It was a tired Harvey Schneider who greeted Sam. He had lost a good deal of weight and, while he looked healthier, he looked considerably older. His cheeks were somewhat sunken. His previous belligerence seemed to have evaporated.
"It's good to see you, Michaelson; how have you been?"
"Busy, and you?"
"I think that I'm a much happier man than I was."
"All because of Epidemic E?"
"No, Sam, the virus didn't do anything. A couple of weeks after you called, I found that I was beginning to wind down. I'd lost a lot of weight, screwing all the time. Someone ought to commercialize it, because it sure beats dieting. They could name it "Jazzercising." I also found that I was getting tired of it. Since you told me that EE victims never got tired of it, I began to question whether I had ever had EE. I hadn't had a fever or a headache, nor did Carol."
"How do you account for what happened?"
"Carol has been my secretary for six years and I never paid any attention to her. She typed my letters, answered the phone and made the coffee. I guess that all the time, I liked her, but thought that she was too young for me. Apparently she's cared for me for a long time. Well, that EE stuff gave us the excuse we needed to cut loose. You, know, Sam, she's a wonderful woman -not just in bed. We go walking in the country on week ends, to the theater and mostly we just talk. I've asked her to marry me and she's said yes. You'll get an invitation to the wedding. I hope you can come."
Sam told him about the need to have a child as a carrier of the virus. He decided not to tell him the whole story about the hybrid virus; just enough so that he would know that it wasn't simply a matter of the polio vaccine. He also told him about the death of the man in Buffalo.
"God," Schneider said, "if I knew it was that dangerous, I never would have tried it."
"I told you that it might be, but you didn't believe me."
"Well, at least the polio vaccine wasn't dangerous."
"What happened to your eighteen couples who tried it?"
"They got real sexy for a week and then petered out."
"So what are you going to do with all of that R7001 polio vaccine?"
"But the expense?" Sam asked.
"Shoot!" said Schneider, "it's only money!"
When Sam arrived at his office, he found a note from Andy O'Connor to call him at a certain phone number. He dialed the number and a woman answered.
"I'd like to speak to Major O'Connor," Sam said.
The voice on the other end said "It's for you, honey."
"Andy O'Connor here."
"Where are you and what are you doing?" Sam asked.
"I'm here and I'm doing research. I'll tell you all about it when I see you."
"In about half an hour."
"I'll be here at the office. See you."
Sam went through his accumulated mail and answered the routine correspondence. By the time he had finished, Andy had arrived. He got Eric to join them, then he briefed Andy on what had transpired to date.
"Then your big problem," Andy said, " is to find out if there are any people with EE who were not associated with R7001."
"Exactly!" said Sam.
"How do you intend going about finding that little bit of information?"
"I don't know. I was hoping that you might have some ideas."
"Well, for one thing, I don't think that we should waste our time scouring the country. We ought to pick a discrete area that has had an outbreak of EE. Presumably the conditions for virus hybridization, whatever they are, are right. Then take a population of kids who have been given a Polio vaccine from some company other than Schneider and check out their contacts. The people to check are parents who are in the right age range. All that we have to do is ask them if they've been ill during the last few months and if they have, what the symptoms were. Why not ask that public health nurse who she gave the Parke-Davis vaccine to; the stuff you gave her to replace the R7001 that you kept?"
"I was hoping that you'd come through, and you have," said Sam, "What do you think Eric?"
"We can use the same methods that we used in Buffalo. I have the computer programs that we need. All that we have to do is plug in the data. Who do we get to do the leg work?"
"There are the three of us and I'll see if we can get Jack Monser to provide some of his people."
"On second thought, maybe I can simplify things," Eric said," by programming the computer to give us just those families where the parents are in the susceptible range. We can do most of the work by phone, by asking if either parent has been ill in the past two months with fever and headache. Then all that we have to do is check up on the ones with positive findings."
"We may not need Monser's help if the findings are essentially negative." Sam said. "How does that sound to you, Andy?"
"Sounds good! When do we start?"
"How about tomorrow. Eric, how long will it take you to modify your computer program?"
"Probably not too long. I'll have it done by the time you've gotten the lists of people."
When Eric had left, Sam turned to Andy; "Tell me about this research that you are doing."
"I assume you've guessed that I didn't come up with that idea off the top of my head. I've been thinking about it since I ran into my first false alarm."
"Yeah, I met this woman at a bar and was sure that she had EE. She glommed on to me right off and never seemed to get enough loving. I asked her when she got so passionate and she told me that she had been that way since she was about sixteen. It occurred to me that sexual behavior by itself would tell us nothing. Neither would fever or headache. There had to be the combination. In terms of locating people with EE, it was much easier to get people to talk about headache and fever than sexual activity. Besides, after interviewing a couple of genuine EE victims, I figured that I could spot one within five minutes the way they look at you and act. When I met Jenny, I thought that she might be an entree to all of the EE victims in the area. Then it turned out that she didn't have EE at all."
"Was that Jenny's place that you were at?"
"Yeah, I've been staying there for the past week."
"God Andy, you are a workaholic -day and night."
"Honest, Sam, I've learned more from Jenny about how to find passionate people than I ever could in any other way. She belongs to a swingers group. They meet once a week and live it up."
"Have you gotten to a meeting?"
"She took me to one. You have to have a partner of the opposite sex to get in."
"How come she took to you? You haven't had EE."
"She said that I was talented virgin material."
"Did you find anything out at the Swinger's group?"
"Yea, they have half a dozen new member, all of whom have a history that sounds like EE. Those new members are bringing in more who are in their neighborhood. The old timers are having a hard time keeping up. There's a chubby, bald guy who moved here from L.A. He got into trouble because he raped a whore in a department store. The gal didn't press charges, so he got off with a disorderly conduct charge. He moved to Salt Lake to get away from his ex-wife who was giving him a hard time. The gals are practically lining up for him. He's an EE victim for sure."
"He sounds like one we have in our files. His name wouldn't be William Fredericks, would it?"
"That's him. Did he really rape someone in a department store?"
"You bet; The L.A. Times had a picture on the front page showing him in the act."
"God! Sam, with EE the incredible occurs all the time. I'll
have to become more gullible to stay in tune with the times."
The next day they got together and decided to go ahead as planned. Sam visited the school nurse and got the names of the schools and then went to the schools where he got the names of the children and the names, phone numbers and ages of the parents. They then set up a telephone questioning routine:
"I'm with the Department of Epidemiology at the University. We are doing a survey on the families of children who have been given polio vaccine. Would you mind answering a few questions?"
"Have you had any illness of any kind in your family in the past two months?"
If the answer is No, "Think carefully; any colds, headaches or fevers by you or your spouse?"
If the answer is still No, "Thank you very much. You've been a great help."
If the answer is "yes" and it fits the EE picture, "Can one of our interviewers visit and complete a detailed questionnaire?"
If the answer is yes, we follow up by making an appointment. If they decline, we try to get as much information as possible over the phone including any contact that their child might have had. "May I talk to your husband/wife and when will he/she be home?"
Sam gave the information to Eric, who fed it into the computer and churned out lists on forms with boxes to check yes or no answers to the questions.
Lists in hand, the three of them started phoning. A week later, they had gone through the lists. Out of a thousand or so possibles, they ended up with fifteen people who needed interviewing. Each of them took five names and addresses.
They got together the morning after they had gone on their interviews.
"I drew a blank," said Sam, "Not an EE victim in the lot. How about you, Eric?"
"Lots of headache and fever, but no sexual changes."
"I hate to complicate things, but I have two possibles. Two women had headaches and fever who almost pushed me into bed. But I don't know if it's EE or just me. Why don't I give you the names and addresses and you or Eric try interviewing them."
"You mean if they go for us dogs, they have EE," said Sam. "If not, it's just your winning way with the ladies."
"I don't like the idea, but I'll do it for the sake of science," said Eric.
"How about doing both, Eric," said Sam, "That will double your chances of scoring."
"I'll do it, but I resent your impugning my motives."
Eric was gone all of the following day. The day after that, he sauntered into the office with a broad smile on his face.
"They have EE, all right," he said. "I can completely confirm Andy's experience. Of course, it may not be EE at all, just my charm," he said as he strutted around the room. " I did pick up some additional information. Both are friends of one another. One of them's maiden name is Wharton and she is an aunt of the infamous Willy Wharton. They both visited her sister at just the right time -one week after Willy got the vaccine."
"In other words, we haven't a single case of EE as a consequence
of giving the Parke-Davis vaccine."
Sam phoned Levering and told him what they had found with regard to the Parke-Davis vaccine.
"That's great, Sam. I heard from Jack Monser. He checked out another batch of Schneider vaccine that was used in L.A. and found the same thing that you did; no effect. I think that pretty much wraps it up. Do you agree?"
"Yes, but I think that the group should meet once more and decide about publication. Besides, I have no idea how to handle the press when they get wind of it."
"How about next Friday? We might have a little party Friday night. Would you call Sue and make sure that she comes too. I think that she's contributed much more than she realizes."
"I know that she has and, yes, I'll call her."
Sam reserved a flight to Chicago for Thursday morning with a connection to Dulles, then he called Sue. He told her what Levering had said and she agreed to meet him at O'Hare and fly to Washington with him. They would spend the week end in Washington. He invited Eric and Andy to the meeting. Eric said that he would go, but Andy said that he'd had enough of Washington and ,if it was all the same to Sam, he'd just as soon stay in Salt Lake.
"It's hard to understand why you find Salt Lake City more exciting than Washington, "said Sam. "Maybe it's the night life!"
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