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Contrite is what he feels above anything else, heartily sorry for coveting a person so vulnerable—though unbeknownst to anyone including perhaps the person herself; Rockefeller Falk—admitting to rank inclinations and motives reprehensible—has confessed as much to his father (omitting specifics), then disclosed un-chivalrous thoughts (not yet misdeeds) to his irate betrothed.

‘You want to do what; with whom; and why tell me, you perverted scumbag BASTARD!?’

Why defy his parent, why sabotage the trust of his expectant fiancé?

A laboratory prop, is why, a hapless, witless specimen in suspension like some drug-dulled, stock-still hummingbird, vital yet immobilized, beautiful yet bizarre, uncannily disengaged yet evocatively connected, human, as she is, whatever her mental limitations, prettily proportioned and beguilingly endowed, if lacking in the rudiments of effective communication, mute, for all he knows, not deaf but equivocally receptive, sightless rather than blind, her eyes kept shut habitually, nourished intravenously her taste buds no doubt stunted, unaware, perchance, of fragrant scents or noxious smells, capable, nonetheless, of pleasure-pain sensitivity throughout her whole integument—a glimmering expanse of opalescent pores, luring him in a manner he resists without conviction, coaxing him to admire, enticing him to transgress—touch, stroke, fondle—inviting him to do so, or such is his conceit whenever in her unguarded presence... as he is now... a sack of groceries clutched in one hand, a sound unit in the other... taking up the position he assumes on each and every visit... seating himself on a stool at the hovering figure’s side... shoulders squared with her waist so he can scan left to right her unclad anatomy, which is 'dreamily aware,' he imagines, of his proximity, this the true narcotic of Rockefeller's singular compulsion, this sensing he is near—albeit conveyed by something ineluctable, something vague, something tauntingly undefined, leaving him to intuit wants, needs, and urges—while staving off desire, yet forging a relationship that jeopardizes wedlock, filial duty, and sanity itself; for who save the son of a lunatic would endeavor to reclaim a soul lost so irretrievably?

Affixing speakers to each corner of the hover platform’s base, careful not to obstruct its intricate air stream network, Rockefeller encodes this evening’s serenade: ♫Adagio for Strings♫ by Samuel Barber.

A surround-sound swell of violins flows seamlessly, melancholically, to saturate the space around Suzette, "Suzette Nguyen" the name affixed to instructions that Rockefeller follows... with deviations... with disregard for certain prohibitions he has labeled inhumane... outraged as he is by his father's callousness with respect to human life... captive as he is to utter fascination with that human life's potential... while noting:

  • a subtle change in breathing
  • an even subtler motion of her graceful neck, vertebrae elongated
  • head, with a minute swivel, tilting side to side, as if each ear is taking turns discerning the melodious vibrations
  • fingers, too, respond, ever so slightly spreading, their tips afloat with scarcely perceptible ripples
  • then, dispelling any doubt that the music is affecting her, Suzette, with the strings’ crescendo, lifts her crescent-moon-shaped eyebrows
  • lungs expand, hold still for a pregnant instant, then prolong an exhalation, tantamount to a hushed but heartfelt sigh

any, or all of which the watcher might well be projecting, rapt as Rockefeller is by the sleeper’s supine pose, baffled by Suzette’s unorthodox existence, troubled by the ethics, worried about his role, agreeing, as he has, to continue where his father left off, fulfilling out-standing orders (if postponing those coming in), impressed with himself for managing affairs efficiently, for deciphering technical manuals a programmer might find daunting, all accomplished solo without benefit of his father’s intercession—though guidance, on occasion, has been imparted (from afar when Remington chose to be rational; several crisis calls, to date, having been placed), but overall the transition has gone quite straightforwardly—apart from unauthorized tampering with Suzette herself, prize-pet, renewable resource for stem cells, unfertilized eggs, and wistful nostalgia (Suzette Nguyen the next-generation of an experiment, a veritable triumph long gone by, that Remington, evidently, never could replicate).

Proceeding with his exercise in sensory education, aids spread out on a tabletop, set as for a banquet, Rockefeller pulls from a carousel an essence-oil vial marked ‘ROSE, removes its stopper, dunks in a Q-tip, extracts it, blots away the excess, and conducts it to his subject’s Asiatic nose, waving it back and forth in front of jointly dilated nostrils. Savoring or indifferent? Impossible to discern—except by someone prone to self-fulfilling optimism, someone predisposed to having an effect, someone strangely bent on resurrecting verve.

            HONEYSUCKLE, CARDAMOM, CLOVE, EUCALYPTUS, WINTERGREEN, NUTMEG—each distillation wafts—PEPPERMINT, LILAC, EDELWEISS, PINE—every whiff a novelty, a first, he supposes, for the isolated sinuses heretofore deprived of non-antiseptic smells, feasting on each aromatic scent, he presumes from little evidence, grateful to be inundated, he concludes from trifling signs:

  • a hitch between each lengthy inhalation

  • a parting of the lips, albeit oh-so slight

  • eyes imperceptibly stirring, under opalescent lids

  • heartbeat, shown by a vein at the throat, accelerated possibly

subject, one and all, to interpretations vague, depending upon their interpreter’s undisclosed agenda, Rockefeller struggling to explain his core motivation... while making the transition from sense of smell to taste.

Peeling the foil from an amaretto truffle, he pokes a hole through its shell to the gooey mass within, daubs his index finger then transfers it to Suzette’s unwary mouth, touching it to the gap between her upper and lower lips, gratified when her tongue creeps through to sample the appetizing liquor, shocked to feel her teeth of a sudden scrape his fast-retreating digits—rescued from surprisingly aggressive, now masticating jaws.

NEVER FEED SUZETTE BY OTHER THAN INTRAVENOUS MEANS

Dos and don’ts already disregarded give young Rockefeller pause. What dare he ignore, what might cause damage if not rigorously heeded? Could a mere exhibit ever be expected to realize full humanity? Partial humanity? Any humanity whatsoever? And how define humanity for a person who was 'concocted' rather than born?

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