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MRT meines rechten Knies, von der Innenseite z...

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Three-point-Three

 

Dr. Jon Pender’s home all through his medical school and most of his clinical training was a tiny, spotless studio guest cottage. The small cottage sat behind a two-story 1930s era home in the fashionably historic Encanto district.
Pender’s home was thickly and thoroughly shaded year round by three stately oak trees. Nearly a dozen smaller Chilean mesquite and Chinese elm trees were also scattered around the nice property, adding additional layers of shade. It was peaceful and quiet all the time and Pender just loved it.
The DesMartins, an elderly couple that owned the property, stayed in the main house when in town. They wintered here in PHX, summered in their other home up north in Minnesota, and traveled in between. The couple had no children and therefore, no young grand kids running around, bugging the hell out of Pender. Half of the year the whole place was his. The DesMartins felt much better having the nice young doctor living on grounds and watching the place for them. It was the perfect place to live.
The cottage was only a few scant miles from both the medical school and St. Anthony. Most important, the DesMartins showed exceeding kindness by making sure the rent was low enough for Pender to afford. He had to live off the nine hundred Notes a month stipend he received as part of his Civil Service contract.
Pender walked through the front door of his quaint, but very snug domicile. He hung his coat on the rack by the light switch. He flipped it on and the room was sprinkled with the yellow light of two table lamps. The two combined were just enough to shed light on almost the entire cottage.
Pender went to the immaculate kitchenette. He left not so much as a single dirty dish lying around. He retrieved a diet soda from the refrigerator. The spotless tile of the kitchenette and the scrubbed pine of the living quarters perfectly complimented the floor to ceiling book shelf. It was also clean, devoid completely of dust and scattered papers. The shelf held many books, but they were all quite medical or scientific in nature. Placed firmly right up to the edge of the shelf there was an old roll-top style desk. It was also spotless.
The cottage could not boast a television, or stereo. It had one clock radio. The fold out couch-bed was currently encased in the room’s only comfortable piece of sitting furniture. Pender never entertained guests, so the arrangement was well suited for his needs.
Pender went back into the living area and placed his gym bag on the floor. He sat for a moment on the couch and briefly closed his eyes. The pain from his knee was getting progressively worse.
Pender could not afford to take the time off from his residency program to go through surgery and rehab for his knee. He would have to join another class and wait for an opening, which could be anywhere. No, he’d gut it out with the pain killers and keeping active.
Pender just wished to God the Tylenol with codeine would kick in. Then maybe he could think about something, anything, else.
I need to take a second one, he thought. Pender gently placed his left heel on the scratched oval pine coffee table. He leaned forward and with a grimace began massaging his knee.
Pender extended his leg and stretched it as far as he could. The noise his knee made was crushing empty peanut shells. Whenever Pender humped the stairs at St. Anthony his knee would double-crack with every upward step. It was embarrassing when he wasn’t alone.
He returned his leg to the table and massaged it anew. It was pissing in the wind, though. Nothing he did seemed to help. Only hiding the throbbing beneath the mask of pain pills gave to Pender any semblance of relief.
Pender was concerned with his growing use of such strong analgesics, but only as it pertained to his career. He could never write his own prescriptions. That would spell trouble with a capital BUTT that rhymed with FUCKED. No physician wanted that kind of disciplinary scrutiny.
His personal physician was making overtures of cutting down and eventually offing his supply all together. He tried not to panic. In response to this growing threat, Pender began squirreling away as many pills as he could. But he could see the bottom of the bottle and it was making him nervous.
Definitely, he decided. I’ll take one more, just to make sure the pain doesn’t get in the way of my interview.
Pender stood. He trudged to the bathroom at the rear of the cottage. He opened the mirrored medicine cabinet. Pender shook out another T3, thought about it, and shook out another. He downed the two pills with a paper cup of tap water. Pender sighed as he ran the shower. He stripped off his clothes, and with his knee still cracking and popping and hurting, he stepped under the tepid stream of water.
Pender arrived at the parking lot of the research wing of St. Anthony for his interview with time to spare. The small toilet-papered cuts that were scattered all along the underside of his chin were beginning to itch as they dried. The itch reminded Pender that they were there, so he quickly brushed the bits of blood caked paper away.
Pender strolled across the parking lot toward the entrance. He went through the main door, trying to limp as little as possible. The door led to a small, but plush waiting area. There was no one around. He could see boxes of files stacked up neat against the wall where an eventual receptionist’s area would form.
With no one telling him otherwise, Pender began walking down the hall until he stopped in front of a dark wooden door. The door had a twin set of brand new heavy-duty deadbolt locks installed recently. The wire-meshed frosted window informed Pender that he was facing Lab 8D.
Despite the new locks, the door to Lab 8D was slightly ajar. Pender resisted the temptation to walk in unannounced. He knocked politely on the door and waited.
“Come in,” Hannah Bergh called out. Pender opened the door enough to get in. He found himself in the middle of a graveyard of unopened cardboard packing boxes. They were all as neat as the file boxes up front and had the contents clearly stenciled on the sides. “Is that you, Jon?” she called from what appeared to Pender as office space.
“Yes.” Pender replied. He was still looking lecherously at all the state of the art lab equipment.
“Go ahead and take a look around,” Hannah called out from the office. “I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Dr. Jon Pender did look around. He was like a kid in a candy store. Pender went to each of the unopened boxes in the main room. They have everything, he thought reading the boxes, coulter counters, Rodac plates, sterile hoods, ultra centrifuges all that shit. Jesus Christ would you look at this. An excited Pender came across the heart and soul of the new lab. They got shit for gene cloning and protein membrane research. Motherfucking DNA sequencing, Western blot, pulse labeling, spectral fucking analysis, phytochemistry shit. Not to mention all the high-tech computer components. Pender was impressed. They are not fucking around. The new millennium has indeed come early here.
The new lab didn’t skimp on all the basics either. There were scores of sterile water cases and phosphate-buffered saline. D-nase enzymes and ground-up red blood cells packed in dry-ice sat beside boxes of test tubes, needles, syringes, flow diagrams and mounds and mounds of paper of all varieties.
The next thing that caught Pender’s attention was sitting like an altar in the midst of all those boxes. The three meters by nine meters slate-topped work bench split two mammoth book shelves and they were absolutely stuffed with unsullied volumes of books, texts, and journals from every discipline and seemingly from every corner of the medical/scientific world.
Resting on a long, low table against the back wall, Pender spotted a big IBM computer. He went immediately for it. Most of the components were still packed away, but Pender noted a detailed set of hand-written instructions beside the mammoth machine. The notes appeared to be guidelines on how to directly interface with the medical school’s online search program.
This could access nearly any article or study ever published, Pender thought, Fuck me. He whistled low with appreciation.
Pender then spied a door at the rear of the main room. He heard some scattered muffled rustling noises. Pender, investigating, opened the first door he came to. There he saw a smallish room, complete with a spotless sink, commode and a brand new military style cot. Pender tested the mattress and to his delight, it was pretty plush. An overworked researcher could catch a serious power nap here. Next to the cot a large gray metal army locker and a small, well-lit functional desk fit snugly. On top of the desk a clock radio and a small television and beta-max movie player. There was even a double hot plate and a coffee maker in the snug space.
All of the comforts of home, he mused. Nicer than my shit, anyway.
Pender exited the room, proceeding on to the one remaining door. He went through the door and into a room that was even larger than the main lab area. It was filled with cages and cages of mice and albino New Zealand lab rabbits. Just inside the door to the left was a good sized bulletin board. The schedule of the animals’ care is specifically laid out. Right below that was the care takers schedule, consisting of what appeared to be two part-time undergrads. The animal room, much like the rest of the lab facility was neat and clean and very well equipped. Pender like what he saw.
He retraced his steps. As Pender re-entered the lab’s main area, he saw Hannah Bergh standing outside her office. She had her arms folded and a smile on her face. Hannah gestured and Pender followed. He entered her office and took a chair.
Damn nice one, too. Shit, green leather wing back for a lab office?
The two of them stared at each other from across Hannah’s tidy dark wood desk.
“I was watching you,” Hannah began, “I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, what may I ask were you hoping to see?”
“I was hoping to see you appreciating this facility. It seems that you do.”
“No mystery there, Hannah. It’s marvelous. You have obviously taken great pains in putting this lab together.”
“Then the facility and equipment meet with your approval, Jon?”
“Very much so,” Pender enthusiastically replied, “You appear to have thought of everything.”
Hannah gave a curt nod. Down to business. She removed a manila folder and placed some computer printouts in front of her. She thumbed through them. She was seeking a particular bit of information. Still searching and without looking up she asked: “How about the animals? Acceptable?”
“Yes,” Pender replied. “The rabbits and mice are perfect for all sorts of preliminary experiments.”
“True, true, but to do get to the guts of our project we will need to get – ah,” she said, finding it. Hannah handed the stat sheet over to Pender. It held all the vital information pertaining to the proposed subject. A small photo accompanied and was attached to the bottom right hand corner.
“A chimpanzee,” Pender stated, completing Hanna’s thought.
“The benefits of this project are for humans, Jon. A chimp will be required when we get to final phasing.”
“Absolutely. I’m impressed you were able to procure one. How did you get it?”
“His name is Koobi. NASA has recently retired him. He will be farmed out to us from the National Health Administration’s facility in Bethesda when we are ready to receive him.”
“That could take a few years before we’re ready for that level of testing,” Pender pointed out, “And even longer for human implementation.”
“Yes, well all Koobie helps them with now is non-invasive language skills,” Hannah told him, “Sign language to be more precise.”
“That’s great,” Pender laughingly added, “We are going to get a lab animal that can tell us how he’s feeling. Marvelous!”
Hannah smiled at Jon. He smiled back.
“What?” he said. Did I just fuck up?
“Oh nothing, it’s just that I find it interesting you used the word we when referring to the research.”
Pender laughed. “Oh, right, I forgot I’m supposed to be playing hardball with you.”
Hannah chuckled at that. She already owned him. “Not at all Jon, your enthusiasm is a breath of fresh air. Hudson-Smythe is a wonderful company to work for. One of the main reasons is that everyone who’s here wants to be here because we value our talent.”
Pender massaged his chin in mock thought. It was one of his very few attempts at charm. “I will give it all do attention.” It went over well. Hannah was a friendly audience. She needed him.
“Shall we begin?” Hannah asked, opening a separate folder; the all about Pender file. He noticed. The stupid smile slid away. Getting back to business, “Let’s see here,” Hannah began, “You are a first year Internal Medicine resident here at St. Anthony?”
“Correct.”
“Graduate with honors from Desert Valley?”
“Yes. I’m extremely fortunate to have secured a local rotation. My internship was a suburban community hospital in the Lone Star state. Who knows where I’ll go next.”
I do.
“It states here that during your years at medical school, in addition to your normal classes you participated in a number of formal research projects.”
“Yes quite a few, in fact.”
“And what were the subjects of your research?”
“During my third year of medical school I participated in studies involving virology, microbial genetics, biochemistry, bacterial pathogenesis and environmental microbiology,” Pender replied.
And that’s why you’re here, Dr. Pender. Your background is perfect.
“Quite impressive, Jon, your background is perfect for our project.”
“Thank you.” Pender leaned back in his chair and let one of his arms dangle free at his side. Hannah knew Pender was feeling pretty darn good about her, this lab and himself. Just the way she wanted it.
“Any questions for me, Jon?” she asked.
Yes,” Pender said. He leaned forward, showing Hannah his serious face, “What exactly are your objectives for this incredible facility?”
“Simple really, Hudson-Smythe Pharmaceuticals has given me, essentially, a blank check and a six year period of time to study the effects of viral-causing carcinomas.”
“What’s the projected outcome?”
“We hope to develop drugs for treatment. We see this as an underserved emerging market.”
“I see,” Pender said. “So it is more like a study on the effects of viruses in general?”
“No, Jon. Hudson-Smythe wants us to concentrate on only one virus.”
“At a time, you mean?”
“No,” Hannah replied, “I mean only one specific virus, period.”
“Which virus is it?” asked Jon.
We’ll both know the answer to that when you create it. Can’t have a cure without a disease, dear fellow, she thought with a grin. It held no sugar, no spice, and absolutely nothing nice. Hannah said: “Sorry Jon, confidentiality, dear boy.”
“Of course,” he replied.
“I can tell you the work we will do here is the type that make careers, Jon, and money. The long term fiscal projections can scarcely be measured.”
“Why me?”
“Honestly, we want to hit the ground running, Jon, and your background suggests this won’t be too difficult.” And Jon, you just happen to have an Achilles’ heel or two which I plan to exploit to the hilt. How’s the knee, by the way? Still hurt? Got enough pain pills, Jon?

–END post #10… ‘NEWER POSTS’ for post #11!! More on that poor bastard Pender and there is more to Hannah Bergh than meets the eye…

Jaguarxj6

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'PHARMACIDE' by RAGEBack Cover, "PHARMACIDE" by Rage

 

Three-point-Four

Dr. Pender’s eyes burned as he drove down the post rush hour Fifteenth Avenue. The posh and mature Encanto area of Phoenix drifted past him and his racing green Jaguar XJ-12.
Pender knew that he needed some real sleep and not the kind that lay in the pharmacy vial next to him. That sort of Dr. Fox induced deep-down sleep came hard and fast through one of Pender’s many collapsing veins. It always came with the highest price. A price he’d been more than willing to pay of late. Pender knew he couldn’t keep on like this, so he just stopped thinking about it.
The four door Jag turned easily into one of the older and more distinguished of the area neighborhoods. The subtle mix of adobe, red brick, unique shapes and designs of the various custom bungalows and ranch-style homes winked pleasantly as Pender drove by. The glass bricks, ceramic tiles, tasteful fountains and deep, sculptured lawns of dark winter grasses hinted of quiet wealth.
With a sloppy turn, Pender was in the driveway of his own little slice of heaven. He got out of the car, twisting his knee for the millionth fucking time. He cursed and grabbed his pharmaceutical that had dropped. Bending over to retrieve his salvation in a bottle elicited another jolt of fire in his knee. Pender wanted to cry from the frustration. This really blows.
He stood upright, wiped the bitch tears from his face and hobbled up the cobbled pathway to the front door of the main house. Pender’s home was every bit as stunning in it’s muted display of taste and elegance as the rest of the neighborhood, but he hardly ever noticed anymore. And when he did, the opulence just made him angry and sad.
Pender had been able to buy both the big house and the studio guest cottage from the DesMartin estate. The old folks sure liked the quiet Dr. Jon Pender. Their family gave him a very fair price, to keep the beloved place in good hands.
Pender disarmed the alarm system and turned the key in the lock. He entered the foyer. On the other side he could peer easily into the spacious and superbly decorated formal living room. It always stayed clean because of the maid service and the fact he never stepped foot in the room.
It was a lovely room though. The decorator set the mood of the room by painting it in a light cheery yellow. Pender couldn’t recall the name of the shade. It was something ridiculous like ‘Harvest Morning’, or something equally pointless. Waverly window treatments unified the inwardly opening white painted French doors. There were Armstrong moldings just below the white painted ceiling to add what the decorator called ‘presence’.
On the side wall to the right of Pender stood a baker’s rack filled with plants that were maximizing the sunny space. An off-white Berber carpet covered the original wood flooring nicely, keeping the precious wood safe for future surfacing and polishing. Pender doubted he’d ever get around to it. On top of the carpet several richly hued pieces of upholstered sitting furniture stood sentinel. A Kincaid entertainment center dominated the main wall. Inside the closed doors a large, powerful Sony sound and audio system hid.
It would have been a perfect room for Pender to entertain guests, but he would never consider such a thing. He had no friends to speak of, besides the lab animals. Interestingly Pender regarded them as colleagues too. Regardless, his home spoke too loudly of his newly found mega-wealth that Pender felt so guilty about.
Good old reliable ViraStat, he mused, the ever-producing cash cow.
Pender made his still painful way as quick as he could manage through the rest of the house and out the back door. Security lights flooded the lush garden courtyard, a pre-recorded Cujo barking to beat the band.
“Fuck,” Pender muttered, “Stop!” and the alarm ceased. “Jesus.”
Pender went to his old studio guest house. It was re-decorated as a study, but Pender was resting on his laurels. There wasn’t anything left to study. He liked the comfort of the small space. It made him feel a little nostalgic. Pender hauled the thrift store shit back in and made it mimic the old days as close as he could.
Pender opened the door and entered. All the shabby chic décor was even more frayed than before, but it was Pender’s favorite spot on Earth right now. It was his tiny little cave. He kept the shades drawn, rarely taking the time to air it out. Pender’s mind was also beginning to fray like the furniture, so he didn’t mind his funk so much.
Pender dropped himself onto the couch, a dust cloud poofing out. He placed the pharmacy bag on top of a loose pile of un-cashed ViraStat profit sharing checks from Hudson-Smythe. He brought out the mortar and pestle from beneath the table. He opened the bottle and placed two pills in the stone bowl.
Pender remembered vividly the way Hannah Bergh had looked as she spoke of the riches they would make. He crushed the pills into a finely ground soluble powder. Pender also vividly recalled the face of the baby he experimented on. He recalled how he rationalized its use.
I heard it cry, he thought. His own tears fell and mixed with the powdered pills and some saline he squirted on it. It was not supposed to be able to cry. Pender rolled up his sleeve. He stirred the mixture around until it thinned enough to draw up into his syringe.
Pender’s eyes bleared with the memory of it and the only way to silence his demons are the pills and the needle. For a time, they will get him stoned out of his mind. Then Dr. Jon Pender won’t have to remember anything at all.
At least my father is proud of me, Pender thought, because he sees nothing beneath the mask. He was gamely hunting for a usable vein, a tourniquet clamped in his teeth. Maybe, Pender realized, there is nothing under the mask. Perhaps this loaded syringe is all there is.
A bump was targeted, the needle inserted, blood drawn. Mixed with the liquid pain pills, Pender pushed the drawn blood and its new companion back into the vein from whence it came. When the meds hit, they hit hard. Pender’s eyes fluttered and his chin hit his chest. When his airway closed enough to lower his oxygen critically, his body forced him to slump over on his side. The airway reopened and Pender breathed in enough oxygen to keep him both alive and asleep.
Sweet blessed oblivion.

END ‘PHARMACIDE’ EXCERPT. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING…PLEASE LET THE GRIM REVEREND STEVEN RAGE WHAT YOU THINK!

    

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This is it, the last posting for 'PHARMACIDE'....Enjoy!!

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