Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Traveling the Rails

     The train seemed unusually empty this morning. Tucker gazed out of the window as a mob of deer disappeared into the underbrush at the edge of the clearing for the train tracks. He thought back to half an hour earlier, when he'd been standing on the platform awaiting the train, as he circumspectly perused the anatomy of the violet-tinged Veronian Female. As exotic a species as existed in the known galaxy. Their cartoon-like dimensions -- wasp waists, with exaggerated curves of hip, buttocks and some of the roundest, most ample...
     He shook his head slightly and came out of his reverie, lest he might have started to feel aroused at the mere thoughts of copulation with such an exotic creature. And even though, the occupants of the train numbered few, he felt his face grow hot as if he had lost self-control in earnest and felt a sliver of the mortification that would have accompanied the slip.
     "Just wouldn't be becoming of a Princeton Man!", Tucker muttered, in mockery of his father, a fellow alumnus of the institution as well.
     He wondered why the car was so empty. Wednesday morning, should have seen the car ready to burst, with riders standing, sitting and everything in between as the train traveled down the track.
     Probably that threat roving across the net issued by that new xenophobe terrorist organization something or other. He tried to relax himself by watching the morning news being displayed on the vid surface above the exit door to the forward car of the train.
     As the train arrived at the Brockmeyer Station, Tucker contemplated whether or not to take advantage of the lighter than usual ridership and make the switch over to the neon line, which would have allowed him to obtain breakfast at his favorite cafe before transferring to the gold line of the transit system. A flash of light caught his attention, however, the only visible sign of something amiss consisted of a wispy puff of smoke.
He exited the train and turned to his left. Another flash of light appeared directly to his left, it illuminated the under carriage of the train. His eyes widened as he desperately threw himself to the side and dove head-first into a nearby trash bin, with the thoughts of an executed terrorist plot at the forefront of his mind. He waited several moments, as he strained to hear if others, less alert than himself, had been harmed by the attack.
     After the passage of another minute or so, he righted himself and stuck his head up over the rim of the bin, he had expected to survey the damage from the attack. Shocked, at what he saw, he tried to retain some dignity, when passersby gawked at a man they must have thought mad. His disheveled appearance and his previous actions had drawn all eyes on such a slow day of travel. He had not managed to bring his briefcase over the lip of the bin and it had been forced open by the force with which it had impacted the floor. The contents of the briefcase lay scattered about the area in front of the trash bin and the off-white tiled square pillar to the left side of the bin.
     As the train he had occupied moved off into the distance, he glimpsed the likely source of the flashes of light and the accompanying smoke. A pack of terfluvents -- a rodent-like creature, about three feet in length, indigenous to the Planet Xeria, had been wandering near the live rail that powered the train.
     Tucker attempted to brush away a partially eaten gagoa fruit -- stuck to the front of his blazer. As he extricated himself from the trash bin, the thought entered his mind, This just wasn't becoming of a Princeton Man.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Everything Changes

    "It is done", breathed Jacob.

    As he removed his hands from the patient's arm.  Navigating his way back through the  neurological maze that made up the middle aged woman's brain. And in the process producing its usual euphoria and slight strain of extricating his mind from another human being.  Animals were less difficult to work with, however, those sessions produced little to no sensation.  While not physically taxing, the mental exhaustion  felt physical in nature.  He stands and brushes  his hands once down the front of the pants legs of his zip-up, one-piece, spring green scrubs uniform. 

    "Will she truly recover?", asks a petite woman with auburn hair and angular planes to her jaw line, dressed in a light blue scrubs uniform.

    "Yes, as will the 12 that preceded her today".

    Following this brief exchange, he turns and exits the austere, white-tiled room being used as a temporary hospice for the occasion.  In his wake, four of Day Kimball Hospital's administrators slink along, exchanging furtive glances.  The de facto spokesman for hospital management, a short, balding, slight of build, fifty something year old male, audibly clears his throat to attract the attention of Jacob.  Jacob's haggard visage turns back and raises its eyebrows in question.

    "I suppose that now you will make demands for compensation".

    "I thought everyone knew my services come pro bono".

    An awkward silence ensues, making the din of the circus crowd outside the building,  more clear.  Whether a rural or urban location, raucus crowds always accompanied the proceedings.

    "My entourage awaits", sighs Jacob, almost inaudible due to the noise.  He turns and walks towards the automatic doors beneath the exit sign for the small Connecticut Hospital.   Emerging into the chaotic scene of video lights, flashing cameras, and bystanders, all mingling with microphone and personal recorder wielding reporters and journalists.

    "Would you like to expound on exactly what it is you do?", says one reporter.

    "What about the allegations of your receiving kickbacks from various sources?".

    He pushes through the throng, as he has recently started to do, ignoring both question and praise alike.  An all black Lincoln Town Car sits near a large, white oval sign displaying the name of the facility 'Day Kimball Hospital'.  Exiting on the other side of the bulk of the crowd, he increases the pace of his steps toward the awaiting vehicle, prearranged for his transportation per request, by hospital management.  He relaxes muscles he didn't realize he'd tensed, as he opens the rear passenger side door.

    "Where will you go next?"

    Startled, his head jerks in recognition of the feminine voice and finds standing behind him, the lady with the auburn hair from the temporary hospice inside the hospital.  Her hospital attire giving her access through the security detail and allowing her to squeeze into the back of the vehicle.  Eagerly nudging Jacob sideways, while closing the rear passenger's side door in the process.

    "Raleigh McKenzie, New York Times", she puts on an ingratiating smile as she extends her right hand while turning toward Jacob on the back seat.

    "I don't give interviews".

    "You haven't given one yet", still holding her smile in place, she says "Wouldn't you much rather tell your own story, rather than listen to other's portrayals of who you are?".

    "Driver, please stop at the diner up ahead on your right".

    Five minutes later, the driver pulls the vehicle into Mike's Diner's parking lot, stopping directly in front of the diner entrance.

    "Thanks"; "Good night to you, Miss McKenzie", he says, slipping out of the car and quickly closing the door behind him.

    Navigating the gauntlet of patrons entering and leaving the diner in twos and threes, he walks through the entrance and sits down at a small booth located in the corner opposite the door.
    After popping the last corner of turkey on rye into his mouth and relishing the relative anonymity such establishments fostered, he takes another sip of the fresh cup of coffee sitting in front of him.  He surveys the interior of the diner for the first time since sitting down, taking notice of three men staring in his direction.  Their perusal didn't end upon seeing him gaze over the seating area.  Ignoring the poignant stares of the three men, he reaches into his front pocket, retrieving the prepaid cell phone, previously donated to his world wide web foundation 'Curing The Incurable'.  He dials information to obtain the phone number for the local Yellow Cab Company. 

    Standing, he pays for his sandwich and coffee, then walks towards the exit of the diner by which he had first entered.  He has to skirt to the left of the brown, shaggy haired, heavy set member of the 3 man group, who chooses that moment to stand, blocking the majority of the aisle, leading to the door.  A momentary pause, allowing Jacob to observe that all three men were in their middle to late thirties, with their relatively youthful appearances, but strands of gray visible on their collective heads.
    He skirts around the stocky man, continuing through the exit, enjoying the coolness of the late summer twilight.  He pauses to deliberate whether or not to wait out the hour for an available cab.  His Super 8 Motel Room, just a little more than a mile south of Mike's Diner.

    "Hey freak!".

    He turns his head towards the sound of the voice, and decides to walk to his room.

    "Yeah, Dr. Strange, we know who you are"; "They say you think you're God's Gift to human kind or some shit".

    He didn't remember ever making any such statement, however, he didn't think they were willing to listen to any explanation to the contrary of the accusationt.  He quickly faces forward once more, intending to continue his exit of the diner's premises. 

    The quick steps of the three locals reverberate from the pavement, as they rush to circle around Jacob.  In short order they manage to obstruct the direction of his current path, forcing him to slow his progress or collide with one of the three.  Every attempt to slip in one direction or another, brings one of the group sliding into his path.

    Moments such as these were becoming increasingly more common and forcing him to reconsider his stance on a security escort for protection.  "Where were you six months ago, when my son was screaming in pain and near death?"; "Heal that! You self-righteous son of bitch!".  He felt the breath explode out of him from the blow just under his celiac plexus, buckling his knees to the dirt coated cement.

    The headlock chokehold by the stocky individual with the shaggy hair, ends his reverie, as he attempts to brush by the three men confronting him.  Two thuds fill the air as the tallest of the three, lands blows to both sides of Jacob's rib cage, forcing the air from his lungs.

    Without thought, Jacob reaches up and places  his right hand upon the elbow of the man holding him, while darting his left hand out and snagging the wrist of his other assailant.  Falling into his health assessing technique as easy as breathing, he analyzes the bodies of both men.  His attacker whose wrist he held firmly, was suffering from a simple head cold and the other, who was slowly choking off his air supply was feeling stress from a minor muscle pull in his left quadriceps muscle and insignificant bruises in various other places along his body. 

    Communicating with the two men's neurological centers simultaneously, he urges each one's own body to not just abandon, but to indentify the inflamed tissues and affected areas as threats foreign to their bodies.  He then induces the thyroid glands of each attacker to increase production, signaling his assailants bodies to increase all functions and systems, increasing their heart rates as well as their body temperatures.  Effectively increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies in each man to address the new threats.  Instead of meticulously backtracking through their neural pathways, he tears his psyche away from each of their neural centers, delivering shock to both attackers. 

    The taller of his two assailants staggers a few steps backward and begins shaking his head as if trying to recuperate from a well placed punch.  While, his heavier attacker lets go his hold, wearing an expression of bewilderment.

    "W-What'd you do?", he says, as he begins to sweat profusely.

    His co-conspirator was now down on one knee clutching his head with both hands and hyperventilating.

    The third member of their party who has been standing to the side, runs back towards the diner, while, screaming "Somebody help!, he's killing 'em!".

    With a look of horror upon his face, Jacob turns back towards the diner and staggers backward a few steps before turning and fully sprinting away.

    Raleigh McKenzie slips further back into the shadows between two full size Chevrolet Pick-Up Trucks, her eyes trailing the fleeing silhouette of the 'miracle' healer.  Bearing witness to his  transformation from a man of peace and healing into a potential killer.  She Deliberates her next move as she rewinds the semi-grainy video captured on her camera phone and furtively walks away into the early night.