Character: John Nash “A Beautiful Mind”
Disclaimer: The following story has been written with no intention of claiming ownership or solicitation, nor does the author claim the movie character(s) as his/her own. The movie character(s) have been borrowed solely out of a love of the particular movie and is not intended for any other purpose but amusement and entertainment.
It was nearly April 7th, and Karen reviewing her presents for John was still not satisfied. Okay, technically, it wasn’t her John’s real birthday which was in December when his movie came out, but it was the big one that all the brothers celebrated together, the Creator’s birthday.
Was it just a year ago that she and John were toasting RC’s marriage? What a difference a year could make. She finally had found love, and John was stabilized with his illness. There were still the odd spells now and then when he wasn’t lucid, but mostly his hallucinations were now auditory and not so much visual. They were easier to handle and recover from.
Getting back to her original predicament, Karen wanted to give John something really unique and special to show him how much she loved him. She had been racking her brains but had come up with nada.
She had first thought about asking Chelle if they could go on a little trip outside the Point. He had been there long enough now. It would be safe, but Karen was petrified that something bad would happen. She couldn’t help but recall the first time she had taken him outside the Point, just to the nearby town. What a disaster that had been! She was much more cautious about spur of the moment whims without getting counsel from Chelle.
Maybe she should go to Scents, Swords and More and look around. Even if she didn’t find anything there, Tina was always good with suggestions. But Karen knew John wasn’t into candles or having an individual scent whipped up for him.
Too bad she couldn’t cook. Ainslee had those wonderful erotic recipes. No, she didn’t even want to attempt making any of them. All it would result in was a lot of mess and a lot of wasted food as the dishes would prove to be inedible. She was nothing but 100% positive in her negative domestic skills.
What if she wrote him a poem? That would be creative, but she was suffering a bit from writer’s block lately. She would love to record a song for him. There were so many love songs out there that just seemed to use the right words far better than she could. She could get Arthur to help her tape it. He often pre-taped the hymns he did at church services.
She had a reflective smile on her face as John came through the door.
“Is that smile for me or are you thinking of some other devilishly handsome fellow?”
She ran to him, throwing her arms around him and giving him a huge kiss. “Well I was looking out the window a while ago and caught a glimpse of the Captain about to take his morning swim. And you know how Jack has a certain reluctance shall we say to wear any attire. It was quite a stimulating view”, she teased him back.
“Bad girl”, he lightly admonished her. “I think it’s utterly shameless the way all of you ladies…What’s that awful idiom you use? Ah yes, perving on him. I don’t see how the poor man has any privacy at all.”
John went to the closet to get a change of clothes before taking a shower. “Besides he has the same face and general characteristics of all of us. What’s the attraction?”
Poor John didn’t have a clue, she thought. Aloud, she answered, “Jack is a different kettle of fish from the rest of you boyz. For starters, he’s got long blonde hair that makes you want to run your fingers through it and set it free. He’s got that nice mammoth chest that you can picture cuddling your head on. Those tight breeches that he wears emphasize his glorious masculinity. Those powerful arms…”
John looking at Karen with her eyes closed as she dreamily envisioned his brother was a little unsettled. He turned her to face him. “Enough, I think I know where you’re going with this.”
She snapped out of it. “Good, so the next time I catch you checking out Chriztine, Roberta or Denise, you’ll know how I feel.”
He actually blushed as Karen burst out laughing. “Oh yes, John; my love isn’t blind. I do notice.”
John draped his bathrobe over his arm and tried to come up with the proper countering response. “I look only to compare them with you and appreciate the unparallelled and inimitable qualities that you possess.”
“Give it up Nash.” She slapped him sharply on the behind as he darted past her to the safe zone of the bathroom. “You do need a bath after shovelling that big pile of B.S.”
He stopped before going in. “But darling, nobody surpasses you in your eloquent and refined turn of phrase.” John shut the door quickly as she threw a heavy book at him.
So okay, she wasn’t a delicate dainty rose, she admitted to herself. She was more like a prickly cactus but cacti did bloom now and then which made it all the more beautiful because it was such an unexpected contrast.
“I’m going out John”, she yelled. She certainly wasn’t going to find any inspiration sitting around inside.
She felt in her pocket for the apple that she fed to Nero whenever she took a walk. By the time she reached the stables, she was still stymied.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a sudden ball of black and white flash past her and out the gate. It was one of the wild barn cats that helped keep the mice population down. A light bulb went on in Karen’s mind.
A pet! She could get a pet cat for John. It would keep him from being lonely when she wasn’t here. It would also bring him out of his self-imposed exiles as he would have responsibilities to take care of it. The more she thought about it, the more she was certain that it would be the ideal present for John.
During the following week, she made her way to the local pound. She was heartbroken at the sight of the many cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs awaiting a good loving home.
She was particularly drawn to a tortoise-shell coloured one year old female tabby who just wouldn’t shut up. She kept on meowing and rubbing her nose against the door of her cage. It was by far the friendliest cat in the shelter.
Karen paid for it and made sure she had all her shots and was fixed. John would not be thrilled at the prospect of several kittens running amidst his precious papers.
She kept the cat at her own home for two days and found it adorable. She hadn’t named it. She wanted John to have that privilege.
As she drove to the Point on Friday, the little cat kept entwining herself around her legs. Thankfully, she kept her little paws off the gas pedal and brake. Karen needed all her concentration whenever she was driving.
When she arrived, she kissed the cat on her head. “I’ll be back to get you in a while and introduce you to your new daddy.” The cat simply meowed back and blinked lazily at her.
Karen was like a little kid as she took out each of her birthday presents for John and piled them up on his bed and then re-organized them in the order she wanted them to be opened.
He came in from working all day at the library to see her grinning widely like an eager little girl.
“What’s all this?”, he asked seeing the large mountain of gifts.
“Happy Birthday Sweetie.” Karen hugged him and lifted her face for his welcoming kiss.
“I see April 7th has come around again.” He detangled himself slowly from her arms.
“Well don’t just stand there. Open them already!” Her excitement was almost contagious.
He lifted one of the presents, held it to his ear and lightly shook it. “No ticking. I guess I’ve been a good boy then.”
“Yes you’ve been a wonderful boy this whole past year”, Karen agreed.
John patiently began undoing the intricate ribbons and tape she had painstakingly wrapped it in.
“C’mon John. Don’t save the paper. That’s something my mom always did. It made me furious. Just rip it.”
“Now that would be wasteful. I’m sure your mother was just being frugal.”
“My mother was being a pain in the ass, John.”
He gently shook his head at her in reproof. He wasn’t totally used to Karen’s deprecating comments about her family. He had been brought up to be respectful. However, he did realize that her family life was full of bad and painful memories.
He finally had got down to the last bit of tape. He peeked warily underneath the box lid, rummaged through the tissue paper and took out a beautiful antique wooden desk set consisting of a blotter, gold pen and pencil, pad holder and a tiny clock.
“This is so elegant. Thank you.”
“The clock has engraving on the back.”
He turned it over and read aloud. “To John with all my love. May each April 7th bring you much happiness, health and an abundance of hope. Karen”
“It’s lovely.” He pulled her close for a warm kiss.
She then hit him on the arm. “You’re not finished. Hurry up or it’ll soon be April 8th.”
One by one, he opened all of his gifts. Karen really had gone all out. She had bought him numerous articles of clothing–pants, jeans, T-shirts, shirts, sweaters and pajamas. He also had several new Cd’s.
“Notice, I even bought you that stuffy high-brow classical crud you like so much.”
He smiled at her. He knew she deplored his musical taste.
“You know you didn’t have to buy me all these though I appreciate the sentiment. You must have spent a great deal.”
“Well, yeah, the Visa’s maxed out again. But so what? I don’t have anyone else to spoil.” She drew him close for a cuddle.
It was late afternoon and they then proceeded to the tavern to celebrate with many of his brothers and their ladies.
John still wasn’t quite comfortable at big social gatherings, but he was getting better at making light conversation. While Karen flitted around mingling with everyone, he typically found himself talking to Jeffrey and one or two others.
Today, he was aware that as usual, there was a great throng of people around the Captain. Most of the multitude were of the female persuasion.
Jack’s arrival had seriously put Sid’s nose out of joint. He was constantly heard muttering to himself: “What do they see in him? He’s morbidly obese, can’t tell a joke to save his life and bores us all to death with his numerous tales of Nelson and naval warfare. And he’s so loud. Whenever he opens his mouth, he brays. It’s like we’re all deaf and mere riffraff on his precious quarterdeck.”
Sid wasn’t the only brother who thought twice about the popularity of Jack. John Nash couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy as he watched Karen and Kelly ogling him. Karen had read all the Patrick O’Brien books and often regaled him with anecdotes about Jack’s bravery and seamanship.
John absentmindedly patted his own stomach. Yes, he was much more in shape than Aubrey. But then again, he had seen with his own eyes Jack shimmy up the main mast to the very pinnacle of his ship as if he was as nimble and lithe as a monkey. He had to admit that he was disturbed by Karen’s enthusiasm for his newest brother.
He was drawn back into his discussion with Jeffrey and missed the wink that Karen gave Kelly after Jack butchered yet another well-known adage.
When couples started drifting out to their own private celebrations, he took Karen’s hand.
“Oh wait! I forgot something in my car. Why don’t you head up and I’ll meet you there.”
He went up to his room and sat down at his desk. Karen had already set up her gift for him on it. As he fingered the blotter, he marvelled again at her generosity. She had such a big heart. He sometimes wondered if he was worthy of it.
He reviewed his morning work until he heard Karen come in quietly. He didn’t turn.
“John, I have one more present for you”, she announced.
He pivoted in his chair expecting to see another prettily wrapped parcel. Instead he saw a furry creature nestled in her arms with a pink bow ludicrously perched on its head. It wriggled out of Karen’s grasp and leapt down to the floor.
John looked at her puzzled. “To whom does this animal belong to?”
She closed the door behind her quickly. “She belongs to you, Honey. Are you surprised?”
He closed the text he was reading with a sharp snap. “Very.”
When he didn’t say anything else, she crept up behind him. “I know you’ll just love her. I already do. She’s really friendly.”
Funny, the feline seemed anything but to him as it stalked its way around the premises with its tail straight up in the air.
“I also brought you all the stuff you’ll need for her: litter box, litter, food, scratching post, toys…”
He listened to Karen prattle on with one ear. With the other, he heard the beast relentlessly yowl. Not only did it constantly screech, it was also digging quite a groove into his carpet.
“You’ll have to train her John not to do that. If you start early and are firm, she’ll learn to use the post and not wreck your furniture.”
He hadn’t even thought about his furnishings.
Karen set up the litter box and put the cat’s paw into the litter. “Now, it knows where to go.”
“Can’t it just do its business outside like all other brutes?”
“No John”, Karen answered him with exasperation in her voice. “She’s an indoor cat. You don’t want her to get hurt by other animals or lost or run over, do you?”
He squelched his immediate response that promptly rose up in him–that he really didn’t give a damn what happened to this wretched little fur ball as long as it would go away.
“Heaven forbid”. The sarcasm escaped Karen.
“So what are you going to name her?”
“Name?”, he looked at Karen vacantly.
“A name, John? What are you going to call her?”
He got up and walked to his window and threw open the screen as the cat had just crawled out of the litter box. It obviously felt quite at home.
He was going to tell Karen it wouldn’t work. He had every intention of letting her know that under no conditions or circumstances, did he want or need a pet.
But when he looked at Karen’s face, he knew just how she would react. She would try to convince him that he didn’t know his own mind, that having someone to care for would be constructive for him, that he would think of her every time he looked at the stupid thing, that a lot of his brothers had pets. She then would feel hurt that he was rejecting her gift. The rest of the weekend would be ruined as she sulked and pouted or gazed at him with sad, pitiful, disappointing looks. He could never say no to her.
So he spoke up. “Cat, I guess.”
“You asked for an appellation. He’s ‘Cat’.”
Karen rolled her eyes. “He’s a she. Nash, you’re a genius and you can’t come up with something more original?”
The first week after Karen had left, the cat had made his life a living hell. It wrecked his box spring underneath his bed with its tiny claws; it scratched through the mesh of his stereo speakers; it urinated on his newspaper; it scattered all his research papers on his desk; it threw up on his favourite sweatshirt; it defecated in his bathtub; it kept him awake with its persistent caterwauling; it shed all over his suit jacket and it sat on his face almost smothering him while he slept.
He tried not to curse Karen or resent her. She had meant well. He thought of kicking the cat out and telling her it had run away or met an early demise. He couldn’t lie to her.
Each time Karen came, the cat transformed itself into an angel. It purred and snuggled up beside him on the couch. The moment she left, she would throw him a look of contempt and leap off to wreak more havoc.
As the weeks went past, he gradually became accustomed to the little nuisance and decided it deserved a more distinctive name. Opening a bottle of wine, he poured a glass and dipped it unceremoniously over the cat’s head. As the cat loudly protested and flipped out, he raised his glass to its rapidly disappearing hindquarters. “Here’s to you Pythagoras.”
Of course, Karen never did forgive John for naming their baby after the man considered to be the first pure mathematician.