Last Chance

last-chanceDevon had two secrets. One he wanted to reveal. The other one he wanted to keep hidden, for his eyes only, just in case. His battle had been a long road with unexpected twists and turns. The clinking of two bottles triggered an uncontrollable response. One that involved a trip to the convenience store that was all too convenient. Sometimes it was a six-pack, other times a forty ounce aluminum can.

Rita had given him one last chance. Clean up your act, or I’m gone. Devon had been with too many women to count. It felt as though his addiction to women matched that of the bottle. Rita was different. She was the one. Not the one that he would marry. Not yet, at least. But, she was the one who’d persuaded him to come clean.

He’d been on the straight and narrow for two months, nary a waver from his resolve. For himself. But more so, for Rita. To prove that he was good enough. Devon had been planning a weekend on the coast, just he and Rita. Complete seclusion. No fanfare, no exotic clubs. Definitely no clubs. Just a quiet weekend at the small B&B, a chance to reconnect.

Previously littered with stray bottles and signs of weakness, his house was now clean. Devon’s place had been scrubbed of any memories that might lead him back down the path towards temptation. It felt good. Real good. It’d been two weeks since he’d seen Rita, and for the first time, his intoxicating desire to see another human being surpassed that of the liquid variety.

“Hi,” Devon smiled longingly. He greeted Rita, looking at her cautious expression through the screen door.

“Can I come in?” Devon had been caught daydreaming.

“Sure, come in.” He opened the door and led her into the living room, his hand on the small of her back. Sitting down, Devon said, “I have something to share with you.” He smiled as he thought about the pleasant surprise about to be revealed.

Just then, the parakeet, perched in his cage, began to whistle. It was the jingle to Devon’s libation of choice. Almost. Whether it was subliminal influence or plain bad luck, it was almost identical to the tune on the B&B website, the one he had been whistling for the past week in anticipation of this very moment.

“Seriously?” Rita scoffed. She marched into the kitchen, pulled open the drawer, and moved aside the wilting romaine lettuce. She returned to the doorway, beer bottle in hand, the wrong secret now revealed.

“Wait, it’s not what you think,” uttered Devon.

“We’re through. Don’t bother.” She tossed the bottle, with the intent of having it shatter on the floor. Devon snagged it from midair. He held it, staring at it, as he listened to the screen door slam. The counter clockwise twist, followed by the upward tilt was refreshing and necessary. He knew that he had it hidden away for a good reason, just in case.

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Chance encounter

wall-street-federal-hallAuthor’s Note: This is the second part of a three part short story. If you would like to read the first chapter, please visit Hot Dog.

Lloyd appeared homeless with his ratty brown hoodie, rickety bike, and unkempt facial hair. His actions were characteristic of someone short on luck – keeping to himself, and not making direct eye contact with any passersby. He may have even smelled a bit foul, or perhaps that was a piece of produce in his bike basket beginning to ripen beyond its consumable age.

The infamous proverb states that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. With that rationale, it was evident that Lloyd was homeless. There is another proverb, however, that beckons us to not judge a book by its cover. The push and pull of conflicting proverbs can often lead the mind into murky waters, awash with doubts of what is right and what is wrong – what is illusory, and what is real.

While casually eavesdropping on Derek’s conversation with his girlfriend, Lloyd proceeded to scribble several notes furiously on a page of his pocket sized notebook. Whatever it was he was writing, Lloyd was hyper-focused on transcribing what was in his head on to the tiny page posthaste.

After the phone call ended, Lloyd used his peripheral vision to catch a glimpse of Derek taking a bite of his hot dog. The aging gentleman quickly snatched a red delicious apple from his basket and took a big juicy bite, loud enough to invite Derek’s attention. Peering over towards Lloyd somewhat involuntarily, Derek quickly returned focus to his own personal space. That was all Lloyd needed though – a crack in the door – and now he was poised to kick it wide open.

“First New York hot dog?” asked Lloyd in a gruffly voice.

Derek pretended not to hear, but glancing to his left, he couldn’t ignore the sapphire blue eyes staring back at him. Without any recourse, other than getting up to leave, Derek responded curtly, “Yeah.”

“You know, it’s funny,” continued Lloyd, “the great American hot dog was invented by some German guy and you used to be able to get one for three cents apiece back in the day.”

Derek wasn’t sure where this line of dialogue was going. The commentary sounded like the ramblings of some old man running short on his sanity. He was getting ever closer to simply rising and retreating to the safety of the building lobby just a few short steps away. He could catch the next bus. His flight wasn’t scheduled to depart for a few more hours.

Lloyd continued on, not waiting for a response from Derek, “Money ain’t everything you know. Don’t matter whether a hot dog cost three cents or three bucks, if you ain’t enjoyin’ it, what’s the point?”

Derek was now gathering up his belongings. It was becoming evident that he had reached his threshold of patience with this babbling lunatic. He knew that he would eventually have to build up a callousness to these type of shenanigans as a New Yorker, just not now. Lloyd pressed further, “Name is Lloyd, how about you?” He took another accentuated bite from his apple, awaiting a reply.

Rising from the bench, Derek turned to leave. “Might not want to leave yet – Derek.”

Derek stopped in his tracks and turned around to face Lloyd, now with a smile on his face. “How do you know my name?” He was quite certain that his name had not arisen in his conversation with Missy.

“That’s what your driver’s license says.”

Patting his pockets, Derek looked to be performing a cheap knock-off version of the Macarena. With a confused look of disbelief spreading across his face, he turned his head, and narrowed his eyes uttering, “You have my wallet.” It was part question, part statement.

Lloyd withdrew the black leather wallet from his jacket pocket and handed it to Derek who was taken aback. This elderly man who had obviously come across difficult times could have disappeared with his cash, credit cards, and identity. He wasn’t sure how to react. Derek presumed that Lloyd was waiting for some remuneration for his honest nature. Opening up his billfold, Lloyd stopped him, “Not necessary, just promise you’ll think about what I said.”

dont-judge-a-book-by-its-coverIt was just a bunch of random gibberish as far as Derek was concerned. What was there to think about? Genuinely grateful now for the honesty of this fellow New Yorker, Derek offered a sheepish thank you as he began to climb aboard the bus now parked at the curb. Lloyd simply provided a smile in return, one that Derek could tell conveyed much more than a message of you’re welcome.

Author’s Note: This is the second part of a three part short story. The final installment will be published next week. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – best wishes for an inspired day!

Revelation

door-closing

Author’s Note: This is the finale of a three part story. If you would like to read the previous two pieces, please visit Discovery – Part 1 and Temptation – Part 2.

If the mental preoccupation with every possibility caused hysteria inside Gavin’s world, the physical manifestation of it propelled him into pure delirium. As the door to his apartment closed, he found himself slouched against the wall staring at the ceiling with a grin on his face. Characterized by zealous emotion, the last time Gavin remembered experiencing this relative intensity was on that day from his childhood when a pack of baseball cards hidden in his pocket accompanied him out his uncle’s store unpaid.

That was twenty years ago. It was as if the passage of time had intensified the corresponding emotions associated with choices that went against socially acceptable principles. Like that day from his childhood many years ago, Gavin knew that the justification of his choices was delusional. And yet, the decision to carry through with them prevailed. The fuse had been lit and there was no extinguishing it now. In order to consummate this pact with his psyche, Gavin strode towards the kitchen with firm resolve. He poured the remainder of that sealed vial into his orange juice and drank until the glass was empty. By consuming a larger relative dose of the elixir than Alessa in his not so little experiment, Gavin was assured that he would hold the upper hand on the eventual proceedings. He would be in control.

The suspense and anxiety of his decision rendered Gavin completely incapacitated. His subconscious mind was consumed with the seed he had planted. He watered that seed and cultivated its growth at the expense of every other plant in his metaphorical garden. His repeated unexcused absences from research tasks at the lab were beginning to foster the onset of dire consequences. Gavin was unaware that his professor was on the brink of denying him an extension to the grant that would allow him to continue his studies. With the adrenaline coursing through his veins, it simply didn’t matter to Gavin. It was more important to be at home, listening for the click of the apartment door across the hall that he had become so accustomed to noticing.

Whether he was watching television, cooking dinner, even while he was on the brink of sleep, Gavin felt compelled to play the role of peeping Tom whenever he heard a door open or close. It had become so habitual over the course of the two previous days that one would think he had a collar and leash attached, responding as Pavlov’s dog would to the stimuli. He was an experiment unto himself.

For all the energy that Gavin had exerted to control the outcome of this situation, it was not he who ultimately carried it to the next phase. Lying on the couch, overcome by sleep deprivation, Gavin didn’t hear the click of the apartment next door. Neither did he hear the knock on his own apartment door. When the knock occurred a second time, a little louder as a way to insure that Gavin would be able to hear, he sat up straight in a moment’s notice. His hair disheveled and his eyelids sagging in protest, Gavin took a moment to fully arrive in the present before hurriedly approaching the door. He didn’t even check the peephole. As he swung the door open, Alessa stood before him in jean shorts and a t-shirt.

brain-wavesGavin straightaway entered radar mode, attempting to pick up on any brain wave or signal that may be directed his way. It required all his concentration to appear normal, whatever that meant these days, while remaining receptive to the effects of his newfound addiction. Obsessed by his focused efforts, Gavin failed to greet the visitor at his door. The awkward silence that ensued was finally broken by Alessa. “Hey Gavin, how are you? Did I wake you up,” she asked hesitantly. “No, no,” replied Gavin, “I think I just started to doze off while I was reviewing some of my research.”

“Oh, well I just wanted to say thanks again for the cup of milk the other day,” said Alessa. “I’m making some spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight and was wondering if you might like to join me as a thank you.” When Gavin didn’t immediately respond, Alessa continued, “It’s nothing special. I just never eat the whole box of pasta anyway and I figured you had to eat dinner too, right?”

“Sure,” Gavin replied with a grin as he allowed the tension to release from his system, his focus becoming more on what Alessa was saying instead of what she might be thinking. “What time are you thinking,” asked Gavin. “Let’s say around seven,” offered Alessa.

“Sounds good,” said Gavin. And in that moment, he started to sense something formulating in his mind, the semblance of a thought, perhaps a brain wave headed in his direction. “Okay, see you then,” replied Alessa as she turned around to return to her apartment across the hall. And as quickly as that mental thought materialized, it was gone once again. No matter, he thought, he would have the opportunity to continue this experiment later in the evening.

Now it was Gavin who was the one knocking on a door and awaiting a response. As the door to Alessa’s apartment opened, the aromatic scents of garlic, stewing tomatoes, oregano, and basil filled the air. He had never been inside her apartment. As scientifically exact as his bachelor pad was decorated, Alessa’s was cozy and inviting, like a comfy chair in the back corner of a quaint bookstore. “Come on in,” said Alessa with a smile, “I’m just finishing up the sauce and everything will be ready.” The orange tabby cat prancing across the room to greet their latest visitor rubbed up against Gavin’s leg, a mannerism that he presumed meant hello.

orange-tabby-catGavin felt guilty, but not for what one might think. The only spaghetti sauce he ever made was poured out of a bottle. Here was Alessa formulating from scratch what smelled like a culinary masterpiece. “Have a seat if you like,” offered Alessa, “and don’t mind Francesca,” leaning down to rub the head of her feline friend, “she’s the epitome of the curiosity and cat thing.”

Taking a seat on the edge of her leather couch, Gavin could see the plates and silverware on the dining room table, precisely arranged with a pair of white wine glasses accompanying the setting. This was his opportunity. Without a specific need to focus on anything in particular, Gavin began to listen with intent, not with his ears, but with his mind. The occasional polite comment originating from Alessa in the kitchen was distracting, but he managed to hold his concentration. He was beginning to sense something. It started out small like ripples of water on the surface of a small pond. But, it was building in magnitude towards a cresting wave breaking on the shore. Yes, there it is, he thought, it’s working. The first mental thought that arrived in his consciousness was one of warmth. This was good, Gavin thought, it’s a start. As the tabby cat snuggled against his side, he instinctively reached to scratch behind her ears.

Remaining hyper-focused now on the wave of thoughts rolling in like the tide, several more apparitions washed up on the sandy shores of Gavin’s mental senses – an intoxicating scent of herbs, a sense of companionship beyond friendship, and …

Just as he was about to discover the next cognitive revelation, Alessa emerged from the kitchen with two bowls of pasta and set them on the table. “Just let me open the wine and we’ll be all set,” she smiled. As Gavin made his way to the table, he felt encouraged by the divinations presented to him thus far. Filling each glass halfway with the Chianti, Alessa was about to sit down when she remembered something, “Oh, I almost forgot. Hold on a second.”

Disappearing into the kitchen again, he heard the refrigerator door open and close. When she reappeared in the dining room, she was carrying a bowl filled with milk. “Here Francesca,” she cooed. As she set the bowl down on the floor beside the table, the tabby meowed with delight at the offering. “I hope you don’t mind,” said Alessa apologetically, “I didn’t have the nerve to tell you that the milk I needed the other day was for my cat. She becomes quite temperamental if she doesn’t get her daily rations.”

bowl-of-milkIt was in this very moment that Gavin was thankful he drank that entire glass of orange juice earlier in his apartment. He couldn’t face the embarrassment of a cat reading his thoughts right now, regardless of whether she had the ability to respond or not. The conclusions were running rampant through Gavin’s brain now – the feeling of warmth: Francesca snuggling against him on the couch, the intoxicating scent of herbs: Francesca’s fascination with catnip while getting scratched in just the right location behind her ears, that feeling of companionship: well, the feline species had always taken a liking to Gavin for whatever reason.

The reality of these revelations was akin to smelling salts being wafted beneath Gavin’s nose. With his newly aroused conscience, Gavin felt deceitful and duplicitous. This feeling would only be exacerbated as the meal neared its completion.

Battling the feelings of shame that washed over him, Gavin managed to carry on a civil conversation with Alessa. Perhaps the wine helped his cause in this regard. Alessa, however, could sense his distant and faraway demeanor. In a desperate attempt to salvage her own plan, she tilted back her head to finish the glass of wine. Setting it back down on the table, she summoned the necessary courage through her vocal chords, “Hey, would you like to go see a movie this weekend?” She kept her eyes on the empty glass in front of her to avert an answer that she didn’t want to hear.

Gavin didn’t respond. He couldn’t respond. All the energy, all the effort that he had invested in uncovering any potential feelings Alessa felt for him was instead discovered through a bowl of pasta, a glass of wine, and honest communication. Honesty, thought Gavin. Now that was something that was certainly lacking in his life as of late. Taking longer than was psychologically acceptable for Alessa, he finally managed to recover and pull himself together. “Sure, I would love to, go to a movie that is” he offered with a genuine smile.

Later that evening, after Gavin took what seemed like a walk across the Sahara, he crossed the hall of the apartment complex and arrived at his own door. He headed straight for the spice rack, retrieved the now empty vial, and deposited it directly into the trash. He couldn’t even manage the sight of a now harmless container. The glass vial was a reminder of the guilt and disgrace that occupied every corner of his being.

tangled-web-quoteHe should have felt elation, instead he felt distress. The woman that he had such intense feelings for was actually interested in him. And he went behind her back in a surreptitious manner to deceive her. Gavin already felt as though he had cheated on Alessa and they hadn’t yet gone on their first date together. How was he going to tell her? Was he going to tell her? Once again, he arrived at a moment in his life where he knew what he needed to do. This was a peculiar temptation, to tell or not to tell, that would need to be broached some other day, somewhere in the future. Gavin needed time to think and he reassured himself that he had plenty of it.

Temptation

magic-potionI can’t do without it. Those were the words echoing through Gavin’s mind. Whether those mental words referred to the potion itself or the opportunities it presented was uncertain. Nonetheless, the sealed vial accompanied Gavin to his apartment that afternoon after the startling results of his latest experiment revealed an unanticipated discovery. The manner in which he was able to understand and read the thoughts of his test subject captivated his consciousness. From a scientific perspective, it was fascinating. From a psychological perspective it was enticing, tempting, and potentially very dangerous.

Like a strong painkiller, the effects were not addictive until you began to consume it steadily, the increasing doses building your dependency on its effects. To that end, Gavin rationalized the decision to save this mixture. He would simply place it on the spice shelf in his kitchen, right next to the oregano, thyme, and basil. It was harmless so long as it remained there untouched and unused, available to him in his back pocket if needed.

Although it did remain behind a closed cabinet door, physically invisible, Gavin continued to see it in his mind. Consumed by its power, it was as if the addiction had already taken hold despite its absence from his physical system. It had already permeated Gavin’s mental intellect which was perhaps more perilous than its physical effects. It had begun to affect the quality of his daily life, both personally and professionally. His research practices had become sloppy. His personal life had become distracted. Nothing he did could be taken at face value. It had to be analyzed as it really was as well as how it could be given the use of his mind-reading concoction.

It was on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday evening that the fulcrum shifted, tipping Gavin’s psychological scales toward physical action. It began with a knock on Gavin’s apartment door. Looking through the peephole, the fisheye lens depiction of the person on the other side was familiar. It was Alessandra, the attractive brunette from next door. Unlocking the deadbolt, Gavin turned the knob and greeted his smiling neighbor. “Hi Alessa, what’s up?”

The smile on her face was an imploring one. With the incessant ruminations running through his consciousness lately, Gavin couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking, and he knew exactly how to find out. Alessa had both hands behind her back. While being greeted, she pulled them from behind her to reveal a plastic cup in her grasp. “I didn’t make it to the grocery store today, and I really need some milk. Do you happen to have a cup I can borrow,” pleaded Alessa.

Captivated by her beauty and charm, Alessa could have asked for the keys to his car and Gavin would have obliged. “Sure, he said, come on in, I’ll get you some from the kitchen.” Alessa stepped through the doorway and waited politely just inside the apartment entrance. As Gavin strolled into the kitchen with the plastic cup, he continued a conversation with her across the span of the two rooms, “So, what have you been up to lately?” From across the space, Alessa replied, “Not much, just a lot of extra hours at work getting ready for our new release.” She was a fashion designer working on one of the most anticipated and highly sought after clothing lines of the fall season. It had demanded a tremendous amount of her time over the past several weeks.

As Gavin pulled open the refrigerator door and retrieved the half gallon of milk, he echoed back across to Alessa, “Is 2% okay?”

“Sure,” she replied, “that would be perfect.” As he began to fill the plastic cup to the halfway point, his eyes instinctively rose to the cabinet at eye level. Behind those doors lay the forbidden fruit, one bite and he may not be able to turn back. The temptation was too much for Gavin to resist. The mental addiction had commandeered his physical being as he opened the cabinet door, grabbed the vial, unplugged it, and deposited half the contents into the cup of milk. Looking over his shoulder to insure he was not being watched, he swirled the cup so as to dissolve the mixture into its carrier. There was no physical evidence that the cup of milk was anything but a cup of milk.

Carrying the elixir, innocently concealed, he handed it back to Alessa with a smile. “Here you go. If you need any more, just let me know.”

“Thanks Gavin, I appreciate it. It’s been such a crazy day. I really didn’t want to have to head back out this evening,” replied Alessa with a gracious smile. “No problem,” offered Gavin as he opened the front door of his apartment once again, “Have a good evening,” he said. “You too,” smiled Alessa.

epinephrineAs he shut the door, Gavin felt as though he had just ingested a high dose of amphetamines. His heartbeat was racing. He was dizzy with some unfamiliar feeling. Was it adrenaline? Was it guilt? Was it anticipation? Whatever it was, it left him wanting more. Gavin had transmuted his mental addiction into the physical world. There was no turning back now.

Author’s Note: This post is the sequel to a story previously posted. To read the original installment, please take a look at Discovery. The conclusion of this story will be posted next week. Thanks for reading!

Discovery

36919406G-6RMsGavin stared at the blue flame stretching from the base of the Bunsen burner. The contents of the test tube above it began to bubble in protest. Leaving its solid state, his latest concoction was reluctantly transforming into its liquid state. Gavin remembered conducting simpler experiments as a young boy in his makeshift home laboratory. Chemicals were lined up along his shelf in alphabetical order awaiting the opportunity to react in a magical and mysterious way with its perfect complement.

Gavin’s love of chemistry had remained a mainstay in his life. He still wore a lab coat and safety goggles. They just happened to be a few sizes bigger than the ones he wore in his younger days. For the past three semesters, Gavin had been working with his graduate school professor on exploratory research into the workings of the human brain. The recurring nightmares that haunted his sleeping hours nudged Gavin to specialize his studies in the area of neuroscience.

The laboratory where he worked felt more like home than his shoebox apartment just off campus. He could walk from his desk to the lab table, from the supply cabinet to the sink with his eyes closed. The neural pathways in his brain had committed the necessary navigation steps to memory. The only physical steps which always seemed to fire negative cerebral indicators, without fail, were when he approached the live supply container.

The sacrificial mice continued to be a moral dilemma for Gavin. It was difficult for him to resolve the internal conflicts as he subjected these living creatures to the experiments formulated in his mind. The effects of his experiments were unknown, whether they be positive or negative. The fact that these whiskered mammals with a tail carried a terminal illness within made it slightly easier for him to proceed with his research. But still, it disheartened Gavin to potentially cut any life short in the name of scientific advancement.

Flipping the switch on the brainwave monitoring equipment, Gavin slid on his protective gloves and retrieved his latest subject from the metal cage. Placing the gray mouse in the controlled environment, he turned back to the now boiling mixture in his test tube. Removing it from the heat, he allowed it to cool to room temperature before placing the necessary amount into the syringe. There was a precise timing to the steps of each and every experiment.

This was always the most difficult part for Gavin. Up until this point in the experiment, everything was hypothetical and theoretical. No effects would materialize until the next step was taken when he injected the latest speculative drug into his subject. His hesitancy in following through on this process with conviction would produce a marked shift in the proceedings of Gavin’s day.

mouse-in-cageAs he reached into the cage, this particular mouse seemed to sense the ensuing consequences of the situation. Maybe it was the smaller dose of the same mixture he had received earlier. As if running from danger, the tiny body scurried around the cage to avoid the needle that was searching for its hindquarters. In a moment of weakness and carelessness, Gavin lunged towards the mouse to expedite the completion of this always unpleasant task. Grabbing the mouse with his left hand, he quickly moved to inject the mixture in the syringe with his right hand. With another furious lunge uncharacteristic of such a tiny animal, the needle missed its intended target. As the needle pierced the latex glove on his left hand, the small red discoloration that appeared thrust Gavin into panic mode.

As well as Gavin knew the surroundings of his own lab, the unexpected always confounded his logical and intuitive mind. Looking left and right with urgency, he located the wash basin. Moving with expediency, he removed his glove and began to flush the pin prick hole between his left thumb and index finger. Leaving it under the flow of water for thirty seconds, it looked as if he was rinsing his hands after washing them. There was no evidence that the outer shell of his skin had been compromised. He would find that evidence later.

Returning to the open cage in order to continue with his intended experiment, Gavin was surprised to find the tiny mouse cowering in the corner. Given the opportunity to escape the confines of this controlled environment, the mouse remained still in the cage, eyes locked on Gavin in fear, as if he understood exactly what would happen next.

As he reached for the syringe once more, the majority of its contents still preserved in the vial, Gavin felt a wave a nausea wash over him. He had never had a strong stomach, but this was a different type of feeling. The brief episode of dizziness required him to place both hands on the table to steady his feet beneath him. As the feeling subsided, Gavin gave a gentle shake to his head and refocused on the task at hand. Looking back to his subject in the corner of the cage, he heard a voice. It was not an audible voice, but more like the mental form of a voice, a thought.

It was a thought characterized by fear. As he caught a glimpse of the monitoring equipment wirelessly connected to his subject, Gavin realized that the brain activity of the animal staring back at him was wildly active. As he pulled back, increasing the distance between he and the mouse, those mental thoughts filled with fear diminished. The display on the monitoring equipment showed a corresponding decrease in activity. Back and forth, Gavin experimented with the distance between him and the mouse, syringe in hand, periodically marking the correlated findings in his notebook. Staring at the helpless mouse along with the results of his experiment helped Gavin realize that he would never be able to tell anyone what he’d just discovered.

mind-readerThe combination of elements reacting in that test tube had created an incomprehensible link between the psyches of its carriers. Gavin was able to sense the feelings and emotions of the mouse looking back at him, and the furry rodent could sense the same in Gavin. They could read each other’s minds. Controlling the ratio of this substance injected into each individual, Gavin deduced, provided one of the subjects with a certain degree of control over the other’s thoughts.

As ethical as Gavin’s persona had been up to this point in his life, he could not help but imagine the possibilities. The city water supply was a perfect carrier for this pharmaceutical wonder. Everyone would be exposed. It was easy to control the amounts in each subject. No one would know.

Were the smiles of the attractive brunette in the apartment across the hall just friendly, or maybe something more? Could this be used in secrecy by the police force to avert criminal activity before it was committed? Were the latest actions of the city mayor carried out with the most worthy of intentions? As he stared at the innocuous liquid in the test tube, he realized that the power was in his hands, quite literally.

Gavin was accustomed to resolving the scientific dilemmas that he encountered on a daily basis. It was well scripted process of hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion. The moral dilemma facing him in this very moment was more difficult to address. The human mind is capable of rationalization that is anything but rational.

Gavin remembered a situation from his childhood days. Walking into the corner drug store owned by his uncle, he pulled the ice cream sandwich from the freezer in the back of the store and headed towards the front counter to pay. On the way up the aisle, his eyes caught a glimpse of the baseball cards wrapped in clear plastic. The player’s card just visible through the exterior was one of the five remaining needed to complete his collection. As he slipped the thin pack into his right pocket, he justified his actions. It was under one dollar. It was his uncle’s store. It wasn’t really stealing if the store was owned by his family. As he departed the store, the seventy five cents Gavin had placed on the counter only covered the cost of the ice cream he was now eating. In his heart, he knew that his choices were misaligned. And yet, they had been justified.

sink-with-running-waterAs he continued to stare at the contents of the test tube in his left hand, he knew what he should do. As he walked towards the basin and turned the faucet on, the stream of water from the spigot invited him to do the right thing. Time to think is a good thing, sometimes. The longer Gavin stood over that sink, however, allowed him time to justify his final decision. As he poured the contents of the test tube into a sealed vial, he slipped it into his right pocket, just in case.