1.

He sat in the green, high back leather office chair and pushed off against the desk. The chair spun, and all the items in the office grew blurry.

The bookshelf behind him was stuffed floor to ceiling with volumes of medical knowledge encased in burlap covers and gold lettering.

To his left, the half bookshelf held models of human anatomy. The human hand with its layers of skin, muscle, nerves and blood vessels, and finally bone. An eyeball, twenty times its original size, with a plastic shell allowing one to see the conjunctiva, sclera, uvea, pupil, retina, and cornea. And a human skull, missing its top, giving the twisted grey matter its moment of glory.

In front of the desk were two leather chairs that patients sat in to hear good and bad news, and the naked skeleton, life-size, looming in the corner behind the door.

And the wall to his right, covered by three framed twenty-four inch by thirty-six-inch posters. One depicted the periodic table, another the reproductive system of men and women, and the third was three views of the human body stripped of skin, exposing the muscular form underneath.

Marcus mother always blushed when she caught sight of the reproductive systems poster. Marcus chuckled as he pointed out the man’s genitals, and his mother would scold him and say it wasn’t proper to talk about it.

Marcus’ hands caught the front of the desk and stopped his spinning. His vision didn’t stop, and it took a few moments for his brain to catch up to his body. When everything stabilized, he gazed around the room and sighed. The room was just the right temperature—not too hot and not too cold. It was not too big or too small. It had just the right amount of creepiness to it to stay cool for a twelve-year-old, but it wasn’t so creepy he couldn’t be in it. However, his grandfather threatened he would put a jar with a severed ear on the desk if Marcus were to ever show signs of being too comfortable there.

No, this was Marcus’ happy place, a place of mysteries and love and care. A place people got the help they needed from the man they needed: Marcus’ grandfather, Dr. Dutton.

On the desk, in one corner, was an old Mickey Mouse phone. It didn’t work, but it was cool, Mickey’s right hand holding the phone receiver, and his left hand over his heart. An extensive small adorned the face. Next to the phone was a bowl of peanut M&M’s, Marcus’ favorite. On the opposite side of the desk was a stack of papers filled with rows of numbers and stuff Marcus didn’t care about.

In the center of the desk was the latest JAMA magazine, and Marcus’ hands ached to open it. For no real reason other than his grandfather read it, and that meant the magazine was good, Marcus loved opening the pages and leafing through it. He didn’t understand most of what he tried to read, but just liking it put him on the same plan as his grandfather.

He grabbed a handful of M&M’s and popped them into his mouth. As he crunched away, he turned past articles with no diagrams or pictures, until he reached the middle of the magazine, and a small slip of paper stopped him cold. In his grandfather’s writing was a message that would forever alter Marcus’ life, and the Dutton family, forever.