George said that he had arranged for Paul to be tested at the medical center in Burlington. When he had talked to those in charge, he had told them about how Ed had become interested in the boy and had felt that some progress had been made. Progress in making life a little more interesting for the kid.
What Ed wanted was to find out just how disabled Paul was and where he was on the intelligence scale. Getting the okay to pass on Paul's medical records that he had worked up, the neurological department was interested in having Paul for a subject. Medicaid would pay for the test.
Unfortunately the testing was going to be during the week that Ed was on the road. Ed had wanted to be present. After considerable planning Ed arranged to have George pick Paul and Sally up and take Paul up to the university. Ed would arrive later in the day while the testing was in progress.
To prepare Paul for being in a strange place and with many strangers, Ed started e-mailing Paul explaining the process. How much sunk in and how much it would prevent Paul from being fearful was an unknown. Cindy tried to help by telling Paul he was in for a new experience and he would have fun. Penny sent an e-mail saying she would be thinking of him all day while she was working.
By doubling up on some of his calls, Ed was able to stay with Paul and Sally the night before the test. He had to leave before George arrived, telling Sally he would see them just before noon at the university laboratory if his appointments went as planned. Ed worried all morning how Paul was making out. Ed finally skipped his last call of the morning and headed to the laboratory.
Ed stood at the one-way window watching the technician test Paul. Paul was seated with a partial hood covering his head, except his eyes and lower face. He observed that the technician was pretty frustrated because of the body language he was displaying. Ed could tell that this wasn't going well at all. Ed went and knocked on the lab door. Steve came to the door and stepped outside to talk to Ed.
"How is it going?"
"Not good. I have Paul hooked up to two different pieces of equipment and neither one are showing much. He just does not have much word recognition. I did try him with different smells, heat and cold and just a little pain. He reacted to all, but not to the extent I expected. You are the one that initiated this--do you have any ideas?
"Have you had his mother or the doctor in while you have him on the tests?"
"No, I wanted to keep outside stimuli away from him."
"But how do you know if he reacts to people he knows?"
"You have a point. Do you want to go in now?"
"No, have George go in. Paul has been to his house and has been examined by him. Let's see what happens when someone he knows speaks to him. Then we will have his mother go in. I think you will see reaction to both and this will give you something to compare. I would think he will react more to seeing his mother than George, but we just don't know."
Steve finally got something on his machines that he could record positively. Ed was right. The big difference was where Paul reacted to George, when Sally appeared, the colored images lit up more and in another part of the brain. Steve was ecstatic when he came out to talk to Ed again.
"Steve, can you set him before a computer and still keep him wired to your imager and sensors? I assume the computer is on a network where I can text him from a different one. It would be best if he doesn't see me yet."
"Of course, give me a few minute and I will move things around."
Unfortunately Paul couldn't see Ed when he got on the computer. Steve set Paul up at the machine. Paul immediately booted up. This surprised Steve no end. When he glanced at the strip that was unfolding from the machine that was testing Paul, he saw that the pen was scribing a pattern of very active brainwaves.
Paul was staring intently at the computer screen. Behind him, Steve was starring at the screen, too. Suddenly, text appeared, "Hi Paul, this is Ed. I am in the building and will be with you shortly."
Paul let out his only known form of speech, "Yaakk!" which made Steve jump.
Ed continued, "I will be coming through the door and then we will take you off the machines and go to lunch? Would you like that? Maybe we can find some pizza to eat."
"Yaakk, Yaakk, Yaakk!"
Steve was standing at the other machine that was making a printout of color photo images of Paul's brain waves and studying it intently as it came out. George and Sally came in with Ed. Steve motioned them over, "I have never seen a brain pattern like this before. I want to go over them with a couple of professors and doctors before I do any more testing. Can't we leave lunch until later? It will take some time to unhook the boy and then have to wire him up again."
"No, you said he could go out for lunch and I said he would be off the machines. I want him to trust everything I tell him. You have the strips and the images and you indexed everything. Talk to whomever you want to at lunch, but I'm taking Paul out like I said I would."
Steve turned to Sally, "Mrs. Goodwin, you are the boy's mother, can't I prevail on you to let Paul stay in?"
"No and I'll tell you why. If Paul was tested a few months ago, you wouldn't have much on your strips or in any of your pictures. Ed has been the one to stimulate Paul's brain to the point that I think Paul is even happy sometimes. Especially when Ed is around him. I'm sure Ed would let you read what he has documented to better understand what his thinking is on helping Paul. So for now Paul trusts Ed and I won't have that trust broken."
Ed knew in his mind now just how much Sally appreciated him helping and working with Paul. This was his thank you by her for backing him up when someone else wanted to go against what he thought best for Paul.
Paul definitely did not want to return to the laboratory after lunch. Ed kept urging him and Paul finally went through the door. This little scene to Ed was a victory for Paul in Ed's eyes. Two months ago Paul would have gone blindly into the lab. Ed felt that Paul was now beginning to think of what he, himself wanted to do. In other words his brain was developing in a new direction.
When Ed and Paul came through the door, there were several other people all ready inside. Steve was pointing out various things on the printout as he explained. Steve turned to the color images of Paul's brain waves. On the wall he had a picture of a brain. He showed where certain activities would light up as they took place. Steve had been with Paul all morning. He pointed out where in the brain, speech activity would show. That area in Paul's brain was devoid of any sign of activity.
A discussion followed among all in the room. Ed was getting impatient. "Steve, we should continue testing right now. You can do your evaluations after we leave. The boy is uncomfortable and he is a person, not just a subject to be tossed around with no thought for him. If you have nothing more to test him for we can leave."
Ed had demonstrated that Paul could do things with the computer without him being present. Now that had been shown in the morning, Ed went to Paul and pointed to his computer and Paul booted it up. The observers were silent, but could see Paul's screen. Ed sat at another computer, this time just across the room. He texted Paul to go and look out the door and then come back and sit down. Paul did as he was told. Steve could see how he highlighted each line to read it.
Next Ed said, "I'm going to get a book and have you copy one page from it."
Ed went to the bookshelf and picked out a book. He was looking for something simple and found just the thing. Actually it was an instruction manual on how to open and close the windows in the room. He passed it to Paul. Paul glanced at it and immediately started typing rapidly at the keyboard. He rose and went to the window and followed the instructions he had typed.
"You see gentlemen, if Paul types something, he knows what it says and can do it if it tells him what to do. He uses the same method if instructions appear on his computer screen. He highlights them which serves the same purpose of typing them out. I taught him that.
"What I haven't been able to teach him is to think for himself or express his emotions. If I type, 'Paul, I love you, do you love me?' Nothing, no response at all. If I typed, 'Paul I love you, hug me if you do.' I would get a hug, but I still wouldn't know if he loved me, for the love is an emotion and it isn't part of something he is knowledgeable about.
"The reason I wanted him tested was to find out how I could develop these two things, especially emotions and the thinking for himself. Any suggestions would be helpful. He has minimal emotions and I have been around him enough so I can read his feelings. The only speech he makes is the "Yaakk" you heard before lunch. It is expressive to me. Steve, you had him here for two hours before I came. You assumed there was nothing up there in his brain until I came and fired him up. It was like I turned on a switch.
"I want to turn on a switch to his whole brain. Don't say he should go into an institution and be worked on by professionals, because it isn't going to happen. I've asked his mother to marry me, and we would be lost without Paul with us, even for a short time.
"He tires easily, so unless you can think of another simple test, I'd like to take him home. You must have enough information to evaluate him. I feel he is extraordinarily intelligent. I want to unlock his brain so he can use that intelligence. In the meantime if you want him to come back after you evaluate him and can think of specific tests that are not too lengthy, we can arrange for you to see him again. I don't want Paul under any stress and will do everything to protect him."
Those in the laboratory didn't want this subject to escape yet, but Ed was adamant and with Sally's reinforcement of his position, they were soon on the way home to Sally's. George didn't stop, he continued on his way south. Again Ed stayed overnight with Sally and Paul. Paul was restless after the day's ordeal, so first Ed and then Sally talked to him calmly throughout the evening.
Ed e-mailed Cindy while Sally was soothing Paul and reported how Paul's day went and his upset condition at present. A few minutes later there was a "You got mail" beep. It was for Paul from Cindy. "Hi Paul. Ed tells me your tests are all over. He said you did well and people hope by doing this, they can help you understand more. I'm happy you did this. If I was there, I would hug you. I hope you sleep well. Love Cindy."
"Yaakk." Paul went in and climbed into bed and went to sleep.
Sally said to Ed, "Cindy is a wonder. Sometimes she can do things with Paul that even I can't do and I'm his mother."
"I know. Cindy wants Paul to get well and will do just about anything to move him toward that goal. I just hope that there isn't heartbreak down the road for the two of them."
"What do you mean? How could there be?"
"What happens if Paul progresses to the state where he can feel romantic love, and Cindy falls for another boy when she grows up? What is that going to do to Paul? What happens if Paul's progress stops at a certain point and can't feel romantic love? If Cindy has fallen in love with Paul, and can't return it, what happens to her?"
"You can't mean this is a possibility, can you?"
"I do and I'm afraid it has already started. Cindy talked about what she wishes would happen already. She says she wants to marry Paul when she does grow up."
"What can we do? Should we keep them separate now and not allow contact between them?"
"I don't think so yet. Paul is coming along so well, I hate to upset him. In fact I am depending on Cindy to show him what childhood is like by relating hers to him. The emotions and feelings, especially. We may regret it, and in a way I feel like I'm playing God. I just pray neither gets hurt."
It had been a harrowing day for all of us and Ed still had to go on with his job in the morning. Ed laid out his schedule, but didn't see how he could see Paul and Sally again this week. He finished some paperwork that he had to prepare for the morrow and said he should go to bed. Sally was sitting in the living-room while Ed took his shower. Just before he got into bed, he came out and asked if he could kiss her.
Sally came into his arms and hugged him, not wanting the intimacy to end. Ed pulled away finally and went into his room, leaving his thoughts in the room behind him and taking Sally's lavender scent with him. Ed did fall right to sleep. Suddenly he came awake. Someone was in bed with him snuggled close with an arm over him.
"Yes, it's me. Who did you expect?" She giggled. "No don't turn over. Just let me lie next to you. Go to sleep again."
Ed lay still. The next time he woke, the two bodies had turned and he had his arm over Sally. She had unconsciously clutched his hand to her breast and was sleeping soundly. In the distance he heard an alarm clock go off. Sally stirred. "Are you awake, Ed?"
"I shouldn't be here you know?"
"Probably not, but would you want to be anyplace else?"
"No. I hate to get up. I could spend the rest of my life right here."
"Ed, I think you better move your hand." Ed moved his hand and she giggled. "No, not that way!" Sally could have pulled Ed's hand away from the mounds he was fondling, but she didn't. Her breath caught and then he stopped.
"Turn over and kiss me. I really should be getting up or I'll miss my first appointment."
"I have to get your breakfast so I guess we had better. This has been so wonderful. How did I ever dare come in here last night? I lay in bed just aching to lie close to you. Do you think me bad?"
"I love you being bad and you can be bad any time you want with me."
"Ed, get serious a minute and then we will get up. I know I shouldn't have come in here last night. I don't know how to flirt or do any of that pretend stuff. I came in here to tell you I love you again, but you were already asleep. I was just going to crawl in for a few minutes. I went to sleep myself. When you woke up during the night and didn't ravish me, I knew it was safe for me to stay.
"I'm telling you now, Ed, I love you. I love everything about you and I can't seem to tell you enough. How you treat me and Paul and my friends. Yes, and even how you treat my family. You just absolutely bring out the best in everybody."
"I love you too, Sally." This earned Ed a soft, sweet kiss mixing with the tears of joy that were squeezing from under Sally's closed eyelids. She quickly got out of bed and went to make coffee. Ed lay there with his arms over his head thinking how good life was turning out for him.