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Randall Wilshire is the son of Hazel Wilshire, the center of high society in the city of San Francisco. When Hazel realizes that she is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she tasks William to build a place where she can just disappear from public view. She wants to maintain her dignity and have people remember her just as she is to avoid embarrassment. In less than two years Wilshire Manor is completed. Small cottages stood throughout the grounds; several dining rooms offered different themes; a staffed hospital and physical therapy facility were built, and all manner of recreational activities were available to the residents. Entry into the Wilshire Manor required staff approval and wealth to pay the hefty monthly fees.
In 1928 an elegant couple arrived at the manor to literally drop off their teenaged son. There we no goodbyes, and some fifty two years later we find John Preston fishing in a pond with no hook on the line. This is the boy dropped off in 1928 and all of his years have gone by in the protected environment of Wilshire Manor. No one dares to invade his space by the pond, and no one sits at the table that he claims during meals. John has never had a visitor during these years and one cannot help but wonder what goes through his mind as he sits fishing day after day. On rare occasions he will allow someone to sit with him at his corner pond and the things on his mind come forth through the stories he tells. Thus it begins….
Two elderly women approach John one day and when he smiles they know that it is OK to join him by the pond. John tells them that he was raised on a farm in Kentucky. The family was not well off and his favorite activity was hunting. By the time he was sixteen he saved to buy a 30-06 Winchester with a six power scope. He practiced so much that he could hit a frying pan at 400 yards. John joined the Army during World War II and could out shoot everybody. The Army took note of his skills and assigned John to a three man sniper team to take out small enemy groups trying to sneak around American soldiers to mount an attack. They were on their own with no backup and radio contact was forbidden unless they spotted a huge group of enemy soldiers. Every assignment went well until an enemy plane spotted them. The three men made a decision that they hoped would eventually lead them back to their unit and after about six days what a discovery they made! They saw enough to know that they had to break radio contact or many Americans would die! Their heroic actions saved a lot of lives and earned each of them Silver Cross.
One particular day John was in the mood to tell a story and since Alice was the only person around, he told her to join him. John tells Alice that he was odd as a kid and loved chemistry. He was the only child of a doctor and when his father noticed his interest in medicine he gave him an old microscope and eventually John had his own little lab, including a stained white lab jacket that was too big for him. His father encouraged him to learn all that he could and support his efforts in every way. He advanced far faster than the other kids did and by the time he was 22 or 23 had several degrees and a doctorate in Development Biology. John’s father passed away from an inoperable brain tumor and left a huge inheritance. John decided to use his knowledge and money to find a way to eliminate diseases. After many experiments on animals a human test subject seemed to be the next step. His quest carried him out of the country and back, but in one last effort John injected a human deathbed patient with cells that may cure his illness. He immediately left after injecting the patient (since experimenting on humans was illegal) and when he placed an anonymous call to the hospital after some time, the nurse said the man had fully recovered and had walked out with his family. This man had cancer, but was it the injection that cured him? Will anyone ever know?
Do not miss this one! All of the stories were short, but well developed and very entertaining. Quite a few of them made me sit back and think about life in general and I am proud to say that I feel more enlightened. I give it 3 out of 4 only because of some grammatical errors that a little editing will handle.
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