A new perspective
The Lincoln speeds down the road, entering the freeway to only go a couple dozen miles. Then Donny takes an exit. All the while I’m silent. Mr. MacGyver is as well. He breaks the silence, "Whatcha ya thinkin Dennis?"
Looking over at the old man, the smile gone, furrows once again on his brow. I have no idea what I’m thinking. A million things run through my mind. So many new ideas, new realities. I’m not alone in my curse, my gift. Am I crazy, is this real? Finally, "Not anything substantial. Just, trying to sort out some of these things I’ve been shown. It's a lot."
The man nods.
After exiting the freeway, we drive on a road in what I would not call the best part of town. Boarded up stores, a few windows missing from another. Donny swerves the car to avoid a few potholes. Now we turn down a side street past a chain diner. The road soon becomes gravel and we bump and bounce throwing up dust as we’re still traveling quite rapidly.
"It’s a lot to take in all at once. Your new task’ll involve you with a reality such as you’ve never known existed. There's a lot to learn, and this exposure been to determine how you react."
That brings to 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 smiles now, a bit of a chuckle. "Naw, nuttin like that. I should think there might be a couple little surprises. Little ones though. We ain’t got any comic book heroes. People like that don’t exist, as far as we know."
I smile at him. "Good."
Well, until we meet with the UFO mothership.
The car slows, a road on the left, more of a gap in the trees. There’s a gate of sorts, wire and bent rusty steel rods that serve to warn travelers with mild, uncertain curiosity. As Donny turns the vehicle toward the gate, the entire thing falls over, opening up a passage between the larger posts that appear to keep the straggly wire contraption upright. The car glides over the wires and bounces along the path through the trees. A few moments, we come into a clearing surrounding a medium size ramshackle house. The entire structure appears to lean southward by more than a few degrees of inclination. Greying clapboard sides, rotted trim and gables, all in better shape than the roof on the place. Which appears to be missing in one section. Rafters can be seen. A barn shows nearly the same decay. It stands off on the south. We glide past its open doors. As we come to a stop inside the decrepit building, I notice the door closing behind us. Neither of the two move and it takes a moment for me to realize why. The entire vehicle begins to move downward, an elevator. Hay that had covered the floor of the barn now falls around us as we descend, adding to the unreality of our situation. No, more like a spy movie with what has happened to me so far.
A jolt, and movement stops. The hay continues to fall a moment, Donny puts the car in gear and drives forward into a huge parking garage, Pulling into a space labeled Mr. MacGyver, the old man opens his door and gets out. I follow. The three of us meet together at the back of the Lincoln and walk further south of where we parked. A pair of doors are before us and we stop as Donny presses a series of numbers into the keypad at one edge. The door clicks, we enter.
The door closes behind us, we’re in a large room with tables. Chairs at each. Mystified, perhaps a classroom. The old man finally grasps my arm and turns me to look at him. “You’re in bout the most secret installation in the country. It’s only known to the Presidential top staff, some of the Secret Service, and few others. Congress knows nuthin about this facility.”
Bewildering thoughts course through my mind. “Why me?” I ask.
He walks over to one of the tables and pulls two chairs. He sits and motions for me as well. Sitting is my only option at this point, I have no escape stratagem, nor could I even conceive of why I should need one. Thoughts, crazy thoughts. My own insecurity and self-doubt overwhelms me.
I sit. He speaks. “I believe in ya. I know ya.”
His brow furrows once again, Age spots give clues to his age. Ancient. Not necessarily in years, but of life. Experiences, actions, troubles. I know he’s the man behind this facility, the work done here secret. More secret than I can imagine. And I have a pretty huge imagination. I’m here, in front of him, with talents that exceed his. With his respect. Perhaps my insecurity is misplaced.
The old man sighs, and leans back in his chair. A moment passes, he begins. “It all begun when I first met ya. No, encountered ya. There weren’t no meetin.”
Intriguing. “What do you mean?”
“At a diner. I was tired, I had coffee. You was couple booths over. Across from me was a booth filled with boisterous young buffoons. Tween you an me, a young man, I believe he was a Downs boy. He worked at the diner, busboy. Taking a break, he sat with a cup of coffee.”
Pausing for a moment, he transported himself, into that memory, back to the time which I was a participant. Recollection was sparse. I must have been drunk. “One of the youths moved across the aisle and tipped the cup of coffee up as the boy was drinkin. Spilled all over him. Ta other three burst out in laughter. Ya stood and came over.”
“I was drunk a lot then, I barely remember. What happened?” I ask.
“Ya showed me the qualities I’m lookin for. Ya stood next to the booth of ruffians, asked em to try that to you. They stared into their milkshakes, silent. Ya grabbed the hair of the offending one and pulled his head back lookin into his eyes. Ya told him ya better not ever see any of em here, or anywhere ever again. They was done and needed to git.”
“They left. Ya called after em to pay their tab and leave a big tip for the waitress and the young man had to clean up after em. I believe they did as the hostess cone over with a bar towel and helped clean up the boy. They spoke together a bit and he was smiling when she walked away.”
“I don’t remember the event.” I told him. It was a shadow of recollection. Drunk.
The old man sighs gently. “Matters little, what happened tole me all I needed know bout ya character. I felt nothing from you, I knew. You were gifted. Little else was needed from me as to what type of person ya are. That basic goodness is the primary thing I sought. You was why I was in Phoenix. There weren’t no other stipulations I needed to observe, it was a done deal.”
“Just like that?” Only slightly convinced.
He stares at me, perhaps sensing I’m not totally convinced. “It be all I needed. That incident showed me the type of person you are. I followed ya for four days. Got to know that woman, she be very, well, sensual.”
“Hunh, 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. And now know bout you. That’s why you’re here.”
“Because I stood up for a young kid?”
“How would ya define 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 has been. What kind of human am I? I don't think most people ever think about that question. But I have to start somewhere, "Hmm, curious."
Raising both eyebrows now, I have no idea what his expression indicates. I can’t feel him. He waits a moment for me to continue. I don't. Finally. "Curious to why I'm askin or sumthin else."
"Mr. MacGyver, I'm a curious man by nature. I’ve agreed to come along with you so far because of that curiosity. Granted your explanation of things works quite well for me. The introduction of new plot turns and twists into my confusing existence have made me reconsider my life. I'm moving forward, excited to be a part of something. Actually, anything. As you well know, my life has been pretty sad, aimless. You’ve given me a glimpse of something important."
"Actually you're like most of ta others. Adapting to normal society is difficult. Most ain’t able to do so on their own. Most, like you, drunks."
Now I sit up straight, "Okay, so tell me. How many are there in your group?"
Nodding, he gives that little smile again. "Probly not as many as you think. We have eleven like you. There’s Donny and his brother. In total, this facility be staffed with about twenty-three people. Maintenance, meals, laundry, all taken care of for any that wanna to stay here full time. I mean when not on assignment. We got somewhat irregular work schedule. We assist the Presidential protection detail. We works directly wit the Secret Service. This room here’s a briefing room we use."
Something catches my attention, "Mr. MacGyver, you said you work with the Secret Service, aren't you part of them?"
A shake of his head this time, "The Secret Service funding is carefully managed under constant scrutiny of Congress. Our budget be what’s called discretionary funding. Comes outta Labor. And some from DARPA as well. Easier to hide. And in reality, we do some research here. There’s been some work on our gifts. The Soviets 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, then secretly fund this facility. As to the Soviets, we're pretty sure that same thing has happened over there as well. Dennis, we been in an undeclared war now for thirty-five years. The President needs us. Our country needs us. We need you."
Now it’s up to me, how I 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 barely remember the incident with the coffee, I admit that was me. I'm a big guy. That little act of protection was easy. Knowing those boys were scared wasn't a guess, I could feel it within them. Protecting the President, there are a lot of doubts. A month ago I was a drunk. Now, some scary shit is happening.
Exhaling loudly, that whoosh of air serves 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, and no ambition just a few weeks ago. Still, I'm intrigued. I'm excited to learn more, to be a part of something."
Again, that slow nod as he smiles that slight smile. "I'm glad to hear you say that. And, sorry."
That surprises me, but it’s nothing compared to the shock of seeing the doors of the room burst open and the largest, most incredibly huge man come striding into the room. His head nearly touches the ceiling and I rise as he comes closer. At a bit over six foot three, I’m dwarfed by this giant. At the minimum, he has to be seven and a half feet tall. Blond hair hangs down past his shoulders and moves rhythmically as he walks. Fierce blue eyes that never blink, stare at me. The ogre comes over, picks the two hundred and ten pounds of me up and tucks me under one arm like a football. The one arm of the giant grasps me in a bear hug and I’m unable to breathe, I succumb to unconsciousness. The last thing I see is Mr. MacGyver as he calmly watches this take place.