January 31, 2011
Pops died a few years back. With some of the money I got, I started a foundation in his honor, for kids. It wasn’t for kids that were beaten to shit…well, not specifically for that…but it was mainly for kids that had parents that just weren’t particularly nice to them. I think Pops would have liked that. That man loved his kids, would have died for them. He just loved people, really, and kids especially, and he fucking hated people that hurt them. So I set up the foundation and named it after him. I’m a sentimental motherfucker, yeah, but mainly I just wanted people to know who he was and what he did. You know, Holly’s mom never knew about what happened with the kid and the kid’s dad until I told the story at a press conference publically announcing the creation of the maltreated children’s foundation. She laughed when she heard it. I think, her hearing that story, it finally gave her some peace of mind after Pops passed away. She kind of stopped living for awhile after he died. My kids tried to get her to go on vacations with Holly or me, but she’d just stay in her house, and talk to herself. After that, after I started the foundation…I guess whatever was in her that was keeping her from being alive finally left her, and she was able to live again. I can’t put it any better than that.****************************************************************The investigation and the lawsuit were going parallel to each other. The Senator from California and Martin-Raytheon were trading information about things, putting pieces together, trying to sort out what really happened. The biggest shock came when Tom Roberts and DeLano did a conference call with me. They forced the hospital with legal action if they didn’t allow me to take the call. The first thing Tom said to me was, “Hi, Sam. We’re moving you to another hospital. The one you’re currently in is actually owned by Brandenhoff. It took us awhile to sort it out, but they bought the hospital not long after they filed the court order.”The next big shock was when he told me that Dr Stevens was actually a plant.
Just kidding. The orderly…the one I’d grown to hate…had connections in the hospital, it turns out, and had found out that a company that owned a company that was owned by a company that owned a company that was owned by…etc…you get the picture…was actually owned by Brandenhoff. It wasn’t a far stretch to imagine the heads of Brandenhoff making the decision to cut me off from the outside world. They couldn’t cut my life support, so they’d decided to do their best to make me fucking crazier than a loon, so crazy that I couldn’t make any decisions or think straight…and that would end any possibility of a legal fight right there. I said the only thing I could at that point. “Sonuvabitch.” Tom got mightily serious at that point. “Sam,” he said. “Go on with the lawsuit. I’ve talked to our lawyers, and they know what’s coming. We’ll write it off and say it’s just us paying what we would have given you had Brandenhoff not interfered. Simple as that. That’s assuming you win the lawsuit, which you surely will. But I want you to know, I’m on your side. I’m rigging the fight. Brandenhoff decides to drag us in, we’ll fuck them. I still can’t believe…” Tom’s voice trailed off. Then the next shock. DeLano says, “Sam, does the name John Michael Jones mean anything to you?” “Nope,” I said to her. “John Michael Jones is the son of a VP at Brandenhoff. He’s gay,” she said. “Ok…and?” I said. “He was in your seat at the beginning of the flight, Sam,” she said. “Ok. AND?” I said again, “Get to the point.” “The point is, you traded seats with him, that’s what he told me.” “The fuck are you saying?” I remembered the kid, he was about 18. He hadn’t wanted a window seat…Made him nervous, he said. “I’m saying, he was going to be in your seat. He would have been the one to be where you are now. He…well, you got fucking lucky and lived, but…more than likely anyone probably should have died from what happened.”“What are you saying?”“Sam. I’m saying, your pod was rigged to malfunction.”“Are you saying…Are you telling me that someone was trying to kill him?”“Probably his father, we think.”“And you’re telling me this, while I’m at Brandenhoff’s hospital?”“You’re safe. There are in fact federal marshals on their way. The orderly you told us about…the one who told us…he’s standing outside your room right now keeping watch. Senator Robertson is currently enroute to Brandenhoff’s corporate headquarters. He’s planning on arresting some people, I think.” “Christ, fuck fuck fuck fuck.” “Yep.”
OH, yes. This is the good part of the story. “So, wait,” I said at that point. “The son is gay, or the vp is?” “The son. We think that when he came out of the closet, his father was furious. Gay hate is a rare thing nowadays, but some people still refuse to believe that it’s anything but a sexual perversion. His father was VP in charge of safety. We…”Tom spoke up and said, “Sam, we have reason to believe his father paid off some people at the airport your plane took off from. We think he paid them to sabotage the plane. And, well, we THINK that Brandenhoff…somehow they found out after the crash, and they covered it up. That’s what they were hiding. That’s why they filed the court order.”“MOTHERFUCKERS! MOTHERFUCKERS! MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!”
I started screaming, distortion from the volume maxing out, distorting the sound of my voice, making it sound horrific. The orderly opened the door to my room, and stared at me. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT ????” I screamed at him.
************************************************************All that I’d been through…you can imagine what was going through my mind. Even as a couple of doctors came in to start disconnecting me…all the things going through my mind…all the anger and hate that I was suddenly feeling…The overwhelming urge to commit murder…to hurt people…it was too much. As they started connecting me to a portable life support, I actually passed out. I never got to see the corridor outside my room, as they wheeled me down it, or look at the sky for the first time in over a year. I was unconscious the whole time, as they rolled me away to another hospital.
The orderly was there, when I woke up. I’d been out of it for 12 hours, the first few hours because I’d fainted, and the rest because I was sedated. They didn’t want me to have an aneurysm. Would have looked bad. I was now at a military hospital, under guard. Senator Robertson had demanded it, just to be on the safe side. When I came to, I was surrounded by people. Holly, Dr Stevens, Buck, Tom Roberts, Senator Robertson, Pops was even there. The look of fury on his face…Roberts had told them everything, and when I woke up and saw them there, the look on their faces…It was more than I could stand. “Listen, I love you all, and I know you want to know if I’m okay…but right now what I really need is some time alone. The orderly just nodded. He’d known me the longest. “Ok, people. Give the man some rest.” “But I’m his FUCKING WIFE!” Holly screamed. I didn’t realize…that until she said that…that she’d never really gotten over the idea that we weren’t married anymore. “Sorry, ma’am,” the orderly said, “but as his personal medical staff, I’m telling you to leave the room.” They shuffled out. Stevens looked back at me with a worried look on her face. Buck had one arm around her, the other on his cane as he limped along. I couldn’t help thinking what a weird couple they were. When it was just me, and the orderly, I started crying. “Mr. Lawson,” he said to me, “it’s just a ride. All of this that’s happening, it’s just a ride. You get through this, you can get through the rest of anything that might happen. You know that right?” He went about the business of checking my vitals, making sure everything was hooked up, and that somebody hadn’t screwed something up somewhere. He didn’t trust anyone else to do it right.I thought about what he said, knew he was right, and I said to him, “Yeah, fuck it. It really is just a ride.”I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, as he did his nurse thing. I’d only been conscious for about thirty minutes, after having been out of it for a good length of time…longer than anyone would want to be, if they were in my position. That is to say, a brain in a jar.I kicked it there, for a little bit, just thinking about what had just happened. Gears shifting, everything suddenly warped and broken up and split apart, the situation and the game suddenly called on account of shitstorms…there was still going to be a lawsuit. But, there wasn’t going to be much of a fight. In fact, at this point, there probably wasn’t going to be much of Brandenhoff Airlines by the time we got done.
May 24, 2010
Dr Stevens arranged to meet Holly a day or two before we had another meeting with Robertson. According to her, it would be easier (and I didn’t argue…I bet you’re not surprised by that.) to deal with my situation if she met Stevens first. Me and the doctor had a long discussion about what it would be like. OK, maybe it wasn’t a long discussion. It was actually a very short, intense discussion, to be honest. A very short, intense, emotional discussion.
The gist of it was that I told her about all of Holly’s quirks, and how Holly would probably react to it, that she’d be absolutely furious that the only reason anyone had asked her to come to see me was because we needed her for the power of attorney. That was a no brainer though, if only because anybody would be furious if they were desperate to see someone and they refused, and then suddenly they were all, “oh, come see me” and it was because they wanted something from them. But, shit, people have been doing that from the beginning of time…from the moment the concept of “fuck off, I don’t want to see you” was invented, that’s been going on. I was just hoping Doctor Stevens could make her understand why.
I’m not really certain just where I’m going with all of this at this point…I mean, I know I want to talk about what happened with Brandenhoff, and Martin-Raytheon, and the Senate Hearings, and all that…plus I’ve yet to tell you the really funny shit with the reporters…I still haven’t talked about that yet, and I keep forgetting to…and to talk about this thing with Holly, and what happened with her and Doctor Stevens, it’s almost…too personal. It’s not the kind of thing I like to talk about, and to be honest, I’m not sure I even have the right to dump it all here. After all, it’s not me that we’re talking about at this point, it’s the mother of my children, the woman to whom, in my heart, I’m still married to, even if we agreed in a court of law that we wouldn’t be married anymore. I almost feel like I’d be raping her privacy, you know?
I asked Doctor Stevens if she’d write this part, about her meeting with Holly, and she said no, she was saving it for her book she was writing about the family members of brain cases. “Good on her,” I thought. So you’ll have to read her book to find out what all happened when they met. I think Holly is going to be chapter five. I’m not really sure. The book she’s writing is less about brain cases and more about the effect it has on family members. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Anyway. So, yeah, long story short and all that shit, Holly agreed to do it, on the condition that I talk to our kids, among other things. The other things were that I agree to divide any possible monetary award from any hypothetical lawsuit between myself and her and the kids. I was a little surprised and hurt that she’d felt she needed to ask for it. I mean, I had already figured on doing that, dividing the money between me and her and the kids. College funds, all that shit…Yeah, I’m in an “all that shit” kind of mood right now. It’s just, there were a lot of “all that shit” moments with all the shit that happened, so if I tend to indulge myself in redundant and excessive use of that particular expletive, that’s just me. Of course, there were also a lot of “oh fuck” moments, as I’ve already talked about.
She also told Dr Stevens that if she was going to be the agent of my power of attorney, she was going to attend every single meeting. She’d be there whenever anything important might be going on. She wasn’t going to be some peon on a leash, coming when she was called, all that shit. Also, I was going to allow other visitors, not just her and the kids. I figured that was coming too. Dr Stevens read a note Holly had given her, from my mother. And that is way too personal to go into. I’ll just say it made me feel like a fucking asshole. I’ll also just say that when someone loves you and they’d go through hell to know you’re ok, and when you refuse to let them talk to you, or you refuse to let them see you, that’s a goddamned shitty thing to do to them. It hurts them more than anything you can do, when they know you’re hurting and they want to know if you’re ok, and you say “fuck off, I don’t want to see you”.
Family was always a big thing with Holly. She’d insisted on meeting my parents when we started dating. Her folks, they lived in another state. Yeah, you can be sure we went and visited them, together, whenever we could…once we realized how serious we were about each other, that is. I like her folks. We don’t have the same political views. They’re kind of moral conservatives; I’m more liberal than that. What it comes down to is, me and them, we respect each other, and me and them both wouldn’t allow some idiot to kill someone just because of that person’s beliefs, or skin color, or whatever. They’re live and let live folks…Don’t piss on their lawn, they won’t burn down your house. I mean that figuratively, fyi. But, for the record, I did once see Pops (that’s what I call her dad) beat the shit out of some guy because he’d slapped his daughter really fucking hard on the back of her head. This was during the second visit to their place in Tennessee. When the cops showed up, I just said the only rational thing I could think of. Keep in mind I was with the father of the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. This is what I said to the cops. I said, “well, I don’t know how the guy got all the bruises and red marks on his face, but I can tell you that that little girl got the cut on her head from a ring on his right hand, when he smacked her.”
The cops got really cold to the dude after that. Turns out that cops don’t have to necessarily arrest you for assault, if they don’t want to. And, when they have the choice of arresting someone for assaulting a child, or arresting a guy for beating the crap out of someone that’s hurt a kid…That’s a no-fucking-brainer. Hell, when the ambulance arrived, the first thing the paramedics did was take a look at the little girl’s head and Pops’ knuckles. I decided right then and there that it was an honor to know this guy. I know that’s not really deep, and it counts for fuck all in the grand scheme of things, but seriously, to know this guy would do what he did that day…and he didn’t care if I stood up for him or not…he just did it because it was the right thing to do…hell, that says a lot about a person’s character. You do what’s right, and to hell with what happens later, you did the right thing. Of course, people that burned witches at the stake were probably thinking the same thing, but not everyone has a good sense of right and wrong. I’m just saying.
By the way, I’m only telling that story because the statute of limitations has run out on the assault.
One of the things I really haven’t done a good job of really saying is how far gone I had gotten. I was right there at the edge of not giving a shit about anything. If Dr Stevens hadn’t come along, I really would have gone completely insane. Eventually, I really would have just stopped being me. No talking, no responding, I’d have sat there in my head behind a wall. Everything she was doing, she was doing as my doctor. The friendship was there, sure. We’d gotten close, and we were as close to being buddies as a doctor and a patient could be. But I wasn’t going to be “cured” in her eyes until I was finally out of the jar. That was her thing, to see it through until I was in a body and able to live without having to use a fucking speaker as my fucking mouth. So, she saw agreeing to Holly’s conditions as what was best for getting me to that point, and to hell with what I thought.
So Stevens lays this all out, what Holly said, and I said the only thing I could at that point. I said, “ok.”
Martin-Raytheon had made a show of being morally indignant about the lawsuit, but it was a front. It was part of a greater strategy to get to the bottom of the plane crash, among other things. For his part, Senator Robertson made a show of going first to Brandenhoff, and then to Martin-Raytheon, on the pretense of rooting out who the real villain was in my situation. He was accompanied by Federal marshals when he went and visited them, to let them know he meant business. And I’m not talking about one or two marshals. I’m talking about a whole squad of them. He went in, locked down the headquarters at Brandenhoff, and made a really scary show of it. “This company is now under investigation by the Senate committee for fraud and negligence,” he said. “Any and all employees are now subject to a thorough background check, and all company holdings and business partnerships will be subject to inquiry at a federal level. As part of this inquiry, all information systems in use by the company have been digitally copied to the Federal Database pending review by Congressional authorities.” Man, I wish I could have seen the look on their faces.
He did the same thing at Martin-Raytheon, but again, it was just part of the act. Martin-Raytheon had already transferred a copy of their information database to the Federal Investigatory Database…secretly, of course. Nobody wanted to tip Brandenhoff that we were on to them, and whatever dirty secret they were hiding. I know anyone reading this already knows what happened, but I’m the narrator, dammit. I’ll tell it like you don’t know already know, if I damned well please.
Oh, right. I’m telling the story out of order. Senator Robertson came to the hospital in person. One of the marshals he came with was, in fact, the marshal that accompanied the Brandenhoff lawyer that delivered the Court Order. Just going to start capitalizing that, so you know I’m talking about the one that left me stuck in the brain case. Anyway, I had been looking at one of the marshals. He looked damned unhappy. He looked like he was returning to the scene of the crime. I said to him, “Hey, you. The guy with the moustache.” “Yes, sir?” he answered. I say to him, “You ok?” Robertson turned and looked at the guy, turns back to me, and says, “Oh, this is officer Thompson, he’s the marshal that helped deliver your Court Order.” “Ah,” I said. The marshal didn’t say anything else the whole time. He just stood there looking twitchy for the rest of the meeting.
“Sam,” Robertson said, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that we’re going to begin an investigation into Brandenhoff Airlines, and their role in what happened to you. The bad news is that I wasn’t able to get enough support for actually making any headway on wide support for a revision to the existing law that put you here for so long. At any rate, even if we were able to revise it, it couldn’t be retroactive. Laws don’t work like that. You can’t make a law to fit a crime and then prosecute afterwards.” I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t expecting a miracle. Then he said, “The investigation will, however, be multi-layered. We’re going to comb through everything with Brandenhoff’s name on it, and anything that has the name of a Brandenhoff employee’s name on it. And that goes for their lawyers and accountants, too. The long story short, Sam, is we’re working on it. I can’t do anything more than what I’m already doing. Oh, and we’re also investigating Martin-Raytheon’s dealings as well, since it was their pod, after all. You know I don’t like having to tell you any bad news, but I am working on making the entire cloud silver, instead of it just having a silver lining.” “So, you’re going to choke the shit out of Brandenhoff, right?” I asked.
“Oh, hell yes,” he said enthusiastically. Robertson sounded like a kid in a candy store when he said that. I smiled at the thought. He told me that he was going to Brandenhoff to announce the investigation personally. The guy was like just like that. It was good to know, that after all this time, I finally had people actually helping me. Hell, it didn’t just feel good. It felt fucking heroic…I pictured angels flying through the air, blazing swords in hand, swooping down on Brandenhoff’s corporate headquarters. I told Robertson that, and he smiled. Then he got real serious. “Sam, I don’t know how much longer you’re going to be like…this. I wish I could give you some idea of what’s going to happen. I can’t.” I imagined a mental version of me standing by him, nodding at him, with a stern, understanding look on my face.
Things move slowly when you’re waiting for something to happen, but a year plus in the jar had finally granted me a kind of calm that most people wouldn’t understand. I knew that whatever happened, it would take awhile.
I’d met with Robertson without Doctor Stevens or Buck being present. Holly was in town, living in a place Stevens had helped her get set up in; the kids were spending vacation time at her parent’s house, then they’d be going to my folks’ place. Then my parents were going to drive in with them, and there’d be a big meeting with all of them. I was beginning to feel like faking my death might be a good solution after all. The note from my mom was still eating at me, and it’s not like I had any way to distract myself. I thought about getting an orderly to ask the doc to bring some audio books down for me to listen to, but decided I needed to actually think about what was happening now, instead of blocking it all out. I hadn’t really even given much thought to what was happening; I’d been too busy meeting with Buck and Doctor Stevens, and Brandenhoff, and Robertson and, to be honest, I was sleeping most of the time otherwise. The bad dreams, I found, had finally stopped. The bad dreams…dreams about Holly, and sometimes about the plane crash, and sometimes dreams about me being where I was in my jar, but nobody ever came to talk to me…no orderlies or nurses, no doctors, not a single person. In my dream, there was a sign on the door of my room that said “nobody cares about you” and in the dream I couldn’t move my camera around to look anywhere else, it was fixed in one position so I had to keep looking at the sign. Thank God that finally stopped. I think that was the worst one. That was the one that really got to me. You’d think you’d get used to recurring nightmares, but you never do. No matter how many times you have them, they always leave you with that same terrible feeling.
Until I was in the case, I hadn’t had nightmares that kept happening. I mean I’d have nightmares that were kind of the same…falling, that sort of thing…I even had a nightmare where I was being stabbed. I woke up from it in some weird position that made my back feel like something was stuck in it. But they weren’t recurring dreams and none of them scared the hell out of me like the ones I had in the case. Really I hardly ever dreamed at all before I was de-bodied. So when I started having the nightmares…I know the dreams about Holly wouldn’t seem like nightmares to most people, but they just reminded me of everything I’d lost. Anyways…
So the bad dreams stopped. Maybe it was because I finally had some hope. I don’t know. I didn’t dream at all. It was really nice.
Ah, hell. I keep forgetting what I’m talking about…I don’t know, I guess I’m good at rambling. The point I’m getting at was, I stopped focusing on how miserable I’d been finally, and started THINKING. I started giving a shit about what had happened to me of course. At some point, I’d kind of given up hope. But what I was really thinking about was how I’d hurt my family. I kept thinking about why I’d done what I’d done, shutting them out like I had. I couldn’t help thinking about how bad I wanted to cry, and how I couldn’t…I just felt that vague nothing, like I got when I saw Dr Stevens for the first time and I couldn’t get a hard on, but I knew my brain was expecting it.
So I couldn’t cry, and finally, I realized, I had no right to cry. That wasn’t self pitying bullshit, that’s just the way it was. I had no right to release the pain I was feeling. Don’t misunderstand me, I had my reasons, and I’d do it again, but now I was at the point where I had to explain what I did to the people that cared about me the most. I had to tell them why I shut them out.
What I wanted to do was talk to Pops about it. He was always a good listener…He was also good at calling bullshit when he heard it. I figured, if anyone in my family could understand…and yeah, I considered him family…he taught my boys how to swim for fuckssake…he was their granddad…of course he was still family…it’d be him. Plus, talking to him would help me get my head straight. The thing was I really wasn’t sure why I shut myself away from everyone and kept them away. I keep telling myself it was because I didn’t want to cause them any pain, and that’s the truth. But I don’t know that wasn’t the only reason for it.
See, at first I was so caught up in what was happening when I first got in the brain case, expecting to get out, and dealing with the shit from being bodiless, that I didn’t want anyone to know that I was suffering like that. And then when I found out that Brandenhoff was blocking my medical procedure, well…that just screwed me up completely. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want anyone to come see me…It was too much to deal with. And then it just became how it was. It might have been pride or some stupid shit like that. I dunno. I still haven’t ever figured out why I didn’t let anyone come and see me, you know? But nobody gives me shit for it anymore…everyone gave me shit for it for a good long time, but they finally stopped. I guess they got it out of their system.
But I still feel like a fucking asshole, all that said. And, when I talked to Pops about it, that’s what he said…That I was a fucking asshole for doing that shit. His exact words, in fact, were, “You fucking asshole, Sam. You have any idea what kind of hell you’ve put my grandchildren through? What you’ve put HOLLY through?” That’s what he said when I told him why I did what I did. He didn’t care about why I did it. That didn’t matter to him. What mattered was that the only reason I had contacted Holly was because I needed her for my power of attorney…and that was a shitty fucking thing to do. So I said to him, “Pops, listen to me.” And I told him. I told him everything. Everything that I couldn’t tell Dr Stevens, everything that I felt, and everything that I’d been through. I told him about the plane crash, and about Brandenhoff, I told him everything about everything I’d had happen to me. I told him what it felt like when I wanted to scream and when I wanted to hit somebody, and how it felt when I wanted to run away, and I told him about the nightmare I had about the sign. And then I had Dr Stevens turn off the voice so he could hear what I sounded like when anyone was actually in the room with me. And he said, “Jesus Christ, Sam. What the hell did they do to you?”
Again, I’m telling the story out of order. I had gotten it in my head to call Pops and talk to him. Dr Stevens wasn’t entirely sure it was a good idea for me to call him, if only because of how long I’d gone not talking to anyone at all. It wasn’t a medical concern, or a professional opinion, she honestly thought it would be a bad idea…by now she was speaking her mind pretty freely about things. I agreed it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But she agreed to help. The Orderly was hanging out in the corridor outside my room standing watch, so to speak. Really he was just out there to make sure a hospital admin couldn’t sneak up. Dr Stevens made the call, and turned on the speaker on it, so I could hear him. The Orderly had suggested the voice emulator. Dr Stevens thought it was dishonest, but I explained why I wanted to use it and she understood.
The call went something like “Hey, Pops. It’s Sam.” Pops said, “Bullshit.” “No, really,” I said, “It’s me.” “Bullshit.” It took my telling him about the story with the kid and the father and the cops to get him to believe me. The first thing he said was, “Jesus H Christ, Sam. You shouldn’t be calling me. You should be calling Holly.” And I told him why I was calling him, which is when he called me a fucking asshole. And what could I do? I said, “I know, Pops. I’m sorry.” Again, he called me a fucking asshole. I can’t say I didn’t deserve it. But it was important to at least know that one person understood why, which is why I told him everything, like I said. Dr Stevens gave me funny looks the whole time, like she felt kind of insulted that I hadn’t opened up to her like that. I felt kind of guilty, because I’d held out on her, but I figured she could handle it. Still…I can’t help but feel like I’d kind of betrayed her by not trusting her with everything I dumped on Pops.
So, once I turned off the voice emulator, which had included voice inflections and everything, and it was just a monotone voice talking (why they couldn’t have connected one of those emulators to my speakers, I’ll never know) he really got it. He didn’t like it, but I knew he understood. It didn’t justify what I’d done, cutting everyone off like I did, but he understood. I think it really upset him, and that did justify what I’d done. I figured, if I could make him of all people get it, I could get on with what needed to be done without feeling like quite as big of a shithead about it. “Pops,” I said to him, “You can’t tell anyone what I told you. It’s too much for anyone to know.”
So, yeah, now I guess you’re wondering why I’d be talking about all this now, if it’s too much for anyone to know. Beats the hell out of me. Just seemed like the thing to do. You know?
So Pops agreed not to talk about it to anyone, but he also set a condition that I stay in touch. I told him that I wasn’t allowed to make phone calls. “Bullshit,” he said. “You’re talking to me right now.” “I know, but…well…I’m breaking the rules,” I said. “I’m not even allowed to have net access…but there’s different reasons for that.” He said, “I know, Sam, you told me. I didn’t forget that already. Son, is there anything I can do?” “Yeah,” I said. “Convince Holly not to bring the kids to see me.” He didn’t answer me right off. I could hear Holly’s mom in the background, asking him who he was talking to. “It’s Tom from work,” he told her. “Tell him to give you a raise, if he’s going to call you at home,” she said. I agreed with her; Pops’ boss was always calling him about one thing or another, even when Pops was on vacations, he’d call him and ask him about shit, or tell him about something going on. Pops said his boss was the one guy he couldn’t just tell off. He always said, “I like my job. And if he’s calling me all the damned time, at least I know I’m indispensable.” Pops had a good point there.
He finally got done talking to Holly’s mom. “Maria wants me to tell you to give me more money,” he said. “Tell her I’ll think about it,” I said. Finally, after he talked to her a bit more, he said to me, “Sam, I don’t know that I can do that. I know you don’t want them to see you like you are. I don’t know. I’ll talk to her about it. Do you want her to know that you called me?” “Hell no,” I said, “I’m already going to be getting it from her as it is.” Pops said, “Well, she’s her father’s daughter.” “Yes she is,” I said.
The Orderly tapped on the door and came in. “Ok, folks. Time to change his fluid.” “Sam…I said some unkind things, and I meant them, but I want you to know…Hell, I know you, you don’t like people to say things like that…I know when you divorced Holly, you didn’t want anyone telling you it would be okay, and I know that you didn’t want anyone saying things like ‘that’s a damned shame’, but I’m just…I’m so damned sorry about what happened to you.” I said to him, “It’s okay, Pops. I’ll be alright. I gotta go.”
He told me to give him a call when I could, and I promised I would, and I meant it.
May 8, 2010
Plane crash. Right.
Brandenhoff’s argument that they ultimately weren’t to blame for my condition *coughs* depended on the idea that planes crash, and therefore the plane crashing was a perfectly natural occurrence, as natural as rain falling from the sky or a bear shitting in the woods. Their idea was that, because it was a perfectly natural thing for planes to crash, safety equipment is in place for the well-being of the passengers on planes. The safety equipment is not supposed to fail. Therefore, the real liability here is with the manufacturer of the safety devices on the plane, not the airline. I saw a fucked up logic to it, but being able to see the logic in an argument doesn’t make the person making the argument right.
Enter Miss Lucy DeLano, a nice enough chick, who stepped into the fray at the request of the higher ups at Martin-Raytheon….specifically, the president of the company. Lucy DeLano was an expert and researcher of safety equipment. She was a connoisseur of safety equipment, if you want to think of it that way. She was the next person that the Stevens and me talked to, and she was…I hate to say it like this, but she was a fucking genius. DeLano told us everything we’d want to know about safety equipment. Then she told us more.
But, the most interesting thing she talked about was the concept of no fault accidents. She cited precedents going back to the 21st century, talking about plane crashes, train crashes, shipwrecks, orbital decompressions, you name it. The point she was trying to drive home was that, in each of these accidents, people died or were horribly injured, and in the end nobody was ever found to be at fault…Not the airlines, not the ocean liners, nobody. But, in each of these cases, the injured were still reimbursed for their injuries by the various companies involved. “Of course,” DeLano said, “The laws were different back then. Nowadays, companies are not inclined to be so amicable in settling on injury or death claims.” I said to her, “So, who do YOU Think is at fault here? I mean, I get what Brandenhoff is saying. Part of me can even see their point, I guess, but for fuckssake…” Then I realized something.
“Wait a second,” I said, “What if MR really is at fault?” DeLano looked at me like I’d just pissed on her face. “MR is willing to concede to the concept that there was a failure of the passenger protection systems on the plane,” she said.
“MR’s position is that it will provide a monetary reward to Mr. Lawson, along with full recompensation for medical treatments and related conditions. It will not admit full responsibility for the injuries he sustained.” Lucy DeLano went silent for a moment. Then she said, “Assuming this doesn’t go to court with Brandenhoff. If it does, Brandenhoff will drag us in as a co-defendant.”
“So,” I said, “What is this? Is this a negotiation of terms or something?” I asked her. She said, “We’re not negotiating. I’m stating MR’s position on the matter.” It was a script. Of course it is, I thought, looking at her face twitch a little. She didn’t look happy to be here, I thought.
“Hey, I’ve got a question,” said Stevens. “Who,” she asked, “designed the ejection system? You know, the one that left Sam stuck in the plane when it crashed? Nobody seems to have mentioned that. It seems to me that the party that is truly liable for his injuries is the company that made the ejection system. The one that failed.” Lucy DeLano looked at Steven for a moment or two, and then she slowly nodded, as if she’d just been told something she didn’t know. Who knows, maybe she hadn’t thought of it. She was probably so focused on defending Martin-Raytheon, it hadn’t occured to her that the manufacturer of the ejection system designed around the ejection pod was to blame.
“So who made it?” I asked. “And,” I continued, “Why hadn’t we already thought of that?”
Stevenson looked over at her husband and then at me and said, “Well, shit, I don’t know about you two, but I’d been thinking about that since I took you on as a patient.”
For her part, DeLano agreed to find out the names of all the companies listed as having built or designed parts of the ejection system. That made me smile. She was a good chick.
All of that aside, it still left us in kind of a fucked up position. Brandenhoff Airlines blamed the maker of the ejection pod/restraints, the maker of the ejection pod/restraints blames the company that made the ejection system, the company that makes the ejection system blames someone else. It was a circular argument. Really, it was a failure of every company involved, I thought. Sue everyone, I thought, and let God sort it out later.
DeLano (smart chick that she was) talked to us by video link for about an hour or so, talking about the repercussions of all the different issues that a lawsuit could have on us settling. I said to her, point blank, that I wasn’t interested in dragging MR into a lawsuit as a co-defendant with Brandenhoff, but if a lawsuit was the only way to get the court order removed, or to get out of my current situation, then that’s what I was going to do.
Now, I know I’m skimming over the details of a lot of this shit. But this all happened years ago, and just talking about it now, I don’t remember a lot of the details, so fuck it. I remember a lot of the other shit that happened after that, the really good stuff, so relax.
Anyways. I’d already accepted DeLano into our little group, and apparently Stevens and Buck had too. She was polite, intelligent…cute…I’ll admit it, if I’d had a body back then, I would have straight up asked her out on a date with less than noble intentions, you know? It was when she started expanding on Stevens’ question about who the manufacturer of the ejection system was that things started getting interesting. It fired up a whoooole lot of conversation about Brandenhoff as well. Like, why had Brandenhoff suddenly blocked my body transplant? If it had been on Martin-Raytheon’s shoulders, and it really had been a failure of the pod and the restraints (and yeah, the restraints fucked me up good, no doubt about that), why had Brandenhoff even given a shit?
Put two and two together, it goes like this. DeLano said “The way I see it is this: If Martin-Raytheon had taken responsibility for your injuries from the get-go, we would have of course launched our own investigation as to who was to blame. It’s standard procedure for a company.” We listened to her, none of us making wisecracks like we normally did when it was the three of us talking. “Brandenhoff knew before they filed the injunction that Martin-Raytheon was prepared to accept a medical claim for Mr. Lawson, and they knew that we’d do an investigation into all aspects of the failure of the safety pod, from the moment it didn’t eject to the moment Mr. Lawson was removed from the pod. They also knew we’d request the names of all companies that had designed or manufactured any parts used in the plane, so that we could check the safety standards and manufacturing facilities of those companies. We’re legally entitled to investigate them.” DeLano stopped talking for a few moments. Buck looked at Stevens, and they looked over at me.
“So,” Buck said to DeLano, “Are you saying that they made a defacto claim to responsibility for this so that you couldn’t find out that they fucked up somewhere?” “Not my words,” DeLano replied, “but, yeah. They blocked his procedure so that we wouldn’t investigate them. And, I can pretty much guarantee that someone, somewhere, at Brandenhoff, is aware of the conversation we’re having right now. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Lawson—“ “Call me Sam,” I said to her. “Fine. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam here ends up getting a visitor of the legal persuasion sometime soon.” “More lawyers? Jesus Christ,” I said. Buck looked over at me and said, “Hey, that’s just mean.” I smiled inwardly at Buck and said, “You’re not a lawyer. You’re a goddamned soldier of the law. There’s a difference.” “Gee, thanks Sam.” Buck smiled.
“Question,” I said to her. “What happened to the pod I was in?” “It’s in a warehouse somewhere in the FAA investigation compounds,” she said. “What if it isn’t?” Buck asked her. Then he said, “According to someone I know, the FAA is dragging its feet to investigate the crash. Maybe the reason is because they themselves are also hiding something.”
It was paranoid, but I understood what Buck was saying. Leave it to a lawyer to be suspicious, right? Dr. Stevens looked over at Buck, probably thinking the same thing I was, that he sounded like a nut.
“I think,” DeLano said, “You should talk to Tom Edwards. He’s actually been wanting to talk to you, Mr. Lawson. He just wasn’t sure what your disposition would be towards us.” “What does he want to say?” I asked.
Dr Stevens spoke up again. She’d been kind of quiet, soaking in what DeLano was talking about. It wasn’t a question so much as thinking out loud.
“Soooo- -let me get this straight- -if Brandenhoff dragged Martin-Raytheon into a lawsuit as a co-defendant, wouldn’t that make Martin-Raytheon legally entitled to launch an investigation into the companies involved in the various aspects of the construction and maintenance of the plane? I mean, if you’re going to be dragged onto a ship, you’re going to look for where the leaks are, right?” DeLano looked kind of stunned. It was the first time I’d seen her lose composure during the entire meeting. Buck looked at Stevens and said, “That’s why I married this woman. She’s right. If we were to go forward with the lawsuit against Brandenhoff, and they drag Martin-Raytheon into it as co-defendant, then Martin-Raytheon will be legally obligated to investigate any possible issues with the plane Sam was on, as part of their defense. If Brandenhoff blocks their investigation, it would automatically sink their defense and demonstrate guilt.”
A voice we hadn’t heard before came through the speakers. It said, “You people are damned clever.” It was Tom Edwards.
“I didn’t realize this was a three way,” said Buck, looking around at me and Dr Stevens.
I laughed. Stevens kicked Buck really hard in the leg. “OW!” Buck yelped, and smiled at her. “Love you, babe,” he said to her. She smiled back at him and punched him in the shoulder. “OW!” he yelled again, “Would you stop hitting me?” “Don’t be a bitch,” she said to him.
Tom Edwards’ face appeared on the video, watching what was happening. He said, “Are you people always like this?”
Stevens and Buck looked at one another and laughed. Edwards had a wtf look on his face. “Yes we are”, I said, and added, “It helps us think.”
There was one complication with what was happening, and that was that I couldn’t sign documents. I had no hands, obviously I couldn’t sign anything. You’d think there’d be some way for me to digitally sign them, but you’d be wrong. I was going to have to get somebody I could give power of attorney to, but I couldn’t actually sign anything authorizing that either. The only person that could act on my behalf without actually having to get anything in writing was my ex-wife, Holly. You can imagine that I really did not fucking want to do that. I’d been doing my damnedest to keep her away from me, and now I saw that there was no fucking way I could do this without her, and I’d have to drag her in.
It wasn’t that there was any animosity between us. The thing was I didn’t want her to see me like this. Hell, I didn’t want any fucking person I knew to see me like this. Yeah, Buck and Dr Stevens saw me in this condition, but they were used to fucked up shit. I didn’t want to put the mother of my children through having to see me. She’d be obligated to come to the hospital every couple of days, or whenever there were documents that needed signing, plus there would have to be witnesses there showing that she was acting on my behalf. I didn’t want her to hear my voice coming through a speaker. I didn’t want her to know what I was going through. She was always a sensitive person…if a person could be empathic, I mean really able to feel what another person is feeling, it was her. Plus, I just had a really bad feeling about getting her involved with the shit. You know that gnawing feeling you get sometimes, when you think about doing something and you hear that voice in your head that says “No”? That’s what I was hearing when I thought about bringing her in. Images of badness went through my head every time I pictured her signing papers for me.
Despite the fact that alarms were going off in my head, I knew that I couldn’t do what I needed to do unless I got her to help me. I cursed the gods and the universe, and Brandenhoff for being a bunch of bastards. I imagined Holly walking into the room and seeing my brain floating in a jar with wires and tubes, and hearing the gurgling and rasping of my life support system. She’d break down and start crying, and I wouldn’t be able to hold her, or do anything to comfort her. I wouldn’t be able to do a damned thing to keep her from feeling all the things she’d feel once she really knew, and that’s the part that pissed me off the most, that out of all the pain and trauma and shit I’d gone through, the worst was, ultimately, the pain that SHE’D feel because of it.
It horrified me, thinking about that, that she’d have to see me like this. Yeah, this isn’t getting redundant at all, right? Christ, I sound like I felt sorry for myself, but it wasn’t like that. I was just pissed.
So, a week went by after the long chat with Martin-Raytheon about things, where we were sitting on pins and needles. Tom Edwards was looking at MR’s options, and trying to sort some shit out. Stevens made a point of stopping in every day now to check on me, to see how I was holding up. She couldn’t always stay as long as she wanted to, but she’d at least make the effort. Buck would stop in, or leave a message for the Orderly to give me if he couldn’t stop by personally. Sometimes it was a lengthy note, sometimes it would just say “You’re an asshole. Smile.” Yeah, me and Buck became good friends pretty quick. It’s that whole male bonding thing I guess. Put two guys that enjoy dirty jokes and talking shit, and next thing you know they end up being best man at each other’s weddings. It’s just how it goes, you know?
We got to talking about Holly one day, which is how this whole power of attorney thing came up in the first place. Buck was drinking water, going over some transcripts of the conversations with Robertson and MR, and he looked up at me in the middle of it and said, “Shit on me. I need you to sign paperwork.”
“How the fuck am I going to sign paperwork?” I asked him, “I haven’t got any hands.” Buck looked depressed for a second and then said, “Well…we need someone with power of attorney.” I thought for a second, which is when I realized that we’d need to call Holly, and she’d need to come to the hospital, ad nauseum. “You know what that means, as well as I do,” he said,
I said to him, “Well, you’re my attorney already, right?” “Not technically,” Buck answered, and then he told me that since I hadn’t actually signed any papers, nor had somebody acting as my representative sign any papers, he was simply acting on my behalf as a lawyer on retainer. “So, wait,” I said, “You’re telling me that it has to be somebody that would already be enabled to have my power of attorney.”
“Fuck me,” I said.
He knew what I was thinking. He hadn’t wanted to even bring it up to me, but he really had no choice in it, he’d just been putting it off. Now Buck was at the point where he couldn’t just fuck off and not say anything about it any longer, but I knew that he meant I’d have to ask Holly.
Goddammit, I thought. Goddamn, Goddamn, Goddamn. GODDAMN.
Another bunch of shit to deal with, I thought.
Ok. I know this isn’t the most well written piece of verse, folks, but it is what it is. It sounds completely backwards the way I’m telling this part, but it’s my memoirs, so suck it.
“I think we should have Stevens ask her,” I said. Buck nodded in agreement, and then randomly said, “Why don’t you call her by her first name?” “It’s a professional thing,” I answered. “Yeah,” he replied, “But I’m your lawyer.”
“Not yet you’re not.”
We sat there for the rest of the afternoon that day, neither one of us talking much.
“I don’t want to ask her,” I said as he was getting ready to leave. “I know, man. There isn’t another way to do this,” he said. “I really don’t want her to see me like this,” I said. Buck looked at the floor, absentmindedly looking at his shoes, and said, “I know, Sam. I know it isn’t right, and I know this…situation…it’s an obscenity. Every part of me screams and rages against what’s happening to you. But sometimes you just can’t get around doing certain things, and some of those things are shitty. If I could do anything but this, I’d do it. Even if it meant giving the devil a blowjob, I’d rather do that than drag her into this, even if she’s just signing papers for you.” “You’d suck the devil for me?” I asked. “No, no. I’d promise him a blowjob from you once you got out,” he said.
“I don’t want to ask her.”
April 16, 2010
Buck and Dr Stevens were in my room one day with me and we were talking about my options. You know, it was shit like, “SO, could we conceivably put him in a body and replace his brain with the brain of a chimp and sneak him out? Maybe take him to France on a private plane and do the procedure there?”
Sure, we could have found people to help us replace my brain with one from a chimp, but it would have been hell for everyone if we’d gotten caught. We only seriously discussed the chimp brain for a few minutes. Then the doctor and Buck looked at each other, and started laughing.
The conversation went something like this.
“You know, we could just replace his brain with one from someone that’s brain dead. We could stick Sam’s brain in someone’s body without anyone knowing.”
“No, it’s not crazy. It’s illegal, but it’s not crazy.”
“No, it’s crazy. Someone would notice a missing brain.”
“I think they’d understand if they knew.”
“Right, but they wouldn’t know.”
“We could tell them, and then kill them.”
That’s when I said, “Well, what about a chimp brain? They’re about the same size, right?”
Dr Stevens said, “That might work…but I don’t know how we’d switch you out with it.”
“What about doing it on that orderly’s shift?” I asked. “I think he’d go along with it.”
“You really think so?” Buck asked.
“Yeah, I really do,” I answered, thinking about the orderly’s apathy. “I think if we approached him, he’d go along with it.”
“Hmm,” said Stevens, “What if we did it during one of my visits, at a time when he’s working? I could pretend you’d flatlined, get him to confirm it, and then take you out of here.”
“Yeah, but that’d require us faking Sam’s death, and that’s fucking messy,” said Buck.
Dr Stevens looked over at her husband and frowned.
“Jesus Christ, Buck, why do you have to be such a fucking downer?”
That kind of ended the chimp brain idea, but I still think it would have been fucking funny.
The first person we talked to in our pow-wow was a senator that I’d never heard of, but that’s just because he was elected after they’d turned off my tv. Senator Robertson was a crusader, kind of like Buck. They’d actually been friends back in college, or at least knew each other. Either way, they knew each other well enough to have a couple of beers together sometimes, and they’d kept in touch since they’d graduated.
“So, I read up on this case,” Robertson said. “Mr. Lawson, it’s disgusting, and horrific, but the fact is that they have a case for the injunction. However…I’m fairly certain that I can work up some support for an addition to the current law they used in court to get the injunction. I can’t be any more specific than that right now, but it would add some kind of clause about duration. Obviously, there’s extenuating circumstances here. What you’ve been through…I can’t even imagine how hellish this has all been.”
“Want me to tell you?” I said, dryly.
“Some other time. I can’t talk for long, but I can tell you that I promise to do everything in my power to help.”
“Hey, I’m not gonna forget. This is a B.F.D., Mr. Lawson. Don’t get cynical on me.”
“He does that a lot, senator,” Stevens said, smiling pointedly at me.
I made a mental note to give her the finger for that when I finally had a hand to do it with. The senator continued, ignoring what she said.
“Well, he’s kind of entitled to be. I mean, hell, I’d start wondering about the basic nature of people if I were in his position. You see all these people living their lives, and they see other people suffering, and they don’t do a goddamned thing to help. They’re too focused on going about their daily lives, and they don’t stop to raise holy hell when somebody stops them and tells them how things are. It disgusts me, just thinking about how indifferent people are. All they do is tuck their heads under their wings and pretend it isn’t raining shit on them. And what does that get them? It gets them covered in shit.”
I decided, right then, that I liked this guy. Sure, he was a politician, and not to be trusted, but even so, a lot of politicians are not to be trusted. That doesn’t mean they aren’t trustworthy. Okay, yeah, that doesn’t sound right, but fuck it. The point is, he was all right.
Dr Stevens wasn’t quite convinced. She laid into him just a little. “So,” she asked, “Why haven’t you done anything about this before, if you’re so familiar with his story? You act all self righteous, but I feel like you’re putting on a show here, to make yourself look good or something.” The senator didn’t answer right away. I think he was caught off guard. The look on Buck’s face when she said that…I can only imagine he must have had that look on his face when he realized his wife was about to beat the shit out of him. Senator Robertson said to her, “You know, you’re right. I’m being kind of a hypocrite here, going on about injustice, but the fact is that you can’t do everything at once; sometimes you have to be reminded about things, and sometimes you need to be reminded with a brick to the head, and sometimes you have to be reminded with a slap to the face. And sometimes you need to be reminded by having somebody beat the shit out of you when you’re tied up.”
Buck’s face turned red. He looked over at Stevens, and said, “How many people did you tell?”
I laughed my ass off at that. The senator said “What the hell is that noise?” Dr Stevens said, “That’s what it sounds like when Mr. Lawson laughs.” “Jesus,” said Robertson.
I cut in. “Listen, I appreciate the platitudes, Senator. But, I don’t want you saying shit about what you’re going to do for me unless you think you can make it happen.”
The senator didn’t answer. Dr Stevens said to him, “The point is, we need to know what we have to work with, in terms of getting him out of that jar.” Buck still looked like God had just shit in his mouth. Even so, he tried to keep his composure. He was a lawyer, after all…though I imagine being in a court room and being next to your wife with people that knew she kicked your ass after catching you with another woman are two entirely different kinds of stress. I wouldn’t know. I never cheated on my wife, and if she’d found out about it, she would have put my head up on a stick in the front yard. Proudly.
Buck finally snapped out of it. “Senator,” he said, “What are the chances we can get Brandenhoff to agree to a concession here? Without it needing to go to court?” Senator Robertson said, “Not much. They’re playing for time. The longer they wait, the bigger a hole they dig for them, so they’re trying to pretend this will go away. They don’t want to make any kind of agreement, because it’ll essentially be admitting guilt. Especially since they were the ones who got the court order, they’ll be doing everything possible to not agree to anything.”
“So, we’re going to have to be prepared for a fight then.”
Dr Stevens and her husband looked at each other. Then they glanced over at me. “The good news is,” said Robertson, “Mr. Lawson has one hell of a pain and suffering claim on his hands. He’ll never have to work again, for starters–” I smiled inwardly. I was really starting to like this guy now. “—And,” he said, “If it turns out that they ARE responsible, and they hid that information…well, hell, the law says that the money from the fines they’d get hit with for withholding information, be it knowingly or unknowingly, regarding their liability, goes straight to Mr. Lawson as well.”
“Call me Sam,” I said.
“Sam,” the senator said to me, “Brandenhoff actually isn’t trying to screw you. They’re a company. They’re protecting themselves. Granted, what they’ve done is morally reprehensible and unethical, but it’s not against the law. That’s what makes it hard to fight. For all we know, it was just a flaw in the electrical wiring that caused the crash. They might not have any liability at all, and therefore owe you nothing. That’s the thing you have to be careful of if you go to court with this thing.” “Yeah,” I said, “and why is the investigation into the crash still ongoing?”
“That’s an issue I plan to take up with the FAA as soon as possible. I’ll tell you this; a lot of people in Congress listen to what I have to say. It’s one of the advantages of being an independent moderate. I listen to both sides, and give everyone as much respect as they earn. If someone acts like they’re full of shit, I say it to them, publically. It’s one of the reasons I’m so well known. And, generally, the majority agrees with me when I say it.”
Buck said, “It’s true, Sam. He’s got a tattoo on his ass that says ‘cut the shit’.”
I thought to myself that a tattoo on his ass that said cut the shit could be taken in a couple of ways, and most of them couldn’t be talked about in front of children. Robertson ignored Buck, and went on. He said, “If I come to the leaders of the parties that have the biggest numbers about either amending the law, they’ll listen. One alternative would be to have a hearing about it to put pressure on Brandenhoff. Might also bring in the manufacturers of the plane and the pod. Personally, I’m in favor of the latter option. Makes for bigger press, and a bigger embarrassment for all parties involved, though as I understand it, Martin-Raytheon did try to provide some kind of relief to you.”
“Yeah they did,” I said. “They have even offered to pay for the procedure and all medical expenses. Apparently the CEO, Tom Edwards, his mom was a brain case for about a month because of a shooting incident.” Robertson said, “I heard about that. They were actually able to clone her body successfully without any growth faults.” “Yeah,” I said, “Luckily. Imagine having a new mom but she’s the same mom, right?”
“Well, this is all very nice,” said Buck, “But this is all just hypothetical. When do I get to sue somebody?”
March 28, 2010
Buck showed up in my room one afternoon, like I said. I watched him go through his papers and pad. And I’m just looking at him, so goddamned tempted to say something smart, like, “Wow. She’s stronger than she looks. How’s the jaw?” He looks up at me and says, “The buzzing from your voice system…That means you’re thinking about something, right?” I say, “Are you asking me what I’m thinking, or just pointing out that I’m capable of thought?” He just smiled at me. “So…a little hostile there. Is it personal, or just on general principle?” I laughed and said “It’s all purpose hostility. How’s the cheerleader?”
Wow, did that piss him off. He tried to get pissed off, anyways, and then I said, “What have you got to be self-righteous about? Your wife beat the hell out of you after catching you cheating on her. YOU have NO claim on getting pissed about it. If it was my ex-wife Holly, and she’d caught you like that, your balls would be gone. Be grateful your wife only gave you broken bones.”
He looks at me kind of funny and says “Yeah. That’s what my dad said to me after I told him about what she did.”
So, Mr. Buck Stevens and I had a good laugh at that. He’d spent about a week studying brain cases, including going over Stevens’ case notes about me, and the notes from the other doctors that I’d had. He looked through some of the medical studies done on brain cases and the effects of long term disembodiment. You’d think there’d be a shorter word meaning “bodiless and sustained in a jar of fluid”. But there isn’t. Anyways.
What he read was disturbing. He flipped through his pages, studying them as I watched the look on his face. Buck would look up at me occasionally and give me a look that I would come to call his “fuck” look. I know I keep dropping F-bombs but…it’s just the way I talk. So he gets done looking, He says, “You’ve got a problem.” And I say to him, “No shit. You going to tell me what it is?” He looks at me, and says “You mean nobody’s told you?”
I didn’t say anything. He looks all serious and all, then finally says “HAH. I’m just messing with you, man.” That sonuvabitch had a mean sense of humor.
We got down to it, at that point, after I got done unloading a stream of expletives too inspired to repeat here. Hey, even I have to have standards. He laughed his ass off. Then I laughed. But, yeah, we got down to it at that point.
He said that the only way he could see a work around for my situation, short of going to court, was to pull a lot of wrangling, calling in favors from every single contact he knew in the system. He even started talking about going to a group of senators in politics…They were in the NADA Party. Got to love a political party whose name is an acronym for “not a dumb ass”. Not officially, of course. But that’s how it started, and you know how those things tend to stick. God, I’ve got a bad habit of going off track. What he wanted to do was make a lot of noise. Sure, I’d been on TV…Had a lot of reporters come in and do interviews with me, and it raised a lot of noise. It’s just that the court order had a lot of teeth. Fucking amazes me, no matter how much time goes by, how shitty Brandenhoff was. But you don’t win a fight like this, no matter how good your press is.
See, the court order was a liability protection paper. What it’s for is to prevent companies from being party to any action that suggests that they have any responsibility for any event that results in harm to an individual.
You may have thought that this whole story was going to be me bitching about being stuck in my head, in a jar of water, but it’s really about getting back at those fuckers that left me hanging in there.
March 17, 2010
Beginning ***PART TWO****
So, after that bit of fun, I was asking Dr. Coker every day what was going on. He’d tell me that he wasn’t getting any answers from either the airline, or the company that made the restraints. Neither company wanted to open themselves to the possibility of a lawsuit by conceding that they were the responsible party. A jury, these days, awards a lot of money for something like this happening. To me it was a no brainer that Brandenhoff was responsible, since it was their plane that had failed, their safety checks that had missed the faulty pod ejection system in the plane. They’d screwed the pooch. Their stance, however, was that my body would have survived, albeit with severe burns, if not for the mortal injuries I’d experienced. Had I not been a brain case because of the damage done to my body when the straps “malfunctioned” as they put it, and instead just had severe burns over the entirety of my body, they’d have been happy to pay my hospital bills.
Now, the company that made the restraints…I’m not saying that they were any better than the airline, but they tried to at least share responsibility with the airline, to compromise with them. They said that the extent of my injuries, just from the burns, would have pushed the emergency team into at least having to consider doing a brain suspension, even if they didn’t go through with it; they’d have to consider it as an option if my condition worsened on the way to the nearest trauma unit.
Of course, the airline countered that that was purely speculation, since I’d experienced burns and injuries from the restraints.
Me, I just wanted to get out of the fucking jar, as I had begun to call it. Dr. Coker, reluctantly, had to arrange the procedure to have an optical input connected to my brain. When he told me, I heard the anger and bitterness in his voice. He knew it meant that whatever happened, I was going to be like this for a long time, or at least until the airline and the restraints manufacturer settled things with regards to responsibility for my condition.
To his credit, Coker did it for free. Actually, he paid for it. He told me it was the least he could do for me. He felt like he’d failed me. If he’d just gotten to me faster, worked harder and found me an available body sooner, he could have gotten me up and walking before the legal bullshit hit the fan.
I liked Dr Coker, I liked him well enough that when he told me he was retiring, I asked if I could retain him as my personal physician. He said no. But he came in, once in a while, to visit with me for a few months. That man was the only visitor I allowed, actually.
We’d become friends, you know? I think he didn’t mean to, but he did. He confided in me about how guilty he felt, and I confided in him how miserable I really was. It was an unspoken agreement between the two of us, you know, that we could both just say whatever we liked about how fucking pissed or miserable we were.
He would come in and see me, even after he retired. He’d ask how I was, but it was polite talk. The raw anger he’d shown when he was still my doctor was gone. It’s like he’d turned it off when he retired. I think the guilt was still there, but the anger at what had happened with me, with my situation…it’s like he’d accepted it. I think I resented him for that, a little bit, like he’d in a way abandoned me. Like we’d been on an island together, and a rescue ship had come and picked him up, and he’d left me there, all by myself.
His visits got more and more infrequent. One day, I said to him, “It’s okay, man. It’s alright. I know you feel like shit, and I know you can’t stop feeling like shit about it, but it’s alright. It’s not like you left a loaded gun around, and my kids shot themselves with it. Ain’t no friggin’ way you could have known they were going to pull that shit. You did what you were supposed to.” He just started crying. Funny that, between the two of us, I was the stronger one. I wish I could have done something to comfort him, put an arm around him, done something to make him understand that it was really okay, that I didn’t blame him for this shit. Intentions count for fuck-all though.
Coincidentally, he stopped visiting around the same time that they took away my TV. I had started freaking out when I was watching it. It was the beginning of my crazies, as Dr Stevens put it. They took away my net, they took away my TV…They took away anything that reminded me of the outside world, anything outside of my little room.
My crazies started getting worse, gradually. Sometimes I could handle watching TV, or the nets, or whatever. Other times..It got bad pretty fast after awhile. Now, I know I said that they wouldn’t let me have them, and I guess I kind of gave the idea that they hadn’t let me have them at all. The virtual space was the only thing I never had at all, even a little. So, yeah, my first bout of the crazies, I was watching the news and they showed a plane crash story. I started screaming at the TV. The orderlies came running in, horrified looks on their faces, thinking I’d died. See, when a brain case dies, it makes the same kind of sound it would make if it’s screaming. And, a brain case doesn’t scream like a normal person. It’s a simulated scream, like static from a radio, all squelching and distorted, but at a much louder volume. The volume of a brain case is controlled, unconsciously, by the brain. So, yeah, they were freaking the fuck out. They cut my voice off, just flipped a switch, and started trying to tell me to calm down after they’d made sure I was still alive. But I wasn’t listening. I was too busy trying to scream with vocal cords I didn’t have.
After that happened a few more times, they cut out my TV completely. No TV, no net. The only thing I got was letters, handwritten by my kids and Holly, or from my family. Once every few days, someone would come in and put them on a stand in front of my camera, and let me read them.
After awhile, even that stopped. I’d start screaming at whoever was bringing them in, told them to get the fuck out if they weren’t coming in to tell me that they had the good news I was waiting for. They’d classified me as belligerent, uncooperative. This was what my last regular psyche doctor told me before I told him to go screw. “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE YOU FUCKING FUCK? YOU WANT COOPERATIVE? GO COOPERATE WITH YOUR ASS AND FUCK YOURSELF!” Eloquent, right?
The only person I was speaking to with a civil tongue at that point was the orderly I had asked to kill me. I hated him, but he’d been the one regular person I’d seen the entire time I’d been in that damned jar. I was used to him, I guess. I didn’t have any illusions about where he stood, and he didn’t try to patronize me either. Even when he’d said “you gotta hang in there” to me that one day, the tone of his voice told me that he didn’t give one shit or another when it came down to it. It’s not that he didn’t care, he just didn’t give a shit about whether or not he cared about it. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but there’s a difference between caring about something, and giving a shit. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s there if you don’t think too hard about it and just accept it.
One day, I asked him, “How would you feel if you were in my position?” He said, “I think I’d be grateful to be alive, but fuck it. I don’t have to worry about it till it happens to me.” I always got the sense that he had a “yeah, you’re fucked, but better you than me” attitude about things. He helped where he could, and he kept his mouth shut and didn’t bitch about how bad his life might be. He knew, first hand from working in the brain case ward, that whatever twists and turns might happen in life, there was always something worse that could happen. But really, when it came to bad shit that happened to people, he kept his emotions at arm’s length. He didn’t let it push in on him. Otherwise, shit, he wouldn’t have been able to do his job. He’d have bailed on it, like Dr Coker did. Coker never said that’s why he was retiring, but I knew. He felt like he’d failed in his oath as a doctor. I did make him promise that, when the time came to put me in a body, he’d be the one to do it.
Everything kind of blurs together at that point. Me feeling suicidal and the crazy murder fantasies were just icing on it all. That was the end of the first year, that’s how I was. I was starting to have dreams about shit, really bad dreams. I was dreaming about Holly, about playing with my kids, and I’d wake up screaming with that awful sound that the hospital staff had gotten used to hearing from me by then. I was getting quite a reputation as being “special”. That’s what Dr Stevens walked into, when she started coming to see me.
I may make it sound like me and her hit it off, but that’s not the case. I was still hostile towards her, sometimes I told her to get the fuck out of my face and all that shit. That was the self-pity coming through. Goddamn, I can’t say what I want to say the way I want to fucking say it.
It was a few weeks before Dr Stevens and I really started to be able to talk without me going off on her. It was another few weeks before I apologized to her officially for being an asshole. Her response was typical of her. She says, “You’ve been in a jar for a year. You’re allowed to be an asshole sometimes.”
Until she told me that, I hadn’t thought about how long it was. I kept a vague count of how many days it I’d been in there. But to hear her say that I’d been a brain case for a year, that fucked with me a good bit. When she said it, I kind of winced inside.
You know, I’m just going to quit trying to explain what it felt like, sending signals to a face and body I didn’t have any more. It’s not anything you can explain, only experienced. So when I say I winced, I’m saying that it was all in my mind. When I say I smiled, I mean that it was all in my head. When I say I cried, you know that it was all on the inside. And you already know what I mean, when I say that I was screaming.
Buck Stevens…that was his real name, I swear to fucking God…Buck Stevens…go look it up…was Dr Stevens’ stupid sonuvabitch husband. He was still walking with a cane the first day he walked into my room. He comes in, sits down on a stool, looks at me grimly. He frowns, and starts looking through some papers…
I knew he’d be dropping in. His wife had told me about it, and was also somewhat responsible for his being there. Now, adulterous nature aside, the man was a pretty stand up guy. He’d heard about my situation from the news. Oh, yeah, I’ll get around to talking about the news people, don’t worry. Now, he heard about my story, and he was pissed. He was a classic champion of the people kind of lawyer, the kind that had gotten into law because he wanted to fight the boogie men and the monsters that are in this world. One night he’s talking about it after doing some research, and he says to his wife, my doctor, that he would love to sink his teeth into Brandenhoff Airlines for what they pulled. I can only imagine the smile that she must have had on her face when she told him she could introduce him to me.
March 15, 2010
March 15, 2010
She was a normal woman. That’s what I liked best about her. By normal, I mean that she did her woman things and wasn’t embarassed by them. She just accepted that there are just some things that women are inclined to do, no matter what. Things like leaving the toilet seat down, or putting on make up. Some women make a big deal out of NOT wearing makeup. That’s fine. But they act like they’re fighting for a cause, rising up against wearing make up. It’s not fucking physics. Nobody’s forcing you to wear make up, dammit. It’s not like women’s suffrage. You ever read about women’s suffrage, you’ll find out that the women who fought for the right to vote went through fucking hell. Some of ‘em were locked up in institutions, given shock therapy or some shit. This coming from a government that was supposed to protect freedom, you know?
So, the doctor was pretty laid back and girly. She also didn’t take any shit off of anyone. I remember the time she told me about finding her husband in bed with a woman, in their own bed. Luckily, the temporary insanity defense worked….thank god for a jury full of women…
No, I’m kidding about that. She never did anything worse than kicking the shit out of him. Turns out the woman he was in bed with had been under the impression that he was a widower. The doc and the other woman ended up suing him for mental anguish. How about that? Getting sued by a woman because you lied to her about your wife being dead. There’s more to it….something about her religion regards adultery as a deadly sin etc and now she was going to hell and mental anguish and blah blah and blah. It really is a funny story though.
But that’s not the really good part. Dr Stevens beat the fucking shit out of the bastard.
I mean, she kicked the ever loving fuck out of him. As she explains it to anyone that listens (and she’s damned happy to talk about it, let me tell you) she took her time. But that’s NOT the best part of the story.
See, she came home, like I said already, and heard a bunch of sex noises coming from the bedroom. She walked in, and sees her husband really giving it to another woman. Stevens wasn’t nearly as pissed off about that as she was that it was in their bed. He didn’t even try to be discrete about it. I said to her that maybe he’d been hoping to have her join in…a sort of impromptu threesome. She just said, “No. He just was a stupid sonuvabitch.”
So she sees him there, apparently he was trussed up, tied to the bed…blindfolded. Oh, yeah. I bet you already know what’s coming next, and you’d be right. She walks into the room…chick he’s screwing has her back to the bedroom door. She taps her on the shoulder, and the girl looks around and her eyes go all wide and Stevens made this “shhhhh” gesture. The girl slides off him. Stevens drags the girl into the living room. See, apparently this wasn’t the first girl he’d given the “my wife is dead” story to.
Her husband had a complete library of pity stories. One of my favorites she told me is that he’s dying of an incurable brain disease. Yeah, he actually said that. So she said to the girl, still whispering of course, “What story was it? Dead wife? Brain illness? Ripped off by a conartist skank and nearly broke?”
“Dead wife…” is all the girl says back to her. Stevens just nodded, like she wasn’t surprised, and said to the girl, “Yeah. That’s his favorite. He used that line to nail a cheerleader.”
Now, here’s the good part. The girl, her name was Andrea, is just fucking furious. Like I said, she was tricked into committing adultery. Never mind that she thought he was a widower. It’s still a sin. Not like premarital sex isn’t, but…that’s one thing. Adultery is another. I guess if you’re going to fool around, you’ve got to have principles, right?
Now, she asks Stevens what she’s going to do. It was pretty obvious that the bastard was screwed. Tied to the bedposts, blindfolded, two pissed off women in the other room trying to decide what to do next…It’s like something out of a movie, I know. What happens next….It’s nothing short of choreography…Sadistic, brilliant choreography.
Alright. I have to explain this, blow by blow. Stevens told Andrea that she was going to go into the bedroom and fuck him, then tear the blindfold off his face after he came and pound his face in. Andrea said to her, “Why let him finish?”
Now, I want you to imagine this. You’re tied to a bed, blindfolded, and a chick is fucking your brains out. She suddenly stops, and disappears for a few minutes, and then comes back in and starts licking your dick. It feels great, and you suddenly realize that it’s even better, because it’s like she’s going at it from two different directions. She says something like “you enjoying this, baby?” And that’s when you realize, fuck me…there’s two tongues down there. And you say “What the fuck is going on?”, but you already know, you dumb bastard. That’s your FUCKING WIFE down there with her, and you’re fucking fucked now. And your eyes don’t even have time to adjust to the light after someone rips your blindfold off before somebody is beating your face in.
And that’s exactly how it went down.
Dr Stevens didn’t play piano again until her knuckles healed.
February 2, 2010
I had days where hours would go by, and nothing would happen, and I was just thinking to myself. Nobody coming in to check on me at all, nothing going on outside my room, just pure quiet. Those were nice days. There were times when I could picture my kids, and my ex wife, and my parents and sisters, all of whom I’d forbidden to see me. I think it was easier for me to deal with the idea of being a brain case than it would have been for them. Imagine seeing your loved one’s brain, floating in liquid, talking to you through speakers, and looking at you with a webcam. I don’t know, if I had to see someone like that, someone I cared about, I’d lose my shit, I think. I don’t think I’d be able to handle it, especially if it was one of my kids.
That reminds me of a story Dr Stevens told me, about this five year old that had been a brain case…It was one of her first cases. He’d been the victim of a vicious beating by his parents, severe internal injuries, the works. They took his head off his body, and connected it straight to the life support. That’s how bad his parents beat him. For some reason, they didn’t bash his head in, too. Or maybe the police just got there before they could get to it.
So this little boy survives a horrific beating, gets his head cut off and put in a suspension unit, and because they’d transferred the whole head, he couldn’t talk. So he’s suspended in solution, and after a few weeks with no body transplant, the doctors start trying to decide what to do. They’d been keeping him heavily sedated to keep him from flipping out, but you’d practically have to keep him sedated all the time, and you can’t really do that. There are ways of sedating what is essentially just a brain, but really you’re on your own. I mean, there’s no body to metabolize the sedatives or medicine or anything. They have artificial systems for that, but they only use them in the most dire of circumstances.
So, Dr Stevens is brought in to see the kid; he’d been non-responsive to visual stimuli. She goes in, and starts trying to talk to him, trying to get him to blink yes or no answers to her questions. Turns out the kid’s gone catatonic. Stevens made a point of sitting there with him, every day, for at least a few hours, until she finally got him to respond to her. She basically saved his mind. She told me that she was singing to him and all kinds of stuff, reading stories to him…The kinds of things a five year old would expect from an adult caregiver. No, there’s not going to be a kick in the nuts here like “the power at the hospital went out and he died three weeks later” or some horrible shit like that. Actually the kid got a new body, specially grown for him by a children’s foundation. Apparently it’s easier to clone a body for a kid than for an adult. Something about the growth rate, or something. A children’s body can be grown at an accelerated rate without damage, an adult body can’t be grown at an accelerated rate without consequence, not even an adolescent body.
There’s this episode of Star Trek, called Spock’s Brain, where this race of hot chicks steal Spock’s brain. Anyway, they use his brain to power a machine or something. I don’t know exactly what the hell it was. But they were using his brain as part of a computer or something.
That would suck, to be surrounded by a bunch of women who only liked you for your mind.
November 18, 2009
Johann Johnson was a writer. He published his first book in 2112. It was about a guy, an olympic class runner. The character’s name was Tim Travis. In the book, he’s in this horrific accident…gets cut nearly in half and has to be put in a critical care pod. And I thought, jesus, that’s a pain that’d be hard to get over.
Not to get on a tangent, but sometimes I really wonder about who the asshole was that started putting the name “pod” in every goddamned phrase you can think of…critical care pod, ejection pod, etc. Seriously, in the world I was living in, I couldn’t get away from that damned word. When they took my brain out of my skull, it was put in a suspension pod. What’s wrong with the word “chamber”? Or “unit”? It’s like it was a federal law or something, everything having to do with containing a person had to have the word “pod” in it.
Anyway, they tried reattaching his lower body to this guy’s body, but they couldn’t do it. Too many mangled bits below the torso. So they give him a lower body transplant. The problem is, they can’t find a set of legs that match his old ones. They give him the parts of a guy that’s maybe 5 feet 6 inches, and it effectively ends Travis’ running career…though, honestly, getting cut in half had already effectively done that. But Travis freaks out. And, when he gets out of the hospital, the first thing he does is he goes and buys a gun, and walks into a random building and shoots everybody on the first floor. Then he walks into the building next door and does it again. And again, and again, working his way through five blocks of buildings before the police catch up to him. And he’s screaming at the police and he’s waving the gun around, and he shoots at the building across the street from where he’s standing. And that’s when the cops gun him down.
They rush up to him, and he’s bleeding to death, and he’s coughing and holding on to the gun, and he pulls the trigger but it’s empty. And his last words are “I’m done runnin’.”
I didn’t think Dr Stevens meant to give me an audio book to listen to that ended quite that way. Took her quite a bit of doing to get permission to let me listen to it in the first place. I dont know why that is. Strikes me as odd, though, that it would even be an issue. I couldn’t understand at the time why the hospital administrators even gave a shit about whether or not I got to listen to an audio book, but apparently to them it was a big deal. Honestly, when it comes down to it, I think Stevens sweet-talked the nurses into going along with it. Whatever. I’m just grateful that I finally got something that broke the monotony. The point is, I didn’t think she’d meant to give me a book to listen to that would give me the idea to go killing people, whenever I finally got a body transplant.
A few days after I finished listening it, Dr Stevens came in and had a sit down with me. She had her cup of coffee and her clipboard. “So, yeah. You’re probably wondering why I gave you a book about a guy in a similar position that ends in him committing mass murder.” she said. “Yeah,” I replied, “You might say that.” She just stretched her legs and kind of slumped down in her chair, took another sip of coffee and rubbed her eyes.
“You could take it in one of two ways. Escapist fantasy that you can use to precariously satisfy the daydreams youve been having, God, I’m not going to say this right. I’m alot better at getting in people’s heads, so to speak…sorry.”
“It’s okay”, I said, “Go on.” “You need to realize that you’re not crazy, first of all. Second, you need to be reminded that these fantasies you’re having….It’s a fine line between a fantasy and actually plotting to do something.” she finally said. Then she looked at me, right at me. She said “It’s fine to have a daydream about committing acts of violence. I think everybody does it. That doesn’t make it a good idea. I know you already understand that. I just want to make sure that you really get it.” That was the only lecture she ever gave me about my murder fantasies, and it was actually quite a bit longer and eloquent, but that’s what I remember, and even that isn’t word for word, but it catches the jist of it, at least…I think…I’m not sure. I’d like to tell you it word for word, but I’ve got a bad memory when it comes to remembering things people say. Be that as it may, certain things that happened are etched in my mind, obviously. It’s just important to me that I make it clear that I don’t remember word for word everything that happened. You’d think the exact opposite would true, what with me having to rely on my mind to get by. She did make a point of bringing up my fantasies, trying to find out if my attitude had become more nihlistic. After the 7th or 8th time going over them, I finally said, “Look, I’m rational enough that I know the difference between self-pity and plotting to kill people.” Because that’s what my fantasies were, really. They stemmed from me feeling sorry for myself. They came from resentment and irrational jealousy. I was smart enough to know that, which is why I always said they were fantasies.
She started bringing in audio books for me once a week. I’d never really been much for books. I never had the time when I was older, and I was never really into reading when I was younger. I was one of those kids that liked to go hiking, swimming…that’s the kind of kid I was. When she started bringing having me listen to stuff like Tom Sayer and Catch 22 it was weird at first. It was like I’d been living my life with a bunch of different worlds floating around me, and I never noticed them. And then when I did, I felt like an idiot, or felt like I’d been blind or something, and that I was just now noticing this stuff made me realize what I’d been missing. I know that the fact that the audio books broke the monotony of my life, and gave me something to focus on, that made me really become attached to them. At any rate, they grew on me very very quickly.
Listening to the audio books, ultimately, was a way of living precariously through them…Helped me picture a life beyond the walls I was forced to stare at. Some days, I’d be listening to them and could almost see what was happening in full detail, instead of my little room. In a weird way, fiction reminded me of what it meant to have a real life. There’s a nice bit of irony for you.