Harvey felt the onset of another in what had become a series of powerful headaches. It was sometime around two a. m." and the hallways of Sidney Pavilion were silent, sleeping, recuperating. Harvey moved slowly down a darkened, empty corridor with dim fluorescent lights that buzzed like distant chainsaws. He opened the doors, each one sounding off its own unique creak, and looked in on his sleeping patients. He checked their IVs, their charts, their medications.
He walked into the last room on the floor, Kiel Davis and Ricky Martino's room. Both men were sleeping soundly. The forty or so clinic patients were broken down into two groups: in-patients who stayed in Sidney Pavilion and out-patients who came in on an almost daily basis for treatment. Usually, the members of these two groups rotated every three or four weeks so that no more than twenty-five patients were ever in the clinic on any given night. Right now there were almost thirty patients sleeping over.
Most had private rooms, but because of limited space, a few had been doubled up.
The overnight schedule rarely worked exactly as planned because each patient had different needs. Take Davis and Martino, for example. Kiel Davis, a homosexual from Indiana who had relocated in New York ten years ago, had spent almost two-thirds of the last eighteen months in the clinic, while over the same period of time, Martino, an intravenous drug user from the Bronx, had slept over less than six months total.
Harvey scanned their charts, listening to the gentle, deep breathing of their slumber. He closed the door behind him, headed toward the staircase, and jogged up one flight of stairs to the third floor his way of getting exercise. He heard himself wheezing from the effort.
Out of shape, he thought. 7 should stop using the elevator all together and always take the stairs.
But Harvey knew that the hitching in his chest was due to something beyond poor physical conditioning. The muscles in his forehead seemed to swell now, bunching up against the sensitive nerve endings. A fluttery sensation flitted sc ross his stomach.
He was scared.
Harvey stopped in front of the door that led to room 317, the only room on the floor that held a patient. He pushed open the door and leaned his head through the frame. The patient was at long last asleep, which had been no easy task in this case. Drugs had been necessary. Strong ones. Harvey had finally convinced Michael to take a couple of potent sleeping pills. They worked.
Actually, they were potent enough to work on a charging rhino.
Long shadows came in through the windows and reached across the room like giant fingers readying to close. Sara sat in a wooden chair at the side of Michael's bed, her hand clutching his. Even in the poor lighting Harvey could see anguish tightening the skin around Sara's cheekbones. Her lips quivered as though from cold, her eyes were moist. She had not yet acknowledged his presence, though she surely must have heard him open the door. Instead, Sara continued to look down at her sleeping husband. Harvey wondered if she was lost in her own thoughts or if she had simply chosen to ignore him.
Probably a little of both.
He looked again at the figure hunched over the bed. They were confident, at least, that Sara's HFV test would come back negative. She had already taken the test less than a month ago as part of her research for a story on AIDS testing at the New York Herald and it had been negative. While the virus was known to remain dormant for many years, it was still encouraging news for Michael and Sara and the unborn infant.
Harvey turned away from the pitiful sight and let the door close. He knew Sara was going through hell right now, worse even than Michael.
Standing aside and watching helplessly while a loved one suffered was often more difficult than the simpler task of suffering through the physical trauma. Harvey wished he could help. He wished that he could take Michael's place, that it was he rather then Michael who had to bear this great burden.
I But of course that was impossible.
| Cruel as it seemed, Michael and Sara would have to go through this ordeal alone. Crueler still, Harvey knew, was that he saw the possible benefits from Michael's situation. When Harvey considered the positive implications for AIDS patients generally and the clinic specifically the hope, the finances, the!j publicity he could not help but hope Michael would go public with his illness. Awful as it might seem, he realized that Michael's diagnosis could in the long run save thousands of lives. Michael could do for AIDS what no one since Rock Hudson or Ryan White I had done bring it home to the public, make it real, change the perspective of thousands, perhaps millions of people.
And that was why Sara was angry with him. Harvey had really not said very much, but his feelings on the matter were clear. Michael had been handed a responsibility that was bigger than all of them. A rare opportunity to do good had been thrust upon him. He could not just toss it away. And Sara saw that.
1, In her heart she knew what would have to be. But right now Sara's 4 mind was too clouded by her pain for her to see what was so clear. That was certainly understandable. Right now the rest of the world did not matter to her. Only Michael mattered. Protecting him.
So steam would eventually have to be blown off. The hurt would have to run its course before they could all look at things rationally, calmly. But not tonight. Tonight they needed to be left alone to ponder their fate. Saving lives could wait for another sunrise.
Harvey moved down the hallway in the direction of the clinic's laboratory. The night was absolutely still now. Harvey could only hear two noises: the heals of his shoes clacking against the cool tile and and the rustling noise coming from behind the lab door.
He froze. Winston and Eric had sealed all experiments and locked the lab door three hours ago. No one else had a key. And no one was supposed to be in there.
Don't panic. Maybe one of them came back to do a little extra work.
It wouldn't be the first time.
That was certainly true. Harvey slid closer to the door. The door's window had a shade pulled over it so he could not peer in. Instead, he pressed his ear against the pane. It felt cold to the touch. He listened. Nothing. The lab was quiet. He closed his eyes, straining to hear.
The rustling sound started up again.
Okay, no problem. It's just Winston or Eric. I'll just turn the knob, open the door and... His head hurt like a bastard now; the pounding in his forehead was almost audible. Harvey reached for the knob, grasped it, and turned.
The door was locked. An icy coldness glided through him. His hand flew away from the door. The lab door was never locked when someone was inside. Never. He tried to peer into the room through the tiny crack where the shade did not cover when he realized something that twisted his stomach. He looked down by the floor to confirm his fears.
There were no streams of light coming through the shade opening or from under the door. The lights in the lab were off.
What kind of scientist works in the dark?
Seeing- eye scientists? Scientists with infrared glasses?
Sweat popped onto his forehead.
It still might be nothing. It still might be... Might be what?
He had no answer to stave off his mounting panic. Acting without conscious thought, Harvey's hand reached into his pocket for the key to the lab. He took it out and moved it toward the lock. From behind the door, Harvey heard a file drawer slam shut.
He swallowed in a deep breath, slid the key into the hole, and flung open the door.
The room was dark, the dim hall lights providing only a modicum of illumination. Harvey thought he saw a movement in the corner of his eye. He spun toward it, but there was nothing.
Could have been just his imagination. His hand reached out blindly, finding the light switch and flicking it up. The lights came on, the sudden brightness startling him.
At first he saw nothing unusual. The lab was neat, tidy. No loose papers were visible. The microscopes were covered with plastic. The test tubes sealed. Only one thing looked different and that one thing made Harvey's eyes widen. Suddenly Harvey forgot about things like caution and wariness. Gone were the worries that a dangerous prowler might still be in the lab, hiding, preparing to pounce. He stepped forward, concerned solely for the welfare of what lay beyond the jimmied lock on the other side of the room.
That was a mistake.
Without warning, something heavy slammed against the base of Harvey's neck. His body pitched forward. Sharp slivers of pain and numbness erupted throughout his skull. Harvey grasped his head between both hands as he folded at the waist and fell to the floor. His eyes closed.
Jennifer had a light dinner by herself, caught the latest Woody Alien movie at the Qneplex, one of those movie theaters that seemed to have more screens than clients, and arrived back at the house a little past midnight. She tossed the little airline bag filled with the contents from Bruce's post office box onto the couch and collapsed beside it.
For a few moments she did nothing other than stare at the Sabena World Airways logo on the flight bag.
Her mind traveled back ten years ten years since she and Harvey had flown on Sabena to Brussels to begin a European odyssey through Belgium, France, and Holland. First class. Champagne and caviar on board. What a magnificent trip. Alas, it had been the last vacation she had convinced Harvey to take. He, in truth, had not enjoyed himself. Relaxing, sightseeing, eating gourmet, being pampered in fine hotels that was just not for him.
The stupid fool.
All right, so she was bitter. She had a right to be. She had loved Harvey. Still did. But the man did not know how to live.
Oh sure, he could be funny and seemingly carefree and he was a far cry from some sort of bookworm, but he was obsessed with his work. With saving the world. Yes, she had married a dreamer and that had been great while they were courting. It had been romantic, even gothic. But it had worn on her after a while. His selflessness began to eat away at her lust for life, leaving her with little more than self-pity.
The stupid fool.
Bruce Grey had been dedicated too, but the man understood that there were limits. He was not nearly as naive and foolhardy as Harvey. Bruce saw reality. He knew that the two of them could not stop the mass suffering, only alleviate it a little. That was all a person could be expected to do. For Bruce, that had been enough. But not for Harvey Jennifer sat up suddenly. The manila envelope. The one Bruce had addressed to himself the day he died. She had not yet opened it. She slid over toward the Sabena flight bag, grabbed it, and rummaged through the horde of envelopes. It did not take her long to locate the packet in question. It was the thickest and heaviest by far. She extracted it from the bag and laid it on her lap. Bruce's name and address were clearly written in his own handwriting. So strange.
She walked over to the desk, took hold of the letter opener, and sliced open the envelope. Numerous papers, tubular styrofoam containers, and what looked like files streamed out like candy from a broken pinata.
With a sigh, Jennifer began to read them.
"My head," Harvey groaned.
"Harvey, can you hear me?" Sara asked.
Harvey's eyes opened slightly. The lights seemed particularly bright, pricking his eyes. He closed them, shaded them with his hand, and tried again.
"Yeah, Sara, I can hear you. Where am I?"
"You're still at the clinic."
"How long have I been out?"
"I found you half an hour ago," Sara replied.
His vision focused in on two faces. One beautiful, the other thin with a mustache and long nose.
"Sara called me. Are you all right?"
"Can you tell me what happened?"
Harvey tried to clear his head.
"In the lab," he began slowly.
"Someone was in the lab." Sara said, "I caught a glimpse of someone running down the hall, but I couldn't see the face."
"Whoever it was," Harvey managed, "hit me over the head."
"Why don't we start at the beginning, okay?" Bernstein suggested, taking out his pad and pencil.
"Tell us what happened." Slowly, Harvey told them what had occurred from the moment he heard the noise in the lab until he was knocked unconscious. When he finished, Lieutenant Bernstein stopped pacing and asked, "So what was he after?
What was so precious that you forgot a prowler was in the room?"
"My private files."
"My private files. I keep them locked in there."
"You don't keep them in your office?"
"No. The lock and security around the lab is supposed to be much tighter than in my office. And the information I keep in those private files is usually derived from lab results. We all kept our private files in the lab."
Bernstein stared at his pad intensely.
"You keep saying 'private' files. What do you mean by that?"
"They contain personal information professional secrets, if you will."
"What kind of secrets?"
"Different things. Results from experiments, stuff like that."
"What kind of experiments?"
Harvey lay back down.
"Personal ones," he replied.
"You see, it pays to work closely with partners and to share all your findings, no question about it, but sometimes you need to work in private alone and without any outside interference and suggestions.
It's often the best way to make headway the one man working in solitude kind of thing. We understood and respected each other's private work."
"Who is 'we'?"
"Bruce, Eric, and myself."
Bernstein nodded, circling to the other side of the bed and then back again.
"Did Bruce Grey have private files?"
"Have you gone through them since his death?"
"Was there anything surprising in them?"
"What do you mean, not really?"
"I mean there were no major breakthroughs or anything like that. Bruce wasn't very big on independent research..." He paused.
"It might be nothing."
Bernstein leaned over the bed.
"Well, several of his important files were missing."
"What sort of files?"
"Patient files. Trian and Whitherson's, to name two."
"How about Bradley Jenkins'?"
"That one is still there."
Max stood back up, walked to the door, fiddled with the knob.
"I'd like you to give me a complete list of the missing files, and I also want to go through Grey's entire file cabinet as soon as possible."
"I suspected as much. But do me a favor, Lieutenant. Don't let anyone else go through them. The information in those files is confidential and must remain so."
"I don't understand something," Sara interjected.
"Why would routine patient files be locked up with the private files?"
"There is no such thing as routine patient files in here," Harvey explained.
"Everything in here is confidential. We use codes here, never names, so that no one lab technicians, nurses, orderlies knows a patient's name. We often keep patients secluded from one another. Except for roommates, patients never see or get to know one another."
"Did Whitherson, Trian, or Jenkins know each other?"
"No." "What happens when visitors come by?" Sara asked.
"Won't they see the other patients on the floor?"
Harvey shook his head.
"This whole place is compartmentalized. First floor is offices and visiting rooms we wheel the patients into private rooms so that the visitors never enter the actual patients' ward, which is on the second floor."
"Sounds like prison visiting hours," Max added.
"The situation is similar," Harvey agreed.
"The key thing to remember is that visitors never go into a patient's room."
Bernstein scratched his smooth right cheek hard, like a dog with a tic near his ear.
"Okay, so let me get this straight. The first floor has offices and visiting rooms. The second floor is the patients' ward. The third floor has the lab."
Harvey shot a quick glance toward Sara.
"And highly confidential patients are also kept on the third floor," he said.
"We normally keep no more than one or two patients up here."
"Was Bradley Jenkins one such patient?"
"Interesting." Max put his pencil into his mouth and looked up at the ceiling.
"So the prowler may have been trying to find out names of patients or the prognosis of a patient."
Harvey sat up.
"Could have been," he said, swinging his feet onto the floor.
"Where are you going?"
"I have to check my files." "Wait a second," Max said, snapping his fingers.
"Was there any patient recently admitted? Was there anybody whose identity you wanted to keep confidential?"
"You can tell him," Sara said.
"Tell me what?"
It was Sara who responded.
"Michael was admitted today.
He has AIDS."
Not too far from where Sara, Max, and Harvey were talking, Janice Matley, the Sidney Pavilion's most trusted nurse, knew something was wrong the moment she opened the door. She sensed it. There was something about the stillness of the bed, the way the sheet was twisted around the body, the way the head lolled limply off the pillow. Janice felt a creeping dread in the pit of her stomach.
Janice Matley was a heavy-set black woman in her mid-fifties.
She had been a nurse for the better part of thirty years and had worked for Dr. Riker and Dr. Grey for the past decade. She had been crushed when Dr. Grey committed suicide, absolutely devastated. Such a lovely man, poor thing. And a great doctor.
He and Dr. Riker had been perfect partners, complimenting one another like no other two men could. Dr. Grey was the heart, the team player, the one with the good bedside manner, the one who felt for every patient. Dr. Riker was the brains, the leader, the drive, the one who would do what had to be done and blind himself to the personal price.
And Dr. Eric Blake? Janice was not sure where she would place him. He was a bit of a paradox, that one. He too was dedicated, spending all his time in the clinic like Dr. Riker, but somehow he seemed distant, aloof. Oh, he cared about his patients immensely and Janice knew that Dr. Blake would follow Dr. Riker to the end of the earth and back, but he still seemed so... unfeeling. Maybe that wasn't fair. Just because she could not warm up to him did not mean he was not a nice man. He was a fine person, a fine doctor, and smart as they come. His patients and colleagues respected him greatly. He just wasn't... warm, that's all.
Janice stepped toward the patient with the blank facial expression of an experienced nurse. Inside, she could feel something tremble. She reached the bed and flicked on the reading lamp. Her knees went wobbly. The patient's eyes, glassy and uncomprehending, looked straight through her. His lips were parted and frozen. His arms felt almost brittle, like the branches on an old tree that would break rather then bend.
Janice ran for the door.
Max stared at Sara.
"Michael has AIDS?"
He collapsed into a chair.
"I don't know what to say, Sara." "He'll be fine," Sara said firmly.
He nodded, unsure what to say next.
"Who knows about Michael's condition?"
"Aside from us," Harvey replied, "just Eric and maybe one of the hospital nurses."
"There is a good chance that the nurse might recognize his face."
"Who's the nurse?"
"Her name is Janice Matley."
"You trust her?"
He shook his head.
"I don't care how much security you have around here, there is no way you're going to be able to keep this a secret." "We know that," Sara said.
"Michael has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow evening. It'll be covered live on News Flash
Bernstein's eyes squinted into small slits.
"Are you trying to tell me that Michael is going to tell the world he has AIDS?"
"And then you're going to do the report on SRI?"
"Not me," Sara corrected.
"I'm too close to this now. Donald Parker is going to do it." "And what exactly is Parker going to cover?" Max asked.
"The AIDS cure? The Gay Slasher connection? Senator Jenkins' kid being treated at the clinic?"
"All of it," Sara replied.
Max took the pencil out of his mouth and let go a whistle.
"That's going to be one hell of a story. The whole country is already talking about the Gay Slasher story. Wait till John Q. Public finds out that the murders are connected to a clinic that's found a cure for AIDS. And then add the fact that Michael Silverman has AIDS and is being treated at the same clinic." Bernstein shook his head again.
"It's going to be unbelievable."
No one said anything for a moment.
"Okay," Max said, "switch gears with me a second, Doc. You said the lab door was locked when you tried the knob, right?"
"Who has a key besides you?"
"Eric and Winston O'Connor, the chief lab technician."
"Does this O'Connor know about Michael?"
"No," Harvey replied, "Winston doesn't know the names of any of the patients in here. Like I said before, the test results are coded. The people in the lab never see the names, only numbers.
In other words Winston O'Connor sees the test results, but he is 'blind' as to whom it involves. We even change their code numbers weekly so that they cannot be traced down."
"You're a cautious man, Dr. Riker."
"Almost paranoid, right?"
Bernstein was about to answer when they heard a shout.
Janice Matley stuck her head through the doorway.
"Dr. Riker, come quick!" Janice shouted, though she knew it was much too late.
"What is its
"Code blue! A patient's arrested!"