It was the afternoon, and a lot of Steve’s friends and family were there. Rochelle, Richie, Sharon, Jocasta, Adrian, Kevin, Kio, Peter, Tenisha, Avery, Tae-yeon, Jessica, Sandy, Greg, Ramón, Stephanie, Jeff, Steve’s mother Alyssa, Brad and Vanessa were gathered together. Jeff had brought a television screen over, along with today’s telepaper and a remote.
“I’m so excited, Steve!”, said Alyssa. “This is a life memory – to be on national television!”
“Yeah”, said Brad.
“So am I”, said Vanessa. Steve’s sister Vanessa Carlton Bruise was a beautiful 19-year-old girl with long, wavy brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a white crop top with blue jeans and sandals.
“Are you all ready?”, asked Jeff. He was so excited that he was almost clowning when he said it.
The numbers 0 through F were visible on the telepaper. Number 0, the very first story, showed a picture of a Diamond-Zuckerman prion. “See this picture here?”, asked Jeff. “Let’s click on 0!” Jeff aimed the remote control at the telepaper and a feature came on TV.
Lindsay Ritter’s face was there. “Welcome to King TV”, she said, “I’m Lindsay Ritter.”
“It’s Lindsay!”, said Rochelle happily.
“Awesome lady”, said Kevin.
“At first glance”, said Lindsay, “Stephan Bruise might seem like a typical 16-year-old boy. He has freckles and braces, enjoys skateboarding, and likes to listen to Thirst and the Shrine Kneelers.” As Lindsay said “freckles and braces”, a shot of Steve in the hospital in his button-down shirt was shown. Steve’s smiling face was visible. As she said “enjoys skateboarding”, footage of Steve skateboarding, in striped polo and shorts, was shown. He was at Los Caballos’ local skatepark, Alan’s Skate. And as Lindsay said “likes to listen to Thirst and the Shrine Kneelers”, Steve was shown in button-down shirt at the hospital again, listening to his headphones.
The story continued. “But for the last few weeks, Steve has faced a daunting challenge. Steve has Diamond-Zuckerman disease, a fatal progressive disease that affects the brain and multiple other parts of the body.”
Richie started playing with the lapel on his jacket as he watched the feature. It was his nervous tic.
“I feel quite off”, Steve was shown saying. The caption read, “STEPHAN BRUISE, Los Caballos Hospital, Los Caballos, CA”.
Lindsay’s voice continued. “Diamond-Zuckerman disease, or DZD, is caused by prions, misfolded strands of protein that affect the cells of the body and turn them into other prions. Symptoms include dizziness, memory lapses, and even possibly blindness or deafness.”
It showed Dr. Thakkar talking. “RAVI THAKKAR, PhD”, the caption read. Dr. Thakkar said, “With DZD, the coördination goes – there’s a lack of coördination. People struggle to get up in the morning and get their clothes on. You might also have lapses in either long-term or short-term memory – or both. And then there are seizures.”
Richie began to cry at the video. Apparently, his tears were tears of sadness, not of joy.
“But Steve’s becoming famous!”, said Brad.
“Look on the bright side”, said Rochelle as the feature went on with an interview with Dr. Thakkar. “This is an awesome tribute to my boyfriend!”
Steve smiled after hearing Rochelle call him her boyfriend.
The video then showed a sound bite of Steve. “There’s a splattering kind of feeling. And the dizziness . . . I’ve felt dizzy a lot.”
“Steve and his friend Peter Stouffer say Steve contracted DZD while foiling four men in an AALL card theft ring in California. One man in the ring, Frank Precioso, 44, was arrested in Nevada on April 23. Fellow California men Lee Wayne Sutherland, Jeffrey ‘Switcher’ Hess, and John Jones are still on the loose.”
As they watched Peter speak on King TV, Rochelle was thrilled by this little ecomment:
#27Apr2028Story0 %Jen Delgado: @Truth or Consequences, NM !I am sending love my way 2 Steve and 2 NE1 who will ever catch DZD. Love conquers all! I <3 you Steve.
More ecomments streamed as Peter finished, and Richie was interviewed. Richie had looked down towards the camera and said, “This is a heartburst! I’ve gone on summer vacations with Steve for the last seven years. We’ve known each other most of our lives. We’re planning to go to Ecuador this summer. Please, God, I don’t want my friend to die!”
After Richie was done talking, they interviewed Rochelle. “I love Steve. I’ve known him since I moved to Los Caballos in the sixth grade. And to see him struggle to stand up, to see him unable to remember where his cellphone is . . . it really tears me up. You know, I’ve been wanting to date Steve for over a week, and we had to settle for a date at the hospital.”
Rochelle went on for the next several minutes, before a microscope image of DZD prions was shown and the process of infection and presentation of DZD were discussed. Jeff and Kevin wanted to learn the science, but most of the people in the room had their eyes glued to the stream of ecomments by now.
“And as for what Steve himself has to say to all of you, with DZD, or without:”, Lindsay opened.
“Always live free”, the feature showed Steve saying confidently.
“Reporting from Los Caballos, CA, I’m Lindsay Ritter!”, Lindsay finished off.
“Nicely done!” said Sharon, as Jeff ambled off to find the remote. Jocasta wanted to find out what feature B, the feature on the telepaper with the picture of a tiramisu, was about, but most of them just wanted to discuss the feature on Steve.
“Rochelle, you were great!”, Alyssa said, reaching over to hug Steve’s girlfriend. “Very eloquent . . . you didn’t let Steve’s illness stop you from speaking clearly. I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks, Alyssa”, said Rochelle.
“I can tell everyone at Swarthmore that my brother is famous!”, said Vanessa. “I love this.”
“I love this too”, said Brad. “And Steve, I love you.”