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 14

Miami, Florida, April 2006 Mo heard Ann get up shortly after the clock radio intruded on a nice dream about two women on a sun-kissed, white beach overlooked by a beautiful lighthouse. But she didn't hear the shower run or smell any coffee. From afar she heard a voice and then she felt a warm, naked body slide back under the comforter and snuggle up.

She turned around:

- Not going to work today?

- No, I called in sick today and tomorrow, came the muffled reply as Ann was speaking into the soft skin of Mo's shoulder.

Sometime later a cat's meow intruded on their collective dream. As the sound became more and more insistent Ann finally surrendered and got up to feed Ghost. Mo tried to clear her head of lingering dreams and sleep and finally padded into the living room.

Ann was sitting at her breakfast bar looking through the file folder she had taken from her Dad's safe the night before. She was wearing reading glasses and nothing else.

- That's a very distracting look, Mo said.

Ann gave her quick smile but seemed totally engrossed in the documents she was pulling out of the folder.

Mo set to work on making coffee and surveyed the fridge for breakfast ideas. She found stuff for a breakfast burrito and started dicing onion, pepper and tomato.

- Are you up for a Florida road trip?

Ann was peering at her over the reading glasses - like a stern, naked judge.

Mo nodded, it was all she could manage for the lascivious thoughts springing up in her mind. Ann jumped off the high stool she had been sitting on and managed to steal a few pieces of the pepper before Mo rapped her with a tea towel.

- Do I have time for a shower?

Highway A1A, Florida, April 2006
After a slightly delayed breakfast where Ann had explained that she was sure her Dad had hidden something important in a house he had inherited from his parents in Belle Glade about 80 miles north of Miami, they had set off on a scenic drive up the coast.

The Florida turnpike would have gotten them there a lot faster but Ann said it was so boring and monotonous that they would be catatonic when they got to their destination. The coastal route also held the promise of a swim somewhere along the way.

Ann was a very precise and courteous driver and Mo enjoyed leaning back in the soft leather seats of the cars and just let all the impressions of a new city roll over her.

Ann was quiet until they turned left on Collins Avenue then she started pointing out landmark buildings as the drove north. Mo was enthralled by her descriptions of places and people. Soon they were free of South Beach traffic and were zipping along.

- Up ahead are the two Miami Modern hotel divas: The Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau. They are both build by Morris Lapidus but for two different owners who used to work together. The Fontainebleau was build first, when the owner found out that Lapidus had been commissioned to build another opulent, movie-star magnet right next door by his old business partner he vowed never to speak to Lapidus again. And six years after Eden Roc was finished the owner of the Fontainebleau built a spite wall. He had an extra wing build on to Lapidus's masterpiece right on the property line and 14 stories high. It presented a totally blank concrete wall towards the pool and cabana area of Eden Roc casting the area into deep shade every day shortly after noon.

Mo chuckled at that.

- An architectural feud?

- Yes and it actually wasn't a completely blank wall. The owner of the Fontainebleau had a few windows put in so he could sit and stare grumpily down at his competition.

Surprisingly fast they had reached West Palm Beach and turned inland. Soon they were leaving the heavily build up area along the coast behind and driving through flat, dry land that looked almost like desert to Mo. But as they approached Belle Glade the dry land gave way to row after row after row of some kind of crop that Mo couldn't identify.

- What are they growing around here?

- Sugar cane I think but any vegetable will pretty much grow her.

- So what is this?

- Sugar cane I'm pretty sure.

They decided to look for a bit of lunch before trying to find the house of Ann's grandparents.

- You've never been there?

- I've never met them, Dad broke off all connections with them when he went to college.

- How come?

- His dad worked for one of the big land owners back then and they had a falling out over how the migrant workers were treated.

Belle Glade, Florida, April 2009
The city of Belle Glade did not have a lot to offer a hungry couple of women passing through. In fact it made Tabernash with MoccaMecca and TJ's look like Las Vegas. Mo could tell Ann was shocked at what they saw. She was too if she reminded herself it was the USA and not a town in Africa. It had the same feel. Lots and lots of dirt roads running off the one central paved road and what looked like outlying shanty towns.

The few people they saw shuffled along looking lost.

- Do you mind if we skip lunch, I think I've lost my appetite?

Mo just nodded and took the print out Ann handed her with directions to the house on Cypress Avenue. It was a very simple clapboard house with a wide veranda as it's only redeeming character. It was however quite a bit larger than the houses around it, and the upkeep was much better.

Ann drove the car unto the concrete slab in front of the garage and cut the engine.

- I wasn't prepared for this.

Mo gave her thigh a comforting squeeze. She figured this was not the place for two women to show any kind of open affection even if she couldn't see a soul around. The last living thing they had seen was a scrawny dog running along the state road that had taken them to Cypress Avenue.

Behind the house she made out some kind of narrow body of water, a canal or a heavily regulated creek. It gave off an smell like a dishwasher not being run often enough in warm weather.

A disturbing, unclean smell that made Mo wondered what kind of diseases lurked in the water until she remembered that she was in the US where malaria and yellow fever supposedly is eradicated.

Ann pulled her Dad's key ring out of her purse and opened the car door.

- If you want to be alone, I'll wait here, Mo said.

Ann turned to her with a startled look.

- No, no I want you to come with me.

Mo got out of the car too.

There was no security system on the house and just two locks on the front door that Ann found the keys for easily.

Inside the house smelled dusty and stuffy. They walked into a living room with a pale rose carpet, wildly flowered overly stuffed furniture and knick knacks on every available surface. Most of them on what looked like home-crotchet doilies.

The pride of the room was a gigantic TV-set in ornately carved dark stained wood. A book case held very few books but what seems like every single item in every single Lillian Vernon home decor catalogue since 1965.

Ann was clearly lost. She just stood in the middle of the room slowly turning on the spot and trying to take it all in in one polite glance.

Mo wanted to hold her and comfort her and assure her that there was no reason to feel ashamed of her heritage. Two lines from a song she had listened to many times on her walkman at night in Uganda came to mind:

When we meet what we're afraid of,
we find out what we're made of.

Being around all the Europeans in Uganda had introduced her to music she had never heard of like the British band Everything But the Girl and their song "We Walk the Same Line". But she wasn't sure now was the time to try to comfort her lover with musical references.

- What are we looking for?

Ann looked almost grateful for having been pulled out of her hypnotic state.

- Papers of some kind, I think, or perhaps a notebook.

Mo went into the kitchen that was spotless but a little dusty. She was surprised to see the fridge was running and that it held a few things like a tub of cream cheese and a small carton of eggs. Judging from the sell by dates someone had put them there within the last two to three weeks. Then she heard a mute but distinct Oh my God from down the hall.

Ann was staring into a room, as Mo reached her she saw why she had exclaimed - it was a boys room. Frozen in time somewhere in the early 60's. But it was more than that it was like a shrine - or a mausoleum.

There were pictures of the same boy from he was just a toddler until he was an almost grown man on every available surfaces of the walls between his pictures of baseball heroes, fast cars and pretty girls. Pictures hung by someone who missed him terribly.

Ann stood rooted to the spot.

- I wonder what he felt when he saw it.

There was no answer for that.

- Do you want me to look in there while you look in the living room?

Ann nodded and Mo went to work. She started at the desk. There were baseball cards, a few post cards and treasured birthday cards along with broken pencils and long dried out pens in the one central drawer in the desk.

The bookcase held a very neat collection of boys books, a good atlas, a few dictionaries and a stash of comic books. Superman was on top. She pulled out the atlas and a dictionary and stuck her hand behind the other books, she found the envelope immediately.

Ann was halfheartedly looking through a stack of magazines next to a recliner in front of the TV set.

- Could this be it?

Ann opened the envelope and took out five printed pages. It was a letter, a letter addressed to her, written by her father in the event of his dead.

- Now I know why they smashed his pictures, they knew what they were looking for.

The Florida Turnpike, Florida, April 2006
Mo had never driven a car like an Audi TT before with race car pedals and a stick shift. But she liked it especially as the speed limit on the straight, monotonous turnpike was 70 miles per hour and she was just eating up the road.

At the first service court she forced Ann to choose something to drink and a small fruit salad from the snack selection. And she watched over her while she ate and sipped her water.

Then they were on the road again.

Since reading the letter Ann hadn't said a word she had just folded it and put it back in the envelope and put that in her purse. Mo had taken the key ring from her and locked the house behind them and then handed the keys back only to be given the car keys.

They were 20 miles north of Miami when she said:

- Ortiz have been conning old Cubans to use their retirement funds to buy PharmaMenta stocks last year when they needed to raise more money. He have been selling the story of how the company will give medicin for free to Cuba once Castro falls.

- That's a pretty dirty trick - unless it's true.

- It isn't my Dad have an e-mail from the director to the contrary.

Do you think your Dad have confronted Ortiz about this?

Ann nodded and was silent for another 10 miles.

- I have to confront him, don't I?

- You could go to the police.

- Yes, but not until I've told him I know what he has done - to all those people, to Fran and perhaps to my Dad.

- You think he ordered him killed? Sounds like there is a Cuban Don then.

- It does doesn't it?

Just as Mo was maneuvering the car down the ramp into the car park under Ann's apartment building Mo's cell phone gave a couple of chirps but they were cut of when the gigantic slab of concrete and steel on top of them cut the reception.

Riding up in the elevator she looked at her display and a phone number she didn't recognize. She figured if it was important whoever it was would call back. Ann had just gone into the bedroom to change into shorts and a t-shirt when the phone chirped again.

- Hi, it's Mo.

- Mo? It's Fran, they are after me!

- Who?

- Hector's goons.

- Where are you now?

- In a hotel in North Miami - Hotel Roma.

- OK, can you sit tight? I'll come and get you.

Ann was standing in the doorway.

- It was Fran - she says Ortiz's goons are after her.

Ten minutes later they were on the road again. This time with a very determined Ann at the wheel who threaded her car in and out of traffic like a seasoned race car driver.

To be continued in chapter 15

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