by LJ Barr
What happens when an outgoing, optimistic extrovert becomes a negative, introvert?
I detected a bounce in my step that hadn't been there in almost a year. I felt more hope for Cory’s and my fledgling company and our relationship since we talked last night. Cory Blaze, his business partner, met me for coffee after church on Sunday, and invited me to the house for dinner. I hesitated, but Cory assured me that we needed to talk. And talk they did.
My thoughts traveled back to the night of the argument from which our split resulted. I'd worried for three weeks because Cory just went to the doctor. The ne3xt thing anybody knew the doctor put him in the hospital. I couldn't even visit him during those three weeks and nobody, not even his twin sister, knew what was happening. The nurse wouldn't tell Cary anything. She said the doctor left specific instructions that nursing was not to talk to Cary which made me suspect that something was not right. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, but I suspected it had a lot to do with the vaccine. Cory had been due for his third vaccine booster shot, and we had argued regularly about it. He finally decided to forgo the booster shot in the program. Dr. Draper, a virus specialist or research Biologist, told Cory that he was a high-risk patient because he had survived the Coronavirus. Therefore, we agreed—me grudgingly—that since he had been ill regularly following the second booster shot, it just makes sense to take the third booster shot. Cory was in the hospital for three weeks. So, naturally, when no one could get any information about his condition, my misgivings surfaced with a vengeance convincing me that Cory had been coerced into taking the booster shot, after all, or maybe he had no say in the matter. At one point, Doctor Draper called me and said his partner left transfer orders stipulating that Cory be transferred to Granger Research Facility. When I heard the words Granger Research Facility, pessimism went into overdrive. Nobody but nobody moved a patient in the middle of the night. I am not a pessimist by nature, but two events in my life, changed that. The doctor phoned two days later to say that Cory was back at City General hospital, but was ill.
"Hey, Misty," I said as I passed her desk on the way to my office. My mind continued its journey. The day after Cory returned from the hospital, he told me that he submitted to the pressure and took the vaccine. Two days later, we argued about it, and I left the next day. Granted, I jumped to the wrong conclusion and didn't even give Cory a chance to explain. A mistake on my part. I know today that Cory had no say in what happened. Doctor Baker didn't leave the bogus transfer order; it came via telephone following Dr. Draper’s last rounds. That's what Cory had told me last night. He said they transferred him back to City General Hospital when his doctor began to suspect foul play. .“Look, Jordy, I know you think that taking the last booster shot of the virus therapy program is dangerous, and I agree, but I can’t go on like this. I’m just fucking tired of being sick and tired. Don’t worry about me. I’ll fix this problem, Jordy, and I’ll come out on top.
“But Cory, taking that vaccine is a suicide, you said it yourself. Don’t check out, Cory, fight for your life, don’t give up.”
Cory’s eyes bugged at what I had said. “Jordan Graves, do you think I'd take such a crass and selfish solution to this problem. No, I will never check out of this life. I want to survive this treatment and make those people who did this to me pay for their actions. I want to live,” Cory repeated. “Jordy, this company, my sister, and you are my reason for living. I know you care; you’ve always cared. We’ve cleared the air, tonight. I feel better today than I’ve felt in a year, I think,” he chuckled. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow, man. Sleep well, and thanks for listening.”
Cory had survived the Coronavirus in the beginning, and a virus specialist—if there is such a thing—convinced him that he was at high risk of another episode if he begins the immunization program. But three years later, Cory had decided against finishing the program, and then he got sick again. He, therefore, thought it would be foolish not to finish the program, although he kept getting mysterious but not as intense, episodes of the virus. He was in higher spirits after we talked, than he had been for some time.
I entered the office, set my laptop pouch on the desk, and hung up my coat. I sat down behind my desk, booted up my laptop, and clicked into my email, instantly alerted when the emergency message notification blinked on. I opened t message in question, gasped, read it again, and sat back in my chair, resting my head against the plush headrest and closing my eyes as I attempted to digest what I had just read: "Cory Blaze commits suicide. Are you kidding?” That was so bogus. Cory Blaze would never have chosen suicide as a way out. He'd fight to the end. So, sometime between my leaving Cory's condo last night and Cary finding his body this morning, someone had entered Cory's condo. Hell, maybe that someone was already there trying to change his mind when arrived. Cory fully intended to come to work this morning. Instead, I now scrolled aimlessly further down my list of emails and stopped when I found a message marked urgent. I opened it and read.
I tapped the intercom button. Misty, will you come in here, please?"
"In a minute, Boss," she said.
When Misty entered the room, she read my face correctly. "I'm sorry, Jordy, I don't know what to say. But from what little I know about Cory Blaze; suicide was not in that man's portfolio; Cory would fight to the death before ending his life with a period."
"Exactly, but what can we do about it?"
"Get with Cary, Jordy; she was his sister, after all."
"Look, I'm going to check out of here for the day. I must know what's happening. It just doesn't make sense, Misty," I said as I threw the strap of my laptop bag over my shoulder, grabbed my jacket from its hook on the coat rack, and head for the door.
“Sure, Cory, take as much time as you need. I’ll cover for you here.”
I wasn’t a pessimist/ introvert by nature, but two things happened when I was young that made me choose to go inward: First my big brother was brutally beaten to death in front of me because he was gay; and secondly, mom and dad divorced—that didn’t make the difference, but for the next three years mom told me it was my fault. Well, that’s enough to turn even the most outspoken optimist into himself. My p retention became a bone of contention between me and Cory early in our relationship. Cory didn’t like the pretense, and I was scared to reach out. A thinking man might say our relationship was doomed from day one.
The Coffee Shop
Cary sat at the small square two-person table in the far corner of the Starbucks coffee shop. The coffee shop sat on the top tier of the Starbucks Coffee Island which graced the two-acre corner lot a block north of our company office building. I entered and as soon as Cary saw me, she waved to get my attention. I hung up my coat and hurried across the coffee shop to the table where she sat, and across from her at the small two-person square table. "God, Cary, this has been one hell of a Monday," I said as I made myself comfortable.
"You can say that again," she said. “When Cory called me last night, he was so happy and upbeat, and he fully intended to come to work this morning. What could have happened?"
"Cary, do you remember anything about what happened in the hospital? I mean, of course, you remember. After the argument, I walked out and didn't even give Cory a chance to explain. Now I wish I had listened. He didn't commit suicide, Cary, and you know it," I said earnestly."
"Yeah, well, what good is knowing going to do? In the end, my brother is still dead."
“Don’t loose hope, Cary. We’ll find out who killed Cory and why,” I replied. "I received a strange message in an email this morning, but I must study it closer before I divulge its contents.
"I received a strange communication also, and I must also study it closer. Somebody is trying to shed some light on what is quickly becoming the most engaging mystery in the history of our small community. What did Cory know that got him killed?" Cary asked.
"I have no idea, Cary,” I said, “but everyone will be shocked when the answer is revealed,”
“I believe it, Cary said. Cory’s death is the kind of thing that takes so many twists and turns on the solution, that no one looks to left field.”