“Next,” barked Verna scaring a couple sitting quietly in two folding chairs. She seemed nervous where as he looked everywhere but at her. The woman scurried to her feet and move quickly to Verna. The man took his time as if everyone should wait on him.
Verna mumbled in annoyance, “Move it or lose it.”
He picked up his pace when the round woman spun quickly and waddled down the hall with the shy woman at her heels.
Verna knocked twice and opened the door, “I got your next couple, Horacio.”
Horacio stood and straightened his jacket and tie as a woman, younger than her face showed, paused at the threshold.
“Come in, please,” purred Horacio, “Have a seat,” he said with a wave toward the chairs across from his simple desk. She lurched forward and stumbled to regain her balance. That was when Horacio realized that she had been shoved by the man that had stepped into view. Horacio watched him as he strolled across the room and sat without hesitation. Horacio reached out to the woman and took her bony hand in his, “Horacio Rucker and you are?”
“Michelle…Michelle Potter, Mr. Rucker,” she whispered with her head hung low and her eyes cast so far down she could see behind her.
“It’s a pleas…”
“I’m Jeremy Potter. How do we do this?”
Horacio raised himself to his full height and stiffened. His eyes became cold as they fell on Jeremy Potter. “Well, Mr. Potter, first we introduce ourselves properly and then you tell me why you have asked to see me.”
Jeremy leaned back in his chair and crossed his ankle over one knee, “You know my name. I know yours. We are here because my boy is sick.”
“Your boy? So, not both of yours?” asked Horacio as he guided Michelle to the chair next to the asshole.
Michelle shook her head, “Um…no, sir. He is our son. His name is Michael and he has Cystic Fibrosis. He’s…”
“Doctors said his lungs are shot and that he won’t last much longer,” finished Jeremy.
“I see. So, he isn’t a candidate for a lung transplant?”
Michelle attempted to answer, but Jeremy shot her a look, “They said his tissue type is rare and we probably won’t find a donor in time.”
Horacio settled back against the edge of his desk and watched the couple that sat before him. Michelle was kind and loving. He knew her heart when he held her hand. Jeremy was a stain on humanity. He didn’t need to touch him to feel the stench of greed and want in the air around him.
“Mrs. Potter, tell me about your boy.”
She lit up like a brand new candle, “He is such…”
“He’s weak. He can’t…”
Horacio turned to Jeremy with a glare, “Are you Mrs. Potter? Did I ask you to tell me about Michael? No, I did not,” he stated clearly before her turned his attention back to Michelle, “Please, continue.”
Horacio listened as she praised her sons desire to live, his creative and caring soul, and a mind wise beyond his years. His father described him as weak because he couldn’t keep up physically, but he didn’t see that his son excelled in every other way. He didn’t see his son at all. Michelle saw him. She heard him. She adored him.
She raised her sad eyes to Horacio, “I love him so much, Mr. Rucker. I would do anything to save him.”
“I see you do,” he said as he rounded his desk and took a seat. He gave Michelle a smile, cleared his throat and placed his hands on the desk in front of him, “Let me explain how this works. I have the ability to not only offer your son time, but I can also provide the vitality needed to have a full and productive life.”
“What’s that gonna cost me?” sneered Jeremy.
“As I was saying, cost depends on many factors, Mr. Potter, severity of illness, likelihood of natural recovery, time and vitality. If you want time it’s one price. If you want both then it will be more.”
Jeremy huffed, “I’m sure we won’t be able to afford that.”
“There is another way to keep the cost down.” Jeremy raised an eyebrow at Horacio awaiting a further explanation. “You could give your son some of your own time and vitality. I could take it from you and give it to Michael.”
Jeremy seemed to ponder his options while Michelle’s face lit up with hope.
“Well, then how much time are you willing to give Michael?”
“What do you mean…,” Jeremy started.
“Everything I have. You can give him everything I have left, time and vitality, all of it,” blurted Michelle, Michael’s mother, as she clasped her hands in prayer as she perched herself on the edge of her seat and leaned closer to the desk Horacio sat behind, “Everything.”
Horacio stood and rounded the workspace to her. He looked down at her supplication and smiled. His eyes then slid over to the boy’s father, “And you? What will you give?”
Jeremy looked at his wife then up at Horacio, “Well…if she is going to give up all her time then…well I mean…someone has to take care of Michael. So, I…I would need to be here for him,” he swallowed then jerked his eyes to his shocked wife before dropping them like lead balloons to the floor.
“So, because your lovely wife is more than willing to give up her life, you don’t think you have to sacrifice for your son. Hmmm,” Horacio contemplated a moment as he looked down at the seated couple. Michelle’s face was still raised to him pleading with each tear that fell into the dust on the floor all while Jeremy’s head hung in shame. As it should. Horacio stepped closer then slide his hand along Michelle’s damp cheek wiping away a tear that ran from her red rimmed eyes. “You are a pure woman who loves fully. You are the one who cares for your son and takes care of all his needs, yes?” he asked and was answered with a quick nod of her head. “You take care of your husband as well, but who takes care of you, my dear girl?” He then turned to Jeremy and grabbed a handful of his thick hair tipping his head up to meet Horacio’s judging eyes. “You, you are a piece of shit. You would sacrifice her life, but not for your son. You would allow me to take her life so that I don’t take yours. But…I won’t do that.”
Michelle reached out and took Horacio’ hand, “Please, sir. Save my boy. I willingly give him…”
“I know, sweet mother,” he smiled, “that is why I will give him what he needs, plenty of time to grow up and vitality to live a good long life, but I won’t be collecting those years from you.” He looked down at the father and sneered. “I will give him your time. Every selfish, self-center minute will go to your son. I will leave you one week. One week to get your shit in order. One week to make her life easier and your son’s better and to ensure it isn’t any more difficult, I will not charge her to save your son,” he stated as he quickly cupped Jeremy’s head in both hands digging the tips of his fingers into the back of his scalp. “One week,” he hissed as he leaned into the man’s fear stricken face. Horacio laid his lips over Jeremy’s then sucked the vitality, youth, years, and future from him body. Moments later Horacio stood tall before the weeping man and whispered down at him, “Do you know how I know with certainty that you deserve to die?” Jeremy looked up at Horacio in tear streaked silence. “She didn’t fight for you. Your wife, the mother of your dying boy, sat still while I drained you of everything you would have had.”
Michelle gasped at his words then covered her trembling lips with her equally trembling fingers. Her eyes darted between the men. One who helped her create life and the man who would allow it to continue, “Oh good Lord, I didn’t…I should…”
“None of that, we need to go to Michael.” Horacio reached down and took her hand in his and tugged her to her feet. “Come, one of my men will look after your husband while we take care of your son.” Horacio scanned the room quickly and jerked his head at one of the attendants to indicate that he watch the sobbing man. “Don’t let him leave,” he instructed as he guided Michelle away from her husband.
They were heading to the hospital. The very place Destiny worked when she wasn’t caring for Mr. Jones. He would see her. He would make a point to see her.
“Come, we will go to the hospital now and give Michael the relief he needs.” Horacio ushered Michelle from the room and into the back seat of his car. Adam took the driver’s seat as Horacio slid in next to him.