In “A” laboratory, Edwin Hurdy, a PhD chemist, held up a glass flask before the light. He gently swirled the yellow liquid that filled a third of the transparent container. He gave an aliquot of the substance to Ruby, his favorite lab rat, and watched what happened. Delight at first filled Hurdy’s face, with a satisfactory whisper “Yes” that passed his lips. But then sadness overtook him. “My life’s work, and this is all I have to show for it?”
In “B” laboratory across the hallway, Waldo Pursy, a PhD chemist himself, took an aliquot of a substance and tested it on a randomly selected rat. Waldo’s eyes widened. Ecstatically, arms up, Waldo raved, “I’ve found it! My life’s work is now complete.”
Clacking her high heels on shiny but insipid linoleum flooring, Ginger Wilcox came down the hallway. She was a young and beautiful woman. Her long white, heavily-starched lab coat that completely covered her street clothes was always as stiff and clean at the end of the work day as it was from the start. Entering “B” laboratory Ginger announced, “Coffee’s here,” and set the tray with two mugs of the steamy caffeine brew on the counter next to Dr. Waldo Pursy.
Waldo, worshiping at his shine, looked up at Ginger and said, “Have I told you how much I have appreciated you, Ginger?”
Warily, Ginger smiled. And then, because the PhD’s broad smile so grossly wrinkled up his old, liver-spotted face, she giggled. “Uh-huh. Almost every day, ” she answered in that high-pitched voice that annoyed Dr. Pursy. “Is there anything else you need, Dr. Pursy?”
Resting an old shriveled hand on Ginger’s hand, he sighed and said, “I’ve made a wonderful discovery, my dear. Will you have dinner with me at my place tonight, so that I may share it with you?”
Ginger got a wide-eyed, playful expression on her face. “This isn’t going to be like the Christmas you invited me over and tried getting me to stand under the mistletoe, is it?”
Old raisin-face smiled. “No, no, nothing like that I assure you. In fact,” his complexion beginning to redden, “you may try getting me under the mistletoe, if one was around.”
After some deliberation, Ginger agreed. “Okay, but no tricky stuff from you.”
Waldo raised his hand, “On my honor, ‘no tricky stuff’ I swear.”
Ginger left and went across the hall to the “A” laboratory door. She entered and announced, “Coffee’s here, Dr. Hurdy.”
Dr. Edwin Hurdy responded to Ginger’s squeaky voice the way one might to the sound of fingernails scratching a blackboard. Wincing, he smiled hugely, which horribly furrowed his aged face. Edwin greeted her right away with the news: “I’ve made a great discovery. Please join me for dinner at my place tonight, and I’ll share it with you then?”
Having the utmost respect for Dr. Hurdy, she quickly responded, “Of course, only . . .” and then unloaded the news about the invitation from Dr. Pursy she had already accepted.
Edwin’s ruddy cheeks rose and his eyes brightened. “Not to worry, I’ll invite Dr. Pursy. This does concern him too.” Yes, he thought, it really does since it’s the same project they both have spent their entire lives researching. To the point of forsaking friends, family, and even a personal life that now seemed possible with a woman like Ginger Wilcox. “Will you come tonight, Ginger?”
When Ginger answered “I will” Edwin, in what he’d imagined for so long, slipped the ring on her finger and heard the priest tell him “you may kiss the bride.”
Waldo arrived promptly at six p.m., the specified dinner time. Waldo carefully nursed his cocktail drink and his ogling Ginger, while wading through a swamp of small talk with Edwin. Then, at the appropriate time, Waldo snuck away and emptied some his discovery – from a small vial of liquid – into his drink. Unbeknown to Waldo, at the same time Edwin went out of sight and emptied his entire discovery – also from a small vial of liquid but of a different kind – into Ginger’s drink.
Waldo and Edwin entered the drawing room in opposite archways. Edwin gave the drink to Ginger and then proposed a toast. “To your life and mine, finally coming together.” As Edwin and Ginger tipped their glasses to drink . . .
“Wait!” Waldo exclaimed. “That’s my toast,” and raised his glass to Ginger, “to us, my dear.”
They then drank their drinks together.
Waldo’s drink brought results right away. His body shook uncontrollably from a metamorphosis that changed him into a five-year-old boy. Coming up from under a pile of his adult clothing on the floor, the little naked guy cried, “Oh-my, this wasn’t what I expected!”
Ginger then started convulsing like a grand mal seizure had taken hold of her. Her metamorphosis went the other way, and, moments later, Ginger was as ancient as Dr. Edwin Hurdy – only much prettier. She creaked slowly over to a wall mirror. “Oh, oh, oh . . . what . . . what’s happened to me?”
Edwin came behind her and rested a hand on her shoulder. “This was exactly my expectation. I mean, I had for years researched reversing old age but instead I discovered . . .”
“Making me OLD!” Ginger screamed. Bursting into tears, she ran from the drawing room and out the front door of the house.
“Wow!” said Waldo’s boyish voice, who’d covered himself with his long-sleeved shirt. “Man, what a piece of work you are. You had to ruin her for both of us? Like, can you change her back, huh?”
Edwin sadly shook his head. “The process is irreversible. Believe me. I’ve tried. Unable to reverse the aging on every rat I have, and that’s a hundred and two of them, will bear me out on this.”
“Ginger! . . .” Waldo squeaked, pointing at an archway to the drawing room.
A Saturday night special was quivering in Ginger’s skinny old, liver-spotted hand and was aimed directly at Edwin’s head. In a gravelly voice she said, “Yes. I’m back. But you won’t like that I am.”
How should the story end? You can write an ending to the story in the comments section below, if you choose to. I’ve already got mine in the story continuation entitled: “Boys Will Be Boys: Story Ending.” Double-click my name to read mine.