Chapter 1: 2 Strangers
T.J. awoke in the hospital. He tried to turn his head, but soon figured out that he could not do so. His head seemed to be in some kind of a restraint. He heard footsteps and then heard a man’s voice. “Nice of you to finally join us, we were all wondering when you would wake up…”
J.T. was scared for the first time in his life. He had died and now he was going to be judged. A sudden feeling of guilt swept over him. “Am I dead?” he asked in a rather skittish voice.
Just then the source of the voice came into view, and with it came a hint of laughter. “Oh heavens no, you just had yourself a car wreck, and now you are being hospitalized. You know you lost a lot of blood back there kiddo. You should count yourself lucky to be alive.” The doctor paused as if waiting to hear some sort of reply, then turned and looked over his shoulder before returning back to look into J.T.’s eyes. “I have some bad news for you….In the course of the accident last night your spinal chord became sort of….sort of damaged..... What I’m trying to say is that you are paralyzed from the waist down.”
“So when do I start taking rehabilitation lessons?”
“Well I’m sorry to tell you this, but you won’t be taking any rehabilitation lessons due to the nature of your injury. You see we can’t repair the damage that has been done. If the problem was in the strength of your muscles, then I would be able to do something, but that’s not the case. You will never be able to walk again Mr. Manning. I'm truly sorry.”
Remember everything you’ve been able to do in your life, and imagine losing the ability to do all those things…that’s how T.J. felt. All was lost. His life as he knew it was now over. No more sports with his coworkers. No more nice morning jogs. What would women think of him as a cripple? These were just some of the things going through his mind at the moment.
The doctor turned with his back towards T.J., and motioned for someone to enter before turning back around. “I know how you must feel Mr. Manning, but some of your family is outside just waiting to talk with you.”
This could not be possible. T.J. had no living family left. At least to his knowledge he didn’t, “Doctor I think you must have a mistake…”
“There’s no mistake there right here. Man kid you must have really hit your head pretty hard to forget your own parents. Anyways they‘re here to see you, and I imagine you have a lot to talk about.” With that the doctor turned on his heel and marched out of the room.
T.J. lied there waiting until he saw an older gentleman and lady standing over him. “Do you think he’ll make a good specimen?” The lady asked the gentleman.
“The fact that he’s now paralyzed doesn’t mean in any way shape or form that his DNA is damaged.”
T.J. for lack of a better word was simply lost. After a while more of them talking of stuff T.J. didn’t understand, he had had enough. “Who the hell are you people?!”
“Oh where are my manners?” said the lady, “We’re members of an organization who researches cures for diseases.”
“And why the hell are you here and what the f*&k do you want with me!”
This time it was the gentleman who spoke. “What we really do is confidential all I can say is we specialize in cell research. We also believe that we now possess the science for you to walk again. What we want from you is rather quite complicated and we will be sure to answer any questions you may have after we are in a more secure location.”
“Are you out of your f&*king mind. I’m not going anywhere with you two old nuts. I’ve never seen either of you before in my life! You come in here pretending to be my parents, and now you want my blood, f&*k the both of you. I‘m not going anywhere.”
“We thought you would be hesitant to cooperate." the gentleman pulled out a needle full of a purplish liquid, “If you will not come voluntarily, you will come by force.
“Hold on with the needle all right. Let me think for just a minute. Are saying that in exchange for my cooperation with you and whoever it is you work for, I will get my old life back?”
“Well I guess it seems I have no choice now doesn’t it.”
“It appears you don’t Mr. Manning…It most certainly appears you don‘t.” With that the old lady pulled a white envelope from within her coat, and handed it to T.J. “The boss told us to give this to you.” Then she cleared her throat, “Do not open this until you get home from the hospital. Once home, open it and follow every direction within. You can tell nobody of this conversation, and nobody can see that letter” She turned and looked to the gentleman.
“If you do the consequences I assure you will not be pleasant.”
The old man and woman glanced at each other again, and then walked out the door chatting to themselves, “Do you think he’s the one the boss has been looking for?” said the woman.
“I sure do hope so…for our sakes.” Replied the man. Then they were gone.
Soon after the old couple left the doctor came back into the room. “Well how do you feel, Mr. Manning?”
“I don’t know doc, I can’t f&*king move my legs, and I have this horrible pain in my neck.”
The doctor cleared his throat and then took a deep breath in “I’m sorry about the loss of your legs, there’s nothing I can do to help you with that, but I can give you a prescription to help with the pain in your neck. You know you truly are lucky to still have your head attached. When you came in we had to remove a rather large piece of glass.”
T.J. used his arms to sit himself up in the hospital bed. “So can I get out of here or what.”
“Of course just let me get a nurse to get you a wheelchair and then your parents can take you home.”
“Those aren’t my…. I mean they left the hospital already.”
“Alright then we’ll just give them a call and have them come back and pick you up. What’s their phone number?”
“I don’t know the number off the top of my head.”
“Well then whose number do you know off the top of your head?”
“………..555-0980” replied T.J.
“And whose number would that be?”
“It belongs to my ex-girlfriend.”
The doctor walked across the room to the telephone hanging on the wall. He picked up the receiver, dialed a number, talked briefly, and then hung up the phone. “You’ll be fine Mr. Manning I promise. Your girlfriend will be here soon. We’ll give her your prescription, and then you can go home.” and with that the doctor left the room.
About a half hour past and nothing happened except for the annoying sound of the clock ticking on the far wall. Then a nurse came in with a wheelchair. Standing behind the nurse was a face T.J. recognized oh so well.
Julie Thompson had been T.J.’s girlfriend for 5 years and then broke up with him because he wouldn’t propose. She stood in complete horror behind the nurse and she
began to cry.
T.J. couldn’t believe how beautiful she still was. She was a natural blonde with hazel eyes and she wore jeans, a red t-shirt, and a brown leather overcoat. Her hair rested on her shoulderds and swayed slightly side to side as she walked. “Oh my god T.J. I’m so sorry…”
“Don’t be…It’s all my fault. I should’ve left work earlier, but you know that I’m a workaholic and now look at me I’m a wreck”
Julie smiled “You know you haven’t changed a bit. Come on let me help you out of that bed.” With the help of the nurse, Julie lifted T.J. out of the bed and sat him properly in his wheelchair.
Julie pushed the wheelchair out of the room, through the outside hallway, and into an elevator. Once inside she pushed the button to go to the lobby.
“Why are you helping me Julie?” asked J.T.
“Come on who else was there that could have come out here on such short notice.”
“Well thank you. I really mean it. I owe you for this one.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s the least I can do. “
The elevator beeped, the doors slid open, and Julie pushed the wheelchair out of the lobby and into the parking lot.
She still drove her 1994 Honda Civic, which was now beginning to rust. She opened her passenger side door and then helped J.T. out of his wheelchair and into the car. Then she folded up the wheelchair and tossed it into the trunk of her car. She removed the keys from her pocket, opened her door , climbed in, and then started the car.
“Buckle up please.”
J.T. smiled and then buckled his safety belt. “Whatever happened to us?”
“You didn’t want for us to move forward, remember?”
“No I don’t. I only remember you leaving. That was 6 months ago Julie.”
“Now is not the time to talk about this.” With that Julie shifted the car into reverse, backed the car out of the parking space, and then drove out of the parking lot.