Special Deliveries

It's Friday morning, just after Doctor Howland's lecture on "Emergency Surgical Techniques in the ER". 

A squabbling Doctor Howland and Nick are standing outside the ER. It's a warm spring day, blue skies and not a trace of clouds. Terry is holding a pen in her hand. At times, she waves the pen like a miniature sword to emphasize her statements. 

T: "I can't believe you showed up this morning! Of all the low down things to do! Today was my turn to give a lecture! You had your turn yesterday."

N: "I am a surgeon and I believe you called your lecture Emergency Surgical Techniques in the ER."

T: "And I have more experience in the ER than you!"

Nick raises his eyebrows.

N: "I've worked my fair share of emergency rooms."

T: "Not here you haven't."

The doors to the ER walk in patient entrance opens. Harriet approaches the squabbling duo. 

H: "What is this argument? We can hear you all the way inside."

T: "Nothing, Doctor Lanning."

N: "I attended her lecture on Emergency Surgical Techniques in the ER."

T: "(sharply) "And I wasn't impressed you showed up!"

H: "Doctors!" 

N: (turning to face Terry; he ignores Harriet) "The lecture was open to all who were interested."

T: "You could have allowed the seat to go empty. After all, Doctor Slingerland was supposed to have attended the lecture."

N: "And if I recall correctly, you were instructing the attendees to crack a patient's chest immediately after the heart stops beating. Someone had to correct your misinformation."

H: "Doctors!" 

T: "I said no such thing! I informed the students that when the heart has stopped beating and defib doesn't work, then it may be advisable to crack the chest."

N: "No. You said to crack the chest immediately after the heart stops beating. There is no need to expose the patient to unnecessary surgery."

H: (in a bit louder voice) "Doctors! Please! Settle down!" 

T: (her voice goes cold. She points her pen at Nick) "I have my lecture notes if you wish to review them."

N: "That I will do. I'll request your notes through the official channels."

H: (loudly) "You do know, Doctor Howland, that your lecture was taped?"

T: "Yes. I do remember agreeing to the taping. And I also remember that this was a practice session before new residents and not a session aimed at med students."

H: "The tape will be reviewed for accuracy before being shown to a real class of med students."

N: "I think I'll review that tape."

T: (icily) "There will be no need. I'll give you the notes."

H: "You might have gotten a bit confused over what you said, Doctor Howland. The video is for medical students to review what they have learned. It's designed for those students needing a bit more of their professor's knowledge."

N: "What she's saying is this video program is designed for those students who want to go over their notes while watching the procedure on video tape."

T: (shaking her pencil at Harriet) "If I went wrong, I'm sure the residents understood what I meant. After all, they've completed their medical training."

Nick raises his eyebrows and is about to deliver a scathing statement but Harriet holds up her hand. Nick takes a small step back. 

H: "There can't be any room for misunderstanding in an emergency situtation. Your lecture will be reviewed for accuracy in verbal, on-the-spot delivery of medical information."

T: "I know that. And I also know I gave the correct information."

H: "You'll receive a critique of your performance by Wednesday."

T: "Oh? And how do you know this, Doctor Lanning?"

H: "Matt Slingerland is on the committee."

T: (looking at Nick; she squints in the sunshine) "How quaint. You and your buddy are just teaming up against me, aren't you?"

At that comment, Terry Howland stalks off, her heels clicking loudly on the ground. With a small smile on her lips, Harriet looks at Nick.

H: "Well, I'm sure you had an interesting morning."

N: "Locking horns with Terry is not my idea of a fun morning. But it was instructive."

H: (raising her eyebrows) "Instructive? From what I heard, she was giving the wrong information."

N: "I'll go over her notes and match her notes to what she said. Not everyone is cut out to deliver medical information on video."

H: "It's possible she was uncomfortable with the camera and didn't realize what she was saying."

N: "That's why there's practice sessions being held."

H: "Heard yours went rather well."

Nick just shrugs and smiles. 

H: "And that leads me to why I was looking for you."

N: "Yes?"

H: "Good. You've agreed, then." 

Harriet smiles and begins to walk away. Nick takes her by the arm. 

N: "Hold on. To what did I agree so readily?"

Harriet smiles more broadly.

H: "Oh, nothing much. See you Tuesday at 10 am."

Harriet tries to walk away again but a smiling Nick is still holding on to her arm. 

N: "You haven't told me the 'agreement' yet."

H: "Tuesday, 10 am. Lecture hall."

The ER walk-in doors open just then, and the two docs her the intercom beep. The intercom's female voice intones: 

"Doctor Harriet LANNING. Please report to OB. Doctor Harriet LANNING please report to OB."

H: "That's my cue!"

Nick releases Harriet's arm.She begins to walk away. 

N: "At least tell me what the practice lecture is about!"

H: "Women. It's on women!" 

As Harriet walks away, Nick is left standing outside the ER. He has a puzzled expression on his face. Shrugging his shoulders, he decides to head in search of a cup of coffee. 

...Just before 11:30 on Friday. Matt and Charles Grayning are in Matt's office, post-biopsy (Charles is in "Wicked Part II"; Matt suspects Charles' large daily intake of Zantac is causing gynecomastia). 

Taking a cue from Tom, Matt also has purchased a new leather couch for his office from the failed movie production company. The couch is a deep butterscotch color and sits along one wall. Matt has also installed Pottery Barn shelving; he has a combination of the Modern Shelf and the Modular shelving on his walls above the new couch.

Charles opted to wait around for the test results, flirting first with the student nurses, then with the female students outside in the Commons (a favorite place of Matt and Nick, who often take coffee and rugalach there). 

Charles has had a hair cut, and a lightening job. His hair is just above his shoulders and well groomed. He was the object of much female attention during his extended coffee break. 

With a dedicated lab on the premises, Rae ordered a rush on Charles' biopsy results. 

He and Matt are in the middle of a conversation.

M: (chuckling) "I'm serious! She just walked up to me and asked if I'd like a ride in the Lamborghini."

C: "You took her up on it right?" 

M: "Naturally. I spun her around the hills for a half hour."

C: (smiling) "The lady or the car?"

M: "First the car, then the lady on a date."

C: "When's the next show?"

M: "Not until next year. You might want to check around down in LA or San Diego."

C: "That is something I plan on doing. Hey, how much for the lease?"

M: "Five fifty monthly."

Charles gives a low whistle. 

C: "Good thing I won a load up in Reno."

M: "What you win at?"

C: (smiling) "Slots. Pure luck. Went up there in one of the suck in buses from Sacramento. I took my last two hundred bucks until next payday. By the time the bus was to leave, I was down to my last twenty. I don't know why, but as I was walking to the door, I chose to put the twenty in the slot machine next to the men's room."

M: "And you won the jackpot."

C: "More like winning the lottery. It was one of those cumulative poker games."

It's Matt's turn to whistle.

M: "I've deposited more than my fair share of hundreds in Reno's slots."

C: "Now I can finish college."

M: "Major?"

Charles grins. 

M: "Don't tell me--medicine?"

C: (laughing) "Not quite. Oceanography. I just love the sea. Always wanted to buy my own boat, sail the Pacific."

M: "Now you can."

C: "After I finish my education. I've got a little over a year left. I may rent the car for a while."

M: "You'll like the..." but Matt is interrupted by a knock on the door.

M: "Come in!"

Matt's office door opens and Rae enters carrying a medical records folder. She looks at Charles, then Matt. Charles at first appears alarmed but then realizes that Rae is smiling. She is standing  just inside Matt's office. 

M: "Am I to presume the results indicate gynecomastia?"

R: "Yep. No malignancy. You're all clear, Charles."

C: "Does this mean I can go back to Zantac?"

Matt looks alarmed.

M: "Goodness, no! I'll prescribe Nexium or Prevacid for your acid reflux disease."

C: "Nexium?"

R and M: "The purple pill."

C: "Gotcha."

Charles smiles. 

R: "No more OTC heartburn pills. Tums is good but cutting down on the five alarm chili would be better."

C: "I never knew that Zantac could cause gynecomastia. Hell, I never knew the condition existed until now."

R: "And your mammogram turned out fine as well. Rather unusual for a man to need a mammogram."

Charles indicates his chest. 

C: "Man-ogram. These man-boobs here are more than a little flabby. I look like my younger sister. That's why I started working out on the bowflex in the first place."

Matt smiles. 

M: "You'll return to normal in a few months provided you don't take any more Zantac.

C: "Good to hear."

R: "Any questions?"

C: "Nope. If all I need to do is stay away from Zantac, then that's what I'll do."

R: "Excellent. Well, Mister Grayning, have a good weekend!"

Rae starts to leave. 

C: "Thanks, Doctor Brennan!"

R: "You're welcome. Matt, I'll give this to Norman." She indicates the medical records in her hand. 

Matt nods as Rae turns and leaves Matt's office. 

...Meanwhile, Nick is in Rae's office, waiting for her to return from Charles Grayning's biopsy results consult. His empty coffee cup is sitting on the very top of Rae's unemptied trash can next to her desk. 

Elsewhere in Rae's office, there is a set of keys on the small table next to Nick. He's leafing through the old issue of "O" magazine. He impatiently looks at his watch, then frowns--he has no surgeries scheduled today. 

Nick worked the graveyard shift, and got off at 7 am. He hasn't gone home yet because he agreed to be there for the 1pm press conference on Noriega street that Matt set up. 

Tired and sore from an amputation of both legs above the knee on an accident victim, Nick has spent the morning unravelling the HIPPA rules. Updating his staff on HIPPA is one of Nick's priorities and he has spent part of the morning reading up on the rules. 

He also caught up on his paperwork. "A momentous occasion," Tom said to Nick, referring to Nick's completion of his backlog of the HMO's paperwork. 

"Surely the first time in UMC's history that someone has caught up on their backlog of the paper tiger," Tom finished. 

Tom was also in the surgical suite early in the morning, having been called in to deal with a shooting at the University's Freshman dorm: the victim was shot in the head--so far, she's survived.

Nick had responded, "I only need to wait until noon. Someone will undoubtedly show up with another armload of paper work." Tom smiled at Nick's remark, and added, 

"Bet you ten scratch off lottery tickets more paperwork comes across your desk by nine am en punto."

Nick took Tom up on his bet.

Nick sees a shadow just outside Rae's office door. Putting down the magazine, he stands up as the door opens.

R: (she is carrying a manila envelope) "Nick! What, how...?" 

N: "I just stopped by to see how you're doing."

R: (sharply) "I locked my office. How did you get in?"

N: (shrugging his shoulders) "Locked? Your office door was open when I stopped by."

R: "Great. This is all I need right now." (she throws down the envelope. Nick goes to her and puts his hands on her shoulders.) 

N: "Are you sure you locked your office?"

R: (angrily) "Of course I'm sure!"

Nick steps aside from Rae, allowing her to see the small table near her couch. The set of keys is still lying on the table.

R: "Damn. I thought I took those with me."

N: "You didn't."

Rae goes to her couch and sits down. Nick sits next to her.

N: "You doing all right?"

R: "Yeah. No. I don't know. This has never happened to me before. Divorce, pregnancy, date rape."

N: "I wish it never had."

R: "So do I. And now Sean's lawyer is asking for permanent alimony. The lawyer says the request is standard in these types of divorces."

Rae indicates the envelope lying on the floor. 

N: (has a confused expression on his face) "These type of divorces?"

R: "California's ten year marriage rule. If you're married for ten years in this state, the ex can ask for permanent alimony."

N: "But you're a woman!"

R: "I know. California has tried to equalize things. I earn more than Sean ever did and that means I may owe him alimony." 

N: "And this is lifetime alimony?"

R: "If the court so orders it."

N: "I didn't know that."

R: "California divorce laws wreak havoc all around. Ten years...wait! We didn't have our ten year anniversary."

N: "Meaning?"

R: "Meaning I've got a Cruise style divorce."

N: "Is that good?"

R: "From the point of view that I don't have to pay permanent alimony, yes. Marital assets are another thing."

N: "One thing at a time, please."

R: (continuing as if she didn't hear Nick) "Good thing Sean doesn't yet know about the date rape. Best I can do now is muddle through." 

N: (quietly) "Have you given him a chance to tell his side of the story?"

R: "What side of the story? Sean's off where he usually is--somewhere else."

N: ""Sean might not be as cold hearted as you're indicating. Give him a chance to know the story."

R: "He's going to find out anyways from all the publicity."

N: "What publicity? Despite Brenda's storytelling, nothing's been in the papers."

R: (looking down) "I know. I suppose I should be grateful that the media hounds haven't even picked up on the Whittier/Winningham open marriage." 

Rae looks at Nick. 

N: "They'll come soon. They always do."

R: "Tell me." (she pauses, indicating the leather weekender bag sitting on the floor next to the door) "You know what I'm gonna do this weekend?"

N: "What?"

R: "Go to the Lanning's Napa home."

N: (concerned) "I'm not sure you should drive there alone."

R: "Why not?"

N: "One, you still have a good sized egg on your head. Two, you're still upset. Let me drive you there."

R: "Nick. No. Please. I don't want to be around anyone this weekend. I just want to be alone."

N: "Alone, I can understand that. But if you spend too much time alone then you'll dwell on what happened. Please, let me drive you there."

R: "Nick, really. I can drive myself. And I've been getting myself to work."

N: "You've been taking a cab to work every day."

R: (looking guilty) "Okay. You caught me. But it's not even an hour's drive to the Lanning's."

N: (taking her hand in his) "Rae. This is not a romantic overture. It's about safety. If you won't allow me to drive you there, will you allow Matt or Jackie or Jules to drive you?"

R: "I'll think about it. But I'm leaving in a few minutes. I don't think anyone will be available to drive me there."

N: "I am available."

R: "You're on duty!"

N: "I'm off on a four day break."

R: (surprised) "They gave you four days in a row off?"

N: "Yep. Double shifts back to back last several weeks. Got off at 7 this morning."

R: "One of the drawbacks of being an oncologist is that it's a Monday through Friday job. Regular hours. But if you were off at 7, why are you still here?"

N: "Catching up paperwork, HIPPA reading, and the press conference."

R: "Press conference?"

N: "Matt set one up on Noriega Street."

R: "Ah. I heard about Noriega. The paper said their business was down by about fifty percent."

N: "Matt wants to combat the rumor that SARS is rampant on Noriega Street."

R: "Smart idea. You're going?"

N: "Yes. Do you want to come? It's at 1 pm."

R: "I was planning on leaving now."

N: "Noriega Street is on the way to Napa."

R: (grunting) "A round-about way. Noriega's the opposite direction, close by the Bay."

N: "Letty and Tom are going to be there."

R: "What about Harriet?"

N: "She's up in delivery along with Jules."

R: "Jackie?"

N: "Underarms. She overscheduled too many patients. Matt's press spot will last about five minutes. It's one on one with a reporter. Best he could do on short notice."

R: "What would I do?"

N: "Sit in the restaurant and eat Chinese food while the cameras film Matt. He's got his some of his med students going down to Noriega, and a lot of UMC docs are going to be there as well."

R: "I see. If the public sees that physicians don't think there's any danger of contracting SARS, then the public will be reassured."

N: "Yep. It's just lunch. Nothing romantic. I promise."

R: (sighing) "All right. For Matt."

N: "Thank you. But I am driving you to Napa."

R: "Do I have a choice?"

N: (smiling) "Nope. As you said, it's less than an hour's drive."

Nick stands up and offers his hand to Rae. He helps her up. Taking her keys from the table, he hands them to her then leaves the office. 

Picking up the manila envelope, Rae collects her weekender bag--a very nice dark brown leather bag. Grimacing, she puts the manila envelope in an outside pocket of the weekender bag. 

Following Nick out her office door, she locks her door but this time, she kicks the door as she pulls the keys out of the lock.

N: "Why did you kick the door?"

R: "So I can remember that I did lock my office door this time."

The two docs start walking down the hall.

N: "Ah. Memory aid?"

R: "Yes. My memory seems to have flown the proverbial coop these days. Yeah, yeah. I know--I bumped my head."

N: "That, and the pregnancy could be making you forgetful."

R: "Damn. Didn't think of that. Harriet's always complaining about how her patients grow more forgetful as their pregnancies progress...Hey! Hold that elevator!" 

In a deja vu moment, both Nick and Rae rush to catch the elevator. 

...A short while later at the Chinese restaurant, simply named "Chinese Food" (but "Chinese Food" is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the City), Nick and Rae are chatting in the full restaurant. Their booth is in the right hand corner as one walks in the door, with a full view of the street.

Plates of food are before them and Rae is trying to pick up a piece of Orange Chicken with chopsticks. Nick is having Kung Pao Chicken. 

R: (brightly) "I can't believe how crowded this restaurant is!"

N: "Nice to see business picking up again, isn't it?"

R: "Yeah. Are all these people Matt's med students?"

N: "Don't think so."

R: "Well, someone's been doing some good advertising."

N: "It seems like it." (he pauses a moment) "I spoke with the University Police this morning."

R: "I thought you caught up on paperwork and what not this morning."

N: (smiling) "I want to start a belated effort to raise date-rape awareness on campus."

R: (surprised) "Why you?"

N: (taken aback at Rae's lack of faith in him) "What's wrong with me starting the program?"

R: (scratching her head) "Nothing is wrong with you starting a date-rape prevention program. It's just that, well. I just don't how to respond."

N: "For starters, you could say yes."

R: "Yes?"

N: "Yes, to helping me with the awareness campaign."

R: (shaking her head) "Nick, I don't think I can handle any more publicity or advertising or stress at this moment in my life." 

N: (looking down, then up) "All I'm asking is that you help distribute the drink safe coasters."

R: "You found some?"

N: "Yes. They have to be ordered directly from the manufacturer in Florida. UMC Hospital agreed to purchase ten thousand coasters."

R: "Ten thousand?"

N: "Date rape is prevalent on universities and UMC wants to reduce crime against its coeds."

R: "You don't have to tell me what I already know."

N: "I know. Will you help?"

Rae looks away for a moment. She looks back at Nick. 

R: "I'll help. When do we start?"

N: "When the drink safe coasters arrive. I'll let you know."

R: "I think it will help."

N: "So do I."

Nick and Rae are interrupted by Tom and Letty. Rae takes this opportunity to wolf down her lunch. 

L: "You two look like you're enjoying lunch!" 

R: "Tom, Letty! Good to see you."

N: "Afternoon, Tom. Letty."

T: (placing a stack of scratch off lottery tickets by Nick's plate) "You win!"

L: "What's that for?"

T: (grinning) "I owed Nick some lottery tickets."

Nick just smiles, continuing his lunch. 

R: "Nick! You been placing bets again?"

N: (smiling) "Perhaps."

T: "I bet that he'd get more paperwork dumped on his desk by 9 am. It was 10:15."

L: "So Nick won how many lottery tickets?"

Nick places the lottery tickets in his pocket. 

T: (smiling at Nick, then smiling at Letty) "Ten."

L: "Make it another ten for me and I'll forgive you."

T: "You bet!"

L: "Hmmpf! Just make those ten tickets ten winning tickets. We have a freighter cruise to pay for!"

T: "Freighter? You chose our vacation without me?"

L: (happily) "It passes by Tahiti."

T: "Ahhhh. Heard it's nice in Tahiti this time of year."

N: "My parents would agree." 

The waiter comes by to take Tom and Letty's order. 

N: "Matt should be here any minute."

L: "(to the waiter) "And I'll have Kung pao chicken." (addressing her lunch companions). It's pretty crowded outside. I know those people can't all be his medical students."

Tom: "The street does look like a market fair."

L: "Hungry, Rae?"

Rae looks guilty. Her plate is clean and she's eyeing the egg roll still on Nick's plate. 

N: "Would you like my egg roll?"

R: "Please."

Before Nick can offer Rae his plate, she reaches over and takes the egg roll. After dipping the appetizer halfway into the hot mustard sauce, Rae chomps down half the egg roll in one bite.

L: "That baby is going to have quite the taste for hot mustard!"

Everyone except Rae laughs. When she's done chewing, she wipes her chin and says: 

R: "I've heard that pregnancy makes a woman hungry."

Everyone laughs.

...Simultaneously outside on Noriega Street, crowds of people are milling about, a good number of them carrying take-out Chinese and other Asian takeout food. A television crew from Channel 4 is on the scene and a female reporter can be heard:

"...and despite the recent SARS rumors in the City, Noriega Street is crowded this afternoon. WHO reports today that the worst of the crisis is over for Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada. In other SARS news, Vietnam today became the first country to be declared SARS-free by the World Health Organization."

Camerawoman: "And cut."

The reporter smiles at her camerawoman then the two change places to film another angle: towards the milling crowds of people carrying take-out food.

In the background, a silver Lamborghini can be seen. Heads, both male and female, are turning to look at the wonder car. The Lamborghini's windows are open on this beautiful spring day. 

Behind the windshield, a very surprised Matt Slingerland can be seen grinning hugely. 

A loud shout is heard: "Hey, Doc Slingerland! Over here!"

Matt looks around. To his right, a few people are standing in the street waving at him. He waves back.

One of the students makes a come over here wave. Matt is puzzled. 

She shouts, "We got you a parking space!"

Never one to dismiss an advantage, Matt slowly pulls up to where the students are located. 

He can not help but chuckle. For in the space reserved for cars, there are about a dozen people standing in the parking space. Two of the people are his med students. The students move out of his way and Matt parallel parks his new love.

Female Med Student: "Is this enough innovative thinking for you, Doc?"

Matt: (leaning out of his car window) "I did say for you to stretch your mind creatively. But I didn't expect you to apply yourself like this, Jaquenetta!"

Jacquenetta: "Thanks. Toshi and I thought to save you a space by standing in the parking space. We recruited some people. They might have recruited other people."

Matt: "And so on. I see that your advertising was very effective." (he waves at the other people) "It's appreciated. Thank you!"

Matt parks his car, (named Zephyr), rolls the windows up and gets out of the car. The door locks and he puts the keys into his pocket. 

Male Med Student: "The meter maid said if we were using the parking space for car or for people parking space, we had to feed the meter."

Matt: (smiling) "How much is left on the meter, Toshi?"

Toshi: "Half an hour. We got here early to make sure you had a space."

Matt digs into his pockets and pulls out some bills and change which he hands to Toshi.

M: "Thanks." (he indicates the milling crowds) "With all these people here, I'm wondering if I should cancel the one on one with the news team."

Jaquenetta : "You wanted a lot of people down here, didn't you?"

M: "Well, yes. But this, well, I'm gob-smacked!"

He smiles hugely, indicating the crowds of people. 

T: "Glad you approve."

M: "That I do. In any event, ready for the press conference?"

Toshi and Jaquenetta : "You bet!" 

M: "Then let's go."

Matt and his med students weave their way through the crowd to the Chinese restaurant simply named "Chinese Food". 

The two-man television crew Matt is going to speak with are already there, snacking on egg rolls at the take-out counter. Toshi and Jacquenetta spy Nick in the far right booth and go over to the table. Matt continues on to the take-out counter.

Seeing Matt approaching her, the female reporter stands up.

Reporter: "I'm Amanda Sotherby. You must be Doctor Slingerland."

M: "Yes. Matthew Slingerland."

The two shake hands. 

Amanda: "Pleased to meet you. Are any other docs appearing in the news spot?"

M: "Yes. I will have a few other doctors here and some of my med students."

Amanda: "One of your colleagues wouldn't happen to be standing behind you, would he?"

Matt turns around.

M: "Nick! Good of you to come. 

N: "Thanks for asking me to come. Rae, Tom and Letty are here as well. We're in the corner booth."

Nick indicates the booth in the far right corner behind him. 

Amanda: "Is everyone here?" 

Matt: "Nick, did Harriet come with you?"

N: "No. Special delivery and she's giving a lecture on pre-natal diagnostic tests this afternoon."

M: "Again!" (he smiles)

Amanda: "Let's film the spot at your booth, with your doctor friends behind you."

M: "Is everyone done eating, Nick?"

N: "Rae's still hungry and Tom and Letty's food have just arrived. Rae ordered more soup. And I ordered Orange Chicken and egg rolls for you, Matt."

M: "Thanks."

Amanda: (brightly) "Excellent. Shall we?"

Amanda indicates the way with her hand. Noting that she is carrying a mike, the two men nod and Amanda and her camerawoman follow the docs to the far booth. Amanda holds her mike while Matt takes an egg roll. Nick sits down with the rest of the group; Matt remains standing. 

Camerawoman: "And four, three, two, one!"

The camerawoman nods to Matt and he crunches on his egg roll. To allow Matt time to chew and swallow in a non-hurried fashion, Amanda gives a rather long introduction. 

Amanda: "I'm Amanda Sotherby, and we're live on Noriega Street, where Doctor Matthew Slingerland is on hand to discuss the false rumors about SARS in the City's Chinatown district. Just today, WHO reported that SARS is contained in Singapore, Hong Kong and in Canada. Also today, WHO reported that Vietnam became the first infected country to be declared SARS-free. With me today is Doctor Matthew Slingerland, from University Medical Center. Doctor Slingerland is the WHO SARS Representative for the Bay Area. There are conflicting reports about the number of suspected SARS cases in California. Tell me, Doctor Slingerland, how many SARS cases have there been in California?"

M: "As you indicated, there have been conflicting reports. The Centers for Disease Control puts the number of suspected SARS cases at 16 but state health chief Diana Bonta puts the number at 20."

Amanda: "There have been no SARS cases here in the Bay City?"

M: "That's correct." 

Amanda: "Is it true that hundreds of people are being quarantined here in the Bay area?"

Matt: "No."

Matt continues to answer Amanda's questions; in the background, UMC's docs and med students continue chomping on their food. Nick has the best angle for the camera; Amanda is rather short and Nick notices the camerawoman is positioned so that Nick is in the film shot when Amanda is addressing the audience directly. 

After a few minutes, Amanda wraps up the interview. As the camerawoman shuts off her camera, a disappointed look crosses Matt's face. Amanda doesn't see his look.

After the reporter leaves, Matt excuses himself to the loo. 

Toshi: "I think that he is a bit disappointed there wasn't a better angle to the questioning."

R: "She did her research but she's not comfortable allowing her authority to speak. Her authority was Matt."

L: "I would have to agree. She should have allowed Matt to make the statements about what WHO has declared. He is the Bay Area's WHO SARS Representative."

Tom: "Ditto." 

N: "That said..." (addressing Toshi and Jacquenetta; he smiles) "Now tell me you two, did you enjoy this morning's lecture on Emergency Surgical Techniques in the ER?"

Toshi: (smiling) "The lecture was most, uh, informative!"

Jacquenetta: "I would have to agree with Toshi. But I do have one question, Doctor Kokoris."

N: (raising his eyebrows) "And that is?"

Jacquenetta: "Is Doctor Howland always that...bitter and argumentative?"

Everyone laughs. 

N: "Only around me."

Toshi: "I hope Doctor Lanning's lecture goes better this afternoon."

Jacquenetta: "Are you going to be there, Doctor Kokoris?"

N: "Nope. Off until Wednesday."

L: (stroking her chin) "You know, now that Amanda's camerawoman has displayed her interest in you Nick, perhaps I could use that to launch my own press conference."

Tom: "A press conference on...?"

L: "Heart defibrillators. We need a public heart defibrillator program like Sunnyvale's."

Jacquenetta: "I read about that in the paper." 

Toshi: "Sunnyvale recently hosted a defibrillator survivor party. Several people were revived by defibrillators in UMC's ER. Would that be a good angle?"

Letty nods, chewing thoughtfully on an egg roll.

Tom: "That is a good idea, Letty."

N: "It would be an excellent way to cut down on the sudden death syndrome."

Tom: "I can arrange to get the paramedics involved through the Doc In the Ambulance program."

Toshi: "Doc in the Ambulance?"

Tom: "Yes. It's a voluntary program where a physician signs up to go out with the paramedics. I've gone on the scene of several serious car accidents."

Jacquenetta: "I get it. Doc on the scene of a serious accident can provide on the spot medical care."

Nick and Letty: "Yep."

N: "It's a good program." 

Tom: "Letty's idea is excellent."

He smiles at Letty who reponds by crunching another egg roll. 

L: "This is good. No wonder this is the best Chinese restaurant in the City!"

Matt returns from his loo trip and slides into the end of the booth. Picking up his chopsticks, he begins to eat. 

M: "Still hot!" 

Tom: "So, Nick. Heard you and Doctor Howland argued after her lecture this morning. "

Matt: "How did her lecture go, Nick?"

N: "She gave mis-information about when to crack a patient's chest. Speaking of lectures, Matt, Harriet signed me up to assist her on Tuesday at 10. But she didn't tell me what her lecture was on."

Matt nearly chokes on his bite of Orange Chicken. Letty tries to supress a giggle but she ends up loudly laughing; Tom and Rae just burst out laughing. Jacquenetta and Toshi confusedly look from one doc to another and Nick is clearly confused. 

Swallowing his food, and choking back laughter, Matt exclaims,

M: "She's done it again! That's our Harriet!" 

Tom: "She does this every year, especially when there's someone new at work."

Letty: "Looks like you're it for this year."

She pats Nick's arm maternally.

Nick: "What? What am I going to be lecturing on?"

Nick looks around at his laughing companions.

R: "Nick, you and I might have our differences but even I don't wish this on you."

N: "Would someone tell me to what I agreed?"

Matt puts down his chopsticks.

M: "Nick, old buddy. Every year, Harriet pawns off the lecture on  'how to do a pelvic exam' on any unsuspecting doctor. I was last year's unwitting doctor. "

L: "She got me the year before Matt arrived. Tom here..."(with a chopstick, Letty indicates Tom)... "got snagged the year before me."

R: "I was her first victim. Toshi, Jacquenetta, remember this if you choose to do your residency here at UMC. Beware Harriet's lectures."

N: "Ordinarily, I'd not have a problem assisting in Harriet's lecture, but I am on a four day leave. I don't have another shift until Wednesday. " 

L: "Leave her a voice mail then. She'll have to rope someone else into assisting her lecture." 

Toshi: "I had a plastic woman to practice on."

Jacquenetta: "Same here."

Matt, Rae, Letty and Tom look at each other.

M: "Uh, kids? Harriet doesn't believe in using plastic women."

Toshi and Jacquenetta look at each other.

R: "She has a program going on where live patients, all properly draped RN volunteers, give the prospective doctors immediate feedback on their performance."

L: "She got the idea from a George Washington University program that was run back in the mid-90s."

Tom: "Good thing you're off that day, Nick."

N: (blushing slightly)  "Well. As I said, I am not back on schedule until Wednesday."

R: "Nick! Are you blushing?"

Nick tries to hide his reaction by finishing the last of his Kung Pao Chicken. The others just smile and continue on with their lunch.

...The next day near Napa, just before noon, Jules is pacing outside a roadside phone booth; Jackie is inside the phone booth on the phone. 

Down the road a ways, there is steam rising from a car that has run off the road. The front of the car is crumpled, the windshield is spiderwebbed with cracks, and the two car doors are open. 

Both women are shaken. Jackie opens the door of the phone booth.

Jackie: "AAA will be here in about two hours."

Jules: "What are we supposed to do until then?"

Jackie: "Wait."

Jules: "Wait? Aren't they at least going to send an ambulance?"

Jackie: "They didn't say."

Jules: (throwing up her hands) "You're kidding! You <i>did</i> tell them the tire blew out and we ran off the road into the ditch?"

Jackie: "Sure did." 

Just then, the phone rings. Both women look at the phone.

Jackie: "I'll get it!" 

Jackie goes back inside the phone booth and picks up the phone. Jules watches her chat for a moment, then hang up the phone. Jackie comes back out of the phone booth.

Jules: "Who was that?"

Jackie: "Triple A. They said the ambulance should be here in a few minutes. Town's about three miles away and the cops are on their way."

Jules: "That's good to know."

Jackie: "I wonder if we should take a photo."

Jules: "Of what? The car is wrecked. Triple A will look at the damage."

Jackie: "A picture of the phone booth. It must be the only phone booth left in America."

Jules: "We don't have a camera."

Jackie: "Harriet must keep a camera at her home here."

Jules: "Why do you want a picture of the phone booth?"

Jackie: (irritated) "It's a quaint phone booth!"

Jules: "You sure you're all right? No bumps on the head?"

Jackie: "Yep. Airbags really do work. Anyways, there goes our surprise visit to Rae."

Jules: "Did you tell her we had planned on dropping in?"

Jackie: "Nope. Wanted it to be a surprise. You know, cheer her up."

Jules: (surprised) "She's going to be a little angry if we show up without an invite. Nick said Rae didn't want visitors this weekend."

Jackie: "With your car wrecked, we won't be able to get to Harriet's house. It's the next town over."

Jules: "We can rent a car to get back home."

Jackie: "Or take Greyhound home."

In the distance, the big grey dog wends its way down the road towards the two women. Jules is taking her wallet out of her purse. 

Jules: "At least we know we have transportation if we can't rent a car." (she pauses, thumbing through her wallet) "Then again, maybe not. I got a twenty and no plastic. How are you up for cash?"

Jackie: "Got about a hundred. Left my plastic at home. Didn't think I'd need my cards overnight."

Jules: "Leaving your plastic at home is a good idea. Unless an emergency crops up."

Jackie: "And...this is certainly an emergency."

The Greyhound bus is passing the women. The passengers are solemnly looking out the windows at the car wreck. Steam is rising thickly from the radiator. 

The bus slows down, then stops. The driver leans out the window.

Busdriver: "You two have help on the way?"

Jules: "Yes. Triple A."

Busdriver: "You're not hurt?"

Jackie: "Just our pride!"

Busdriver: "How long Triple A gonna make you wait?"

Jackie: "Two hours. But there's cops and an ambulance on the way."

Busdriver: "You said you weren't hurt!"

Jules: "Just in case. Besides, the cops should be here soon as well."

Jackie: "And we're both doctors."

Busdriver: "All right then. Try to have a good evening."

Jules and Jackie: "Yeah. Thanks."

The busdriver waves then the bus moves away. 

...Meanwhile, Nick and Matt are nearly finished with their tennis game on UMC's outdoor courts. 

Nick: (calling to Matt) "Whew! You never said you ran a good game!"

M: (calling back as he serves the ball) "Years of childhood tennis lessons in the south of France during summer holidays."

Using backhand, Nick returns the ball to Matt's side of the court. 

N: "Kind of like how my parents had me on a boat before I could crawl."

Matt runs closer to the net and returns the ball to Nick's side. He merely grunts. Nick has to run closer to his side of the net, but he misses the ball and serves the ball into the net.

N: "Your game!" 

Matt leans on his knees, panting. It's a warm spring day in the City. He indicates the crowd of people.

M: "We seem to have an audience."

Nick looks around and sees all the people who are watching the tennis game. Most of the spectators are women. Several are giggling and pointing at Nick and Matt. Nick waves his tennis racket and several more women giggle. 

The two men head towards the fence where they've stashed their gear. Matt offers Nick a bottle of Dansani water. Nick accepts. 

N: "Thanks. Good game. Did all these people come to watch our game?"

M: "Don't know. You may be able to beat me at racquetball, but your tennis game needs to improve."

N: "Try me on a boat. I can outsail you anyday!"

M: "Wanna bet?"

N: "Sure! Dinner?"

M: "One hundred scratch off lottery tickets."

N: "That's a bet you'll lose."

M: "Not for charity."

Nick picks up his sport bag. Matt follows suit.

N: "Good idea. What charity is the recipient?"

M: "We'll put names in a hat and draw."

N: "You're on."

The two men smile as they exit the tennis courts. Some of the women want their autographs and Nick and Matt find themselves signing a few autographs.

...Still waiting for the police car, Jules and Jackie are talking about Friday's press conference (which they missed). 

Jackie: "Did you take a look at the paper this morning?"

Jules: "Yeah. Couldn't help but notice Matt and Nick's photo. It's big enough."

Jackie: "And in color. You have to give the two of them credit--they are both quite photogenic."

Jules: "Genetics. It's all in the genes. I think that female photographer was smitten with the two of them. Heard she asked both Nick and Matt for dates."

Jackie: "How do you know? You weren't there!"

Jules: "Tom mentioned it later on."

Jackie: "With all the press, David should be getting off everyone's back."

Jules: "Yep. Especially with Letty's new idea."

Jackie: "Letty and Tom's new idea."

Jules: "It's about time someone thought up a public access heart defibrillator program."

Jackie: "Like Sunnyvale's. Hand it to Letty to think of it and Tom to arrange it all...ahh! salvation!"

A police car is coming down the road. Pulling up and stopping in front of the ladies, the officers get out and survery the damage to Jules' car. The male police officer pushes back his hat. Steam is still rising from the radiator. 

Police 1: "You two all right, aside from the car?"

Jackie: "Yeah, we're both doctors."

He takes out his pad and begins to ask Jules questions. Jules has her hands in her jeans pockets. 

Police 2: (addressing Jackie) "It's a good thing you're doctors and that you're unhurt."

Jackie: "Why?"

Police 2: "The ambulance is held up. Seems a preemie was delivered at one of the wineries by another visiting doc."

Jackie: "You're kidding!"

Police 2: "Nope. An oncologist delivered the kid, but hey, when you're in labor and there's not an OB around, you'll take anyone who went through medical school."

Jackie: "Oncologist? Was the doc a 'she' going by the name of Brennan?"

Police 2: "Don't know. We just got the report stating that the ambulance was re-directed to the winery. The baby seemed to have breathing problems."

Jackie: "Jules is a pediatrician. Hey Jules!"

Jules and the first police officer stop talking. 

Jackie: "A baby was delivered at one of the wineries. The baby's having breathing problems."

Jules is very interested and turns to the police officer.

Jules: (addressing Police officer 1) "Officer Macpherson, I'm a neo-natal specialist at UMC. I can give assistance."

Police 1: "That would be helpful, because our town's so small, we only have a GP. Marina, radio and see if they can use Ms Keating's assistance."

Marina nods and walks to the police cruiser. She talks on the cb a moment, then nods, calling out. 

Marina: "If we can get Ms Keating there fast, she can be of assistance. Doc Carson on the phone seems to think the baby needs to be on a vent and he doesn't have much experience with babies."

Jackie heads towards the wrecked car. She pops the trunk and gets out their weekend bags. 

Jules: (taking her hands out of her jeans pockets) "We need to go now. Can we get the rest of this report done later?"

Police 1: "Yep. This is a small burg. The car will wait but I can't guarantee against sticky fingers. Might want to lock it."

Jackie: "Anything else in here you need, Jules? I locked the doors."

Jules: (taking her weekender bag from Jackie) "Nope. Let's go." 

The two women get into the cruiser's back seat. 

Police 1: "We'll use the siren. Give you ladies a real treat."

He starts the cruiser, and turns on the sirens. 

Jules: "Can you get me on the radio to the ambulance?"

Police 2: "That we can do."

Marina complies with Jules' request. The radio crackles as the cruiser heads towards the town and the winery on the far side. 

...Towards sunset, a tired Rae has brewed a second pot of coffee. A steaming mug is on the coffee table. Rae is sitting on the couch, her legs curled up under her. Remnants of dinner lie on the dining room table: a gnawed steakbone, a potato skin and an empty salad bowl. 

There is a princess style phone attached to a speakerphone lying on a small end table at the end of the couch where Rae is sitting.

The phone rings. 

R: "Hello."

Nick: "I heard about the excitement from Jules. Good job!"

R: "Thanks." (she sighs) "At least she came out all right. I was worried there for a while."

N: "How so?"

R: "Shoulders got stuck. I was afraid I was going to have to break the kid's collarbone so she could be born."

N: "Big baby?"

R: "Very big. Not a preemie by a long shot."

N: "Is that what you thought?"

R: "Yep. I really need to brush up on my Spanish. I thought she said she was seven months along."

N: "Siete meses?"

R: "Yes. Siete meses. Seven months. Jules said I heard right. But the kid is full term and a big baby at nearly eleven pounds. Thankfully the breathing problems were caused by a lot of mucous in her mouth."

N: "Jules said she nearly peed her pants when she saw that 'preemie'. The mother probably counted the months from the time she discovered she was pregnant." 

R: "That could be it. Else she was in denial. Like me."

N: "Did this change your mind?"

R: "Haven't made up my mind."

N: "There's not much time left."

R: "I know." (she smiles to herself) "Hey, Jackie said you and Matt made today's paper. Congratulations."

N: (drily) "It's a rather large color picture on the front page, yes. I'm sure my parents will like it."

R: "Getting a little modest in your old age?"

N: "Old age? I am not that old! And it's Matt's glory, not mine."

R: (giggling) "I'm just teasing. Your parents are going to be proud of their baby!"

N: (in an agreeable tone) "They will be pleased. Provided I can find them in the South Pacific."

R: (brightening) "All the hoopla will die down soon. Look at it this way, the news about Harriet's legal troubles with the sperm-washing technique disappeared faster than the fog."

N: "My mother will make a fuss over me being in the paper."

R: "Will she want extra copies?"

N: "Most likely."

R: "Hey, was there anything in the paper about the surprise delivery?"

N: "Rae?"

R: "Yes?"

N: "It's still Saturday. I'll check tomorrow."

R: "It's still Saturday? I was hoping it would be at least midnight and I could call it another day done."

N: "Nope. Not a chance."

R: (sighing and changing position on the couch) "Wishful thinking on my part, although I'm watching the sun set. It's been such a long afternoon."

N: "Unexpected excitement will tire you out. Especially so soon after you were released from the hospital."

R: "Tell me. I'm sore like I spent a few hours on a rowing machine."

N: "I think Harriet installed a hot tub in the backyard on Letty's advice. You might want to use it."

R: "She did? She didn't mention a hot tub to me. I'll go check. I could really use a hot soak."

N: "Jackie staying with you at the house?"

R: "No. She opted for a B&B. Found a date in one of the town's policemen."

N: "She seems to have a thing for men in uniform."

R: (chuckling) "That she does. First firemen, now policemen. Did Jules get her car back to the City?"

N: "Triple A is arranging transport back here. Jules is out playing with her convertible car rental."

R: "Don't blame her. It's a pretty night for driving."

N: "It's a pretty night for lounging on a yacht...(he pauses) "You going to be all right up there alone? I can come up there...(his voice softens)...if you want me to keep you company."

R: "The offer is much appreciated, but I'll pass."

N: "The offer is still on the table."

R: "Thanks."

N: "You're welcome."

R: "So, what are you doing on your four days off?"

N: "This morning I played tennis with Matt, and this afternoon I went for a sail on the bay."

R: "I just love sailing. Well, in my case, it's more like motoring in the bay. But the wind and the water. It's just beautiful."

N: "Matt has challenged me to a boat race."

R: "I didn't know he sailed!"

N: "Day sailing. But he's a fast learner."

R: "You in your apartment?"

N: "Nope. Still on the boat. I rented it until Monday."

R: "What kind of boat? A clipper?"

N: (laughing) "No. The yacht's a thirty eight foot ketch. Dinner was at the pier restaurant."

R: "I had steak."

N: "Ditto."

R: (yawning) "If you don't mind, I'll pass on post dinner conversation."

N: "I was just going to suggest you either take a nap or find the hot tub."

R: "Thanks for calling."

N: "The pleasure's mine. Have a good evening."

R: "Yeah, you too. Enjoy the yacht!"

N: "Thanks."

Rae hangs up the phone. She stares off into space a moment, then picks up the handset and dials a number. Placing the phone on speakerphone, she waits for the party to answer. 

"You have reached the voice mail of Doctor Rae Brennan. Office hours are Monday through Friday, eight am through five pm. Thank you...."

"Rae? It's Sean. I heard my lawyer filed those papers for permanent alimony. It's a clerical error...literally. He had--notice the verb tense?--he had a new legal secretary. Turns out she didn't know what she was doing. Filed the wrong papers for the wrong clients. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I do have one request. If you can send along the photos we took just before we were married. Remember that trip to Mexico? If you could just send those photos to my dad, I'd be appreciative. Thanks, Rae."

The message ends...there are no more messages on Rae's voice mail. She lets the voice mail repeat Sean's message again but she hangs up before the message is finished. 

She clicks off the speakerphone and sits back on the couch. Finally noticing her cooling cup of coffee on the coffee table, she grunts as she reaches forward for her coffee cup. Taking a sip, she jumps a bit when the phone rings shrilly. 

Placing the cup back on the table, she answers the phone, putting the phone back on speakerphone mode.

R: (irriatedly) "Nick! I told you I'd take it easy. You don't have to phone me every few minutes."

H: "It's Harriet."

R: "Gosh, Harriet! I'm so sorry. I thought you were Nick."

H: "He phoning you a lot?"

R: "Truthfully, no. He's actually been really sweet lately. Drove me up here. But I just don't want to talk to him tonight."

H: "I take it he called to see how you're doing after the excitement this afternoon. Good job, by the way."

R: "Those were Nick's words exactly."

H: "No other complications?"

R: "Except for the shoulders getting stuck, no. After those shoulders came out, she slid out like she was greased."

H: "I meant complications with you."

R: "Ah. That. No. Just sore and tired."

H: "I will confess Nick just phoned. He said I forgot to mention I had a hot tub installed in the house."

R: "Yes, he did mention something about you taking Letty's advice. Now, that is a first for you Harriet."

H: "After I attended Letty's lecture on reducing stress, George and I got to thinking so we installed a hot tub in both our homes."

R: "Stress? You? Hardly. You are about the most placid person I've ever known. Even in the thick of things you always keep your head."

H: (laughing) "That's what I was told during my rotations. OB is a stressful job with the screaming and sometimes the panic. I was told my placid exterior would be calming for the women." 

R: "Well, I much preferred studying people under a microscope rather than dealing with a myriad of medical problems."

H: "So your voice mail appears. But you do have to have a compassionate side to be an oncologist."

R: "That does help. I just have some trouble expressing compassion in my personal relationships. I also heard you tried to rope him into assisting your pelvic exam lecture."

H: "He's a doctor. He knows how to give exams."

R: "He's not scheduled to work again until Wednesday. Who did you get to fill in for him?" 

H: "Jules."

R: "You're kidding!"

H: "Nope. She said that since she has a lot more female adolescent patients, she'll be giving more pelvic exams."

R: "Kids these days are having more teenage sex."

H: "And STDs are on the rise."

Rae stretches. 

R: "Ow!"

H: "Sounds like you do need a hot soak. You'll have to fill the hot tub. It's been cleaned."

R: (yawning again) "I think I will use it, if you don't mind."

H: "Just be careful not to stay in there too long. And be sure to use the cold water shower afterwards."

R: "I don't want any complications, either. If I'm going to abort, I'll do it under sanitary conditions."

H: "You just take it easy. Get lots of rest. You're not drinking wine, are you?"

R: "Nope." 

H: "Good. Jules said she'll come and pick up you and Jackie tomorrow afternoon around five."

R: "That sounds good. I'll be expecting her then. I'll leave a message for Jackie at the B&B."

H: "She's not there?" 

R: "No. She accepted a date from one of the policemen."

H: "Let me guess: Officer Macpherson."

R: (laughing) "Yes. How did you know?"

H: "He's the only bachelor cop and he likes to date a lot of the women tourists."

R: "A romeo? Should I warn Jackie now?"

H: "No. Let her find out for herself."

R: "He won't, you mean, he's going to try and..."

H: "That's one way he likes to end his evenings."

Rae yawns again. 

R: "On second thought, I think I'll just take a nap."

H: "That is also recommended. A hot bath afterwards. I left some lavender bath crystals in the linen closet next to the guest bathroom. The lavender will help you get to sleep."

R: "That's what I seem to need a lot of lately--sleep. Thanks for calling."

H: "You're welcome. I'll see you Monday morning."

R: "Yep. Hey, could you watch the news this evening?"

H: "Wanting to see yourself and your special delivery?"

R: "Well, yeah."

H: "I'll check. You take care."

R: "All right. Good night."

H: "Good night!"

Harriet hangs up and Rae clicks off the speakerphone. She lays back on the couch and closes her eyes.