A novel about

political and medical conspiracies
in Silicon Valley, California

based on the truth of living
with terminal liver and kidney failure

The sun will rise

in a few hours… but Jerry is an early morning jogger.  I am waiting by the picnic tables at Mitchell Park where I can see anyone who turns onto the dirt path… for him, Jerry will be headed to Peets for coffee… a daily ritual.
I need a nap…
• April •

I wake up in a room I never entered.  There is a surfboard on the door.  Why do I have a surfboard?

Whirring machines are behind my bed.  An analog clock is up on the far wall.  And a pretty nice and large window is to my right.  It looks out onto a view I have never seen.  Where am I?

Jerry rounds the corner

and I start jogging on an intersecting path.  In a few moments we are very close, especially given these are Covid times.  But Palo Alto has always been really good about masking, and we are both conforming to that rule.  

“How are you doing Jerry?  This fine balmy morning…”

“It is 34 degrees… are you from Minnesota or something?”

“Everything is relative.”

“Well, I pondered what you suggested, and I don’t think I can get you into that meetup.  It may be a good cause you are pitching, but people don’t want to be pitched on good causes, they want to be pitched on big wins”

“It will be a big win.  We can eradicate homelessness.   More people will be alive, and warm, and safe.  They won’t be as rich as your people, but they will be a lot happier and probably more productive. “

“I know, I know, but that isn’t what ‘my people’ want to hear.  Or even think about.  Now being the next in space or the first on mars, that makes them drool.  “

We arrive at Peets

and both order “the usual”, which we didn’t need to say out loud. We are there every day when the doors open, and always order the same thing. 

“I wish you would reconsider”

“I know, but I won’t. Maybe next time”

“Unfortunately, I can’t wait”.  The irony is lost on him.  

With a subtle motion, I knock over my scalding drink and Jerry jumps.  I jump too, apologizing profusely.  With my dialysis hand, I grab his hand as if to steady him.  But my thumb nail also cuts into his wrist.  

It is a tiny scratch, but enough to open a small vein and let the blood on my palm smear into the opening. It connects with the  blood he has received from our dialysis treatments, and the binding is reestablished.

I apologize again, but this is just for show. 

Less than two hours later

I exit the 80 to Sacramento, the capital of California, which lies on the foothills of the Sierras.  Driving before sunrise and away from the black hole of Silicon Valley is always very fast.  As if the universe is encouraging me to leave (irony again).  The reverse commute commonly takes three hours, but I may wait until sunset to help shorten it.  Today I don’t have “my appointment” in Menlo Park, so I have a bit more flexibility in my schedule.  

I walk through the metal detector without issue: I long ago gave up all my jewelry, partially to match my public persona.  No ring.  No watch.  No phone.  I do carry a money clip as a memento, but simply place that in a bin for the belt.  I am well armed actually, but not in a way any normal machine could detect.  

• April •

I did not enter this room.  The room seems to be in a hospital, which does strike a memory.  

I came into a hospital recently.  I went to Stanford Hospital.  I was very sick and ultimately couldn’t move without help.  My family drove me to the hospital.  Is this Stanford Hospital?

I find Nancy’s office

and wait for our appointment.   My ability to predict traffic enables me to be about ten minutes early for our meeting.  I wait patiently.  

Some things need time, and I have all the time in the world.  But only for things that ‘age well’.  Many things rot over time, so speed is essential.   Hence the morning coffee-powered interaction. 

I focus on the digital clock behind the secretary. 
• April •

The wall clock is slowly turning.  It is daylight outside, so the hand pointing at the  9 must mean it is around 9am.  The clock has no second hand, and it is very far away, so the movement is hard to discern.  But I am sure time is passing. 

A bit later someone walks into the room and stands near my surfboard.  They have a tag, but I can’t focus enough to read it.  They ask me to lift my hands.  Then ask me to push on their hands.  Then they push back on me.  

Then they leave.
• Now •

“We need this legislation to go through " I start with after slowly sitting down.

“Yes, I understand that.  I am doing the best I can.  But there are a lot of opponents. “

“They are getting fewer.  How many more do you need on our side?  Who would have the greatest impact?”

“Well, a lot of people would come along with Grace.  I believe she lives near you?”

“Yes.  I have been reluctant to contact her due to a prior relationship.  But that is a foolish weakness.  I will follow up with her and we can meet again next week to review the progress.  Are you available next Thursday? “

“I think so, but please call my assistant to confirm before you drive out here. “

“Phones hate me.  I will be here, in case you are available.  Otherwise I will get some waffles for breakfast.  “

“Have a safe drive back.  Nice seeing you”

The 'wall' is still up

and I estimate it will take three hours to get back to Palo Alto or anywhere on the peninsula.  So I do go get waffles.  Sacramento has a lot of waffle shops, which may be due to the nearby snow.  Somehow waffles help you brave the cold.  

I get the usual: pork belly and eggs on a savory waffle… praise the lard!  I have not had to worry about what I eat for ten months now.  There are some benefits.  Actually, there are a lot of benefits, but there are a lot of losses too.

• April •

I can't move much.  I think this is because I am weak since I don't see any straps, but I am not sure.  I try to look at the whirring machines around me, but they are mostly behind my head.  And there is something attached to my neck that feels strange when I turn my head.  But I can turn enough to look out the window.

The day seems beautiful, but that is common in the South Bay of San Francisco.  The Santa Cruz mountains prevent fog from rolling onto us, and the Pacific peacefully sends a few pleasant clouds over our heads.  The 70s is a common temperature this time of year.  Wait… what time of year is this?  It seems like it is near "the birthdays": my wife and I have birthdays in April.  So is today April something?  

Hah!  Maybe it is April first! 

This is a very elaborate prank on me.  

Learn More