‘Let me welcome you personally, ' she said in a grade, warm contralto. ‘I do especially appreciate what you did that got you condemned, as it is much like my own case. '
‘I think so. I was a simple temple prostitute, a Sister of Carolita, when I fell from grace. I had always been attracted to the religious life and believed that I had a true vocation while I was still in high school. ' She smiled and showed dimples. ‘Eventually I learned that the Church is run solely for the benefit of the priesthood, not for the good of our people. But I learned it too late. '
‘Uh, are you really dying? You look so healthy. '
‘With luck I can expect to live another four to six months. Here all of us are dying, including you, my dear. But we don't waste time thinking about it; instead we study our next client and plan the details of his final moment. May I get you something to drink? '
‘No, thank you. Have you seen my cat? '
‘I saw him go on to the balcony. Let's go look. '
We did - no Pixel. But it was a beautiful clear night; we stopped www.onlinebuybook.ru to look. ‘Lizzie, where are we? '
‘This hotel is near the Plaza, and we're looking north. That's the downtown district, and beyond it, the Missouri River. '
As I expected, Priscilla set new highs for screaming irrelevancy. She blamed everyone - me, Dr Rumsey, Donald, President Patton, the Kansas City school board, and unnamed others, for the conspiracy against her. She did not blame herself for anything.
While she was ranting, Jim shoved an injector against hera tranquilliser, Thorazine, I think, or something about as powerful. We got her imo my car and ovar to the hospital. Bell Memorial used the bed-first-paperwork-later check-in method, so jim got her treatment started at orce. That done, he ordered a barbiturate for 9. o p:m, and authorised a wet pack if she failed to quiet down.
I signed all sorts of papers, showed my American Express card, and we left - back to Jim's office, where he took a sample of my blood and a vaginal smear. ‘Maureen, where was it you sent the boy? '
‘I don't think he had anything to do with it, Jim. '
‘Don't talk like your daughter, you stupid little broad - We don't guess; we find out. '
Jim dug into a reference listing, called a doctor in Grinnell. ‘Doctor, we'll find the lad and send him to you. Are you equipped to do the Morgan test? Do you have fresh reagents and a polariser at hand? '
‘In a college town, Doctor? You can bet your last dollar I do! '
‘Good. We'll track him down and chase him right over to your office, then I'll wait at this telecode for you to call me back. '
We were lucky; Donald was in his dormitory. ‘Donald I want you to go straight to Dr Ingram. His office is downtown, across from Stewart Library. I want you to go right now, this instant. '
‘Mama, what is this all about? ' He looked and sounded upset.
‘Call me at home, tonight, from a secure phone, and I'll tell you. I won't discuss it over a screen in the hallway of a dormitory. Go straight to Dr Ingram and do what he tens you to. Hurry'
I waited in Jim's private office for Dr Ingram's call. While I was waiting Jim's nurse finished my tests. ‘Good news, ' she said. ‘You can go to the Sunday school picnic after all. '
‘Thanks, Olga. '
‘Too bad about your youngster. But with the drugs we use nowadays she'll be home in a couple of days, as healthy as you are. '
‘We cure ‘em too fast, ' Jim said gruffly. ‘Catching something nasty used to teach ‘em a lesson. Now they figure it's no worse than a hangnail, so why worry? '
‘Doctor, you're a cynic, ' Olga countered. ‘You'll come to a bad end. '
After an agonising wait, Dr Ingram called back. ‘Doctor, did you have reason to suspect that this patient was infected? '
‘No. But he had to be eliminated, under a VD trace required by Missouri state law. '
‘Well, he's negative on both of those and on two or three other things I checked while I was at it. He doesn't even have dandruff. I don't see why he would be included in a VD search; I think he's still a virgin. How shall I bill this? '
‘To my office. '
They switched off. I asked, ‘Jim, what was that about Missouri state law? '
He sighed. ‘Clap and pox are among the many diseases I must report but for venereal diseases I not only have to report them but also I must co-operate in an effort to find out where the patient contracted the disease. Then public health officers try to follow each infection back to its source - impossible, since the original source is somewhere centuries back in history. But it does serve to thin it out. I know of one case here in town where spotting one dose of clap turned up thirty-seven other cases before it ran off the map, to other cities or states. When the track does that, our public health officers pass along the data to those other jurisdictions and we drop that search.
‘But locating and curing thirty-seven cases of gonorrhoea is worth while in itself, Maureen. The venereal diseases are ones we stand a chance of stamping out, the way we did smallpox, because - do you know the definition of a venereal disease? '
(Yes, I do, but go ahead, Jim. ) ‘No. '
‘A venereal disease is one that is so terribly difficult to catch that only intercourse or deep kissing is likely to pass it on. That's why we stand a chance of stamping them out. .. if only the idiots would co-operate! Whereas there is no chance, none whatever, of stamping out the so-called common cold. Yet people pass on respiratory infections with utter carelessness and aren't even apologetic about it. ' He was explosively profane.
I said, ‘Tut, tut! Ladies don't talk that way. '
The screen was blinking and its alarm was sounding as I got home. I dropped my handbag and answered it - Donald.
‘Mama, what's this all about? '
‘Secure phone? ' I could not see what was behind him - just a blank wall.
‘I'm in one of the round proof booths at the phone company. '
‘All right' I know of no gentle way to tell a boy that his sister has big and little casino, a full house. So I put it bluntly. ‘Priscilla is ill. She has gonorrhoea and syphilis:
I thought he was going to faint. But he pulled himself together. ‘Mama, this is awful. Are you sure? '