So much, so little time
Mac ended the reverie. With a look of curiosity on his face, no furrows on his brow, he asked me. “Dennis, what did you do to the President? And if I think about it, what did you do to the Vice President as well. You never did answer that question. He was pretty shook up after you passed out. The man couldn’t tell me exactly what happened, but he was affected by it tremendously. What was it you did?”
Sitting back down in my chair, I thought about how to describe what happened. There was no way for me to know if what happened to me was the same as for the others that were gifted. Unless I asked. “Well, I don’t know what the rest of you feel when you touch someone. For me, it’s more intense. I feel people. Their emotions, their hate, love, lust, fear. Probably the same for all of you. When I shake hands, touch them, it’s more intense. And yet more basic. That touch gives me a totality for their overall character. I’ve met people that were just plain evil, and those that their goodness was just overpowering. The President was just such a man.”
Nods of ascension all around. I believe they all felt the same thing. Then Donny piped in. "But what about the VP Dennis. Mikey said when you shook his hand, he jumped back, almost as if from a static shock. What did you do to him?"
"Well, that was something that even I didn't expect. It was a request for that single detail. I didn't want to wait. So I think I just pushed a bit hard. I don't really know for sure. Never tried that before."
Mac now came back in. "But what did you do to the President?"
"Oh that. Just gave him a sense of wellbeing about me."
And always the clown, Andre added. "Mebe ya shuld do dat to all da regulars Donny."
The room burst out with laughter. Even Mac joined in. After a minute, we all settled down. Mac then began again. "Well, it's about dinner time, and then we have a long day tomorrow. Dennis gets his first outing with the regulars. The VP is going to some campaign thing tomorrow and we had already decided that Happy will take him to show him what we do. A car will be here at five so Dennis, I know you thought you would follow up with our little Katy, but it's an early morning for you. Remember that."
Giggles and snide remarks from the group as they left the classroom leaving Mac and I behind. I needed to know. “You are kidding about the five am thing right?”
Now that smile came back. “Sorry but no. Many of the things we are assigned to do will be early starts for us. We head to the White House or some other office in the city and then we will be a part of the briefings that the regulars have to get the compliment of men familiar with the plans, the location and stations at all times. They plan everything. And they do include us in those plans. After the primaries start next week, then there will be two more people and their families to guard. We’re going to be busy until November.”
“Yes. Election years mean most of us won’t be here much at all. I don’t think that living out of a hotel would bother you much, at least I was hoping it wouldn’t.”
“No, probably won’t. Actually I’ve only been to Hawaii once. The rest of my life I spent in Phoenix. Traveling around sounds interesting. And realistically, my job is standing around. Not like I’ll be digging ditches in Kalamazoo or anything.”
“Yeah, we all like it for the most part. Ask the guys, I think they’ve accepted you into the group and will talk to you about anything.”
Now I wanted some other details about this new life. “So, you said earlier that if needed, I can use one of the cars to go do things. And about that, when we aren’t actually on an assignment, are we stuck here? It seems a pretty boring place. The food’s good, but there’s more to life than this. Isn’t there?”
“Well, he do a lot of stuff here. Happy wants us for his research at times. He does a few assignments, but most of the time he’s here. The guys, most live here. Mikey and Donny have an apartment over in Falls Church. Jacob and Stevey also live off site. It will be your choice in the future. But come with me. You need to have the nickel tour of the place. There’s a lot more than what you’ve seen so far. This is a pretty big facility.”
Walking down the corridor where the bedrooms were, I saw the name plates on each one. Passing my name, we reached the larger door at the end. Opening it, we went into another corridor. Off to the left was an open room, two sofas and three recliners there. Two televisions, one on each side of the room. Bookshelves lined each wall on either side of the TV’s. On the opposite side of the corridor was a closed door. Mac opened it and looking inside, was a huge room filled with gym equipment. Treadmills, and stationary bikes. Benches, and racks of weights. Huge balls in a rack and an open area. The entire floor was padded, as were the walls. It must be there for sound proofing so that the noises wouldn’t bother others outside in the other areas. We walked on to the next open room, in it was a pool table, two nice poker tables and six recliners. Two TVs as well, one on each end of the room. “Poker?” I asked
“Yeah.” He said to me with a smile. “We’re the only people in the world you can play and not have an unfair advantage. Something new for you I think.”
“Yeah, you might be right about that. Not sure what I’ll be able to do.”
Mac laughed. I was beginning to believe he knew more about me than I knew about myself.
“There’s a bit more. Come on down this way.” Walking to the end of the corridor, a large wide door opened into a movie theater. Only about, oh, maybe thirty seats or so, but very nice. Mac closed that door and to the left was a door that opened into a room with a popcorn machine and banks of snack machines. A soda dispenser and ice machine at the back of the room. “We can get just about any movie you want to watch. Even ones out at the theaters currently. The advantage of being a government organization with virtually unlimited funding. And friends in high places.”
“Yeah, the President for one.” And I was impressed. And learning why some chose to live here.
Continuing, Mac added. "We have designed it to be used for meetings with dignitaries as well. More spacious, more comfort, some believe they deserve something better than the classroom where we normally hold briefings and strategy updates."
Mac now waved me over to the last door, the one opposite the snack room. Once open, it made a sharp right and we walked down another corridor, past some restrooms and I could already hear the guys in the dining room. “This is the shortest route for most of us living here to take from our rooms to the kitchen. Plus if the partitioning wall is up opposite the main meeting room, then you can’t get there that way.”
“So Mac, do they pull out the wall every night? And why?” Asking, I wanted to know. I didn’t even understand why the wall was there.
Stopping in the corridor, he looked over at me. That familiar nodding of his head. There was an awareness that he was about to expand on something of importance. “Dennis, this is our home here. We all want privacy. There are really two different facilities here. Ours. And the research lab down that corridor behind the main desk. We share the kitchen, a few other meeting rooms down that way with the lab. The wall gives us privacy. It’s probably just a formality, I mean I don’t believe that any of the lab people would ever wander around in our private living areas. But just in case, the wall divides us, from them.”
Thinking about it a moment, I told him. “That’s been the way I’ve lived most of my life. Separate, but trying to assimilate into society. It’s never worked. I think I understand now. Thanks for telling me. It gives me confidence that I’ve made the right choice to accept your offer to join with you.”
“No.” He began. “There was no choice Dennis. I knew you would stay. There isn’t anything else out there for you.”
I nodded. He was right.
We continued into the dining area and noticed there were a large number of new people sitting around tables, queued up at the serving line. Lab people. And Renee’s booming voice explaining the differing options to those choosing. We grabbed plates and got in line. Behind the counter, Renee beamed when he saw me. “You be back young Denny, you mus like me food.” And then a huge belly laugh. Most in the room turned to look at me, now the object of our shared chef’s attention.
Smiling at the man. “The best, and the most, I’ve eaten in a long time Renee. Thank you.”
Laughing once again, he turned his attention back to those in front of him. As they received their choices, we moved up and stood before the large chef. I reached for one of the salads, and looked up at the man to see him frown. That changed my mind. Not on my first day here, Mac’s words came back to me about not upsetting the man that fed us. I asked what the main dish was and was told. “Dat be heaben on dis earth young Denny. You like it. Yes.” He then reached across, took my plate and piled it high with some casserole type stuff, green beans and potatoes. A ladle of gravy and he handed it back to me. It had to weigh four or five pounds. Christ, I was going to weigh a ton in no time if I let him choose for me every meal.
Mac received a much much smaller portion and we walked over to the table the group was sitting. Taking our seats, we began. It was delicious. There was no talk, no banter in the room anywhere. There was this weird feeling from the others, of an intrusion. They ate here, but it wasn't their area. Their jobs, were to do research. On us. I think.
Leaning close to Mac, I whispered into his ear. "These people do other research, not just stuff on us? Right?"
Nodding his head, he smiled. Then he spoke in a normal tone of voice. "Most of the research here in this lab Dennis is all about the physiology of the brain and it's component systems. All these researchers work toward discovering just how the brain functions. How the tiny organelles function and communicate. And in reality, how we as humans think, remember, dream, and exist."
Then he turned to Donny and waved his hand a bit. "Donny, ok?"
"Yes sir. No problem."
Then Mac turned back toward me, he could see that interchange perplexed me. "Donny is protecting us from prying ears, we can talk without anyone knowing what we talk about. You see, we should have discussed this before coming in here, but now's fine."
"He can do that?"
"Wow. Okay. Discussed what before coming in?"
"Dennis, most of these people have no idea what it is that we do here, nor do they have any idea what we, as a group, and individually, are capable of. Those that do know, have strict non-disclosure agreements. Very few even in the Secret Service itself know about us. The Regulars, all they know is that we are supposed to tag along, and when we say something, they are to respond. We don't get involved, we don't try to stop anyone, we don't jump in front of bullets. We do nothing. Yet when any one of us barks a command, they are to take our warning as if it were a command from god himself. That's pretty much why they all hate us. And pretty much a similar thing in here as well. These research people, their assistants, all of them, know we are special. None know why though. And that's sort of why we aren't very well liked. Here, or with the regulars."
This information made sense to me. Secrets, are hard to keep secret. “But we’re involved with the research though aren’t we?”
“Yes Dennis. To a degree. Any experiments that can be done away from the labs, are done in our classroom. Those that need to be in the lab itself, are done in non-public areas. Or they restrict the areas when needed. Happy directs all of that research. And all of it is kept separate from the other work they do there. Is that it? We can discuss this further later, but I’m sure Donny’s getting tired.”
“Yeah, I’m fine with it for now. I’m sure more questions will arise down the road.” I nodded to the man, unsure though that it was enough. Looking over at Donny, he waved his hand in front of his face and it just seemed as though the sounds of dining reappeared. I hadn’t even noticed that there was no sounds up until then.
I was amazed.