Brain Case part 12

May 8, 2010

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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.”
“Yep.”
“Fuck me,” I said.
“Yep.”
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.”
“I know.”

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