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The Adventures of Calvin Michael Johnson



The Adventures of Calvin Michael Johnson





Wednesday, June 10, 2020


As I approached the middle of the intersection, I barely caught the blue flash to my left, vaguely identifiable, like a truck. It’s the last coherent image I can concretely remember. The impact on the driver’s side was explosive and wild. I’m violently thrown helplessly across the compartment. My ribs, shoulder, and leg were rendered useless by the collision as pain radiates down my left side. My head smashed into the steering wheel, and I passed out.


Blackness. Nothingness. Silence. I awoke briefly, but no one was here, I feel like I’m nowhere, surrounded by a thick blanket of fog. I didn’t feel pain or anything else, for that matter. I feel disconnected. With perfect clarity, I replay in my mind the entire accident. I see the dark blue 2019 F-250 4x4 speeding through the intersection, blazing through the red light. Colliding with my cherry red, mint condition, 1956 Ford T-Bird, obliterating the tiny car. I watched as the vehicle wrapped around and fuses with the metal light pole across the intersection. I watched in terror as a passerby stopped and tried to open the door to get my unresponsive body from the car. I’m enthralled by the emergency responders buzzing around, trying to extricate me, by cutting my precious car into smaller chunks. They finally have my body on a gurney where they furiously perform various emergency procedures, stopping bleeding, immobilizing extremities. Working tirelessly to bring this body to life.


I watch as put me into the back of an ambulance, and it sped away.

Thinking back, I should’ve towed the T-Bird, it was too expensive to drive. I knew that, but I couldn’t resist. It was on my bucket list of favorite cars; there were many others. If I had been driving my truck towing the T-Bird, I would be alive, but alas, I did not, and now I am not, alive that is. If I’m honest, it was a crappy end to a crappy day and a crappy life.


I’m more alert now, still, silence abounds, and no one else is here. I can tell I am not on a physical plane, as I don’t have a body. It’s ok, I suppose, after all the last few minutes before I got here, there was a lot of pain, loads of it to be exact. 

But now I can’t feel anything, including pain. There are no odors, no sensations of any kind.

Soon I begin to think back on the time of my existence. It’s like an 8K movie with a matching Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack. At first, it’s a neat and fun exercise watching me. I grow from an infant through the toddler years and early childhood, with quickness, just the highlights, the fun and happy memories of being a child. There were, of course, the obligatory misadventures, bumps, and bruises. The occasional trip to the ER for a broken arm, from falling out of a tree—the time I missed being hit by a car by mere inches. You know typical everyday kid stuff.

Junior high was the next series of events. Here things changed. I’d quit caring about excelling in the classroom, turning in mediocre classwork and studying only for the test, not for the pleasure of learning. I let my friends slip away by not being active in their day to day activities. At lunch, I would sit alone, at first, by choice. But this soon turned into a self-imposed exile, which continued into high school. I was on the football and baseball teams throughout junior high. I had natural talent, and I was gifted with an athlete’s body. I didn’t have to work at it to be good. So, I didn’t. I was the star of the school. I was cocky and self-centered, soon I had no real friends left. I became miserable and hated their guts. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I discovered beer and girls, not necessarily in that order. I didn’t have a steady girlfriend. I just wanted to have fun. Coach told me I couldn’t play if I kept acting up the way I did during practice. He also said I needed to lay off the booze. I only drank on the weekends. But he said he’d cut me if I was caught hungover again. So, I quit drinking until that summer.


High school rapidly approached. During the last week of eighth grade, along with many others on the team, I was given an invitation to try-out for freshman football. I figured I was a lock for starting quarterback on the varsity team. Yeah, I know I must start on the JV squad, but I won’t stay there. I’m too talented. I just know coach Wilson is going to move me to the starting team. I mean, he didn’t promise me, but he said I had potential.


Why should I give my best effort for those losers? Coach hadn’t let me play in the last three games. We only have two left for the season, and he hasn’t even let me practice with the varsity squad, forget playing with them. I didn’t need this crap. I’ll show him; I won’t even come out next season. See if they win any games without me. I spent an awful lot of time in detention. I still think I was a nerd, but nobody accused me of it.


My grades were in the toilet. Well, no, they were worse than that. I turned in enough overdue assignments, and with a couple of good test scores, I managed to keep from flunking out. I was barely scraping by with a 1.975 GPA. I had very generous teachers who rounded it off to a 2.0. Somehow, I blamed them for my poor performance. I can’t really watch too much more of this junk. I know I screwed up, and this was only the beginning. I hope they don’t keep playing all my past mistakes. The rest of high school is a blur. There were a few highlights, the time I won the knowledge bowl, and made regional and state finalists. On the debate team, I could always win an argument. I wanted to be a lawyer, among other ideas. Of course, I had one class I excelled at, auto shop. I instinctively knew all about cars. They spoke to me in a language all their own.

Oh, boy, here we go the lost years... I mean early adulthood. I’d rather forget... No, I have forgotten them. Years spent aimlessly moving from one job to next with no goal, no purpose, and no clue. Jobs I quit because I knew more than the boss. Positions I was terminated from for lack of performance or some other just cause. Jobs I begged for, only to piss them away and lose them because I didn’t take them seriously or put any effort into it.


Of course, it’s not just jobs I lost; relationships went down in flames as well. Women I dated had a noticeably short shelf life. If we got to three weeks, I ended it over some pretext or another. The longest time I was part of a couple was four months, and for 2 of those months, she was in the hospital with a severe illness. I wasn’t trying to be a douchebag. I just wanted to have fun. My mother and father were always telling me I was wasting my life, and I was going to end up alone if I kept treating women like I was. I figured I had time to settle down later. Later became much later, then never. In the last ten years of my life, I had a total of 7 dates. Three of those dates lead to a relationship. But they quickly fizzled out, and I was told in no uncertain terms not to contact them ever.

 Now I don’t want you to think I was a prick or an ass my entire life, or that I never accomplished anything because that would be untrue. I simply took too long to mature and realize other people counted for something more than a means to an end. I had to relearn this lesson as I had forgotten what my parents and society taught me in my youth.

Finally, the movie got to the present.

I restored cars, mostly American muscle, and classics. I made them better than new; I upgraded them to modern-day beasts. I added ABS, crate engines with DOHC (dual overhead cam) twin fuel injection, turbo, or superchargers. I updated the exhaust systems, added airbags, and improved safety equipment, such as tempered glass, advanced electronics, upgraded the stereo, with Bluetooth capability as standard equipment. I made them this way because my clients, while extraordinarily wealthy, were mostly not interested in “the classic car” experience. They didn’t like the harsh ride, or the lackluster performance and poor braking when compared to modern sports cars. Not me, I preferred them as they were. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the classic American car. Restoring old cars started as a hobby and grew into a business.


My clientele may have million-dollar pedigrees, but I was not getting rich off my company. Don’t mistake that for me being in the poorhouse, I did ok. I was just too self-conscious to take advantage of the situation. I have had many customers tell me they would have been willing to pay double what I charged them. But I thought better prices would bring repeat business, and it did, word of mouth was great. It is just one example of not taking advantage of opportunities that came my way.

 I wake up once more. I’m alone, but not lonely. It’s bright, but not blinding. It’s peaceful and quiet. I still feel nothing; I still feel disconnected. I feel confused. If this is heaven, it’s not what I was promised. If it’s hell, I think they exaggerated greatly. No fire, no brimstone. No one else seems to be here. “Hello?” I yell out. “Is anybody here, can anyone hear me?” No response.

Suddenly, sometime later, I have no reference for how long, a day, a week, a month, it doesn’t matter; a voice calls out my name “Calvin.” Only my mother calls me that. Everyone else calls me Michael or CM. The voice is not my mom. It’s not distinguishable as a male or female, and it’s mid-range and tonally neutral. So even though I can’t tell who or what it is, in my mind, I ascribe maleness to the voice. Again, I hear my name,

“Calvin.” It’s louder and with just a hint of urgency to it.

 “I’d rather you call me Michael or CM. I hate Calvin. Have ever since I was a kid, I got beat up a lot over that moniker. I started going by Michael right around my freshman year of high school.”

 “Ok, Mike. Can I call you, Mike?” The voice asked.

 “I guess that’d be alright. Just not Calvin.”

 A man was standing in front of me. He wasn’t there a second ago, I swear.

“Hello, Mike. How is everything going?”


“I’m not sure how to answer that. I can’t seem to feel anything. I don’t feel connected to anything, not even my body. I can’t see it, nor feel it. I’m sure I’m dead, but I still exist somehow.”

 “You’ve got an excellent handle on the situation,” The nameless man answered me.

 Finally, I had just to ask the obvious question, since it appeared that he would not introduce himself. “Who are you? Where am I, what’s going on here?” All in rapid-fire staccato. I had had enough. I was getting fed up. I began to feel like I was being held against my own free will.

“Patience. All your questions will be answered to your complete satisfaction. Well, let me rephrase that, most… many… almost all of your questions will be answered. There are parts of this plan that must be kept from you so that the proper balance of free will and chance remain in balance.”

 “Ok, I’ll give you a chance, but I really want some information,” I replied.

 “All in due time.”

 “So, are you God?” I finally asked. He was just looking at me, and so far, no further information had been imparted to by him.

Laughing, he answered, “No, not as you imagine or think of him. I am an agent, or maybe a better term would be Guardian, who’s responsible for this universe. Yes, Guardian, that’s a good name for me. You may use that to address me. We have many universes that we oversee. This is part of what I need to talk to you about.”

 “All right, so you’re not God, but you’re in charge of the universe? Sounds like being God to me.”

 “No, I am not like any of your deities. Most of my duties require me to be hands-off. But this is a rare exception. I shall be injecting my personal bias into a very delicate situation that needs to be resolved. In this particular case, you are the only person who can do it.


There has been a tragedy that has occurred to a young man. We had extremely high expectations and plans for this man. But a cruel twist of fate has rendered that plan as impossible, or so we thought until you came on the scene. I was certain that this problem did not have a solution.”

 “What do I have to do? How can I be the solution to anything? I’m a nobody,” I stammered.

 “What would you say your biggest failing was during your lifetime?” he asked me.

 “I have been replaying many parts of my life since I’ve been here. I can clearly see my biggest failing now. It has to be my lack of ambition and not taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves to me,” I replied. “I have had a long time to think about those opportunities. I was built for athletics, football especially. I played my freshman year. I was on the freshman JV team. I didn’t put forth a lot of effort, but I thought I should be first-team Varsity. I was a slacker, and the coach knew it. As a result, I sat on the bench most of the time. I didn’t go out for any sport in my sophomore year. My grades were an issue as well. I was brilliant, genius IQ, but I never applied that intellect to produce the marks I knew I was capable of achieving. Instead, I coasted on C’s and Low B’s when I put in the effort, or it was a subject I enjoyed. But those grades became barely passing marks by the end of high school. Because of these actions, attending college was not an option.

 The military accepted me. I needed the discipline and structure that it imparted to me. I did my first enlistment and got out. The army thought I was a good bet; they offered me a chance to go to college on them and a commission as a 2ndlieutenant, but I turned them down cold. I wasn’t a lifer, and I was afraid of flunking out of school and going back as an SSgt. I got out the military, and the gulf war was just starting to kick off. I thought I made a great choice. I was sure I would have been sent over to Kuwait or Iraq. I would have been a casualty. I convinced myself.

 Five years later, working as a mechanic, something I enjoyed, I was offered to buy out the old man who owned the shop. I’d known him since high school, working part-time back then to make a buck. I liked working on cars. I rebuilt my first car at this shop; it was a 1965 Ford Mustang. I loved that car. It was a sorry piece of junk I bought for $500. During high school, I rebuilt the engine and transmission under the watchful eye of old man Herbert Otis. I restored the body and made the car nearly new by my junior year. I told Mr. Otis I needed to go to college because I wanted to have a degree to get a real job. Mr. Otis told me I could work during the day and go to college at night for the first couple of years. He would make me a full partner, and over time I could buy his share out of the profits. He told me all I had to do was run the day to day operations and let him retire. I thought about it for about a month. All I could do was think about what if the shop started losing money. How could I run a business and go to college at the same time? I passed on the offer.

 College was a struggle. Old man Otis closed the shop, leaving me without a job. I caught on with a repair shop across town. After five years at college, I earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering. So now I received my degree and looked for a career level job. I finally found employment with Ford Motor Company as a system engineer. I was part of the new products team working on various new cars. I learned how to integrate multiple new systems into an existing platform. I was in my element. I enjoyed my job, and my peers well regarded me. I was offered and turned down team lead and project manager positions multiple times. Eventually, I was laid off in the economic downturn. After many sleepless nights and much encouragement from my friends, I decided to open my own shop specializing in restorations and modernization of classic American cars. So yes, I was aware of my biggest failing.”


I saw a smile appear on the man’s face. “I would agree with your assessment, Calvin,” The Guardian nodded in response.

“Hey, I thought I asked you to call me Michael.”


“What things would you do differently, if given a chance?” he asked. “How would things turn out if you could go back and relive the life you had? Would you squander that opportunity as well? Or would you take full advantage of the situation? I need to know because I can’t waste any more time or energy on you if you are going to be the same man that I brought here. I am going to tell you part of the plan that I have for the young man you are replacing. Of course, only if you agree to it. I won’t force you into it.


That’s the reason you’re here. Our first choice, the Calvin Michael Johnson of this universe, was happy he died. I tried to impress upon him the greatness he was destined. We gave him extraordinary gifts. Much like you, he was brilliant, athletic, and very charismatic. And like you, he tried to hide or not let these gifts grow. While he was with us, we offered to send him back and restore his body and mind to its original state. We explained some of The Plan to him, and I told him I would be willing to guide him. But some complications of the accident were too much for him to bear, and he decided to transition.


I was compelled by the laws of free choice to allow it. You see, we Guardians don’t overrule free will, we can’t. You can make poor decisions and act up even against your own best interests. It’s how your species learn, through trial and error, one lifetime at a time.

 Most take many lifetimes to achieve anything. We are offering you the chance to go back and start over as a young man of sixteen, back to where you started to make poor choices so that you can make better ones. And help our plan. This universe lines up with yours in almost every way. Many of the same problems that existed for you the first time exist in this time.


Our goal is to change it, so this universe’s technology expands at a quicker pace. Our overarching goal is for man to take his proper place among the other interstellar races. However, agents in favor of creating chaos will stop at nothing to stop you. We want you to use your potential to bring about many positive changes. Toward that goal, we will leave your memories and experience intact. We will give you all your host body’s memories and experiences and skills as well as enhancing muscle memory, intellect, and recall. This process will allow for the absorption of information more efficiently, and we will also give you super performing metabolic processes, including rapid healing.”


“Ok, what’s the catch? This is beginning to sound too good to be true. Why did the Calvin of this universe decide against this if you were willing to help like this? What aren’t you telling me?”

I began to think this was a trap of some sort. I was intrigued by the idea of going back to 16 and getting a “do-over,” but let’s be real. What could I change by starting at sixteen? I guess if I stopped and thought about it, I would make sure I was a better student. I would definitely put more effort into athletics, especially with the physical upgrades. I might see some playing time that way.


“Well, there are some unexpected complications that arose from the actions of others, we call them the Agents of Chaos, they want to derail this plan. They want to keep humanity from evolving to the next level. They interfered with The Plan and killed Calvin and his family in a car accident. We have kept Calvin’s body, but allowed his spirit, his essence, to transition. We intercepted your spirit and are going to replace it in his body. There should be no chance of rejection since you are essentially him. He decided he didn’t want to continue all alone in the world and was grateful to take the next step. I’ll leave you alone now and give you some time to think about this.”










Chapter 1


Wednesday, June 30, 1976


I was alone again. Was I going to take advantage of this opportunity? That question kept rolling around in my head. Could I make better choices this time, well sure I could? I would remember all the pitfalls. I would know what to change and how to change it. A coherent idea began to take shape, slowly turning into a plan. I could see myself taking advantage of this opportunity. I don’t know how long it took for this decision to become a solid plan, but it did. It would start with playing football being a team player and getting high marks in high school. That would lead to college, which would lead to a better career outlook. Maybe I could take ROTC and become an officer, or start a company, or politics. I could see myself being a success. I could feel it.

 I woke up. There was beeping, loud, and constant beeping. Also, indiscernible voices, muffled by being broadcast over a PA system. There was light, muted, and dull. And most of all, there was the pain. Lots of pain. High intense levels of pain. My whole body was in discomfort. I was in casts and bandages and strapped into the bed. I could not move very much at all.

 Soon my eyes adjusted to the lights, and I was able to focus. I saw I was in a hospital room, attached to tubes and wires. A nurse walked through the door. She was an African American, full-bodied, on the short side. Maybe 5’ 3” and was wearing a starched white nursing uniform and cap. I haven’t seen a nurse wear that for ages. They generally wore scrubs like most everyone else in the hospital. She looked at me and made a beeline to my bedside, turned off the constant beeping. Then she started to poke and prod me. Did I mention I hurt everywhere? Her administrations were not improving this situation. “Hey, that hurts!” Was that my voice? It had to be. I spoke the words. The voice wasn’t mine though it was deep and melodic. I sounded quite different than I expected.


“I’m sorry young man, but I have to examine you and make sure you’re ok. I am going to be quick about it and go get the doctor.” With that being said, she took my temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. It was during this procedure I make a most startling discovery yet. I am a black person. I mean, I am an African American.

 To take my blood pressure, she moved the bed into an upright position. While this was happening, I could see my unbandaged hand. It’s the hand of a black person. I am a black person. I mean, I am an African American.

I’m beyond speechless. The Guardian said I would go back to being sixteen. I would get a chance to do it over. I was going to be a success, but Nothing was said about being a black man. Then the nurse left me.

 This was more than I bargained for, I didn’t expect this. I am not a racist. I never believed whites were better than blacks. I never discriminated against them. The ones I met and worked with were just like anyone else. They all had their faults and problems, their hopes, and their dreams. But if I am honest, I never put much thought into it or them as people. Of course, I never put a lot of thought into other people in general. I can see how I was very self-centered the first time around. I had to come to grips with being black. I was still in a state of shock when the doctor walked through the door. A small cadre of other medical professionals trailed after him.

They came over and formed a semi-circle around the bed. One of my visitors extended a hand and introduced himself as Doctor Albright. He and all the men with him were white. I saw some nurses, some of which were African American. It appeared I was in a teaching hospital. The doctor gave a summary of my chart reading to the assembled group, and they discussed treatment methodologies.

 “You’ve got to be one of the luckiest young men I have ever known. We thought we’d lost you. You have been in a coma for nearly three weeks. Can you remember anything at all?” I started to think about the accident. At first, I remembered the F-250 and the T-Bird. But slowly, that image faded, and a different and more horrifying image replaced it. I saw it first at real speed and then in slow motion. The Semi ran a stop sign and crashed into the car with my parents and me. My father was driving, and my mother was in the front passenger seat. The truck mangled the sizeable black sedan. I looked on as the truck’s momentum ripped the car in half. The car was struck on the passenger side. Mother never had a chance, and she never saw it coming. Father wasn’t much better off. He, too, died nearly instantly. Because I was in the back seat and wearing a seatbelt, I was spared, but still, I was severely injured. The truck driver survived.

 This flash of memory was over in an instant. I answered the question. “I was in a car accident. I was with my parents, and a semi-truck hit us. And it must have been bad because I am here.” I knew the answer to the next question, but I had to ask, “How are my parents? Where are they? Are they ok?”

 The look on his face said what he didn’t say, and confirmed the truth of my memory. Instead, he asked, “Can you tell me your name?”

 “My name is Calvin Michael Johnson, but I prefer Michael,” I answered quickly. “You said I was in a coma for three weeks. Could you tell me today’s date?”

 “Of course, Michael. Today is Wednesday, June 30, 1976.”

 Wow, I thought. I am back in time. I really can have a do-over. But being black, that’s going to make everything different. And no parents, where am I going to live? Questions, many without answers, rushed through my mind.

 “Ok, that means four days until I am sixteen. I was born on July 4, 1960. By the reaction to my question about my parents, I can only assume they didn’t survive the accident, or they succumbed to their injuries. I guess the first order of business is my physical assessment. I am in pain, lots of it. I assume there are extensive injuries. But what is the prognosis? Are any of them permanent? What about leaving this place? When and under what circumstances 

will I be released from this hospital? And the biggest is, do I have an attorney to represent my needs? If not, I will need one.”

 Doctor Albright clears his throat, “Ahem…” pauses for a second, and continues. “Well, your visible injuries include starting with a fractured skull and a deviated septum. Your left humerus, which was broken with a clean straight break, is next on the list. Your left ulna has a hairline fracture, which should heal well. You have three fractured ribs on the left side. The left tibia required surgery to repair, six pins currently holding it in place. They should be ready to come out in about six weeks. Your ankle is sprained, with some ligament damage. Also, you suffered from a concussion. Internally there are some significant injuries. First, you had a bruised spleen. Your liver has suffered damage, and we had to remove part of it. You should be fine. Your liver will regrow, so that should be encouraging. The other injuries you suffered are minor lacerations and contusions. Many were the result of the glass breakage or being thrown into the rear driver’s side passenger door and the seatback in front of you.


“We will prescribe some pain killers now that you are out of the coma. My professional opinion is you should have a full recovery, with some physical therapy and time. I would recommend taking things easy at the start. But by the end of summer, you should be ready for full activities. As for being released, I have to say it will be some time before that occurs. And there is an attorney outside waiting to speak with you. He has been working tirelessly on your behalf.”

 While listening to this, I let out a yawn involuntarily. “I think it’s time we let you get some rest, young man. We should be getting to other patients on our rounds.”

 “Can I get something to eat? I’m starving,” I asked just before Doctor Albright was about to exit the room. His response didn’t thrill me.

 “I think for at least the first couple of days, I am going to keep you on a liquid diet. You can have some broth and some ice chips sent to you. Maybe if you can hold that down and things move along as they should, we can revisit solids.”

I expected this, but it didn’t mean I was happy. I understood the reasons for it, but dang it; I was famished.

 The doctor was exiting the room as a tall, lean gentleman entered the room. He was over six-foot-tall if you used the doorframe as a reference point. He had a very well put together look to him, white starched and pressed shirt, dark navy-blue suit coat and trousers to match. He had jet black hair that appeared professionally kept. His appearance screamed lawyer to me. The man walked to my bedside and offered a greeting and a smile.

 “Hello, Michael. I am Mr. Sawyer, Thomas Sawyer. And yes, I’ve heard them all. I really am Tom Sawyer. I am your attorney. I don’t use the term lawyer for obvious reasons,” he said with a light laugh. We have a lot to discuss, but I won’t take up too much of your time right now. I mainly came by to introduce myself and to give a brief overview of your legal situation. Let me say that I was your parents’ attorney for many years. I am the one who drafted their will. I have already started to probate the will. It’s a legal requirement in this state, no matter how many heirs there are. Both your parents had a life insurance policy with double indemnity for accidental death. The insurance company sent the check to my office after I filled out the proper paperwork. You’ll have access to ten percent of the insurance policy value every year until you turn 18. Until then, it will be held in a court-approved trust for you. Your ten percent without any accruing interest is 50,000 dollars. This money is for your living expenses and educational needs, along with a stipend for limited spending.


“I’m sorry to announce, I have followed your parents’ wishes concerning their final affairs. They both chose cremation. I have a copy of their joint will for you to look over. I highlighted the cremation wishes so you would know. I wasn’t taking liberties and doing things without authorization. These things required promptness.


“Secondly, I have entered negotiations with the trucking company’s insurance carrier for a quick and quiet settlement. Which they will agree to because I am planning on suing the trucking company out of existence. The driver was arrested at the scene of the accident for being over the legal limit. His blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was .195. But what makes this a slam dunk case for us is the fact that this is his third time he’s been arrested for DWI. Granted, it is first on the job accident, but he should have lost his driving privileges before this.


“Plus, the company knew about his other instances of intoxication. Their general liability insurance policy has a five-million-dollar limit. But I am betting they are going to drop him as soon as we file suit if that is what you want. Part of the reason I think you should is that you are going to require ongoing medical care due to their negligence. The bad news for them is you’re going to live. Before, there was still a distinct possibility that you would not pull through. They were hoping for that scenario. They would not be expected to pay out anything since you are your parents sole declared heir. I think we should go after them, intending to make them not only pay for your medical bills, which is the minimum anyone would receive. But to try and punish their egregiously poor behavior and continuing to employ a pronounced bad apple.


“Now, I am going to be upfront with you. These types of cases usually bring out the worst in people. The usual way these kinds of situations go is that I, assuming you retain me as your legal representative, would take the case. There is a contingency fee arrangement, usually somewhere around one-third of the recoverable verdict. Notice I said recoverable and not the awarded verdict because you could be awarded 50 million dollars. But if there are only 10 million dollars in total assets, that’s all you ever see. It could be smaller yet; the company could decide just to file bankruptcy, and you’d only get pennies on the dollar of any court awarded damages. I have a much better plan. I will file a suit, and I will include everything; your medical bills, the loss of both parents, and becoming an orphan, for the pain and suffering and injuries you’ve sustained and to future medical and associated expenses. Then I’ll add possible long-term effects probable disability and the loss of ability for vocation and sports and recreation. And I’ll end with a guaranteed payout structure that will payout over 30 years with an interest rate that will ensure 

you don’t lose anything to inflation. The best part of doing this is it's all tax-free.


“What will most likely happen will be a negotiation for an out of court settlement. You will see it will be less than the suit we file, but I will ensure that all the points I listed are addressed. I will then structure my fee on the same basis as yours. So, I get an automatic yearly payment until my fee is paid, or I can charge a one-time, flat fee and make them pay my fees separately. They may balk, but it’s an option that I always try. I have about a twenty percent success rate of collecting my payment this way. But in these kinds of cases, it’s much higher, mostly because they want us to go away.”


“That sounds good, but what happens when I make a full recovery?”


“Nothing, they still have to abide by terms of the settlement. Not doing so would constitute a breach with the court. That would be an awful day for them. Even if you make a miraculous recovery. If the agreement says that they are liable for all your future medical costs, then they are notwithstanding any unrelated illness or injury. For example, if you contract cancer or you have a hospital stay for an injury that can be conclusively proven to be unrelated to this one. You will have to incur those costs yourself. But a broken arm or leg, especially to your left side, would be straightforward to attribute to this occurrence.”


“Ok, I think I understand you, and I agree we should make an example of them. But I don’t want to be stuck in court or giving 

hours of testimony. Is there a way to use just pictures, my medical records, any x-rays and doctors’ medical notes, or casework, as this is a teaching hospital? I think given the facts of the case, instead of having me in a wheelchair in the courtroom, it might lead to a slightly lower award or settlement. But you could say that I am recuperating, or I am in physical therapy, which I will be. And use that as my excuse for not being present. I guess I must be available for cross-examination and be examined by their doctors to confirm our doctor’s findings.” I can see that this is going to be an involved ongoing drama, I thought to myself.


“The final thing I need to mention,” Thomas continued, “is your living arrangements. Your parents’ last will designated that an uncle on your father’s side of the family is to be your guardian.


“Uncle Lucas?!” I answered excitedly. “I like Uncle Lucas.”


“Yes, He’s waiting outside. He’s been here since the beginning of your hospitalization. He can tell you more about the memorial service for your parents since he volunteered to take that on. He has been here by your side every day.”


“Also, I should mention that your parent’s home is also going to pass to you, it will remain in trust until you reach 18 years old, but you can keep it, sell it or move out and rent it. Your parents had a life insurance policy specifically for paying off the mortgage if one or both of them died before the loan was paid off. I have already started the paperwork for that to be taken care of.

I was beginning to tire now. Mr. Sawyer told me to rest and let him start some research into the company’s finances, so we had an idea of where to begin our attack. I told him to go ahead and start the paperwork to file suit.


Mr. Sawyer walked out the door and, no sooner did he exit, then did Uncle Lucas step into the room. I followed him with my eyes as he came around the bed and sat on my right side. Uncle Lucas is older than my dad by about ten years. He was a big man even when he was my age. I used to go out and stay with him and Aunt Maribelle in Texas during the summer months. It got me out of the city and into the country. I hadn’t stayed with him since Aunt Maribelle divorced him for another man about three years ago. My parents didn’t talk about it too much, but I heard a few whispered conversations. I decided I was going to make the best of the situation and help Uncle Lucas find a new wife.


“Hello Calvin,” he said somberly. “It’s good to see you are finally awake. You don’t know what kind of scare you gave me.” There was a pause, and then he started again, “I’m sorry about your parents. I truly am.”


I’d never seen Uncle Lucas cry before. He was a real man’s man when it came to emotional things. I never heard him say a discouraging word about Aunt Maribelle when she left him. Even to this day, he still only has kind things to say about her. But here he was crying, and not little tears, but real genuine bawling his eyes out crying. I couldn’t help it. His crying affected me as 

well, and I was soon snot bubbling crying like a child. I started thinking about this. Why was I crying? My parents had died years ago, and they lived a long, mostly healthy, and contented life. I could not stop crying. It became somewhat cathartic.


I started to think about the death of my parents, the first time through. I hadn’t had such an emotional response at the time. As I said, they had lived full lives. They died within 18 months of each other. Mom first, and then dad, who I think just gave up. I never really thought about it that way until just now. He was lost without mom; I can see that now. I had been so wrapped up in my problems that I just went through the motions. I called dad every Saturday night, and we talked and laughed and reminisced about the “good old days.” And I made sure that he had food in the house. I stopped by every couple of weeks to mow the lawn and other chores that might be needed. I never really asked him how he was doing, not because I didn’t care, but because he never expressed his grief while I was around.


But then I started to think of the young man I’d replaced and the tragic loss of his life and the plan that the Guardians had for him. I cried harder, for the man he would have become. I thought of the middle-aged couple, who were his parents, the violent nature of the crash, and instantaneous deaths, and I started to weep almost uncontrollably. I finally cried for myself. Not in a woe is me, I’m dead, but as I could have done and been so much more.


I had the ingredients for true greatness, but I squandered those gifts. Or worse, I simply never stepped out of my comfort zone to 

achieve it. I wanted success without effort and with undeserved accolades. I didn’t take any responsibility for my failures. I shifted blame to others’, so I could keep the illusion intact. For the first time, I truly felt a loss for someone other than myself. I felt the pain of another as if it were my own. And I felt shame, real genuine shameful disgust, at my selfishness. “I see. You are capable of growth. There is hope for you yet.” A voice inside my head informed me.


Uncle Lucas reached over and gently hugged me. “It’s ok; we’ll get through this together.” Then he gave me a couple of tissues and let me blow my nose and wipe my tears. I felt like such a baby, but I felt loved and safe as well. Finally, with these warm feelings, I started to nod off. “I’ll let you sleep, but if you need anything, I’ll be right here. All you have to do is ask.”




Chapter 2

Thursday, July 1, 1976


When I woke up, there was a young, unbelievably cute girl in my room. She was putting my lunch on a rollaway tray table. “Hello there,” I say.


“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. Doctor Albright said you needed your rest. I was just putting your lunch over here, so it would be near when you were ready for it.”


“It’s ok; I need to be awake now anyway. I think I have been asleep for long enough,” I said with a smile.


“Um, yeah, you’ve been in a coma for a long time. I’m happy to see you are awake. My name is Eve, would you like me to raise the bed a bit so that you can eat?”


“Hi Eve, please call me Michael. I would appreciate the adjustment. It’d be great. I’m beginning to get a bit stiff, lying here in this bed. “There was something else getting a bit stiff as well. I had forgotten about 15-year-old hormones. I noticed that she looked down toward the small tent that was rising under the sheet. It was painful. Something isn’t right. It was then I discovered that there was a catheter, and I am sure that was the reason for the pain.


I heard her make a little giggle. She turned her face away from me, but I could still see the corner of an upturned smile. She reached up and pushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear. I decided that she must be shy. She looked to be about sixteen or seventeen. She was petite in stature, maybe 5 feet tall. She’s a stunning caramel mocha-colored African American, um Black, um Negro. (Hell, it was never this hard to describe the ladies I used to date.) She is slender, but she still had the beginnings of curves that showed great potential.

 Her face is oval and with bright, expressive brown eyes. She also has dimpled cheeks, with just a hint of baby fat remaining. She has a slender nose that flared at the nostrils. Her lips are thin; she’s wearing lip gloss, not lipstick. Her chin is narrow and pointed. Her hair is cinnamon-colored and medium length. It comes to just above the collar, it’s wavy and combed back away from her face.

 I started to feel like a dirty old man. I was nearly sixty, and I’m staring at her like a lovestruck teenager. Yeah, I was a teenager, but I didn’t identify as one yet. It was weird. I saw her, and it was electric. But I kept thinking I’m way too old for her.

she looked down toward the small tent that was rising under the sheet. It was painful. Something isn’t right. It was then I discovered that there was a catheter, and I am sure that was the reason for the pain.

 I heard her make a little giggle. She turned her face away from me, but I could still see the corner of an upturned smile. She reached up and pushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear. I decided that she must be shy. She looked to be about sixteen or seventeen. She was petite in stature, maybe 5 feet tall. She’s a stunning caramel mocha-colored African American, um Black, um Negro. (Hell, it was never this hard to describe the ladies I used to date.) She is slender, but she still had the beginnings of curves that showed great potential.

 Her face is oval and with bright, expressive brown eyes. She also has dimpled cheeks, with just a hint of baby fat remaining. She has a slender nose that flared at the nostrils. Her lips are thin; she’s wearing lip gloss, not lipstick. Her chin is narrow and pointed. Her hair is cinnamon-colored and medium length. It comes to just above the collar, it’s wavy and combed back away from her face.

 I started to feel like a dirty old man. I was nearly sixty, and I’m staring at her like a lovestruck teenager. Yeah, I was a teenager, but I didn’t identify as one yet. It was weird. I saw her, and it was electric. But I kept thinking I’m way too old for her.

After a slight delay, she brought the bed into a more upright position. She wheeled the rollaway table into place, and I could see steam was still rising off the soup. It appeared to be chicken broth. There were no crackers with the broth. There’s a glass of ice water and red-colored gelatin. If I had to hazard a guess, it was strawberry Jell-O.

 I thanked Eve for her assistance. She said something about it being no trouble, and then said she’d be back to retrieve the tray later. I noticed that the straps that had been holding me into the bed were no longer employed. I took a spoonful of the broth unconsciously. It was so hot that I burned my entire mouth, tongue, and throat.

 I immediately grabbed the glass of ice water and drank it down. It was nearly empty after I finished; I poured a few of the ice chips into the broth. They melted instantly, and I dumped the rest of the ice into the bowl. I decided the Jell-O was safe. It was strawberry. After waiting a few more minutes, I was able to eat the broth. It was dull-tasting, and it didn’t address the emptiness in my stomach.

 I needed real food like fried chicken, and mashed potatoes, and garden-fresh green beans with bacon bits. I could smell it, taste it. Mom’s home cooking. Not my mom’s cooking, young Calvin’s mother. I was never a big fan of chicken; I was a steak man myself. But the memories of young Calvin had me drooling for fried chicken.

After a slight delay, she brought the bed into a more upright position. She wheeled the rollaway table into place, and I could see steam was still rising off the soup. It appeared to be chicken broth. There were no crackers with the broth. There’s a glass of ice water and red-colored gelatin. If I had to hazard a guess, it was strawberry Jell-O.

 I thanked Eve for her assistance. She said something about it being no trouble, and then said she’d be back to retrieve the tray later. I noticed that the straps that had been holding me into the bed were no longer employed. I took a spoonful of the broth unconsciously. It was so hot that I burned my entire mouth, tongue, and throat.

 I immediately grabbed the glass of ice water and drank it down. It was nearly empty after I finished; I poured a few of the ice chips into the broth. They melted instantly, and I dumped the rest of the ice into the bowl. I decided the Jell-O was safe. It was strawberry. After waiting a few more minutes, I was able to eat the broth. It was dull-tasting, and it didn’t address the emptiness in my stomach.

I needed real food like fried chicken, and mashed potatoes, and garden-fresh green beans with bacon bits. I could smell it, taste it. Mom’s home cooking. Not my mom’s cooking, young Calvin’s mother. I was never a big fan of chicken; I was a steak man myself. But the memories of young Calvin had me drooling for fried chicken.

 A different nurse than the one who came to see me earlier walked into the room. She was all business and did not have a gentle bedside manner. She talked in a quick, authoritative way.

 She took my vitals, barely. When she went to take my pulse, I could feel she was barely touching me. She took a thermometer, wiped it with an alcohol disinfectant wipe, and placed it in my mouth, using a curt, abrupt movement. She removed the thermometer and read it and recorded my temperature on my chart. She took another wipe and wiped the thermometer again before putting it into her breast pocket.

 She’s older, maybe mid-fifties, and had short brown hair that’s going gray. She’s built like and acted like a bulldog. Finally, she emptied the bedpan, then changed the sheets. She is brusque and took little care with handling me; I started to complain that she was hurting me. “You just be quiet, boy. I have a job to do, and the quicker I get it done, the quicker I can be out of here.” Eventually, after what seemed like hours, she was gone.

 I had never experienced this kind of behavior before, especially from a medical professional. I began to wonder how; she could keep her job as a nurse if this is how she treated her patients. Could this be prejudice, racism, or was she just a cranky old lady? I didn’t know. She did everything by the book. She didn’t refuse to see to my needs, but she didn’t try to comfort me either.

 Eve came back sometime later. She came in quickly and grabbed the tray, and walked out the door, all without a word. I interrupted her actions,

 “Eve! Please stop; come back.” She turned around and told me she had to shake a leg because she was falling behind on her duties. I apologized for taking more of her time.

 “It’s not like that. Nurse Bertha reported me to my supervisor for taking up too much time with some of the patients. And told him I should be fired for being lazy.”

 “Nurse Bertha?” I enquired.

 “Um, Nurse Dorthey Dodson, a big, mean, ugly woman who hates me and anyone like us.”

“Us? You mean African American; umm I mean Black.”

 “Yes, she hates us. She must treat black patients because she’d lose her job if she didn’t. But she does it without any kindness. She treats the black staff like they are the plague.”

“Ah, I’ve met her, she reminded me of a bulldog.”

“You’re too kind; she makes bulldogs seem cuddly. I really must be going now. I really need this job, even as poorly paid as it is. I’ll try to come by later to bring you supper.”

With those parting words, she left the room. And I tried to sleep, but it was uncomfortable with the bed in the upright position.

 Eventually, I must have slept some because I was awoken by yet another nurse, a male nurse. I am ok with men being nurses, that’s never bothered me. So, when this man awakened me, I was slightly taken aback by his mannerisms. His actions didn’t shout gay, but they were leaning in that direction.

 Now I am not going to judge anyone based on their sexual orientation, but I just don’t swing that way. He went about the business of taking my vitals and doing the routine things like emptying the collection bag for the catheter. I felt he was competent and professional. I didn’t feel like he was serving on me. But I started to get uncomfortable when he began to give me a sponge bath. I know I needed one, but I was not entirely ok with a gay man giving me one.


“Ah sir,” I started, “I’m not entirely comfortable with you doing this. If I may, could I maybe take a shower instead? I would like to get out of this bed anyway.”

“You can’t take a shower with these casts and bandages, so it’s a sponge bath for you. Besides, Doctor Albright would have my job if I let you out of this bed before he authorized it. I could ask one of the other nurses on duty to perform this for you if that would make you feel better.”

 I figured that if I asked him to do it, it would make problems for him with the other nurses. Also, it would be an additional burden for whichever nurse had to perform the extra duty.

 I decided I needed to rise above my petty self-absorbed behavior. “No. Go ahead, I’m sure that you’re a professional and that you won’t take advantage of me.”

He laughed, “Well, I’m not sure if I should feel offended or not. I won’t eat you up with a spoon if that’s what you mean.” He declared with an exaggerated lisp and a fake limp wristed hand movement. He went about cleaning me all the while using small talk to distract me. The ordeal was over and done almost before I realized it. I ask about having the catheter removed, but he told me it would need to remain in place for a little while longer just to be safe. Having been in a coma for as long as I was, they wanted to make sure my body was responding correctly.

I also guess it was easier for the staff as well. I was going to require help to even get out of bed, let alone walk across the room to use the restroom.

 I slept past supper. I noticed the clock on the wall announce the time 6:45pm. I was ravenous. I hadn’t had a real meal in what seemed forever. I was then informed that breakfast would be at 6:30am. There was no way to get anything to eat until then. My stomach roared in protest.

 Uncle Lucas came into the room; he has a takeout bag from a local fast-food joint. “I figured you might be getting burned out on hospital food, so I brought something more in line with what a teenager might like.” He said, pulling everything out of the bag.

Only to discover that it was a thermos of chicken broth. He laughed at my expense; I think I started to hate him right about that time. Well, hate is a strong word. But I was hungry, and the soup was not going to cut it.

 “I am sorry, but your doctor already told me that you were on a strict diet until he gave you the ok to eat solid food. Hang in there, it won’t be too long.” I ate the broth. It was better than nothing, it at least tasted like chicken. It was better than nothing. And I was appropriately thankful.

 Uncle Lucas also brought some ice cream; it was still cold. “Ah, that’s more like it!” I excitedly replied.

 The food made me feel much better, and I realized I was not in a tremendous amount of pain. I still had some pain, but it was more of a dull ache. Maybe I had been given drugs while I was asleep, I was confused. I then looked for an IV drip and found one. I asked 

Uncle Lucas to hand me my chart. I read it, and yeah, they had been giving me morphine intravenously. I had to ask the doctor to lower the dosage because morphine could be highly addictive. But I had to admit it felt good, not being in pain.

 After my release from the hospital was okayed, Uncle Lucas told me about moving to Texas. I knew he lived in Houston. But he also told me he had been offered a job here in Dearborn. Houston was a great place to be except in the summer. It’s so hot and humid. I was used to the mild summers of the Midwest. Winters that are brutal here. I wanted to tell him I had moved to Houston the first time around. But who’d believe me?


I was confused. “What kind of job?” I asked.

 “Working at Ford Motor Company designing and developing new models. I had an interview with Lee Iacocca, and I was offered the job on the spot. It’s a project lead for creating a new fuel-efficient and economical car aimed at fighting back against the Japanese imports from Honda, Datsun, and Toyota. If I take the job, I am going to be part of the rehabilitation of Ford’s image due in part to the Pinto. It’s a remake for the Mustang. I know you’re a big fan of that model.”

 The only remake of the Mustang I could think of was the Mustang II, and it wasn’t a success for Ford. But I could use this to get things started. I could influence him to start making better, safer cars. I had ideas that I might be able to patent and license to multiple companies. But before I put too much hope in this, I needed to find how things here worked. Where was this universe in terms of technology?



Chapter 3


Friday, July 2, 1976

 I woke up just in time to see Eve enter the room with my breakfast.

“Good morning Michael,” she said with a smile.

“Good morning, Eve. Is that my breakfast?” I asked as she placed it on the rollaway table.

 It consists of unappealing plain yogurt and apple juice. I looked at it. I am not impressed by the doctor’s idea for my dietary needs. “This food will be the death of me,” I jokingly say.

 Eve has a horrified look on her face. “Oh, please don’t say that. It’s bad luck to talk that way in a Hospital.”

I looked at her, and there was real concern in her eyes. I felt chagrined for my flippant remark; this is new. I use humor to defuse situations. “Eve, I am sorry if I offended or scared you. I was trying to be funny and joke about hospital food. I was not talking about actually dying.”

 “I know. I’m sorry as well. I just see so many people not make it. I think a lot of the time it’s due to a bad attitude. They start to believe they are going to die, and then they do. So, let's change the subject to something more appealing.”

 “Okay, how about what is a pretty girl like you doing in a grungy place like this?”

 “I am a Candy Striper. I work at the hospital during the summer to help pay for my school needs. My mom doesn’t make enough to pay for everything. I also work to get experience. I want to become a doctor. I know that college and medical school seems like an impossibility, but it’s my dream. Before my father was killed in action, during the Vietnam War, I thought I had a chance. But with him dead, I will need to get a scholarship to go to college. I am working my butt off to make the grades I need to get into a good college. But even that won’t guarantee a place in med school.”

 “Wow, you have a plan and everything. I’m going to start my freshman year in the spring, and I don’t have a clue as to what I’m going to do. I mean, I’m leaning toward attending college. I just need to get good grades. They started slipping last year. I’m going to have to work much harder to bring them back to where they should be. What grade will you be attending?”

 “I will be a Junior. I can’t wait. Two more years and then the worst of it will be over. College will be a breeze. Everyone in my family calls me a dreamer, and I get called a nerd or worse by most of the kids at school. My teachers think I am overreaching; college is a great idea, but I should lower my expectations. I should plan on becoming a nurse or teacher. Becoming a doctor is a lot to expect for an African American, especially a female.” The last said with tears coming down her face.

 My heart aches for her; I was at a loss for words. Who would tell someone not to dream, not to try so hard, just because of their skin color?

I have never equated a person’s skin color with a limitation on their ability to perform a job. In my eye, there was only one race, the human race. I got myself under control. I spoke aloud my thoughts. “Eve, I think you are an amazing young girl. I believe in you; I absolutely think you should pursue your dream. I’d be honored to have you be my doctor. I never want to see you give up just because

others are naysayers. Don’t let them destroy you by caving in to the expectations others limit you too.”

 She reached over and gave me a big hug. She hugged me about my neck and right shoulder, avoiding any areas that she thought were painful. I could smell her perfume and the apple blossom shampoo, it was heavenly. I took my right arm and hugged her back. At that moment, I heard someone clear their throat.

 She turned and looked towards the door and jumped up from my bedside. “Oh, Doctor Albright. I am sorry. I just got a little emotional. I’ll be on my way; I have other patients to attend. Please don’t tell Nurse Bertha, oh crap, I mean Nurse Dodson.”

 The doctor walked up to my bed and picked up my chart and looked at it for a minute. Then he looked at me and said, “I don’t know what you said to her, but if my guess is right, you just might have made a friend for life.”

 “Hey Doc, can I ask a question?”

 “Sure, what’s on your mind Michael?” He said, putting down my chart.

 “Well, I was wondering, can you stop the morphine? I don’t think it’s necessary, or least at the dosage level you have it at currently. I’m not feeling any pain at all. I think it would be a good idea to step down now rather than later.”

 “Mm, I see, you really think that’s a good idea? Well, I’ll tell you what, let me do my examination first, and I’ll see if that becomes a possibility, Ok? I just don’t see a reason to let you suffer needlessly, especially with the extent of your injuries.”

 “Ok, you’re the Doc, Doc.”

 He started the exam. First, the light in the eye bit, then having me to follow the pen with just my eyes. Asking if I had any neck pains, headaches, or vision problems, like blurriness, double vision, nausea, etc. Then he began poking and prodding my stomach and abdomen, asking about pain or vomiting.

Next, he probed my groin, looking for a hernia, I suppose. Moving on to my joints, not in a cast, he manipulated them, bending and flexing them, rotating my shoulder, arm, and my leg on the right side. Ending with my right foot, he performed a reflex check on the sole of my foot. It tickled like always. I started to laugh, then asked him to please stop. I always hated that my feet were so ticklish.

He then went on to do the same thing to my left side, with remarkably similar results. Of course, he was unable to manipulate my cast limbs very much. I showed that I genuinely did not feel pain from them. He asked me to squeeze his left palm with my left hand to which I did. He seemed surprised. He told me to make a fist, and I did. He hemmed again.

 He picked up the phone by my bedside, pushed a button, and started speaking. I assumed he was calling to the nurse’s station down the hall.

 “Could you call radiology up and schedule an appointment for young Mr. Johnson? I’d like another full set of x-rays for him. Thank you.”

 “Michael, I’m going to be honest with you. With the severity of your injuries, making a fist and squeezing my hand should be very painful. You don’t appear to be suffering any pain. Your leg should be throbbing and kept in place. Rotating your leg even a little should bring tears and cries of pain. I can’t explain why it is not affecting you. I am going to get another complete set of x-rays just to be sure of what is happening.”

 I knew what was happening, and it was because of the Guardian. I’m sure he, it, they … had something to do with this. I remember something about super healing. Well, it appears they are keeping their end of the deal. So, I guess I had better do something to keep my end of the bargain.

 I suppose this puts a kibosh on the lawsuit. After all, it’s hard to claim pain and suffering when there isn’t any. I guess I’ll still collect from the trucking company for killing Calvin’s parents and leaving him/me an orphan. I might get something for emotional trauma, but this is the 70’s, not the out of control 2010s. Where everyone goes to court to get awards set by the Jury, amounts that make the lottery seem like peanuts. The judicial system still makes sense in this here and now, for the time being. Maybe I can help with that as well?

 A few minutes later, Uncle Lucas came through the door. He came and sat down next to me. I asked him about the job offer, and if he'd accepted it. He answered he was strongly considering it. He had sold his house in Houston and was looking into housing here in Detroit. Housing was slightly cheaper here, but the availability was more of the issue. Housing near Dearborn is higher-priced and more expensive. Also, many realtors wouldn’t show homes in that area to blacks. I am having real difficulty coming to grips with this development. I never worried about where I could live before, as long as I could afford the rent or mortgage payment. I see things in a much different light. I told him my parents’ house was paid off and that we could live there. I wouldn’t have to change schools or anything. I also said I could sell the house and buy a new one somewhere else. I was willing to do whichever would make it easier on him. He thought that this was the opportunity he needed to take his career to the next level. He wanted the title ‘Project Manager’ on his resume, as well as being associated with a successful product launch. He also wanted to become a consultant or own a design studio, working on prototypes or customized one-offs. So, we agreed to live in the house for the time being.

 I asked what kind of experience he had. I used the excuse of a young age, and not being interested in the adult world the last time I saw him. Young Calvin’s memory of his uncle was spotty at best. It had been a few years since I been to Houston to visit him. I learned that he has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a dual bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering. We spoke the same language. I asked if he wanted to be the head of a design firm, or would he like to be a partner in a manufacturing company. I told him about my plans, such as they were, of taking the insurance money and the settlement money and starting a car company.

 “That sounds ambitious, Michael, how do you propose to accomplish that?”

 “Well, I plan on taking the money, whatever I recover from the lawsuit, and investing it. I plan on college, and on obtaining a business and engineering double major. I have some ideas that I believe will put the car industry on its ear. I plan to design and build the safest car on the road. Along the way, I also plan on kickstarting a couple of other industries, such as electronics and computers, and telephonic. I have hundreds of ideas, and I want to implement them. I have a straightforward concept that potentially would have saved my parents from dying in a car accident. Meanwhile, I aim to make some short-term investments in the commodities and the stock market.”

 “Michael, the market is pretty risky, especially if you start to play with the commodities market. How do you think you can make a profit when many professionals lose money every day?”


“Let me show you some of my plans and designs, I’ll show you what I want to accomplish, and the companies I need to invest in, or start, for my dream to come true.”

 “Well, Michael, I think it’ll be a few years before you have everything ready to strike out on your own. So maybe I’ll take the job, nothing is preventing me from moving here.”

 “Ok, I guess that will work. I was hoping to get a jump on the competition. But I think you're right; I can’t do it all overnight. Besides, I still have to get through high school and then college.”

 “I’m going to tell you something, and I need you to listen carefully,” I continued. “I am asking you to trust what I’m about to tell you as the Gospel truth.” I looked around to ensure no one else could overhear me. Uncle Lucas looked around the room as well, trying to see what I was looking for.

 “I am from the future, in fact, from the year 2020. I was a 60-year-old man, I died and went to a place where I met some beings, known as The Guardians.” They told me that your Nephew, Calvin Michael Johnson, was destined for greatness.

Having lost his parents in the same accident, in which he too was injured, he decided he didn’t want to live anymore. After explaining their reasoning to me, the Guardians offered me the opportunity of a second chance at living my life, by taking his place. They gave me the mission your nephew had to bring this world to the next level, and this time have a chance to be able to live a life worth living. To get us to the stars and to take humanity to the next level. I know I sound crazy. It seems crazy to me, and I am living it. I have all of my old self’s memories, and the Guardians have given me all of the young Calvin’s memories as well. I know everything he knew right up until the accident.

I have my own memories right up to the end of my life, June 10, 2020.

 Using the knowledge of my past life, “I can make money in the stock market, and commodities because I’ve lived it once before. I was never a big mover or shaker in the financial sense, but I did pay attention to the economic news. Mostly to see how my 401k was doing, and to make projections for my business. People buy custom cars when the economy is booming, and they have money to spend. They tend to sell them in economic downturns. I would buy them cheap and fix them up, then sell them for profit.

 “I used to buy 50’s 60’s and 70’s era muscle and sports cars, upgrade them, and give them modern engines and transmissions, better braking systems, and superior safety equipment, then sell them. The day that I died, I had bought a 1956 Ford Thunderbird Coupe. I died driving it to the shop. I was hit by a pickup truck and slammed into a light pole. If I had been driving my truck and towing the T-Bird, I would have survived.

I guess the universe had other plans. I want to make the best of this second chance. I can also tell you the project you’re going to be assigned. The Fox Mustang will be a success. It needs to have a better high output modular V8 engine. A much better braking and an independent rear suspension would make it a Vette Killer. But Ford also uses the fox platform for over a decade and not just on the Mustang, it becomes the central platform for the entire company.

 “Also, you need to convince Ford not to outsource the production of the Mustang, or any other model to Mexico, the jobs lost because of it, is catastrophic. Of course, it’s not just Ford, GM, and Dodge, Chrysler; all the US car makers outsource the car building to Mexico. Meanwhile, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan all bring manufacturing plants to the US, but they don’t help with the loss of thousands of US Jobs.


“I think that the most significant problem in the car industry is none of them want to see the writing on the wall. The days of Detroit automakers being the dominant force is dying. Toyota and Honda will be the next big players. But even they will have to make room for the next wave. Electric vehicles are going to take over, they haven’t yet but they will. Pollution and the high cost of gasoline are whittling away at the traditional car company.

People want to do their part to save the environment. But this is where we can cash in. I know that if you work for Ford until I get out of college. Then I can take everything I know and what you have learned and create an electric car to beat all of them and make a fortune.”

 “What you say is a pretty fantastic story, and I think it may be just that, a story. How can you prove any of it? Knowing about the Fox Platform isn’t too much of a stretch. You’ve always been into cars, and especially Ford, you could have read about it in Motor Trend or Popular Mechanics. Your father worked at the Dearborn factory, so perhaps he told you. And as for what you think will make a successful Vette Killer, those ideas are not news to anyone. But the thought that Ford or any US auto manufacturer would pull out of the US and make cars in Mexico, unthinkable the unions wouldn’t allow it, not in a million years. How can you prove what you’re telling me is real, and not some silly story?”

 “What do you want to know? This year’s World Series winner…, The Cincinnati Reds sweep the New York Yankees. Johnny Bench is the series MVP with a .533 batting average for the series. This seasons’ Super Bowl winner the Oakland Raiders over the Minnesota Vikings 32-14.

Or do you want something a little closer? How about this. On July 4, Israeli commandos raid Entebbe airport in Uganda, rescuing all but four of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by Palestinian terrorists. That should be obscure enough not to be blind luck.

“I would ask you to believe me because you’ve known me all my life and know I don’t make things up. But you can come back on the 5thto tell me if you believe me then.

“Okay, I’ll wait until July 5, if what you say comes to pass, then I will believe you. You have to know that this is an incredible story. It’s not easy to just take on faith. Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? Do you have any money to support your sporting predictions?”

 Nurse Dodson interrupted us, she tells Uncle Lucas that he will have to leave now, she has to go about getting my vitals and giving me my sponge bath. No one is allowed in the room during this time. I ask her if my guardian can be present while the procedure is carried out. She informs me that yes, a parent or guardian can be present while this was performed.

 “But I am under the impression that both of your parents are deceased, and therefore, he must leave the room.”

 “Ma’am,” I said, trying not to lose my cool. “Yes, both of my parents indeed died in the car accident. However, this is my Uncle Lucas, my legal guardian. My lawyer must have mentioned this to you, or to Doctor Albright. And since I am sure you are aware of this, what you are attempting to do is illegal and unethical, it borders on malpractice. In light of this,

 I ask that you reconsider your decision.”

 “I’m sorry, I have not had any official notice that this man is your guardian, and you’re saying it is so, doesn’t make it so.”

 “It’s okay, Michael; I have to be on my way anyhow.”

 “No, it is not okay. I am demanding that you allow my uncle to stay,” I firmly told Nurse Dodson.

 “You are not in any position to demand anything of me, you are a patient, and a child at that, I am the nurse and an adult. He leaves, and that’s that.”

 Uncle Lucas stepped out of the door. Just then, Nurse Dodson started to go about her routine of taking my vitals. She handled me roughly in performing her duties, all the time muttering under breath. I could make out a few words, but the racial epitaph ‘N*****s’ came out clearly.

 I was shocked! I mean genuinely shocked to the point of actually being incapable of speaking. I’d never used that word on anyone, and I’d never had it directed towards me. This action seemed to be causing an emotional response from Young Calvin’s memory because I was starting to remember every time he had that word directed at him. It felt horrible to see the faces of white people calling me that teachers and administrators. And shop owners, who would accuse me of trying to steal something, just for stepping foot in their store.

Not that I ever was trying to steal anything. Of course, I knew boys who did. They claimed they did it to get even with the ‘Whiteys’ or simply because they were trying to impress the other boys in the hood. I wanted none of that. Calvin wanted to get out of the hood. I think maybe that’s part of what drove him to take the option he did.

 After Nurse “Bertha” completed taking my vitals and the associated tasks of my needs. She immediately used some antiseptic wash to clean her hands, and then used a tissue to open the door and left the room.

I was getting sleepy, so I decided to just turn in for the night.



Chapter 4


Saturday, July 3, 1976

 The nurse stepping into the room awakens me, I must have heard her open the door. It is the same nurse I met when I awoke from my coma. I was relieved to see her, but also slightly disappointed that it wasn't Eve. The nurse stepped to the side of my bed. I read her nametag, and it read ‘Shirly Maxwell RN’ now I had a name to go with the face.

 I greeted her by saying, “I missed you yesterday.”

 “Oh, wow! It was my day off; I’ll be here throughout the holiday weekend. Did you really miss me? You only saw me for a short time. You were asleep most of the day.”

 “Yes, I missed you very much. Compared to others here, you’re an angel of mercy.”

 “Well, sir, I need to get your vitals and get the morning routine completed. So, if you’ll be quiet for just a minute, I can take your blood pressure and pulse. Then we’ll move on to empty the collection bag and a sponge bath, and finally, I’ll make sure that they change the linens.”

 She took my vitals and entered the results into my chart. Then she replaced the collection bag with a fresh one. “Well, that’s done. Now let’s get you cleaned up.”

She removed the linens on the bed and then removed my hospital gown. She had a gentle patient touch. She began to talk about the fireworks that were planned for the fourth of July. It was going to be a big deal. Seeing as this was the Bicentennial of the founding of our country. She told me if I got the doctor's ok, I could probably get a wheelchair and, I might be able to go to the rooftop picnic area, where I would have a good view of them. By that time, she completed the job.

I was shocked that it was all over already. I hadn’t felt much of anything. “Are you sure you cleaned me up or did you use some Jedi mind trick on me?”

 “I can assure you, young man, I did a thorough and professional job of cleaning you. What’s a Jedi mind trick?”

 “Um, never mind. Let’s just say that it’s used to cloud your thinking and to distract you from what’s going on.”

 “Well, if you put it that way, then yes, I guess I did. I talked about something completely different than what I was doing in an attempt to keep you preoccupied and from becoming self-conscious. Thus, allowing me to complete the task quickly and efficiently. Now put on this clean gown, and I’ll make sure the candy striper comes with the clean linen.” And with that, she left me to get dressed in a new hospital gown.

As soon as I was decent, a knock came at the door, “Come In. It’s open.” I answered. It was Eve with the clean linens. I watched as she scrambled to make the bed and was amazed by her perfect hospital corners, something I struggled to imitate for my Drill Sergeant. Of course, having to go downstairs and the outside to bring in my bed cured me of this problem. Seeing her perform this task so efficiently brought back some memories.

 After she completed making up the bed, she told me to get into an awaiting wheelchair that was parked next to the door. “You have an appointment with radiology this morning; I’m supposed to take you there ASAP. Doctor Albright seems to think your broken bones have mended already, a medical impossibility if you ask me.”

 “Why can’t it be a medical miracle?” I responded, with a little bit of a huff.

 “Michael, I would like to see a medical miracle. If anyone deserved it, it would be you. But let’s be serious for a moment; three weeks is not enough time for major injuries like yours to heal. Bones need much longer to knit back together and regrow properly. Heck, even if I weren’t planning on becoming a doctor, I would know that. Usually, it is months to heal. So please get into the wheelchair and let me do my job, and we’ll let the x-rays tell the story.” We made our way to radiology, where Eve left me to await the radiologist to get the pictures needed for Doctor Albright.

After I finished there, another volunteer wheeled me back to my room. I had missed breakfast with all this going on, so I was enthusiastic to see lunch was ready. It also appeared that my dietary restrictions were no longer in effect. It was actual food. It was typical hospital fare. Nutritionally adequate but lacking in every other respect.

 Additionally, I had the ok for the catheter to be removed as well. Nurse Maxwell came right after lunch and gave me the good news; then, she went about the removal of the catheter and the associated hardware that went with it. It hurt slightly to have it pulled out, but there was nothing to do but just get it over. “I am going to get you a pair of crutches so you can get up and use the restroom by yourself. I do not want you up and around and haunting the hallways. You have not been cleared for full mobility yet. You are to have an appointment with a physical therapist so we can determine what mobility issues you will be facing. I don’t care how you buffaloed Doctor Albright, but you are to use these whenever you are not in your bed. And right now, you are only allowed to go to the restroom. Am I making myself clear young man?”

 “Yes, ma’am.” I automatically replied. Damn, she must be the mother of a teenage boy, because, for a brief moment, she sounded just like my mother. She had that mom voice down pat. “Do you have children, Nurse Maxwell?” I asked. It just slipped out; I wasn’t even thinking.

 “Why yes, I have three sons aged 20, 17, and 12. Why do you ask?”

 “Because you have that mom voice and attitude down pat. For a second, I was hearing my mom giving me those instructions. And believe me, you don’t disregard my mom’s orders.”

 “Oh son, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.” She was nearly in tears.

 “Oh no ma’am, they weren’t bad memories, they are good ones. It’s just for a brief moment. It was like having her back here with me.” I started to cry, this being a kid stinks. I don’t remember crying this much the first time around. I’m becoming overly sensitive. I am not convinced that this is for the best.

Nurse Maxwell gave me a brief hug and told me. “Be careful and don’t get caught outside of the room. The nurse’s station is to the left, and the hallway to the right leads to the elevators, which are the first left after going a few yards, on the fourth floor is pediatrics.” Then she left the room with a smile and humming a tune that vaguely sounded like Que Sera, Sera. I was a bit stumped.

With it being a Saturday, I was a bit surprised to see Tom Sawyer, my lawyer, come through the door.

 “Hello Michael, I have some good news. I talked to the owner of the trucking company, and he has agreed to settle out of court. He actually called me to make an offer. He took one look at the prognosis the doctor made. Saw the medical recommendations and agreed to pay all your medical bills arising from the accident, as well as any future medical expenses. That was, like I said, a given. Plus, he’s offered a separate settlement for your parents’ deaths. And then a third separate settlement for you. And finally, they are willing to pay my fees based on a flat fee of 25 percent tied to the total overall settlement agreement, which, to be honest, is a little low. Now, this is going to be complicated because most of this settlement is not in the form of cash. To be honest, the company, while fairly profitable, is seriously cash-poor currently. That’s why I believe we should reject the settlement and try to go for an entire cash deal.”

 “You still work for me, correct? Not my uncle or for any other party. I mean, you were my parents’ lawyer, and I haven’t actually signed any paperwork that authorizes you to represent me. I did verbally agree to let you try and strike a deal. So, you work for me, correct?”

“Yes, I am obligated as your attorney to make you aware of any legitimate settlement offer. That’s why I am here. This is a real offer, but it’s a bit low, in my opinion. I think we could get a much better deal than what they are offering, but this is a legitimate offer.”

“Okay, give me all the details, not just the highlights but the whole deal. And then tell me why I should or should not take it.”

 “Alright, here it is, the medical settlement is straight forward. Yours and your parent’s medical expenses arising from the accident will be borne by the company.”

 “Excuse me for one second, can I have the name of the trucking company?”

 “Oh, sorry, I thought I gave you that information. The company is Bishop Transportation, and Jack Bishop owns it. It’s one of the largest regional trucking companies in The United States. Last year’s revenues were 85 million dollars, and its profits were 38 million dollars.”

I was astounded I knew Bishop Transportation would be bought out by Knight Transportation in 2001. I remember because it was in the Wall Street Journal with the headline Knights takes Bishop as N X B. I am a chess player, so the headline caught my eye. It was a one-billion-dollar deal as I recall. I wish I had my cell phone. I could go to the inflation calculator and look up how much one billion would be worth today. It would be a significantly smaller number, I am sure.

 “So, you see why we need to go after these guys. There is a lot of money to be had.”

 “Ok back to the offer on the table, what exactly are they offering?”

 Mr. Sawyer sat down, pulled a folder from his briefcase, and he started to read.

Before responding to your attorney’s claim Calvin, I want to extend my sincerest condolences and apologies for the loss of your parents, and to wish you a speedy and full recovery.

I know that nothing will ever be able to make up for the loss of your parents. No amount of money can replace their lives or compensate for the pain you’ve suffered.

Before I get to my offer, I would like to tell you a little about the truck driver. I am not excusing or justifying his actions. I am giving a human touch to a terrible tragedy.

He had been with the company from the beginning. In all the years he’s worked for me, he had always been a responsible drinker. It usually was on his off time and well before he had to drive. Until a while back when he had some personal problems and turned to drink as a way out. Which lead to him being convicted of a DUI offense. As part of an internal agreement between him and the company. He would keep his job provided he attends Alcoholics Anonymous. He stays on a sobriety plan with weekly updates from his chapter and plan sponsor. This was going well for the better part of a year, then in the last couple of weeks leading up to the accident, he relapsed. Having broken the agreement, he has been terminated. He is also facing substantial criminal charges and, most likely, prison time for his deeds.

That was a preview of The Adventures of Calvin Michael Johnson. To read the rest purchase the book.

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