The small black figure lay on the hard-green material of the cot. It was hardly the bed you would choose for a dying child, but the little girl they had named Beth was dying. She was hemorrhaging out her insides from the Ebola virus. Sitting by the dying child, covered with an impermeable material, was an alien looking figure -- thick blue latex covered the alien’s hands and gray goggles the eyes. Within that PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) Dr. Simone O’Reilly had run out of tears. Here in this room made of antiseptic white sheeting, covered like a visitor from another world, she sat with Beth waiting for death.
Dante had written of the rings of hell, but he had missed this circle populated by its relentless devils -- disease, malnutrition, and hemorrhaging flesh. Simone and her colleagues walked through this hell as visitors from another world, separated by thin plastic cloth from agonizing death but suffering from and with a common humanity.
“I have a little girl named Beth too,” Simone said to the all but still figure.
As Simone spoke, the Beth here was passing the border between pain and death. They could touch only through latex. The PPE suit was uncomfortable, a hot little torture chamber that everyone said was a vast improvement over the old suit. Simone knew her sins and accepted her misery, but she could not accept the death and suffering that surrounded her daily trips into this antiseptic abyss.
Her friend Claire Hudson seemed less troubled; more accepting of the suffering that surrounded them. Claire was the nurse, but Simone the doctor. The physician should be able to stop this, but it continued. This Devil had its own timetable, a harsh schedule of suffering and death. The best they could hope was to contain it like some wildfire and pray for it to burn itself out. Claire accepted this, but Simone did not. The doctor suffered with her patients and died a little with each. Beth moved from this life to the next, and Simone moved to the next room and then the next.
Early morning in the dark hut she shared with Ben, Simone woke from her latest nightmare. She was boating with her family when she found herself in the water. She and her daughters had gone swimming off the back of the boat, and her daughters had climbed back aboard, but before she could get on the boat began to move. Her husband Jimmy was in the front at the steering wheel, and she called to him that she was still in the water as the boat moved off. The girls were screaming for her. She began to swim for the boat, but it just moved further away. Simone called to her husband, but he didn’t seem to hear. The boat moved further and further away; then just as it disappeared, she woke up.
The hut was bathed in the dusky light of early morning. Ben lay beside her naked as she was. his hard body leaning into her softer one. His dark arm draped over her pale flesh. They had made love the night before as they did nearly every night. The needy, desperate sex of two souls seeking solace and longing for the touch of another human.
Ben Robinson had a fiancé in Atlanta. He was a registered nurse with a Ph.D. in Public Health. He had come to do his part in containing this threat to human existence. Simone had taken the inexperienced young African American under her wing and guided him through the shock of their odd existence. In return, he gave her his tall young black body and his amazing sexual prowess. For such a young man, his bedroom skills were highly advanced. They propped each other up and comforted each other when the inevitable crashes came. They came more often for Simone these days -- she had crashed last evening after the death of little Beth. Somehow, she could not totally separate the girl here from the one she’d left back home, but Ben had been there for her. That’s what they did for each other.
Ben emailed long letters to his fiancé back home, and whenever the satellite link was up, he took his turn at skyping home. His girl wrote him back and even wrote to Simone. Her last letter reminded Simone of Ben’s upcoming birthday and asked that Simone make it special. Ben’s girl’s name was Aamani; she had been born in Goa, India, before being adopted by an American couple. Aamani and Ben had an understanding. He had gone to fight disease, and she had stayed home to build their future. They carried none of the guilt regarding their sex life that Simone had with Jimmy. They were two young people who saw their future together as less than totally exclusive.
The thought of Jimmy was the daemon that pursued her through this hell on earth. Simone loved her husband. She needed to know he was home waiting for her. But was he? Jimmy had not called or written. He had sent letters from their daughters, and she had heard from her sister-in-law that things were well at home. Her friend Clare heard from her husband that Jimmy had been seen with a young woman, with some lawyer type. It could be nothing, but Simone knew in her soul that it was not. Jimmy was a difficult man to read. He didn’t wear his emotions outwardly. As a man, he never cried, and anger was felt but never shown. He was very much that man at the front of the boat, moving forward and never looking back.
Ben stirred beside her. The day was coming with its share of old and new misery. As the dawn broke, Simone knew her family would still be fast asleep in New York.
She was wrong, Jimmy O’Reilly was not yet asleep. He had had a long day which got longer as he returned from his trip to New York City. He had traveled for the case of Samuel Gil. The State of New Jersey’s appeal had gone to the Federal Circuit Court in Manhattan. The light had clearly turned red and stopped flashing -- that meant he could stop, didn’t it? Attorney Jimmy O’Reilly was representing what is known as the appellee position.
The case had come on in an unusual fashion. Fifteen years ago, Mary Slatterly had been strangled in her Trenton, New Jersey, apartment. At the time, the Trenton police had a plethora of suspects in the murder of the twenty-seven-year-old school teacher. Mary had a liking for one-night sexual encounters. There was no shortage of male suspects, and Samuel Gil was just one on the sizable list. He had an alibi provided by his drinking buddies, but maybe not that strong. Fifteen years later, DNA that was originally found at the murder scene and ruled not viable had morphed into a new lead through the advances in forensic science. The DNA from the carpet beneath Mary’s body was now usable, and the police were engaged in testing all their former suspects.
Samuel Gil when first asked agreed to give a cheek swab but balked at traveling from Saratoga, where he now lived, to Trenton to do so. Gil suggested visiting a local laboratory, but the Trenton police insisted on taking the sample themselves. Gil declined to travel to New Jersey; stating, he could not afford to take time off from his work as a carpenter. “There’s no union work up here. You don’t show they replace you,” Gil told the detective.
The Trenton police told Gil they would get back to him. What they did was try to surprise Gil at his Clifton Park Home on a Friday night after work. Staking out the house, the two detectives from Trenton waited all Friday night for Gil to return. Saturday morning they contacted the New York State police. When they checked with Gil’s employer early Saturday morning, a sleepy construction foreman informed them that Gil was out of State. The foreman was never asked why and didn’t volunteer that the company’s main current work was building houses in Pittsfield Mass.
The State police assumed that Gil was in flight and issued a detain order. There was, of course, no warrant or other legal process—or any further check. Such formalities were for mere citizens, not the illustrious New Jersey State Police. Sunday night, returning home after spending the weekend with his Massachusetts girlfriend, Gil was stopped and arrested by the State police. The charge was unclear, but the cuffs were firm.
Attorney O’Reilly received the call about eight Sunday evening and went to spring the client he had formerly only represented on a speeding ticket. O’Reilly still had an outstanding bill waiting to be paid but what can you do, ‘The man is in the lockup’? The presence of a lawyer and the lack of a warrant or any sustainable charge freed Sam Gil that Sunday night.
Sam decided in the circumstances that Trenton could, as he said, “stick their DNA test where the sun don’t shine.”
One subpoena and a Federal District judge ruling against the subpoena led to O’Reilly dodging questions in the Circuit Court. New Jersey wanted their cheek swab, and oddly Sam Gil had opened his wallet wide to stop them. The three-judge panel was debating the limits of a fourth amendment unreasonable search, and Jimmy O’Reilly had come prepared to argue the fifth amendment. No matter, he answered questions from what was a very hot bench.
New Jersey went first, and a few questions were asked. You get eight minutes timed with a set of lights. Green first then amber in the last ninety seconds. When the red light flashes, you stop. But judges aren’t bound by the lights. They can keep asking questions until they’ve had enough. The chief judge was a woman who apparently had a love affair going with the fourth amendment. Jimmy fielded her questions and pushed his case. After all, Mr. Gil was paying, and the clock still ran, ticking off billable dollars whatever the lights said.
“All right then, to summarize your position, Mr. O’Reilly,” the female judge finally said, “the state of New Jersey’s request is unreasonable in the circumstances.”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“If it please the court my name is Eric Schwartz, and I appear for the New York Attorney General who has filed an amicus brief,” said a very young assistant New York AG.
The state of New York was coming to the support of its sister state, but Eric was having even less luck than his colleague from New Jersey. His particular problem was Judge Blaine, a district court Judge from Western New York sitting to fill out the three-judge panel.
“Mr. Schwartz, is it the position of New York that a demand for a person’s DNA fifteen years after the fact is reasonable?” Judge Blaine queried.
“Ah ... well, the AG doesn’t see it as burdensome — it’s only a cheek swab.”
“Yes, and this man was ONLY arrested and held without charge in an attempt to obtain his DNA,” Blaine responded.
As said, this was a hot bench, and they had read the record. Fortunately, although they questioned O’Reilly’s side significantly, it was only on their way to a ruling in his favor.
Two hours later Jimmy was seated with two cans of Molson’s in what Amtrac calls their café car, headed north. He’d bought two beers to begin with to avoid going through the line a second time for his next round. It was allegedly a two-hour and forty minute ride to Rensselaer/Albany, time enough for two beers and to add up the bill for his day. With time and expenses, he was coming in at just over $2,200 not counting the taxi driver’s tip in New York or the parking charge for his car at the train station in Rensselaer. Not a bad take for the day.
Eric Schwartz plopped himself down on the seat opposite and acted as though they were somehow friends by virtue of their common appearance in Federal Court.
“Told them we weren’t going to achieve anything,” he said.
Jimmy grunted a reply as he checked his figures.
“Didn’t really see the point. It’s not like they won’t collect the DNA anyway,” Eric groused.
Suddenly he had Jimmy’s attention, although the defense lawyer’s face still showed no interest.
“Mmm,” Jimmy said taking a sip of beer. “You think the train will be on time or should I add another half hour of travel time?”
“They usually run about twenty minutes late going north.” Eric paused and thought a moment. “I wonder why that is?”
“The client may balk at the bill, He was already upset at being arrested,” Jimmy said, after seeming to contemplate a moment.
“Yea, colossal waste of time when they’re bound to collect the castoff.”
Cast off DNA from a drinking vessel, a door knob, or just about anything. O’Reilly’s new good friend Eric, the assistant AG, was simply stating what the police would do once the court turned them down. They would be put to some extra work, but they didn’t need to drop the matter. O’Reilly wondered how his client would take that news.
“Here’s a rather large bill, and oh, by the way, they have the DNA anyway.”
Obviously, Jimmy needed to do something. But what?
Simone had been called to a meeting with Alice Johnson, the chief administrator. It was not unusual but nevertheless odd that she had not been told the purpose.
“Please take a seat,” Alice said.
Once seated Simone looked at Alice, a woman in her fifties. Alice was seated behind her desk as if they were in some stateside hospital and not in a hut at the foot of a West African hill.
“I called you in to personally give you the news that I’m sending you home for a rest.”
“But why? My work is here,” Simone demanded.
“Yes, but your head is not. The Dr. O’Reilly, I met two years ago, was a strong and fully committed professional,” Alice began, “But the Simone O’Reilly, I’m sitting across from is a troubled woman. Your friend Claire filled me in on the personal problems that you are carrying around in your head. I understand your situation. Your problems are common, but the work here is difficult without them. To work here and carry a boat load of guilt will break even the strongest. You need to go home and settle your family situation. I won’t let people burn out or break down on my watch.”
“But you need me. The children need me, and this fight is critical. If we lose the fight here, there is no telling how many will die.”
“That is why I’m sending you home. This is a fight to the death, and one that won’t be won this month, this year, or maybe in my lifetime. The world doesn’t see it yet, but should we fail, the consequences are unthinkable! I need my people at one hundred percent. Go home. Settle the problem and then come back. I want Simone O’Reilly, but I want her ‘A’ game.”
With that, Alice dismissed Simone, and both women knew that this was the right decision. Simone needed to make peace with herself. She needed to resolve the issues she had run from.
The first Ebola case to appear in the United States was diagnosed in Dallas Texas. It spread to a health care worker and then another. Within weeks, random cases were appearing among travelers and health care workers returning from abroad. Panic seized many, and the politicians reacted. Some with courage and others with fear.
Dr. Simone O’Reilly, distinguished pediatric surgeon, had found herself quarantined on landing at Newark International Airport. She’d had to reach out to the one man she least wanted to ask anything from.
Jimmy O’Reilly got the first call at just after 9:00 p.m. as he put his daughters to bed. The call came from a representative of Doctors Without Borders, informing him that his wife had been detained on return from West Africa. Jimmy knew his wife was coming back but did not have the exact date or time. Relations between husband and wife had hit a place where communication was difficult.
By the time of the second call, the one from Simone, he was already in motion. After the first phone call, he hadn’t hesitated to pick up the phone and call Carrie Wilson, but it still felt peculiar to call his paramour about the problems of his spouse. He had been seeing Carrie for close to four months. She had wasted no time informing him that she expected their relationship to be sexual, and if he wasn’t willing he needed to state that up front.
Carrie had much in common with Simone. They were each of them driven professional women. They each knew where they wanted to go and would not let the ordinary day to day lives the rest of the world lived get in their way. Carrie had a fiancé, Raymond Emerson, who was the counsel to the Assembly Majority. Ray had met Carrie her first month in Albany. The wedding date was not set. They each believed it to be a matter of status on each side. They were an Albany power couple who wanted to become a Washington power couple.
Carrie described her arrangement with Raymond as open. Jimmy wasn’t sure whether that meant. Did they both have sex with other people or only Carrie?
Jimmy was told his time with her was strictly recreational, but he also noticed their relationship wasn’t just sexual. She appeared to enjoy his company. He thought maybe he was a respite from the pure politics of her committed relationship. Yet, he didn’t know, because she never discussed Raymond Emerson.
Jimmy knew that Carrie could reach the Governor. As a matter of necessity, he would ask the woman he was sleeping with to help free his returning wife. The good lawyer, he blocked his feelings of hypocrisy and humiliation and made the call.
Carrie was all too eager to help. It offended her ultra-liberal beliefs that returning health care workers should be held against their will, and Jimmy knew she took great satisfaction in being able to help the woman whose husband she was seducing. But more than anything, Carrie loved that Jimmy had to ask the favor. She enjoyed being able to do what her lover could not. She loved showing him up, revealing that she had that power over her partner. Jimmy did not envy Raymond Emerson. That ambitious young man had attached himself to a panther both in bed and out.
Simone’s call that night was brief, and Jimmy knew humiliating for her, as she pleaded for him to do something. He didn’t remember her ever being so distressed, not even when she was literally being dragged off to be raped. It was how they had met when he’d saved her from three drunken frat boys over a decade earlier. Now she was pleading for him to bring her home. She was a very shaken woman.
Carrie called back twenty minutes after he got off the phone with Simone. She was in her governor’s assistant mode, all instructions, a professional political assistant giving her list of to-dos to a subordinate.
“The firm is Simcoe, Brice, and Taylor. The attorney is Ted Brice. He will be waiting at the Federal Courthouse in Newark at 8:30 tomorrow morning. The governor will call the judge tonight and request he hears this first thing. You go to Newark tonight and get the affidavits signed. I’m faxing them to your office now. One for Simone and one from the epidemiologist who will meet you at the first-class passenger lounge of US Air,” Carrie said. Then she added, “Whatever you do don’t lose that Irish temper of yours.”
“You owe the Governor a favor, Jimmy. He won’t forget and neither will I.”
He left his daughters with his sister and her wife; then he drove south on the Thruway to Harriman and Route 17 to I-287 into New Jersey then I-95 to I-78.
The Airport parking lots were crowded and the terminal busy and heavy with security. To call it congested and poorly run was a kindness. He had trouble getting into the first-class lounge for US Air; he had no ticket. The service person in charge, when finally called, understood he was a lawyer there to meet a US Air passenger.
When the computer was checked, they discovered that a doctor, Carl Jennings with the CDC, was flying in from Atlanta, but that his flight was delayed. After getting an agreement to be called on his cell when the doctor arrived, Jimmy went looking for where his wife was being held. It took perseverance and some legal threats to get taken to the area now designated as a quarantine site, which turned out to be no more than an office with an interior window they could talk through. No one appeared to know what to do, or where this was going next. Jimmy told Simone through the glass that he would have her out the following morning. Then some high mucky-muck from airport security tried to have him ejected from airport grounds. However, a group of lawyers showed up from the ACLU, and during the ensuing verbal argument, Jimmy extracted himself to find out the current location of his epidemiologist.
As he headed back to the first-class lounge, the staff called to say that Dr. Jennings had arrived and was waiting for him. It had gone past 2:00 a.m., and the airport had begun to slow down. At the lounge, Dr. Jennings greeted Jimmy and invited him to sit down while he read over the affidavit.
“Yes, this is what Ms. Wilson and I discussed,” Jennings said. “A very competent woman. She picked this location for the notary they have on staff. She is a very detailed and knowledgeable young lady.”
“Carrie does think of everything, but tell me how she got you here.”
“Oh, I was already on my way because of this whole quarantine fiasco. A truly worthless business. I was coming to see if I could talk some sense to people in authority. I’m glad that I can help your wife. Without people like her, we would need to truly worry about the spread of Ebola. But if -- and I do mean if -- they can contain this disease in West Africa then the world will owe them a great debt.”
The following morning it had gone smooth as glass. The federal judge released Simone by 9:00 a.m. and then signed an order to show cause why the rest of the detainees should not be released. At the precise moment, they were before the Judge, and New Jersey attorney Ted Brice was arguing, the Governor of the State of New York issued a statement denouncing the detention of returning health care workers without cause.
By noon Jimmy had Simone on the New York Thruway headed home. She hadn’t said a word since entering their rather dated but dependable Honda. All Jimmy could get from his wife were monosyllabic grunts and shakes of the head.
At the Kingston exit, he’d had enough. He pulled off, went through the traffic circle, and stopped to have lunch at a nearby diner. As he pulled the car to a halt and turned off the engine, he said, “We’re a little over an hour’s drive from home, but you’re in no condition to greet your daughters. What the hell is wrong with you?”
He had known his wife for more than a decade but what happened next surprised him. The strong woman he thought he knew broke down altogether. She was weeping, yes, but it was more than that. He sensed in her a level of pain he had never experienced before. He took her in his arms and comforted her as one would an hysterical child.
“It’s all right, you’re safe now,” he said running his hand over the back of her head with her face buried in his shoulder, “Nothing can hurt you now. I won’t let it.”
“How could they do that? Put me in a cage like an animal.”
“You’re out now, they’re just afraid. Not everyone can be brave when they face a threat they simply don’t understand.”
She cried, and her body shook for the better part of an hour. He ended up going into the diner alone, for takeout. They ate it in the car while he did his best to comfort her. She was hungry, weary, and broken spiritually. Despite everything that stood between them, he realized he loved his wife and always would. Whether their marriage would ever work again was another issue. He’d put it aside for the moment.
Simone spent a week recovering. She spent time with her daughters Vicky and Beth. They had missed her, but it was clear they had not needed her. The girls were excited about the anticipated birth of their cousin. Lisa, the spouse of their aunt Tara, was now eight months pregnant, and the baby could be born in as soon as two weeks. No one had told the girls that the male donor was their father, and the new baby would be their physical sibling.
“Lisa says they are going to name him James,” Beth told her mother.
“But daddy doesn’t want them to,” Vicky chimed in, “He doesn’t like the name James. Did you know that?”
“Yes, we discussed it when we thought you might be a boy,” Simone said to Vicky.
Beth thought the idea of Vicky being a boy uproariously funny. Tara came along then and shooed the girls out to play.
“Go get some sun while you can. It’s fall already, and winter will come soon.”
When the girls were gone, Simone said, “I assume you did that because you want to talk.”
“Yes,” she said. “Lisa thinks Jimmy may be willing to listen to reason about you and him. He’s done some growing up since you left this last time.”
“I believe you are referring to Carrie Wilson, but I hardly see his taking a mistress as a matter of enlightenment.”
“Don’t put the lady down. My brother has a weakness for independent women. And like you, she has a liking for a smart man who can accept a smart woman as a partner. But she doesn’t pretend to be playing a one-man game, and he has accepted that. He’s lost some of his foolish romantic notions.”
“Is that how you saw our marriage?”
“It’s how I see it now. You have a job to do in this world, and so does he. It’s silly to try to meet an unrealistic standard in your circumstances. ‘If you love something set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.’”
“My haven’t you become the understanding soul.”
“Of course, I found the love of a good woman. I have the luxury of possessing the person I love full time. You and Jimmy will never have more than the interludes between your work. He needs to come to terms with that.”
At that moment, Jimmy was waiting in the Latham Inn for Carrie Wilson. The Inn was one of those spots that people come to not to be noticed. Carrie didn’t hide her relationships, but she never flaunted them either.
“People will accept a lot so long as you don’t push their faces in it,” Carrie would say.
Jimmy had that hard shell that defense attorneys cultivate. He had no care for what people thought. It was only his own opinion that counted. He hadn’t thrown the affair in Simone’s face nor had he hid it. He knew what his wife did when she was away, and he had taken the same privilege for himself. Now that she was back he was unsure of where things stood with either his wife Simone or his mistress Carrie.
Carrie had called and said to meet her at the quiet Inn. When she appeared, she was all smiles.
“You look happy,” he said.
“For you lover,” she said kissing him, “haven’t you heard? You won ‘New Jersey versus Gil’!”
Now it was Jimmy’s turn to smile. He had been nearly certain of the outcome but knowing for certain that he won felt good. Carrie laughed as he broke into a grin.
The Inn had no table service this time of day, so Jimmy went to the bar for Carrie’s Cosmo. As he returned to the table, a tall and stunningly beautiful brunette came in on the arm of a big Mediterranean type fellow. Both members of this couple nodded to Carrie and then proceeded to ignore them.
Seeing Jimmy’s confusion, Carrie whispered, “Susan Singleton and Tony Greco. They have a bit of a thing going. He’s the governor’s chief political advisor, and she’s up for head of P.R. for his next campaign.”
Jimmy took a good look at Susan. He had never actually seen the woman married to Steven (aka Foxy) Fitzgerald. She was everything they said, including, apparently, a woman who played around.
“She’s married I hear,” Carrie said.
“Yes, I know her husband. He’s defending Roger Hamilton at the moment.”
“The Hamilton who murdered his pregnant wife.”
“The very same, but it’s still allegedly murdered his pregnant wife.”
“From what I hear the trial’s a mere formality,” Carrie opined.
“You never know, especially with Foxy involved,” Jimmy replied.
It truth, he respected the man they called Foxy. Like Jimmy, he was not afraid to play the cards from the bottom of the deck if that’s what it took to win. Which reminded Jimmy, something must be done to keep the police from subverting the decision he had just won. There must be a way to deflect their intent to collect cast off DNA from Jimmy’s client.
“Hey, you still with me?” Carrie said.
“Sorry, I just had a random thought.”
“Well, I hope it involved a bed and me,” She said.
Jimmy Laughed, “Well, I suggest your place as mine currently has a wife in it.”
“Thanks to me. So, I think she will just have to let me borrow her husband at my place. But not before he buys me some dinner.”
Jimmy put his difficulties on hold that night. The answers to his problem of what to do about Gil’s DNA and what to do about his wife would come to him. Carrie was looking for a bed partner, and currently he owed her. They adjourned to Carrie’s floor-through apartment on State Street, two blocks above the capitol building. It wasn’t furnished well. Carrie didn’t see it as a permanent home. It was a place for now while she waited for her boss to run for president.
The one exception was the bedroom, which Carrie had elaborately furnished with a large old-fashioned armoire and a large sleigh bed, both imitation but in the French baroque style. That bedroom was at the rear, overlooking the back garden and the carriage lane. Street noise was checked by the heavy shutters at the front windows. The floor below was office space for one of many lobbying firms.
Carrie wasted no time in pouring them each a glass of wine and moving to the bedroom. She stripped herself and lay naked, sipping her wine with her back braced against the headboard. Jimmy relegated his wine to the nightstand and discarded his clothing. He knelt between her legs, he knew what she wanted. Carrie was a woman who felt the best feature of a man was his tongue. She liked it slow and teasing.
Jimmy ran his hands up her legs and then followed them with his lips. He circled her sex and nibbled on her vulva. He brought his tongue to lick the length of her labia, and he let his cheek with its beard stubble brush gently along her inner thigh. She moaned as if on cue as his tongue slipped between her lower lips.
Jimmy teased her, repeating his oral seduction until she wanted more. She put the wine down and grabbed his head, forcing his mouth to her clit. On cue, he sucked on her clit and she came.
Carrie liked a slow buildup because it delayed her orgasm. Then when it hit her, it was intense and over quickly. It was then that she allowed him to enter her and to stroke in and out gently.
She was an easy woman to be with. He could take his time and enjoy her body. It was only when he felt ready that he truly pounded her. Then she would cum as if someone had thrown a switch. Carrie was a woman who fed a man’s ego. But you had to ignore that she believed it her right to sleep with any man she desired. She kept her lovers very few and always well vetted. She might be promiscuous, but she didn’t like promiscuity in her lovers. A man with a wife was ok, but if he had another lover, that was unacceptable. She believed in a kind of relative fidelity. To her. It was the difference between being an emancipated woman and just any man’s slut.
“Will you go home to her tonight,” she asked as she cuddled into her spent lover.
“I can’t stay if that’s what you’re asking. I have to be at the office early.”
“Will you have sex with your wife tonight?”
“We haven’t had sex since the last time she left.”
“Why not? You can’t still be mad at her,” Carrie said rising on one arm to look into his eyes. She was genuinely curious. Carrie understood how a proud man could be upset at discovering his wife’s infidelity. But, the extent of Jimmy’s anger even after their own affair was perplexing.
Jimmy put his arm behind his head and tried to answer the question. Why didn’t he make love to his wife, or at least fuck her? She was a beautiful woman to whom he was immensely attracted. He loved her deeply despite everything. And yet, there was currently no physical intimacy between them.
“I guess it’s because I love her so much,” he said.
Carrie shook her head, “that’s not love but jealousy. If it was love, then you would want her happy, not both of you miserable.”
“Is that what you and Raymond have, true love?”
Carrie frowned. She never spoke to her lovers about her Ray.
“Ray and I have an understanding. I’m discreet, and he looks the other way. I’m simply too young to be tied down in an exclusive relationship right now,” she said giving the pat answer that she always gave. Perhaps she was even beginning to believe that lie, she had told it so often.
“But you want the prestige of the relationship. To be the governor’s aide and the assembly’s power broker,” he finished for her.
“Cynically put, but yes. And any further discussion of Ray is off limits,” she said once again, hiding the truth.
“Understood, but my situation is different. I wasn’t living in a fairytale. There were kids to feed and bills to pay. Nonetheless, I lived a romance where love conquered all.”
Carrie gave him a crooked smile and a shake of her head. “You are truly an enigma. A hard ass take no shit lawyer who longs to be the hero in some Hollywood romantic comedy.”
“You making fun of me now?”
“No this is your mistress feeling sorry for you,” she said. And gave him a long, lingering kiss that came from her heart. She could love this man. Yet, he threatened the hard professional woman she strove to be, and the great career she had laid out for herself.
Simone was up early. Jimmy had come home late the night before, and although he was freshly showered she could still smell the other woman’s perfume on him. She’d said nothing. Her plan was to keep her mouth shut and do everything she could to win him back. How that might be accomplished, she was not sure.
Today she was visiting the hospital. She had been gone from her normal work for eight months during this last MSF assignment. It was time to show up and give the home team her efforts. She arranged a meeting with the principle hospital administrator, Ellen Perry, and the chief of medical staff, Dr. Clark. They held the meeting in Ellen’s office, in a separate building across the street from the hospital proper.
Ellen and Jake Clark were very cordial. She was a woman in her sixties, but contrary to all likelihood the Chief of Staff, Dr. Clark, was only in his late thirties. They sat Simone down and over coffee began what appeared to be a friendly chat. But after discussing the difficulties and challenges of Simone’s work in Africa, they came to where Simone expected them to ask when she would be returning to work. Then there was only silence.
“Well, I was intending to stay home the balance of this week. But I can start back Monday if that’s soon enough for you,” Simone said.
The silence continued as the administrator exchanged glances with his chief of staff.
Finally, Ellen spoke, “This is difficult for us, but the circumstances are unusual...” Ellen began looking down at her empty coffee cup.
Dr. Clark jumped in, “There is no easy way to say this, but we feel in the current climate your returning would be disruptive.”
For a moment, Simone did not understand, and then she understood all too well, “You can’t believe I’m carrying Ebola?”
“No, No,” Clark assured her, “But the general public is in a panic. In the circumstances, your working...”
Clark’s voice trailed off, so it was Ellen Perry who laid it out.
“We just can’t have you back until the scare is over. Then, of course, we will be more than happy to reinstate you,” Ellen said.
“Reinstate?” Simone questioned.
“Yes, we’ve pulled your credentials. For now, you’re not authorized to practice here,” Ellen said.
“But only temporarily until things settle down,” Clark said.
Simone was stunned. The fear of the ignorant she understood. Ebola was a terrifying disease. Even the actions of callous politicians feeding on public fears were understandable. But these were informed medical personnel who knew the risk was nil. Why would they ostracize her for making the personal and professional sacrifices she’d made?
“You understand that if we don’t contain this disease where it is right now then everyone will be at risk. Thousands of medical personnel are needed to fight this. Will you ostracize all of them on return? And if you do, who will be willing to give up everything to fight this thing?”
Administrator Ellen’s answer was immediately forthcoming. “That’s not our business. We have a hospital to run. Who will bring their children to a facility where there might be the remotest possibility that a doctor has a contagious disease?”.
Simone returned home a woman whose beliefs had been shaken. She returned to the house where she had lived with the man she loved. The house where her two daughters were being raised but no longer by her. Now she wondered what had become of her life. She was sure she had done the right thing in going to Africa, but in doing so, she had lost everything. The work she loved was gone. The husband she loved was sleeping with another woman. Did her daughters still love her?
Jimmy O’Reilly was sitting in police court with a headache. It had started coming on shortly after his meeting with his client Sam Gil. The client was pleased with the verdict from the appeals court, but his pleasure turned to agitation when his attorney informed him that the Trenton police would no doubt now attempt to obtain his DNA through other means.
“That can’t be legal. The court said no,” Gil theorized.
“Yea w-e-l-l, not so much. You see if they happen to stumble on your DNA out in the wide world, then the fourth amendment doesn’t apply. Reading the decision we got from the appeals court, they will do just that.”
Judge Shaw, the female who had headed the three-judge panel, had written the decision. Her interpretation of the fourth amendment was that it would require “A quantum of new evidence sufficient to convince an independent investigator that he should seek to search further.” The old DNA didn’t qualify, even though a new test was available. In other words, no new test applied without some new evidence linking Samuel Gil to the crime. But, the police were going to go all out to find that new link.
“What can we do? I paid a lot of money here. So, what are you going to do?”