The Resurrection Wager
The morning sun had just begun to shine through the narrow gap in the faded, light blue curtains. Its illumination, still faint, revealed the sight of a spacious bedroom. There was a wood framed, king size waterbed centered against the far wall and there were various other pieces of oak bedroom furniture in the room. All of this was sitting on a polished hardwood floor.
Most normal people would be ashamed of the condition of the room. Many of the dresser drawers hung wide open, their contents overflowing. Various items of clothing were scattered about the floor. There were a few plates and glasses on the floor next to the bed, and the nightstand had a half dozen brown glass bottles on it. It seemed as if this was the bedroom of a sloppy and unsupervised teenager, rather than that of a brilliant adult with a doctorate in quantum theory.
Eventually, the rumpled covers of the bed began to move, as a man slowly struggled to a standing position. Through the dim light, one could make out that he was moving as if he was ill or in considerable pain.
Paul Kingsman stood five foot ten and had a well-toned body and flat stomach. He was clean-shaven and tended to keep his hair short. He stumbled to the bathroom, which was located just off the bedroom. His head was pounding, his vision was blurred, his mouth was dry, and the taste in it was foul. He eventually reached the bathroom and felt for the light switch. As soon as he turned it on, he knew that he had made a mistake. The bright light greatly intensified the pounding in his head, and a muffled unhappy groan came from the bed behind him. He quickly switched the lights back off and stumbled forward in the dark, his night vision now gone. Working by feel, he found the faucet and managed to get the water running in the sink. Using his hands, he rubbed the cold water on his face several times. The water caused him to feel a little better. Next, he scooped a couple of handfuls of water to his lips and drank slowly, taking tiny sips. Paul knew better than to drink too much, too quickly. Even the two small sips he had already swallowed were beginning to churn his stomach. Paul slid the door to the medicine cabinet open and pulled out a small plastic bottle. In the near darkness, he could not read the printed label. Paul shook four of the tablets into his hand and quickly swallowed them. As they were going down, he briefly thought how he hoped that the pills had been the Motrin that he had been planning on and not some of Michelle’s Midol. He decided that he did not care and walked unsteadily back to the bedroom.
As he left the bathroom, Michelle brushed past him, and with a grunt of a greeting, shut the bathroom door.
Paul bumped the small nightstand as he returned to the bed, and heard several empty glass bottles fall and hit the hardwood floor. Fortunately, it seemed as if none of them broke this time. He collapsed back on the bed and tried to lie as still as possible.
After several minutes the toilet flushed, and the sink started flowing. Paul distinctly heard the sound of the pills shaking around in the plastic bottle as Michelle fought with the childproof cap. Soon she was coming out of the bathroom, and he noticed that she was wearing the blue, oversized, knee-length New England Patriots tee shirt that she frequently wore around the house.
When she dropped back down, the whole bed rocked, and he immediately moaned with discomfort as his head started pounding all over again.
“Sorry,” Michelle said in a slightly slurred voice.
Paul grunted a reply that she understood meant that he was not genuinely angered.
They lay still, not speaking for several minutes, then finally Michelle said with a hint of humor in her voice, “Do you think we will ever learn?”
“It’s not as much learning, as remembering. Remembering how terrible the next morning feels.”
“Are you still up to going?”
Without hesitation, Paul answered, “Definitely, I’ll be okay in a couple of hours, I just need some coffee and toast, and then I’ll be as good as new. What about you?”
Michelle took a little longer to answer, but finally agreed, “Let’s not waste the day, just because we had a little too much to drink last night.”
After several more minutes, they finally got up, and Michelle went back to the bathroom. This time she endured the bright light as she started the hot water in the shower.
Paul headed to the kitchen and got the container of coffee from the overhead cabinet; he scooped two spoonfuls into the filter compartment of the coffee maker; he added water and hit the power button.
While he waited, Paul went into the office, which was next to the living room, he sat down at the computer and checked his email. While there he also read the news and sports scores.
As he was finishing reading, the coffee maker beeped that it was ready. He was finishing his first cup when Michelle came out of the bathroom.
“Coffee is ready,” Paul told her as he headed off to take his shower.
Michelle quickly poured hers and headed off to the computer, to conduct her own morning ritual that was similar to Paul’s but lacked the sports scores.
By the time Paul’s shower ended, she was dressed, and there was a plate of dry toast on the table in the kitchen.
Thirty-eight year old, Paul Kingsman grew up as an only child in a single-parent home, on the north side of Boston. His father, a firefighter with the Boston Fire Department, had developed brain cancer and died when Paul was only seven years old.
His mother, Emma Kingsman, worked hard to provide for her son. Working long hours as a surgical nurse, she fought to balance the need for employment and the need to be at home for her son.
Paul excelled in school even though he had a knack for getting into trouble. He had been arrested twice in his high school years for minor juvenile offenses, but still managed to earn an academic scholarship to the University of Washington. While there, he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Quantum Mechanics. After that, he finished his doctoral studies at Berkley.
While at Berkley, Paul met Maureen Kraft, who was working on her Master’s degree in Psychology. The two began dating, and two years later they married and had two children, Heather and Adam.
During these years, Paul made some remarkable investments with extremely good payoffs, several of which were so profitable and well-timed that an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission was started but never turned up anything inappropriate.
Paul’s marriage only lasted four years before Maureen left him. She stated that his work and education had so absorbed him that she needed something else.
Paul returned to Massachusetts and founded The Kingsman Research Institute. Paul’s small fortune from his investments and various grants provided funding for the growing institute.
The Kingsman Research Institute primarily studied Quantum Mechanics and how the barrier between space and time worked.
A year ago, Paul sustained minor injuries to his back and shoulder. This injury was the result of a car driven by Michelle Rogers, rear-ending him at a stop light near a shopping mall on the north side of the city.
Michelle was a high school math teacher in Boston and was also recently divorced. She was a stocky woman who stood about five foot six inches. She had long brown hair which she always wore pulled back.
After being married for six years, the doctors told Michelle and her husband Derek, that despite all they had tried, she was not going to be able to have children. Apparently, her eggs were not healthy and could not be fertilized.
The doctor told them that they had several options, including locating a surrogate egg donor, or adoption. While this news crushed Michelle, her husband came up with another plan. He moved out of their home and filed for a divorce.
Less than six weeks after the divorce was finalized, Michelle learned from a mutual friend that her ex-husband was an expectant father.
Following the traffic accident, Michelle and Paul had begun dating. Their divorces had, however, changed their outlook on life. Paul, while still committed to his work, took most weekends and evenings off, something he would have never have done before. He also had hired an assistant director of the institute who oversaw much of the ongoing research.
Michelle had also changed. While she once was very conservative in dress and behavior, she had become much more relaxed and almost reckless at times. This behavior change was one of the things that Paul was most attracted to since it fit his personality very closely. He often had difficulty imagining her as she had been. When she showed him photos of her previous self, Paul could not help feeling as if he was looking at a completely different person.
They had been living together for just over a year, and neither was in any hurry to try marriage again, though they both thought it was only a matter of time.
Michelle had come to accept that she would never be a mother, and Paul, having two kids already was not troubled by the idea.
Michelle was extremely fond of Heather and Adam and looked forward to the times when they came to visit almost as much as Paul did.
Michelle and Paul walked out the side door of the house and into the two and a half car connected garage. They were both dressed in denim shorts and had sandals on their feet. Michelle’s blouse was all white, and she was carrying a large bag over her shoulder. Her long brown hair was pulled back and held in place with a clip.
Paul was wearing a red and black striped polo shirt and was pulling a large wheeled blue cooler.
They both were already wearing their wrap-around sunglasses, and Michelle assumed, based on the way her head still felt that she would probably have them on until she got into bed tonight.
They climbed into the navy blue Ford Expedition, and Paul headed out of the driveway and turned to the left.
“How are you feeling?” Paul asked.
Michelle looked at him with an expression of disgust. “I feel terrible. I haven’t felt like this in a couple of months. I need some more coffee. Do you mind stopping?”
“No problem. I could use one too. Do you have any more Motrin in your bag or should I get some?”
“Don’t bother, I brought the whole bottle with me; you can have all you need.”
“Good,” Paul said with a nod of approval.
After several blocks, they pulled into a Mobil gas station, and Paul went inside to get the drinks. After paying, Paul was walking back to his vehicle when he saw Tom Wallace walking confidently toward him.
Tom worked for Paul and served as the assistant director at The Kingsman Research Institute. Over the last few years, they had become good friends.
Having studied together at the University of Washington, Paul was very impressed with Tom and his ability to beat problems down in the lab. Tom would work an issue for as long as it took until he finally had it licked. He often came up with things that Paul had never considered and more often than not, he was right.
Unlike Paul, Tom did not have his Ph.D. Instead, after completing his Master’s degree, Tom choose to concentrate his efforts more on working and the family that he and his wife had started. Paul reluctantly had to agree that Tom had made a better choice. Tom had three amazing kids, and Linda Wallace was a beautiful person, and not just physically.
Tom indeed seemed to have the perfect family and marriage.
Paul was at times jealous when he thought about Tom’s family situation. If he had made better choices, he could have had the same thing. Instead, he had an ex-wife and two children that he only got to see about every other month.
When Paul founded the institute, he hunted Tom down and found him working at a government-run research facility in central California.
Paul offered to double his salary if Tom agreed to come and work at the Kingsman Institute. When Tom finally accepted, Paul moved him and his family across the country.
Now almost three years later, Paul was glad he had gone to the expense and effort to bring Tom on board. Their research would never have progressed to the point where it had without Tom’s involvement. Also, they were close friends.
“Hey, Tom. What are you up to this morning?” Paul asked.
As soon as he had asked it, Paul knew he had made a mistake. He knew where Tom was heading, Tom was dressed better today than he ever did at work, and it was Sunday.
“How are you doing Paul? We are on our way to church, but I needed to get some gas first.”
Paul nodded, “We’re headed to the marina. We’re going to spend the day on the boat. You should join us. We had a great time last month with you guys.”
Tom replied, “The weather is perfect for that, I suspect you’ll have a great day. But, we can’t go today. By the way, are you feeling ok? You don’t look good?”
Paul grinned, “We did a little too much partying last night, and now we are paying for it.”
Tom nodded his understanding, “Why don’t you and Michelle come with us? The marina and the nice weather will still be there in two hours.”
Paul chuckled, “You never give up. Do you?”
When Tom did not reply right away, Paul added: “Today is too nice a day to go sit in a church, I think we will stick with the boat.”