Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fiction for March 20, 2009

Friday Fiction this week is hosted by Dee over at My Heart’s Dee-Light. Look for some great stuff this week, during the Faithwriter’s Challenge break between quarters.

I’ve wanted to write some new stories for Bobby Malach/Daedalus, and this scene occurred to me as a possible new chapter to “The Daedalus Child”. This scene takes place a while after an attack has sent Bobby to a trauma center, and I wanted to bring a bit more of Rev. Jamison into the narrative. This one is a bit long, but I hope it holds your interest.

Incidentally, Daedalus is one of the only characters I’ve written that I’ve actually had dreams of being. The ability to fly like he does is something I have dreamed of and imagined for as long as I can remember. Would I trade normal arms for functional wings? I don’t know; and I offer that question within the story. Bobby struggles with it, because he was never given a choice, but I imagine many people would choose flight if they could.

Feeling Alive

Bobby Malach stood from the exam table and allowed the long cloak to fall back into place around him. He shook just a bit to get the gap in front to close, ignoring the soreness in his wings from the stretching and probing the doctor had inflicted on them.

“Everything appears to be healing nicely,” the surgeon said. “How is the physical therapy going?”

“It’s kind of hard for me to tell,” Bobby replied. “My therapist seems to work more on the theory of pushing rather than encouraging. He never really says whether he’s happy with my progress or not.”

“Well, your strength and mobility are returning well, and as much as I can compare you to someone with normal limbs, you seem to be right on track. Do you have any questions?”

He shook his head. “The only question is the same one I’ve asked before, and you’ve already said the answer to that one will depend more on me than anything else.” He thought a moment. “Didn’t you say you wanted to get some x-rays today?”

The surgeon gave him a sly smile. “Doctors often get accused of not listening to their patients. I remember you saying you were a bit disappointed that the Park arranged for your physical therapy to take place in the employee health center. I figured x-rays were a good justification to have the exam here, rather than inside the Park.”

“Thank you. I still have security escorts, but at least I can get out of the Park for a little while, even if it is just to come to a hospital.”

“I suppose I can understand their caution; it’s not just the danger of another attack, but when you consider the scandals a few of their other prodigy stars have gotten into, I’m sure they want to make sure you don’t end up as tabloid fodder as well.” He patted Bobby on the back. “I’ll want to see you again in three months. You can either make the appointment today, or have those Park people call and make it later.”

“I’ll let them do it; they’re very good at making sure it ends up on the calendar so it doesn’t get forgotten.”

“That makes sense. Now, I hate to run off on you, but I’m scheduled in surgery this afternoon, and I need to go get changed and scrubbed.” He ushered Bobby out the door, said good-bye, and headed off down the corridor.

Bobby rolled his shoulders, and then headed for the lobby where the security detail waited. Turning a corner, he almost ran into the hospital chaplain.

“Bobby,” Rev. Jamison greeted him. “It’s good to see you. How’re you doing?”

“The doctor says everything is healing like it should, though I don’t feel quite as good as I did before he twisted and turned me every which way.”

“You’re looking good. You’re definitely looking a lot better than you did the first time I saw you.”

“That wouldn’t take much.”

Rev. Jamison laughed. “Hey, could I ask you a favor?”

“What favor?”

“There are some kids here that I think would really benefit from a Daedalus visit. Can you do that, or is it something I’d need to clear with your publicity people?”

“The Park management would probably want to review the proposal and send along handlers, but sometimes I get real tired of having handlers watching over my shoulder. Can we get to these kids without going through the lobby where the security people are waiting for me?”

“That’s where I was heading. Come on; I’ll show you.”

They walked down a different corridor to a staff elevator, and rode it up to the fifth floor. From there, it was a couple of turns to a brightly lit recreation room where a bunch of kids sat playing with toys, coloring in books, or just enjoying the sunlight shining through the big windows.

Bobby stopped in the doorway and stared. Several of the kids were missing their hair, while others had different external signs of illness.

“Hey, kids,” Rev. Jamison said in his usual cheery voice. From their enthusiastic response, he was a frequent and popular visitor. “Look who I found downstairs. Do you know who this is?”

“Who?” the kids asked, not in much unison.

He gestured back towards Bobby. “You don’t recognize him? This is Daedalus.”

“Nuh unh,” one girl said.

“No way,” another said.

One small boy in a pale blue robe walked up and looked at him. “Are you really Daedalus?”

“Yeah, I’m really Daedalus,” Bobby said. He slipped his thumbs through the split at the front, and bringing his wings slightly forward and then back, flipped the cloak out of the way. Spreading the wings just enough to demonstrate there was no costume trick behind them, he forced himself to smile for the children.

The kids clamored around him, and he spent the next ten minutes wrapping each one in turn in an embrace. He spent another fifteen minutes answering questions, during which time a few more kids and several nurses joined the group.

It didn’t take much coaxing to convince him to pose for a photograph. Standing in front of the long wall in the room, he spread his wings out sufficiently for everyone to gather in front of them, and everyone grinned big while Rev. Jamison took the pictures.

“Well, kids,” Bobby said when the photo session was finished. “I’m going to have to get going.”

There was a chorus of disappointed noises, before the boy in the blue robe turned to him. “Daedalus, are you gonna fly again?”

This kid will be lucky if he reaches ten years old, Bobby thought. Yet, he’s worried about whether I’ll be able to fly again. “The doctors aren’t sure yet, but I’m going to do everything I can to get airborne again.”

It took another five minutes to finish the good-byes, before he walked with Rev. Jamison back towards the elevator. “How do you do it?” he asked. “How do you handle things like that every day?”

“You mean, smiling and staying upbeat for sick kids? It’s one of those things that I have to rely on God for. This isn’t an easy ministry, but God’s given me a real heart for it.” He punched the elevator call button. “Some of these families have never been in any church before. They have no spiritual support network to call on, and when the doctor tells them that their precious son or daughter has cancer, is when they suddenly realize they either need or want spiritual support. I’m not a doctor; I don’t discuss the prognosis with them, or treatment options, or survival odds. I give them a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, and I pray with them. Sometimes, I’m the first person who ever does, and I get to share God’s love with people when they need it most, but expect it least.”

“Doesn’t it get to you after a while, though?”

They stepped onto the elevator. “Does having arms that are only useful for jumping off buildings ever get to you?”

“Sometimes, but it’s not like I can do anything about that.”

“Just as you were given the ability to do what you do, so also God gave me the ability to do what I do, and despite how it looks, I don’t have any more choice about it than you do. Paul said, ‘Woe be unto me if I preach not the Gospel.’ It’s the same for me; I do this because it’s my calling, and nothing in the world will replace the contentment that comes from fulfilling my calling.”

“Sometimes, when I’m flying is the only time I really feel like I’m alive.”

The elevator door opened on the ground floor. “Then you have a good idea how I do this. When I let God work through me, I am more alive than at any other time.”

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t ever fly again,” he said, taking a step into the corridor.

“You still have a lot of people praying for you, Bobby. Somehow, I think if God doesn’t have it in His plan for you to fly again, you’re going to find He has something better waiting for you.”


Unknown said...

Interesting story. I think I would stick with arms, though being able to fly would be tempting. :)

Joanne Sher said...

I'm so fascinated by this character, Rick. Love his perspective here especially. Wonderful.

Dee Yoder said...

You have an uncanny ability to make me want to read sci-fi, Rick. ( : Great story and a good character!
My son just finished reading Cardan's Pod, BTW, and he loved it.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I think kids would really relate to this character. I was completely enthralled with him!

Shelley Ledfors said...

I love your characters. I'm glad they keep "talking" to you and you keep writing their stories!

Teresa Lee Rainey . . . said...

Love both of these characters. Your stories always pull me right in.

Wings or arms? I'm stingy . . . both please. :*)

BethL said...

I know this is fiction, but the ministry of Rev. Jamison brought tears to my eyes. This story encouraged me. Thanks, Hoomi.