Small hands covered by white surgical gloves cut inside my chest. He put the scalpel on the table and removed the soldering iron. Breann squeezed my left hand firmly. Her warm grip couldn’t distract me from the hurt and the peculiar, unmoved man. He was performing heart surgery in a room where I ate a grilled chicken sandwich, watched Sportscenter, took a nap, and chased away my ex girlfriend in the past few hours. I looked at Breann and mouthed “spill”.
“You collapsed. Your, heart, our hearts, are failing quicker than we were told. This is Thurman Ober. He’s a scientist who is an expert on technological singularity. He’s spent over 40 years studying robotics and how the human body can handle them. After he gets you repaired, we’ll meet up with Lena, Clare, and Doctor Ober can tell us what Ava and the other doctors have left out.”
Breann nodded toward Ober. He began to stitch the wound. The pinching and pulling were painful.
I closed my eyes. For a few minutes, I imagined being on a beach with Shane and the kids. It felt sure. I opened my eyes and saw Ober putting his tools into a large black duffel bag. Breann was standing over me opening unbuttoning her shirt.
“Breann, Ava was here earlier. At least she kept her clothes on. Give me a break, okay?”
She laughed until she winced. Her sleepy brown eyes watered. She opened her bluish blouse and pulled up her white bra slightly, revealing a scar smoother, more beige than the one that covered my chest
“Look at this scar. Dr. Ober fixed me two and a half hours ago. The stitches absorb into the skin. It will look a lot better soon. He says the skin grafts we’ll get during our surgeries will make this wound nonexistent. I’m kind of bummed. Scars are awesome.”
I tried to laugh but the pain was too new. I marveled at how much Breann and I were alike. I didn’t look forward to telling her what my family and I had decided. I looked away.
“Caleb, if you want to rest for an hour or so, we can meet up with Dr. Ober, Lena and Clare later. He lives near the Serendipity.”
I felt my heart beating. It was better than it had been in months. There was strength in the pound.
“Dr. Ober? What did you do to me?”
He recoiled from my question. He seemed intimidated. Breann started to speak and I put my hand up to stop her. He began talked meekly, but certain.
“Well, um, Caleb. I changed the opening mechanism on the main valve of your artifical heart. The metal shavings that the magnet centralized, blocked the area where the valve opens at its greatest margin. When you have the entire mechanism replaced, it will be batterized. It will moved according to the ions a battery will put out. That battery should last for many decades.”
I shook my head in disbelief. Did everyone but me know how my heart worked? It was a question I’d asked myself since I was a teenager.
“I guess I should buy you a burger in a little while and you’ll be able to tell me a lot more?”
Ober looked at Breann, smiled slyly, then shook his head in agreement. I got up from the bed, walked over to Ober and shook his hand. It was so small that my normal sized hand looked giant. Breann walked him to the hotel room door.
I stumbled to the bay window, opened the curtains and revealed an orange, autumn sundown.
“Sorry I didn’t call or answer the phone. Lena and Clare got into New York earlier today. Clare fainted in the airport taxi. I met Lena at their hotel. By that time I had already run down Dr. Ober. I’ve been working on getting an interview with him for the Post’s website for months. He was standing in front of me on the street when Lena called. He worked on Clare, then Lena, then me. It’s temporary, but it’s better than the ridiculous magnet Ava, Wicks and Todd came up with. “
I didn’t react as the pain from the stitching stifled my emotions.
“You want me to leave you alone? I know this whole thing is crazy, dude.”
My phone vibrated in the pocket of my jeans and I reached for it. It showed Shane’s name.
“Hey baby. I just woke up, sort of. Can I call you back in a few minutes? We’re running behind with the meeting. It’s been a weird day. I love you.”
The sun dove behind more darkness. I could no longer avoid the conversation.
“I’m going to meet with you, Lena and Clare. I definitely want to hear Ober’s story. But, I’m scheduled for surgery January 3rd. Not in New York or Atlanta, but in Los Angeles. We want to follow Ava’s advice and deal directly with Anson Cluber and his people. “
Breann’s mouth opened slightly. Her posture disappeared. She seemed lost.
“Breann, I’m so….”
She picked up her black leather jacket, put it on with a fury. Her eyes looked like brown fire. She began to spit her words.
“Don’t disrespect Shane and your girls! You are taking Ava’s advice! This, no, you, are really stupid! I’ll be at Serendipity 3 in an hour. If you aren’t there, you might as well smother yourself with those hotel pillows! You’ll be dead on the inside without me and what I know! I can’t believe you. You must not be the man I thought you were. I guess that makes me stupid too.”
She picked up my t-shirt and threw it at me.
“Breann, you think I’m making a mistake become a cog in this Ava machine but….”
Her angry glare added a disappointing shoulder shrug and bewildered head shake.
“No, Caleb, you are Ava’s machine!”
She walked out of the room and slammed the door so hard, the alarm clock next to the bed fell off the nightstand. I leaned over to pick it up and saw the time, 6:00pm. Six.
*blogger’s note* This is another story episode. I have put the entire story here: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/crazy-robot-stories/ Don’t worry Crazy Robot Stories is a working title.
Today’s song is something I heard on my way to gym, thinking about how Breann felt leaving the hotel room. In a way, this part of the story is about her more than Caleb so it’s her point of view. Here’s Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Fall Down…