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That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles
I watched him lay peacefully as a group of nurses surrounded him on the hospital bed he now occupies. The aroma of the hospital was slowly working its way to my head after being there for a couple of hours. The man that was now in critical condition was one who I had grew closer and closer too over the past couple weeks.
It was a cold, windy day when I stormed out of the office. My fist were clenched down in the deep pockets of my Levis, afraid if I took them out I might go back inside and do something I will regret. After ten years working as the writer of the New York Journal, it was over in the blink of an eye. With anger, I trudge across the street and made my way into one of the most popular bars around. I came here frequently when I could not find the right words to fit into the story I was working on.
As I was ordering a drink, I glanced over my shoulder and saw the fellow next to me writing something of some sort. The bartender handed me my drink as I sat down in the chair next to him.
“You look familiar,” he said quickly. “You work for the newspaper, right? You are, um, Johnny Taylor.”
“Yep that’s me. I worked there until about a half hour ago,” I said in a dull voice. He kept looking at me with a blank stare, so I explained, “The company has recently hired a new writer. They said he is young, and full of new ideas, so they decided to let me go. I don’t completely understand because I have been working there for quite some time, and have never had any complaints about my writing.”
“Oh I am terribly sorry. You know, I work for a research team out in West and am looking for someone for the new study I just started last week. Would you be interesting in working with me?”
Johnny thought carefully about this, and figured he had nothing to loose, and finally answered, “I would be more than happy to have this opportunity. When do I start?”
“Here is my card. Come by my office tomorrow at eight. Do not be late”, he said with a warming but serious smile. He got up from the bar and began to leave, when he turned back and said “Oh, pardon my manners, my name is Josh Swanly.”
“Johnny Taylor,” I said with a wide grin.
When I walked into the office, I felt like it was my first day in high school. I was not familiar with the area, or any of the people. I walked over to what looked for a secretary’s desk and asked for Josh. She directed me to a large room, so I knocked quietly and entered. Inside the room, there was a large man about his middle forties plopped into a large couch besides his desk.
“Good morning, “Josh said.
“Good morning,” I replied.
“Johnny, I would like to introduce you to Chauncy Williams,” said Mr. Taylor.
I walked over to shake his had, expecting him to stand up to greet me, but he just sat there as I shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you,” I said.
“Same here,” he replied in an annoyed tone.
“Now listen here, John,” Josh spoke carefully. This job is not going to be easy for you. As you can see, Chauncy is not healthy for his age, and he is overweight. He does not care about what he eats, or how this affects his body. Many experts have tried to tell him how to change, but he just will not listen. Your job is to teach him how to take care of himself, and clearly demonstrate the repercussions of his actions.”
“Me?” I stammered. “I have no special training in this sort of area. I mean, I did want to be a doctor when I was a young boy, but I am not an expert. If professionals have not had success why are you asking me?”
“Because I see potential in you, John. It appears to me that your type of personality and cleverness will have a positive affect on him.”
I was about to tell him I wasn’t going to do this, but then an idea popped into my head. I would change my eating habits into more of his style, and show him exactly what he is putting his body through.
“Alright, I’ll do it. I have an idea that I think might work,” I said.
“Excellent. At the end of the month, I will be checking on you. You are required to live together, which will be beneficial.”
I walked over to Chauncy and told him that I decided we would live at his house, so I could get the feel on how he lived. He slowly stood up, and I followed him out the door. I said goodbye to Josh on my way out and told him I would do my best.
When we arrived at his house, I walked into what looked like Old McDonald’s farm. There was candy wrappers, old cans, and dirty clothes scattered all over the house. On top of that, the house smelt like weeks old garbage that has been sitting out in the sun. I immediately opened up as many windows I could find. My plan was to observe how he lived for two days, then I would have a place to start. After all of the windows were open, I sat down beside him on the couch and told him my plan. He seemed like he was too zoned in on the television and not listening to what I was saying. On that note, I got up and sat in the Lazy boy chair in the far corner, and stared at the television while I perfected my master plan.
The next two days were probably the longest of my life. He sat on that couch the whole time, except when he needed to use the bathroom. Whenever he needed something from the other room, he would ask me to get it, and I did it willingly to see if he even cared about his activity level. His laziness is the main contribution of his problem.
The third day came around, and I told him to get up and put on some clean clothes. Today, would be the start of my experiment. For breakfast, I had a yogurt, and Chauncy had a whole plate of bacon, and the leftover cherry pie from last night. To start off the day, we are going to eat lunch at the Old Country Buffet. The tricky part is, we are switching eating habits. Basically, I can eat all the food I want, and all you get to eat is a salad.
“What!” he shouted with obvious shock causing the building to shake.
“Get over it,” I said with a lot of authority in my voice. “Things are going to change around here whether you like it or not.” Quickly, I grabbed my wallet and rushed him into the big blue van, and we sped five miles down the street to the “magnificent” Old Country Buffet. “So, what do you normally eat here?”
On a typical day, I would have 8 chicken legs, 2 plates of Mac and cheese, and a couple helpings of the “special of the day.” My jaw dropped like an anchor falling down to the bottom of the sea.
“Wow,” I honestly did not know what else to say, I mean, I knew he had some bad habits, but this… this is going to take some serious work.
After about an hour, we both finished our new diets. I was bloated, and he was complaining on how famished he was. Next, I asked him what he normally does after lunch. He then said that he would go home, watch television, and take a nap. Today, that is what I am going to do, and you are going for a 30-minute walk. I will be driving around to make sure you do not cheat.
Later that evening, I decided to go out to dinner. We went to what he called “heaven”. Yes, it was Mickey D’s, AKA McDonalds. Like earlier, I asked him what he would normally eat. He said he would get a quarter pounded, fries super sized, and to top it off two apple pies, and a hot fudge sundae. Like earlier, I ate what he would normally, and he had a salad. We repeated this process for the next two weeks, each day I began to feel heavier and have less energy. Even walking to the door became too much of a task. I gained around 25 ponds, while he lost about 15. This process was going great, until one morning, on Chauncy’s walk, he did not return home. I began to worry, but could not gather the energy necessary to go to look for him. Two hours later, the phone rang with a sharp piercing sound that shot across the room. It was the hospital; Chauncy had suffered a massive heart attack, and was in critical condition. I immediately called up Josh and we agreed to meet at the hospital as soon as possible.
I exited the room to find Josh waiting for me in the waiting room.
“I thought he was going well, wasn’t the experiment working?” said Josh, almost pleadingly.
“The trial was working, but it was too late. The years and years of bad eating habits and poor lifestyle decision had finally caught up to him. But, because of the recent change, the doctor says he has a good chance of surviving and living a normal life once again.”
“Well… thanks Johnny for helping my brother,” he slowly said with obvious despair.
“Your brother?” I repeated. “Why didn’t you tell me this?”
“Must have slipped my mind”, he said with a small smile across his face.
Chauncy was lucky that I had come along to help him make this change. Even though he had bad habits, I was able to transform them into a better lifestyle. He believed that he would be that way all of his life, until this very day. Now, if Chauncy survives, he will live on to have a better life and experience new things in life he was never able to do before because of his years and years of unhealthy lifestyle.