Twelve short stories wit.., p.10
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       Twelve Short Stories With A Twist, p.10
 

           Mario V. Farina
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every word count. "He's due to receive death by lethal injection on January 23. He's guilty of the crime of which he was convicted. He admits to beating a man to death with his fists and awaits death serenely. But he wants his death to serve a useful purpose. He wants to leave his family ten millions dollars. If you begin to see where I'm going, do you have any problem with what I've said so far, Mr. Moore?"

  Robert quickly shook his head negatively. "No, no, of course not." He exclaimed. His heart had begun to pound wildly.

  "There are expenses, Mr. Moore. There are people who will certify that Benny died of a heart attack, others who will keep quiet about a special operation that will take place in the prison hospital. There is, of course, the cost of a suitable fee for…, well, for me." The doctor flushed a little. "The cost to you will be ten million for what Benny wants to leave his family and five million for me. A good deal of my fee will go for quiet expenses."

  "I understand what you're saying, Dr. Thorne," Robert blurted. "Let's say that cost is not important. But please, tell me what this is all about!" Robert Moore could not control the trembling in his voice.

  "I'm talking about a brain transplant!" Dr. Thorne had paused letting what he had just said sink in.

  "God! Do you mean that…" Robert didn't know quite how to finish the sentence.

  "A brain transplant," the doctor. repeated "I propose removing your brain from the diseased body, your body, in which it is entrapped and placing it into the head of a healthy man – the head of Benny Harris, to be specific. Benny agreed to all of this for the welfare of his family. There are no guarantees, Mr. Moore. None!"

  "I assume there is a reasonable chance for success?" Robert stammered.

  "Yes, most assuredly. We have done brain transplants on animals for several years. The operations have been uniformly successful. Amazingly, in mice and chimpanzees, the body does not attempt to reject the brain of another animal. I feel that a transplant on a human being, at this time, would be successful. This procedure is illegal, you understand, but for the sake of science, and for a suitable fee, I am willing to chance it. The final decision is yours."

  Robert knew that his ultimate answer would be yes. But several questions nagged his mind. "After the operation, who will I be?"

  Dr. Thorne smiled at the question. "You will still be Robert Alfonse Moore, the Wizard of Wall Street. You will continue to think like Robert Moore, act like Robert Moore, even write and speak like Robert Moore. You will, of course look like Benny Harris because every part of you will be Benny Harris except the part that makes you uniquely you – your brain. Yes, there will be a period of transition. You will have to go undercover for a while, grow a mustache and beard, have your barber shave off some hair at the front of your head to give you a higher forehead, spray gray color into your hair. You will need to gradually change your appearance until you are fully accepted in your new appearance. This is easier than it sounds, Mr. Moore. You will be surprised at how little people actually know about the faces and physiques of other people that they see every day."

  Robert wasn't convinced, but what did that matter? He was being offered a chance to rid himself of this grisly disease that had made itself an unwelcome guest in his mortal body, and he was being offered an opportunity to relive many years, benefiting from the experiences of many right and wrong decisions he had made over that period of time. He might even get married this time around. He was not going to be deterred by the possibility that some persons would question his sudden changed appearance. He could handle that.

  "Besides that, what's the worst thing that can happen to me?" Robert asked.

  "I can't answer that question," Dr. Thorne responded cautiously. "Needless to say, we are exploring new ground. You might die on the operating table; you might become a vegetable, in which case, we would not allow you to survive. You might find that you could not use your new brain. We just don't know. But based on what we've learned from laboratory experiments, I believe that you will be you accept that you will reside in a far more satisfactory physique than the one that you now inhabit."

  Robert Moore eagerly gave his ascent.

  Over the next several weeks, Robert's body was racked with pain as he took care of the several transactions that were needed to transfer funds from long-term investments to this one most important investment of his life. It seemed as if a demon within his frame was attempting to do away with him before he had the chance to undergo his unprecedented act of transformation. The demon lost.

  The operation was performed on December 6.

  Robert Moore awoke in the prison hospital. After a moment of questioning as to where he was and what was happening, he began gratefully accepting his new role in life.

  There was not a great deal of pain. He felt remarkably well, as if several sacks of gravel had suddenly been removed from his chest. There was a bandage around his head but this did not keep him from moving about examining every part of his body that was in sight and reach.

  Earlier, he had seen a picture of Benny Harris and had been informed about Benny's physical attributes, but now, for the first time, he could see what Benny was really like. There were freckles on his arms. This came as a surprise. There was hair on his chest, bristles on his chin. Somewhat self-consciously, he felt himself under the covers, and was not displeased with what he discovered. Robert felt that he had made an extraordinarily good decision in exchanging a prizefighter's body for his old dilapidated one. He congratulated himself profusely.

  Robert crawled out of bed and stumbled to the dresser. He stared at the ruggedly handsome face in the mirror. "Hi, Benny," he muttered. Then in a stronger voice, he cried out, "Hi, Robert Moore!" The voice sounded like his but was stronger and more vibrant.

  The door opened and Dr. Thorne walked in carrying a newspaper. "I see you're up," he said. "Everything went extraordinarily well, even if I do say so myself." He opened the paper and pointed to a story buried deep inside. The headline read, "Convicted Murderer Cheats Lethal Injection." The two men smiled at each other and shook hands.

  The next several weeks went pretty much as Dr. Thorne had predicted. Robert went under cover and began transacting all his business by phone. He passed the word to servants and close associates that he had just undergone a facelift and did not want to appear in public for several weeks. He began to grow a mustache and a beard. A steady stream of messengers started delivering food, newspapers, soap, and other personal necessities to his home and office.

  There were rumors that Robert had become a recluse and that he was emaciated and had grown long craggy fingernails. When he heard these reports on radio and television, he smiled. Soon, very soon, he thought to himself, he would begin making an occasional appearance to test whether people would accept his new look. He exalted in the thought of coming out and becoming accepted. He felt that he could then really begin to live.

  The day for Robert's first adventure into the outside world arrived. He had made arrangements to give a talk on how to invest at a local college. He got out of bed, dressed immaculately, sprayed some gray wig tint into his hair, mustache and beard. Satisfied, at last, that he had added just the right amount of age to his face, he began walking to the bathroom door.

  Strangely, what should have been a simple maneuver required an extra effort of his will. His left leg seem reluctant to move, it seemed to have a mind of its own. It wanted to remain motionless while the rest of his body focused on the door. Puzzled, and with a strong exercise of the will, Robert partially walked the recalcitrant leg, partially dragged it, to its planned destination. He immediately regained control and the incident was forgotten.

  Robert met the press before his lecture. A few reporters asked why he looked different. He confessed to a facelift and said that he had kept himself undercover for a long period of time because he wanted his new appearance to be a complete surprise to the outside world. Whatever suspicions others might have had were dispelled when he answered their questions with the kind of authority that o
nly Robert Alfonse Moore could have commanded. Photos were taken during his talk and published in the papers.

  Much to his distress, Roberts left leg proved to be unruly again the next day. He had ventured outdoors and, at the massive gate to his estate, had turned to walk right, but the obstinate leg had wanted to go left. He forced the leg to travel in the direction that he had intended. Greatly fatigued by this effort, he cut his outing short.

  It happened again later the same day. While Robert was relaxing in his leather recliner, his unruly leg began pulling on him as if it were a dog tugging at his pants. The leg wanted to travel! It took all the mental strength that he could muster to keep this defiant member from carrying him off to some unknown destination.

  Despite the lateness of the hour, Robert was compelled to call for assistance. Filled with foreboding, he dialed a number and heard Dr. Thorne's sleepy voice at the other end.

  "Doctor," he began. "My left leg. It seems to have a will of its own. I know this sounds unbelievable, but at times, it will not obey the commands of my mind. It wants to go somewhere on its own, and I don't know where that is."

  There was a long silence on the other end.

  Dr. Thorne's voice finally crackled across the line. "I can't explain it
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