The Clone Chronicles
Copyright 2003-2016 Steve Williams
All rights Reserved
All rights Reserved
I wake before first light. For a moment, I am over-alert and edgy, until I hear only the normal quiet of pre-dawn. Perhaps it is only because I slept so well and am actually rested for the first time in days. Sliding out of bed, I peek into the boys' bedroom. Everything is fine, so I don't disturb them. In robe and slippers, I prowl around the house just to check.
Padding back to my room, I hear a cough from Gordon's room. I knock and he opens the door with a startled look.
"Steve. What's wrong?"
"Everything's fine Gordon. I woke early and was just checking when I heard you cough."
"What woke you up? You're not exactly a light sleeper."
"I've been wondering about that. Let's go watch the sunrise and think about it together."
Gordon nods and I slip into my room and jump into sweats. I meet Gordon in the den, we grab bottles of water, and move to the deck.
The coming sunrise is just a hint of brightening on the eastern horizon. The stars stand out like beacons, casting forth their glow to cover the island in a patchwork of light and shadow. It is cool enough that the crickets chirp infrequently. By clearing my mind, I can again hear the night sounds of the island forest. Though I know I am surrounded by people, I can see myself sitting here alone, enjoying this time.
As the stars begin to fade in the twilight my mind returns to the matters at hand. Having found nothing to cause alarm, why then am I awake?
"Well Steve, why do you think we're awake?" Gordon breaks my reverie.
"I've been straining to think about what woke me, but I don't remember anything. I don't even remember waking up. All I know is that I was suddenly awake. The only thing I can think of is that I got enough rest."
"I think you might be correct there. I was already awake when you knocked. Like you, I wondered why. When you said nothing was wrong it threw me."
"I think it's a security bug as well as pressure. We've both been so focused on what we need to do that we have forgotten to relax. Look at how I jumped on Connie when she was only trying to do her job."
"Steve, you're under more stress than anyone else here. My advantage is having worked with people and kids most of my professional life. I'm still mostly guessing here, but I have many disciplines to choose from."
"I'm not totally in the dark here Gordon. I too work with people."
"Yes, you have, and I would bet that many of them have had legal troubles, which is part of your problem."
I hold my tongue to see where he is going.
"When you found Ian you thought first about his safety. Ever since, much of your thinking has been about what others would say, or what might be legal. In the times when you think as Ian's FATHER, those worries disappear. You act appropriately without second-guessing. I'm only now realizing how much we both needed yesterday. Most parents have five years to bond before sending a child to school, and they usually don't have to worry about being blown up by mad scientists."
"You know what a wacky pair we make Gordon? I think we're both workaholics, who find reasons to not relax. Even when we took the boys fishing. I wanted Ian to experience it and you seemed intent on teaching new skills to Alex. We both forgot to relax. Even among all this."
As I stop, I spread my arms to take in the vista before us. At that moment, we start to see the sun peek out over the distant mountains.
"You are good," Gordon quips.
"Sometimes I just get lucky."
"Like finding Ian?"
There is a long silence as I ponder this.
"In a roundabout way. I guess I would have to agree. It's been an interesting week, but now I have something to look forward to."
"For what it's worth," Gordon interrupts, "I believe that Ian is a very smart boy. When we can test him, I think his I.Q. will be quite high. As his understanding grows, I think he will also be very sensitive to others."
"That just might be Alex's influence. He is a very sensitive and giving child. You have done a wonderful job with him."
"Alex is really a surprise to me. I had never planned on using him in my work. One day, when he was about six, I had to take him with me because his mom was sick. There was an instant connection between him and the child I was working with. The kid's progress was amazing. Alex seemed to know instinctively what to do. I only wish I knew how to explain it."
The sun is now fully up over the distant mountains. Its rays warm our bodies and infuse our spirits with hope for the future. I suddenly realize how beneficial seeing the sun really is and why people often suffer depression during gloomy winter months. I turn to Gordon to comment, but the smile on his face tells me he is thinking the same, so we silently enjoy this brief period of serenity. Finally however, the time comes to start the day. Without words, we get up and go to get our boys.
"Ian, time to get up." I say, brushing the hair off his face.
As he begins to stir, I notice that his side of the bed isn't quite as rumpled as usual. He opens his eyes and smiles at me.
"Good morning, Ian."
"Go-od ....morning," he responds.
"Very good." I say tousling his hair.
On the other side of the bed, Gordon and Alex are also talking quietly.
We leave the boys to dress and go to meet Rich for breakfast. Marty is also there and we all exchange greetings.
"Rich, with all that's been happening, I have forgotten to tell you how much I appreciate all that you are doing for us. Your meals are excellent and I haven't even had to do dishes."
"Believe it or not Steve, I have been enjoying myself." He sets a Dutch oven onto the table. "I've been able to cook different foods and try some new recipes. I believe that running the dishwasher is what justifies my getting paid for this job."
The boys come in then and I notice Ian's hair still looks like a wild bird nested there. I take him away from the eating area, to comb his hair.
"You need to remember to do this in the mornings," I tell him. He just looks at me.
"C'mon, let's go eat."
Rich has made a mountain man breakfast today. Sausage, potatoes, eggs, bread and cheese, all mixed together, and cooked in the Dutch oven. Served with juice and milk, it is a very filling meal. As we put our dishes on the cart, Rich hands me two plates of cookies.
"Save these for later. After school; or after lunch, whichever."
Gordon takes the boys off for class and I am alone. I take some time to again update my journal. While doing so, I notice that I have made more entries over the past week than in several months before. With a sudden impulse, I pull out some lined sheets and begin to write a letter to Ian, for the future.
As I write this, it's hard to believe that you have only been in my life for a week. In that time, however, you have turned my life upside down. I have grown to love you in a way I never thought possible.
As I watch your daily struggles, I see them as signs of your love for me. I know you can't yet really voice that love, but I do feel it, every day.
Every task you complete, every new thing you try, shows me the wonderful, intelligent man you are destined to become. Even after only one week, you are the bravest person I know.
It is my strongest hope that I will be able to see you grow into that wonderful person. You fill my life more than I would have dreamed.
I wish I could tell you all this now, but your skills are not yet up to it. I hope and believe that soon, you will understand. All I can do for now is to keep loving you and helping you grow. This I promise.
I struggle for a moment over how to sign the letter. I make my choice because I think that is how Ian sees me. I try to see myself there and though I know I have accepted responsibility for Ian, part of me still wavers over the dad label. My reverie is broken by the buzz of the intercom.
"Steve, it's Corey. I just received some papers by messenger that I think you might want to see."
"Would you bring them up?"
"Be there in five minutes." Corey clicks off and I buzz Marty.
"Marty, Corey is bringing up some papers, probably reports. Will you please join me in the den to review them?"
"Sure, be right in."
I take another look at the letter to Ian, my newborn, ten-year old, pseudo adopted son, then file it away in my journal. Soon Corey walks in, followed quickly by Marty. Corey hands me the papers which are in small, organized bundles. Two bundles appear to be medical, so I hand them to Marty, who sits and starts to read. One bundle is for Gordon and I set it on the mantle for later.
My first item of interest is a note from Jarod;
Since I don't know where you are, I sent this to Bill. I have received more reports on Ian. I was told there is a doctor on staff with you, so I sent everything to him along with some personal notes. He can decipher and fill you in.
I have told everyone that you are extending your vacation. Your service said that not many emergency calls are coming in and everything is being covered. Hope you have some fun.
Finishing the letter, I jot a few notes about my clients in the margins, then set it aside. I then pick up the note from Bill.
With this letter, you will find some notes for Marty, notes to Gordon and a letter from your friend Jarod. I will let Marty explain his papers.
We posted Ian's face in the papers of 11 Western states. We will soon be going nationwide, but so far, we have received no calls. There are also no missing persons of Ian's description in any of the national data bases.
Additionally, we still have no ID on the two people we followed from the cabin. We are beginning to think they may be European.
Further discussions with your cousins were useless. They seem to have no idea that the property was being used for anything. There have been no family members in the cabin for nearly two years. One cousin drove around about a year ago, but saw nothing unusual. If no new info is found, we anticipate sending you and your son home by the end of week. Will send additional info as it develops.
I have the letter folded and on the table when something hits me. Grabbing it back up, I open and re-read the next to last line.
"SENDING YOU AND YOUR SON HOME"
With reeling mind and trembling hands, I pick up the last bundle of papers. This also has a note from Bill. My eyes water as I read.
Here are the formal papers to show you as the adoptive father of Ian. They are not yet finalized only because we don't know if you want Ian to have a middle name. Please add whatever data you need, sign them and send them on the next boat. The finalized documents will be ready when you leave.
P.S. You may also now share this info with the others.
Finishing the note, I grab a tissue to wipe my eyes. As my vision clears, I realize that both Marty and Corey are looking at me. Marty speaks first.
"Something tells me congratulations are in order – Dad? His comment is both question and statement.
Both men smile while rising from their chairs. I also stand though a bit shakily. Their handshakes carry more emotion and support than words could ever express.
"Steve, you might want to compose yourself before the boys come in for lunch," Corey advises.
"Don't say anything yet, will you?" I ask. "I think we'll have a party tonight to celebrate. I would like you both there." Marty nods.
"I'll be to dinner Steve, but now, I'd better get back to work." Corey quickly departs.
Knowing the boys will be up soon, I move to my bathroom, wash my face and hands and go back just as Gordon brings the boys in. He looks at me as if he knows or senses something different, but says nothing. Ian runs over.
"Hi, S-steve," he says, hugging me. Still a slight stutter, but sounding good.
"Hi Ian," I respond, hugging him back. "Why don't you and Alex go clean-up for lunch?" I turn him and give him a nudge toward the hall.
As the boys leave, Gordon comes over.
"You've heard something, haven't you?"
"We got some medical reports and Marty is just about to explain them."
Gordon looks skeptical, but lets it go. Marty picks up the papers to get things in order.
"First, according to both Connie and Jarod, Ian is in excellent health. He shows no sign of any genetic abnormality or defect. His immune system is at worst normal. Connie had some of the blood tested and it seems resistant to many illnesses, both viral and bacterial. The tests aren't conclusive, but very hopeful."
As he finishes, the boys run back into the room.
"I'm hung-gry," Ian says, patting his tummy.
Gordon grins as Marty and I look dumbstruck. I move over and grab Ian, tickling his stomach.
"Well, let's go fill your tummy."
With Ian giggling, we all move out to the deck where Rich has made a meal of canned spaghetti rings with cut up hot dogs, fruit salad, bread sticks, punch and cookies. As the boys start in, I pull Rich aside.
"Rich, I would like to throw a little party tonight. Could you make something special? Perhaps a cake also?"
"Anything in particular?" he asks.
"Just something for a happy occasion. Surprise me."
"I think I can do that. Now go eat before the boys finish it all."
As lunch ends, Ian goes running off into the house. Since this is a new behavior for him, I quietly follow. I see Alex trying to hide a smile at his dad. Going towards the boys' room, I find that Ian has taken himself to the bathroom. Not wanting to disturb him, I squat down in the hall to wait. Soon I hear water in the sink, followed quickly by Ian running out the door and almost into me. I grab him in a bear hug and kiss his forehead.
"Ian, I am so very proud of you. You are learning so fast."
"He did that for the first time this morning," Gordon tells me.
I hug Ian again. Then I pull him down. I start to give instructions to Alex, but stop and switch to Ian instead. We both need to get used to this.
"Ian, would you and Alex please go change into old clothes, then pick up your room for a few minutes? I need to speak with Marty and Gordon before playtime."
After a brief pause, Ian moves toward the bedroom, with Alex in tow. Gordon and I move back to the den, where Marty waits. Remembering Gordon's packet of papers, I give them to him and he pockets them. Sensing we're ready, Marty speaks up.
"The other medical news is that a basic genetic profile has been done. It has been posted on law enforcement computers as a John Doe, pre-adolescent, killed in a fire.
If any queries come in with similar genetic traits, they will be referred directly to Bill. As a final step, they checked Ian's DNA against past and present requests for organ and tissue donations. There were a couple of close calls, but nothing suspicious."
Rising he adds, "Now I'm going to go add all this data to Ian's medical file."
"Gordon, how about making some plaster hand prints, then let's go swimming."
"Sounds like a good plan. Should we change?"
"Nah, let's just wing it. I'm already going to have to do laundry again tomorrow."
Taking the boys by the hand we move down to the lab, where some of the plaster is left. We help the boys and show them how to add water, making the plaster into a paste. Then we spread out the wax paper and pour the plaster onto it. Since there is lots of plaster, we make separate hand prints of the boys, then combined prints with the boys' hands between ours.
I want to try something special for today, so I make up another batch of plaster, a little thick. Putting my right hand into the plaster, I move the excess away, then help Ian to carefully place his hand inside the outline of mine. It takes a couple of tries to finally get it right. Using little sticks, we mark our names and the date on each casting. As an afterthought, I make extra, separate casts of Ian's hands. I want to place them on either side of the mold of his head as a display.
Once the lab is cleaned up, we take the boys to the pool. As soon as we walk in, Ian starts to undress and it's hard to make him wait until we reach the dressing room. On one hand, I'm grateful he isn't ashamed of his body. On the other hand, however, I know he needs to develop socially accepted modesty.
Suits are quickly donned and it's into the pool. Since I never learned to be a great swimmer. I want to train Ian as early as possible. Gordon and Alex, who is a good little swimmer, help and I am again amazed at Ian's perceptiveness, willingness and innate ability. In the two hours we spend in the pool, he gets the basics of swimming. I'm certain that soon he will swim better than I.
With dinner fast approaching, Gordon and I pull the boys from the water. Although a bit torn, I let Ian go off with Alex to shower and dress, but with a request to put on nicer clothes. As we separate to our rooms, Gordon gives me a look that says he knows something is up, but doesn't say anything.
I shower and dress quickly then sit down with the papers in front of me. After several minutes of thought, I write a middle name down for Ian. I also have to think of a birth date. For lack of any better choice and with no clue as to what would be most accurate, I choose my grandfather's birthday. Gathering the papers, I head to the dining room. Everyone else is already there, including Rich and Corey. I ask everyone to take seats around the table and then call Ian to me. I boost Ian to stand on the chair next to me.
"Gentlemen, Friends. As of today, it's official and I would like to formally introduce you to my son, Ian Oliver Williams." There are tears in my eyes as I pause. Everyone stands and claps.
"I have chosen his birth date as February 26. That was my grand-dad's birthday and I can think of no better day, or way, to celebrate both of their lives." I stop and grab Ian in a bear hug, while tears flow down my cheeks. Ian hugs me back tightly. We finally break as the others come up for congratulations.
Then Richard interrupts to say that dinner will be cold, if we don't eat. We start with bowls of hot New England clam chowder with sourdough bread sticks. This is followed by Seafood Jambalaya, Snow Crab legs and asparagus spears. Dessert is a strawberry - banana cream pie.
As I help Ian load his plate, I am again surprised that he tastes, then eats everything served. I give him smaller portions, then let him get more is he is still hungry. I let him decide when he has had enough.
As dinner ends, there is another round of handshakes and hugs from everyone. Ian smiles and takes everything in. I am left to wonder if he really understands what has happened. My emotional moment is when Alex comes to give me a hug.
"I know you'll be a great dad, Steve," he says. Then he takes Ian's hand and puts it in mine. He runs off and I realize that Ian and I are alone.
Ian reaches out to touch the tears on my face.
"Steve, sad," he comments.
"No," I say gently. "Steve very, very happy. Steve is now dad for Ian." Again I pull him into a hug.
Not knowing what else to do, I take Ian out to watch the sunset. He sits on my lap and lays his head back against my chest. I am reminded of a saying that trust is even better than love. Now I feel both. I sit with my son and we watch the sun set in the western sky. Ian rubs his eyes and yawns, long and hard. We walk toward the boys' bedroom, which I find, is empty. There is a note on the pillow.
Spend the night with your son.
I hold pajamas up to Ian, but he pushes them away and strips off his clothes.
"Alex," he whispers, asking for his friend.
"Alex is with Gordon," I explain. Holding out my hand I ask, "Do you want to sleep with me?"
He runs over and pulls me to my room. A week ago, I wouldn't have dreamt of this, but now it feels right. Now I'm a dad, sharing a night with his, no MY son. I quickly don my sleeping clothes and we climb into bed. Ian lays on his stomach and turns his head toward me. I kiss his forehead and we both drift off to sleep.
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