A new perspective
The big Lincoln sped down the road, entered the freeway and only went a couple miles. Then Donny took an exit. All the while I was silent. Mr. MacGyver was as well. Finally he broke the silence, "What are you thinking Dennis?"
Looking over at the old man, the smile was gone, the furrows once again in place on his brow. I had no idea what I was thinking. A million things ran through my mind. So many new ideas, new realities. I wasn't alone in my curse. Well, now I was beginning to see it as a gift. However the man driving the car could project emotions into others. Could he project thoughts as well? Can anyone read minds? Am I crazy, is this real? There were arguments for both. Finally I answered, "Not anything substantial. Just, trying to sort out some of these things I've been shown. It's a lot."
He nodded a few times, then looked toward the front windshield. After exiting the freeway, we had driven on a road in what I would not have called the best part of town, and now we turned down a side street just past a twenty-four hour diner. The road soon turned to gravel and we bumped and bounced a bit throwing up dust as we were still traveling quite rapidly.
"It is a lot to take in all at once. But we have to indoctrinate you. Not to overwhelm, but just to determine whether or not you can do what is expected of you. Your new task will involve you in a reality such as you have never known existed. There's a lot to learn, and this exposure was designed to determine how you react. How well you can assimilate these new phenomena."
That brought to my mind a big question. "Okay, so then are there more surprises in store for me? Mind readers, firestarters, people that can bend spoons or levitate cars?"
The old man smiled now, and a bit of a chuckle. "No, nothing like that. I should think that there might be a couple little surprises. Little ones though. And we don't have any comic book heroes or anything like that."
I smiled at him. "Good." Was all I could say. Well, until we meet with the UFO mothership.
The car slowed and came to a road on the left, well more of a gap in the trees. There was a gate of sorts, wire and bent rusty steel rods that served to warn off travelers with mild, uncertain curiosity. As Donny turned the vehicle toward the gate, the entire thing fell over and opened up a passage between the larger posts that had appeared to keep the straggly wire contraption upright. The car glided over the wires and bounced along the path through the trees. A few moments later we came into a clearing that surrounded a medium sized, ramshackle house. The entire structure appeared to lean southward by more than a few degrees of inclination. Graying clapboard sides and rotted trim and gables were all in better shape than the roof on the place, which appeared to be missing. On one section on the side rafters could be seen. Amidst the forest of dead weeds and even some long dried-up cornstalks stood a barn showing nearly the same essence of symbiosis with the elements; barely standing off to one side. I was unsure if a stiff breeze would topple the thing. However we approached the open doors. As we glided to a stop inside the dilapidated building, I noticed the door closing behind us. Neither of the two moved and it took a moment for me to realize why. The entire vehicle began to move downward: an elevator for a car. Hay fell down around us as we descended adding to the unreality of my situation. No, more like a spy movie with what had happened to me so far these past few weeks.
A jolt, and movement stopped. The hay continued to fall a moment, then Donny put the car in gear and drove forward into a huge parking garage. One space labeled Mr. MacGyver was before us and he pulled into it. The old man opened his door and got out. I followed. We met up together at the back of the Lincoln and we walked toward what I thought was the south of where we parked. A pair of doors were before us, and we stopped as he pressed a series of numbers into the keypad at one edge. We entered.
As the doors closed behind us, we entered a large room with desks scattered about. Single chairs at each. A classroom. Mystified once again, I could not imagine the purpose of the room. The old man finally grasped my arm and turned me to look at him directly. "You are in one of the most secret installations in the country. Few know of this place. Its existence is known only to the Presidential top staff and no one else. Congress knows nothing about this facility.”
Shocked and bewildered thoughts were coursing through my mind. Why? “Why me?”
He walked over to one of the tables and pulled a chair over from a second table for me. He sat and motioned for me to sit as well. Sitting was my only option at this point, I had no escape stratagem, nor could I even conceive of why I should.
I sat. He spoke. “I believe in you. I know you.”
His brow furrowed once again. The age spots now defined how old he was. Ancient. Not necessarily in years, but in his life. Experiences, actions, troubles. I knew he was the man behind this facility. The work done here secret. More secret than I could have imagined. And I had a pretty huge imagination. I was here, in front of him, with talents that exceeded his. And with respect.
The old man sighed, and leaned back in his chair. A moment passed as he thought about what he would say. “It all began when I first met you. No, encountered you. There was no meeting.”
Intriguing. “What do you mean?”
“We were at a diner. I was tired, I had coffee. You were a couple booths over. Between us were two booths, one filled with boisterous young buffoons. Across from them a young man, I believe he had Down's Syndrome. He worked at the diner, a busboy. Taking a break, he sat with a cup of coffee.”
Pausing for a moment, he was transporting himself back to that time of which I was a participant, but had no recollection. “One of the youths moved across the aisle and tipped the cup of coffee up as the boy was drinking. It spilled all over him. As he sat back down, the other three burst out in laughter and cheers of acclimation accompanied him as he returned to his seat. That’s when you stood and came over.”
“I don’t remember. What happened?” I asked.
“You showed me the qualities I was looking for. You stood next to the booth of ruffians, and asked them to try that to you. They each stared into their milkshakes that they had ordered, and were silent. You grasped the hair of the offending one and pulled his head backward and looked into his eyes. Then you told him that you had better not ever see any of them here, or anywhere ever again. They were done and needed to leave.”
“They left. You called after them to pay their tab and leave a generous tip for the waitress and the young man who had to clean up after them. I believe they did, the hostess then ran over with a bar towel and helped clean up the boy. They spoke together a bit and the boy was smiling when she walked away.”
“I don’t remember the event at all.” I told him truthfully. I was drunk a lot then.
The old man sighed gently. “That matters little, what had transpired told me all that I needed to know about your character. I felt nothing from you, I knew. You were gifted. Little else was needed from me as to what type of person you were. That basic goodness was the overriding character trait of the man that I sought. You were why I was in Phoenix. There were no other stipulations I needed to observe, it was a done deal.”
“Just like that?” I was only slightly convinced. "You came to Phoenix to observe me personally?"
"No Dennis, I was looking for someone like you. All over the country. I found you."
He stared at me, perhaps sensing that I wasn’t totally convinced. Continuing again he said, “It was all I needed. That incident showed me the type of person you are. I followed you for three days. I got to know that woman in whose apartment you were stayiing, she was very, well, sensual.”
“Huh huh huh, yeah. They all are it seems.”
“Ah the vagaries of youth. Such a time in your existence. None of that has any bearing on what I felt. That’s why you’re here.”
“Because I stood up for a young kid?”
"To a degree. You passed a very extensive background check. We don't let just anyone in here. We did some homework first."
I had wondered about that. "Yeah, thought so. What did you find out?"
“How would you characterize yourself as a human then?”
Now I had to lean back in my chair and contemplate an answer. I'm sure my brow was now as furrowed as his had been. What kind of human am I? I don't think most people ever think about that question. But I had to start somewhere, "Hmm, curious."
Raising both eyebrows now, I had no idea what that expression indicated. He waited a moment for me to continue. I didn't. Finally he asked, "Curious as to why I'm asking or something else."
"Mr. MacGyver, I'm a curious man by nature. I agreed to come along with you so far because of that curiosity. Granted your explanation of things works quite well for me. That introduction of new twists and plot turns into my confusing existence has made me reconsider. But so far, I'm moving forward, excited to be a part of something. Actually, anything. As you well know, my life has been pretty sad, aimless."
"Actually you're a lot like most of the others. Adapting to normal society is difficult. Most are unable to do so on their own."
Now I sat up straight, "Okay, so tell me. How many are there in your group?"
Nodding his head a bit, he gave that little smile again. Then he began, "Probably not as many as you think. We have nine like you. There are three like Donny and a couple others. In total, this facility is staffed with about twenty-three people. Maintenance, meals, laundry, all that is taken care of for any that want to stay here full time. I mean when not on assignment. We have a somewhat irregular work schedule. We assist the Presidential protection detail. We work directly with the Secret Service. This room here is a briefing room that's used, well, probably daily."
Something caught my attention, "Mr. MacGyver, you said you work with the Secret Service, aren't you part of them?"
Shaking his head this time, "The Secret Service funding is carefully managed and within the purview, and scrutiny, of Congress. Our group and budget is discretionary funding coming out of National Sciences. And some from DARPA as well. Easier to hide. And in reality, we do some research here as well. There has been some work on these phenomena recently. The Soviets have been exploring psychic abilities in their people. It's widely known that both the US and Soviets have experimented with ESP. We've discounted every study as having no substance, and we then secretly fund this facility and people. As to the Soviets, we're pretty sure that same thing has happened over there as well. Dennis, we've been in an undeclared war now for thirty-five years. The President needs us. Our country needs us. They need you."
Now it was up to me, how to respond, how to begin to understand, how to verbalize my doubts in not only myself, but in my abilities. My own faith in humanity has I believe, been very charitable. Even though I didn't remember the incident with the coffee, I admit that was me. I'm a big guy. That little act of protection was easy for a guy like me. Knowing that those boys were scared wasn't a guess, I could feel it within them. Protecting the President, there were a lot of doubts. A month and a half ago I was a drunk. Now, some scary shit was happenng.
Exhaling loudly, that whoosh of air served to calm me, prepare me for a response. "Well, that's a lot to place on the shoulders of a man that had no direction, no focus, no ambition just a few weeks ago. Still, I'm intrigued. Still, I'm excited to learn more, to be a part of something."
Again, that slow nodding as he smiled that slight smile. "I'm glad to hear you say that. And, sorry."
That surprised me, but it was nothing compared to the shock of seeing the doors at the back of the room burst open and the largest, most incredibly huge human man come striding into the room. His head nearly touched the ceiling and I rose as he came closer. At a bit over six foot I was dwarfed by this giant. At the minimum, he had to be seven and a half feet tall. Blond hair hung down past his shoulders and moved rhythmically as he strode. Fierce blue eyes that never blinked stared at me. The ogre came over, picked the two hundred and ten pounds of me up and tucked me under one arm like a football. The one arm of the giant was grasping me in a bear hug and unable to breathe, I succumbed to unconsciousness. The last thing I saw was Mr. MacGyver as he calmly watched this take place.