Brain Case Part 13

May 24, 2010

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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.

Anyways.

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.

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