[Preface: the two men in this fictional story, Eddie and Presley, are retired dock workers from New York City, retired to ‘The Valley of the Sun’ in the Phoenix area of Arizona – only because I say it’s so. The story is intended to amuse and to present in my not-so-unique amateurish way some Micro-Biological research that is actually taking place around the Globe. Not in my lifetime, or, perhaps, even yours, will there be the science and technology to cure major diseases with ‘type-specific auto-bots’ roaming through the veins of the sick and dying, supplying clean new cells, destroying the deadly cells, creating in many ways an unknown protracted life-span! But, it’s coming! Of course, that will be up to the ‘powers that be’ at the time and the mind-set of the populace. I simply hope you enjoy what I make out of the story. (The Author)]
Could It Happen?
-Short Story by BR Chitwood-
The doorbell shook him from his near-comatose condition. Eddie, with some effort, raised himself from the recliner. He was a big rugged man, over six feet tall with not a lot of flab on his frame – a bit reminiscent of John Wayne in his sharp and angular no-nonsense face and frame.
The doorbell rang again, this time with more urgency.
“Hang on! Dammit! I’m coming!” he yelled, grabbed a quick sip from his near-empty highball glass as the doorbell rang yet again.
Not a patient man, he limped through the family room to the entry door and angrily yanked it open, peeved with the insistent ringing.
Before Eddie could speak, the man outside spoke: “Eddie, I must talk to you, you might think I’m nuts!”
With an exaggerated frown, Eddie responded, “Hell! I’m already thinking you’re nuts. Who are you and what do you want? It’s 9:30 in the PM. You better not be selling anything!”
The man outside was momentarily stunned, gaped at Eddie for some seconds. “Eddie, it’s me, Presley.”
Eddie said a few nasty curse words to the man calling himself ‘Presley’ and slammed the door in his face!
The man screamed through the big ribbed door, “Eddie, it’s me, dammit! I can explain everything. Please! Open the door! I really need to tell you what happened! Eddie, open the door!”
“Hey, you A-hole, get away from my front door or I’m calling the cops if I don’t beat the crap out of you first! You got just thirty seconds before I decide which one of those options I’m going to use.”
“I’m not leaving, Eddie, you’re the only one I can talk to! Please, just hear me out!”
Eddie screamed, “Okay, you dumb sick jerk! You hit the right nerve!” Eddie stomped to the front entry, opened the door in a rush, and threw a haymaker at the man.
The man went down and lay crumbled for several seconds on the flagstone entry platform.
When the man didn’t move, Eddie hovered over the limp body, ready to continue his assault. He rubbed his right fist and felt the first brain wave of concern. Maybe he hit the man too hard!
As the seconds ticked by, Eddie felt stronger waves of guilt. His drinking and his temper grew after the loss of his wife to a drunk driver, and his fuse for anger got shorter with each passing day.
Now, Eddie was concerned, and, just when he was about to reach down and check the man’s pulse, there was movement.
The man tentatively and with some difficulty lifted his arm, rolled to face Eddie, and spoke: “Eddie, for God’s sake, it’s me, Presley, and I can explain. Think of Cora, your wife, my sister. I was your ‘best man’ at the wedding. Think of the weekends we spent in Palm Springs, the golf we played – your ‘hole-in-one’ at the Arizona Country Club.”
“Stop,” Eddie interrupted. “Who the hell are you to know these things?”
“If you let me up, I’ll explain it all, Eddie, and, believe me, it’s incredible!”
There was something in the man’s voice! It did have a familiar sound! My God! His voice sounded like Presley Berman!
Eddie became more attentive to the man on the ground. “Okay, okay! You have a ‘mouse’ on your left cheek. Did I break your jaw?”
Eddie helped the man to his feet and inside the house.
“Nah, the jaw’s okay. It moves alright! Damn, Eddie, we’ve never fought before. The anger is eating you up.” The tanned good-looking man, taller than Eddie but slightly smaller, rubbed his cheek, his blond hair mussed from the hay-maker punch. “I can’t believe you hit me so hard, Man! That not only hurts my jaw but my feelings as well.”
“Here, sit here.” Eddie seated the man on the sofa across from his recliner and allowed that the man slightly resembled his friend of a lifetime, but, no way him. “Damn, I can’t believe I’m doing this! How the hell is it you know so much about my wife, Palm Springs, and my golf game? And, this better be really good!”
“How long has it been since you saw me last, Eddie? No, I’ll answer my own question since you doubt me. It’s been exactly six weeks to the day since I left on a trip. In fact, I told you I was going, but didn’t tell you where, and you got pissed off at me for making it such a big secret. Well, the fact is, the lovely lady I went with swore me to secrecy.”
“What lovely lady?” Eddie wanted to know.
“You don’t need her name, Eddie. It’s what she knew you want to know about. She’s a most unusual and beautiful lady I met at my ‘La-LA Club’, you know – ‘Life and Love Abound’.”
Eddie shakes his head, his blue eyes squinting toward the ceiling. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard of the clip joint. Just get to the point of all this crap!”
“It’s not ‘Crap’, Eddie, you’ll see. Anyhow, I’ll call my lady friend, Amber – can’t give you her real name! Had to sign some papers – but that’s another story! So, Amber and I, we go to Spain, first to Barcelona, then to a beautiful and quaint village along the Costa Brava. I love its name – Castanéa.”
“Come on, Man, don’t give every single detail. Get on with it!” Eddie rose, went to the bar, poured himself another drink from the bottle of bourbon, and returned to his chair.
“Eddie, could I pour myself one of those? I sure could use it, with my jaw and all.”
“Jeez! Okay, get yourself a highball glass. You can find…”
“I know where you keep the highball glasses. C’mon, Eddie! Remember, we’ve done a lot of booze here in your beautiful home.”
Eddie shakes his head in silent negation.
With drink in hand, the man who calls himself Presley continues with his story.
“So, this small village of Castanéa does a ‘trip’ on me, taking me to places in my mind I’ve never been, like, you know, nostalgic stuff. So, Amber introduces me to this lovely lady who works for a Scientist, and we become buddies, you know, really close, so to speak. Her name is Melodie – really pretty lady! she works for some young ‘Swami-like’ guy who is probably the most intelligent person I’ve ever met in my life. He looks a lot like that movie star that starred in ‘Doctor Zhivago’. I mean, I was truly mesmerized by this guy, call him Alfredo, and the three of us do lots of things together, boating, nightclubs and local theater stuff.”
“Whoa! What happened to Amber? The gal who went with you?”
“I knew you would ask me that. Short answer, she hooked up with another guy. My guess is, she used me for the flight to Barcelona. Yeah, I know what you got in your mind, Eddie, and you’re right! Okay! I’m a sucker! but, she claimed the trip was all for me. I now know what she meant, because we talked about some things that will come up here, uh, in my recitation.”
“Whoa! why would I think anything about you! I don’t know you, dip-shit! You have ten minutes! If you can’t be finished in ten minutes, I’m throwing you out! You got that?”
“Okay, I got you! What amazes me, Eddie, is this: everyone I’m meeting in this small coastal town is carefree and happy! It’s like they’ve found paradise in this little village along the Costa Brava.”
Eddie has little patience, vacillating between anger and the absurdity of his evening. “You ready for another bust to the chops, Pal? Get on with it! Get to the crux of the matter! If there is one!”
The man calling himself Presley sighs deeply. “I’m just trying to give you some lead-up to this life-changing event, Eddie. Please, listen, and try to trust me. Okay, how old are we, Eddie?”
“Yeah, right! Okay, I’ll play just to get you out of here! I’m sixty-five, and, you are not, but my good friend, Presley, is sixty-four. Now, what?”
“You remember when our courts at one time sentenced to death the really bad guys, the fiends who murdered, raped our children, killed a cabbie for a few bucks, and good people who never saw them coming?”
“Yeah, we gassed them!”
“Well, before gas, there was the ‘Electric Chair’, remember?”
“No, completely slipped my mind! Of course, I remember, nitwit!”
“Sorry if I insult your intelligence, buddy! So, Alfredo and I become really tight, good pals, like you and me. Ah, c’mon, Eddie, don’t raise your eyebrows and give me the finger! You will see what I’m telling you is pure unadulterated truth. Okay, pal? Yeah, that’s right, shake your head, drink your drink but listen good to this, please!
“One night, the Science guy and I are sitting, having highballs in his place by the sea – beautiful place, Eddie. Ah, man, you should see this place. It was…”
“Hey, I’m having one more drink and I’m getting really tired of your chatter. So, whoever you are, pal, get it said and get out of here! Your ten minutes are almost up.”
On unsteady legs, Eddie went to the bar, brought the bourbon bottle to his easy chair, sat, and poured another drink. With his eyes blinking now with more frequency, he said, “Okay, Pal, finish your tale. I’m going to bed after this drink. Get it done!”
“Okay, okay, but you got to hear me good, Eddie. You have to listen because this is important, what I’m going tell you! This is not phony-baloney here!”
“Yeah, yeah! Talk and be finished, man! I’m listening, but you’re bloviating!”
“Okay? Right, okay, I’ll get on with it… (‘Bloviating’ – good word, Eddie!) Okay, here’s the story, and I swear to you, Eddy, this is a true story…
“Melodie had to go into Barcelona for a TV marketing ‘shoot’. After she left, Alfredo and I, we got into this big philosophical and science discussion, weird, real brainy stuff! (And, believe it or not, I’m getting what he’s telling me, just not the big science words he’s spewing.) His words were mesmerizing, and they stayed with me. We were in a discussion about ‘Life and Death’, about the villainous nature of some people, the evil among us, you know, and we end up talking about the really bad criminals who were executed in the electric chair. He even knew their names and their crimes – I didn’t recognize the names he gave. I mean, this guy is some kind of smart!
“Suddenly, well, almost, suddenly, Alfredo takes me to an upstairs laboratory-looking room, the walls are all glass and looking out on the moon-splashed Mediterranean Sea. Man, it was so beautiful! Pure Rapture, Eddie! I’m looking around the room and I see this chair and pull up short. ‘Whoa! What? Is that an ‘electric chair, Alfredo’? I asked.
“His eyes take on an honest to goodness God glow, and the moon hits his face at the same time, causing me to think this guy is not human. He had this almost angelic, magical glow on his face. I mean, it was all so eerie and baffling to me.
“So, he then tells me this story connected to that big ‘Electric Chair’ and my mind and body get all jitters and shivers, with some unpleasant thoughts mixed in. In short, Alfredo’s field is ‘Science’ and he explains to me why and what he has created.
“He says to me, and you know me, Eddie, I got that good memory thing, that telepathic whatever. He says to me:”
‘The thought, Presley, germinated in this very room on such a lovely night as we have this evening. If that ‘Chair’ could at one time take a life, why could it not give life and reduce the aging process of a person? Scientifically, we knew that the high electrical charge from this wired Electric Chair would destroy all biological life carriers within the human body. My mind was eager to determine if, by different and special wiring not yet invented, could that chair be used to add new cells to the body, to recreate youth in an older person who wished to prolong her/his living?
‘I studied for months, in fact, for over three years, read books by scientists most people would not know, or, would consider daft. I became addicted, sleeping only when exhaustion set in. I worked daily with mice and formula after formula, trying to find corollaries, ratios, the degrees of parity from mice and other animals to men. I used all forms of matter, elements of the earth in different formulae, reducing each experiment down to electrical impulses. As I progressed, I must say, there were times when it seemed I was going mad, injected by my own poisonous mind fluids. But, I kept the experiment on track, sleeping two, three hours each night. I ate sparsely but enough to keep me going, took breaks, went out on the terrace to breathe the sea’s salt air coming in on the breezes. Combined, as it were, with my obsessive behavior and relevance of the study, the days, weeks, months, were gone so swiftly.
‘Imagine my joy one morning when I stepped into this room and found a frisky, youthful ‘Meeko’ (my dear near-death Great Dane) returned to his youthful coat, shedding his fur of age for the scat-about fur of youth.’
Alfredo stopped when I looked across the room at the beautiful dog curled up in the corner and was about to ask a question.
‘Yes, Presley, the same Meeko you saw when we first met. That moment of discovery was many years ago, and you’ve seen for yourself how active and spry my best friend can be.’
‘I can, for sure, Alfredo. Meeko was like a puppy, and so beautiful. At this point, I asked Alfredo a question: how was it he could determine the age he was going to be if the experiment worked? He responded with these words, or, close enough.’
That is an excellent question, Presley. That was part of my 3-year-plus study. With the animals and elements from Physics, I needed to experiment for some time to what degrees certain modules were used in the project. In the final analysis the tests performed gave me data I felt I could rely on in terms of how far from where I was age-wise to where I wanted to be. That part of the science was the part that frightened me so much, but it was my decision to use myself as the test host before going any further. The quantum factor of all my testing proved accurate…
‘Let me just say, I cannot give you in these few minutes what it took me over three years to grasp. Should I or should I not be interfering with God’s mortal plans? Was I to be the creator of one more Frankenstein Monster?
‘I finally concluded it could very well be God’s will for me to find this grand semblance of immortality. In fact, as we speak, labs around the world are filled with scientists working in the field of Microrobotics. Think of it, tiny mobile robots less than one millimeter in size one day on a journey through our veins carrying new cells, remedies for cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cardio-vascular problems, obesity, and other medical problems.
‘It was Melodie, my old and trusted house maid who found me one morning in that chair with my head resting on my right shoulder, sleeping. Her problem in seeing me there? She did not recognize me, because I had my youth returned to me. I was energized, could have run a 10-k marathon. It took a while for me to convince her of my breakthrough, and she soon after demanded to sit in the Chair.
‘In fact, Melodie rather robustly insisted she be next in the chair, and so she was – the beautiful girl with whom you are now in love.
‘With all of what I’ve told you here tonight, I have done the science, mathematics, and time calculations to formulate a simple tablet that can be used in lieu of the Chair, only to be taken once every six months. That is, after the three to be taken initially. The first three pills start the process, and, depending on body chemical factors, can take from twenty-four hours to a week for the transformation. To ensure our secret, I must inject a micro-chip into your left bicep.”
At this point I stopped Alfredo. “Tell me about the micro-chip. What is its purpose?”
‘You must know, Presley, what we are doing is not standard operating procedure and goes against Man’s Law. What began as a Science Project in my mind became a life’s work, and I had concerns about what I might discover. Yet, my mind was keyed up and it became NOT just a project but a Holy Grail. Because I’ve reached this point of no return, I must somehow protect myself and the people who join this grand plan. So, I worked diligently to find a way where we all might be safe, protected, if you will, from legal concerns.
‘The micro-chip is that safety shield. If someone in our elite group becomes too enthusiastic about our project and thinks about doing an open forum on ‘The Chair Project’, the micro- chip can identify that the project is about to be compromised and signals an electronic board for which I am the only one privy to it. (Don’t ask how this chip can distinguish words that will allow it to know the project is in jeopardy…I cannot take all the hours, perhaps days and weeks to explain this to you – you must accept my assurance that this is true!) With that signal, I know there is someone of our group who is compromising the project. I then proceed to activate the chip which is designed to block that memory part of the brain. It does not harm the person but voids his knowledge of this project. The person simply maintains his youth and who he has become without other knowledge blocking his way forward!
I had to know more on this procedure and asked, “That sounds like an impossibility to me, Alfredo. How can you pinpoint a specific area of the brain?”
‘Again, my friend, Presley, you must take my word for this. It is a most difficult process to explain and would take serious time away from us. You must trust me! No one will be hurt by this micro-chip, but safety of the group, including me, is paramount and must not be put in danger. All you need do is put yourself in my place, Presley. Consider the consequences of my actions. The person who does the Science, years of scientific study, who has a charter group to whom he charges not a penny, offers an opportunity such as this. It goes without saying, you are the person who controls your decision-making. I’ve become fond of you, but this is your decision to make. Go on with your life as it is, or, take the ‘youth pills’. Your choice!’
‘Oh, I’m in! no question about it! I trust you, Alfredo, and I thank you for this wonderful opportunity.’
‘Good! So, we gamble with our older lives to find another chance at youth. Hopefully, we will not make so many mistakes in our youth this time around.
‘Until now, Melodie and I are not the only recipients of the Chair’s gift of youth. I chose carefully those with whom I shared this gift of new life, only those few humble, once feeble people in our village who no longer have families to cherish and with whom to commune. It is a secret shared by only a few people who are well aware they must not share any details of their new lives. It took much time to devise a plan to ensure that the secret would never be revealed. That plan is the harm-less micro-chip, and it’s good that I will not bore you with all those tedious details.
‘Why have I shared so much with you? The woman who came with you from the United States, Amber, she is one of us who shares the secret of the ‘Chair’. She informed us of your fervent wish to be young again – she cares for you very much, but in a more Platonic way than you might once have wished. So, she did not abandon you but meant only to give you the wish-secret she shared with us some months ago. The man you believe she traded you for is but a friend himself. What does that matter, now? You love Melodie, and Melodie loves you.
‘Now, I must be certain that you’re ready to take the next step. You must allow that micro-chip to be injected into your left bicep, and, you must sign our documents before going back to the US.
‘You have mentioned you have only one good friend there in Arizona whom you believe will want to join you after you’ve had the good fortune and time to have him believe you. You understand, once he is told of your secret, he can take an accelerated dosage of pills – exactly, three. The pills should take effect within twenty-four hours, or, no longer than seven days. Because of some variables in each person’s DNA it should take no longer than a week. If that does not occur during a week’s period after taking the maximum dosage, you must return with him to Castonéa for the ‘Chair’ treatment.
‘Also, on the negative side, you must manage to inject a micro-chip into his left bicep. You know the chip will not harm him once it is activated, that is, only if his determination is to bring our ‘Chair Project’ public. Of course, you must explain all of this to your friend. I suggest you find a way of least resistance. You must figure what that way of ‘least resistance’ will be.
‘I have fought the moral battles of my mind, Presley, and, for me and the others, this discovery is okay. It must also be okay for you and your friend. You know him well and you will know what to do.
“We’ve talked about being young again on many occasions, Eddie, and, now we can be. That’s the story of my past six weeks. I’ve left nothing out. I’ve even added Alfredo’s concerns. What do you think?
Presley was so wrapped up in his story, he had lost track of Eddie.
Eddie was in his recliner, head resting on the back’s soft leather. He was passed out!
“Ah, Crap! Now, I’m gonna have to go through it all again!” Presley thought for few seconds. “Ah, but, wait!” he muttered to himself. “He would do it for me! this is the ‘way of least resistance’, as Alfredo phrased it.”
Presley went to Eddie’s side table, picked up his highball glass half-full of bourbon, and dropped in three ‘Youth Pills’! From a small plastic case he extracted a syringe and injected Eddie with the micro-chip into his left bicep. With the chip and the accelerated dose, and, when he takes those last few sips, he will within twenty-four hours find out for himself. Hopefully, it won’t take a week. He will be young again.
Presley knew Eddie for sure could never leave a half-full glass of ‘Makers Mark’ Bourbon.
Presley checked Eddie’s phone, copied the number he lost on the trip to Spain.
He would check in with Eddie tomorrow, late afternoon! Presley did not expect him to rise from slumber for at least twelve to twenty-four hours.
Probably better this way: ‘Showing, Not, Telling’!
©Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood
April 28, 2018
(Note: the author to determine later whether or not to have a second part to this short story!)
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