Edgar and Fredrickís

Adventure in Cranial Reengineering

Edgar was laid out on his favorite park bench on a warm sunny afternoon when he noticed a pigeon perched on an elm branch a few yards above his head. He recognized him as Stewart, one of his few friends in this cruel world. Not many people would be friends with such as he, for he was a derelict of a man, his face worn by years searing heat and frigid cold. Mother Nature had been cruel to him, but no crueler than his maternal mother had. He had been abandoned as a child, left on a doorstep in the lower Boston area. The poor family had taken him in for a while, until they could no longer afford him. They had tried to persuade a local orphanage to take him in but to no avail. Not knowing what to do, they took their final step in his life by dropping him off in front of a fashion store in hopes that nicer, richer family would be willing to take him in. Instead, Edgar had to live in the alley behind the clothing store on a heating grate.

He had managed to survive 20 more years and yet he still lived behind a place of over-extravagant luxury, reminded everyday in the storeís windows of his own hideousness. He had fled to the park one rainy night in hope of finding some inner peace of which the flask could not fill, only to feel more despaired when he looked into the fountain to find his reflection staring back at him, the heavenís tears covering his own. It was that night that he decided that he would leave this life, straighten himself out, get a job, and make something of himself.

* * *

Another 20 years had past and things had changed, but little. Edgar, now 40, had gotten a job at a local laundromat and had found he had a natural gift for using his hands. It wasnít much at first, but his name had gotten around and he had taken on several other stores as a repairman. Now he made a secluded but respectable living. He lived in a small apartment just a few streets east of the park where he grew up. He had been able to have 3 square meals a day, from mashed potatoes and green beans to a large helping of lasagna at a little "family owned" Italian place around the block.

Since the day Edgar had begun the transformation of his life, he had decided to start with his body. He held back from the bottle, put a little more meat on his bones, and got out of the weather when he could. He found a comb in a dumpster and after cleaning it in the run off water from a winter rain, had used it too groom his long, gangly hair. He was only 40 now though he looked at least 50. He had coarse, abrasive hair, grayed from the countless nights on the street. He was of about 180 lbs. now, by no means fat for his age or 5í10" frame, but he wasnít scrawny or bone-racked either. Through it all though, no matter how hard he had tried, no matter what ointments or concoctions he applied, he could never remove the age from his face. The weather had treated it harshly, marring the once pinch red, chubby cheeks of his youth and transfiguring them into banks of wrinkles, increasing with interest ever year.

Edgar had looked for ways to change his face, to edit his identity, for it was the one thing about him that betrayed his past. He had checked all of the doctors he could see, checking their prices for some mild plastic surgery. They had all been too high of course, their price seemingly mocking his face even in its mournful agony. He had heard of another man though. Word on the street was that the "Doctor" had a different way of improving your face. Edgar wasnít sure of him, but he was sure that anything was better than this face. This weather beaten, creased laden peel of a 40 year old face.

* * *

Fredrick had been busy that dark and moonless night. He had found many hobos in the alleys, some dead, some close enough. He had taken 9 of them, the ones with the prettier, more valuable faces. This was routine to him, almost a habit. He had officially begun robbing the dead of their faces when he was a small, scrawny, shrimp of an 24 year old with only medical night classes for education. However his passion of saving the identity of the passed for the money of the living had not stemmed from that evil curse of man, money and greed. It went back to his past, when he was a little boy traveling the east coast with his family in hopes of a better life, one without want or need, one where everything was free. At least, that was his dadís twisted view.

From Fredrickís point of view, anything couldíve been a better life. His mother occasionally had to sell herself to put food on the table while his dad turned right around and squandered their money buying in on a good time with other women. Oh how he despised that man, that retched beast of a man, for he was a beast in every way. From the way he took what he wanted, even from his own child, to the way he dominated others, whether it was by physical or emotional beatings.

Fredrickís father had beaten him, many times, but that was when he was a frail child, before he left and ran away at the tender age of 6. He had gone back 12 years later, when he had heard that his father was dead. At the service, he looked at the manís cold, hard face, noting how at one point it had been filled with happiness, only to be turned to hatred towards everything and everyone. The second this 18 year old boy saw his feeble father lying there, finally vulnerable and exposed for who he really was, he was sad. Not because he hadnít been able to say goodbye, but because he wasnít the drunk in the car accident that walked away, killing his father and virtually getting away with it. He wanted the privilege of evening the score, to take back vengeance for what his father had stolen.

Cautiously, he returned to the damp, foggy cemetery under the cover of dark. Fredrick had waited until the service was over and the golden sun had died, buried in the western hills and the moon had been reborn, springing from its catacomb of the eastern valleys and fjords with life and vigor, only to be quickly doused by the moister laden clouds. He had brought the tools heíd need: scalpel, shovel, pry bar, scissors, and thick latex gloves. After digging the casket up, he used the pry bar on the upper and lower corners to remove the lid. He took one last look at his father. Gray hair, frazzled from the beer no doubt, deep set eyes, and an eagleís nose all brought to one expression by the menacing grin upon those thin, pale lips. Fredrick then set to work with the scalpel, carefully removing the epidermis without disturbing the fragile muscular tissue underneath. It took about two hours of tedious work, to trim the edges of the rubbery face as he removed it from the cranium, that evil cranium which had been so disturb with devilish thoughts in life. He needed the scissors to sever a couple of hardened tendons holding the lips to the jawbone, and to remove the eyesí optic nerves. After he completed his task, he put the lifeless face in an igloo cooler he had brought for the purpose, he repacked the coffin, buried it, and replaced all the fresh flowers just the way they were. Before packing his gear and heading home, he decided to leave the embalming-fluid saturated gloves behind for a following wanderer to wonder and ponder over, hoping that maybe one day someone would know not of his deeds, but of the trials and tribulations of a tormented soul.

That had been then, this was now, 20 years later as he was 38. And he had a client waiting.

* * *

Edgar, at 40 and healthy, stepped into the sky-lit room that served as the lobby of the "Doctorís" offices. Located in a remote part outside the northern part of the city, it appeared a cathedral to the monastery landscape. It was a rather grand place, with skylights across the middle of the broad white roof, and four large palms in terracotta clay pots, one in each corner. The floor was laid with manufactured white marble. It was fake of course, but it still looked nice and had that elegant feel that Edgar had missed all of his life. Looking around, he realized that he was now in a place that he could only look into as a child. He had brought his money with him, at least as much as he could gather. The fee had been $5000, and he could meet $3000 of that up front, but he just needed a little more time to get the final $2000. He hoped he had brought enough to get it done tonight. A few minutes later, after sitting on a rather uncomfortable wooden stool for close to 45 minutes, he met the "Doctor" in person. "So how are you doing today Mr. Edgar?" the doctor asked. His voice was not the pleasant, cheerful vocalization of a refined man, but rather the low, harsh bark of a man of means. Not at all like the doctors Edgar had known all of his life whether it be at an under funded shelter or in a small clinic on 4th and Prairie that he had been having checkups at.

"Iím doing pretty good today Dr÷, Iím sorry, but I donít believe I know your name."

Fredrick couldnít believe his eyes. The man standing across from him was the spitting image of his father, except for his face. Not only did this man of the streets appear to be his father in almost every aspect, but he also had the same voice. His was not stern voice though, like that of his father. No, his was mildly falsetto and forced, but gentle and kind in a way that only experience could provide.

"My name is Fredrick but many of my patients call me Doc. Iím going to need to do some preliminary measurements to determine which faces you may choose from for reconstruction."

Edgar had been under the impression that this man would be able to smooth out the wrinkles, peel back the years, and rejuvenate the spark of his fascia. He had no premonition that Doc actually switched faces. He quietly sat and allowed the doctor to make his measurements.

"You have a good bone structure Edgar. With any luck, you should be out of bandages and facing the world in a week Although it may take a month or two for all the swelling and scarring to completely subside."

"Thatíll be fine doctor. I usually work at night when most people are at home asleep so it wonít be a problem."

"Good. Do you see a face from the yellow boxes that youíd like?" the doctor asked as he pulled out a color coded photo album that had many Polaroids of faces in it.

"Iíll take that one. Only could you maybe take away those wrinkles and add a little more depth to the cheeks right here?"

"Of course. I am able to accommodate almost any modification you desire," he pseudoly said. He had no intention of taking, changing, or swapping this manís face with the one Edgar had picked out. However, he still needed him unconscious. After that, he could continue with his plans.

Fredrick agreed to make the proper corrections to Edgarís face and then began to prep the man for surgery. He had done this dozen of times before. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes he wasnít. It didnít matter either way. If he succeeded, it was a relatively easy five grand in pocket. If he failed, he had friends in the Italian restaurant business that also owned a garbage pick-up company and could easily dispose of the half-faced body. However, this one was special. As soon as the man was put under, he put the kind looking, charming face back in the deep freeze freezer he had in the back and took out the almost white mask of his father. He was very careful to put this face onto the man after first removing his own, that fleshy, wrinkled mass of skin that wouldnít bring $2000 out of a respectable client. However, with this client, money was not an issue. He had long waited for a man who fit his fatherís build perfectly and this would be as close as he came. He could now take the chance that drunk driver had taken away from him so many years before. He would have his revenge.

* * *

Edgar woke up in the operating room, while still under the knife. Apparently, Fredrick had been in such a hurry that neither he nor his staff had checked their equipment and had failed to realize that the tanks were nearly out of gas. The pain in Edgarís face was almost desensitizing. He howled out in pain, startling Fredrick.

"Oh, in the name of everything lovely, what have you done?! Why am I awake?!" "Oh my goodness! Donít wake up like that, you gave me a start. Nurse, hand me the mallet. No no, the big mallet. Here Edgar, thisíll put you out."

There was a loud thump of industrial rubber contacting natural calcium, colliding in a cataclysm of sound and pain. There was a brief beating in his head, and then it all went black.

* * *

Edgar would never see light again. He would never have love, marriage, or children. All the possibilities life had to offer were taken away in but a split second. A slight twitch of Fredrickís wrist while adding the final touches on the new face had ended what had promised to be a struggle of life, but a life all the same. However, for Fredrick, he could not just call Don Patonii down at his place and have him make the body disappear. Not this one. He had put his fatherís face on this one and after all the work he had gone through, it just didnít seem right to him. He attempted to dispose of the body himself down at the river but it backfired. Literally. The boat he was going to take the body out in backfired and woke the owner of the marina. Since he was kinda stealing the boat to begin with, the marina owner called the police and Fredrick was promptly arrested. And so ended the Edgar and Fredrickís Adventure of Cranial Reengineering.

Epilogue

Fredrick was arrested and sentenced to death by lethal injection in the state of New York. He never knew that Edgar was actually his older brother who had been abandoned before he, Fredrick, was born. He also never knew that the reason his father drank and beat his mom is because it was his mother who gave his brother up and so he blamed the father for it. While this does not condone the fatherís actions, it can explain them to a certain, very definable point.

Due to an in-class assignment, I have decided to add the following text from the fatherís point of view:

It had been a hard life, made all the harder by the loss of two kids. His first born had been sneaked from his house by his own wife when the child had been less than two years old. His second had run away at the age of six. The first loss had driven him to the bottle of which led to other, less desirable habits. Namely domestic abuse and throwing his money away on cheap love. The second loss of a child had driven him away from the bottle, taking all of those problems with it. He had straightened himself out and cleaned up his act when his life was suddenly ended in a tragic car wreck with a drunk driver.








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