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Old 08-05-2008, 05:09 PM   #1
Darth Stephanie
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Mistakes of the Heart

Prologue
Friedrich Nietzsche once said that ‘All truth is simple…is that not doubly a lie?’ How right he was. I have always been interested in journalism one way or another. The dream was to be like the great propagandists of the late war and make the people believe in a cause. That was then and then the war happened. I was only a young child then but I was attracted to telling stories about people, daily happenings. I actually became the family reporter on the war.
After the war, the truth became a struggle. No longer did I believe in the propaganda talk. I still wanted to be a reporter though. Through fate or sheer dumb luck, I managed to get a job with a local paper for the City 17/16. It was mostly a snow job involving daily activities but I kept hoping for the chance to really shine. My chance came.

I was sitting in the copy room going over a piece that I had just written when my boss told me that he wanted me to check out some crazy guy who claimed to be in the resistance. Normally I would have balked at the idea being that I wanted to forget the war entirely but couldn’t forget the resistance. The times we had together were indescribable. I opted to drive out to the sanitarium where the guy was kept. To be honest with myself I saw it as my ticket to getting closer to a scoop near where the skirmishes were happening.
At the sanitarium, I met up with a Dr. Barney Calhoun, the person in charge of the sanitarium. When I revealed who I was and my intentions, he thought I was crazy for believing the guy. Still he opted to show me where the guy was and introduce him. As we walked through the corridors, I noticed that every attempt was made to make the occupants feel at home with the light colors and not the terrifying white and ugly yellows of the hospital.

We stopped at a door that opened into what appeared to look like a living room. Sitting in one of those overstuffed chairs was an old guy and standing next to him was a nurse. Dr. Calhoun asked, “How are we today, Nurse?”
“Not much progress Doctor,” the nurse replied as if I weren’t even there. Typical. “He keeps muttering about people, specifically Grumpy, Kliner, Revan, Eli, and Breen. Then he goes into muttering about orders and Black Mesa.”
“Any nightmares?”
“Some. He woke up screaming about snipers and that he must warn her.”
Listening to the conversation, I thought, ‘Great. I got a senile old man.’ I waited until Dr. Calhoun finished his instructions before he turned to me and asked, “Well, you know what to expect. You sure you want to do this?”
I wasn’t about to let a crazy old man drive me away from a story that could get me out of the desk jockey position. I gave a nod and said, “Ready for anything.”
Dr. Calhoun must have sensed something off for he gave me a strange look before turning to the patient saying, “Gordon, this is Nick Sherbourne. He wants to talk with you.”

I could tell that there were going to be many pauses and a one sided conversation on my end. Still I managed to give a smile and I took a seat facing Gordon. I motioned to Dr. Calhoun that it would be alright if he left. He gave a nod and reminded me to call if he needed anything and left.
I sat there looking at Gordon and he looked at me, rather lost. I pulled out the pad of paper and pencil that I brought and asked, “So your name is Gordon? Do you have a last name?”
The silence did not bode well for either of us as he sat there. He must have been lost in a memory for he shook his head muttered, “Should have been around more often. Should have called them back.”
I sat there and made note of it. I asked a few more questions getting little or no response. I was getting frustrated and was going to leave when he said something. I asked him to repeat what he said and he replied, “I will tell you.”
I sat back down in my chair and sat attentively. I asked, “Can you tell me your name?”
“Gordon. Gordon Freeman.”
****
The sun shone brightly into Gordon’s room as Gordon groaned. He didn’t want to wake up and face the mountain of paperwork that lay on his desk, in fact he was semi glad it was Sunday and he’d busted his foot playing football the other day so he could spend the day with his family. His dad had flown in to help out and Gordon was enjoying his long needed rest. Alyssa nudged him in an attempt to wake him, “I thought you’d want to feel this,” and she placed his hand on her stomach.
Five months, three days and four hours till I become a dad, he thought to himself. It was a miracle when Alyssa told him she was pregnant and he was beside himself. Times were somewhat good. At least they were better off than most others. Gordon thought about that as he sat up to better pet the mound. Alyssa looked at him and smiled, “At least you get to be here with us. If I had known breaking your foot at football was the way to get you home, I would have done that long ago.”
“Hey, I told you I was a wreck, and you still married me. I told you I am a slight Couch Potato, and you still married me. For better or worse till death do us part,” Gordon replied giving her a grin. Alyssa, mocking hurt, bopped him with a pillow. “I know and I wonder what possessed me to marry you,” and she bopped him again.
“Stop it,” he reached for the pillow laughing and retaliated with a tickle attack. He rubbed Alyssa’s tummy affectionately, “Hey little peanut... wakey wakey time to get up.” Grinning mischievously at her, he said, “Maybe it’s cause I cut my ponytail off for the wedding,” and flopped backwards on the bed.

The smell of frying bacon was enough to get any man out of bed, especially of cooked by the best cook in the world. Gordon made no bones about that when he first met Alyssa and she said that the only way to his heart was through his stomach. Of course his heart had been taken when he first met her. That was the bottom line for him. He won her over and married her and he felt he was the luckiest man in the world.
The kitchen had always been Alyssa’s domain and she was insistent that nobody but her touched the stove when she was cooking. Her sister tried to help her once and got a slap on the hand with a spatula. She was in her groove when Gordon ambled into the kitchen where the table was. He stood to watch her as she flipped a few pancakes and smiled.
Knowing that it would make her angry, he came behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He was rewarded with her reproach, “Hey! You know I don’t like it when you do that.”
“Admit it you love me,” Gordon whispered in her ear.
“I’ll admit that these pancakes will be burnt and that’s all you’re getting,” she retorted with a smile.
Gordon smiled and ambled on towards the table. Seeing Raven sitting at the table in her high chair cooing away, he urged her, “Morning Princess. Come on say dada, say dada...”
Raven wasn’t even a year old yet and Gordon was insisting that she took after him in the brains department. Alyssa insisted that she was just a baby and would say to wait another year. When his prodding elicited a small scream, Gordon got the point that she wasn’t in the mood to say ‘dada’ just yet. He sat down and picked up the morning paper.
Reading the morning paper, sport section first, he raised his voice in surprise, “I don’t believe it. Those damn Redskins and that Joe Gibbs!”
“What?”
“Oh the usual to drive a good game down the tubes,” Gordon replied turning the pages. He didn’t see the cup of coffee that was waiting for him and knocked it over, burning himself. “Dammit!”and he tried to brush the hot liquid off.
Raven laughed and clapped. She loved when her daddy was in a foul mood. He made her laugh. “Dada,” she said.
“See?! I told you! She says dada every time I say damn it” Gordon said.
“She just likes you in a bad mood,” Alyssa replied smiling as she brushed the remaining hot liquid away. “Now sit down and eat otherwise they’ll ask me why you are so skinny.”

Gordon smiled at her and gently pinched her cheek, “With you around, I’m more afraid of getting fat.”
Alyssa gave him a gentle smack on the arm. With all the running around you do and breaking feet, you need to keep up your strength.”
“Low blow darling.’” Gordon smiled as he took his seat again and began to eat. As was his habit, he read the paper. He finished sports while commentating on everything to make Raven and Alyssa laugh. He then picked up the front page saying, “Now to see what else has gone wrong.”
He got very quiet as he read the first article. He took no notice of Alyssa inquiring glances as she fed Raven. When he finished reading, Gordon jumped up and left the table in a hurry, forgetting about the paper.
Alyssa, waiting until Gordon left, went to his side of the table to pick up what he had been reading that made him leave so fast. Scanning the page, she saw it. What it read was “Earth Attacked.”
*****
I sat there staring at the old man thinking that I got myself stuck with a codger who wanted to go down memory lane. Still what he told me interested me. I remember well myself that day when we were attacked. My father looked at my mother and she looked back as if they knew what would happen in the following years. It wasn’t long afterwards that the bombs had dropped and thousands were killed. My family hid in a hole until my father made the choice to join up and fight. Since I was the oldest I had to take care of my mother and siblings. That was when I got my first unofficial job of being a reporter.

I thought I understood what the old man was going through. Those of us that saw it had a similar story to tell and thought it wouldn’t be that much different with Gordon Freeman there. Out of a sense of misguided camaraderie, I asked, “Did they survive Gordon?” I thought that it would help clarify his story a bit and in a way I was interested in this old man who appeared to have lost everything.

His answer though had me regret what I asked. “Alyssa died in the first wave of attacks.” He stared at a spot on the floor and I thought he was going to cry. Obviously he loved his wife very much and I felt ashamed and stupid for bringing it up. I even felt more foolish when he added, “Raven survived and joined a squad when she was older maybe seventeen. She died on a routine bush leading her men into a war zone.” He then said, “I have to warn them about the snipers, they’re going to find us,” which had me thinking that maybe the war didn’t end for him. Part of me wanted to hold him and part of me said that the codger was a loon. It was different for all of us. Poor guy probably had enough and snapped.

“I was a Doctorate of Science. Physics was my thing. Dr. Gordon Freeman...” he said. That had me look up a bit. I wasn’t sure if it was the famous Dr. Freeman that saved the planet but I was interested. It wouldn’t be that farfetched considering that the tide turned because of a piece of brilliance on his part. I leaned forward, hoping he would say more but all he said was, “I put my job before my family and they’re all gone.”
I thought about leaving but at the rate Gordon started talking, I decided to stay and listen. I knew the nurse would come in soon. I listened, “I worked with Eli and Isaac top of their game, and, and… DAMN IT I DID NOT KILL THOSE PEOPLE!” He jumped up from his chair ready to storm out. That was when I saw the shirt logo... that of Black Mesa. This was THE Gordon Freeman, the one Freeman. Many wonder what happened to him after the Attack at White Forrest.
I knew he was agitated so I pushed the button that Dr. Calhoun told me was going to be there. I was rather nervous at what Gordon was going to do. He was very agitated and shouting things he either wanted to remember or forget. After seeing the Black Mesa logo, the wheels in my mind started turning. I figured on leaving and searching the archives up on Gordon Freeman. Part of my mind screamed that it was all a big show but I guess the sentimental side was egging me on. I decided it was safer to come back another time. Gordon did not look happy but that couldn’t be helped since the nurse came in to give him his pills or something. Dr. Calhoun came in and asked if everything was alright.

Of course I said everything was ok. I didn’t really want to reveal what I had learned and I figured that I needed more. Being polite I told the doc, “Everything’s good. If you don’t mind, I’d like to come back tomorrow,” then louder to Gordon who seemed to be settling down, “Is that alright?”
Gordon nodded stating that “Karen” had to be hungry by now and the nurse led him out. Dr Calhoun decided to show me out, in case Gordon had the idea to backtrack and ambush me which, as I found out, was a common place event. At the main entrance, Dr. Calhoun apologized for Gordon’s behavior. I took it to mean that outbursts like that tended to bother people. I said that I would come the same time tomorrow.

At home, I did what I always did, worked. I pulled out the notes that I had taken the day before and went to the shelves. I looked up Gordon Freeman and found a huge chunk of information. I saw that I would have to burn the midnight oil. Making myself a cup of coffee, I sat down and began to read.
The reading was interesting as I read about his career as a physicist. He came up with some interesting theories about our ‘neighbors.’ I wonder if he ever knew how right he was about a few of them. The high point was when I got to the part about his greatest accomplishment. I remembered it being called the “Scourge” and rightfully so. Unfortunately the geniuses of the remnants of the government decided to use it while a major engagement was in progress.
Nobody could have known the atrocity that weapon did. Before troopers used to come cheap. After that, you needed every man you could get and the enemy seemed to feel the same. While in the end it was good for us, it was terrible in that the losses were so heavy. Those that were there knew they owed their lives to Gordon Freeman. Others saw him as a madman. Perhaps that was what made him crack.
Surprisingly, there was little on his family. There was some indication of a wife and a daughter. Other than that, nothing. My journalist mind went to work on figuring this out. I decided that the best thing would be to ask him more about them when I went back.

Returning the next day, I was greeted by a harried looking Dr. Calhoun. I thought at first that Gordon may have had another episode. As it turned out “Karen” had escaped her crate last night and slept in his office. I didn’t know who “Karen” was but I remembered that Gordon mentioned something about feeding her. I followed Dr. Calhoun down the corridors to see Gordon, noticing that he was ever on the alert.
Unfortunately I was to be Karen’s next victim. She leaped at me screaming something unintelligible. I was more or less stunned by what ‘she’ was. Judging from the way she jumped on me, I guess she smelled my breakfast, a watermelon smoothie and eggs. Not very healthy but hey it worked for me.
I was on my back trying to hold the thing off while it was making its sounds and trying to get closer to me. It was a strong thing and my limbs felt like they were being pulled out of the socket. I almost thought the thing was going to eat me when I saw Gordon come running followed by the same nurse I had seen the day before. Gordon was apologizing, “She never gets loose like this.”
I was more annoyed that I had the thing on me and I replied, “And I’m sure she doesn’t knock people over.”
Gordon gave me a look that said he was sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt the old man’s feelings but dammit I had a huge thing on top of me! After looking at me Gordon did a hand sign and Karen jumped off me and walked away. I sat up and dusted myself off. Dr. Calhoun asked if I was alright and I said, “Just glad I’m not lunch.”
Gordon came out with “Karen” in his arms. There was no mistaken the affection he showed the thing. I was reluctant to be near the thing but for the old man’s sake I tried to appear calm. It must have worked for he then said, “I think I owe you an apology. Karen LOVES watermelon smoothies. She’s been bottle fed since she was a baby, so she doesn’t see people as dangerous.”
Yeah right. I was still skeptical of the information but willing to listen as Gordon continued, “She’s a full grown female head crab and thinks of me as daddy. In fact, she was just trying to say hello.” He smiled. He seemed calmer, and slightly more groomed then yesterday. I thought that maybe today would be slightly better than yesterday. Trying to show a polite interest, I enquired about the hand signals.
“Ah... Karen is deaf. She can’t hear if you yell ‘get off me’ so we developed a signal for ‘get down,’ ‘food’, and ‘no,’” he said putting Karen down on the floor. “Watch.”
I was going to get a free show of what a head crab can do. I admit that I had never seen one before and had a hard time believing that the thing was a real creature. Still I was willing to be patient and watched. Gordon signed to Karen for food and she hopped up onto a table and picked up her bottle full of smoothie. “See? She knows food means to pick up her bottle and wait for me to come over,” Gordon said holding the bottle as Karen inhaled the bottle.

I watched with gross fascination as the thing ‘ate’ or drank the smoothie. It felt weird that the thing had a liking for the same thing I considered a staple to my diet. Gordon wasn’t finished as said, “Now watch,” and signed “get down!” I watched as she hopped off the table and ran towards me. Right away Gordon stopped her with the signal for ‘no’ and she stopped and scurried off towards Gordon’s room. I watched as the thing scuttled away thinking that of all the possible types of pets, Gordon Freeman had to pick a head crab. Then I thought that maybe because he was Gordon Freeman he picked the crab. It didn’t occur to me that he picked it because the creature was lonely and he was lonely and that their relationship was based on a need for each other.
The same nurse as the day before escorted us to the same semi cozy living space from the day before. I looked around for any sign of Karen but I guess she wasn’t going to join us. I took my place across from Gordon as he sat in the same chair. I could tell that he was going to take the conversation on his own time and pace and I was prepared to do that. We began our interview again and I let Gordon dictate choice in topics. I thought it would be a sore spot but Gordon smiled as I asked about his family; there really wasn’t much on them. My midnight oil burning proved that. All I knew was that he had a wife and a daughter. What there was is a wealth of information on a David Gordon Freeman, who turned out to be Gordon’s old man. “We didn’t get along much,” was all he said out of it.
I didn’t push the issue. It seemed that was a rather raw nerve to touch, a strange thing considering that he had been rambling on about Black Mesa and warning whomever it was he was supposed to warn. It was dangerous territory but he talked about Black Mesa but only some mundane aspects, and D0g and Alyx, and most of all the, “Scourge.” I was surprised he wanted to talk about it at all but I was willing to play the willing listener.
“My greatest achievement gone wrong. They fired it before the final testing. It wrought dangerous results,” was all he’d say about it. It was puzzling because he readily answered my questions but they were not complete answers.
I did remember one aspect of Black Mesa. I asked what had caused him to become the “mad man of black mesa.”
He replied, “Who says I’m crazy? Maybe I’m here for my own protection, and then maybe I am crazy. Who is to say what’s sane and what’s not?”
The answer was not what I expected and I had hoped to get more out of him but in a way he was resisting me. I thought maybe that he didn’t trust me or something. I had that problem before with other interviewees. Before I could ask another question, he added, “Karen’s kept me company for the many years I’ve been here. She is the daughter to Heady Lamar.”
It was almost as if he was reading my mind about the head crab. Heady Lamar had died 2 years after the scourge was unleashed, meaning Dr. Kliner was one of the causalities. I saw that Gordon had taken the poor thing in out of a sense of friendship to the old Doc. I figured that it was a safe place to start and asked about Doc Kliner. Gordon replied, “Well…”

****
“HEADY!! GET OFF THERE!” Gordon yelled pushing Lamar off the couch. “Bad girl.” The head crab had been trying to get on the couch to nestle its favorite spot. That was before Gordon caught her and yelled for her to get off. He relented and let Heady rest on his lap but she was heavy. “Isaac! Come get Heady off me!”
Gordon while pretending to be gruff was actually excited. Damer, one of the headcrabs he’d nursed back to health, had knocked up Heady and she was encroaching on her due date. He took care of her and couldn’t help but feel like a proud poppa like when Karen was born.
“Gordon, she is fond of you.” Dr. Kliner said. Dr. Kliner was in charge of the head crabs and knew that Gordon was partial to a few of them.
“Izzy, I promise nothing will happen to her once you’re gone,” Gordon said smiling. He had known Kliner for years and they were best friends, each sharing a devotion to each other. The latest episode with the head crab was just another thing that they shared together. He was thinking of this when Heady spit up a little on him. “Awww Heady got a boo boo tummy today?” Gordon asked in the baby tones he used. He started to rub Heady slowly calming her tummy a bit. Heady took one look at Gordon and right then and there gave him a love bite and then scurried off.
A moment later, Heady came running out and leaped back up onto Gordon’s lap. On top of her “back” was a tiny head crab. “IZZY!!! HURRY!!!!” Gordon yelled, “Get the camera quick! Heady’s becoming a mommy!”

Four hours later, Heady was the proud momma of six little Head crabs and Gordon had it all on tape. “So, Gordon... what are you doing to do?” Dr. Kliner asked amused at the sight of a big man making a fuss over head crabs.
What Gordon did was raise seven head crabs and managed to keep his sanity... somewhat. Karen was always causing trouble. Her hearing impairment hampered her abilities to be a normal head crab slightly but she was a loveable thing. Now that she had six little ones, it made it all the more fun for Gordon as he fondly petted Heady. Things seemed a little emptier when Izzy passed on and Heady searched for someone to fill the void. Lucky for her Gordon was there every step of the way. When the news came down that Heady had passed on, Gordon held Karen is his arm and swore nothing would ever part them, however hard it would be the next few years. Gordon didn’t really date much, and he drank himself into a coma once.
****
“Karen inherited her mom’s problem but that didn’t bother me none,” Gordon told me.
I could see that quite clearly the way he held Karen. Still I was curious about what happened and so forth. I asked, “Did you have Karen when you met Alyssa?”
“Well… not exactly.... alyssa was already gone by that time, and i'd met up with Alyx Vance by then”
****
Alyx rubbed Karen’s back as she spit up her lunch again. “Karen, you need to relax. Eating for six isn’t an easy thing ‘specially since you’re so young.”
Karen groaned lying down, all those baby headcrabs inside her made it a little tricky feeding her. Smaller bottles to her traditional larger, feedings every 2 hours instead of longer intervals made her agitated and the result was spit up from her meals.
Gordon paced back and forth. Alyx was being a mentor to Karen through all the pain and suffering of being a mom to be. Soon she will be a mom like her mother was. It was like Heady all over again. Gordon didn’t know if he could take losing Karen like he did Heady, so once again he jumped head first into a bottle of vodka.
Alyx sighed. Ever since Gordon found out Alyx was expecting he’d been a mess. Maybe it was too soon for him. Maybe there wasn’t enough time for him to heal. Alyx thought she was crazy for thinking Gordon would change. Change didn’t come easy the first few years but she had to be patient. Alyx took a deep breath as Gordon wrapped his arms around her.
“You ok? You look tired. Karen been keeping you up late?” He asked inferring that if Alyx wanted to take a nap, he’d watch Karen for her.
Lamar chattered her disapproval at having to share a room with Karen. Lamar was Alyx’s Black Leaper head crab and she was a little jealous of Karen, but agreed to share the bed with Karen after she sensed that they both were in the same boat. Lamar climbed on Gordon’s tummy and nestled into his shirt.
“Hey there daddy’s little crabby,” Gordon said rubbing Karen and Lamar at the same time. “We need to let mommy rest now, ok? So dad’s going to be watching you now till mommy wakes up from her nap”
It was just then he heard Karen’s yawn and Lamar’s sleepy chitterling that he saw they’d fallen asleep on his tummy, so Gordon closed his eyes also and the three of them fell asleep. It was a sight, Gordon and Karen and Lamar all asleep on the bed, dreaming their dreams without care.

****
“So I take it she didn’t mind raising a bunch of head crabs?” I couldn’t help but ask. It made me wonder who would go for a head crab being a pet. Heck this is what I wanted. I wanted to know about Gordon Freeman as a person, a man and not the legend he became.
“A little, but once Karen worked her way into our lives she didn’t really care, plus most of them were given to good homes” Gordon said. “Karen here, she stayed with me. As for my boys... they stay with friends.” That’s all he said on the subject.
“So, you have sons?” I asked. I had heard that Freeman had a lot of kids from different ladies, but never that he actually called any of them his except his twins, David and Alex. They were to follow in Gordon’s footsteps, but it seemed sanity drove them apart, or his apparent lack there of. “How old are they?”
Gordon answered “Six years old. They are a set of trouble. Can’t leave them alone for a moment.” Gordon smiled. It was the first time I saw him smile. He had a lopsided grin. His glasses were drooped and he looked as if this was about all he could take for today.
“Would you rather take a break for today and start again tomorrow?” I was really interested in Gordon Freeman and I was willing to work with him. It started me thinking that maybe he wasn’t crazy.
“Yes, I’m just tired. It’s been a long day for me,” Gordon replied. “I thought I’d never forget what happened, and yet, I’d rather forget. It’s been a long time since I felt like I needed a drink”

I decided the next time I came around I’d sneak in a bottle of vodka for him; poor guy looked like he needed that.
****
The next day I drove out and the place seemed to be under lockdown and I wondered why. There were security guards running around, talking on their radios. I looked around as I pulled up to try and figure out why. As I drove up to the gates I saw why. Gordon was on the roof, perched on the edge of it. He looked like he was going to jump or something. I climbed out of the car and walked to the gates. “Gordon!” I yelled, “Why are you up there? Please get down.” In a hint of desperation I added, “I brought vodka!”
No luck. Gordon sat down on the edge and refused to budge. I looked at Dr. Calhoun. “This is not one of his good days. We woke up to the sounds of alarms blaring, and Gordon’s threats to jump. The night crew said that he was disturbed last night.... like he remembered something he’d forgotten. He just ran up on the roof and slept there all night.” He noticed my vodka bottle and he laughed, “I guess this was for Gordon.”
I replied slightly downcast, “Yeah.” I felt like I had been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
Noticing that it was a Grey Goose bottle, Doc Calhoun asked, “How’d you know? He LOVES Grey Goose Vodka. It’s hard to get a hold of, so we usually slip him some cheap stuff.”
I smiled, feeling relieved that I wasn’t going to get the third degree this time. “I have a friend that stock piled the stuff, so I get a bottle a week. I figured after yesterday, Gordon was a heavy boozer in the days. I thought I’d get him a bottle to say thanks for allowing me to talk to him.” I looked up at the roof.
Gordon was still sitting on the edge of the roof, still looking like he was going to jump. Whether he’d calmed down enough I didn’t know and I was hoping I’d still be able to talk to him after last night. It hit me then that maybe he might respond to Karen his pet head crab. I said to Doc Calhoun, “What about Karen? Maybe she can get him to come down.”
Barney looked at me like I was crazy, “And how would she do that?”
“He cares for her right?” I asked, “Since he does, he would be able to come down and attend to her needs.”
Doc Calhoun still looked at me as if I was crazy but he was willing to risk it. He ran in for what reason, I thought it was for Karen. He came back out with a spray bottle and sprayed a watermelon mist right on me. He must have been spraying to guide the way for right on cue, Karen came barreling out and hopped up into my arms. She cried for her bottle embarrassingly loud and sure enough, Gordon’s ears perked up. He looked around and saw me struggling with Karen as she was trying to get a smoothie. She was heavy and wriggly and I didn’t know if my arms would hold out.
It worked. He climbed down the nearest tree and ran over to Karen, who by now was mouthing my shirt trying to see if it tasted anything like watermelon smoothie. Gordon smiled and laughed, “In all my confusion, I guess I forgot about Karen. She’s a little crier when really hungry but I don’t have a bottle ready. Last night wasn’t good. I couldn’t sleep. I guess not taking medication will do that to you and I am sick of feeling like a robot that people can push around. I AM A HUMAN DAMN IT! I like football and soccer, I root for Man U whenever I see them playing. I like to kick back and tell some bad jokes, and I also like to be able to feel... something I haven’t done in a while. I’d like to continue talking but I have a feeling after today they’ll be transferring me to a more secure place. They always do.” Gordon then looked at Doc Calhoun, “Well Barn? What do you say... do I stay or go?”
I was honestly shocked that the Doc and Gordon were friends, but honestly I could see after all he went through; Barney was the only person he probably trusted. Everyone else was dead or removed from his life. Somehow I wanted to be a part of that small circle of trust.
Dr. Calhoun sighed, “Honestly Gordon, I think you should stay. You always seem to shake this place up.” He was actually smiling at Gordon.
I was actually glad he’d be staying. Somehow I got the feeling that little old man had more about him than anything. I showed Gordon the vodka bottle, “I think we’ll need this after all.”
“I sure could use a good dry martini right now,” he smiled jokingly, “and a beer that someone owes me”
Doc Calhoun rolled his eyes. It seemed that Gordon always tried that trick. If it wasn’t a martini, he had a beer in his hand. I was amazed he wasn’t dying of liver failure by now but I could tell that Doc was amused. I could see that our little talks weren’t going to be curtailed.
We settled in our usual room to go on talking and Gordon took a swig of the vodka I brought, “Now where was I?”
He started talking about his life as a kid, his mom, and his siblings. I noticed that after each sentence he was a little distracted. Something was weighing heavy on his mind and it showed. It looked as if he aged a few years. Before I had a chance to ask, I turned my head for a second and Gordon was lying on the floor, half passed out. I jumped to my feet and ran to grab the nurse. I didn’t know if he was ok or if something broke in his mind. I was worried about him. Gordon seemed the type to hide his problems.
The nurse must have known something was wrong because before I even reached the door, she was coming in. She said nothing but went straight to Gordon. The nurse finally got Gordon going after a nitro shot. It looked like a granny fussing over her grandchildren, which was odd since the nurse was quite young. Gordon wasn’t relishing the attention. I think he knew what came next: meds and lots of them. After the meds had been taking care of, we continued out chat. Gordon was a little gruffer than his normal self, but that was cause today was his birthday, and he rather disliked celebrating it

*****
Alyssa always had to make a big fuss over how old Gordon got. It was a given from the day they met. Gordon disliked parties, but stuck around for the beer and the food. This year was no exception. Gordon did NOT want to celebrate his birthday this year. All he wanted was a day of peace and quiet to work on some projects of his or play his video games. In other words, be a normal average Joe. That wasn’t about to happen as Barney and the rest of them piled in, which meant Wild times. All Gordon wanted to do was relax and he was stuck with a wild time.
He couldn’t be mad with Alyssa and he would do anything to please her. Just why she HAD to make a big deal out of a day he’d rather forget was something beyond him. The upside was the fact that Alyssa got to exhibit some of her best cooking ever. It was worth it to a degree. As they sang “Happy Birthday,” Gordon sighed and shook his head and mouthed, “last time.”
****
Gordon cracked a smile. I think remembering Alyssa’s cooking and the hoard all piling in, brought back some good memories as I sat pouring the alcohol. I knew I probably wasn’t going to use any of what he said but it got him talking. I knew that I would have to guide him back to the war but he had to tell things his own way. I asked, “Ready to say any more?”
Gordon sighed, “I really don’t like remembering the war.”
Hey I could understand that. No body likes to talk about the war. Those were the best of times and the worst of times as Charles Dickens once so eloquently put it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to remember a time when you were a celebrated genius like Gordon but then you had to use that intelligence to unleash the unspeakable. Shoot I wouldn’t want to talk about it if I were Gordon either.
Maybe if things were different, I would have just kept coming back just to listen. The truth was I had a story to write on a famous person who was declared a resident nutcase and liked head crabs that ate watermelon smoothies. I had to learn more about his involvement whether we both liked to or not. Still I liked the old guy and didn’t want him to break down on me so I backed up to a familiar track. I was sure he would be cooperative with this and it was close enough since she was involved one way or another. I asked, “What about your wife? How’d you two meet?”
“A science symposium of all things. She was there with her family,” Gordon said, “I introduced my self as a 2nd year grad student from MIT, which wasn’t that much of a stretch, but I didn’t want her father to think I was some dumb ass that barely aced Chem. 101... so I lied. Sometimes, it helps. But, in my case it wasn’t so much an outright lie, but a fabrication of the truth. A fabrication, that earned me a date with her and a second and a third and so on.... by our 7th date, she figured I was the right guy, for all the wrong reasons. I was smart, semi-talented, and I honestly loved her with all my heart but things became.... complicated. She told me she was pregnant. I flipped out. I didn’t want kids now; I was devoted to my career. Well, she told her father and her father kicked her out of the house. I eventually decided that the most honorable thing to do was marry her. I’ll never forget that night....”
****
“Gordon, what are we doing here? You said you had a surprise for me!” Alyssa said, excitement tingeing her voice.
“I do,” Gordon replied. He got down on one knee, which was a trick since he had a bum knee, and took Alyssa’s hand. “I may have told you I wasn’t ready for kids. In truth I don’t think anyone really is ready.”
Alyssa’s hand went instinctively to her lower abdomen. Her breathing became sparse, like she was gasping for air. “Alyssa? You ok?” Gordon asked. Apparently it didn’t click that she was getting stunned at what he was about to do.
“I’m fine, just a little shocked” Alyssa said.
Gordon smiled as he opened a box and slipped a diamond ring on her finger. He took a deep breath and said, “Alyssa, I’m going to make a promise here, thro thick and thin, good times, rotten times, bad days, good days I’m sticking around. I guess what I’m trying to say is will you marry me?” Gordon choked back tears. Never in his life has he been so nervous, not even when dealing with making speeches.
Time seemed to fly from that day on, the wedding was beautiful, and now Gordon had a new reason for life. His daughter, Raven Alexandra was the most precious thing in existence. Still, somehow he always felt that there was a part of him missing.



Ecw fans, NEVER forget

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