William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Forty

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They drove in Carson’s van.  Julia sat quietly in the passenger seat, staring blankly out the window.

“How do you market an illegal drug to women?” Carson asked.

“It’s all about branding,” Adam said.  “The vial has a little candlestick on it.”

“No, I mean how can you be sure that only women use it.  Wouldn’t tweaker guys be just as happy using it?”

“Are you kidding?  You ever smoke cigarettes?”

“Sure.”

“Ever smoke Virginia Slims?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Carson shrugged.  “They’re for chicks.”

“That’s right.  A guy will need a cigarette bad enough to make him want to die, but he won’t touch a Virginia Slims because it’s a women’s cigarette.  This is the same sort of thing.”

“So that’s why there is only one zombie,” Carson realized.  “Because most of the users are female.”

“That’s right.”

Carson gave him a quick background on Karen Sorrows.  “Born in 1990 to Muriel Sorrows and Dobs Dewey, both deceased.  Karen had a twin brother, Kevin, also deceased.  They were raised by her maternal grandmother, Millicent, who is now about 170 years old.  We met her last week; she looks good.  Karen shares half her DNA.”

“Interesting.”  Adam leaned forward in the back seat.  “Girls with no fathers.”

“What?”

“Girls with no fathers,” Adam repeated.  “So Karen had two parents but her mother was more or less a clone of the grandmother.”

Julia turned around and stared.  “You nailed that pretty quick.”

“Yeah, my girlfriend’s kid is a clone.”

Julia turned around.  “Excuse me?”

Carson pulled the van over to the side of the road.  “OK, none of this so far has anything to do with cloning.  How did we get from crack zombies to clones?”

“Meth zombies,” Adam said, “and I’m fairly certain that neither my girlfriend nor her seven year old daughter are regular Candlestick tweakers.”

“So what makes you think the girl is a clone?” Julia asked.

I can’t put my finger on it,” Adam said, “but they look alike and they smell the same.”

“They smell the same,” Carson repeated.

“I’m going with my gut here.  But I’m pretty sure if you do one of your DNA things, it will turn up that way.  I think it’s something they do in Haiti.”

“Millicent Sorrows isn’t from Haiti,” said Carson said.

“And Ruth Black isn’t…,” Julia paused.  “Well maybe she could be Haitian.  It’s hard to tell.”

“Can we meet your girlfriend?” Carson asked.

“Yeah, but later.  OK?”

“And she’s really hot, right?”

Adam leaned forward.  “She’s got these long legs…”

“Guys,” Julia interrupted.  “Can we move along?”

Carson pulled the van back on to the road.  “Karen and Kevin both turned up in the hospital with advanced liver cancer at age eleven, but were whisked away to this little demonic health spa.  The boy died, but Karen turned up again at the hospital a few weeks ago pregnant.  Has an abortion, fetus is a clone, goes back to the demonic health spa but this time gets sicker.”

“So whatever medications they are using to treat her have stopped working.”

“Yeah,” said Carson, “but it gets better.  They get Julia in to help, but the girl is already dead only still alive.”

“Like my mouse.” Adam nodded.

“Yeah, only a little bit more alive.  They tried to keep Julia there to help the girl but Julia panicked and Rocky came to save her and they took the girl.”

“I did not panic,” Julia interjected.

“You said you hit your panic button.”

“I did because I needed assistance and the cell lines were shut off.”

“I would panic too in that situation,” Carson said.

“I would have wet my pants,” Adam added.

“I did not panic,” Julia continued.  “If I had a sub-panic button on the phone, I would have pressed that instead.”

“Fine,” Carson continued.  “Julia did not panic, but instead made a rational decision to remove the girl from a substandard medical facility and transfer her to her spare bedroom.”

Adam undid the top button on his pants sighed with relief as his stomach expanded.  “So she’s alive?”

“Yes,” said Julia.  “She is alive.  She has a pulse and a heartbeat but she’s comatose.  You understand that this is highly illegal, right?”

“I’m sensing that,” Adam said.  “Why not just take her to the hospital?”

“We decided…,” Carson began, but Julia cut him off.

“We decided to wait,” she said.

Carson nodded.

Julia reached for her cellphone as they turned off the freeway.  She called Rocky.  “Hi baby, Carson and I are on our way home.  We’re bringing a guest, so I thought you might want to meet him and learn a little about him.”  She listened for a few moments, then held the phone out to Adam.  “Say your name into the mouthpiece.”

Adam did

“Thanks.   OK, we’ll be home in about ten minutes.  Love you, baby.”

“Who was that?” Adam asked.

“Rocky.”

“He’s your husband?”

“Yes he is.”

“Is he a doctor too?”

“No,” Julia said grinning.  “No, far from it.  But he is very supportive of our work.”

“What does he do?”

“You’ll meet him,” she said.  “You can ask him yourself.”

“Do me a favor,” Julia said when they pulled up to the driveway.  “Will you get out and open the gates?”

“Holy shit,” said Adam, inhaling to fix the top button on his pants.  “Is this your house?  This is like two million.  How are the schools?”

“The gate please,” Julia repeated.  “Just touch the gold plate.”

Adam frowned.  “All this security and you don’t have a little remote control thing?”

“I do,” she said, “but it’s in my car.”

Adam hopped out, pressed the gold plate and opened the gate.  Carson drove through, picked him up, and drove to the house.

Inside the den, Rocky Shannon drank a beer and watched as Adam’s fingerprint, transmitted from the gate plate, appeared on his screen.  Rocky entered his password and formatted one of the fingerprints.  He hit the SEARCH command, sending the digital information packet to a private contractor who had a use-license for the Federal Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

It took about three minutes for the system to find a match.

“Bastard has a file,” Rocky said softly as the front door opened.

“Honey,” Julia called out.  “I’m home.”

“Adam LaPorte,” Rocky read.  “Arrested in Bakersville, California in 1991 for possession of marijuana, served forty hours in jail.  Arrested in Doha, Qatar, United Arab Emirates in 2004 for indecent exposure, remanded to the American consul and repatriated.”

There was very little else of interest.  Rocky Adam’s name and social security number into a proprietary database maintained by the Nevada Gaming Commission.  He fed the voiceprint from the cellphone as well.  “Quickly,” he said under his breath.

He printed the file as soon as it came up.  “So you’re not a gambler, Mr. LaPorte,” Rocky whispered.  “One on-line account at a casino in Aruba, but no activity for more than a year.  No outstanding warrants.  Six major credit cards with a total outstanding balance of $273.  Magazine subscriptions to Atlantic Monthly, Cat Fancy, and Hot AsianTeens.  Good God,” Rocky said aloud.  “Who subscribes to Cat Fancy?”

One prescription for Xanax , and you are a regular dues-paying member of two high-end, high-resolution pornography websites.  And now I know your user-name.”

Rocky shut down the program and walked down the hall to find Julia and the guests standing quietly in the living room.  “So what do you think?” he asked.

Julia was speechless.  She stared at the sofa by the fireplace, where Karen Sorrows sat, eyes open, eating Chicken Noodle Soup.

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Written by williamdoonan

June 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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