Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Therapy

“Good job!” Sandy told her daughter with a wide smile and strained enthusiasm. “That was a good ride, huh?” Sandy cheered on her daughter and stepped toward the horse.

“Yeah, I guess,” the thirteen-year-old girl said from atop an old brown mare. “Can you get me down now?” she sighed.

Sandy looked up at her daughter with bright eyes and a grin, but this fa├žade was starting to show a few cracks. “Sure, honey.” With the help of the side-walker, the adolescent strained to swing one leg over the horse’s back and slid down the other side into her mother’s arms. Sandy handed the girl her cane, an ugly bare-metal crook with a four-pronged bottom. As the girl tried to hobble away, her mother yanked on the girl’s cumbersome back brace, trying to readjust it into its proper position. The daughter scolded her mother in embarrassment and struggled to get away. Sandy released her grip. The skinny girl wobbled, still unsteady on two legs and a cane. Despite her back brace, she still seemed to slouch, and her shoulders hunched over.

“That was a good job, Miranda,” said a man standing by the gate to the arena. To Miranda, he sounded just as insincere as her mother had.

“Dr. Kammerich, what are you doing here?” asked Sandy.

The doctor smiled and looked into the perpetually uncertain face of the young girl. “I need to talk to you about something. Something that might turn out to be very good news,” he addressed them both.

Miranda was tired of adults pretending to be happy around her. “Are you going to give me robot legs?” The two adults ignored her with more fake smiles and laughs. As she galloped like a snail beside them, they exchanged small talk about her progress with her equine therapy. Her mother told an embarrassing story about her first ride when she had nearly fallen off. Miranda rolled her eyes. The three reached the car and stopped. Dr. Kammerich laughed lightly. “Well, what I’ve got to tell you may change that. I’d like to start Miranda on a new therapy.”

“A new one?" Sandy was nervous. She knew how much stress these therapies were on her daughter. She hoped her already frustrated child wouldn't become even more upset. "This therapeutic riding seems to really be working, right Miranda?” Sandy said, gently tugging on her daughter’s ponytail.

“It’s better than the water therapy,” the girl said dryly. “I almost drowned, like, a thousand times.” Miranda laughed and snorted. Her mother smiled.

“Well, this therapy isn’t like that. It’s more medicinal.”

“We’re already doing the steroids once a week. And the supplements…” Sandy trailed off.

“It’s a new therapy that would preclude all the other ones.” He looked to Miranda. “You wouldn’t have to swim or ride horses or get steroids anymore.”

“That’d be cool,” Miranda said unconvinced.

“What kind of therapy is it? Why didn’t you tell us about it before?” asked Sandy. She was becoming suspicious.

“It’s a new therapy. It’s,” Dr. Kammerich hesitated, “experimental.” He knew he’d chosen the wrong word as soon as he said it.

“How experimental?”

The doctor looked from mother to child. “Miranda would be the first.”

Sandy looked down at her daughter, a thin frame leaning up against the family station wagon. Her overenthusiastic veneer fell from her face. She took Dr. Kammerich by the arm and pulled him off to the side. “I don’t want Miranda to be some guinea pig, having scientists and doctors poking and prodding her more than they already do. I don’t want her to be any more unhappy than she already is.”

“I understand your concern;” Dr. Kammerich continued, choosing his words carefully, “however, this might not just be a therapy. It could be a cure.”

“There is no cure for muscular dystrophy,” Sandy said.

Dr. Kammerich smiled. “Not yet.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bad Things, Good People

Bad things never happen to good people. Things happen to people, and then we decide which people and things are good and which are bad. And for some reason this matters, this goodness and badness. We can never just accept that things happen.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ununemployed

I finally got a job! I start working the seventh of August at Farmers Insurance as a Expense Control Clerk.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Interview

Miranda disembarked from the elevator and looked around. To her right was the humming of office work: keyboards clacking, papers shuffling, people talking, and the occasional phone ringing. To her left was a high counter with two women behind it – one busy signing for a delivery and assuring someone over the phone that she had indeed scheduled the meeting for the next day, the other hardly moving, staring through thick-rimmed glasses at a computer screen. Miranda approached the latter. “Hello, my name is Miranda. I have an appointment with Mr. Sunder ... at two ....” She stopped. The woman with glasses didn’t even look up.

“What do you need, hon?” the other woman asked, cradling the phone in her neck and handing a clipboard back to the delivery man. “Yes, I sent him the file as an attachment last week,” she said into the phone.

“I’m here to see Mr. Sunder.”

“You have to unzip the file first before you can open it,” the reception said, then without missing a beat, “He’s down the hall on your left. Take another left at the water fountain. You’ll see a whole bunch of conference rooms on the right; his office is right across from those.”

“Not anymore,” the secretary with glasses finally spoke in a nasal east-side accent.

“What?” the other woman said, perhaps into the phone or perhaps to the secretary with glasses.

“Not anymore,” the woman with glasses said without looking up from her computer. “He moved to the fifteenth floor two weeks ago. They finally finished his office up there. It’s supposed to be real nice. Marie – Marie-from-HR Marie – she got the job as his new receptionist. She said it’s the easiest job in world. She said he’s not even in most days, and when he is in, he’s only there for a few hours, has one meeting and then goes home. She’s so lucky. I wish I had nothing to do.”

“I’m telling you, I sent the right file. It is just in zip format. You have to unzip it!” The other secretary had shifted attention to a fax machine that wouldn’t relinquish an apparently important document.

The woman with glasses finally looked up, saw Miranda still patiently waiting at the counter, and said with a fake pleasantness, “Fifteenth floor. Can’t miss it.”

Alex sat in his rolling office chair behind a large wooden desk in an ornately furnished fifteenth floor office. It was the only office on the fifteenth floor but was small enough to make room for his conference room, washroom, gym, dining room, napping room, and the fifteenth floor’s lobby that housed his secretary.

A voice sprang from the intercom. “Your two o’clock is here to see you, Mr. Sunder.”

“Thank you Marie. Send her in.” Marie showed the shy, young woman into the office. Miranda shook Alex’s hand and took a seat in one of the big leather chairs facing the desk. “Thank you, Marie. Could you bring us some bottled water? Thanks.”

Alex looked over the young girl sitting before him. She was shorter than he expected, and younger. She seems shy and unsure of herself. Alex had immediate reservations. Still she had interest enough to answer the ad and guts enough to actually show up. “Where are you from?”

Miranda cleared her throat and said, “I’m living in an apartment on the east side, down on 101st.”

Alex smiled. “Where’s that accent from?”

“Oh, well, I grew up in the Midwest.”

Grew up? Alex thought, This girl is still growing up. “Any place I’d know?”

“A small town in the middle of nowhere.” Miranda shrugged.

“Well, let’s get down to it. Why do you want to be a sidekick to a superhero?”

Miranda looked around nervously. “Because I have a power?”

“A superpower?”

“I guess.”

Alex leaned in, interested. “Oh do you now?”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Confession

Unless I'm in a hurry, I sit down to pee. You know why? Because it's comfortable and because I can. If that makes me less of a man, then so be it; I'm less of a man who takes comfortable pisses.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ghost Stripper

Have you ever wanted to see a ghost stripper? I did, once. How foolish and naive I was back then.

Circa Now