Gods and Monsters
"'Tonight you shall have your proof. At first, I experimented only with dead animals. And then a human heart, which I kept beating for three weeks. But now, I'm going to turn that ray to that body, and endow it with life,'"
Willie read aloud from the Illustrated Classics comic book, in the voice of Dr. Frankenstein.
"'And you really believe that you can bring life to the dead?'" he continued in an old man's voice.
"'That body is not dead. It has never lived. I created it. I made it with my own hands from the bodies I took from graves, from the gallows, anywhere!'"
"'The storm is approaching; It's time, master!'" his Igor impression cried with a cackle. Willie paused briefly to show the page which depicted the impending storm to his comatose companion. "It says: The mad doctor flings back a sheet to reveal his monstrous creation, causing the aged professor to recoil, horrified. Then the old guy goes, 'In the name of God—'"
"'Now I know what it feels like to be God!'" Willie interrupted himself. "'Look. It's moving. It's alive... It's alive.'" His voice rose in a crescendo, progressively manic. "'Oh, it's awake! IT'S ALIVE! IT'S ALIVE!'" He tossed the book aside in his frenzy and noticed for the first time Adam's eyes were open and wandering around the room, frightened and unfocused.
"Holy shit," Willie mumbled. Stumbling backwards, he tripped on the desk chair, caught himself and fled from the room.
"Doc-tor Hoff-man!" the assistant yelled as he tore down the staircase. "Juli-ya! Come quick!" He ran into the cleaning lady at the foot of the stairs.
"Lands sake, what is that racket?" Mrs. Strickland snorted. "What's alive? Sounds more like somebody's dying up there."
"Nothing—it's nothing. Where's Dr. Hoffman?" Willie panted. "It's very important."
"Well, how should I know? You folks don't tell me your business. She made a phone call this morning and left shortly…"
Willie had already disappeared back up the steps. He slammed the bedroom/laboratory door behind him, and smiled hesitantly at the creature who stared back with equal apprehension.
"Hi, there," He said with an artificial calm and a pinched voice. "How's it going, big guy? So…uh, we're going to chill out for a bit until Julia gets back, okay?" Willie inched his way along the wall.
The monster attempted to lift his arms, but they were strapped to the table. He opened his mouth and although nothing came forth at first, what followed was an unearthly wail.
"Shhh! Don't do that! Stop it!" Willie attempted to shush his charge but the volume and intensity of its cries only increased. The lab assistant stuck his head out the door.
"Mr. Loomis?" The housekeeper was at the foot of the stairs. "Is everything alright?"
"Yes! That was the television. Sorry. Uh, don't come up." He slammed the door again, and addressed the hysterical creature. "Shut the fuck up, please! What do you want?" Willie scanned the room for something to drown out the noise and switched on the cassette player on his boom box, filling the air with Mozart's serenade.
Adam stopped sobbing.
"You like that? Yeah, that's music. Pretty, huh?" Willie slid into the chair near the examination table. "You just got to stay nice and quiet until Julia gets back, okay?" He wiped away the monster's tears with a tissue. "Look at that, crying just like a baby—big guy like you."
Willie forced a smile at the pathetic creature. After a moment it smiled back.
"Wait until Dr. Hoffman gets a load of you. She said you were never supposed to wake up, but these experiments of hers don't always work out like she plans." He nervously lit a cigarette. "I told her this was bad idea, I remember, I said what if you get sad or it hurts, but she just laughed like I was some kind of imbecile. That means…" Willie looked into the creation's searching eyes as they traced the smoke billowing above his head. "You don't understand anything I'm saying, do you? 'Course not." The young man shrugged. "Don't matter, nobody listens to me anyway."
Adam whimpered, again he tried to move his arms. "You settle down now, just take it easy until Dr. Julia gets back. She'll know what to do. 'Till then, ole' Willie'll take good care of you."
Willie picked his comic book up off the floor and continued to read aloud to his patient, only this time in a soft, soothing tone of voice which contradicted the text, but no matter. At length, Adam closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
That was not an appropriate story for a small child, or even an enormous one, Willie concluded. It must have scared him so much he woke up and cried. The servant decided to visit the public library at his earliest opportunity and check out something Adam would enjoy, with simple words and big, happy pictures. Rainbows and shit like that.
Then again, why bother? Julia would come home eventually and fix everything. She would stick something in blood boy's IV drip to put him back into that coma and all would be as it was before. But what if he wasn't really sleeping in that state? What if he was able to hear and feel everything but was unable to respond? Unhappy and frightened, maybe in terrible pain—would Julia care?
When she arrived home, Dr. Hoffman popped her head in the door.
"Mrs. Strickland said you were calling for me. Is everything alright?"
Willie looked up from his book. "Yeah, fine. I had a question: wanted to know if I could go into town; I'd like to visit the library."
"It's too late today and closed tomorrow. You may go on Monday if it doesn't take too long."
"I promise to be responsible and come right back."
Willie decided that Adam would be better off if Dr. Hoffman didn't know about him. She would find out eventually; just not yet.
"Quasimodo was the ugliest guy in town. He was such a wreck, that little kids would scream and ladies would faint if he just walked down the street. Once he got arrested and whipped in the public square just for grossing people out."
"Huub?" Adam strained to look.
"Nah, you don't want to see that picture, it's bad." Willie made a sour face as he turned the page. "Yuck!"
Adam made a sour face in response. "Uggk!"
"But, it's okay, because the hunchback was saved by a priest named Father Frollo who hid his monster boy way up in a tall tower of this church. It was a sanctuary, and when you're in one of them, no one can hurt you. Quasi did okay there for a while; he learned how to ring bells and talked to his friends, but they never answered him, 'cause they were nothing but stone statues."
Willie turned the comic book to show his companion the drawings on that page.
"I know, you would think so, but it wasn't that sweet of a deal for the ugly dude. He'd get lonely stuffed away there all day long—until one day he was looking out the window and spotted this incredible, sexy gypsy girl with long, black hair. That's when Quasi got his first boner. Her name was—"
Julia Hoffman walked into the lab. "Did you say something?" She set down a paper bag of groceries, but an awkward motion from the slab made her head snap up. "The body just moved!" She rushed to its side.
"Oh…that." Willie shrugged with deliberate indifference. "Yeah, sometimes he squirms around a little."
"Dear Lord, It's conscious. Why didn't you say something?" Adam looked away in fear. "Willie, what is the matter with you!"
"Shhh, don't yell." He stroked the monster's head gently. "He don't know what you're saying, so you have to talk real soft."
"Or what?" The doctor peered into the patient's eyes with a penlight.
"I don't know; nothing. He just lays there and looks around sometimes. I-I'm not sure he even sees or hears anything."
"He can see alright. Watch his eyes follow my finger."
"Dr. Hoffman…what're you going to do?" Willie wondered with trepidation.
"I'm not sure." She walked away, deep in thought. "The body must be too large, or perhaps he's built up a tolerance to the anesthesia. When was the last time it had an EEG?"
"The brain wave thing? Beats me. That thing was sucking too much juice so I turned it off."
"The problem is I'm giving him a high level of pentobarbital as it is. If I increase the dosage, it might end up in his blood system, and that would…" she glanced at her assistant, chuckling at herself. "There's no point in discussing this with you. I'm sorry, go ahead and unpack your groceries."
Just do your job, imbecile.
Willie finished his chores in silence, but watched over his shoulder as Julia poured through her notes and medical journals before examining the body. Adam was quiet and still, eying the doctor with apprehension as she poked, prodded, stuck a stick in his mouth and a cold disk on his chest. Finally, she returned to her chair, leaned back and sighed.
"Willie, come over here." Her assistant complied. "You're certain that what I saw here is the extent of his brain activity?"
"Yeah, I guess so." The young man glanced across the room. "He's out already, look. He sleeps almost all the time, then opens his eyes for a few minutes and goes back to sleep."
"Well, I don't think that will present a problem for now, but you must alert me the moment that changes, understand?"
"Meanwhile I'm going to start working on putting together a cocktail of phenobarb, thiopental and propotol, which I think may be more effective without increasing the dosage."
Willie chuckled, "What're you wasting breath telling me for? I just do my job."
Julia looked exhausted, but dismissed her assistant to take his break at the scheduled time.
"Where are you off to today?" she inquired with a tone that implied she didn't really care.
Willie paused in the doorway, looking slightly impatient. "To the library."
"Again? I had no idea you were such an avid reader." Julia looked just a little skeptical.
"It gives me something to do around here and don't cost anything."
"Of course; I didn't mean to pry." Julia returned to her work. "Have a nice time."
Willie skipped down the stairs, slightly annoyed at the brilliant doctor who obviously thought he was too stupid to read a goddam book.
Did you ever read Hamlet, Dr. Hoffman? 'Cause I did. A couple of times.