by R D Larson
part 1 of 2
Jared stood up when his name was called. The CFO of New Life motioned him up to the podium.
“We are all so proud of you, Jared Mahoney. You have given many families the joy they need and deserve. All over this country and many other countries your name is said with a reverence for life and family.” The young and eager CFO of the company smiled out at the small crowd.
Jared walked up to front of the banquet room at the Century Plaza Center. His long gait and gangly body embarrassed him. So did his balding head and thick glasses. He looked exactly like what he was: a scientist. Right down to the pocket protector in his plaid shirt. He wished he’d thought to buy a suit instead of wearing an old tweed jacket over his shirt and threadbare twill pants. His run-down sneakers no longer sneaked, they squeaked.
A smattering of applause rose, then became long and hearty. He blinked as he turned to look at the other employees and management members. He bobbed his head in that old South Carolina way, meaning thank-you and happy-to-be-here.
“Thanks. I really was only doing my job. It’s not a big deal,” he said. More applause and a couple of whistles.
Mickey, his best and only true friend, whistled from the front row. Then Mickey yelled, “Are they all your babies?”
Jared blushed red as a stop light. “No sperm jokes, okay? It’s a job and I do it the best I can. In my spare time I’m a poet. Tonight I would like to share a poem I wrote for this moment.”
“We aren’t going to give you an award for poetry, Dr. Mahoney. We’re giving you a bonus for all the pregnancies the last three years,” Phil D.E. Basio, the President of New Life, said loudly from his chair on the platform. His guffaw was heard around the room.
Jared blushed even harder. He frowned. “I’m still reading this poem.”
“Oh hell, go on, you’re the boy of the hour!” shouted Phil.
Again Mickey whistled.
“Okay, here goes:
I didn’t give the Moms a lube,
I made them babies in a tube.
It’s not my seed,
It’s not my deed.
I’m no red-necked rube.
Do you read? I think not.
If you do you’re on spot.
It’s not my care,
If I don’t share,
My poetry’s just rot.
Laughter and claps broke out and Jared grinned foolishly.
I’m taking my bonus,
And showing my a-nus
I’m going away
An’ sit all day,
’Neath the sun-us.
I’m taking a cruise
So don’t get a bruise
New Life’s need —
That’s my greed
To give me a muse.”
By now everyone was helplessly laughing as they groaned. Some of the women had put their hands over their ears.
“Good God,” shouted Phil, standing, his happy gut spilling over his pants.”You’d never get a dime for that kind of crap. Just take the money and run, man.”
The CFO blinked. He’d never seen Jared even smile. Not in the four months that he’d been the financial kid wizard they’d hired. He assumed that the scientist was without human traits. He shook his head sadly at the horrible poetry.
After the presentation and announcements of stock dividends for the employees, the group was served platters of hors d’œuvres and a roll-in bar was set up at the end of the room.
Jared smiled and shook hands with the people who kidded him about his “babies” and his poetry. He felt like an actor in a stage play.
When fewer people accosted him, he started to look for Judith Howard-Taylor, the medical doctor that screened both donors and recipients for illness before the procedure. Finally he saw her gray hair, caught up in a ponytail. She had a black scarf around her hair, her only capitulation to the evening’s festivities. Judith wore what she always wore: a man’s cotton shirt with black trousers and Birkenstocks.
Jared ambled up to her. “Hi, Judith, were you impressed with my poem?”
“No, of course not,” she said honestly. Her brow was unlined and her face serene. If she had been twenty years younger, Jared thought fleetingly. Oh, that IS mean; sour grapes, he told himself.
“I’m very funny, though, aren’t I?” Jared grinned and Judith smiled, her blue eyes lighting up with his comment. She nodded, serious again, after a long second. “Can I get you another wine?”
“No, this is my limit, must watch my weight,” she said.
“Okay. Say, by the way, have any of the recent donors had anemia or other blood-related problems?”
“No, I always check all that. Why do you ask?”
“I was looking at a few of the fertilized eggs with the Dante electron microscope a week ago and found a few were missing some DNA blood links.”
“Well, they didn’t get past me. Maybe somebody...” Her voice trailed. She glared at him.
“You know I wouldn’t do that. I have the highest ethics, Judith.” Jared’s voice had chilled and his nose had risen as he stood up to his fullest six-and-a-half-foot height.
“No, I know you wouldn’t... um...” she waved her hand back and forth.”Well, I’ve got to go home and walk my cat.”
“Cat? I thought you had a dog.”
“I did. Now I have a cat and I put the dog’s leash on the cat and go for my nightly walk. See you at the lab, Jared. And... um... congratulations.” Judith turned and walked out the main door before he could say another word.
Still, except for being opinionated and bitchy, she was an attractive woman. Some other time, Jared told himself, having another glass of white wine.
He prowled around the food platters. Bacon-wrapped shrimp. Sushi. White flour crackers. Dehydrated-looking celery and carrots. Ugh! There was nothing on any of the food platters that he’d even consider eating. He was getting really hungry so he’d have to leave shortly.
Jared went over to Phil and the accountant talking to a group of the front office girls. Rita was laughing. A really darling girl, Jared thought, glancing at her, She looked lush, and fertile as though she were begging to be loved. He waited for Phil to shut up for a moment. The girl had pale, luminescent skin and black hair. It’s probably dyed, thought Jared, suspiciously. The girl had on a sleeveless, low-cut blouse and her breasts looked like two full moons ready to rise. All the men found her irresistible , and rightly so. Hers were the perfect ova. No wonder he had harvested them.
Everyone laughed at something the girl said. Jared had missed the comment. He forced a laugh just then. Jared liked Rita; she was so good-natured, who wouldn’t like her? Rita would try anything, she often said, at least once. She seemed to sail through any crises without a ripple of temperament. Nice if you can do it, Jared thought.
“I need to get on home,” he said into the suddenly empty air since they had all seemed to have stopped talking.
“Whatever for, Jared?” Phil said. “You have to go home for what?”
“I’m — on a special diet — you know. I have to eat at home.” Jared felt like he had Dumbo’s ears or six legs when they stared at him.
“You are kind of thin, Dr. Mahoney; you’d better just eat ice cream,” said Rita, tilting her head back to look at him. He saw her smile; saw her only fault — those tiny sharp teeth at the sides of her mouth.
“Very kind of you to suggest it,” Jared said, crossly and out-of-sorts. “I really do need to get home. Thank you, Phil, for the bonus. I will continue to work as hard as I can for the good of our company. Providing, of course, that I begin to get better stock options.”
Phil laughed. “Mahoney, you’re a real joker — that’s what you are!”
Jared shrugged and strode out of the room. He could hear sounds of disdain trailing after him. What did they know? He was more than a scientist. He was an artist, by God, and soon, his work would be all over the news.
He drove home in his battered old Volvo. As the garage door went up, he could hear Honey barking to welcome him home. He greeted her at the door and let her run around outside long enough to satisfy her needs. Then they went in.
He dished up some dry food for Honey and stirred in some cooked chicken. For himself, he made a huge salad with hunks of cheese, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and carrots. He dripped olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the greens. Grabbing a fork, he wolfed it down standing at the counter. He finished before Honey.
Copyright © 2006 by R D Larson