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Rod, Rex and Rhoda

by Bob Brill

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Hello Out There

There used to be a world out there beyond my skin, may still exist for all I know, but no way to be sure. I look out through these jellied orbs in my head. I hear through these peculiar hairy spirals. Can I trust such fragile mechanisms? If there’s really something out there, it gets heavily filtered as the influx passes through these flimsy sensory nodes.

Today a new person enters my hospital room. She is gorgeous. Immediately I desire her. Is she real or am I making this up? I’ll speak to her, it, whatever.

“Hello out there.”

“Hello, Rodney.” This apparition calls me Rodney. She goes on to say, “My name is Rhoda Vane. I’ve got a lot to tell you and a lot to learn, but I’m not sure how to go about this, considering your present state of confusion.”

“Are you really out there?”

“Oh, I’m here all right. What about you?”

“May I touch you to be sure?”

“All right.” She takes a step closer.

She has magnificent breasts. I reach out and touch one. She backs away, but not before the palpable sensation of soft femininity enters my fingers. My desire escalates and I’m willing to accept this as reality, even if it’s not.

“You’re moving way too fast and in the wrong direction. We have things to discuss.”

“Forgive me, please. My veneer has been stripped away. No more polish to my conversational gambits, no more subtlety to my seductions. What remains of me is rock-bottom basic. I haven’t been laid since the parting of the Red Sea. Half the nurses here are dried up old maids. Live by the rules. The others, the nice ones, are afraid of losing their jobs.”

“I detect some self-flattery in your appraisal of the nurses. Could be the ladies here don’t fancy you.”

“I have doggy sensibilities now. We sniff each other. If I like your smell and you like mine, well then, no need to wait. Dogs don’t believe in long engagements. Isn’t that right, Rex? Bark once if you agree. Arf!”

“Let me put it this way. I’m not here to sniff your pheromones, but I do want to sniff the convolutions of your twisted mind. There’s a story here that needs to be told. I’m a freelance investigative reporter and something big and nasty is going on. Your unfortunate encounter with a faulty transporter is a small piece of it. I aim to put all the pieces together and show that picture to the world.”

“That how you make your living?”

“Yes, this story could be the big one for my career.”

“I used to live in that world. Got up every morning to pursue my ambitions. Don’t remember what my field was, but I was out there pushing my expertise around.”

“I can tell you what you were doing. You were a biochemist at Cal Tech and DOPAD asked you to play a role in the clinical trial process at Rumex Pharmaceutical.”


“Yes, have you really forgotten? The Department of Pharmaceuticals and Drugs.”

“And what do they do?”

“Oh, you really have lost it. They monitor the testing of drugs. The pharmaceutical companies can’t put a product on the market without DOPAD’s approval.”

“Sounds reasonable. Where do I fit in?”

She comes closer, pouring out pheromones. Got my full attention now. At least my limbic brain and its associated organs are standing tall. Can’t speak for my cortex, which doesn’t seem as sharp as it used to be.

“Listen, Rodney,” she says. “You know your name is Rodney Blass, don’t you?”

“Sounds familiar.” I do remember bearing the name Blass. Sounds like a rude fart, it does, a blast from the ass. Roderick Blasingame suits me better, if there has to be a blas in it.

“Trust me, that’s your name. At this point I know more about you than you do. It’s like this, Rodney. Rumex has a hot new anti-aging drug in clinical trials. The skin of aged mice reverted to the condition of newborn mice. If it works on humans, if their aged wrinkled skin can be made to look as smooth as a baby’s tush, the populace will be fighting for a place in line at doctors’ offices around the world. Five volunteers have been given the treatment. The results look promising, except that one of the volunteers came down with Fallow’s Syndrome.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Rodney, you are one of the world’s leading experts on this disease. Let me remind you. The first symptom is paralysis, followed by dementia, and sometimes a rather major symptom known as death. Fallow’s Syndrome is extremely rare, appearing in about one out of every 100,000 persons. So its presence in one out of five experimental subjects is alarming.”

I hear those words and some memories attempt to rise up in me, but there’s still a big disconnect. I do manage to say, “Metafallazine.”

“Exactly. The paralysis showed up during the trials, but Rumex claims that Fallow’s Syndrome invariably begins with the appearance in the body of the precursor molecule metafallazine. Their test shows that metafallazine appeared in the victim before the start of the trials. DOPAD doesn’t think that the test Rumex conducted is reliable, or maybe they just don’t trust Rumex. I certainly don’t. Billions are at stake here.”

“Listen, get me out of here. They’re not helping me at this hospital. They haven’t a clue what’s wrong with me. I need some loving attention, some decent food, somebody who cares.”

“Rodney, pay attention. This is important. I’ve researched your work. You’ve developed the most sensitive test yet for metafallazine. You were on your way to San Diego to administer that test. My own hunch is that Rumex agents tampered with the transporter mechanism to take you out of the equation.”

“What do you want from me? Whoever I was, I’m not that now. Metafallazine is the last thing on my so-called mind. The first thing is you.”

“I’ll make a deal with you, Rodney. I’m staying with my sister in San Diego. I’ll set you up in her spare room, make sure you’re comfortable, get you good food. But you have to work with me on this problem. I need your help.”

“I need your help too, sweetheart.”

“We’ll work out something.”

Copyright © 2010 by Bob Brill

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