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More questions and fewer answers. What does it all mean?

Chapter 2 (v.1) - CONFUSION

Submitted: June 21, 2016

Reads: 217

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Submitted: June 21, 2016




A Serial

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two


Within five minutes, Miss Gray and Mr. Johnson had seated themselves in the dark-red leather Club chairs in front of my desk, sipping some Chardonnay and looking petrified.

“And that’s all I know or can guess,” I said plainly to Miss Gray and Mr. Johnson, “what do

you think?”

Both looked at each other waiting for the other to begin.

Moments went by.



“Well?” I asked.


More looking.

“You mean you don’t know either?” my tone was disbelieving, but in a kind way, “either of


“No.” In unison.

We all sighed.

“Well; let’s tackle this together.”

They edged toward the lips of their chairs and clutched their drinks, while resting their

drink hands on the upper left and right hand quadrants of my desk respectively.

“Who handles all the statistics for us?”

“Brett,” replied Johnson.

Miss Gray agreed, but added, “well, Brett doesn’t do all the statistics Michael; not all.”

“And what does that mean?”

”Well, Brett tabulates the number of recipients, the specimens on hand—inventory—and

things like that; however, that’s as far as it goes.

“Doctor Brand—James Brand—does all the tricky stuff.”

“Jesus, Elizabeth, this is no time for mystery.” I admit I barked. I was impatient.

Unexpectedly, my office door flew open and a bedraggled Nurse Campbell staggered

toward our threesome.

Smells intruding from the lobby were more pungent than ever, but the cacophony had


“They’re all pretty well mollified for now at least.” 

Nurse Campbell’s faltering steps had brought her to Miss Gray’s chair that she now leaned

on with a rather desperate air.Some spittle flecked the corners of her mouth; she had been

explaining and mollifying for hours.

“Once Castor and Pollox told them the facts of life—and that you would talk to each of

them alone, the mood brightened.”

She said this with no sense of humor, although hilarity and helpless laughter were

definitely in the top ten of Nurse Campbell’s fun list.

“But you should start your interviews right away if you want to keep the lid on this.”

“Thank you Nurse Campbell; I will, shortly . . . by the way, any idea what they’re so upset


“Other than 713 retiring; no.”

“But what is a ‘713’ anyway; we’ve been discussing our statistics and there is no

numbering system in place anywhere in the Clinic; at least that we know of, right?” 

I referenced toward my two new drinking buddies.

“No,” in unison, “I mean yes,” burbled Miss Gray. Johnson nodded.

“Well, whatever or whoever a 713 is, they’re mad as hell about it,” the nurse continued.

“Tell me,” coaxing “and here, have some Chardonnay.”

Although she initially looked startled at the idea of boozing on the job, she reflexively

righted her cap and said.  “All right. I will . . . thank you.”

I poured her a good slug, drew another bottle from the small fridge under my desk, and

proceeded to uncork it.

“All they keep yammering about is that we had no right; we should have told them; things

like that,” Nurse Campbell took a healthy draught, while clutching Johnson’s chair as a

prop, “I asked one of the more coherent ones what the hell they were talking about and

she said that they had information that a particular donor was no longer available.”

Nurse Campbell, Scottish and tough as an insulted mother-in-law, was fairly flaunting her

deep temper, born of the lochs and moors,“can’t imagine exactly what they mean—or how

would they know? don’t even know; do you know?”  

She fixed me with a grapefull  stare.

“No we don’t Patricia; if I may?” She shrugged approval, “now let me get this straight:

"Something called a 713 has been withdrawn from service; is that it?”


“Well then, who are all these people; and how could they relate to a 713?” I asked of all

and of no one in particular.

“They all want to use the services of the Clinic,” Patricia stated firmly, “some are already

registered. I don’t know who the others are, really, but I get the impression they’re wanting

to start families.”

“And someone—ahhhh—a donor,” said Johnson with a quality of realization in his speech,

“a donor who’s not—well—donating anymore.”

We all stared at him.

He was a dark-haired gnarly little man of forty wearing glasses and sporting a tweed jacket

complete with leather elbow patches.

We had found his affected old-English-huntsman bit very attractive to prospective


The guys—the donors—thought him a complete twit.

Nevertheless, I had discovered early on that he could be bright.

On occasion.

And this was one of them.

“Johnson, good work,” I said with admiration, “good work.”

All the others bubbled agreement. We all smiled .

Nurse Campbell removed her hand from Johnson’s chair and Miss Gray held out her glass

for a refill.

“This is good news,” she squeaked with a toothy grin.

Several moments and several sips (or gulps) later it dawned on us—at about the same

time, I think—we actually didn’t know anything.

We had a mysterious number; and we had a guess.

“Wait a minute,” I said, rising, and opening my arms as if to spread the light of wisdom

from my armpits, “what do we really know?

They all froze.

“We have this number and we have Mr. Johnson’s—guess.

What we don’t have is an answer for me to give to this lynch mob in our foyer,” I paused

for emphasis, “do we even have a system or a computer program that can tell us who’s

stopped donating; isn’t that confidential?”

“Well, somebody must know.” offered Nurse Campbell.

“Not necessarily,” piped Miss Gray. The Chardonnay was liquefying her speech and her

hazel eyes looked rather sparkly, “our policy has always been to protect the donor. We

have never noted beginning and ending, except of course when the donor is too old.

“We, like everyone else, dump all the little buggers when they reach forty; max.

“So fire away lads,” I thought I heard a soft hiccup, “ but the ‘donation services’ are open

ended; never ending—eternal.” she added with a dying wave of her wineglass.

“You mean we don’t know if a guy has quit giving?” Nurse Campbell was always one for

posing questions bluntly.

“No,” peeped Miss Gray, gaily waving her glass again as the contents continued their

work, “that’s one of the ultimate protections the Clinic provides. So donors can move, die,

take time off, switch careers—even man up again—and no footprints.”

I must say I was very impressed with the content of her words and I could not find any

portion of her remarks that indicated where the alcohol might

be speaking.

“But,” Johnson was on the rise, glass firmly in hand, “don’t we send them their last check?”

“No Gordy,” (his first name was Gordon) trilled Miss Gray, “only their latest check.”

I was now feeling the effects of the Grigich Hills on my grey cells, but the grape was

sparking them, not dulling them.

At least I was coming up with more questions—if not answers.

Just as I was about to posit my first query, the intercom buzzed.

“A Mr. Langley is very urgently wanting to talk to you Doctor. He’s first—you know—drew

the number one card to talk with you alone.”

 I said nothing.

“ Doctor?”

“ Yes—yes; tell him I’ll be just five minutes more; I promise; five minutes.”

“Will do.” 

End of Chapter Two

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.


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