timidly asked to see Mr. Amunson. He needed to apologize. Merrie smiled and opened the door for him.
"Martin wishes to talk to you, Walter."
"Oh, of course. I'm sorry, Martin. I've been an absolute morass of guilt this morning and too self involved to think about the fact others were too. You don't even know what's happened. Merrie, hold all calls for another ten, please, please, please"
"I love it when you beg. It's the only thing worth putting up with a LOT of unhappy people explaining why they're unhappy. I'll stall awhile, Boss. See if that kid's outlook helps him too."
"You are indeed a gem, Merrie."
"I get a rose on my desk every day you're in the office as a reminder."
"Uh, I forgot today."
"It was on your calendar. I took care of it."
"Merrie, you're smug. It's appropriate. Martin, a psychiatrist told a judge God was helping the young man who 'rescued' Keller Nathan Holland the Fourth. Keller got a hard-on watching a porno movie on his TV and forever proved he was aware of his surroundings. Jim Waters now has full personal responsibility for his care. He's 'putting him in the front seat of a van and showing him America,' a direct quote. Keller is now eighteen. I placed the yearly budget for his care in a bank account for Jim Waters to draw on. A judge told me he thought it was a great idea because Keller deserved to have a 'fucking good time,' also a direct quote. Jim Waters removed the implant that killed three people. They want to know how he did it. That's why Keller was suddenly discharged. They knew they couldn't solve the problem fast enough. They sent him home to die. Additional cost to keep him there was unreasonable under the circumstances and a group of heartbroken researchers really didn't want to monitor the end of another life, caused by what they'd been sure would prolong it and many others."
"Mr. Amunson, I... have never felt such an emotional turmoil."
"Yes, you're a very nice young man. I was confident you'd understand. Want to come watch me threaten the board of trustees into giving fast approval of everything I did?"
"I figure you'll know where to laugh when I threaten to tell the story on Twenty-Twenty and they realize I really would. I didn't do anything wrong, Martin, but that's far less important than that I tried to do everything right."
"If the data banks had all knowledge in them, we could ask a computer anything and never make mistakes. Since no one with any sense believes we'll ever find it profitable to spend that much on input cost, we'll have to just stumble along doing our best, Mr. Amunson."
"Call me Walter. How long have you been married, Martin?"
"Two years. Long enough to be sure we'll be married in twenty. We always were."
"I'm promoting you. Tell Merrie you get a piece of my party schedule. We need a personnel manager. I want to move Alicia to Hawaii."
"It's the only place I can think of where everyone is happy to be transferred. It's also where we need a really good public relations person. She's the right one for the job and knows it. Neither of us expect you to be as good at most of this one as she is yet. People our age remind people your age experience is important often. We both have twenty years more of it. Ask questions."
"Mr. Amunson, Walter, the personnel staff is good. They'll help me with the procedures and a great deal more. I know when to ask questions. I can do the job. It's almost embarrassing to say that."
"You are a very civilized man. I trust you to choose the people for the jobs and the jobs for the people. Help me. Alicia doesn't understand the economics of mergers well enough to build a plan to keep FROM putting people out of work. She knows it. She knows you do. Tell her she's leaving in a month and I recommended force feeding you to get as much of what she knows into you as possible. The job changed, Martin. It happens. I have the right job waiting for her. Your job is help me do that for more people."
"Sell it to the employees for six percent interest and a cost plus two percent price on the product you buy from the co-op. They'll trim it down, improve the quality of the product line and find more customers. It's a small town with a trained work force about to lose their second major employer. Move Shearson Bearing into the defunct Marsky Hutchins Gear facility there. The price is low and both the people who live there and the people who move there will be very happy to work hard to make it a profitable idea."
"Martin, have you done an actual workup on this?"
"One hundred twenty-six jobs lost in a very large job market versus eight hundred thirty-nine additional jobs lost in a small one. It would be about thirty percent cheaper to BUY and rework the gear works to make bearings and move sixty-nine families, than it would be to lease a facility to remodel near the current location."
"We could assemble the whole part there."
"They do have four hundred skilled people out of work. It's a beautiful area, Walter, and both those facilities are examples of how one can operate a large manufacturing plant and NOT pollute the environment."
"The same firm designed both structures. It's a local firm and the owner likes to fish. They're as clean and safe as he could make them. He did a damn good job."
"Merrie! Staff meeting now! Our new personnel manager has got a plan that's going to put us in the headlines of every business section! He's found a way to get the Frazier stockholders on OUR side! He's found a way to get everybody on our side! Oh, good trade, good trade, is profit all around, around. Martin, you've made me very happy."
"Thank you. I just finished the workup. I was going to bring it to you today. I'd still like to watch you threaten the trustees."
"You're still the only one who won't be able to keep from laughing when you see their expressions."
"Can we offer the one hundred twenty-six assistance in job hunting? Call an employment agency and offer them a flat fee for it?"
"Put three Shearson people to work finding jobs for their friends instead. They know where they live and how far some commute. Finding the right three is your job. Ask Charla Hayes for recommendations. It's a good way to keep her from yelling at you. She's shop steward. That building is a danger to people who work there. She knows it. Get your proposal. We'll both need whoopees from this bunch to keep us from wanting to strangle someone in the next."
Walter sat and smiled when Martin 'lost it' and told the board of trustees off. He'd 'saved' exactly what "proof" they had for him to tell. He used it very effectively. Chernitsky, of course, didn't have sense enough to shut up. Walter asked him if he thought convincing someone, who would probably be interviewed by a dozen business journals the next day, he was an asshole was wise. Martin burst into laughter. He really did like his boss.
Walter Amunson told Dr. Hoskins the story and said he was planning champagne with dinner and a sincere thank you in church on Sunday. She told him she'd been borrowing Terry's help since she was six and champagne was the appropriate response twice. He told her Martin's plan had been like a pat on the head and a reminder he really was happy to feel guilty. She pronounced him healthy and told him to call if he needed another reminder. He asked for Terry's number. She told Terry about the call as soon as she got there. She knew he wanted her to.
"Yes! He was in bad shape, Aunt Elaine."
"Which is why Mike sent you. Speaking of sending, this mess IS a Christmas package."
"That's three months away."
"No, nine months late. That way they don't have to wait three. Don't you have a present you want to send?"
"Got a box to fit this card?"
"Right over there between the notebook computer and the CDs."
"Oh, they are going to love these."
Jim explained the "alarm code" was yell very loud for Bitsy and hope she heard as they pulled in the drive. She was holding the back door open when Jim carried Kelly out of the workshop.
"I'm to tell you the number is yesterday's date and let you wonder what it means for awhile."
"Kelly, this is Elizabeth, called Bitsy, against protest, since she was three and Gizmo with awe since she was nine. Hiya, kid."
"Kelly, YOU are welcome. Him, I'll put up with. Nice smile."
"It's his second, Gizmo."
"I don't know if he could smile before. He had major work on his jaw about three months ago and he didn't have much to smile about before, but... "
"You have a feeling?"
"I have a man I love who doesn't feel as flaccid in my arms as he did nine hours ago. Now tell us BOTH not to be scared and help me find out what's going on and how to help KEEP it going on."
Copyright © 1999 Sharon L 'Spinner' Reddy
All Rights Reserved