John encountered Carlos one afternoon. He and some of the other hands were smoking cigars.
“Big news, jefe, my son was born this morning!”
“That’s great, Carlos. What’s the boy’s name?”
Carlos reached inside the cigar box he had and handed a cigar to smoke. John took it, unwrapped it, used a knife Carlos had to cut the head, and held a lit wooden match to the tuck. He puffed on the cigar lightly as he told the hands what the day’s activities would be.
He came inside for lunch smelling slightly of cigar smoke. Martha set down a sandwich and bowl of soup for him. Marvin crawled about the kitchen while he ate. Crawling to his feet, he looked up at his surrogate father. He sniffed John’s pant leg slightly, sensing the odor of cigar. Scrunching his face in disgust, he coughed, and then crawled into the other room in search of more interesting things.
John finished his sandwich then reconvened with his hands in the fields. As he worked, the sun shone down hotly. He was glad at the end of the day when all the hands went home, and he was allowed to sip a tall glass of lemonade as he watched the evening news.
Martha entered the room, carrying Marvin. His exoskeleton shined lightly from having just been bathed. She worked a fluffy towel over his head, shining it. She sat down next to John and began watching the news.
“How was work?”
“The usual. The harvest is coming in soon. I need to tune up the thresher tomorrow.”
“All I can say is that I am glad that you telecommute.”
He turned to face her. “You make it sound as if I call the plants up on my cell phone and hold a conference call with them.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yes, but I do miss hanging around the water cooler, procrastinating.”
“I’m glad you decided to become a farmer. I feel good as a farmer’s wife. I doubt I would like to be some big-shot executive’s wife. I’d hardly see him. At least I get to see you every day, and can go out and see you whenever I want.”
“And I get to see you all the time, too. And Marvin.” He scratched the top of Marvin’s head lightly. “You want some?”
“John, his stomach probably isn’t ready for lemonade.”
“Oh, it’s not too bad. Pretty sugary.”
Marvin gripped the glass with his hands and brought the glass close to his mouth. He sipped from the meniscus of the fluid, making a slight slurping noise.
He dropped the glass. He coughed. He could not stop coughing.
“Marvin? Are you all right?” As if he would respond…
He did not stop coughing.
“We need to get help, John!” Margaret was somewhat flustered.
“What should we do? Call a vet?”
“Call Doctor McKinnie! He’ll know what to do!”
John rushed to the telephone and rang the hospital. Doctor McKinnie was at home currently. John thanked the secretary then redialed the doctor’s house. It rang a few times, shortly being answered by the doctor.
“Doctor McKinnie, this is John. We need your help immediately!”
“What is it John? Is it Martha?”
“No, it’s our son. Can you come here quickly?”
“I don’t understand, John.”
“I know I don’t make any sense, I just need you to trust me on this. How soon can you get over here?”
“I can be over in five minutes. What is happening?”
“He’s choking, not breathing.”
“Make sure there’s not food lodged in his throat. I’ll be there in two. Try to keep him still and calm and relaxed.”
A sedan cruised past quickly. It rushed past an orange traffic light in transition from yellow to red. A man with binoculars watched the car pass. He wore all black from his head to his toes. He smoked a black cigarette. He sat in a bush watching cars pass. This one had the doctor.
He would need to investigate this.
He jotted a few notes in a small, green stenographer’s pad (with a black cover). Flicking his cigarette into the street, he made for a payphone to make a call.
Doctor McKinnie pulled into the driveway and rushed from the car towards the house. He carried a medical bag with him as he ran. John met him at the door.
“Where is he?” asked the doctor hurriedly.
“In here.” John led him into the living room, where Martha was nervously making sure that Marvin was as comfortable as he could be for his current situation.
Doctor McKinnie was taken aback slightly when he saw Marvin. “What is that?” He slowly backed towards the door.
“Don’t worry. We know that he’s not human or anything, but, Doctor McKinnie, we’ve come to love him. Please, can you help him?”
A determined look came over the doctor’s face. “All right, I’ll see what I can do.”
He knelt beside the creature, setting his bag down on the floor. Hurriedly, yet still careful, he looked at the creature’s face. Not ever having seen something like this before, he depended entirely on his doctoral instinct.
“It looks like he’s having an allergic reaction,” stated the doctor, reaching into a bag. He pulled forth an epinephrine pen. Cautiously, he stuck it into the creature’s flesh, penetrating the soft exoskeleton.
Marvin stopped choking. The pen stuck from his stomach. He looked around, somewhat in shock, finally looking up to the doctor. The doctor was looking down on him, trying to figure him out.
“What is this?” he asked finally.
“Doctor McKinnie, this is Marvin. He is our son.”
Marvin pulled the pen from his stomach and sniffed it carefully. After smelling nothing of interest, he tossed it aside, raising his arms to the doctor.
“He wants you to pick him up.”
McKinnie lifted the creature, handling him as if he were a baby child. “Has he eaten anything that might have caused him to have such a reaction?”
Martha fielded this question: “The only time he eats in when I breastfeed him.”
McKinnie lowered his spectacles at Martha. “Are you aware that his physiology may not be acclimated to your physiology?”
“I’m sorry, it just seemed a better use of it than to pump it and throw it away.”
“I know. But, until we figure out what it is, we will have to be very careful.”
“Would you like something to drink, doctor?” asked John, realizing how much he had inconvenience the doctor.
They all went into the kitchen. “In the future, you might want to keep a little stronghold of epinephrine pens, they’re very good for handling allergic reactions.”
“Where can we get them?”
“I can give you some, don’t worry.”
“Here’s some lemonade.”
“Thank you, I have heard wonders about…”
As soon as he had the lemonade in his hands, Marvin started squirming. He tried to get away from the glass. McKinnie realized this at last, setting the glass on the table, as far away from Marvin as possible.
“I think I’ve figured out what it is.”
“Poor kid. I guess when life will give him lemons, he’ll just wiggle around on the floor for a bit.”
Martha hit John on the arm for saying this.
“Well,” the doctor interrupted, “it appears we have come to the root of the problem. Let us call it an evening so that we may all get our rest.”
“Doctor,” said John as McKinnie made his way for the door, having set Marvin on the floor. “Please don’t tell anyone about Marvin.”
“Why is that?”
“We feel that the world is not quite ready for him yet.”
“I shall respect these wishes. Come by sometime tomorrow for the epinephrine pens. I will have them ready for you in the morning.”
“Very well. Thank you doctor, good night.”
“Good night to you as well.”
Filling up at a gas station on the way home, Doctor McKinnie was encountered by a man..
“Good evening, doctor.”
“Eh? Who’s that?”
“It doesn’t matter who I am, just what I am.”
“What are you, then?”
“A seeker of information.”
“What is it you want to know?”
“Why were you at the Drost farm this fine evening.”
“Oh? What has befallen this fine family since their unfortunate child status?”
“Misses Drost had a breakdown,” he lied.
“And Mister Drost thought it was serious?”
“It was. Fortunately, it was nothing more than I could handle.”
“She’ll be fine in the morning.”
“One would hope so.”
“Everything will be fine in the morning.”
“Well, Doctor McKinnie, thank you for your time and information.” The man offered his hand for to shake. The doctor obliged.
“You won’t go around telling the things I just told you, will you?”
“Of course not, Doctor. I’m no blab.”
“Very good. I am glad that I can trust you.”
“Oh, you can do more than trust me, Doctor.” He slowly disappeared into the shadows.
John went the next morning to get the pens. He retrieved them with very little hassle. As he put them in his truck, a man approached him.
“Mister Drost, I presume.”
“How are you doing?”
“Do I know you?”
“Not quite. You probably shouldn’t, as well.”
“Who are you?”
“How is the wife?”
“She’s fine. Who are you?”
“I hear she had it bad last night.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your wife’s nervous breakdown. I hear she needed serious medical help. Did she eat something poisonous? Is that why you have the epinephrine pens?”
“It’s none of your business, Mister…”
“You won’t get it and I won’t tell you.”
The man walked off into the crowd of cars. When John was sure he had left, he got into his truck and drove back home.
“What a nutcase,” he said, not noticing this particular nutcase stowing away within the bed of the truck.