Somehow, word had gotten out, and a growing crowd stood milling about. All eyes were on the main entrance, waiting patiently for somebody to appear. Apparently, it was a member of the hospital staff who leaked hints of the wild story to the press. Cameras and microphones had been set up, and cables snaked around the sidewalks and up the staircase. Hot cups of coffee, from the hospital cafeteria, sent curls of steam into the chill morning air. Feet were stamped and coats pulled close, to ward off the cold. Low conversations, punctuated by much eye rolling, occupied the impatient reporters.
A murmur went up, as several people, likely hospital administrators, pushed through the glass doors. An elegant and imposing man in a pin-striped grey suit stepped to the fore. Reporters and camera people moved to get closer. He raised his hands to quiet the crowd. Cameras were aimed and microphones were thrust toward him. He spoke into the nearest mike, after blowing twice to test how well his voice carried. A true showman.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am Philip Brentwood, Chief of Staff here at Lady of Mercy Hospital.” A hush descended over the crowd, as they stood by expectantly, each mind filled with disbelief at what they had learned. It just couldn’t be! Rather haughtily, The doctor continued. “We are proud to introduce you to a person, who will forever stand for the changing order of existence in this world.” He half-turned and dramatically gestured toward the door, where another gentleman had been standing inside, dimly seen through the frosted glass pane. The door opened slowly, and the elderly man came out. Escorted by a nurse holding his arm, he shuffled slowly, falteringly, to join the doctor.
Doctor Brentwood held out his right arm, and as the other fellow came beside him, the doctor wrapped his hand about the fellow’s shoulder, drawing him closer. The newcomer was a sallow, slightly bent fellow, aged, but of indeterminate age. He wore a sort of uniform, beige long-sleeved shirt and work pants. The doctor introduced the man, whose sparkling eyes gazed all about, taking everything in. “May I present to you George Henderson.” Brentwood smiled as if awaiting applause, but not a sound came from the puzzled crowd, clearly waiting for further explanation. The doctor went on, “Yes, George is a stranger to you. He’s no celebrity. He has no story to tell. Yet!”
The doctor turned his head to both sides, letting his eyes pass over the gathering. A sort of restlessness took over, attentiveness giving way to aimless movement. A couple of hands were raised, as impatience and exasperation began to set in. The doctor was overplaying the crowd. All they wanted to hear was official confirmation of the incredible rumor.
Brentwood held up his hand and said, “Yes, I know you have questions. But first, let me finish my announcement.” With his free hand, he again squeezed the shoulder of the quiet fellow, George. “I will get right to the point. My friend here, George, was born mere hours ago, after prolonged and accelerated immersion in an artifical womb.”
Once more, the group of astonished people gave Brentwood their full attention. Despite being forewarned, they were stunned, at this announcement. Then, hesitantly, a hand went up. The doctor acknowledged the reporter. “Doctor, did I hear that right. Did you say this old guy was just born?” His mouth remained slack, convinced he’d asked a foolish question.
“Yes, indeed, you heard me correctly. Mr. Henderson is a newborn.” He chuckled, adding, “I hesitate to call him a new born baby.” The crowd was strangely unresponsive, momentarily in shock. Some muttered to their neighbors, but, clearly, none readily accepted the doctor’s unbelievable words.
Shortly, another hand shot up. “You’re pulling our legs, right, Doc?” A few faces now showed disbelieving smirks, and wide-spread giggling ensued.
“Not at all,” the doctor dryly replied. “This is a historic moment. I realize it is probably beyond your comprehension to accept such startling news, but it is, nevertheless, true. George is a brand new member of the human race, and this is his first glimpse of our world, our planet. Years of research into the possiblility of reversing the passage of cell life have at last been successful. George Henderson is beginning life as an old man, with cells approximating those of a relatively healthy eighty-year old.”
“What’s this, Doc, your idea of a joke?” A loud voice came from the rear of the crowd, and a burly fellow began weaving his way toward the front of the gathering. He waved his hand at the doctor’s unassuming companion. “Why are you wasting our time with this ridiculous performance?” Other troubled voices joined his, in support.
“I assure you that I am telling you the absolute truth,” replied Brentwood. “Think of it! Instead of humans starting their journey as helpless babes, dependent on parents for everything, and moving through each day of life, inexorably, toward dismal years of declining health and pending infirmity, until death claims them, the life experience is reversed. George, here, will become stronger and healthier as the years pass. He will be able to enjoy ever improving days. Instead of finding himself forced to give up one activity after another, he will happily embrace new challenges, always with the view of the benevolent productive life laid out before him. His future will be exhilarating, not full of troubling uncertainties. Instead, he can look forward to the vitality, joy and pleasure of pending youth, yet with a fully developed mind to help chart his course.”
Amidst general snickering, the large fellow scoffed, saying, “Doc, you’re a raving lunatic. What say we hear from your geriatric pal there.”
Brentwood smiled indulgently and removed his arm from George’s shoulder. Then he led him closer to the audience, as microphones were directed at him. George moved his balding head from side to side, peering under shaggy gray brows into the wondering eyes before him. His wrinkled lips parted and he moistly muttered, “Googly, goo.” Then he gurgled and clapped his hands, as a broad wet stain moved down the front of his light trousers.
© RickMack (Rmrickmack@aol.com)
© Graphic by RickMack (Rmrickmack@aol.com)