On the way to the airport and on the plane, Sam could think of nothing but the children in Buffalo who had been given R7001. If the vaccine also caused encephalitis in children, then there was the potential for disaster. On the other hand, if it produced no severe disease in the children, but produced EE only in susceptible adults who had been in contact with them, the Cheektowaga School might be just the opportunity that he needed. To get the maximum information, it would require more manpower than just himself and Eric Harper. It would take the combined efforts of everyone in the group.
Sam had never handled something that required large amounts of organization. Organization was Mike Levering's specialty -yes, Levering would know what to do. All of the information would have to be collected within a relatively short space of time; but Sam had no idea how short. It might be a week or it might be several months. Sam went over as many possible approaches as he could think of and jotted them down in his note book. It would be necessary to get information about the sexual behavior of the exposed people to compare with what they found later. That, he thought, Monser and his people could handle well. Then it was important to try to isolate the virus from both the vaccine and exposed people. That could be handled by Tarkas and Zabalka. All of this was contingent on these people wanting to do it. It would take all of Levering's skill to bring it off.
The plane landed at O'Hare Airport and the sight of Sue waiting for him at the gate almost cleared his mind of Epidemic E. The expression on her face belied her age -it was that of a teen age school girl seeing her boyfriend after a summers absence. Her traditional British reserve vanished as she embraced Sam. But something about Sam did not seem quite right.
"What's wrong, love?" she asked.
"Nothing's wrong. I just have a lot on my mind about Epidemic E. I'll tell you all about it later -Now, let me look at you." He held her at arms length and did just that, looked at her, and she knew from the way that he looked that if anything was wrong, it was not between them.
In her car on the way to her home, Sam told her what had transpired since they were together. When the car turned into the garage, it occurred to Sam that he was about to meet her family for the first time and that he would be facing a severe examination at the hands of her teen-aged children.
"Don't you think that you ought to brief me?" said Sam.
"Your kids and so on."
"Yes, I suppose that I should. You'll be meeting Christopher who is sixteen and Pamela who's twelve. Just be yourself. I think that you'll like one another. I suppose that I should tell you that you will be sleeping in the guest bedroom and that you are not to be surprised if a very loving woman creeps in beside you during the night and departs before sunrise."
"I think that I can handle that." said Sam, smiling.
In the underground garage, they entered an elevator which silently took them to the eighteenth floor. From the time the car entered the garage to their entering Sue's apartment, they were scanned by television cameras. They were met at the door by the children. Pamela looked like a younger edition of her mother and Christopher was very thin with facial features as precise as his speech. Unlike most fourteen year olds, he seemed very much at ease and chatted away merrily about his athletic activities, alternating between calling it football and soccer. His speech combined British with Chicago. "Do you like the Rolling Stones? I think they're jolly cool!" Pamela was silent except when spoken too and it seemed to Sam that she was absorbing and analyzing everything that transpired. Just like her mother, Sam thought.
Dinner was Veal Parmigiana, much to Sam's surprise.
"I expected English cooking," he said.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Sam, but I really don't care much for English food."
The chocolate mousse was as delicious as any Sam had ever tasted.
"Where do you get such lovely desserts?" Sam asked.
Sue laughed, "The same place that I got the veal and the pasta and the vegetables: Sue Harwell's Kitchen."
"Mum's always fixes this fancy stuff, "Christopher said, "we can't get her to make hot dogs or hamburgers."
Sam was a bit concerned. Now, his short-lived bachelorhood was really in jeopardy.
When the children went to their respective rooms to do their homework, the conversation returned to Epidemic E.
"We're still a long way from proving that Epidemic E is due to a virus," said Sam.
"What would have to be done to establish it?"
"For one thing, we would have to isolate the virus or identify it in some way. Once it's isolated, we'd have to produce Epidemic E with it."
"On what?" Asked Sue.
"Not 'on what, Sue, on whom!' I don't think that we'd be able to find an experimental animal that would react the way that people do. The critical experiments would probably have to be done on people."
"There's an old ethical principle that a scientist shouldn't give a disease agent to anyone before he's tried it on himself."
"I thought that that principle was more honored in the breach than the observance," said Sue.
"Not by me!"
"I thought that you would say that. I feel the same way so I suppose that we'll be in it together."
"Maybe it won't come to that. We may get enough information out of Buffalo to make an actual test unnecessary. If we get the right rises in antibody titers in the right people to the right virus. Of course, we still don't know what virus is involved."
"Maybe your friend Dr. Tarkas could find out."
"If he's interested. At any rate, we'll find out at the next meeting."
"Oh, by the way, Annabelle called to tell me that the meeting was on Wednesday. She said to tell you."
"How did she know that I would be here?"
"I don't know. I didn't tell her."
"If the project is as secret as our love affair we can expect
a visit from the press."
On Saturday they all went to Christopher's soccer match; his team lost. When Christopher found out that Sam had played soccer in high school and had lost more than his share of games, he really warmed up to him.
"D'yuh mind if I call you Sam?" he said, pronouncing it somewhere between Sam and some.
"Only if you'll let me call you Chris," Sam replied. Even though he had insisted on his children using formal address, he had never liked it much. Sue looked slightly shocked at Christopher's forwardness but, at the same time, was pleased that he liked Sam.
On Saturday night they went to see the film The Taming of the Shrew. Sue said that she took them to see Shakespeare as often as possible because she didn't want them to become totally Americanized. On Sunday, they all took a boat ride on Lake Michigan and gorged on hot dogs and hamburgers. Sam felt like a family man again and loved it. Pam fell in love with him; which she expressed by snuggling close to him at every possible opportunity.
"Well, Sam," said Sue, "It appears as if you've made a second conquest, I'm delighted that Pam is fond of you. Chris also seems to like you."
"I think that I'm the one who's been conquered."
On Monday, Sue went to the university, and the children to school, leaving Sam at home, where he made phone calls and organized his notes for the Wednesday meeting. Sam took great pride in the conciseness of his reports. He called Levering who was upset at the turn of events in Buffalo, but agreed with Sam that it could be their golden opportunity.
They took a dinner flight to Washington on Tuesday and enjoyed an evening without the inhibiting influence of the children. It seemed as if they were celebrating an anniversary of sorts. They had dinner at the same restaurant where they had dined when they had just met. This time, it was pleasant rather than exciting and both remarked how good the food was -something that they hadn't even noticed the first time.
Sam's mind was on the meeting. Sometimes, when Sue spoke to him, he didn't respond. It was as if he were on another planet.
"I guess that I haven't been much company," Sam proclaimed at breakfast." I'm sure that I'll be a better companion when this meeting is over."
Sue smiled, tolerantly. "I hope so," she said.
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