Side Affects, Chapter Four

That evening I got a surprise. Matt came by the hospital, after work, to see how I was doing and keep me posted on the latest developments with the company. We talked for a couple of hours about things. He asked if we could take the Monster, my old Peterbilt tractor and finally restore the truck that started the company.

“We’ll have to hire an industrial cleaning crew to clean the interior of that thing, you know.”

“Baloney. I could do it in much less than hour, if I could get out of here.”

Renee spoke up. “I’ve made a career out of cleaning up your messes. Anna and I can get it done in the morning. We might need a front-end loader to take care of everything, but it can be done.”

Hey, it’s not that bad!” I knew they were just picking on me. It was normal when the three of us got together. I knew the Monster was not really messy inside. I had quite a bit of stuff that I often carried with me, but it was all stashed neatly away. I set it up so that in an emergency, I could get my stuff out of the truck in no time. Renee helped me organize it all, so I knew she could handle unloading the stuff.

We decided to set up a computer here at the hospital so that I could help Matt out. There was a lot I could do, even from here, and I wanted to get going; I was seriously bored! Living with three women was great, except when they were at work, and I was here by myself. I wasn’t even allowed to go outside. Maybe getting some work done would keep my mind busy.

Matt talked to Min so that she could arrange things. She was all for it. She had been worried about the extended confinement, and the accompanying boredom. She pushed the request thru on therapeutic grounds. I was anxious for things to start. I had my laptop with me, but it was nothing compared to my desktop.

I was surprised when they showed up Tuesday afternoon with some of our drivers to help move things in, but the real shock was that they brought up a queen sized bed! I never thought Min could arrange that! I had to admit, it would make things much more comfortable.

“I see that you are getting settled in,” David said, smiling. “Min really went to bat for you on this one. She convinced the administration that the bigger bed was a necessary part of your ‘therapeutic needs’ and I agreed. The standard hospital bed is far too small for what you have to do.”

Using my most dramatic voice, I made my pitch for sympathy. “Alas, forced to love three beautiful women-nothing but a stud-it’s so…I don’t know…Wonderful?”

David laughed.”You are just hopeless.”

Anna and Min came over and took my hands to lead me off for a card game they wanted to play.

“help. Oh help, I say. Save me…”I said, but David just waved it off.

“Hey David,” I said. “Hey! Huh. Some friend you are…”

Oh well. Nobody gets my humor. Humph!

We played a few different card games, and then Anna brought up the farmhouse. She and Renee had gone to check it out. The house had been well maintained, but there were several acres of tillable land that were currently supporting a large weed population. There were three usable outbuildings, a large barn and what had been a chicken house and a tool shed. There was also a large pole barn which needed some work to be useful again, along with several other buildings which were more questionable. The house was built on a hill that sloped down a considerable yard to the road. There was a large porch that wrapped around to the sides of the house.

The house itself was very large. It had two stories and a full basement. The basement had been finished back in the Sixties, and it showed it. It would need a full remodel, and I had some ideas. There were a total of seven bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. Six of the bedrooms and two baths were upstairs, and the large master suite had its own full bathroom downstairs. There was a ½ bath (which did not have a tub or a shower), that connected the huge dining room with the study.

I looked forward to the Living room, with its massive stone fireplace, made of stones that were gathered when the house was built. There was a smaller walk through fireplace in the study/sunroom, and I anticipated filling the shelves there with books. The Master Suite also had a fireplace, a bit smaller than the one in the study, and there was one more in the basement.

I was trying to get used to the idea that I was going to be restricted to this house. I had always been an explorer of sorts, traveling from place to place, either for my job or on my own time. Now, in an effort to protect others, I was going to be stuck on this farm, away from people. Many people will say that having three beautiful women and a nice home should be adequate compensation, but I felt like I was giving up my soul. I tried not to think about it too much.

By selling our homes, we hoped to raise enough money to completely restore and refurnish the house. I knew that I would also have to give up my cars, since it would not be safe for me to drive on public roads. We discussed selling the Monster, but Matt and I both refused. We had decided it would be rebuilt into a show truck, to be used in promotions and recruiting drives.

Partners would remain a major part of my life, though. One room of the house would be set up as an office for me. I might not be able to drive, but there were many tasks which I could do, and I was already working on understanding everything. Matt had decided we should swap roles as much as possible. He was going to handle customer relations and outside sales, while I handled the office tasks that did not require direct interaction.

One problem we faced was our legal status. Technically, only Renee and I were legally married. I hadn’t realized that we had an issue until after Anna’s divorce had become final. We had begun a tradition of evening “business” meetings, where we sat around and hashed out whatever we thought was important-updates on the house, medical and personal issues, et cetera. Few “outsiders” were invited to these meetings, Matt and David being the exceptions.

One night, Anna decided to address the group on an issue which was important to her.

“Maybe it’s due to the divorce, but I suddenly feel alone again.” She put her hand up against our declarations. “Yes, I know how much you love me, but still, a part of me is hungry for that special something that includes taking the name of my beloved. Because of this, I have decided to ask permission to change my name to Anna Heister, legally.”

“No.” Renee said, and I saw Anna go pale with heartbreak at her rejection, but Renee wasn’t finished.

“Don’t you think that ‘Anna Heister Legally’ sounds kind of weird? Wouldn’t a plain ‘Anna Heister’ be okay?”

Anna was surprised at first, but as it hit her, they both began to laugh, cry, and hug each other more.

“I hate you!” Anna laughed, and Min was quick to stand and join them.

“I love it! What a wonderful idea!” She said.

“Well, I think there is something I’d like to add,” I said. As soon as they settled down, I began. “I have been thinking about what a marriage really is. It’s a partnership, with rights and responsibilities that are legally recognized. While it may not be legal for the four of us to marry, we can form a legal partnership to provide us with many of the same benefits and protections that a marriage would give. We can have a formal ceremony to celebrate our ‘partnership’, and even exchange tokens of fidelity…say, perhaps, rings?”

The reception was explosive, and I found myself attacked by three very happy women. We couldn’t get married, but we could have a wedding.

David arrived just as things began to settle down. We filled him in on our plans, and he looked at me with new respect.

“That is a very good idea,” He said. “It may be necessary, soon.”

“What’s going on?” I asked. Something in the way he had said it gave me the chills, like an evil premonition.

“Our friend, Detective Woo, believes that ‘Fred’ is actually a code name for some kind of new, hi-tech drug. He is part of a group that has convinced the D.A. that Jenny’s death was the accidental result of your experimentation into this new form of drug. This group, which includes Charles Davis, the Father of Jenny Davis, is pushing for a Grand Jury investigation into you, and your so-called “medical condition”. Rob, I think you need to get a lawyer.”

“We do have a lawyer for Partners, but I’m not sure he is up to something like this.”

Min walked up and took my arm. “Thank you, David. You are a good friend, and it is much appreciated. Rob, I have someone I am going to call, and I want to arrange a meeting tomorrow, so please try to be presentable.”

“You know someone who is pretty good, do you?”

“Oh, no, my love. I know someone who is very, very bad news.”

The next day I was introduced to an older gentleman, who smiled and asked me if I had a drug problem.

“Well, not that I knew of until yesterday, sir. My name is Rob Heister, sir.”

“I am Thomas Dartman, and my friend Min has asked me to see you. Is she here?”

“I am behind you, old friend.”

Thomas turned and Min gave him a hug. He pulled away and looked closely.

“This is more than you told me, my dear. How is it that you are once again the young beauty that introduced me to my Diana?”

“A side effect of a drug that is not,” She said. “It is also the reason I asked you here, though I knew that my appearance would hurt you.”

“Hurt me? My dear, it has brought back roses to the ice. However this has happened, I hope that you are happy?”

Min grabbed my arm. “I am, Thomas, but there are those who would destroy that happiness. I need to explain everything to you, and it would probably be best if we met with my associate, Doctor Stevens. Currently, he is supervising the research into our condition.”

“Then he is just the man we need to talk to.” We went to David’s office, where we found David waiting for us. He rose and shook Thomas’ hand.

“It’s a great pleasure to meet you, sir. Doctor Aldurson gave me some idea of the things you might need, and we’ve made some copies of our research for you.”

“Thank you very much, Doctor-“

“David Stevens, sir. If you should have any questions, I will do my best to get the answers for you.”

Who is this guy? David seemed to almost trip over himself, trying to offer assistance.

They spent the next hour going over the current knowledge and theories about Fred, where it came from and what it wasn’t. Thomas asked me several questions, some of which I had answers for, and others I thought he should have asked the Docs about, because I had no idea. By the time we were done, I felt it very likely that Thomas now knew more about Fred than I did.

“Robin, you present an interesting case, and yes, I should be glad to represent you, should the Grand Jury decide that there is a case. From what you have told me, though, I think you should be aware that your friend Jeremy probably set you up, although that may not have been his intention.” He turned to David and Min. “I believe that he was creating a drug, and that it reacted to the medications Rob was taking. What his actual intentions were, I cannot say.”

David appeared to be shocked, and as I watched, he said “Of course…”

Thomas took Min’s hand and kissed it, and then he continued. “Thank you for making this an interesting retirement. I look forward to seeing you later, perhaps to go over old times. I have to leave, but I will see you soon. I will attempt to speak with the District Attorney, Robin, but it is entirely likely that you and the ladies may have to have more blood tests.”

“That’s okay, Thomas, we do that all the time anyway.” I couldn’t wait for him to leave. It was very obvious that he was more than competent, but he seemed like more than just a good lawyer.

As soon as he was gone, I turned to David and Min. “All right, you two, what’s up with Thomas? There’s something you aren’t telling me.”

“Only because I thought you knew, Robin.” David said. “You didn’t recognize the name?”

“OK, I’ll admit it, I have no idea!” I said. “Who is he?”

Min smiled. “Former State Supreme Court Head Justice? The man who famously turned down a Presidential Appointment to the United States Supreme Court so that he could take care of his terminally ill spouse? Sadly, he is also the man who recently announced to the press that he is dealing with pancreatic cancer. Oh, and he’s my ex-fiancé. “

Oh, Man.

*****

Over the next month, things changed fast. Well, everything except our legal issues. I had to go to the Grand Jury to plead my innocence, which was a serious chore, but they decided that there was probable cause to charge me with the crime of manslaughter. Thomas said that I shouldn’t worry; this was only the first step.

The D.A. didn’t seem to be searching for answers, but seemed more concerned that it was an election year, and it seemed I was to be a major issue. Great, just the opposite of what we needed.

Our “wedding” ceremony was held at the farmhouse, although it wasn’t ready to be lived in. We had a simple ceremony, performed by Thomas. I wore a suit, and each of the girls had chosen their own version of a wedding dress. I passed out the rings we had designed, and we all toasted our new partnership. It rained soon after the ceremony, but I was able to walk around a little to see what the property looked like. Anna promised to give me a better tour when I moved out to the house.

A month later, the construction crew cleared us to move in. We had kept the best of our furniture and bought quite a few new pieces, and Renee decided to stay at the house to get things prepared. She quit her job, over the protestations of her District Manager, so she could work on the house full time. She was still there part-time, helping to run the store and train a replacement, but her hours were very limited.

We hoped to be in the house completely by early August, partly because I did not want to spend an entire summer in the Hospital. I waited, impatiently, for my bed to arrive. Once it had, it was agreed that I would move in to help Renee make the house livable. Anna and Min would stay at Min’s apartment near the hospital, which had a lease that didn’t expire until the end of September, so it worked out well.

There were more discoveries made in that month regarding Fred, and David was named to an official administrative position at the Hospital. It was quite a surprise, and although it pleased him enormously, his workload seemed to increase exponentially. Min also received official recognition, but she refused a promotion. After seeing what had happened to David, I saw that she had been wise.

The bed finally arrived, and arrangements were made for me to move to the house. We had sold the Firebird (Damn it!), so I went with Anna in her little pickup truck. I would have preferred to drive myself, but the Jeep was in the shop after our camping trip, when I kind of cracked the fiberglass body. The ride to the farmhouse was comfortable, and I had Anna with me. As we drove, I enjoyed looking at the beautiful woman beside me. Renee and Min met us at the farmhouse. It was beautiful, even in the early morning.

The lights were all on, and we took a tour through the house. Renee promised to have a surprise in the morning, and Anna said she would give me a tour around the farm when we woke up. We went into the study, and Renee showed me my new job for the next few days. There were crates of books to open and place on the shelves. Some were mine, some came from Anna’s house, Min contributed several boxes worth, and then they revealed that there were several that the girls had purchased at donation stores and used book dealers. I could see that I had quite a bit of work ahead of me. We had a quick snack, and headed off to bed.

Min slept with me (and no, I don’t know how this was decided-I just didn’t complain!) and the other gals took rooms upstairs. I discovered later that each of the girls had their own room, and that they had created a schedule between them to arrange time with me.

I slept wonderfully. Of course, Min and I first had to “break in” the huge California King sized bed, and that workout would help anyone sleep! I woke to the smell of eggs and bacon. Min told me to stay in bed for a few minutes, and she got up to open the curtains.

It was spectacular! Almost the whole wall was triple pane windows, and some of them opened to allow the breeze in. I was astounded, and couldn’t wait to see some of the other surprises the house held. Anna and Renee came in, and after a short group make out session, we got up and had a great breakfast together. We made our plans for the day, and mine were a bit tenuous. Renee and Min had to run some quick errands, so Anna took me on a walking tour of the farm.

It felt great to be outside. Except for short breaks at the “wedding” ceremony and to see the Grand Jury, I had been in the hospital since the end of winter. The midsummer morning sun felt good on my face. We explored the different buildings around the farm, especially the barn, which gave me an interesting idea. I spent a little time in there, letting the idea grow, then we went to explore more. There were several outbuildings, but only two besides the barn were usable. Some of them I resolved to rip down, and a couple I thought could be repaired fairly easily, including a large garage. As Anna showed me the fields, I could see that there was a large wooded area behind them (to the south). Anna said that most of it was unusable, and that it was quite a large area.

As we headed back to the house, I heard a familiar sound. Renee drove my Jeep into the driveway and up to us. It was a beautiful lime green color with white, yellow and orange flames. She had kept it a secret, because she wanted me to see it in the daylight.

“Isn’t it gorgeous?” Renee said, as she climbed out of the driver’s seat. “I knew that after a tour around the area, you would enjoy playing with this in those woods. If you look in the back, you’ll find your surprise-a new chainsaw! We’ll need a lot of wood for those fireplaces, and you really don’t have all that much time!”

I couldn’t believe it. I had worried that I would have little to do, now, but I realized that I would be hard pressed to find enough time in the day to do everything. I began to feel much better about being here.

I drove the jeep around the property for a while, and then took it up to one of the outbuildings that I had chosen as my shop. I walked back to the house, and then helped to take in some more supplies. Min took her car back to town with Anna, because they both had to work that night. Before they left, I asked Min to arrange a meeting between her and David and I, here at the farm. She seemed confused, but agreed to arrange it .

After they left, Renee and I started our unpacking chores. I went to the study, a very large room with several bookshelves that opened into a larger sun porch with several comfortable chairs and a walkthrough fireplace that could be seen from both rooms. I had to start by pulling all the books out and arranging them so that I knew what we had, and what went together. I finally decided I had done enough damage for the day, and went to see if Renee needed any help. She had most of the kitchen done to her satisfaction, and was moving into the dining room. I helped her move boxes out of the way, and arranged some furniture. Soon I decided that I had done enough for the day, and I took her on a Jeep ride to explore the woods a little.

We didn’t do any real four wheeling, but I did see some areas that I wanted to explore much more thoroughly. The most enticing looked like a small island, surrounded by a very swampy pond. I had a feeling that I was going to spend a great deal of time here. Perhaps the pond could be improved, if we could make it deeper. I’m not an expert on any of this, so it was going to take some searching on the internet, and possibly some phone calls.

We had a nice dinner that night. It felt strange that it was just Renee and I at dinner. We had been married for many years, and had always had our dinners like this, but we both missed my extra wives. Perhaps it was the size of the house, or even just the size of the table, but it felt empty in the house.

Renee commented that she was really feeling comfortable with her work in the house. It made her feel like she belonged here, or more appropriately, like the house was becoming a member of the family, and we were bringing it to life. We lit the fireplace in the Master suite that night, and the warmth of the flickering flames was very romantic. Renee confessed that when she had been here alone, she had worried that we could never be comfortable in this huge house, but that having me here had helped her to see that everything was okay.

I had sort of felt that way, also. I liked our old house, and I had worried that we wouldn’t have the same feel in this old farmhouse. I could see that my worries were unfounded. After one day, this house felt like our home, and I hadn’t even seen the upstairs yet!

To my readers

I have to apologize. I have a tendency to write very formally (too many college papers). I forgot to re-edit this chapter to correct that, so if this chapter seems a bit, well, stiff, that's what happened. Sorry!
Also, I need to thank Nick B. for all of his help getting this posted. I really need to learn more about using HTML.
Sorry, Nick! I am working on it!

Wren

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