13.Harry Solomon

When Sam and Sue met at the airport they acted like lovers who had been cruelly separated by fate for at least a year, instead of less than a week. They kissed, then looked at each other as if to ascertain whether the other had changed in his or her feelings. By the time they reached the hotel, both were convinced that their feelings toward one another were, if anything, more intense than they were when they had parted.

After dropping their bags off at the hotel, they took a taxi to the Langdon Clinic where they met Dr. Harold Solomon. He was a short stocky man in his early sixties. His white hair looked as if it was rarely combed, and even more rarely cut. The cigar butt in the corner of his mouth was unlit and looked as if it was a permanent feature of his face. On the rare occasions when he removed it, a small hollow remained in the corner of his mouth where the cigar had been.

"Do you remember me, Professor Solomon?" Sue asked.

"Of course I do! You were one of my best students. I always remember the best and the worst -the rest are doomed to perpetual anonymity. How are things at Oxford? It's been a long time since I was in England."

"It's been many years for me as well. I assume the buildings are the same and the faculty, I know, changes slowly." They chatted about mutual acquaintances until Sue became aware that Sam, in the background, was shifting his weight from one foot to the other. She introduced him to Dr. Solomon.

"Well, Dr. Michaelson, lets look at your brains!" Solomon said. He escorted them into a room that reeked of formaldehyde. Sam's eyes started smarting from the formaldehyde, but it didn't seem to bother either Dr. Solomon or Sue. Solomon emptied one of the plastic container into the sink and placed the brain on a large bread board. "I see that someone has been butchering it," he said.

"That would be the Salt Lake County Coroner." Sam said.

"Before I start cutting, tell me what this is all about."

"It's top secret," Sam said.

He turned to Sam and said sharply, "I don't do anything unless I know why I'm doing it, and I don't gossip!"

Sam explained about Epidemic E and the story about the accident. Solomon smiled, "I never dreamed that I'd ever get involved, even peripherally, in something so prurient. Thank you for bringing some excitement to the life of an old man. Can I tell my wife about it after it hits the newspapers?"

"Sure," said Sam, "but not before."

Dr. Solomon picked up a large double-edged sandwich knife and proceeded to slice the brain into quarter inch pieces. Then he turned each piece over and examined both sides. He returned all of the pieces to the container and added some formaldehyde to it. Then he took the other brain and repeated the process.

"Find anything?" Sam asked.

"Brain's pretty beat up. That must have been one hell of an accident."

"Sam was impatient; "Anything else?"

"Some old petechial hemorrhages in the temporal lobes, mostly in the pyriform cortex. Same thing in both brains and bilateral."

Sam nodded as if he understood what had been said. He would ask Sue to explain it later. "Could it have been caused by the accident?"

"No. It has to be at least a week old. It's most likely due to some infection, probably viral."

"Could you tell for sure if a virus caused it?"

"I can make a pretty accurate guess when I see the sections under the microscope. We use celloidin imbedding, so it will probably take a couple of months."

"Is there any way of hurrying it up?"

"I'll take a few small pieces and run them in paraffin. I can give you a pretty good idea on Monday." He cut a few small pieces out of the brain, put them in a small vial along with a small piece of cardboard on which he had written some numbers. He repeated the process with the other brain. "Give me a call any time after ten on Monday and I'll have some more information for you."

In the taxi, Sue explained to Sam that the area that Solomon had found the hemorrhages in was the same areas that had produced the oversexed monkeys. The question which still remained was what could have caused it?

In the hotel room they looked at each other. Sam held Sue's face in his hands as if he were inspecting a beautiful objet d'art. He smiled and tears glistened in his eyes -the happiness that was in him welled up and overflowed as tears. Sue also started to cry. They kissed with the salty tears on their lips. He kissed her eyes, her cheeks, her mouth. They laughed and cried and loved.

Sam and Sue decided to spend the weekend together in San Francisco. They would leave for their respective homes on Monday afternoon. There was nothing to do before ten in the morning and that would consist of just a phone call. They took a cable car to fisherman's wharf and wandered through the shops and along the piers. Sam chatted happily, but Sue was silent; apparently preoccupied. After a while Sam became aware of her preoccupation.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"Not really."

"Come on, love, out with it. What's troubling you?"

" Now that you have a pretty good idea that you're dealing with a virus infection, you won't be needing a psychopharmacologist any more. In other words, my usefulness to the project is over." A tear glistened in her eye.

Sam put his arms around her; "I hadn't thought of that. I just assumed that we would go on forever."

"I've been trying to think of some way that we could keep on working together and I can't come up with anything."

"We could just go on as we have. Levering wouldn't just ask you to leave as long as you were useful to the project."

"But I won't be useful now that you're doing viral epidemiology. The honorable thing for me to do is to resign from the project."

"There's no reason to do that; but you will have to be inactive for a while until something comes up that we can do together. Don't say anything to Levering. Maybe something will come up. In the mean time, I'll arrange to stop in Chicago on every one of my trips."

"You mean from Salt Lake to San Francisco by way of Chicago?"

"Of course not, but we still have things to do in Bethesda. Besides, I don't think that I can do without you." Sam smiled, "I'd even spend my own money to see you."

Sue laughed, "I was hoping that you'd say that."

On Sunday they went to Golden Gate Park. They wandered through the museum at the California Academy of Sciences and the Steinhart Aquarium; then had lunch at the Japanese Tea Garden and more walking. By mid afternoon, both were footsore so they sat through a show at the Planetarium. They had dinner at a lovely Mandarin restaurant and returned to the hotel where they went to bed and fell into a deep sleep almost immediately.

At ten o'clock on Monday Sue phoned Dr. Solomon.

"The sections show what I expected they would," said Solomon. "Both brains show essentially the same pathology. The neurons show some degenerative changes and there is a good deal of perivascular cuffing with lymphocytes."

"The diagnosis is?" she asked.

"Viral encephalitis."

"Is there even a remote chance that some chemical might be involved?" Sue asked hopefully.

"The changes in the nerve cells might possibly be caused by a chemical, but the lymphocytes around the blood vessels definitely indicate some infectious agent; probably a virus."

"Would what you've seen go along with a change in the sexual behavior in the victims?"

"Judging from what Dr. Michaelson said, it's a distinct possibility that the behavior and the brain lesions are related; although you would have to isolate the disease agent and reproduce the disease to be sure. It's most interesting. Please keep me posted on what develops."

Sue assured him that she would keep him informed. Then turned to Sam:

"Well, that does it. Solomon thinks it's a virus and so do I. Now all that you have to do is find it."

"I guess the best place to start looking is the Benedict School in Ogden."

They both went to the airport. Sue flew to Chicago by way of Salt Lake City in order to spend a few more hours with Sam. Both were too choked up to do more than look at each other when Sam left the plane.

Sam telephoned the Headmaster of the Benedict school from the airport and made an appointment for the following day. He planned to spend the whole day there in an effort to track down something --but what?

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