19.A Perilous Experiment

A small motel in Denver was far enough away from prying eyes in either Chicago or Salt Lake to allow Sam and Sue to feel free enough to conduct their experiment. When they were settled in their room, Sue asked, "What would happen, Sam, if we were to become really ill?"

"I know two excellent physicians in Denver who could take care of us. I just hope that we won't need them. None of the victims have needed hospitalization so far."

"Do you think that it's quite proper for us to be having a party, in a fine motel, at government expense?" asked Sue.

"It may turn out to be more of a headache than a party."

"Not if Schneider was telling the truth."

"People react differently to viruses. One person may die and another may not have any symptoms at all with the same virus. Are you sure that you want to go through with this?"

" Yes, I'm sure. I have some trepidations about it, but I still want to do it. Don't you have doubts?" Sue asked.

"Sure I have doubts. Still, it has to be done and I don't want to expose others to a risk that I'm not willing to take. Besides, I'll be damned if I am going to let Harvey Schneider be more ethical than Sam Michaelson. It's not too late for us to reconsider, Sue. What do you think?"

"I think that we should get on with it!'

"Did you bring a thermometer?"

"Yes. If you brought the note book, we're ready to go."

Sam took the vial of vaccine, a hypodermic syringe and two cubes of sugar out of his suitcase. He stuck the needle into the rubber capped vial and drew out a small quantity of liquid. Then he carefully placed three drop on each sugar cube and handed one to Sue.

"To eternal happiness!" he said and popped the cube into his mouth. Sue echoed the toast and did the same, while Sam made an entry in the note book.

"What do we do now?" asked Sue.

"We wait."

"For how long?"

"Three or four days."

"Did Schneider have to wait that long?"

"Schneider sounded as if the effect was immediate, but I don't believe that it had any effect at all -he just imagined it. imagination can be a very powerful aphrodisiac"

"What do we do while we're waiting? I didn't even bring a book to read," Sue said.

"We could explore Denver and the Rocky Mountains. On second thought, we could rehearse."


"Yea, practice," he said, kissing her gently on the lips while he slowly unbuttoned her blouse.

At Le Profil, that evening, they were discussing the afternoons activities over a fine French dinner.

"Sue, could our wonderful afternoon be related to the vaccine?"

"Hardly! Even drugs don't act that fast. It's more likely that we've been away from each other for too long. Remember how inhibited you were in Bethesda. Now, that inhibition is gone, thanks to lots of other people having the responsibility that you had been carrying all alone."

" I guess you're right, but it was exceptionally good this afternoon. In fact, it was so good that I doubt that we'll be able to match it."

"Not if you continue to be concerned about it, Sam. What do you propose we do tomorrow?"

"Let's rent a car and drive up to Pike's Peak."

"That sounds delightful. We could of course rehearse a bit more -practice makes perfect, you know."

After dinner, on the third day after they had taken the vaccine, Sam complained of a headache. His temperature was 99.5F. Sue did not feel well and had an intestinal upset and mild diarrhea. These observations were dutifully recorded in the note book. They both slept well and woke up the following morning feeling fine. They called room service and had breakfast sent up.

After breakfast, they were lying in bed. They were both reading the morning newspaper. Sue reached her foot over and touched Sam's leg. He put down his paper and kissed her behind the ear and Sue discarded her newspaper.

"That EE is a wonderful disease," said Sam.

"Then you think that you've had a disease?"

"The sex was wonderful. Better than anything that I've ever known."

"I agree, Sam, that it was wonderful; but it's always wonderful for us. I know that I certainly don't feel any different, except that I seem to love you more every time we make love."

"You mean that our experiment was a failure?"

"On the contrary, it was a success. The symptoms that we both had last night were probably produced by the polio vaccine virus. As for the sex, it was wonderful as usual and I'm very happy about it; but I don't feel any insatiable hunger, nor a desire to have several more men. How about you?"

"I feel the same way. Could I have been mistaken about the vaccine? Is it possible that the polio vaccine and Epidemic E are just coincidence?" said Sam.

"It's possible, but it's more likely that there's more to it than giving the vaccine and developing the disease. Remember, all of the people who got the disease were not actually given the vaccine. Maybe it has to be passed through a child to make it potent."

Sam put a call in to Nick Tarkas. "Have you found anything yet?"

"We ran all the Salt Lake City sera through our standard battery of tests. The only consistent finding among those people who had Epidemic E symptoms was high antibody titers to polio and coxsackie A."

"What's Coxsackie?"

"It's an RNA virus that was first isolated from the feces of two boys with paralytic polio."

"Is it a polio virus?"

"No, but it can produce polio-like symptoms. Viruses of the Coxsackie type can produce a whole variety of diseases ranging from sore throats and cold-like symptoms to heart lesions to paralysis."

"What does Coxsackie mean?"

"Nothing! It's the name of a town on the Hudson River where the first patients who had the virus were found."

"How would it get into the vaccine?"

"No way that I know of, unless it's present in the cells that are used to grow the polio. I called Zabalka and he has something growing in tissue culture. If it turns out to cause disease in suckling mice, that would be compatible with Coxsackie A ,since polio doesn't do that. Besides there's no evidence that the Coxsackie antibody is in any way related to the polio vaccine. It's a pretty common virus. We can assume that a high titer of polio antibody is probably related to the vaccine since the vaccine is live and spreads after it's given. The Coxsackie could just be going around the community. It may not be related to Epidemic E at all."

A call to Eric brought him the information that there were a number of people who had been in contact with vaccinated children, who were severely ill. One man was in the hospital in critical condition and was not expected to live. He was being kept alive in a respirator and was completely paralyzed.

Sam felt like a fool for exposing both himself and Sue to the virus, and expressed his thoughts to her.

"I suppose that we're both fools; but we're most certainly very fortunate fools," she said.

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