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   11:45 A.M., Sunday, March 24, 2002
   For Tony D’Agostino, it was like being caught in a bad dream, unable to wake up, as once again he found himself pulling up to the front of the Castigliano brothers’ plumbing supply store. To make matters worse, it was a cold, rainy late March Sunday morning, and there were a thousand other things he’d prefer to be doing, like having a cappuccino and a cannoli in cozy Café Cosenza on Hanover Street.
   After opening the car door, Tony first stuck out his umbrella and got it open. Only then did he climb from the car. But his efforts were to no avail. He still got wet. The wind was whipping the rain around so that it was going every which way. It was even a struggle to hold on to the umbrella to keep it from being yanked out of his hand.
   Just inside the door, Tony stomped the moisture off his feet, wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, and leaned the umbrella up against the wall. As he passed the counter where Gaetano usually worked, he swore under his breath. There was no doubt in his mind that Gaetano was the one who had screwed up yet again, and he had hoped the hulk would be there so he could give him a piece of his mind.
   As usual, the door to the inner office was unlocked, and Tony entered after a cursory knock without waiting for a reply. Both the Castiglianos were at their respective desks, the cluttered surfaces of which were illuminated by the matching desk lamps with green glass shades. With the heavy cloud cover, very little light was coming in through the dirty, small-paned windows facing out over the marsh.
   The Castiglianos looked up in unison. Sal had been busy making entries into an old-fashioned ledger book from a stack of crinkled notes. Lou was playing solitaire. Unfortunately, Gaetano was nowhere to be seen.
   Following the usual ritual, Tony gave each twin a slapping handshake before sitting down on the sofa. He didn’t sit back or even open his coat. He planned on making the visit as short as possible. He cleared his throat. No one had said a word, which was a little strange, especially since he was the one planning to act irritated.
   “My mother talked to my sister last night,” Tony began. “I want you people to know I’m confused.”
   “Oh, really?” Lou questioned with a touch of scorn. “Welcome to the club!”
   Tony looked from one twin to the other. It was suddenly obvious that both the Castiglianos were in as ugly a mood as he, especially with Lou showing the disrespect of immediately going back to his game of solitaire, snapping his cards on the desktop as he played. Tony looked at Sal, and Sal glared back. Sal appeared more sinister than usual, with his gaunt face illuminated from below with sickly green light. He could have been a corpse.
   “Why don’t you tell us what you’re confused about?” Sal suggested superciliously.
   “Yeah, we’d like to hear,” Lou added, without interrupting his card playing. “Especially since you’re the one who twisted our arms to come up with the hundred K for your sister’s scam.”
   Mildly alarmed at this unexpected cool reception, Tony sat back. Feeling suddenly warm all over, he opened his coat. “I didn’t twist anybody’s arm,” he said indignantly, but as the words escaped his lips, he felt an unpleasant sense of vulnerability wash over him. Belatedly, he questioned the wisdom of coming out to the twin’s isolated office without any protection or backup whatsoever. He wasn’t packing, but that wasn’t unusual. He almost never did, which the twins knew. Yet he certainly had muscle as part of his organization just like the Castiglianos, and he should have brought it along.
   “You’re not telling us what you are confused about,” Sal said, ignoring Tony’s rebuttal.
   Tony cleared his throat again. With his mounting uneasiness, he decided it best to mellow his anger. “I’m a bit confused about what Gaetano did on his second trip to Nassau. A week ago, my mother told me she’d had difficulty getting ahold of my sister. She said that when she did, my sister acted weird, like something bad had happened that she didn’t want to talk about until she got home, which was going to be soon. Obviously, I thought Gaetano had done his job and the professor was history. Well, last night my mother managed to get my sister again, since she hadn’t shown up. This time she was, in my mother’s words, ‘back to her old self,’ saying she and the professor were still in Nassau, but that they were coming home in just a few days. I mean, what gives?”
   For a few tense minutes, no one said anything. The only noise in the room was Lou’s cards intermittently snapping on the desktop, combined with the sound of seagulls squawking out in the marsh.
   Tony made a point of looking around the room, which was mostly lost in shadow despite the hour. “Speaking of Gaetano, where is he?” The last thing Tony wanted was a surprise coming from the twins’ enforcer.
   “That’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves,” Sal said.
   “What the hell do you mean?”
   “Gaetano has yet to come back from Nassau,” Sal said. “He’s AWOL. We haven’t heard boo since he left the last time you came over here, nor has his brother and sister-in-law, who he’s close to. Nobody has heard a goddamn thing. Not a peep.”
   If Tony thought he was confused before, now he was dumbfounded. Although he had been complaining about Gaetano recently, he respected the man as an experienced professional, and, as a connected man, Tony assumed Gaetano would be unquestionably loyal. His going AWOL didn’t make any sense.
   “Needless to say, we’re a tiny bit baffled ourselves,” Sal added.
   “Have you made any inquiries?” Tony asked.
   “Inquiries?” Lou questioned sarcastically, finally looking up from his solitaire. “Why would we do a crazy thing like that? Hell, no! We’ve just been sitting here day after day, chewing our fingernails, waiting for the phone to ring.”
   “We called the Spriano family in New York,” Sal said, ignoring his brother’s sarcasm. “In case you didn’t know, we’re distantly related. They’re checking into it for us. Meanwhile, they’re in the process of sending us another assistant, who should be getting here in a day or so. They were the ones that sent us Gaetano in the first place.”
   A shiver of fear creeped up Tony’s spine. He knew the Spriano organization was one of the most powerful and ruthless families on the East Coast. He’d had no idea the twins were associated, which put everything in a more serious and worrisome category. “What about the Miami Colombians who were to supply the gun?” he asked to change the topic.
   “We called them too,” Sal said. “They’re never overly cooperative, as you know, but they said they’d check it out. So there are feelers out there. Obviously, we want to know where the moron is holed up and why.”
   “Is any of your money missing?” Tony asked.
   “Nothing Gaetano could have taken,” Sal said enigmatically.
   “Weird,” Tony remarked, for a lack of anything else to say. He didn’t know what Sal meant, but he wasn’t about to ask. “I’m sorry you’re having this problem.” He moved forward on the couch as if he were about to get to his feet.
   “It’s more than weird.” Lou sneered. “And sorry ain’t good enough. We’ve been talking about all this over the last few days, and I think you should know how we feel. Ultimately, we hold you responsible for this foul-up with Gaetano, however it plays out, and also for our one hundred K, which we’re going to want back with interest. The interest will be at our usual rate from the day we handed it over and is nonnegotiable. And one last thing—we now consider the loan overdue.”
   Tony abruptly stood up. His rising anxiety had reached a critical point after hearing Lou’s comments and thinly veiled threat. “Let me know if you hear anything,” he said, heading for the door. “Meanwhile, I’ll make a few inquiries myself.”
   “You better start making inquiries about how you are going to raise the hundred grand,” Sal said, “because we’re not going to be all that patient.”
   Tony hurried out of the store, oblivious to the rain. He was perspiring, despite the chill. It was only after he’d leaped into his car that he remembered his umbrella. “Screw it!” he said out loud. He got the Caddy going, and with his arm hooked over the back of the front seat, he looked out the rear window and gunned the engine. With a shower of pebbles, the car lurched out into the street. A moment later, he had the Cadillac up to almost fifty miles per hour, heading back into the city.
   Tony relaxed to a degree and dried each palm off in turn on his pant legs. The immediate threat was over, but he knew intuitively that a much larger long-term threat was looming on the horizon, especially if the Sprianos became involved, no matter how tangentially. It was all very discouraging, if not frightening. Just when he was mobilizing his resources to fight his indictment, he was now facing a possible turf war.

   “John! Can you hear me?” Dr. Nawaz called. He had leaned over while holding up the edge of the sterile drapes hanging down over Ashley’s face. Most of the stereotaxic frame anchored to Ashley’s skull as well as Ashley himself was covered by drapes, exposing only a portion of the right side of the senator’s forehead. There, Dr. Nawaz had made a small skin incision, now held open with a clamped skin retractor.
   After exposing the bare bone, Dr. Nawaz had used a special power drill to make a small, eleven-sixteenth-inch-diameter craniotomy hole to expose the grayish-white fascial coverings of the brain. Directly aligned with the hole and firmly attached to one of the arches of the stereotaxic frame was the implantation needle. With the help of the X rays, the correct angles had been determined, and already the needle had been inserted through the brain’s coverings, into the outer part of the brain itself. At this point, it was only necessary to advance the needle to the exact, predetermined depth to reach the targeted substantia nigra.
   “Dr. Newhouse, perhaps you could nudge the patient for me,” Dr. Nawaz said in his melodious, Pakistani-English accent. “At this point, I would prefer the patient to be awake.”
   “Of course,” Dr. Newhouse said, getting to his feet and putting aside a magazine he was reading. He reached under the drapes and gave Ashley’s shoulder a shake.
   Ashley’s heavily lidded eyes struggled open.
   “Can you hear me now, John?” Dr. Nawaz asked again. “We need your help.”
   “Of course I can hear you,” Ashley said, his voice thick with sleep.
   “I want you to tell me if you have any sensations whatsoever over the next few minutes. Can you do that?”
   “What do you mean ‘sensations’?”
   “Like images, thoughts, sounds, odors, or sense of movement—anything at all you notice.”
   “I’m very sleepy.”
   “I appreciate that, but try to stay awake for just these few minutes. As I said, we need your help.”
   “I’ll try.”
   “That’s all we can ask,” Dr. Nawaz said. He lowered the drape, obscuring Ashley’s face. He turned and gave a thumbs-up to the group standing outside the window in the hall. Then, after flexing his latex-gloved fingers, he used the micromanipulator wheel on the guide holding the implantation needle. Slowly, millimeter by millimeter, he advanced the blunt implantation needle into the depths of Ashley’s brain. When the needle was halfway in, he again lifted the edge of the drape. He was pleased to see Ashley’s eyes still open, although barely. “Are you doing okay?” he asked the senator.
   “Lovely,” Ashley said, with a trace of Southern accent. “As happy as a pig in a poke.”
   “You are doing fine,” Dr. Nawaz said. “It won’t be much longer.”
   “Take your time. The important thing is that it is done right.”
   “There’s never a question about that,” Dr. Nawaz responded. He smiled beneath his surgical mask as he lowered the drape and returned to advancing the needle. He was impressed with Ashley’s courage and good humor. A few minutes later and with a final twist of the micromanipulator, he stopped at the exact measured depth. After a final check of Ashley’s status, he told Marjorie to ask Dr. Lowell to come into the room. Meanwhile, he readied the syringe that was to deliver the treatment cells.
   “Everything going okay?” Daniel asked. He had donned a facemask as he entered. With his hands clasped behind his back, he bent over to look into the craniotomy hole with its imbedded needle.
   “Very well,” Dr. Nawaz said. “But there is a problem I admit slipped my mind in the earlier fracas. At this stage, it is customary to take another corroborating X ray to be one hundred percent certain of the needle tip’s location. However, without X ray here in the OR, that is not possible. With the craniotomy open and the needle inserted, the patient cannot be safely moved.”
   “Are you asking for my opinion whether to proceed?”
   “Precisely. Ultimately, he is your patient. In this rather unique situation, I am, as you Americans say, only a hired gun.”
   “How confident are you of your needle’s position?”
   “Very confident. In all my experience with the stereotaxic frame, I have never not been where I targeted. There is also another reassuring factor in this case. We are adding cells, not doing ablative surgery, which is what I am usually doing with this procedure and which would cause far more problems if the needle were to be slightly off.”
   “It is hard to argue with a one hundred percent record. I’m confident we’re in good hands. Let’s do it!”
   “Right you are!” Dr. Nawaz said. He picked up the syringe, now loaded with the predetermined aliquot of treatment cells. After removing the trocar from the lumen of the imbedded implantation needle, he attached the syringe. “Dr. Newhouse, I’m ready to begin the implantation.”
   “Thank you,” Dr. Newhouse said. He liked to be informed at critical stages of a procedure, and he quickly rechecked the vital signs. When he was done and had taken the stethoscope from his ears, he motioned for Dr. Nawaz to go ahead.
   After raising the drape and having Dr. Newhouse give Ashley another nudge to wake him, Dr. Nawaz repeated the same instructions he’d given Ashley before inserting the needle. Only then did he start the implantation, utilizing another manual mechanical-assist device to depress the syringe’s plunger in a slow, even fashion.
   Daniel felt a chill of excitement as he watched the implantation proceed. As the cloned dopamine-producing neurons augmented with genes from the blood on the Shroud of Turin were being slowly deposited in Ashley’s brain, he was confident medical history was in the making. If one fell swoop, the promise of stem cells, therapeutic cloning, and HTSR was being realized to cure a major human degenerative disease for the first time. With a sense of mounting exhilaration, he turned and flashed Stephanie a victory sign with his index and middle fingers. Self-consciously, Stephanie returned the gesture, with hardly the same alacrity. Daniel assumed it was because she was uncomfortable having to stand alongside Paul Saunders and Spencer Wingate and make small talk.
   Midway through the implantation, Dr. Nawaz stopped as he’d done during the needle insertion. When he lifted the edge of the drape, he discovered that Ashley had fallen back asleep.
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  “Do you want me to wake him?” Dr. Newhouse questioned.
   “Please,” Dr. Nawaz responded. “And maybe you could try to keep him awake for the next few minutes.”
   Ashley’s eyes struggled open in response to being jostled. Dr. Newhouse’s hand was gripping his shoulder.
   “Are you okay, Mr. Smith?” Dr. Nawaz asked.
   “Delightful,” Ashley mumbled. “Are we finished?”
   “Almost! Just a moment longer!” Dr. Nawaz said. After letting go of the drape, he looked at Dr. Newhouse. “Is everything stable?”
   “Rock solid.”
   Dr. Nawaz went back to depressing the syringe’s plunger. He continued at the same slow, controlled rate. At the moment he was about to give the mechanical-assist device the final twist, which would have delivered the last bit of treatment cells, Ashley mumbled something unintelligible beneath the drapes. Dr. Nawaz stopped, glanced at Dr. Newhouse, and asked if he’d understood what Ashley had said.
   “I couldn’t hear it either,” Dr. Newhouse admitted.
   “Is everything still stable?”
   “There’s been no change,” Dr. Newhouse said. He put the earpieces of the stethoscope back in his ears to recheck the blood pressure. Meanwhile, Dr. Nawaz raised the edge of the drape and peered in at Ashley. The appearance of his face, which was visible only to the level of his eyebrows because of the frame, had changed rather dramatically. Curiously, the corners of his mouth were drawn up, and his nose was wrinkled in an expression that suggested disgust. This was even more surprising, because earlier his face had been demonstrably blank, a symptom of his disease.
   “Is there something bothering you?” Dr. Nawaz asked.
   “What is that awful stink?” Ashley questioned. He still sounded drunk, with his words running together.
   “You tell us!” Dr. Nawaz said, with the stirrings of concern. “What does it smell like?”
   “Pig shit, if I had to guess. What the hell are you people doing?”
   An intuition of potential disaster spread through Dr. Nawaz like a faint, unpleasant electric current leaving a weak feeling in his stomach that only experienced surgeons know. He glanced at Daniel for consolation, but Daniel merely shrugged. With limited personal surgical experience, Daniel was only confused. “Pig manure? What’s that about?” he asked.
   “Since there are no pigs in here, I’m afraid he’s having an olfactory hallucination,” Dr. Nawaz said, as if angry.
   “Is that a problem?”
   “Let’s put it this way,” Dr. Nawaz snapped. “It worries me. We can all hope it’s nothing, but I recommend we forego the last bit of implantation cells. Do you agree? We’ve given well over ninety percent.”
   “If there is any question, absolutely,” Daniel said. He didn’t care about the last of the treatment cells. The amount he had decided on had been a mere educated guess, based on the mouse experiments. What bothered him was Dr. Nawaz’s reaction. He could tell the man was concerned, but he had no idea why a bad smell would be so worrisome. But the last thing Daniel needed was a complication of any sort, especially not when they were this close to success.
   “I’m withdrawing the needle,” Dr. Nawaz said for Dr. Newhouse’s benefit, although there was no inhalation anesthesia to lighten up. With the same amount of care Dr. Nawaz had used for the insertion, he slowly extracted the implantation needle. Once its tip cleared the brain, Dr. Nawaz checked for any sign of bleeding from the site. Thankfully, there was none.
   “Needle out!” Dr. Nawaz announced and handed it over to Constance. He took a deep breath and then lifted the edge of the drape to look in at Ashley. He could sense Daniel was looking over his shoulder. Ashley’s expression of revulsion had changed to irritation. His mouth was now set, with his lips pressed together in a thin line. His eyes were open wider and his nares flared.
   “Are you all right, Mr. Smith?” Dr. Nawaz asked.
   “I want to get the hell out of here,” Ashley snapped.
   “Do you still smell that odor?”
   “What odor?”
   “You complained about a bad smell just a moment ago.”
   “I don’t know what the hell you are talking about. All I know is I want out of here!” Suddenly intent on standing up, Ashley strained against the tape holding his torso to the cranked-up operating table and against the tape on his wrists. At the same time, he drew his legs up, bringing his knees to his chest.
   “Hold him down!” Dr. Nawaz shouted. He leaned across Ashley’s lap, trying to force Ashley’s legs back down flat with the weight of his body. Dr. Nawaz was still holding up the edge of the drape, watching Ashley’s face turn red with effort.
   Daniel dashed to the foot of the operating table and reached in under the drapes to grasp Ashley’s ankles. He tried to pull them down and was surprised at Ashley’s strength of resistance. Dr. Newhouse had released the hold he had on Ashley’s shoulder to grab his wrist, which Ashley had succeeded in freeing from its taped restraint. Marjorie leapt around the table to grab Ashley’s other arm, which was also coming free.
   “Mr. Smith, calm down!” Dr. Nawaz shouted. “Everything is okay!”
   “Get off me, you freaking animals,” Ashley shouted back. He sounded like the quintessential belligerent drunk, resisting all efforts to be constrained.
   Stephanie, Paul, and Spencer came flying into the operating room while struggling to get their facemasks in place. They lent a hand holding Ashley down, giving Marjorie a chance to reinforce the wrist restraints and helping Daniel get Ashley’s legs flat again. With his hands free, Dr. Newhouse rechecked Ashley’s blood pressure. The beeping of the cardiac monitor had increased its tempo considerably. Marjorie briefly left the room to get a pair of leather ankle restraints.
   “Everything is okay,” Dr. Nawaz repeated to Ashley once they had him under control. He stared at the man’s defiant, enraged face, which was beet-red from exertion. “You must calm down! We have to close your little incision, and we will be done. Then you can get up. Do you understand?”
   “You’re all a bunch of perverts. Get the fuck off me!”
   Ashley’s use of such inappropriate and objectionable language in the operating room stunned everyone almost as much as his sudden physical struggling. For a beat, no one moved or said a word.
   Dr. Nawaz was the first to recover. Now that he was confident Ashley was restrained, he raised himself from lying across Ashley’s lap. As he did so, everyone noticed Ashley had a full penile erection that tented up the drapes.
   “Please let go of my hands and feet!” Ashley said tearfully, as he began to cry. “They are bleeding.”
   Everyone’s eyes immediately looked at Ashley’s hands and feet, particularly Daniel, who was still holding Ashley’s ankles as Marjorie struggled to put on the restraints.
   “There’s no blood,” Paul said, speaking for the group. “What’s he talking about?”
   “John, listen to me!” Dr. Nawaz said. He was still holding up the flap of drape to expose Ashley’s face from the eyebrows down. “Your hands and feet are not bleeding. You are fine. You just have to relax for a few more minutes to allow me to finish.”
   “My name is not John,” Ashley said softly. The tears had disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. Although he still sounded inebriated, he seemed suddenly at peace.
   “If it is not John, what is it?” Dr. Nawaz asked.
   Daniel shot a worried glance at Stephanie, who had taken a step back from the OR table after having helped restrain one of Ashley’s hands. On top of Daniel’s bewilderment, he was now concerned that Ashley was about to reveal his true identity in his drugged state. What that would do to the final outcome of the project he had no idea, but it couldn’t be good, not with all the requisite secrecy so far.
   “My name is Jesus,” Ashley said softly, as he beatifically closed his eyes.
   Most everyone in the room was again dumbfounded and exchanged bemused glances, but not Dr. Nawaz. His response was to ask Dr. Newhouse what he had given the patient as a sedative before the procedure.
   “Intravenous diazepam and fentanyl,” Dr. Newhouse answered.
   “Do you feel comfortable giving him another dose immediately?”
   “Sure,” Dr. Newhouse said. “Do you want me to?”
   “Please,” Dr. Nawaz said.
   Dr. Newhouse pulled out the drawer on his anesthesia cart, took out a fresh syringe, and tore open the packaging. With practiced hands, he drew up the medication and injected it into the intravenous port on the IV line.
   “Forgive them, Father,” Ashley said without opening his eyes, “for they know not what they do.”
   “What’s going on here?” Paul asked in a forced whisper. “Does this guy think he’s Jesus Christ being crucified?”
   “Is this some kind of weird drug reaction?” Spencer asked.
   “I doubt it,” Dr. Nawaz said. “But whatever its cause, it is certainly a seizure!”
   “Seizure?” Paul questioned with incredulity. “This is like no seizure I’ve ever seen.”
   “It’s called a complex partial seizure,” Dr. Nawaz said. “Better known as a temporal lobe seizure.”
   “What caused it, if not the drugs?” Paul asked. “Sticking the needle into his brain?”
   “If it had been the needle, I think it would have occurred earlier,” Dr. Nawaz said. “Since it occurred near the end of the implantation, I think we have to assume it was that.” He looked at Dr. Newhouse. “Check to see if he is asleep?”
   Dr. Newhouse reached under the drape and gave Ashley’s shoulder a gentle shake. “Any response?” he asked Dr. Nawaz.
   Dr. Nawaz shook his head and lowered the drape over Ashley’s face. He sighed beneath his face mask and turned to look at Daniel. He crossed his still sterile and gloved hands across his gowned chest.
   Daniel felt his legs turn rubbery as he looked into the neurosurgeon’s dark, unblinking eyes. Daniel could tell he was troubled, which undermined the composure Daniel had been strenuously maintaining. The fear of a complication, which had been floating in the background of his mind since Ashley’s complaint about a smell, came flooding back with the force of a burst dam.
   “I believe you can let go of the patient’s ankles,” Dr. Nawaz said.
   Daniel released his grip, which he had been absently maintaining, even after Marjorie had secured the ankle restraints.
   “This seizure has me concerned,” Dr. Nawaz said. “Not only do I believe it was not caused by the drugs, the fact that it occurred with the drugs on board suggests it was a particularly violent focal brain disturbance.”
   “Why couldn’t it be drug-related?” Daniel asked, with more hope than reason. “Couldn’t it just be like a drug-induced dream? I mean, intravenous diazepam and fentanyl is a potent mix. Combining such a concoction with the suggestively emotive power of the Shroud of Turin is bound to cause wild flights of fancy.”
   “What does the Shroud of Turin have to do with this?” Dr. Nawaz asked.
   “It has to do with the treatment cells,” Daniel said. “It’s a long story, but prior to the cloning process, a few of the patient’s genes were replaced with genes obtained from the blood on the Shroud of Turin. It was a specific request by the patient, who believes in the shroud’s authenticity. He even said he was hoping for divine intervention.”
   “I suppose such ideation could play a role in the patient’s delusion,” Dr. Nawaz said. “But the fact that this was a seizure that occurred with the implantation cannot be denied.”
   “But how can you be so sure?” Daniel asked.
   “Because of the timing and because of the olfactory hallucination,” Dr. Nawaz said. “The smell he reported was an aura, and a characteristic of a temporal lobe seizure is that it begins with an aura. Other characteristics are hyperreligiosity, profound mood changes, intense libidinal urges, and aggressive behavior, all of which the patient demonstrated in the short time he was awake. It was a classic example.”
   “What should we do?” Daniel asked, although he was afraid to hear the answer.
   “Pray that it was a one-time phenomenon,” Dr. Nawaz said. “Unfortunately, with the intensity the focus undoubtedly had, I would be surprised if he doesn’t develop full-blown temporal lobe epilepsy.”
   “There isn’t anything that can be done prophylactically?” Stephanie asked.
   “What I’d like to do but know I can’t is image the treatment cells,” Dr. Nawaz said. “I’d like to see where they went. Maybe then we could do something.”
   “What do you mean where they went?” Daniel demanded. “You told me with your experience using the stereotaxic frame for injections, you have never had a problem of not being where you were supposed to be.”
   “True, but I have also never had a patient develop a seizure during a procedure like this,” Dr. Nawaz said. “Something is amiss.”
   “Are you suggesting the cells might not be in the substantia nigra?” Daniel protested. “If so, I don’t want to hear it.”
   “Listen!” Dr. Nawaz shot back. “You’re the one who encouraged me to go ahead with this procedure without the appropriate X-ray capability.”
   “Let’s not argue,” Stephanie interjected. “The treatment cells can be imaged.”
   All eyes turned to her.
   “We incorporated a gene for an insect cell surface receptor in the treatment cells,” Stephanie explained. “We did the same thing with our mouse experiments, specifically for imaging purposes. We have a monoclonal antibody containing a radiopaque heavy metal devised by a contributing radiologist. It’s sterile and ready for use. It just has to be injected into the cerebrospinal fluid in the subarachnoid space. With the mice, it worked perfectly.”
   “Where is it?” Dr. Nawaz asked.
   “Over in the lab in building one,” Stephanie said. “It is sitting on our desk in our assigned office.”
   “Marjorie,” Paul said. “Call over to Megan Finnigan in the lab! Have her get the antibody and bring it over here on the double.”
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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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   2:15 P.M., Sunday, March 24, 2002
   Dr. Jeffrey Marcus was a local radiologist on the staff at Doctors Hospital on Shirley Street in downtown Nassau. Spencer had made a deal with him that he would cover the Wingate Clinic’s radiological needs on an ad hoc basis until a full-time radiologist could be justified. As soon as it was decided a CAT scan was needed for Ashley, Spencer had a nurse call Jeffrey. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, he was able to come immediately. Dr. Nawaz had been pleased because he was acquainted with Jeffrey from Oxford and knew him to have significant neuroradiological experience.
   “These are transverse sections of the brain, starting at the dorsal edge of the pons,” Jeffrey said, pointing at the computer monitor with the eraser end of an old-fashioned, yellow number-two Dixon pencil. Jeffrey Marcus was an English expatriate who had fled to the Bahamas to escape England’s weather, just like Dr. Carl Newhouse. “We’ll be traveling cephalad in one-centimeter increments and should be at the level of the substantia nigra in one or two frames, at most.”
   Jeffrey was sitting in front of the computer. Standing to his right and bending over for a better view was Dr. Nawaz. Daniel stood immediately to Jeffrey’s left. By the window facing into the CAT-scan room stood Paul, Spencer, and Carl. Carl was holding a syringe loaded with another dose of sedative, but it had not been necessary. Ashley had not awakened since the second dose and had slept through his craniotomy hole being stitched closed over a metal button, the stereotaxic frame being removed, and his being transferred to the CAT-scan table. At the moment, Ashley was lying supine with his head inside the opening of the giant, donut-shaped machine. His hands were crossed on his chest with the wrist restraints in place but not secured. The IV was still running. He appeared to be the picture of peaceful slumber.
   Stephanie was in the background, away from the others and leaning against a countertop with her arms crossed. Unbeknownst to anyone, she was fighting back tears. She hoped no one would address her, because if they did, she feared that she would lose control. She thought about walking out of the room but then worried that doing so would draw too much attention, so she stayed where she was and suffered in silence. Without even looking at the upcoming CAT scan, her intuition told her there had been a major complication with the implantation, and it had broken the back of her emotional control, which had been strained by everything that had happened during the last month. She berated herself for not listening to her intuition back at the beginning of this farcical and now potentially tragic affair.
   “Okay, here we go!” Jeffrey said, pointing again at the image on the monitor. “This is the midbrain, and this is the area of the substantia nigra, and I’m afraid there is no radiolucency one would expect from a heavy-metal-tagged monoclonal antibody.”
   “Maybe the antibody has yet to diffuse from the cerebrospinal fluid into the brain,” Dr. Nawaz suggested. “Or maybe there is no unique surface antigen on the treatment cells. Are you sure the gene you inserted was expressed?”
   “I’m certain,” Daniel said. “Dr. D’Agostino checked.”
   “Maybe we should repeat this in a few hours,” Dr. Nawaz said.
   “With our mice, we saw it within thirty minutes and maximum at forty-five minutes,” Daniel said. He looked at his watch. “The human brain is bigger, but we used more antibody, and it’s been an hour. We should see it. It’s got to be there.”
   “Wait!” Jeffrey said. “Here’s some diffuse radiolucency laterally.” He moved the tip of the eraser a centimeter to the right. The spots of lucency were subtle, like tiny flakes of snow on a ground-glass background.
   “Oh my God!” Dr. Nawaz blurted. “That’s in the mesial part of the temporal lobe. No wonder he had a seizure.”
   “Let’s look at the next slice,” Jeffrey said, as the new image started to wipe out the old from the top, moving down the screen as if unrolling.
   “Now it is even more apparent,” Jeffrey said. He tapped the screen with his eraser. “I’d say it is in the area of the hippocampus, but to precisely locate it, we’d have to get some air into the temporal horn of the lateral ventricle. Do you want to do that?”
   “No!” Dr. Nawaz snapped. He straightened up, clasping his hands to his head. “How the bloody hell could the needle have been so far off? I don’t believe this. I even went back and looked at the X rays, remeasured, and then checked the settings on the guide. They were all absolutely correct.” He lifted his hands from his head and spread them in the air as if pleading for someone to explain what had happened.
   “Maybe the frame moved a bit when we hit the doorframe with the OR table?” Carl Newhouse suggested.
   “What are you saying?” Dr. Nawaz demanded. “You told me the table brushed the doorframe. What exactly do you mean by ‘hit’?”
   “When did the OR table touch the doorframe?” Daniel asked. It was the first time he had heard anything about it. “And what doorframe are you talking about?”
   “Dr. Saunders said it brushed,” Carl said, ignoring Daniel. “Not me.”
   Dr. Nawaz looked over at Paul questioningly. Paul reluctantly nodded. “I suppose it was more of a hit than a brush, but it doesn’t matter. Constance said the frame was anchored solidly when she grabbed ahold of it.”
   “Grabbed it?” Dr. Nawaz yelled. “What necessitated her having to grab the frame?”
   There was an uncomfortable pause as Paul and Carl exchanged glances.
   “What is this, a conspiracy?” Dr. Nawaz demanded. “Somebody answer me!”
   “There was kind of a whiplash effect,” Carl said. “I was in a hurry to get the patient back on the monitor, so we were pushing the table rather quickly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t aligned with the OR doorway. After the bump occurred, Constance came over to support the frame. She was still gowned and gloved. At that point, we were concerned about contamination, since the patient had awakened and his hands weren’t restrained. But there wasn’t any contamination.”
   “Why didn’t you tell me all this when it happened?” Dr. Nawaz snapped.
   “We did tell you,” Paul said.
   “You told me the table brushed the door frame. That is a far cry from hitting it hard enough to cause whiplash.”
   “Well, whiplash might be an exaggeration,” Carl said, correcting himself. “The patient’s head fell forward. It didn’t snap back or anything like that.”
   “Good God!” Dr. Nawaz mumbled with discouragement. He sat down heavily in a desk chair. He pulled off his surgical hat with one hand and gripped his scalp with the other while he shook his head in frustration. He couldn’t believe he’d allowed himself to get caught up in such a burlesque affair. It was now clear to him that the stereotaxic frame had to have slightly rotated as well as tipped down, either on impact or when the scrub nurse grasped it.
   “We’ve got to do something!” Daniel said. It had taken him a moment to recover from the revelation about the OR table’s collision with the doorframe and its possible tragic consequences.
   “And what do you suggest?” Dr. Nawaz questioned derisively. “We’ve mistakenly implanted a host of rogue, dopamine-producing cells in the man’s temporal lobe. It’s not like we can go back in there and suck them out.”
   “No, but we can destroy them before they arborize,” Daniel said, with a flicker of hope beginning to crackle like a fire in his imagination. “We have the monoclonal antibody to the cell’s unique surface antigen. Instead of attaching the antibody to a heavy metal like we did for X-ray visualization, we bind it to a cytotoxic agent. Once we inject this combination into the cerebrospinal fluid, bam! The misplaced neurons are annihilated. Then we merely do another implantation on the patient’s left side, and we’re home free.”
   Dr. Nawaz smoothed back his shiny black hair and gave Daniel’s idea a moment of thought. On the one hand, the idea of potentially rectifying a disaster for which he shared a significant responsibility was enticing, even if the method was unorthodox, but on the other hand, his intuition told him he shouldn’t allow himself to be dragged in any further by doing yet another highly experimental procedure.
   “Do you have this cytotoxic antibody combination on hand?” Dr. Nawaz asked. There was no harm in asking.
   “No,” Daniel admitted. “But I’m certain we could get it concocted on a rush basis by the same firm that supplied us with the antibody heavy-metal combination, and then have it overnighted.”
   “Well, you let me know if and when you get it,” Dr. Nawaz railed as he stood up. “I said a second ago that we couldn’t go back in and suck out the misplaced treatment cells. The unfortunate irony is that if nothing is done and the patient ends up with the kind of temporal lobe epilepsy he most likely will, he’ll probably have to undergo something along those lines in the future. But it would be serious, ablative neurosurgery, requiring the removal of a lot of brain tissue with high attendant risk.”
   “That strengthens the rationale for doing what I have proposed,” Daniel said, progressively warming to the idea.
   Stephanie abruptly pushed away from the countertop and headed for the door. Her fragile emotions and fear of calling attention to herself notwithstanding, she couldn’t bear to hear another word of this exchange. It was as if the conversation involved an inanimate object rather than an iatrogenically stricken fellow human being. She was particularly appalled at Daniel, because she could tell that despite the dreadful complication, he was still maneuvering like a modern medical Machiavelli, in blind pursuit of his own entrepreneurial interests despite the moral consequences.
   “Stephanie!” Daniel called, seeing her heading for the door. “Stephanie, why don’t you call Peter up in Cambridge and have him…”
   The door closed behind Stephanie, cutting Daniel’s voice off. She began to run down the hall. She fled toward the ladies’ room, where she hoped she could cry in peace. She was upset about a lot of things, but mainly because she knew that she was as responsible as anyone for what had happened.
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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
Apple iPhone 6s

   7:42 P.M., Sunday, March 24, 2002
   “Now, I do not mean to be a bother to you talented folks,” Ashley said, drawing out the words in his prototypal drawl. “And I do not mean to seem unappreciative of all your efforts. I apologize from the bottom of my heart if it distresses you, but there is no way I can stay here tonight.”
   Ashley was sitting up in a hospital bed with the back cranked up as high as it would go. Gone was the hospital johnny, and in its place was his wacky tourist outfit. The only evidence of his recent surgery was a double-wide bandage on his forehead.
   The room was one of the Wingate’s inpatient rooms, and it appeared more like a hotel than a hospital. The colors were all bright tropical hues, particularly the walls, which were peach, and the drapes, which were a combination of seafoam green and hot pink. Daniel was standing to Ashley’s immediate right in his efforts to dissuade the senator from leaving the clinic. Stephanie was standing at the foot of the bed. Carol Manning was ensconced in a purple club chair near the window with her shoes on the floor and her feet tucked in underneath her.
   After the CAT scan, Ashley had been brought to the room and put in the bed to sleep off his sedation. Both Dr. Nawaz and Dr. Newhouse had left after they were certain Ashley was stable. Both had given Daniel cell phone numbers to be called if and when there was a problem, particularly a seizure recurrence. Dr. Newhouse had also left a vial of the fentanyl and diazepam combination that had been so effective, with the instructions that two cc’s should be given either intramuscularly or intravenously if the need arose.
   Technically, Ashley was under the care of an impeccably groomed nurse by the name of Myron Hanna, who had been the Wingate Clinic’s recovery room nurse back in Massachusetts. But Daniel and Stephanie had stayed at the bedside, along with Carol Manning, for the four hours it had taken Ashley to wake up. Paul Saunders and Spencer Wingate had stayed for a while as well, but they had left after an hour with assurances that they too could be reached if needed.
   “Senator, you are forgetting what I told you,” Daniel said with as much patience as he could muster. At times, it seemed that dealing with the senator was like dealing with a three-year-old.
   “No, I understand there was a little problem during the procedure,” Ashley said, quieting Daniel by laying his hand on Daniel’s folded arms. “But I feel fine now. In fact, I feel like the spring chicken that I know I’m not, which is a tribute to your Aesculapian powers. You told me before the implantation that I might not notice much change for a few days, and even then it might be gradual, but that is clearly not the case. In comparison to how I felt this morning, I’m already cured. My tremor is almost gone, and I am moving with considerably more ease.”
   “I’m glad you feel that way,” Daniel said with a shake of his head. “But it’s probably due more to your positive attitude or to the strong sedatives you were given than anything else. Senator, we believe you need more treatment, as I told you, and it is safer to remain here in the clinic, with all the medical resources at our fingertips. Remember, you had a seizure during the procedure, and while you were having the seizure, you acted like a completely different person.”
   “How could I act like someone else? I have trouble enough being myself.” Ashley laughed, although no one else did. He looked around at the others. “What is wrong with you people? You all are behaving like this is a funeral rather than a celebration. Is it truly hard for you to believe how good I feel?”
   Daniel had told Carol that the treatment cells had been placed inadvertently in an area slightly wide of where they were intended. Although he had downplayed the seriousness of the complication, he did tell her about the seizure episode and his worry that there might be more, and he admitted to the need for more treatment. Because of the presence of the restraints on Ashley’s wrists and ankles, he had even acknowledged the collective concern about what was going to happen when Ashley woke up. Luckily, such worries were proved to be unfounded, since Ashley awakened with his normal, histrionic personality as if nothing had happened. The first thing he did was insist the restraints be removed so he could get out of bed. Once that was accomplished and the slight dizziness went away, he demanded to put on his street clothes. At that point, he was ready to go back to the hotel.
   Sensing he was losing the argument, Daniel glanced at Stephanie and then at Carol, but neither elected to come to his aid. Daniel looked back at Ashley. “How about we negotiate,” he said. “You stay here in the clinic for twenty-four hours, and then we’ll talk again.”
   “Obviously you’ve had scant experience negotiating,” Ashley said with another laugh. “But I will not hold that against you. The fact of the matter is that you cannot keep me here against my will. It is my desire to go back to the hotel, as I informed you yesterday. Bring whatever kind of medication you think I might need, and we can always come back here if need be. Remember, you and the ravishing Dr. D’Agostino will be conveniently right down the hall.”
   Daniel glanced up at the ceiling. “I tried,” he said with a sigh and a shrug.
   “Indeed you did, Doctor,” Ashley admitted. “Carol, dear, I trust our limo driver is still outside, waiting for us?”
   “As far as I know,” Carol said. “He was when I checked an hour ago, and I told him to stay until he heard from me.”
   “Excellent,” Ashley said. He swung his legs over the side of the bed in a manner that surprised everyone, including himself. “Glory be! I do not think I could have done that this morning.” He stood up. “Well then, this country boy is ready to return to the pleasures of the Atlantis and the splendor of the Poseidon Suite.”
   Fifteen minutes later in the parking area in front of the Wingate Clinic, a discussion ensued about the travel arrangements. Eventually, it was decided that Daniel would ride with Ashley and Carol in the limo while Stephanie would drive the rent-a-car. Carol had offered to ride with Stephanie, but Stephanie assured her she would be fine and actually preferred to be alone. Daniel had the vial of the sedative combination, several syringes, a handful of sealed individual alcohol pledgets, and a tourniquet in a small, black, zippered pouch compliments of Myron. Armed with the medication, Daniel felt it was imperative for him to remain in Ashley’s presence in case of a problem, at least until Ashley was safely in his suite.
   Daniel sat in the seat facing the rear directly behind the glass shield separating the driver’s compartment from the passenger section. Ashley and Carol were sitting in the back, their faces intermittently illuminated by the flickering light of oncoming vehicles. With his procedure behind him, Ashley was ostensibly euphoric, carrying on an animated conversation with Carol about his political agenda after the Congressional recess. In reality, the discourse was more like a monologue, since Carol merely nodded or said yes at infrequent intervals.
   As Ashley talked and carried on, Daniel began to relax from the tension engendered by his worry that Ashley was about to have a seizure and the associated concern of having to give a dose of the sedative. If the seizure was anything like what had occurred in the OR, Daniel knew the intravenous route would be close to impossible, and he’d be reduced to giving it intramuscularly. The problem with the IM route was that it took longer for the drugs to cause an effect, and any delay could be problematic if aggression was an issue, as Dr. Nawaz had strenuously warned. Considering Ashley’s size and surprising strength, Daniel knew that wrestling with him within the confines of the limo would be a nightmare.
   The more relaxed Daniel became, the more his mind was able to go beyond the seizure concern. He became progressively amazed at the degree of mobility Ashley was displaying with his gestures and how normal his facial expressions and voice modulation were. He was a far cry from the semifrozen individual Daniel had seen that morning. Daniel was puzzled, since the treatment cells were not in their proper location, as was shown all too clearly on the CAT scan. But the effect he was observing could not be the result of the sedative or placebo, as he’d so blithely suggested earlier. There had to be some other explanation.
   Like all scientists, Daniel was aware that science occasionally leapt ahead not by hard work alone but also by serendipity. He started to wonder if the errant site the treatment cells now occupied might prove to be particularly appropriate for dopamine-producing cells. It didn’t make sense, because Daniel knew that the area of the limbic system where the cells now resided was not a modulator of motion, but rather was involved with olfaction, autonomic behaviors like sex, and emotion. Yet there was a lot about the human brain and its function that was still a mystery, and at the moment Daniel was enjoying seeing such a positive result from his efforts.
   When they arrived at the Atlantis, Ashley made it a point that he did not need assistance from the doormen as he climbed from the car. Although he had another bout of dizziness when he got to his feet, requiring him to hold on to Carol for a moment, it passed quickly, and he was able to walk reasonably normally into the lobby and to the elevators.
   “Where is that gorgeous Dr. D’Agostino?” Ashley asked as they waited.
   Daniel shrugged. “She either got here before us or will be here shortly. I’m not concerned. She’s a big girl.”
   “Indeed!” Ashley agreed. “And smart as a whip.”
   In the hallway of the thirty-second floor, Ashley walked ahead as if showing off his new capabilities. Although he was still hunched over to a degree, he was moving much more normally, including his arm swing, which had been almost negligent that morning.
   Carol used her keycard when they got to the mermaid door. She opened it and stepped aside for Ashley to enter. As he did so, he turned on the lights. “Every time they make up the room, they close everything to make the place look like a root cellar,” he complained. He walked over to the wall switches and activated the curtains and the sliding-glass panels simultaneously.
   At night, the view from inside the suite was nowhere near as dramatic as it was in the day, since the expanse of ocean was as dark as crude oil. But that was not the case from the balcony, where Ashley immediately went. He put his hands down on the cool stone balustrade, leaned forward, and surveyed the vast semicircular Atlantis water park splayed out in front of him. With its profusion of pools, waterfalls, walkways, and aquariums, all creatively illuminated, it was a feast for his eyes after the stress of the day.
   Carol disappeared into her room while Daniel advanced to the balcony’s threshold. For a moment he watched Ashley as the senator closed his eyes and raised his head into the cool tropical breeze coming off the ocean. The wind rustled his hair and the sleeves of his Bahamian print shirt, but he was otherwise motionless. Daniel wondered if Ashley was praying or communicating with his God in some personal fashion now that he thought he had genes from Jesus Christ embedded in his brain.
   A slight smile appeared on Daniel’s face. Suddenly he had more optimism about the outcome of treating Ashley than he had since the seizure in the operating room and more optimism than he thought possible after seeing the CAT scan. He began to think there was something of a miracle involved.
   “Senator!” Daniel called after five minutes had passed and Ashley had not moved a muscle. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I think I will go to my own room.”
   Ashley turned around and acted as if he was surprised to see Daniel standing there. “Why, Dr. Lowell!” he called out. “How nice to see you!” He pushed away from the balustrade and walked directly up to Daniel. Before Daniel knew what was happening, he was enveloped in a bear hug that kept his own arms pinned to his sides.
   Self-consciously, Daniel allowed himself to be hugged, although he wondered if he had any choice in the matter. It was a testament to how much bigger and heavier the stocky Ashley was in comparison to Daniel’s spare and comparatively bony frame. The hugging continued beyond what Daniel thought reasonable, and just when he was about to voice impatience, Ashley let up and stepped back but kept one hand gripping Daniel’s shoulder.
   “My dear, dear friend,” Ashley oozed. “I want to thank you for all you have done from the bottom of my heart. You are a tribute to your profession.”
   “Well, thank you for saying so,” Daniel murmured. Feeling himself blush, he was embarrassed.
   Carol reappeared from her bedroom and her presence rescued Daniel from Ashley’s clutches. “I’m on my way back to my room,” Daniel called out to her.
   “You get a good rest!” Ashley ordered, as if he were the doctor. He gave Daniel a pat on the back, which was strong enough to cause Daniel to take a step forward to keep from losing his balance. Ashley then turned around to retreat back to his place at the balustrade, where he assumed the same meditative pose he’d struck earlier.
   Carol accompanied Daniel to the door. “Is there anything I should know or do?” she asked.
   “Not that I haven’t already told you,” Daniel said. “He seems to be doing okay, and certainly better than I expected.”
   “You should be very proud.”
   “Well, yeah, I suppose,” Daniel stammered. He wasn’t sure if she was referring to how Ashley was doing at the moment or sarcastically to the complication. Her tone, like her broad expressionless face, was hard to read.
   “What exactly should I be watching for?” Carol asked.
   “Any change in his health status or his behavior. I know you have no medical training, so you’ll just have to do the best you can. I would have preferred he stay in the clinic tonight so his vital signs could have been checked through the night, but that didn’t happen. He’s a strong-willed individual.”
   “That is an understatement,” Carol said. “I’ll watch over him as I usually do. Am I supposed to wake him during the night? Anything like that?”
   “No, I don’t think that is necessary, with him doing as well as he is. But if there is any problem whatsoever or you have any questions, call me, no matter what the time.”
   Carol opened the door for Daniel and then closed it behind him without another word. For a moment, Daniel stared at the carved mermaids. Trained as a hard scientist, he knew psychology was far from his forte, and people like Carol Manning confirmed it. She confused him. One minute she seemed the perfect, dedicated assistant; the next she seemed as if she was mad about her subservient role. Daniel sighed. At least it wasn’t his problem, provided she watched the senator through the night.
   On the short walk to the suite he shared with Stephanie, Daniel’s attention switched back to the shocking improvement in Ashley’s Parkinson’s. He was mystified on many counts but enormously pleased, and he couldn’t wait to share the news with Stephanie. He opened the door and was surprised not to see her, especially when she wasn’t in the bedroom either. Then he heard the shower going.
   When Daniel entered the bathroom, he found himself enveloped in a fog as if Stephanie had been in there for a half hour. He put the toilet seat down and sat. With his line of sight at a lower level, he could now make out Stephanie’s form behind the frosted and fogged shower door. It appeared as if she weren’t moving beneath the full force of the spray.
   “Are you all right in there?” Daniel yelled out.
   “I’m better,” Stephanie answered.
   “Better?” Daniel questioned silently. He had no idea what she meant, although it reminded him that she had been rather silent all afternoon. It also reminded him of her seemingly insensitive response to Carol’s offer to ride with her, although he admitted if the situation had been reversed, he would have responded similarly. The difference was, in contrast to him, Stephanie ordinarily concerned herself about other people’s feelings. Daniel didn’t consider himself base or even rude, but rather he just couldn’t be bothered. People had to understand that there were too many more important things for him to think about than social niceties.
   Daniel debated with himself whether or not to go out to the minibar to get something to drink. In many ways, it had been one of the most stressful days of his life. Ultimately, he decided to stay put. He was eager to tell Stephanie about Ashley; the drink could wait. But Stephanie didn’t budge.
   “Hey, in there!” Daniel yelled at length. “Are you coming out or what?”
   Stephanie cracked open the door, and steam billowed out. “I’m sorry. Are you waiting to get in here?”
   Daniel waved the vapor away from his face. The bathroom had become a Turkish bath. “No, I’m waiting to talk to you.”
   “Well, maybe you shouldn’t wait. I’m not sure I’m up to talking much.”
   Daniel felt a wave of irritation course through him. Stephanie’s response was not what he wanted to hear. With the day’s events, he needed and deserved a bit of support, which he certainly did not believe was asking too much. Abruptly, he stood up, left the bathroom, and slammed the door. While he got himself a cold beer, he brooded. He didn’t need any more aggravation. He plopped himself down on the couch and concentrated on sipping his beer. By the time Stephanie appeared, wrapped in a towel, he had recovered.
   “I can tell by the way you slammed the door you’re mad,” Stephanie said in a calm voice. She was standing in the doorway to the bedroom. “I just want to let you know I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. I need some sleep. We did wake up at five this morning to make sure everything was ready.”
   “I’m tired too,” Daniel said. “I just wanted to tell you that Ashley is doing unbelievably. Most of his Parkinson’s symptoms have already mysteriously improved.”
   “That’s nice,” Stephanie said. “Unfortunately, it does not alter the fact that the implantation went awry.”
   “Maybe it didn’t go awry!” Daniel responded. “I’m telling you that you will be amazed. He’s a different man.”
   “He certainly is a different man. We’ve inadvertently crammed a horde of aberrant dopamine-producing cells someplace into his temporal lobe. An experienced neurosurgeon strongly believes he’ll be saddled with the hell of temporal lobe epilepsy. For Ashley, that will be even worse than the Parkinsonism.”
   “But he’s not had a seizure since the one in the OR. I’m telling you, he’s is doing marvelously.”
   “He’s not had a seizure yet.”
   “If he has a problem, we can deal with it the way I suggested to Dr. Nawaz.”
   “You mean with the cytotoxic agent attached to the monoclonal antibody?”
   “You can do that if you are so inclined and if you can talk Ashley into subjecting himself to such a foolhardy experiment, but it is not going to be ‘we.’ I’ll have no part of it. We haven’t even tried it in cell culture, much less animals, and as such, it is a quantum leap more unethical than what we have already done.”
   Daniel stared at Stephanie. He could feel his irritation sweeping back over him. “Whose side are you on, anyway?” he demanded. “We decided on a goal to cure Ashley to save HTSR and CURE, and by God, we are going to get there.”
   “I’d like to think that I am crossing over to the side less motivated by self-interest,” Stephanie said. “Today, when we realized the OR was not equipped with the necessary X ray, we should have stopped the procedure. We were gambling with someone else’s life for our own benefit.” Then she held up her hands as Daniel’s face flushed and his mouth opened to respond. “If you don’t mind, let’s cut it off right here,” she added. “I’m sorry, but this has become exactly the kind of discussion I did not feel capable of having tonight. I told you I’m drained. Maybe I’ll feel differently after a night’s sleep. Who knows?”
   “Fine!” Daniel said sarcastically, with a wave of his hand. “Go to bed!”
   “Are you coming?”
   “Yeah, maybe,” Daniel said angrily. He got up and went to the minibar. He needed another beer.

   Daniel wasn’t sure how many times the phone had rung since his exhausted mind had incorporated the jangle into the nightmare he was having. In his dream, he was a medical student again, and the phone was something to fear. Back then, it was often a call to an emergency he was untrained to handle.
   By the time Daniel’s eyes popped open, the ringing had stopped. He sat up and looked over at the now silent phone on the side table and wondered if it had rung or if he’d just dreamed it. Then his eyes darted around the room to orient himself. He was in the living room, still in his clothes, with all the lights on. After two beers, he’d fallen fast asleep.
   The door to the bedroom opened. Stephanie appeared in her silk shorty pajamas, squinting and blinking in the bright light. “Carol Manning is on the phone,” she said, in a voice thick with sleep. “She’s upset and needs to talk with you.”
   “Oh, no!” Daniel said worrisomely. He swung his legs off the coffee table. He even still had his shoes on. Without standing up, he leaned across the length of the couch and picked up the phone. Stephanie stayed in the doorway to listen.
   “Ashley is acting strangely,” Carol blurted into the phone after Daniel identified himself.
   “What’s he doing?” Daniel asked. The old medical school fear of incompetence in the face of an emergency came flooding back. With as many years as Daniel had been away from clinical medicine, he had forgotten most of his doctoring skills.
   “It’s not so much what he is doing, it’s what he’s complaining about. Excuse my language, but he says he smells pig shit. You told me that if he smelled something strange, it might be important.”
   Daniel felt his heart skip a beat and the optimism he’d felt earlier vanish. Immediately, there was not a modicum of doubt in his mind that Ashley was having an aura heralding the onset of another temporal lobe seizure. At the same time, the last vestiges of clinical confidence Daniel was holding on to crumbled as he acknowledged he was about to face handling an episode of what Dr. Nawaz predicted would be worse than the first. “Has he been aggressive or is he acting out in any way?” Daniel asked nervously. Frantically, he looked around the room for the black pouch containing the sedative and syringes. Thankfully, he spotted it on the table in the foyer.
   “Acting out is a little strong, but he has been irritable. Then again, he’s been irritable for the last year.”
   “Okay, be calm!” Daniel said, as much for his own benefit as for Carol’s. “I’ll be right down to the room.” He looked at his watch. It was two-thirty in the morning.
   “We’re not in the room,” Carol said.
   “Where the hell are you?”
   “We’re in the casino,” Carol admitted. “Ashley insisted. There was nothing I could do, and I tried. I didn’t call you because I knew there was nothing you could do either. When he makes up his mind, that’s it. I mean, he’s a senator.”
   “Good God!” Daniel complained. He slapped a hand to his forehead. “Did you try to get him to come back to the room when he smelled the pig poop?”
   “I suggested it, but he told me to go out and jump in the shark tank.”
   “Okay! Where in the casino are you?”
   “We’re at a bank of slot machines on the ocean side of the room, beyond the roulette tables.”
   “I’ll be right down. We’ve got to get him back to the room!”
   Daniel got to his feet and glanced at Stephanie, but she had disappeared back into the bedroom. He dashed over and looked in. Stephanie was tearing off her pajamas and pulling on her clothes.
   “Wait!” she called out. “I’ll come with you. If Ashley is going to have a seizure anything like what he had in the OR, you’ll need all the help you can get.”
   “Okay,” Daniel said. “Where’s the cell phone?”
   Stephanie nodded toward the bureau as she hastened to button her blouse.
   “Bring it along! Where are the numbers for Newhouse and Nawaz?”
   “I’ve got the numbers already,” Stephanie said, stepping into her pants. “They’re in my pocket.”
   Daniel ran to the medical pouch. Just to be sure, he pulled open the zipper. He felt some reassurance after seeing the vial and the syringes. The trick was going to be getting the medicine into Ashley before all hell broke loose.
   Stephanie appeared at the bedroom doorway, still struggling to get into her loafers and tuck in her blouse. By the time she got over to Daniel, he had the door to the hall open. Together, they flew toward the elevators.
   After hitting the down button, Daniel took the cell phone from Stephanie, handed her the medical pouch, and dialed Dr. Nawaz’s number.
   “Come on!” Daniel urged, as the phone rang and rang. Just as the elevator arrived, Dr. Nawaz answered sleepily.
   “It’s Dr. Lowell,” Daniel said. “We might get cut off. I’m stepping into an elevator.” In response to Stephanie pressing the lobby button, the doors closed. “Can you still hear me?”
   “Just barely,” Dr. Nawaz said. “What’s the problem?”
   “Ashley is having an olfactory aura,” Daniel said. He was watching the floor indicator. It was supposed to be a high-speed elevator, but the numbers seemed to be decreasing agonizingly slowly.
   “Who is Ashley?” Dr. Nawaz questioned.
   “I mean Mr. Smith,” Daniel said. He glanced at Stephanie, who rolled her eyes. For her, it was another small episode in the continuously unfolding and unfunny comedy.
   “It will take me about twenty minutes to get to the clinic. I advise you to call Dr. Newhouse. As I said earlier, I suspect this seizure might be worse than the first, especially considering where those cells are. We might as well have the same team.”
   “I’ll call Dr. Newhouse, but we are not at the clinic.”
   “Where are you?”
   “We’re at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. At the moment, the patient is in the casino, but we are going to try to get him back to his room, which is registered under a Carol Manning. It’s called the Poseidon Suite.”
   There was a silence that lasted for several floors.
   “Are you still there?” Daniel said into the phone.
   “I’m not certain I’m believing what I am hearing. This man had a craniotomy some twelve hours ago. What the hell is he doing in the casino?”
   “It would take too long to explain.”
   “What time is it?”
   “It’s two-thirty-five. I know it sounds like a lame excuse, but we had no idea Mr. Smith would go to the casino when we brought him back here, but he is extremely strong-willed, with a mind of his own.”
   “Has there been any progression beyond the aura?”
   “I haven’t seen him yet, but I don’t think so.”
   “You’d better get him out of that casino. Otherwise, there could be one hell of a scene.”
   “We’re on our way down to the casino as we speak.”
   “I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’ll check the casino first. If you’re not there, I’ll assume you are in the room.”
   Daniel ended the call and then dialed Newhouse’s number. Like with Dr. Nawaz, the phone had to ring multiple times before it was picked up. But in contrast to Dr. Nawaz, Dr. Newhouse sounded chipper, as if he’d been awake.
   “Sorry to bother you,” Daniel said, as the elevator doors opened on the lobby level.
   “No bother. As an anesthesiologist frequently on call, I’m accustomed to calls in the middle of the night. What’s the problem?”
   Daniel explained the situation as he jogged down the main hall toward the casino, which was centrally located in the huge complex. Dr. Newhouse’s reaction mirrored Dr. Nawaz’s in all respects, and he too said he would be there imminently. After disconnecting, Daniel exchanged the phone for the black medical pouch.
   Upon reaching the casino, Daniel and Stephanie slowed to a fast walk. The facility was in full swing and significantly more crowded than either anticipated, despite the hour. It was a colorful sight with its rich, red-and-black carpet, huge crystal chandeliers, and snappily dressed croupiers. Daniel and Stephanie made a beeline through the clutter of activity and past the roulette tables grouped in the middle of the spacious room. It didn’t take them long to find the bank of slot machines Carol had described and, once there, even less time to find Ashley. Carol was standing right behind him and was ostensibly glad to see help arrive.
   Ashley was sitting in front of one of the slot machines with a considerable pile of coins on the counter. He was still dressed in his laughable tourist outfit. His bandage was still in place on his forehead. His paleness wasn’t as apparent with the red glow reflecting off the carpet. There was no one at the machines immediately neighboring his.
   Ashley was relentlessly feeding his machine in a manner he clearly wouldn’t have been able to do the day before. The instant the inner wheels stopped, another coin dropped into the slot and the arm was pulled. Ashley appeared mesmerized by the blurred images of fruit.
   Without a moment’s hesitation, Daniel went directly up to Ashley and pulled him around with a hand on his left shoulder. “Senator! How nice to see you!”
   Ashley squinted up into Daniel’s face. His eyes were unblinking, his pupils dilated. His normally carefully combed hair was tousled as if someone had deliberately messed it up, giving him a wild appearance.
   “Take your hands off me, you skinny shit,” Ashley growled, without a trace of his normal accent.
   Daniel obeyed instantly, shocked and terrified by Ashley’s uncharacteristic profanity, which recalled a similar outburst in the operating room. The last thing he wanted to do was provoke the man and thereby incite a more rapid progression of the seizure symptoms. He stared into Ashley’s eyes, which reflected a kind of disconnect, since Ashley evidenced no signs of recognition. For a beat, neither moved as Daniel rapidly debated whether to attempt to medicate him on the spot. He decided against it, for fear he’d be unsuccessful and make things worse in the process.
   “Carol tells me you smelled a disagreeable odor,” Daniel remarked, unsure of what to say or how to proceed.
   Ashley gave a wave of dismissal before nodding his head. “I think it was that whore over there in the sexy red dress. That’s why I moved to this machine.”
   Daniel glanced down the row of slot machines. There was a young woman in a red dress showing significant cleavage, especially when she worked the slot machine’s arm. Daniel redirected his attention to Ashley, who had gone back to feeding the machine in front of him.
   “So you don’t smell the odor any longer?”
   “Just a little, now that I moved away from that bitch.”
   “Well, good,” Daniel said, allowing himself a ray of hope that the aura might resolve without progression. Regardless, he wanted Ashley back in the Poseidon Suite. If there were a scene in the casino, undoubtedly the whole affair would unravel in the media.
   “Senator, I have something I want to show you up in your room.”
   “Piss off, I’m busy.”
   Daniel swallowed nervously. His nascent ray of hope began to fade as he acknowledged that Ashley’s mood and behavior were obviously already significantly abnormal, even if not yet outrageous. Frantically he tried to think of something to get Ashley up to his suite, but nothing came to mind.
   All at once, Carol gave Daniel’s shirtsleeve a tug and whispered in his ear. Daniel shrugged. He was willing to try anything, no matter how ridiculous. “Senator. There’s a full case of bourbon in your room.”
   With encouraging rapidity, Ashley let go of the slot machine’s arm, turned, and looked up at Daniel. “Why, Doctor, fancy seeing you down here,” he said, with his accent returning.
   “Good to see you as well, sir. I came down to tell you about the case of bourbon that arrived in your room. You have to come up and sign for it.”
   To Daniel’s relief, Ashley immediately slid off the stool attached to the floor in front of the slot machine and stood. He must have had a wave of dizziness, because he tottered for a moment before grasping the edge of the counter. Daniel grabbed his arm just above his elbow for additional support. Ashley blinked, looked at Daniel, and for the first time smiled.
   “Let’s proceed, young man,” Ashley said. “Signing for a case of bourbon sounds like a worthy cause to this old country boy. Carol, dear, see to my loot, if you please!”
   With his hand still gripping Ashley’s upper arm, Daniel guided the man away from the slot machines. In appreciation of Carol’s suggestion, which he never would have thought of on his own, Daniel winked at her as their eyes briefly met. While Carol quickly gathered up Ashley’s coins, Daniel and Stephanie accompanied the senator across the floor and through the milling crowd of gamblers.
   The journey went smoothly until they got to the elevators, where they had to wait briefly. Like a cloud passing in front of the sun, Ashley’s smile suddenly disappeared and was replaced by a scowl. Having been watching his face and seeing the transition, Daniel was tempted to ask the senator what he was thinking. But he didn’t, for fear of undermining the status quo. Daniel’s intuition told him that a mere tendril of reality was maintaining Ashley’s control of his mind.
   Unfortunately, two couples that Ashley had spotted over Daniel’s shoulder boarded the same elevator behind them. One of them pressed the button for the thirtieth floor. Daniel swore under his breath. He had hoped to have the car to themselves, and the tension of worrying about an explosion of Ashley’s behavior in the presence of strangers caused his pulse to race and perspiration to appear on his forehead. For a split second he looked at Stephanie, who appeared as terrified as he. Returning his attention to Ashley, he could tell the senator was glaring at the couples who were tipsy and carrying on in a boisterous and provocative manner.
   Daniel unzipped the medical pouch. He looked in at the vial and syringes, and considered whether he should fill one of the syringes. The problem was that the strangers would see what he was doing and might become alarmed.
   “What’s the matter, Papa?” one of the women questioned teasingly after noticing Ashley’s truculent, unblinking stare. “Are you jealous, old man? You need a little action?”
   “Screw you, bitch!” Ashley snapped.
   “Hey, that’s no way to talk to a lady,” the woman’s companion blurted. He pushed the woman to the side and stepped forward to confront Ashley.
   Without thinking of the consequences, Daniel sandwiched himself between the two. He could smell the man’s garlic-and-alcohol breath and feel Ashley’s stare on the back of his head.
   “I apologize for my patient,” Daniel said. “I’m a doctor, and the gentleman is ill.”
   “He’s going to be a lot sicker if he doesn’t apologize to my wife,” the man threatened. “And what’s he ill with, loss of marbles?” The man laughed mockingly as he tried to peer around Daniel for a better look at Ashley.
   “Something like that,” Daniel agreed.
   “Whore!” Ashley shouted, while making a lewd gesture toward the woman.
   “Oh, that’s it!” the man snapped. He reached out and tried to move Daniel aside while making a fist with his other hand.
   Stephanie grabbed the man’s arm. “The doctor is telling the truth,” she asserted. “The gentleman is not acting like himself. We’re taking him back to his room to give him some medication.”
   The elevator stopped at the thirtieth floor, and the doors opened.
   “Maybe you’d better give him a new brain,” the man said, as his laughing companions pulled him off the elevator. He yanked his arms free and stood, glaring in at Ashley, until the doors closed in front of him.
   Daniel and Stephanie exchanged a nervous glance. A potential disaster had been averted. Daniel looked at Ashley, who was smacking his lips as if tasting something disagreeable. The elevator doors opened on the thirty-second floor.
   With Carol on one arm and Daniel on the other, they managed to get Ashley off the elevator and down the hall. He did not resist but rather walked like an automaton. At the mermaid door, Carol let go of Ashley long enough to get out her keycard and hand it to Stephanie, who got the door open. As Daniel and Carol started to urge Ashley forward, he shook off their hands and walked in freely.
   “Thank heavens,” Stephanie said, as she closed the door behind the group.
   The chandelier in the foyer was turned on, as was a lamp on the desk in the great room. Otherwise, the suite was lost in shadow. The drapes were pulled to the side, along with the glass panels. Beyond the balcony, a star-strewn sky arched over a dark sea. Freshly cut flowers rustled softly on the coffee table from the night breeze.
   Ashley continued walking until he reached a point a few steps away from the coffee table. There he stopped and remained motionless while staring out at the balcony. Carol turned on more lights to fill the room with illumination, then went to Ashley to see if she could get him to sit down.
   Daniel dumped the contents of the medical pouch on one of the small matching console tables in the foyer. He fumbled, trying to tear open a syringe packet, while Stephanie removed the cap covering the rubber stopper on the parenteral medication vial.
   “How are you going to do this if he resists?” Stephanie whispered.
   “I haven’t the slightest idea,” Daniel admitted. “Hopefully, Dr. Nawaz and Dr. Newhouse will be here to lend a hand.” He had to use his teeth on the cellophane.
   “The senator is grimacing like he did when he smelled the pig excrement,” Carol called from the other room.
   “Try to get him to sit down,” Daniel yelled back. He finally got the syringe out of its packaging and threw the wrapper to the side.
   “I already tried,” Carol said. “He refuses.”
   A loud crash of furniture in the other room snapped Daniel and Stephanie’s heads around. Carol was picking herself up from the floor after having been shoved into one of the end tables, knocking its lamp over. The ceramic lamp had shattered into a thousand pieces. Ashley was tearing off his clothes and throwing them around the room.
   “Oh God!” Daniel cried. “The senator is going off the deep end.” Daniel grabbed one of the alcohol pledgets and tore it open, but the moment he got the pledget itself out, he dropped it. He grabbed another.
   “Can I help?” Stephanie asked.
   “I’m all thumbs,” Daniel admitted. He got another pledget out and swabbed the rubber stopper of the medication vial. But before he could insert the needle, Ashley let out a shriek. In a panic, Daniel thrust the vial and the syringe into Stephanie’s hands before dashing into the room to see what was happening. Carol was standing behind one of the couches with her hands clasped alongside her face. Ashley was still in the same place but naked save for calf-length black socks. He was slightly hunched over and staring at his hands, which he had cupped close to his face.
   “What’s the trouble?” Daniel cried, as he came around to look at Ashley.
   “My palms are bleeding,” Ashley said with horror. He was shaking. Slowly, he lowered his trembling hands palm-up, spreading his fingers widely.
   Daniel looked at Ashley’s hands and back up into his face. “Your hands are fine, Senator. You have to calm yourself. Everything is going to be all right. Why don’t you sit down? We have some medicine for you, which will make you feel relaxed.”
   “I am sorry for you that you cannot see the wounds on my hands,” Ashley snapped. “Perhaps you can see them on my feet.”
   Daniel looked down and then back up at Ashley. “You’re wearing socks, but your feet look fine. Let’s sit you down on the couch.” Daniel reached out to take Ashley’s arm, but before he could, Ashley slapped his hands against Daniel’s chest and viciously shoved him away. Completely caught off guard, Daniel stumbled into the coffee table, falling over backward onto it and smashing the flower vase in the process. Water and cut flowers splayed out in an arc on the thick carpet. Daniel rolled off the table face-first, falling between it and one of the couches. Carol screamed.
   Mindless of the havoc he’d caused, Ashley skirted around the other side of the coffee table and ran toward the balcony. He stopped abruptly just over the threshold and lifted his hands horizontally with his palms facing forward. The night breeze off the ocean fluttered his disheveled hair.
   “Good grief! He’s out on the balcony!” Stephanie yelled. She was clutching the syringe, alcohol pledget, and vial to her chest.
   Wincing from the pain in his back from the collision with the flower vase, Daniel struggled to his feet. He ran out onto the balcony, skirting Ashley, to put himself between Ashley and the balustrade.
   “Senator!” Daniel yelled, holding up his hands. “Get back in the room!”
   Ashley did not move. His eyes were closed, and a look of serenity had replaced the earlier horror.
   Daniel snapped his fingers to get Stephanie’s attention. She had stopped just inside the room with a look of dismay on her face. “Is the syringe filled?” he asked, without taking his eyes off Ashley.
   “Fill it fast!”
   “How much?”
   “Two cc’s. Quick!”
   Stephanie drew up the fluid, pocketed the vial, and snapped the syringe with the nail of her index finger to get rid of any bubbles. She dashed out onto the balcony and handed the syringe to Daniel. She looked into Ashley’s placid face. The man was like a statue. He didn’t move. He didn’t even seem to be breathing.
   “It’s like he is frozen,” Stephanie said.
   “I don’t know whether to try to give this IV or just settle for IM,” Daniel debated. He took a step forward, still not having decided what he was going to do, when Ashley’s eyes popped open. Without the slightest warning, Ashley bolted forward. Daniel reacted by throwing his arms around Ashley’s chest while trying to brace himself against the floor tiles. But it was like trying to hold back a charging bull. Daniel’s shoes slid easily across the ceramic floor, and when the two men collided with the balustrade, Ashley’s momentum caused them to flip over the top and out into the night.
   Stephanie screamed “No!” as she raced to the railing and looked down. To her utter horror, Ashley and Daniel were locked in a slow-motion, tumbling embrace, like two lovers falling into the abyss. In the next instant, Stephanie averted her gaze, and with a sick feeling, she slumped down with her back against the cold stone balustrade.
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   6:15 A.M., Monday, March 25, 2002
   The faint brightening of the sky, which had been almost imperceptible a half hour earlier, was now definite. The stars had faded, and in their place was a soft, rosy glow heralding the imminent sunrise. The night breeze had quieted. Incessant chatter of songbirds could now be heard, even thirty-two stories up from the ground.
   Stephanie and Carol were sitting on opposite couches in the main room of a suite similar in size but not quite as luxurious as the Poseidon Suite. They had been sitting there for hours without moving or speaking, in near catatonia, after having been emotionally traumatized by Ashley and Daniel’s shocking somersault over the balustrade. Carol had been the first to react after the event. She’d dashed for the phone and blurted to the operator that two people had fallen from the Poseidon Suite balcony.
   Carol’s panicked voice had mobilized Stephanie to clamber to her feet. She avoided looking over the railing again but rather rushed for the door and ran headlong down the corridor. As she waited breathlessly at the elevator, Carol had joined her. On the elevator, neither spoke, but they stared at each other in total disbelief of what they had witnessed. Both nursed a wisp of hope for a miracle. It had all happened so quickly that there was a sense of unreality.
   The two women descended to the level of what was called the Dig, requiring them to run past huge illuminated aquariums filled with all manner of sea creatures, as well as fanciful ruins of the mythical city of Atlantis, in order to reach the ground level in front of the hotel complex. They both guessed that there was a shorter route, but this was the only way Carol knew to get there, and time was of the essence.
   On emerging into the night, they veered left, skirting the Royal Baths Pool, illuminated with its underwater lights. Reaching a narrower walkway that wasn’t as well lighted, they had to slow. They crossed a bridge over the Stingray Lagoon to arrive at the darkened, carefully landscaped area at the foot of the Royal Towers’ west wing. Both women were winded.
   A contingent of the hotel security had reacted swiftly to the alarm initiated by Carol’s call and was already on the scene. Several were busy roping off the area with yellow caution tape stretched between palm trees. A large African-Bahamian man dressed in a dark suit stepped from the shadows and intercepted the women.
   “I’m sorry,” he said, blocking their path as well as their view. “There’s been an accident.”
   “We’re staying with the victims,” Stephanie blurted. She tried to see around the sizable man.
   “I’m sorry, but it is still best you remain here,” the man said. “Ambulances are on the way.”
   “Ambulances?” Stephanie questioned, desperately maintaining her ray of hope.
   “And the police,” the man added.
   “Are they all right?” Stephanie hesitantly asked. “Are they still alive? We have to see them!”
   “Ma’am,” the man said gently. “They fell from the thirty-second floor. It’s not a pretty sight.”
   Ambulances had come to remove the bodies. The police arrived as well and conducted a preliminary investigation. They found the syringe, and it initially caused an excitement until Stephanie explained it was medication prescribed by a local doctor. This was confirmed by both Dr. Nawaz and Dr. Newhouse, who arrived soon after the tragedy. The police had accompanied the women and the doctors back up to the Poseidon Suite to check the balcony and the balustrade. The Chief Inspector then confiscated the women’s passports and told them they would be required to remain in the Bahamas until an inquest had been held. He also had the Poseidon Suite and Stephanie’s suite sealed for further investigation.
   The hotel night manager had been a paragon of composure, efficiency, and empathy. Immediately and without question, he had transferred the women to a suite in the Royal Towers’ east wing, where they were now sitting. He also provided them with all sorts of personal care products to ease their short-term inability to use their own. Dr. Nawaz and Dr. Newhouse had remained for a time. Dr. Newhouse had provided a sedative for the women, which they could use if they so chose. Neither did. The small plastic container sat untouched on the coffee table between them.
   Stephanie had been mulling over and over in her mind the entire affair, from the rainy night in Washington until the tragedy that morning. With hindsight, she had trouble believing that she and Daniel could have allowed themselves to be drawn into such a foolhardy business. Even stranger was their inability to recognize their folly, despite multiple setbacks that should have been hints that their decision-making was terribly flawed. They had truly confused ends and means. The fact that she had on occasion questioned what they were doing was scant comfort, because she had never acted on her intuitions.
   Finally, Stephanie took her feet off the coffee table and sat up. She had exhausted her ability to introspect. With her fingers entwined, she stretched out her arms. She was stiff from inaction. After running her fingers through her hair and taking a deep breath, which she let out forcibly, she looked at Carol.
   “You must be exhausted,” Stephanie said. “At least I got a few hours of sleep.”
   “As strange as it may sound, I’m not,” Carol said. Following Stephanie’s lead, she too stretched. “I feel like I’ve had ten cups of coffee. I can’t stop thinking about how ridiculous this whole episode has been, from the night of that fateful meeting in my car until this current catastrophe.”
   “You were against it?” Stephanie asked.
   “Of course! I tried to talk Ashley out of it from the start.”
   “I’m surprised.”
   Stephanie shrugged. “I don’t know exactly, but I guess it’s because it means you and I felt similarly. I was against it too. I tried to talk Daniel out of it as well but unfortunately not stridently enough.”
   “Apparently, we both were fated to be a Cassandra of sorts,” Carol said. “I suppose that is metaphysically apropos, since the whole affair has turned out to be a Greek tragedy.”
   “How so?”
   Carol gave a short, exhausted laugh. “Don’t mind me. I was a literature major in college, and sometimes I get carried away with my metaphors.”
   “I’m interested,” Stephanie said. “How was it a Greek tragedy?”
   Carol was silent for a moment, organizing her thoughts. “It’s because of the characters of the protagonists,” she said. “It’s the story of two titans, in their own separate arenas yet strangely similar in their hubris, who had achieved greatness but suffered tragic faults. Senator Butler’s was a love of power, which had evolved from a means to an end to an end in and of itself. Dr. Lowell’s, I’d guess, was a desire for financial recognition and celebrity status appropriate in his mind to his intellect and contribution. When these two men collided by conspiring to use each other for their own purposes, their tragic faults literally brought them down.”
   Stephanie stared at Carol. She’d always thought of the self-contained woman as a colorless, rather dull, quintessential subordinate. Suddenly she felt differently and by comparison distinctly less intelligent and less educated than she had earlier. “What does it mean to be a Cassandra?”
   “In Greek mythology, Cassandra was endowed with the gift of prophecy but fated not to be believed.”
   “Interesting,” Stephanie said lamely. “At one point, I teased Daniel about being similar to Ashley.”
   “In some respects, they were, at least in respect to their egos. But tell me, what was Dr. Lowell’s response to your teasing?”
   “I’m not surprised. Senator Butler’s response would have been the same if I had had the courage to say anything equivalent. Actually I believe they admired, despised, and were jealous of each other all at the same time. They were competitors in a distorted masculine sort of way.”
   “Maybe so,” Stephanie said, as she mulled the idea. She wasn’t immediately convinced Daniel had admired much about Ashley Butler, but she recognized that her contemplative abilities were hardly at their sharpest. “Are you hungry?” she asked, to change the subject.
   Carol shook her head. “Not in the slightest.”
   “Nor am I,” Stephanie said. She was exhausted, but she knew she couldn’t sleep. What she wanted was human contact and conversation to keep her mind from going over and over the same issues. “What are you going to do when we can finally leave the Bahamas after the inquest?”
   “I’m not sure there will be an inquest, or if there is, it will be quick, pro forma, and behind closed doors.”
   “Oh? Why do you say that?”
   “Ashley Butler was a senior U.S. Senator in a Congress with a slim majority. The United States government is going to be immediately and aggressively involved at a high level. I think this will all be resolved very, very quickly, because it will be in everybody’s interest. I even believe there will be powerful impetus to keep the affair from the media, if at all possible.”
   “My word!” Stephanie muttered, as she pondered such a scenario. The idea had not occurred to her. In fact, in her mind’s eye she had already seen the headlines in The Boston Globe as the final coup de grace for CURE. Yet she had not considered the political ramifications due to Ashley’s notoriety.
   “As for me,” Carol said, “I’m going to head home and arrange to see the governor. He’ll be making an appointment to Senator Butler’s seat, and I’ll make the case that I am the most qualified and should be selected. If that doesn’t happen or even if it does, I’ll start making the arrangements to run for the seat in the next election.”
   “What do you think will happen to Senate Bill 1103?”
   “Without Senator Butler, it will probably just languish,” Carol said. “Your worry should reside across the aisle, where the hard right Republicans might pick up the banner.”
   “That was our concern from the start,” Stephanie admitted. “We were surprised when we were blindsided by your boss.”
   “You shouldn’t have been. That was the kind of populist issue he always championed. It was the way he maintained his power base. I suppose his hypocrisy in regard to Dr. Lowell’s procedure was not lost on you.”
   “And what about you?” Carol asked. “What are you going to do when you leave Nassau?”
   Stephanie thought for a moment. “First, I have to deal with a problem with my brother. It’s a long story, but our relationship is another casualty of this regrettable affair. Then I guess I’ll see about picking up the pieces of CURE. I hadn’t thought it possible until you suggested that the media might not get ahold of this regrettable story and that Senate Bill 1103 might languish in committee. I’m not much of a businessperson, but I suppose I could give it a try. I think it is what Daniel would want, especially if it brings HTSR to the people.”
   “Well I have to say I’ve become a believer in Dr. Lowell’s procedure, as well as therapeutic cloning. I know there was a technical complication with Senator Butler’s implantation, but there was no doubt his Parkinson’s was miraculously helped.”
   “Such an immediate positive effect surprised us,” Stephanie admitted. “We never saw such quick resolution of symptoms with our mice. Why it happened to Ashley I can’t explain, but there’s no doubt in my mind had the implantation gone as planned in an appropriate Stateside medical center, the senator would have been cured, or close to it.”
   “I was impressed,” Carol said.
   “Even in the face of this tragedy, it proves how promising this technology is. I’m convinced it is the future of medicine for a host of diseases, provided a handful of politicians don’t manage to keep it from the American people for political reasons.”
   “Well, I hope I get a chance to keep that from happening,” Carol said. “If I get to fill Ashley Butler’s seat, I’ll make it my crusade.”
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Author’s Note

   I think of my novels as “faction,” a coined word meaning that the fact and fiction are so mixed that the dividing line between the two is often hard to discern. What does this mean for Seizure? Certainly the characters are all fictional, as is the storyline. Also, unfortunately, the HTSR procedure is not yet part of the biomedical armamentarium. But just about everything else is factual, including the parts about the Shroud of Turin, from which specific genes have been isolated from its bloodstains. I must admit, like Daniel and Stephanie, I became fascinated by the shroud. The reference Stephanie cites is also real, and for those interested in pursuing the subject further, I recommend it as a start.
   It is also fact that a number of U.S. politicians have involved themselves in the debate about bioscience, a field whose rate of discovery has become geometric. Indeed, it seems as if the twenty-first century will belong to biology, just as the twentieth century belonged to physics and the nineteenth century belonged to chemistry. Unfortunately, in my opinion, some of the politicians have been drawn into the debate, like my fictional Senator Ashley Butler, for demagogic purposes rather than as true leaders with the public weal at heart. And even those politicians, who seek to ban research of these twenty-first century therapeutic technologies in the United States for what they believe to be legitimate moral reasons, I suspect would not hesitate to fly to another country where such treatments were allowed to develop if they or a member of their family were stricken with an illness capable of being cured.
   In the congressional hearing room scene in Seizure (Chapter Two), Senator Ashley Butler shows his true colors by playing to public fears about embryo farms and atavistic Frankenstein mythologies. The senator also refuses to separate reproductive cloning (cloning a person, about which there is almost universal repugnance) from therapeutic cloning (cloning cells from an individual for the purpose of treating that individual). Senator Butler, like other opponents of stem-cell and therapeutic cloning research, suggests that the procedure requires the dismemberment of embryos. As Daniel points out to little avail, this is false. The cloned stem cells in therapeutic cloning are harvested from the blastocyst stage well before any embryo forms. The fact is that in therapeutic cloning, an embryo is never allowed to form and nothing is ever implanted in a uterus.
   Most of my readers are aware that my medical thriller stories have significant sociological issues at their core. Seizure is no exception, and obviously the issue here is the regrettable collision of politics and rapidly advancing bioscience. But it is one thing to use a cautionary tale to delineate a problem and quite another to suggest a solution. However, Daniel does allude to one, and it is one I personally would like our country to adopt. As Daniel questions in Chapter Six, “We [meaning the United States] took a lot of our ideas about individual rights, government, and certainly our common law from England. Why couldn’t we have followed England’s lead in how best to deal with the ethics of reproductive bioscience?”
   In response to the often difficult and disturbing ethical issues arising from molecular genetics and human reproductive research underscored by the birth of the world’s first in vitro fertilization baby in 1978, the British Parliament in their wisdom created the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has been operational since 1991. This organization, among other functions, licenses and monitors infertility clinics (something lacking in the U.S.) as well as debates and recommends policy to Parliament in regard to reproductive technologies and research. Interestingly enough, the chairman, deputy chairman, and at least one half the general membership are statutorily neither doctors nor scientists involved in reproductive technology. The point is that the English have managed to form a truly representative body whose members reflect a wide range of the general public’s interests and which can debate the issues in an apolitical environment. Of note, the HFEA issued a report in 1998 that clearly differentiated between reproductive cloning, which it recommended be banned, and therapeutic cloning, which it recommended as holding promise for the therapy of serious illnesses.
   The fact that bioscience in general and reproductive bioscience in particular is advancing so quickly begs the issue that the field needs some form of oversight. There is no doubt that completely unfettered bioscience can be a threat to human dignity, if not our identity, as Dr. Leon Kass, the current chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics has suggested. But partisan politics is not the appropriate arena to deal with this problem. In such a setting, any committees formed would invariably become stacked with members of a particular political bent.
   It is my belief that if the U.S. Congress were to set up a nonpartisan standing commission like the English HFEA to recommend policy, the U.S. public would be well served. Not only could the current debate about therapeutic cloning be resolved in an intelligent, apolitical, and democratic fashion (there is already consensus against reproductive cloning), but also infertility clinics could be monitored appropriately. It is even conceivable that the related abortion issue could be taken out of politics, to our collective benefit.
   Robin Cook, M.D.
   March 12, 2003
   Naples, Florida
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