• Patrick Rizio

Happy New Year!! On to chapter 13

Alison was wide eyed and barely able to contain herself. She started pulling papers out of a blue folder and began laying them all over the table, frantically attempting to put them in some kind of order. Jason calmly sipped his coffee.

“Anything for the lady?” the waitress asked.

“She’ll have coffee and a side of valium please.” 

The waitress poured another coffee and slid it to Alison’s side of the table, showing no expression whatsoever. 

“Some people really have no sense of humor,” Jason observed, half under his breath. Alison never looked up.


“I was just saying…” He could see she was far too excited to be listening right now. He picked up the salt shaker, and positioned it like a microphone, tapping it with his finger. “Testing, testing is this thing on? Hello.”

“I’m sorry,” Alison said. “I need to get these straightened out. Just give me another second.” Jason took one more sip of coffee. He didn’t need to be shown the data. He already knew what the tests would show. But seeing Alison so excited about them, well, why spoil it for her?

“Whenever you’re ready my love,” he said quietly.


His breathing was steady and rhythmic. Three strides inhale, three strides exhale. The initial discomfort had disappeared, as usual, after the first half mile, and he had picked up the pace at the two-mile mark. Around Dupont Circle, back up Massachusetts Avenue to Q street, and then a mile and a half east to home, completing the 5-mile run. It was cool in the early spring, and this morning had been downright chilly. Great running weather.

The last quarter mile was practically a sprint. He picked up the paper from the front of his overpriced brownstone and went inside. As he was grabbing a pitcher of orange juice from the refrigerator, Jack Thompson remembered why, on the first morning of his retirement, he had dug an old Ipod out of his drawer, to replace his phone during his morning runs. The thing was already beeping with three messages.

His friends at the agency had been right. He was making ten times the money now that he was retired, (being a consultant), as he had when working. Washington D.C. was a great place to live if one had the right connections, and he had more than enough of the right connections.

Thompson took a hard-boiled egg from the plastic container on the refrigerator’s top shelf and put a piece of rye bread into the toaster. The phone rang. A smile came to his face when he looked at the printout on the screen. At last, a call from a friend. He looked at the clock on his microwave, put down the glass of orange juice, and answered it.

“Bob, I know this must be business, because you don’t like to get up this early.”


“OK. Everything’s in order now. Ready?”

“I’m ready,” Jason said, looking at the folders now arranged so neatly on the table. Six folders, all color coordinated, each color corresponding to the particular subject tested. Red for verbal skills, blue for mathematics, yellow for spatial skills, green for pattern recognition, purple for memory and white for reasoning. Art teachers!

“As you can see here,” Alison said, as she opened the red folder and used a pen to point to some graphs, “her verbal skills are about average for a girl her age, which, considering how withdrawn she has been most of her life, is quite acceptable.”

Jason just nodded and continued to sip coffee. Alison quickly put that folder to the side and picked up the white one.

“Her reasoning ability is a bit higher. Here she scores in the top 10 percent for children her age. These tests reflect just general type reasoning. Things like crossing streets at busy intersections or finding a specific item in a grocery store. Just very basic everyday stuff, nothing specific. This is important however because it includes her reading ability.”

Jason again nodded appropriately as that folder was put away just as quickly. The next folder chosen was the purple one. Alison was getting increasingly more excited with each one.

“Things start to get really interesting here,” she said opening it. “It became clear pretty early on in the memory phase of the testing, that she was in the adult range. She has incredible recall. Her memory skills are in the top 0.5 percent. She has eidetic memory.”

Jason knew that, in time, Sarah’s memory skills would develop even further. He wanted to tell Alison so, but just didn’t have the heart to interrupt her right now. He took another sip of coffee and gave her his undivided attention. She could barely contain herself when she opened the blue folder.

“Jason,” she said grinning from ear to ear, “Sarah’s math skills are almost unparalleled. Her scores indicate she’s capable of graduate level mathematics already. By the time we were finished with this part of the testing, she was doing calculus. Calculus Jason! On her own! Sarah had never even seen calculus before we tested her.”

Jason looked at the graphs, and read the evaluations in the blue folder, even though he didn’t need to. Except for ordering more coffee, he remained quiet. He knew the best was yet to come. The last two folders, yellow and green, were opened together. When the charts and graphs were brought out they were blank, just as he expected. Alison explained.

“Jason, in these last two categories, spatial and pattern recognition, I, well I’ve never seen anything like this. To my knowledge no one has. When she started this part of the testing, it quickly became obvious that she should be tested on a higher level, so, just like I did with the math part, I began testing her with adult material. She sailed through everything I had. There isn’t as much available for these two subjects, but I had dug up quite a bit. We continued the next day, the tests getting more and more difficult. We did this for three days, Jason. The University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, Cal Tech, M.I.T, U.C.L.A, Harvard, Princeton...nobody has a test able to measure her abilities in this area. No one! She’s off the charts. We literally do not have tests to measure these abilities in her. They’re, they’re…”


“Yes, unquantifiable. I mean, her math skills alone qualify her for genius status, but this…this is…this is…” Alison saw that half smile beginning to appear on Jason’s face, and remembered who she was talking to.

She stopped, took a breath, and looking into his eyes said to him very softly, “This is something that comes along maybe once in a thousand generations.”

He smiled. “You know, I think you might just score pretty highly on the memory section of those tests yourself.”

Alison smiled back.

“Tell me something,” Jason asked. “How much orange juice did she drink during the testing.” Alison’s eyebrows pulled together.

“Orange juice? juice. Uh, well, the first day of the testing we did verbal and reasoning skills. She drank about two or three glasses that day. The second day was memory testing and mathematics. She seemed pretty thirsty the second day. She drank about double that, or more, maybe seven glasses. The third day was when the spatial skills and pattern recognition part of the test started…but of course we had to stop early because, as I said, I didn’t have the proper tests.”

“Well how long did it go?”

“Only about an hour or so. She drank about two and a half glasses.”

“Was there any adult testing the third day?”

“Just a little.” Alison’s eyes suddenly opened up. “Jason, I guess I was so excited about the results, that I never noticed. That last day, the day she was going through the most difficult pattern recognition stuff...”


“Well, we were only testing for about three hours, because she was going through the stuff so quickly. But by the end of the testing, Sarah must have gone through maybe a gallon of juice. She’d finish a paper, have a glass of juice, finish another, have another glass of juice. I kept handing her papers and pouring juice. She was finishing them as fast as I could grade them, and I just never noticed.” 

Alison flashed back to that day in the hospital. 

“Jason, you don’t think…”

“Relax,” he said, putting his hand out, fingers up. “Sarah’s fine.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.”

Alison took a deep breath, and promptly relaxed. She had come to completely trust Jason’s opinion where Sarah was concerned.

Jason reached out and took Alison’s hand. “Would you like some more coffee or anything?”

“Well, now that you mention it, I am a little hungry.”


     There were no polite preliminaries.

“Jack, I’ve come into something that I need your help with.”

“Must be pretty urgent to warrant a call this time of the morning.”

“Well, it’s no emergency, but I could use your advice. I know you’re going to be in town next week.Why don’t I buy you a cup of coffee and we’ll talk?”

“Sounds like a plan. I’ll give you a call when I get in. Bob, old buddy, I have three other messages waiting on this thing, so I’ll have to let you go for now.”

“Three other messages. At this time of the morning? My, my, we must be taking it to the bank in wheelbarrows nowadays.”

“Don’t be silly. Hefty lawn bags work just fine. Got to go. Bye.”

Thompson hung up the phone and thought things over for a minute. Then he stuffed the whole hard-boiled egg into his mouth and grabbed a medium sized suitcase from the hall closet. He knew if he hurried, he could catch the 10:30 flight to O’Hare. He made a quick mental list of the things he would have to cancel for the next few days while filling the suitcase. He figured he could retrieve his messages and call his neighbor about picking up his mail. He also knew that if his longtime friend was using that antiquated code phrase that meant,“we need to talk in person,” it must be something pretty significant. That being the case, he decided to shift all other priorities down a notch. Why the hell not. I’m retired.

He was in and out of the shower, shaved and dressed, and waiting for the cab in 15 minutes. As the driver pulled away from the curb, Thompson was curious, and concerned, as to what Schimmel would be needing him for. He felt an old anticipation begin to stir. It had been a while. He realized, he was starting to have fun.

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