Authors: John Strauchs
“Anyway, it was a little extra money.”
“You didn’t try to get a job?”
“What would anyone allow a nineteen year old to do?” he retorted. “Head up the
space program at NASA?”
“I guess you’re right,” she said. “Boy, I like this Franken wine. It’s strong, isn’t
“Later, the head of the physics department, Dr. Emerson, introduced me to patents. Now that was interesting. All sorts of companies were willing to pay at lot of money for the various gadgets I had developed. You know, chip designs, software…that sort
of thing. The university took a lot of the money for the first few years until I finally realized that I could do it on my own. Now the royalty checks show up in my bank account
almost every week.”
“Now I understand how you could own a place like this,” said Jenny.
very impressive. I don't believe I know anyone who invented something."
"It’s not really that unique.
Hedy Lamar held the patent for frequency hopping
radio signals, a technology that she and her husband developed during World War II to
thwart German submarines that were jamming allied torpedoes. She received a medal in
New York not that long ago. Variants of that technology are still in use today in differing
applications, such as garage door openers,” said Jared.
"Who is Hedy Lamar?"
"She was a movie star in the 40s."
He got up and started to clear the table.
He looked out of the window across the
bay. Someone was watching him but he couldn’t tell from where. He dismissed it from
his mind—for the time being at least. It was probably yet another nameless man. He
thought it was the same man he sensed at Ashley’s earlier.
“Let me help you with that,” said Jenny. They piled the dishes into the dish
washer. Every time she put a dish in, he would move it to another location.
say anything about it and eventually let him do them all.
“How about some blue berries? I have some heavy sweet cream. Coffee?”
“Sure, that would be great.”
“Ginger, coffee please. She makes great Colombian.”
A coffee maker on the
counter suddenly went into action.
It ground the beans, filled itself with water, and
started to drip minutes later.
“That one of your gadgets?”
That’s one of Capresso’s gadgets, “said Jared. “I just added the automatic
water fill part.”
The manufacturer’s name was on the coffee maker. He pointed to it.
“Sorry. I can sound didactic at times. I don’t mean to be,” he said.
“Don’t sweat it. It was a dumb question,” she said.
She carried the desert and coffee to the veranda.
She opened the door so they
could sit outside, but the temperature had already dropped dramatically.
has a spring.
It could be in the high seventies during the day and drop to the forties at
night. She closed the door and they both sat on the sofa--close.
As the cushions slowly
compressed under their weight, their thighs touched lightly. Jenny didn’t back away.
Jared focused on not thinking about what was under her robe.
“Fireplace!” The fireplace came to life. “Softer!” The lights dimmed.
,” she thought.
They had their deserts and coffee and talked for a while. She liked guys who had
their coffee black. It was very
. She wanted to stay and talk longer. He was a fascinating man, but it was all happening too fast. Jenny stood up.
“It’s after ten. I’ve had a long day. Can you show me my room?” She normally
didn’t drink coffee this late and she was worried whether it would keep her up.
They took their dishes to the dish washer.
It turned on by itself as they left the
kitchen. Most of the lights in the kitchen went out. The fireplace went out.
“Ginger will lock all of the doors and windows after she senses that we are asleep.
Keep your identity button on you.
Intrusion sensors come on throughout the house.
you feel like a glass of milk or something later, be sure you have the button I gave you in
your pocket. You won’t have to do anything to turn off the alarms.”
“Now THAT IS one of your gadgets. Right? This button?”
It was actually developed for Bill Gates—you know, the Microsoft
guy. It wasn’t me who invented it. I did improve on it, however.”
Jenny decided she had to stop asking that same dumb question. New lights kept
coming on as they walked through the house.
They walked up the stairs.
“Your room is down there and mine is right here. Just say ‘lock it’ when you go
“Got it,” she nodded in sort of a head bobbing way.
She was uncomfortable and
wanted to get to her room.
“Do you need to borrow pajamas—you know, or like a big shirt?”
“No thanks,” but she instantly regretted the answer she gave. The implications of
her answer were obvious.
“If you can’t sleep and want to watch TV or a movie, just say “menu.”
“We share the bath so be sure to lock the door.”
She scurried down the hall and went into the bedroom. “Good night, Jared. It was
a marvelous evening. I enjoyed the conversation immensely.”
“I did too, Jenny. Good Night. I’ll show you the boat you are going to use in the
morning,” he said.
She closed the door. He didn’t make a move on her. “
A merit badge for Jared
It was nice that he didn’t hit on her, but she surprised herself that she felt
just a faint touch of disappointment.
The room was perfect. It was more than perfect. It was obviously decorated for a
woman. She opened drawers and closets, searching for women’s clothing left behind, but
they were all empty. “
I wonder how many women he’s had here
,” she thought.
She couldn’t smell any woman’s perfume, so it couldn’t have been too recent.
Jenny didn’t wear perfume very often so it didn’t occur to her to buy any today. Being a
biologist, she told friends that she had a primordial obligation to leave her scent. She was
a geek with a sense of humor.
The joke delighted her enormously so she used the same
line often. She didn’t think she really had a sense of humor so whenever it happened, she
was pleased with herself.
She went to the door and opened it a crack. His door was closed and she couldn’t
see a light coming from under the bathroom door. She crept out and quickly ran into the
“Lock it.” It locked.
She washed her face and brushed her teeth.
She gathered up her stuff and put
them back in the Wal-Mart bag. She grabbed her clothes. They hadn’t been moved. She
put on her robe and tried to open the door. It wouldn’t budge.
“Damn it. Unlock it.” It unlocked.
Ginger was silent. “
Moody isn’t she
,” she thought. She crept out and went back to
her room. She felt just a touch of lightheadedness.
It was the Franken wine.
certain of it.
She dropped her bathrobe on a chair.
The bed had a European comforter. It felt
like goose down. She slid in. The pillows were like clouds. It was heavenly. The sheets
were satin and felt cool to her bare skin. Suddenly, one of the windows opened and the
lights dimmed and then were off entirely. She wasn’t used to sleeping with an open window, but since Ginger thought that it was good for her, she decided to try it. A cold blast
of air confirmed her decision to not get out of bed.
She had forgotten to lock the door.
She could call out from the bed to have Ginger lock it, but she didn’t want to raise her
voice to the point that Jared would hear her locking the door. She let it go.
Moonlight was shining into the room. It was ethereal.
The Eve of Saint Agnes
swam in her mind.
The silver moonlight is so beautiful
,” she thought. “
It was a very
.” She was glad she came. She tightened her covers around her.
“Good night, Jared,” she said softly under her breath. For a moment, she thought
she heard him reply. It was the distant wind. She fell asleep.
Jared paced in his darkened room.
He walked to the window and looked out
across the bay. He couldn’t see the watcher, but somene was out there. He could sense it
clearly, but this time it was different. This one wasn’t just nameless, it was soulless.
Jared, or as he was known then, Jorens, had a brief, wonderful childhood growing
up on his father’s farm in Kocenu County, near Valmiera in Latvia. It wasn’t actually his
father’s farm then, even though his mother always spoke of it that way. It was turned into
a collective farm in 1950, years before Jared was born. It had been his grandfather’s farm
prior to the Second World War and the family owned it since his great-grandfather’s father bought it from a German land baron in 1836. Ownership or not, the Ziemelis family
had lived on the farm for centuries. It was more than 600 hectares.
It had been much
larger at one time, but the land reform acts of the 1920s broke it up into several farms.
Still, it was larger than most other farms in the region. It included a small forest, a fishing
pond, and hundreds of arable acres.
But now all that belonged to the collective. Jared’s
father, Karlis, was born in 1951. His grandfather, also Karlis, was shipped off to the gulags in 1951 so Jared never got to know him.
His father completed a five-year engineering degree at the Cesis Polytechnic University. He had a small bureaucratic position in the county government. They had a small
apartment in Valmiera. They lived on the farm in one room only in the summer and only
worked it on weekends. When small private gardens were permitted, he and his wife,
Erika, spent more time working on the farm.
Jared was always with them when they
tended the large garden. The boy loved to plant radishes and beets.
The boy was fully aware of his surroundings by the age of one. He spoke in complete sentences before the end of his first year of life. By two he learned to read and
write. By three his mental age was equivalent to a boy of eleven or twelve, and perhaps
yet older. No one could measure his intelligence accurately. By the time that Jared
reached a chronological age of five, his mental development was too advanced to be believed by those tending him.
The neighbors often talked about the remarkable boy at the Kalnvej Collective.
They talked about the boy with great pride.
Although Stalin had been dead for more almost three decades when Jared was born, people were still careful about what they said in
public. Their talk wasn’t meant for outside ears. He was one of their own. Stories about
the remarkable boy were overheard, however. A local technocrat from Valmiera reported
it to another technocrat in Riga. It finally came to the attention of Professor Krebs, a
high-ranking official at the Institute of Biotechnology in Vilnius, Lithuania SSR. If what
was being said about this remarkable boy was true, they wanted to study him. He could
be part of the new proletariat of the future. He could be Russia’s future. The Soviet experiment was running out of the time to prove that it could succeed.
The Soviet Union had an insatiable interest in learning how human development
could be enhanced. In part, this was a carry-over from the many German scientists forced
to work for Stalin after the war. The Soviets were aggressively working at understanding
DNA and the coding of genes decades before the Human Genome project was started in
the West. The technology was yet to be developed to make such research productive, but
the understanding of the importance of such research wasn’t lost on the Soviet biological
When he was almost six, Jared’ parents were told that he was to be brought to the
Ministry of Science in Valmiera for testing for a special education program.
If the boy
did well, he was guaranteed a privileged life.
His parents had great concerns about this,
but they finally relented. They wanted to give their son every possible opportunity to
achieve his ordained potential. When they learned that the boy had to spend the night in
Valmiera and that they were not permitted to stay with him, they realized they had made
a huge mistake. Of course, there is nothing that they could have done to prevent it. When
they arrived at the ministry in Valmiera the next day, they were informed that Jared had
been taken to Riga for further testing.
The government officials in Valmiera claimed they didn’t know exactly where the
boy was taken to. The collective wouldn’t allow the loan of an automobile and the bus to
Riga didn’t leave until the next morning. His father traveled all night by bicycle.
him eight hours to get to Riga and another two hours to find the Academy of Sciences to
learn where his son was being tested. It was a cold night and it had been raining since he
He had a fever by the time he found someone with information about his
son. He was told that the boy had been put on a train to Vilnius and that there was no
point for Karlis to travel to Lithuania because by the time he got there the boy would already be en route to Leningrad.
The father came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized in Valmiera for two
Still ill, Karlis Ziemelis left the hospital despite orders from the doctors. He went
to the Interior Ministry in Riga to get a travel permit to go to Leningrad. He stayed with
relatives in Riga and went to the Ministry every day for a week. Finally, he was told that
he would not be given the travel permit and that if he went to Leningrad without one, he
would be arrested as a social parasite.
He was reminded that he and his wife could do
little for their son if they were imprisoned. They would allow them to write letters and to
send small packages.
Everything was to be sent to the Science Ministry in Riga. They
never learned if he received any of their letters or gifts. They never gave up hope. Jared
was Lutheran and although he hadn’t gone to church in years, he prayed each night that
Jared would find his way home again some day. He would risk prison without hesitation,
but where to start. Where was he to search? Erika would walk through fire for her child,
but who will tell them where he is. They never saw their son again.