Anne Caryl

Page thirty-five

A Christmas Poem
Merry Christmas. Are you kidding me?
About Me
The Gold Train Connection
Back to Reason
Virtual Art Gallery





            Ron Mckenzie sat in the Conley’s living room, his head in his hands. “I don’t know what to do. She’s getting more and more involved with that church. I even went and talked to one of the deacons.”

            “And?” Pete Conley perched on the back of the sofa where his wife sat.

            “And nothing. I mean the guy was offended that I’d accuse them of brainwashing my wife. I think the guy’s on the level. Basically it’s an alright church. He reminded me Christians are supposed to be on the offensive against the evil of the world…that’s what he called it…and I agreed with him.”

            “Yeah, well you had to. I mean, we were part of that, too: carrying signs and all.”

            “But not the way Paige sees it. Not some great holy war we have to fight.” Ron rubbed his arms below his tee shirt sleeves, where goose bumps rose.

            Pete shook his head. “I’m sure it’s not that bad, Ron. When you guys came to church with us that time, she seemed so gentle. I haven’t talked to her a lot since then, but Mary has, and—”

            “And he’s right.” Mary turned to face her husband. “Paige was here the other day. Something’s haywire. She talked about rifles and Eric Rudolph and every other thing she said was about The Cause. She told me to stay away from that clinic nurse,”—she glanced at Ron—“the one from Sorkin’s place. Said the woman was being watched.”

            “That’s what I mean.” Ron turned to face the window. “I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry to put all this on you, but I didn’t know where else to go. If we’d started going to church with you two, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess, but she found that ‘Hope place’ and somebody there is messing with her mind.”

            “I think, sooner or later, she’d have had problems anyway, Ron. That’s why she sought out that church to begin with, and those people.”

            Ron turned his head, looking back into the living room. “Mrs. Conley…Mary, what can I do? She had these awful nightmares. Walked in her sleep, woke up screaming. But even that was better than seeing her now. I’m scared for her.”

            Mary was looking at him with pity in her eyes. It was too much. Ron leaned against the wall, his shoulders shaking with his sobs.




            “Dr. Sorkin?” The phone connection was scratchy. “This is Amanda Stroh. I’m a charge nurse at Prairie Vista. Your brother has been quite agitated and the doctor changed his meds. We just needed to notify you.”

            “That you changed his medications? Usually I’m told this at his staffings.”

            “Yes, well…you see, he’s had a slight injury, too.”

            “What injury? He can’t even take himself to the toilet. How can he injure himself?”

            “Well, after his visitors left the other day, when we were getting him laid down for his afternoon nap, he cried out. His left index finger seemed to hurt him. Today, it’s pretty bruised. Dr. Sorkin, I want you to know we reprimanded the aide. If you think we should, we’ll fire her.”

            “What visitors?” Abraham’s throat tightened.

            “The men who came to see him. They said they were old friends of his. The morning charge nurse thought they were pretty young for that, but, you know…”

            “Did they give you their names?”

            “No, sir. I mean, they didn’t sign the guest book, and they didn’t take him anywhere, so they didn’t have to sign him out.”

            Abraham was sick to his stomach. “What do you mean, agitated?”

            “They were just talking to him and he started yelling, thrashing around, trying to get the restraints off.”

            “Yelling what?”

            “Something about not going to the hospital. It didn’t make sense. At the hospital they had belts on, or something. It upset his visitors, too. They left.”




            The waitress pocketed her order pad in the apron tied over loose black pants. Her customer flashed a brilliant white smile, dimples showing in his tanned cheeks, and she blushed and fingered her black mandarin collar. The girl hurried through a door where a man could be seen spraying dishes and putting them into a dishwasher. Smoke, from years of cigarette-puffing patrons, had turned the white background of the lotus-patterned wallpaper a dull yellow, and the stale smell hung in the room, mixed with the scents of spiced foods.

            “Leave her a five dollar tip and she’s yours,” said the man’s companion, heavy, balding, in his fifties.      

            “Ah, James, there’s nothing wrong with being friendly. She said to help ourselves to the buffet. Shall we?”

            James Wirth wrinkled his nose. “In China, they eat dogs.”

            Putting two fingers inside his waistband, Robert Patton grinned. “How do you think I keep the pounds off? Three times a week at the gym and dog every night. Come on, Wirth. Take a chance.”

            Patton twisted in his chair and stood, brushing at the creases in his pinstripe suit pants. He bent his head toward the buffet line, then looked back at Wirth and grinned.

            “Do you practice doing that?” Wirth struggled to free his slacks from the cracked vinyl of his seat. Finally, he jerked the fabric and followed Patton. “Smiling like that, I mean?”

            Robert Patton ignored the question. “Try some of this.” he dished out a generous portion from a metal tray in the steam cabinet. “Kung Pao Shrimp.”

            Wirth wrinkled his nose again. “I’m allergic to shellfish.”

            Patton shrugged and lifted the cover of another tray.

            His companion poked at a broccoli dish before ladling some onto his plate. “That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Because we took a chance? If the hospital board ever found out you were involved in this, you’d lose your seat in a minute.”

            “I don’t see why you’re sweating, James. In my opinion, everything is fine. Before long, we’ll progress from eyes to limbs.”

            Patton headed back to their table where two sweating glasses soaked the paper placemats. Wirth placed his nearly empty plate on the table and laid his napkin on the chair before sitting down.

            “Fine? Out of five transplants, two people have committed suicide.”

            “Three. But think of what we’ve learned. The medical team didn’t factor in the mental aspect, that’s all. It’s correctable, and the loss factor is acceptable at this stage.”

            “The thing is, Robert, my friends and I are getting a little nervous. The cops have to be looking into that thing in Thornton.”

            “James, believe me, it’s being taken care of.”

            “Well, I think we need more than your word. We’ve had enough of that ‘need to know’ stuff. Now we really do need to know.”

            “Know what?”


            Patton stared at the dragons encircling his plate, planning his words. Finally, he took a deep breath, made eye contact and began.” Fourteen years ago, a friend of mine at University did a paper for JAMA on the effects of the Holocaust on survivors’ health. He met with a man who’d been a medical student during the war, interred in Bergen Belsen. A collaborator named Sorkin.”

            Wirth’s mouth opened as though to ask a question. Patton anticipated his reaction.

            “Not the one you’re thinking of. His brother, Saul. The Nazis did some studies on twins. Identical cell structure and all. Used one for a control, experimented on the other, then dissected both of them.”

            Wirth’s eyes widened, he leaned forward, his shallow breathing making little wheezing sounds.

            “You okay?”

            Wirth nodded and waved Patton on with his story.

            “Anyway, the whole thing was overseen by a big-wig Nazi name of Mengele. Joseph Mengele. They had an idea of the DNA thing, though their instruments weren’t sophisticated enough to really get into it. Still, they laid a foundation. When GI’s liberated the camp, Sorkin snatched the experiment records and smuggled them out.”

            Patton stopped and turned over a mound of rice with his fork. Wirth watched him, bird-like, and Robert Patton felt a jab of irritation. He jerked his head toward the plate of food that sat in front of the balding man, and held up his fork. They ate in uneasy silence Finally, Patton took a gulp of tea, and wiped his mouth on his napkin.

            “So, anyway…they decided to explore their…mutual interest. But Sorkin was concerned about his health; he’d been having memory lapses, mood swings and stuff. He brought his younger brother, Abraham on board. Good thing, too, because now the old guy has Alzheimer’s. Can’t tell you how to tie a shoe.

            They realized they were going to need money, and lots of it. Sorkin approached a few foundations but my friend had contacts in Central City, Vegas…you understand? Big money. They let some little guys like you and me in, too, but we’re small potatoes to that kind of money.”

            “How may people are we talking?”

            “What? In the whole operation?”

            Wirth nodded.

            “Doctors, investors, research…about twenty, I’d say.”

            “And what if one of them decides he doesn’t want to play our kind of ball any more?”

            “You want to hear the rest?”

            “Sorry. Go ahead.”

            “Anyway, they got it to the trials phase and recruited some people off the transplant waiting list. Five of them, as you know. Everything has gone according to plan. I mean, there have been a couple of setbacks but… We have a crack medical team, and they just need those notes again, the ones from the camps, to compare with their findings. To fine tune things, right?

            “The medical team. That’s another thing, Patton. What about the old doctor? The Jew. Austin said he wanted out.”

            “Wanting’s not getting, is it, James?”. “We’re taking care of it. The preacher is going to persuade him.”

            “How do we know we can trust him? What’s his name…Soudo? Sounds ethnic.”

            Patton laughed. “We can trust him because he likes nicer things than he’s born to, James. And, he’s come in handy so far. See, the Pro-lifers think he’s a fanatic, in it to scare the old doc into closing up shop. But he set up that bombing to warn the old man about bugging out on us, not to help out those Holy Rollers. Really earned his keep.”

            He waved at the waitress and she headed toward the table.

            “Honey, can we have the check, please?”

            The girl scurried off and Robert Patton sat back, munching on the shrimp tail sections piled on his plate. When she returned, he glanced at the paper she handed him, pulled a twenty and a five from his wallet and stuffed it in her hand. Then he stood and led the way to the parking lot.

            Two cars , side-by-side, were the lot’s only occupants. Wirth went straight to the Caddy, grasped it’s chrome door handle and paused.

            “Patton, have you ever seen that web site? It’s disgusting. Blood running down the screen…demons dancing in flames.”

            “Yes, well that’s why it’s so…opportunistic. Few people ever get beyond the index page, and if they do, they see the hit list the group from Soudo’s church puts out. You’d have to know what you were looking for to find our…catalog.”

            “What if Sorkin goes to the police?”

            “James. Get real. He’s in up to his eyeballs, too. You really think he’s going to go to the cops?”

            “I guess not.”

            “Anyway, we’re going to get his attention.”

            “Not like Thornton?”

            “See? You remember. Sorkin will, too. Pro-lifers went just a little too far. That’s what the papers said. Police are still investigating. If the Thornton doctor had listened to reason….”

            “Soudo didn’t have to kill anyone.”

            “No. I don’t think they intended to. But what’s done is done. And Sorkin knows we mean business. He’s not scared for himself, but if he thinks innocent people might get caught...”

            “Like the kid in Thornton.”

            “Exactly. Then, after we get the notes, I don’t think we’ll have any more trouble with him. We’re shipping Soudo out of the country. He’ll disappear.”

            Wirth opened the door and got in. He started the engine, then rolled down the window and sat behind the wheel as though thinking of something else to say.

            Patton walked over to the turquoise car, rubbed his sleeve over a gold-plated mirror fitting, then leaned on the open window frame.

            “When it’s over, if Soudo does his job, there won’t be any strings left to tie us to anything. He’ll take all the heat, but you know what the news will say? Another corrupt preacher, using his congregation to feather his nest. A thief, hiding behind the honorable Pro-Life movement.

            “And what if they find him?”

            “The police? Not a chance. Once he gets to Nassau, he becomes somebody else. Leonard Soudo is dead.”

            “I don’t know…”

            “Look, James, that’s why we let Soudo in on this. The cops are looking for some radical anti-abortionist and your lily-white hands will stay clean.”






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Anne Caryl
504 East Furry St.
Holyoke, Co. 80734