by THE Twank
Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 06:57:36 AM EST
A Biochemist Goes To War Part II
The Country Club and the EIS.
Scene 1: Rory drives his ancient VW into the Douchbag Country Club parking lot. Beautiful day ... sunny ... warm. A patron addresses Rory; " Fantastic car ... where'd you get this antique?" "I bought it new in 1980 ... only car I've owned since. I'm new here ... thinking of joining. What's the procedure?" "The clubhouse is that way ... you can't miss it ... go in, ask for Albert at the desk ... he handles all new recruits. Welcome!"
Scene 2: Inside the Country Club. Albert is going over the rules with Rory: Initiation fee ... $150,000. ... non-refundable. Yearly membership fee ... $100,000. Membership includes: Free food, including beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Use of all greens and motorized caddies. Members must provide their own golf clubs. Balls can be purchased in the Pro Shop. Free massages ... first come, first serve ... arrange appointments early. Special massages in the back private rooms ... also by appointment. $200. per hour for use of the room ... client negotiates for the masseuse fee. We only hire 16 and 17 year olds . Clients rarely complain. Free use of steam bath ... swimming pool ... exercise/weight room. Etc. etc. Rory; "I heard you have an introductory offer for potential new members." Albert; "Correct. For $1000. you get a pass, good for 5 full days of membership. You can use those 5 days anytime for over a 6 month period starting from the day of purchase ... not good for special occasions, including golf tournaments. Anything else?" "I didn't plan to use any of the facilities today ... any way I could just look around, get the lay of the land?" Albert thinks quickly ... doesn't want the new guy wandering around. "Franklin, would you page Raymond please. Raymond shows our special guests around ... he's been with us for 7 years ... familiar with everything ... feel free to ask him any questions. Ah, Raymond ... this is Rory ... also known as The Doctor. Please show him around. I've got to go ... always a thousand things to see to. Have a great day, Rory. Welcome"
Scene 3: Rory and Raymond, walking, talking. Visiting the Pro Shop, the pool, steam rooms, all the standard places. Rory; " What about the maintenance facilities ... basement ... boiler room?" "You want to see that stuff?" "Yeah, in college, part of my scholarship was working with the maintenance staff ... cleaning rooms after classes, before the night classes show up; this whole place reminds me of the fraternities I avoided in college. Same sense of privilege ... we're better than the rest ... all that." Raymond realizes Rory is a little different from the usual member. Raymond; "I can tell you stories. Call me Ray ... all my friends do, which means no one else around here. I'm usually invisible until something breaks ... a toilet backs up ... a weird smell in the sauna ... you name it. I'm the Maintenance Department ... showing people like you around is my side gig ... everyone else around here is too important to show newbies around." "What's this special massage nonsense?" "Those are the hookers ... kids direct from Thailand ... Viet Nam ... Indonesia ... wherever the flesh traffickers can steal children. Nice kids ... they treat me decent ... the clients treat them like shit ... they know they can get away with it." So Rory gets to see everything ... water, AC/heating, the whole works. "So, anything else Doc?" "Am I allowed to see the kitchen ... the food prep areas?" "God, you are the curious sort. Sure, I'm friends with the help. All older ladies ... good folk ... they keep me well fed and send me home with treats. I may not get paid well but I won't starve." Finally, Ray drops Rory off at the front desk. "Ray ... thank you ... that was great ... hope to see you again." Rory addresses the counter guy; " I definitely want to have a five day pass."
Scene 4: Rory's place. He's working on his P.C. ... inputting a data set into a spreadsheet for one of his clients ... he's a scientific/statistical consultant for numerous businesses. That's how the bills get paid. Closes up that work ... brings up his notes on the Country Club. Still no idea how to deal with "the Frat boys" as he calls them. Phone rings; "Yeah, Rory here ... make it fast." "Well, aren't you all important." "Megan! ... long time ... bring me up to date ... kids ... the hubs ... have you bagged and tagged any stiffs lately?" "Part of the nursing biz that I try to forget." 10 minutes of conversation between old friends. Then, Rory; "I was meaning to call you. That bacterial sample you sent me ... dated May 4th ... had an Extreme Hazard label on it ... I've got it growing up in the basement, in the fume hood ... what is that shit?" "That's the reason I'm calling you. We had a patient ... now a stiff ... who had traveled in Africa ... don't know what his story was. I collected puss from his groin. It looked strange ... no one around here recognized it. We stayed in touch with the coroner ... apparently this guy died of a whole slew of things ... all biological ... no bullet holes for a change. This guy was suffering from necrosis of the genital area. The bacteria ... the sample I sent you ... impedes blood flow." "Wait a minute ... let me open up that document ... OK, shoot ... what are we dealing with." "My guess ... three stages. Stage one ... following infection and restricted blood flow ... impotence. Stage two ... sterility. Stage three ... if the patient is still alive ..." Rory can't believe what he's hearing; Rory: "There's a possibility that this bug could make a guy's dick fall off?" "That's not the clinical language we use but ... yeah. Course that shouldn't bother you ... you never use your dick except for taking a wizz or have you changed your habits?" "Call me up to bust my balls ... nothing new. What's the effect on women?" "Depends upon the marriage. Some women want a husband with a dick ... some think their husband IS a dick." "OK, let me try again ... what happens if a woman gets infected?" "We don't have any data ... it would probably be harmless. No male plumbing to screw up. Rory ... be careful with this bug ... this African stuff can be tricky ... could be totally new ... worth a dozen research papers to normal geeks ... might have a totally different life cycle from typical microbes. Don't turn your back on it ... it could bite you ... or worse" "Gotcha. Take care of the kids. Give the Hubs a big sloppy kiss." Hangs up. Rory to himself; "Work to do ... got to understand that bug ... no time to waste."
Scene 5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, specifically the The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), the CSI for the disease Feds. Lots of labs ... offices ... mostly empty ... budget cuts ... a government that doesn't believe in science. A huge banner across one wall: "Pray No One Gets Sick. It's the only tool we can afford." Was once a joke but no longer. Jeff Piccard is an EIS agent ... been in the biz for 10 years ... second in command to the head of the EIS. Jeff is a science geek with a snooper's nose ... his boss Leonard is a career politician. Lenny doesn't know half the names of the lab equipment ... don't ask him how anything works. His best line, "Get me an answer, ANY answer, something I can feed to the press before they shut this entire building down!" Jeff can remember when the EIS actually functioned as a scientific organization ... now it's just a political nightmare. Jeff in Lenny's office. Lenny; "What's the status on Senator Dipshit's dead dog? I'm getting heat on that." Jeff; "Nada. Nothing definitive. Should we make something up ... you'll have to sign off on it?" "Yeah. Make it something that sounds reasonable ... nothing the Senator can have an aide check on wikipedia ... use some technical language that sounds impressive ... get creative ... have it on my desk by tomorrow morning." "Business as usual. Fine. This really sucks ... we're handling dead pets. (Pause) Remember how we had Rep. Krupt's dead parakeet in here ... tiniest autopsy EVER!" Both men crack up ... Lenny reaches for the bottle in his desk. Rory; "None for me. Speaking of Rep. Krupt ... nothing to report on his dead family. Didn't help that we weren't allowed to autopsy the stiffs. All we had was the data from the hospital personnel." Lenny downs a belt. "The Rep. didn't want his family cut up ... they were already dead ... autopsies won't bring them back." "Yeah, but we have no clue what killed them ... an entire family?" "Probably ate at the wrong place ... happens all the time ... just hits the news when it's somebody important. What else you got?" "Get this ... that cluster of 27 unexplained deaths in Illinois ... flooded the local hospitals ... we kept it quiet hoping something would break ... something that would get you that gold star ... I've got nothing. I went out there ... visited 6 hospitals where the victims croaked ... saw the hospital data ... nothing definitive. The autopsies ... organ failures ... kidney ... liver ... heart ... brain swelling. Nothing tying the victims together ... old, young, male, female, teenagers, different professions, unemployed, ... and get this ... the local Pastor in the lot. What could all these people have in common? I interviewed an old lady on site ... she said that many were her friends ... protesters of the local Planned Parenthood ... I thought I had a lead but ... the Pastor ? ... he never did any protesting. Doesn't make sense. Curious thing though ... happened less than 80 miles from Rep. Krupt's dead family. Any ideas?" "Yeah, don't bother me unless you have something I can give the press. 27 hick stiffs ... nobody gives a rat's ass about them but that would be a good one. The newspapers would eat it up! I'd be a hero. What else?" The conversation continues.
Scene 6: Rory's basement lab. Rory is filming an open petri dish of Megan's bacteria in the fume hood. Walks away. Six hours later, Rory checks on the patient. The agar in the petri dish is dry ... the bacterial residue looks odd ... Rory replays the film ... speeding through most of the data ... stopping at a certain point. This could be it. More work needed ... but this could be it. Only one problem ... have to do something about Ray.
Next Time: Part III Send in the Drones