Patient Zero

by Andrea Doria

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction written by a non-doctor and non-lawyer even by a non-English speaker. Any glaring language, medical or judicial mistakes are mine. The story involves a physical relationship between two women. But you knew that, that's why you are here ;) Feel free to send me your thougts:

Chapter 12

Miami Beach, Florida, April 2006
Being delicately kissed while slowly sinking into the sand of the quickly eroding shore line of Miami Beach is a wonderful sensation. Ann wanted it never to end but it had to or they would fall over.

She gently pushed against Mo who released her.

- We were about to fall over,

She saw a twinkle in Mo's eye.

- Oh, no you don't, she said and splashed the few feet up to dry land.

Mo threw herself down on the sand and sat back leaning on her arms.

- So how long have you had the hots for me?

Ann gave her a sidelong glance but it didn't seem to be a trick question.

- Since i saw you in your thermal underwear ready to operate on Fran. I didn't like you much before that though.

- No? Sorry about that, but I had just realized who Fran was. I first noticed you at TJ's, and I really noticed you when my bathrobe almost came undone on you while we set Fran's leg.

- A great romance, eh?

They laughed and kissed some more.

Mo never got checked into her hotel that night.

Miami, Florida, April 2006
It was certainly not Ann's first morning after. But it was her first uncomplicated morning after. And as she drove to work she committed every moment since she picked up Mo at the airport to her memory. Regardless of what would happen between them she decided to treasure the previous 12 hours always.

Mo had been awake when Ann finished taking her shower, she had watched her dress and it hadn't made a feel the least bit self-conscious, it had only produced a pleasant tingle in her abdomen.

- What are your plans for the day?

Mo stretched and gave Ann a full view of her gorgeous body.

- I thought I would visit Fran.

- Are you serious?

- Yeah that was why I came down here - well part of why I came down her, she gave Ann one of her smile blasts.

- If I were a lawyer I would tell you it's not a good idea to contact someone who wants to sue you on your own.

- I probably know that, but for some reason this feels personal to me now. I mean I did listen to that woman's leg grind into place, and I did see her color change from unhealthy to healthy - hell you helped me and saw it for yourself. But now she says I shouldn't have done that. I want her to tell me that face to face.

Ann walked into the kitchen and got her muesli and milk out before she started coffee.

- You want coffee.

- No need to yell, said a warm voice in her ear and she turned into Mo's embrace for a good, long good morning kiss.

She wanted to tell Mo that she'd come with her to visit Fran, but she couldn't take the day off. She also wanted to tell her to stay, to make herself at home and all of those cliches.

- I have an home address for her, and a phone number, you want them?

Mo nodded and took a handful of dry muesli that she started to eat like a snack. They had left it at that. Mo eating dry muesli and Ann filling up her commuter mug with hot, black coffee before handing over a post it note with an address and a phone number.

And now Ann was stuck, as always, in traffic on Brickell Avenue where it intersected with 7Th and 8Th street. As she was slowly inching forward she sipped her coffee and chiseled her feeling of happiness in her mind forever.

Miami, Florida, April 2009
Mo had been awake a few minutes before Ann's clock radio started. She had savored the faint light through the windows and the sound of Ann's even breathing. There had been another sound too. A faint, snoring, rattle in the chest of the little gray cat snuggling against Ann's thighs.

He had had a rough night. There just hadn't been room for him on the bed when they were making love. He had been kicked several times and once whimpered so loud Ann had followed him into the living room to check if he was hurt.

But now the whole world was quiet and everything was right. Even for Ghost.

She knew Ann would try talking her out of a visit to Fran, but she had still told her about her plan, and Ann hadn't pushed her point too hard.

They hadn't made any plans for the evening. And there had been a tiny awkward moment just before Ann rushed off, but nothing that worried Mo.

She took a shower and studied Ann's collection of interesting bath products. She particularly liked the smell of some stuff in a blue tube from Biotherm - something named to make people think it was made from seaweeds instead of the usual myriad of chemicals, but it had a very nice, clean smell and she tried it out.

She looked at the address for Fran that Ann had written down and it meant nothing to her, it was in a part of town called Kendall, but she didn't know if it was north, south, east or west. Mainly because she really didn't know where she was.

A little after 9 she closed the door to Ann's apartment behind her, hoisted her bag on her shoulder and walked to the elevators. Down on the street she could feel the sun already and rummaged for her sun glasses.

She tried to get her bearing from studying the houses around her. There seemed to be more tall buildings to the right of her and she decided that had to be downtown and then set off in that direction.

She was on a wide four lane road with a palm growing lane divider. There were tall apartment buildings like Ann's along both sides of it. At the first intersection she found out it was named Brickell Avenue. And two blocks further up she spotted a Starbucks. She bought a grande latte and asked the sales person if she was on the right track to downtown.

- Yes - or just two blocks up that way and you get to the Metromover.

Metromover sounded like just what she needed and two blocks later she found out that the Metromover was a free light-rail train zooming around downtown Miami.

She rode the little blue and silver train not much bigger than a city bus to Government Center station that seemed to be the central hub, she wondered if she could get to Fran's place on public transport or if she had to hunt for a rental car. But first it occurred to her to call Velasquez, Pena and Alonzo and check that she was not at work.

- Velasquez, Pena and Alonzo how may I help you.

- I need to speak to Fran Ferdinand, please.

A long silence followed,

- I'm sorry she's not available today, who is this please?

It was all she needed.

The information desk at the station helped her find the address. She could ride the Metrorail to the end of the line and then transfer to bus 136 and would have to walk the rest of the way.

It was a long walk through some of the most depressing urban sprawl she had ever seen. The map she had picked up at the metro hub showed that Fran lived on a street in the middle of a maze of semi-circular roads centered around a lake. It was a not a pedestrian friendly neighborhood, there was no sidewalk and Mo had to walk on the shoulder of the road and was amazed at the amount of debris she waded through - mufflers, hub-cabs, soda cans, wine bottles and things she didn't want to know about.

She finally reached 871 Lake Crescent - there's was no Lake in sight. Just rows and rows of two story red brick condominiums. Fran's was in the middle of a row. A decrepit white Chrysler Neon was parked in front of the house that otherwise looked uninhabited with closed blinds and an overflowing mail box.

Mo opened a low gate and approached the house.

Miami, Florida, April 2009
Ann had a busy schedule that morning, but she didn't mind a bit. Kate seemed very surprised by her good mood and seemed on the verge on commenting on it several times.

- Ronald is on line 1.

Ann punched the button and picked up.

- Hi Ronald, she realized she had never asked him if his friends called him Ron or Ronnie, but now was not the right time.

- I've found an interesting tit bit about PharmaMenta! She looked at her watch.

- Are you free for lunch at 1.15 p.m.?

- The usual place?

They rang off and she worked on for an hour.

Ronald was already waiting for her when she walked into Perricone's and he had already ordered the oak grilled mahi-mahi and she ordered the goats cheese salad.

- A friend of a friend got to talking with a medical patent agent and PharmaMenta are in trouble.

- What kind of trouble?

He put his fork down, wiped his mouth on the napkin and took a drink of his ice water.

- They only have the US patent for Astbegone.

- Why?

- Someone forgot to apply for world wide patents, so right now India is producing several similar generic products and flooding the world market with them. You can even buy them online from places like and

- Sounds like an expensive mistake to make.

- Rookie mistake according to my friend of a friend.

- Is it verifiable?

Ronald handed her a stack of printouts of web pages. She quickly scanned them and looked up.

- But it still does not explain why they are going after Mo, she almost smiled saying her new lovers name.

- No, Ronald replied, but this might: According to the same patent agent PharmaMenta have been hinting an upcoming auction on a very special drug.

Ann was intrigued - she was beginning to see the outline of an explanation but felt like she was staring into thick fog.

- Is that normal? Auctioning the patent off?

- Yes, if a company lacks the means to start a production or the final approval.

Kendall, Florida, April 2009
Mo had a hard time getting the picture of a successful lawyer to fit with the home she was looking at. She was sure Ann would have told her if Velasquez, Pena and Alonzo was some tiny storefront office pretending to be something it was not - she couldn't see Ann getting involved if it was regardless of what kind of favour she owed that mysterious friend of hers.

Mo rang the door bell. And again. And again. Finally she heard the rhythmic clonk-shuffle of someone using crutches and wearing a cast on their leg coming down a hall way.

The door opened but only as much as the safety chain allowed, and a cautious voice said:

- Yes?

- It's Mo Bancroft, Fran, I want to talk to you.

The door closed but only for as long as it took to disconnect the safety chain.

Fran looked like hell. Her face was blotchy, her hair was unwashed and she was wearing a stained washed out pink robe. She didn't look a bit like the self-assured but bored woman Mo had seen in TJ's

Fran didn't say anything just turned and clonked down the hallway. Mo followed her and closed the door behind her.

The shades were closed in the living room too and the air was stale and oppressing. Fran turned in front of what could only be described as a barcalounger and sank into the fake, black leather which squeaked and groaned under her.

- What do you want?

- I want to know why you are suing me?

A deep sigh.

- Every single e-mail has included a detailed description of the test parameter violations you committed.

- No, why are you suing me for malpractice?

Fran looked stunned.

- I'm what?

Mo pulled the letter from her bag and handed it to Fran.

- Erm, there's ice tea in the fridge if you want some, she said making a weak attempt at hospitality.

Mo walked into the kitchen. She had seen cleaner kitchens in mud huts in Uganda. She grabbed two bottled ice teas from the fridge and returned to the living room.

Fran was still reading. She slowly looked up, when Mo handed her the ice tea and grabbed a chair from the hideous Camelot-style dinning set made from fake oak..

- I didn't know about this.

Mo believed her. For some reason she just did. If she was lying she sure was on the wrong side of the country. Fran handed the letter back and unscrewed the top of her ice tea.

- Can you stop it?

Fran looked surprised at the question.

- I...I don't's's...they want to get at your insurance money that's been the plan all along.

Mo was as surprised at Fran had been a moment ago.

- How?

- A confession from you that you used the drug outside it's test parameters and then a run on your insurance money.

- I'm not insured.

Fran looked thunderstruck.

- What do you mean you are not insured?

- Just that - I'm not insured - in Africa I worked under the organizations insurance but that would never cover something like that and since I came back I haven't worked as a doctor so no insurance.

They sat there staring at each other for a while, neither of them saying anything and just sipping their ice tea.

- How come a hot shot lawyer lives in a dump like this.

- Ha, hot shot lawyer - that's a joke.

- Yeah looks like it doesn't it? Mo got up and picked up her bag.

- You don't know what it's like.

- No, I don't, but I do know I saved your life and then you hit me with another groundless law suite.

- I told you I didn't have anything to do with that.

- Yeah just chicken out and pretend you are the victim, Mo was shouting now - venting all her frustration with the last year's harassment.

- I am the victim!

Mo turned and starred hard at the woman. Well, she did not seem like a winner that was for sure. Using a technique Robert had taught her in Uganda when everything seemed to be working against her, she took a deep breath and focused on getting it well into her abdomen where it instantly connected with the good feelings of last night and this morning.

- OK, you are the victim, tell me about it, she said and sat down on the uncomfortable and very square chair.

Fran was crying, in a soundless, desperate way that instantly made Mo feel like an asshole. You don't walk into someones home, call it a dump and started yelling at them unless you are the kind of bully she detested.

- Right, I'm sorry I yelled at you, okay?

Fran nodded but couldn't seem to stop crying. It had now progressed to the involuntary hick-upping stage. She grabbed for her crutches and started scooting to the edge of the barcalounger - Mo got up and gave her a hand to get her on her feet. She clonked off to the bathroom - Mo feared for a very long time, but a little while later she came out, having washed her face and it seemed attempted to comb her hair.

- Four years ago I was an informant in a federal case in Georgia against a drug ring. I was put in a witness protection program supervised by judge Ortiz.

- He's the guy..

- Yes he is the guy who convinced Ann Hunter to go with me to visit you. In case you made a confession it would stand as a deposition probably enough to convince an insurance company a settlement would be cheaper than a law suite.

Mo nodded, it made sense.

- Anyway when I first met Hector he was very nice and helped me getting settled. He even convinced me to go back to school and get my degree.

- So you are a lawyer?

- Yes, but not from the University of Texas - from Berry up in Orlando.

- Means nothing to me really.

- No, it's not a very prestigious place, but they have night classes so I could work during the day.

- And then he offered you a job when you graduated?

- No, I didn't hear from him until about a year ago. He said he needed me to do a job for him, here in Miami, I would on paper be employed by a really nice company and get a place to stay - that would be this dump - and I thought I had it made.

Mo could think of several biting replies to that, but again the word bully flashed through her mind.

- I really wasn't working for Velasquez, Pena and Alonzo I was working for Ortiz, and even with my limited experience it seemed like a strange case. I mean it wasn't as if your use of the drug had cost PharmaMenta anything. When I asked he said it had cost them a lot in terms of development costs and now it couldn't be approved for it's original purpose.

Fran had emptied her ice tea, and Mo went to get her another one - she was sure she saw a huge cockroach scuttle under the stove when she opened the fridge. There was one bottle left and not a whole lot of food in there.

- Fran, you know it's about lunch time now - why don't I drive us somewhere, you seem not to have been out of this house for a long time, we can pick up some stuff for you on the way back.

Again that thunderstruck look on the woman's face, like nobody had ever said anything as ludicrous before.

- Ahm - eh - okay - I will need to get dressed then.

Miami, Florida, April 2006
After lunch with Ronald Ann returned to her chambers and worked through the afternoon. Twice she had attempted to call Mo, but her phone seemed to have been switched off. It didn't concern her greatly, she figured she was probably saving the battery. But she did feel a little bit bad for not having offered her car to Mo. Getting to Kendall would be tedious without.

She called her broker and asked him what the consequences of the missing world patent on Astbegone and auctioning off other patents was for PharmaMenta.

- It means they are in trouble. I would recommend any holder of their stock to sell. You know, I'm not sure this information has been made public, but let me dig a little deeper and then call you.

She had to admit she was just a tiny bit unconcentrated. Usually she would be lost in her work until Kate came in to say goodbye for the day. But this afternoon she had a lot of false starts.

Ronald had given her, her Dad's Blackberry back. She dug it out of her purse and turned it on. In his calender she noticed his commitments at the nursing home again, and she picked up her phone and dial the number.

- Saint Francis Home for The Aged!

She asked for the director.

- Do you have questions regarding a resident?

- No, it's a personal matter.

A few clicks later a woman with a very nice alto came on the line.

- Eunice Mays speaking.

- Hello, my name is Ann Hunter I'm the daughter of..

- ..George Hunter...I'm sorry for your loss.

- Thank you I just wanted to be sure you knew that he had died, that he didn't run out on you.

- Oh, that was kind of you, and yes we did know. We had a small memorial service for him actually, hope you don't mind.

Why would she mind?

- Your Dad was a wonderful man. Sorely missed by many here. He was very good with out male residents - took them on tours around Miami and fishing in the bay.

- Yes, I'm sorry he didn't get to finish his commitment.

- What do you mean, dear?

- His 1.000 hours.

- Oh, he finished those last year, lately he was just a volunteer. Our most dependable actually. Except for the few days he went up to Belle Glade he didn't miss an engagement in his three years with us.

- Uhm, when..I mean, the trip to Belle Glade he most have forgotten to tell me, when was this?

- Oh, about a month ago, a little less perhaps.

Ann stared at the phone for a while after the conversation with Eunice Mays. She scribbled a note, reminding herself to call Hemmings and find out how she could set up a grant in her Dad's name at Saint Francis. She was sure he would want the tours and fishing trips to go on.

Next she tried Mo again. She picked up on the second ring.

- Where are you.

- On a bus...just short of ...what's it called...Dadeland station.

- Okay - could you jump off at Coconut Grove I want to show you something? I'll pick you up.

To be continued in chapter 13

Return to the Academy