"So, you can remember anything you want just by looking at it?" David asked as we scrubbed the walls of his newly emptied bedroom.
"Pretty much." I tried to suppress the annoyance I felt from the constant line of questioning about my 'super powers'. I didn't mind at first. It was actually nice to be able to talk freely with
him. And while I deeply appreciated everything he was doing for me, I was starting to feel like a side-show or the science experiment all over again. It was as if he was trying to do his own mental
calculations of my abilities and figure out what I would be capable of.
"It would probably only take you a few days to master a foreign language," he mused and I wasn't sure if he was talking to me or himself.
"About three." I leaned closer to the wall, unsure of whether the discoloring I saw was dirt or a shadow. "Maybe longer if it's a dead language." I never had much interest in learning foreign
languages, but I'd done it anyway. It was a requirement of my high school to take a year of either Spanish or French. I chose Spanish and was bored with the material for the year, after only a few
days. I asked my teacher for the more advanced books and learned those on my own. After that I'd done French too, just for the heck of it. Then in college, I learned Italian and German for
something else to do when I got bored with my other subjects. I probably could have kept going down the list in the catalog, but I was beyond bored with linguistics by then.
I glanced at David when he didn't say anything else.
"What?" I asked defensively. He was giving me that calculating, slightly surprised look again.
"Nothing." He shook his head. "Is everything like that? You just read about something and know how to do whatever it is?"
"Sometimes." I shrugged. "With some things I have to practice or ask questions. But yeah, I guess most things work like that."
"So if I told you how to build a bomb, you could just do it?"
If I hadn't been looking at him when he said it, I would have assumed it was a joke. But uncharacteristically, David seemed serious. Maybe even a little nervous. It was hard to tell since curiosity
overshadowed his other emotions.
"Probably." I raised an eyebrow. "Why? Do you have plans to blow something up?" I joked, trying to lighten the mood.
"Not yet, but I'll let you know." I didn't understand why, but his smile seemed a little bit forced.
Turning back to the wall, I decided that the spot was dirt and began scrubbing. I had to reminded myself that David had alot of information to absorb in a short amount of time. I couldn't blame him
if he was curious or freaked out about some of it.
"Too bad you can't perform surgery on yourself," he said. "That would have made things easier."
"Trust me, the thought crossed my mind. But no, unfortunately I'm not quite that good."
He laughed. "Tim would be so relieved."
As would I, I thought. No matter how much of a godsend Tim seemed to be, he was still a virtual stranger to me. Trusting David was completely different. I'd had time to get to know him first, and
his constant presence reassured me that he wasn't out somewhere, turning me in.
I understood that Tim was basically a good person, like his brother. But he didn't know me and I couldn't be sure that he wouldn't get it into his head that the best thing to do was to tell the
police or worse. I didn't doubt that David was forefront in his mind. After all, what decent person wouldn't want to save his little brother from the fugitive who might be mentally unstable?
But, as I'd been doing, constantly over the last few days, I reminded myself that trusting David meant trusting his brother. Besides, it was too late for a different course. Even if this did turn
out to be a mistake, I'd be screwed either way. It really was only a matter of time until Wescott tracked me down. If I hadn't been sure of that, the growing frequency of that man standing down on
the street, would have convinced me.
I breathed a little easier when another scan of the street, as Tim was leaving, told me that the man wasn't there any longer. Unfortunately, he showed up the next day, stayed for a while and left,
only to return again in a few hours. There was no question that he knew I was close by.
I didn't understand why he stood, seemingly doing nothing each time. But then, I hadn't understood his actions before either, and he'd been able to track me down with frightening speed and
accuracy. No, his apparent inaction, I knew, was deceiving.
But there wasn't a thing I could do about it at the moment, so I forced myself to think of something else as I continued scrubbing the walls beside David.
"Deep breath," Tim said , holding the stethoscope to my back. He'd come over to set up the makeshift operating room and decided to stick around to give me a thorough check up.
I could have told him I was completely healthy, but I guessed that this was more for his own peace of mind than anything else, so I kept my mouth shut and did what he asked.
Tim dropped the stethoscope when he was satisfied with what he heard and wrote something else on his little chart.
"Well, you appear to be in perfect health," he said, meeting my eyes. "As far as I can tell, at least."
"I know." I hadn't meant my words to carry a tone, but judging by the curious look that Tim was giving me, they had.
"I'm probably the ideal candidate for this sort of thing," I said, deciding it was best to give him a little reassurance. "To be honest, if anyone in the world can come through something like
this...without a problem, it'd be me." Because, possibly the only benefit of being me, was my super-human immune system.
Tim had figured out that I was different, but I knew that he had no idea why. He pensively watched me now, clearly trying to figure it out.
"And you know that because...?"
"I just do."
He stared at me for a minute longer before he said, "And this..." He didn't seem to know how to categorize my situation. "Isn't anything illegal?" There was more curiosity than suspicion in his
"Not on my end," I muttered, glancing away.
"But there's something illegal on someone else's end?" The more I was around Tim, the more similarities I saw between him and David. Right now, I could tell he was attempting to pinpoint a solution
so he could fix this the same way David tried to fix most things. He pounced on the idea that someone else might be acting illegally and therefore could be stopped.
But just about the last thing I needed was for Tim, and probably David too, to get it in their heads that they could help me by involving anyone else.
I'd responded without really thinking - after all, how could the things that Wescott was doing, possibly be legal? Technically though, something couldn't be illegal if no one thought there was a
need for a law against it.
"Let's just say, technologically speaking, the law's not that advanced."
I wondered if Tim was into sci fi and fantasy stuff the way David was. If so, I could imagine all sorts of possibilities about aliens, radioactive spiders, and who knows what else, passing through
his mind as he pursed his lips, thinking. The thought made me want to laugh.
After watching me for another few seconds with open curiosity, Tim shook his head and sighed, giving up for the time being.
"I suppose you're the new stray," he said, taking the stethoscope from around his neck and placing it in his bag.
"Excuse me?" I didn't think he meant it as an insult, and his kind smile emphasized that. But the comparison was a little too close to the mark for my liking.
He continued packing up his things, and for a minute I thought he might not answer.
"David probably never mentioned that his nickname as a kid, was Doctor Dolittle." Tim's words were almost joking, but I could sense a serious undertone to them.
I shook my head.
"He was always bringing home one animal or another," he said. "Every week it seemed, he'd find a new critter in need of medical attention. Usually cats and dogs that got too close to the highway or
who'd been in a fight with another animal. Sometimes, he'd find a baby deer or some other wild animal in the woods behind the house. And every time, he was sure he could fix whatever was wrong.
Most of the time, he was right. Which is pretty impressive, considering that he had to do almost everything on his own. Our parents didn't have money to waste on vet bills for an endless string of
animals, and they didn't have the time to play veterinarian themselves. Outside of forbidding David from going near raccoons and other typically rabid animals, they didn't have much to do with my
brother's hobby. He was lucky to get any help from me or our sister either." Tim chuckled.
"It's ironic that I wound up, the doctor," he said. "Everyone was sure David would be a veterinarian."
I smiled, not quite able to picture David in that career. Not because I thought he didn't have the intellect or heart for it - I knew he did. But you didn't see many vets that looked like David.
He'd probably be responsible for a spike in cat sales for single women.
"One time," Tim continued, oblivious to my amusement. "He brought home this dog. Poor thing looked half-dead, but David was determined to help it like always. He managed to do it too. Took him over
a month to get it eating and drinking on it's own, but he did it. He patched the mutt up and was thinking about keeping it. Usually the dogs he found were lost, but there were no tags on this one
and no lost dog signs anywhere around. It was skittish, and David thought the dog just needed to get used to him before they could have that special bond like in movies."
"I'm not sure if it was a wild dog or if it had been abused. Whatever the case it turned on David one day, right after he fed it. It's a good thing the dog was just scared because it probably could
have done alot more than send David to the emergency room for twelve stitches."
Ah, so that was the reason for this apparently random story. Tim wondered if I was a skittish stray too.
"David was always upset when one of his animals didn't make it or when he had to let them go, but that kind of betrayal really crushed him. He stopped bringing home animals after that. At least,
for the most part. Sometimes one would follow him anyway, but he didn't go looking for them anymore. My mom said he was just growing up since he was at an age when most boys start getting
interested in girls and hanging out more with their friends, but we all knew that dog did more damage than could be fixed with stitches."
My heart ached for the little boy David had been, so sweet and fragile that his heart could be broken by a frightened dog. I searched for some reassurance to give Tim that I wouldn't betray his
brother's trust, but I wasn't sure what to say. It seemed a little patronizing to simply say I wasn't planning to turn on him.
Before I could worry about it very much, a knock on the door drew both our attention.
David popped his head into the room after Tim answered.
"You about done?" David asked. He must have noticed something in my expression because he gave me a curious glance. I tried to reassure him with a smile.
"Michelle called." He looked at Tim again. "She said there's a minor emergency. Something about how she can't figure out what's wrong with the DVD player and Emma's having a meltdown because her
Daddy promised that if she ate all her veggies at lunch, she could watch The Wizard of Oz. Again."
"Heaven help us if she has to skip a day." Tim chuckled. "But yeah, we're done. I was getting ready to head out."
Tim packed the rest of his things and left David and I alone.
"I swear Em has every word of that movie memorized," David said. "I don't know how she can keep watching it day after day."
"I was never like that." I slid down from the table that Tim brought for my surgery. "I could never stand to watch stuff more than once." I always thought it was strange that kids could watch
movies over and over. I remembered everything that happened perfectly and thought it was boring to watch anything twice. But I guess it was a pretty normal thing to do. Wescott deprived me of such
simple pleasures in life.
"I was." David grinned. I wasn't sure if he was oblivious to my thoughts or was trying to distract me, but knowing him, it was probably the latter.
"What do you mean, 'was', Mr. I've-seen-Star-Wars-seventeen-times?" I smirked.
David pursed his lips, and I knew he was faking the irritated expression.
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