idioms... sayings understood by native speakers part seven
Lynn ran down the stairs to the office. How did he know? Kept running thru her mind as she made the final step to the floor where her brother should be. I have got to get him out of here. Lynn, slightly out of breath, opened the door of her manager's office. It was empty. She walked out frantically looking around for Charlie. She entered the main area of cubicles that the design team used. No one was to be found. She could only think of one place. They had to be at the play room. She headed there, finding her research team standing in front of the one way mirror. Nodding, smiling and occasionally whispering to each other, the engineers and developers seemed to be evaluating something. Oh, no. Charlie..... thought Lynn. As she gently tugged at the team leader's sleeve to inquire what was going on.
"Lynn, your brother is perfect for our trials." As he moved back so she could get closer. There was her brother and Carl Matthews, without suitcoat and tie, sitting crosslegged with one of the new design toys between tthem. The researchers had their notebooks out as they watched how Charlie interacted with the toy. Charlie, thought Jenny, I don't want you to be on display.
"Lynn, I knew you had a passion for this research. I did not understand how close to home it was to you." Joe stated quietly. "If it wasn't for your drive, I don't think any of us would have thought of developing toys for this purpose. But just look at his face, he seems so earnest and engaged."
"Um, thanks Joe. I will just take him home now."
"Really?" the sound of disappointment evoked a glance from Lynn. "Did it not go well upstairs? We all were routing for you. Charlie told me that his LiLi had a big job to do. He sounded so proud of you. How was it?"
"Um, I guess the presentation went well. We probably won't know what the outcome will be yet." She crossed her arms to hug herself as she allowed herself to watch her brother. He was genuinely having fun. No one in this room laughed at him. No one made any jokes. As she took in a couple of deep breaths, she relaxed. All of her life, she felt like she had to protect Charlie from being made fun of. These men were looking at him to learn from him. These well educated men were in awe.
"Charlie, what do you think of this?" Carl handed him another item.
Charlie picked it up, looked at it and handed it back to Carl.
"Is something the matter with it?"
"I don't like how it feels." He picked up the original toy. He pulled at it and pushed at it.
"How it feels?" Carl asked.
"It is too... um... yucky."
One of the researchers sighed and wrote something down. He glanced up and saw Lynn. "Lynn, what are your brother's challenges?"
Lynn swallowed hard. "He was diagnosed with mental retardation and pervasive personality disorder. My mother suffered from a virus when she was pregnant with him and that is what the doctors said caused the problem. His IQ is Seventy five... but the ppd affects his tactile and hearing senses. He has the autistic behaviors of requiring sameness and structure. I do not know why he is able to tolerate all of this. When he is in new environments, he usually becomes frightened."
"Thanks." was all the researcher said... muttering to himself, yucky? Can't tolerate the feel of metal.
Charlie was offered another toy. He would not take it. He started to rock.
"Guys... Charlie and I need to go home now. He is withdrawing. Either he is tired or over stimulated. Okay?"
"Sure.. sure."... came a series of murmurings amongst the researchers as they watched spell bound.
"How would we market these kind of toys?"
"Probably thru the children's hospitals, thru therapists, thru psychologists and the like."
"Parenting magazines... There are home pages for support groups."
"Once word got out, our advertising costs would be minimal... especially if we got recommendations for the AMA."
"Yes. Maybe the special education departments in the public schools..."
"And don't forget the special education departments in the universities."
The retoric became almost infectious. Rick had not seen his uncles this excited in a long time. Then... came the one who was known as the devil's advocate.
"What about law suits?"
"What if one of these kids get hurt?"
"We could always get a disclaimer."
"No." Rick stated firmly. "We have to screen each purchase. Until we get things sorted out, we would have to start small. Maybe require a prescription from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist."
"A prescription for a toy?"
"Yes. Each one would have to be individualized and modified to their need."
"That sounds expensive." Again, the devil's advocate spoke up.
Rick stared at Carl's father. They were as different from each other as night and day. He shrugged. "If you looked at the specs, the items offered so far cost under three dollars to make. Most parents would gladly pay twenty dollars for a toy.... if it would help their child to connect with the world."
"You know... if it is a prescription... one would wonder if the insurance companies would pay for the cost."
Eyebrows raised. Rick quickly glanced at his nails. Leave it to his own dad to open that pandora's box.
"Let's have legal check out these questions." was Rick's response. "For the time being, let research and development meet with representatives from the local blind and deaf school. As our presentor pointed out, the ones with physical challenges will probably be the easiest to start with. Also a certain amount of play can broaden a child's education."
"Ah... the old idea of an educational toy?" Carl's dad spoke again...."That will kill any sale."
Rick glanced up at his uncle. "Education happens, Uncle A.J. Whether it is in a classroom, on a playground or in life, we learn from our experiences. Play brings joy, comradery, and friends. I think that was the whole idea behind today's presentation."
The Chairman cleared his throat. "All in favor of pursuing this idea raise your hands."
Everyone save Carl's father raised there hands.
"Okay. Rick, talk with the blind and deaf schools and see what you can find out. Meanwhile, legal will look at precidents for insurance companies paying for therapeutic toys, and at the lawsuit angle. We will have to be very careful about not making promises that cannot be kept." He paused, then added... "We have been in this business for the last sixty years. I think it is time to allow ALL children to have a chance to smile, don't you?" He gathered the proposal and placed it in his brief case. "Now if there isn't any further bus..."
"Wait Martin. I think we should discuss what Father told us today at breakfast."
"A.J. I don't think this is the time or place..."
"I think it is."
The board held their collective breath. The Chairman stared at his brother. "Fine. Since you brought it up, shall we call your son here so he can also be apart of this?"
For the first time since the accident, Rick saw his Uncle A.J. actually turn pale.
"I guess it can wait until next month."
"I agree. I hereby adjourn." Standing up the Chairman went over and shook Rick's hand thanking him. He leaned over and whispered, "Bring that presenter over to the house tomorrow for dinner."
"Dad, she might be busy."
"Tell her the Chairman wants to meet with her." He placed both hands down on the chair back next to Rick. "I will be expecting both of you for dinner... say, around seven?" Turning his back on Rick he walked out talking with the other members.
Rick sat stunned for a minute. He took his two hands and ran them thru his hair. Sighing he headed down to Carl's office to tell him the good news...wondering just how Miss Lynn Johnson was going to take the invite.
Lynn quickly entered the playroom, humming her lullaby. Carl, surprised at seeing her, just shrugged as he watched the seemingly cheerful Charlie pulling into himself and almost disappearing in front of Carl's eyes... at least his spirit did. His body took on a shape of a buddha that rocked back and forth. Lynn waved her hand to motion Carl away. Carl slid over to a corner to watch the proceedings. She sat down by Charlie and gently put her arm around him, humming as she rocked with him. Charlie turned. "Li LI... I tired."
"I know, kiddo. What say we blow this berg, huh?"
Charlie pursed his lips and started to blow. "Like this, LiLi?"
She ruffled his hair. "Um, something like that." Standing up, she offered his hand and he clung to it. Looking down at his feet, he sighed.
Carl stood up and walked slowly toward the boy. Charlie ducked behind Jenny almost crushing her hand from holding it so tightly. "Charlie... it is me. Carl. Thankyou for playing with me today."
Lynn managed to pull all but one finger out of Charlie's grasp.
"Carl, Charlie and I want to thankyou. But it is time we go home now."
Lynn sat in the back of Carl's SUV. Charlie looked frightened. She gently rubbed his head to calm him. Carl drove the two home, without saying a word. Lynn took Charlie straight into the house and tucked Charlie into bed with his teddy. She jumped when she came out of Charlie's room. Carl was in the kitchen making coffee.
"What are you still doing here?"
"Sit. Tell how the presentation went." As he rummaged thru the cabinets, finding two coffee cups shaped like bears. He smiled, as he placed one in front of the exhausted woman. "Is black coffee okay?"
"Sure. I think it went okay. I really don't remember much."
"When I am scared stiff, I just focus so hard on the task at hand I don't remember my surroundings." grateful for the coffee she held it for a moment and smelled, taking a sip, "This is so good."
"Probably because you did not have to make it."
"Yeah. The best coffee is always made by others." She giggled. Her serious brown eyes stared into her bosses. "How come you are so good with Charlie?"
"OH.... well, um, let's just say that I can appreciate your situation."
"What? You have a special sibling?"
"Well... um, er... I did."
"Oh... I am sorry. Does it make you sad to talk about it?"
"No... I just have not had any reason to talk about it. He died ten years ago."
Lynn took another sip. She sat quietly.
She sighed as she heard her cell go off in her purse. Answering it, the look on her face told all. "Yes, sir."
"Good. What a relief!!!! Huh? What?" she paused trying to figure out what to say next... "Er, tomorrow is Saturday. I have plans already."
"Fine. I cannot promise on such short notice."
"So you know... about my brother.... '
"Sir? What if I cannot find someone to ..."
"You won't take no for an answer?"
Carl waved to her. "Hold on just a second." She glanced at Carl.
"What does my cousin want?"
"He said the Chairman wants to have dinner with me at seven tomorrow night."
"I can watch Charlie."
"Um, Carl, I don't know if that is such a good idea. He is still unsure around you."
"Well, how about your friend Jenny? Surely, she and I can watch him."
Lynn removed her hand off the cell and stated, "I have to make some arrangements. Call me tomorrow by noon. I will tell you then if I can make it or not."
"Yes, sir. Bye."
"What? You want to talk to Carl?"
Rick started to drum his fingers on the table as he waited for his cousin.
"What's up, Cuz?" Carl smirked. Hearing a familiar drumming sound, Rick is bothered, hee.hee.
"Oh, I had to take Lynn and her brother home."
"Of course we are on a first name basis. She is MY executive assistant, is she not?"
"Fine. I hear everything went well at the meeting."
"What?" Carl's smirk disappeared. "Grandfather acutally said that?"
"You or me?"
"What sort of competition?"
"Fine. Don't worry about tomorrow. I will make sure Lynn is available tomorrow. As for the other, Grandfather must have gone senile. Do you think we can get him committed?"
"Rick... Rick... Man, can't you take a joke?"
"Fine, I'll meet you at our favorite watering hole in about an hour, Kay? Bye."
to be continued....