The Keys to Heaven
If it shoots or explodes, I'm your guy.
During high school, his mother started dating a man. A kind man, a hard worker. In an attempt to win his girlfriends sons affection and approval, he purchased a classic Mustang to restore together. Steven, a mechanic by trade, taught Garret the intricate workings of all the various parts and their interaction together. Garret, a natural with his hands, quickly picked it all up to the surprise of Steven.
Evenings and weekends passed in this manor until tragedy struck. Working under the car after school before Steven got home from work, a jack slipped and crushed Garrets right leg from the knee down. Pinned for several minutes in astronomical pain, Garret passed out until Steven came home and found him. Calling the ambulance, and jacking the car back up enough to pull Garret out wasn’t enough to save his leg.
In the hospital, Garret woke up to find his right leg gone from the knee down. Depressed and hopeless about his future, his recovery was going slowly. Bills piled up, putting stress on the relationship between his mother and Steven. His mother blaming Steven for this accident, crippling her son and bankrupting them. Garret pretending to sleep through their quiet arguments in his hospital room.
Eventually he was recovered enough to begin fitting a prosthetic. His first appointment, unwilling to be wheeled to the prosthetics lab, he took the long walk on the crutches furnished by the hospital. Uncomfortable and exhausted when he got to the lab, he was greeted by a tall, strong technician who called himself Hef. He felt immediately at ease around this man. His kind, gentle but powerful presence comforted Garret. And it didn’t hurt that he also had a prosthetic right leg.
After several fitting sessions and many physical therapy sessions, they became good friends, Garret finding it easy to confide in Hef all the problems in his life. On the day that Garret finally was given his final prosthetic, it was slightly different from the one they had agreed upon.
Hef, putting a hand on Garrets shoulder, confided in him about his real father. Hef, or Hephaestus, was indeed his father. A God. A greek God. Garrett reeled from this revelation. But he couldn’t deny it. He’s always been an outcast, always smarter, more dexterous. Even now, down a leg he still felt nimble. The longer they talked, the more Garrett’s life made sense. Bound for greater things, his ambition grew. Driven to hone his talents, he dedicated himself to learning everything he could, excelling in mechanical engineering. Eventually earning a Masters in it. A second in chemistry came harder, but he was fascinated.
Upon walking home for the first time since the fateful accident, he discovered a small box with a note on it in front of his door. Walking in with his mother, he opened it. It was a Leatherman multi-tool. Matte black metal, exquisite movement, a heft that belied its size. It felt right clipped to his belt. It felt powerful.
That night, sitting at his desk, reading, toying with his new Leatherman, there was a tap at his window. Then, after ignoring it, several taps. He moved to open it, and was greeted by a flurry of dark feathers and scaly talons. Opening his eyes, he found a large black bird, a raven, sitting the the edge of his chair. It cawed once, then said, ‘Hef’ before cocking his head, one black eye studying Garrett. The bird stayed, showing unusual intelligence, and stalwart companionship. Speaking infrequently, mostly one word at a time. Sometimes about food, sometimes what seemed like nonsense, and occasionally, it said just the right word to spur a solution to form in Garretts mind.
Shortly after graduating MIT, he was picked up by a weapons design firm, filling his head with the idea of protecting the weak, giving them the tools to forge the future that they wanted, not the one that was forced upon them by strict regimes and totalitarian governments. Giving people the means with which to fight back and earn their freedom. Garret quickly signed up, his abilities only blossoming. Quickly proving his worth, designing more effective and cheaper munitions, from bullet design to primary gun functions. Finding improvements in design, production and use.
After only a few short years He found himself at the head of his own R&D department. Having creative reign over scope and direction. Free to design whatever weapons he could dream up. A team of talented men and women working with him, but he was always miles ahead. p.
After several years, working on an experimental explosive delivery method. he discovered the dark side of the weapons trade. He stumbled upon the shipping manifests that showed the a weapons system that he developed last year being shipped to both sides of a civil war in Uganda.
Not knowing what to do, he confronted his boss, the only man he answered to in the company.
“Part of the job, Garrett. Its a bloody world, and we make money off of it. How do you think we pay for your pet projects?”
Disenfranchised, he left the company in disgrace. Wandering, not working, living off the embarrassing salary he was paid, eventually making his way down to Key West. Living an unassuming life, teaching at the college and volunteering with the homeless outreach, looking for any way he can begin to make up his perceived sins against mankind.