Castle Roland

The Clone Chronicles

by Steve Williams


Chapter 6

Published: 10 Mar 16

The Clone Chronicles

Copyright 2003-2016 Steve Williams
All rights Reserved


We all seem to sleep late the next morning. Rich wakes me at about 7:15.

"Steve, is anyone going to want breakfast this morning?"

"Yeah Rich," I say, jumping out of bed. "Serve on time. I'll get everyone ready."

I buzz Gordon and the others, then go to the boys room. I wake them and Ian goes into the bathroom. Since he went alone, I leave him that way. A few moments later, he comes out, holding his dry overnights. He runs to me, then over to his dresser for undershorts and clothes for the day.

Alex is also up and dressing. Within about ten minutes, both boys are ready. We straighten up the room as Gordon enters.

"Gordon," I begin, "Ian made it through the night dry."

"Well done, Ian," Gordon replies, clapping.

Ian smiles and claps along.

"Alex, will you help Ian finish up here, then come to breakfast?" I ask.

Alex agrees and I take Gordon to the breakfast area. Rich is already setting up, so I pour orange juice and hand one to Gordon. "Why isn't Ian talking? He can mimic words, but he doesn't seem to talk yet. I'm getting worried.'

Gordon thinks for a moment, perhaps considering his words. "He seems to be doing well in his lessons. I believe everything will be fine, but I'm not sure he is making all the right mental connections yet."

"Do you think there's a mental defect of some kind?" I ask.

"I don't think so. I believe the computer was supposed to somehow program Ian's brain with the necessary verbal skills. Waking up early means he missed some things. The ability is there, we just need to finish the training. And, remember it's only been a few days."

The boys come bounding into the room and we sit down to a breakfast of cinnamon French toast, juice, milk and bananas. Gordon takes the boys in for lessons.I find Susan, Connie and Bill preparing to board the boat and head back. I see Susan gently carrying the head that will soon grace the newspapers, trying to identify Ian. I do not disturb them as they go about their tasks and simply wave as they embark.

As the boat fades toward the distant shore, I realize that I never finished laundry yesterday. Going down, I re-wash the load Alex and I started but forgot. I get loads changed and then go for a hot soak in the tub. Toweling off, I dress in jeans long sleeve shirt and hiking boots. Then I buzz Rich.

"Rich, would you make lunch light and bring in some snacks I think we're going hiking this afternoon."

"No problem, Steve."

I go about my chores, but there isn't much for me to do. As laundry gets dry, I take it all to the boys' room. Everybody can fold after lunch. I think I now have a better understanding of how a ‘stay at home mom' might feel.

My feelings for Ian are getting stronger each day. Although my life is topsy-turvy, I don't believe I would want to change it back. It seems likely that I need Ian almost as much as he needs me.

I have never believed myself worthy enough or together enough to have a family. Now, I have a son, nearly as dependent on me as an infant. I believe Ian is starting to love me in return, but is unable to express those feelings. In a moment of insight, I see an error in my thinking. Ian does express love, every day! His laughter and smiles are the easiest to see. His efforts at toilet training, eating and dressing are more subtle, but show the same affection.

Gordon brings the boys up for lunch. As we eat, I notice Alex still seems subdued. I let everyone know that we have a laundry folding session. Moving to the boys' room, we divide the clothes. Gordon and Alex's clothes are on one bed, while mine and Ian's are on the other.

I sit on the bed, bring Ian up to my knee. Starting with tee shirts, I help Ian pick one, then holding his hands, show him how to fold it.

"Okay Ian, you try it now," I say pointing to another shirt.

Slowly, Ian reaches out and picks up another shirt. I pick up a different one and show him how to fold it. He follows my lead and does a pretty good job of folding. I point again and he picks up another one.

"Go ahead, Ian, fold it," I say.

This time Ian folds it by himself. It's a bit sloppy, but not too bad.

"Well done, Ian," I tell him with a hug. "Keep it up now."

I start to fold pants, all the while keeping Ian on shirts. There is only a short pause, while Alex takes Ian to the toilet. Soon all the clothes are folded. Gordon and I take our own clothes out, while Alex and Ian put theirs away. I also ask Alex to help Ian into jeans, shirt and hiking shoes, so we can hike around the island.I find it interesting that a chore, such as laundry can bring a sense of fulfillment. Since Ian came into my life, I am actually enjoying some of the more mundane tasks of life.

Stopping in the kitchen, Gordon and I each grab bottles of water with straps and taking our boys by the hands, head off to explore the island. After leaving the cabin, we wave to Corey, who waves back, then disappears behind the shrubs.

Since I never got a chance to see any of the grounds, we start there. As we walk around the main house, I am reminded of a stealth aircraft. There are no boxy lines to the house. It looks like a cross between a normal house and a geodesic dome. The house is surrounded by several small bungalows. There are also buildings for supplies and equipment. I even notice a shack hidden by brush and vines, but I don't go to investigate.

The island is only about 50 acres. Not large, but big enough to allow some good hiking. The gentle, rolling hills remind me of sand dunes in California and Utah. Gordon and I take turns pointing out the few plants we know. We see a couple of rabbits and I am surprised when I see a small fallow deer. We stop the boys to watch. More surprising, the deer walks right up to us. Alex and Ian are both wide eyed and I have to hold Ian to keep him from jumping around and scaring the little animal.

After a few moments, where the deer allows us to even pet it. It moves off and we continue our hike. We see many flowers and plants. The island, as a whole, seems to be very well cared for. Towards the center of the island, there is a small hill. I move towards it, hoping to climb for a view. There is suddenly a man there, shaking his head, so we stay on lower ground.

Twice we need to stop so Ian can make use of a bush. Both times he is resistant, which from an ecological viewpoint is good, but control is more important at this time. On the second stop, Alex says he can also go, so he leads Ian off to a bush and both boys relieve themselves, then we continue our hike. Finally, we turn back toward the house. We have hiked for about 3 ½ hours, but only covered about half the island. The hike seems to have been enjoyed by all and we plan to do it again.

Getting back to the house, Gordon recommends that we take our sons to the shower and do a tick check. I agree with the check, but recommend a warm bath for the boys to wind them down. After a quick check, we leave Ian and Alex to get clean. I flop into a chair with a groan.

"I think I'm getting too old for this. If I had a son, he should be in his late teens or early twenties by now."

"If he were you might be bouncing a baby now and you would still be changing diapers," Gordon smirks.

"Your encouragement is underwhelming. Maybe I need to let you change a few, while I take a break."

"Who do you think takes care of Ian during school? He has had a few accidents."

"Why didn't you tell me? I thought he was doing well.""Steve, Ian is less than a week old. He is doing wonderful. He is starting to get his letters and understands many words. He knows most of the flash cards we have."

Gordon is interrupted, as we hear a splash and laughter, from the bathroom. I start to get up to check but Gordon waves me down.

"Steve, let them be boys. Remember Alex won't let Ian get hurt. Right now they are two young boys, taking a bath. Alex knows how to shampoo and use soap. I think if we leave them alone, they will get out when they are ready. We can call them if dinner gets too close. This may also be helping Ian with any fears about the water."

"Gordon, am I getting too over protective?"

"Steve, we both know that you are on an emotional roller coaster right now! In my opinion though, you are driving yourself nuts. You need to quit over analyzing yourself!"

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were mocking me. I've said that to others often enough."

"Of course you have. I don't think it natural, but most humans seems to look at themselves much more critically than others. It also happens with therapists and educators. When I hear of a former student with problems, I usually wonder how I might have made a mistake. I usually forget that they had problems before I met them. All we can do is make our best effort then move on."

"I've said that to others many times myself, Gordon. The problem is that their ten-year-olds are really ten, not 5 days."

"Steve, I think you're selling Ian short. The people who created him are obviously brilliant. Most scientists say that this is still impossible, but our eyes tell us it's been done."

"Gordon, I know that I love Ian. I also believe he loves all of us. He is trying so hard. He wants to please us and I know he wants to communicate. But if I push too hard or not hard enough, what damage will I cause? How will it affect Ian?"

"Didn't we already have this conversation? Just do what you can. And, it may be time to start looking at discipline."

I start to respond but Gordon stops me.

"Don't get your knickers in a twist. Ian is a wonderful boy. He does everything we ask of him. He eats everything put out. He is, at present, the perfect child. I believe, however, that as he learns, he will have rebellious moments. Alex is being good now, to set an example for Ian, but he is as stubborn as his father and often has his mother's quick temper. You need to determine limits and consequences, soon.

"Ian is such a wonderful boy and has had so much trouble in his short life that I can't imagine him doing anything that would require any punishment."Remember Steve that discipline doesn't have to be punishment. Ian is a wonderful boy. So is Alex. The issue here is independence. In eight more years, Alex and perhaps Ian, should be able to make their own choices. We should, by then, feel comfortable with them doing so. That too is discipline."

"I've spent 20 years giving this advice to people. Why can't I see these things for myself?"

"Because now you're too close. It's the same reason why doctors should never treat their family. Their judgement gets clouded."

"Hearing laughter again, we go to check on the boys. They are probably as clean as most ten-year-olds, so we tell them to get dried off and into sweats for dinner. Then we go back to the living room to wait.

I remain quiet as I ponder our conversation. Doing what I do best I analyze. I know that Gordon is right, but I also believe that I am right. Now I only need to balance the equation, so I quit straining my emotions. But how do I go with a flow that keeps changing?

How will my decisions effect Ian? How should I temper my choices so they benefit him? When we get off the island, how should I school him? Public; private; special, mainstream????

"Steve, you're over analyzing again. Keep it up and I'll have Marty drug you." Gordon slows my runaway train of thought. "You're taking on too much at one time. Don't fight the current. You'll only tire yourself. That, or set off the smoke alarms."

I laugh as the tension breaks. A few moments later, the boys come bounding into the room. As I open my arms, Ian runs up and climbs onto my lap. I decide it's time for a break.

"Alex, would you go start the CD player please?"

Alex goes to start the disk, which plays new age type music with nature sounds. The soft music reaches through the house and into our very souls, relaxing and soothing body and spirit. I snuggle with Ian, just enjoying the togetherness.

While we relax, we hear Rich bringing in dinner. We move into the dining room to a feast of pork chops, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, applesauce, garden salad and a spice cake for dessert. Marty and Rich both join us for dinner. I help Ian cut his meat because his coordination is still a little lacking.

Talk is light as we all share stories of our childhoods. It is my hope that by hearing all of us talk, that Ian will soon join in. Gordon likes to rib Alex.

"When Alex was about 3, we were at a social at the district superintendent's house. Everyone's kids were invited. He was just at the age where he was big enough to try things by himself, so he went up to the toilet alone. The only problem was that he didn't have the coordination to clean up by himself, so he comes running in with no pants, to ask for help."

As we all laugh, Alex turns very red.

"Now Gordon," I break in, "you need to be fair and tell a story about yourself."Gordon thinks a moment. "One of my most embarrassing events was when I was doing factory work, while in college I took my break at the same time as the floor supervisor. As we stood talking, face to face, I took a sip of my soda, choked and coughed it right into her face. Fortunately, by the time I quit coughing, she was laughing."

"What about you Rich?" I inquire.

"Well, I consider myself well experienced with food. I was at a Chinese restaurant with friends. The waitress brought out the hot mustard and was asked if it was spicy. A minute later, she brought out a small dish and said it was hot. I decided to try it, so I dipped the tip of my fork and got about half a drop. I touched it to my tongue, swore, and then had tears in my eyes, all through dinner. I felt it for about an hour."

"Okay Steve, it's your turn." Gordon says.

"My worst moment came on a trip, just after I graduated high school. I was flying with a sibling to visit family. My sibling was prone to motion sickness, so they took motion sickness meds. Halfway through the flight, I was the one to get sick, right up the aisle."

Everyone laughs at this.

"Now you need to know that I was down with the flu, for the next week," I point out. "Okay, Marty, now you."

I guess mine was in junior high. We were playing flag football. I got the ball and was running, when an opponent dove for me. He missed the flag, but grabbed the waistband of my shorts, splitting them down the back. I ran the 300 yards to the locker room door and was about 50 feet shy when the girls came out of their locker room. I never found out if they saw my cheeks flapping or not."

By the time the stories were done, we all had tears in our eyes and it was too hard to eat. We quickly gather up the dishes and clean everything up. Alex starts to take Ian to the bathroom, but I stop him.

"Alex, I think it's time for Ian to start to decide when to go. He knows how to ask for the toilet. Why don't you get a game to play?"

Alex runs off and the rest of us move to the living room.

"Rich, how about making cookies tomorrow? I think the boys will enjoy it."

"Just tell me what time and I'll be here."

"How about 1:30. We can do sandwiches for lunch. Then grill some burgers for dinner. By the way, do we have a Dutch oven?"

"I was told you like to use those. We have a couple. Tell me what you need and I'll have it ready for you."

"I'll let you know in the morning."Rich and Marty both say goodnight and leave a short time later. Gordon and I wrestle and play games with the boys until it's time for bed. My worries of earlier now seem trivial. Walking Ian to the bedroom, I feel the love and trust that flow as I hold his hand. We pull off his sweats and I suggest the toilet before bed. He takes my hand and pulls me with him. As he goes by himself, I believe he only wants me to see his success. He washes his hands, then we walk back to the bedroom. Ian gets his pajamas and I help him into them. He has on regular underwear, but I don't say anything. I'll see how the night goes. There are only a few pair of the overnights left anyway. I take Ian to the bed.

"I love you Ian," I say, hugging him."

"He puts his arms around me. "Luv oo Teve," he stutters, then rolls onto his stomach to sleep.

That simple statement of affection, tremulously expressed by a little boy, means more to me than any accolades I ever previously received. I quickly tuck Ian and leave the room. I go to my room, tears of joy flowing like a river down my face. Sleep tonight is a relief.

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