“I’m proud of you son,” Mr. Walls said as he hugged Ronald. “Graduating MIT with a Masters in Engineering.” Mr. Walls glowed as he broke the hug.
“Thanks, dad.” Ronald stepped back. “You too, mom.” Ronald leaned in and wrapped his arms around his mother. “You’re the best parents I could ever want.”
“Well, now,” Mrs. Walls sobbed. “There were times you didn’t always say that.”
“Water under the bridge.” Ronald broke the hug from his mother. “Trust me. I couldn’t have done it without your support. That and Danielle’s.” He turned and extended an arm to a blond woman standing nearby. “The best girlfriend a man could ever want, and I’m glad she’s with me.”
Several months later…
“Welcome to Baxter Technology.” Mr. Stewart extended his hand to Ronald. “We hope you’ll like it here.”
“Thank you Mr. Stewart,” Ronald said, his voice breaking from the vigorous shaking of his arm. “I’m sure I will. The work you’ve done with deep sea exploration and even the space program will be plenty challenging. I want to get my feet wet as soon as I can.”
“Good,” Mr. Stewart said. “You start Monday. Take this weekend and do something selfish.” He walked Ronald through the glass doors and down the steps. “See you Monday.”
Ronald drove to his one-bedroom apartment. His legs took the stair three at a time. He jingled his keys in front of the knob, but the door was yanked open.
“Well,” said the blue-eyed blond standing in the door. “How’d it go?” She left her mouth opened and held her breath.
“I start Monday!” Ronald threw his hands up in the air, then dashed forward. He embraced Danielle and locked his lips onto hers. “But first, there is something I have to do. Get changed, we’re going out.”
“R-R-Ronny!” Danielle stepped back then moved for the bedroom.
When the door closed, Ronald went to kitchen and grabbed the cookie jar on the top of the refrigerator. Sticking his hand in, he pulled out the small box he stashed in there when they moved in. He shoved the box into his jacket pocket and waited.
A few minute later and Danielle stepped out of the bedroom. She wore her nice dress, a strand of pearls, and fresh make-up. “I’m ready.”
Ronald smiled as he held her hand towards the car. He opened her door and then drove to a nice restaurant. They ordered steak and wine. It would be some time before they could afford this again.
At the lull in the conversation, Ronald pulled the box out of his pocket. He opened it towards Danielle and proposed marriage to her. In standard fair, she said yes. Danielle trembled through the desert, and out to the car. She was to be married.
On the drive home, Ronald said he was the luckiest man in the world.
Three years later…
“Ronald,” Mr. Stewart said as approached the desk. “This is a standard form. We give it to all our employees that help us get a patent.”
“Really?” Ronald turned away from his keyboard and monitor. “A patent?”
“Yes,” Mr. Stewart answered with a smile. “You did most of the work and your names goes on it. Plus,” he pulled out another form. “Because it a high seller, you get profit sharing. It isn’t much, but few people get that right away.”
“Profit sharing?” Ronald gaped at Mr. Stewart. “It was just a simple valve for better flow of oxygen.”
“We have used it for more than just oxygen,” Mr. Stewart said. “So far, it has worked for all our other gaseous delivery systems as well.” Mr. Stewart leaned forward. “It exceeded safety standards across the board. Great job! Keep it up.”
“I will.” Ronald signed the forms where indicated then gave them back to Mr. Stewart.
When Ronald got home, his good news was overshadowed by more good news. “I’m pregnant,” Danielle shared her news.
Five years after that…
“It is an honor to promote you, Ronald.” Mr. Stewart finished signing the paperwork. “I remember your first day here. You’ve done nothing but excel.”
“I like my job and the people I work with.” Ronald shrugged and smiled. “It’s fun to invent crazy gadgets and other things. Especially when people have a use for them.”
“Yes, that is rewarding.” Mr. Stewart looked up from the last piece of paper. “We also like it when you save lives and enhance the world around us.”
“Yeah,” Ronald smiled. “I like saving lives, too.” His face flushed and his eyes watered.
Seven years beyond…
“Hello?” Danielle held her cellphone up to her ear.
“Dani! Excellent.” Ronald’s voice was muffled by the background noise around him. “I need you to go into the emergency fund and empty it.”
“What?” Danielle walked to the bedroom, then the closet. “That’s supposed to be for emergencies. Life or death.”
“I know,” Ronald said, his voice sounding breathy. “This is that. Or will be.”
“What happened?” Danielle put the plastic card into her wallet and grabbed her car keys. “Are you hurt?”
“No. Just don’t believe what you see on TV.” There was some other noises that muffled Ronald’s voice. “At least not all of it is true.”
“TV. Ronny-” The line went dead.
Danielle grabbed the remote from the nightstand and tapped the power button. The large flat screen television glowed, then displayed the news.
The reporter read from the prompter off camera. “Mechanaton’s terror spree for the last three years has come to an end.” He paused as he touched his ear piece. “Oh, ladies and gentlemen, it seems that we have exclusive footage of the police taking him in. Stockade and Umber of the Valiant Squad were able to bring him down. There. Right there.”
The video paused on an image of a man in a dark green costume. His wild hair sticking out at different angles. The eyes were wide, and the mouth clenched shut.
“We have a name. The police have finished booking him and have run his finger prints. It came back with-”