Swanson tried to re-think his steps from last night. The headache and ringing in his ears started at dinner. He took two of his new antimalarial tablets and excused himself in the middle of a conversation with his date–the broker from Dallas. Yes. I remember her. After he took the medication, things became blurry. The sounds of other diners became loud and merged to incomprehensibility and he nearly fell over when he tried to stand up.
“David. David. Are you all right?” The lithe but strong woman steadied him onto his feet.
“It’s malaria. I just took my medication and have to lie down somewhere.”
“Let’s get you up to my hotel room. It’s only four floors up. Do you want me to call a doctor?”
“Yes. The number is on my medic alert bracelet. Get me upstairs first.”
Swanson put his hand to his forehead and looked at the mirror on his bedroom dresser. He tried to recall everything happening in her room but events going from the restaurant to her hotel room were not there. The most he could remember about her was her name, Lisa Feldman. Yes. He had her card. Swanson dialed the handwritten phone number on the back of her business card. He had met her at the exhibit hall of the Stock Brokers Eastern Regional meeting three-days ago. She specialized in computer software markets.
“Hello, Talbert Hotel. Manager’s office.” It was a melodious female voice. It wasn’t Lisa Feldman.
“I’m calling for Lisa Feldman. She gave me this telephone number which is supposed to be her hotel room.”
“Just a moment. The manager is taking all calls to this number.”
“This is Mr. Cory, Talbert Hotel management and security.”
Swanson repeated his attempt to contact his colleague from the previous night.
“I’m afraid Miss Feldman met with a serious accident last night. She was found on the third floor staircase landing. She apparently fell and was taken to New York University Hospital.”
Swanson felt his pulse quicken and his chest tighten. “Is she going to be all right?”
“You’ll have to call the hospital. I’ll give you the number.”
Swanson paced the floor of his tiny study with the cordless phone attached to his ear as he maneuvered through layers of hospital operators until he was connected to her room.
“Intensive care unit? I’m calling about a patient named Lisa Feldman.”
David Swanson didn’t have many close friends in New York City. It wasn’t that he was antisocial; he just didn’t have many friends or acquaintances. He had to make three phone calls. The first phone call was to his boss, Coleman Dandy, who was familiar with Swanson’s occasional recurrent malaria episodes. He had plenty of sick days left on the books.
“David, take care of you first. I’ll get someone to cover for you on the market floor servers. Do what you have to do and get back here soon.” Dandy hung up without asking about the results of his dinner with Feldman.
He dialed the next number and let the phone ring. He could picture the corner office of the laboratory at the VA hospital where Barbara Winn worked. She was both head nurse for infectious diseases and coordinator for malaria research studies with the chief of medicine.
“Barbara Winn speaking.”
Swanson told her of his latest falciparum attack but not about Lisa Feldman.
“Did you call Dr. Binelli?” she asked.
“I must have. I was discharged from the ER just like last time with a note to be followed up by Dr. Binelli and Dr. Krantz.”
“David I don’t understand why you have to keep seeing Krantz. He’s a psychiatrist.”
“Binelli tells me I need to have sequential mental status exams, because of my cerebral malaria. It’s in my records.”
“Why are you calling me David? My role in your treatment at the VA is purely from the research aspect of your peculiar strain of falciparum.”
“I consider you a friend and mentor with all that’s happened to me. Can we meet in private somewhere tonight?”
“You’re such a klutz when it comes to asking me for a date. I’ll tell you what. Let me prepare something at my place tonight around eight. You remember where it is? You’ve picked me up at my apartment twice before.”
“I’ll be there.”
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