Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 2



She sucked in a deep breath and jumped. She managed to grab the windowsill with one hand, the window latch with the other, and pulled herself up. The window was cracked open enough for her to grab the rough stone edge of the building outside the bathroom window. She shoved at the latch with her other hand, but the sucker didn't budge. Not good. As her heart thumped louder and faster, she heard her father's voice in her head, "When you're butt-deep in trouble, you focus and you get it done." She shoved as hard as she could on that latch, once, twice. The window flew outward.

She eyeballed the opening above her. It wasn't very wide, but on the other hand, thank the good Lord and the gym, she wasn't either.

She heard Royal and Carla Alvarez fumbling with each other not twenty feet away, laughing, kissing, sex-walking, she knew, toward that sofa. She had to be quiet.

She got both hands outside, one on the edge of the outside wall, the other on the window frame, and pulled herself up and through the opening. She hung upside down, looking at bushes a galaxy away.

She heard Caskie Royal say something, then his footsteps coming toward the bathroom.

No choice. She wiggled through and did a lovely tuck into the bushes.

She landed on her shoulder, the shrubbery cushioning her fall, and lay there, breathing slowly, querying her body parts. She was okay, she hoped.

She turned her head and looked up. Would he notice the wide-open window? Would he wonder? Would he be suspicious?

With her luck, he and Carla would probably take a pre-sex shower. She heard them still laughing and talking, coming closer. The shower was small, but not that small.

She rolled off the bush, bent nearly double, and took off running toward the dark woods of Van Wie Park at the back of Schiffer Hartwin's American headquarters.

She ran faster when she heard a yell coming from the bathroom.

Okay, so they knew someone had gone through the window, but they'd have no clue who it had been. It was okay. The cops would want to know if anything had been taken. Royal would search his files and see the date stamp on the Project A file. He'd know someone had read it. Would he know it had been copied? Would he tell the cops? No, he couldn't risk it. On the other hand, if he thought it through, he'd realize that someone probably had those files, and there'd be no way to keep the fabricated Culovort shortage from getting out. There'd be hell to pay.

For that, she couldn't wait.

She hoped it scared the crap out of him.

If the cops were called in, they'd know only one thing for sure. The thief was a small boy or a female, because no male over the age of twelve could have squeezed through that window.

Once inside the Van Wie Park woods, she went down on her knees, sucked in air, and looked back. Lights now flooded the bathroom and the office.

She heard what she hoped was a cop car screech into the parking lot in front of the building. In that moment she knew the guard had called the cops, not Caskie. What are you going to say, Caskie?

She was grinning as she ran through the trees and out the back to the back road that led to the main highway that ran through Stone Bridge. No sex for the wicked tonight, Caskie.

With the cops there, Caskie would have to go on record. On record with what, that was the question. He'd also have to explain to his wife what he was doing in his office late on a lovely Sunday night with Carla Alvarez.

Once she'd hiked half a mile to her baby, a muscular light blue Hummer H3, she fastened her seat belt and turned the ignition. She loved the sound of the powerful engine. She drove slowly down the road for a bit, realized her heart was still pumping too fast and her hands were still shaking. She pulled over to get herself some time to calm down. She sat back, closed her eyes, and thought back to her client, Dr. Edward Kender, professor of archaeology at Yale in New Haven. He'd been a friend of her father's, someone she'd known from her earliest years. Dr. Kender wasn't an emotional man, but she could imagine him grinning from ear to ear in excitement when he read the Culovort files she had tucked in her jacket, as he recognized the power the contents of the files gave him. The media blitz could even force Schiffer Hartwin to start up full production of Culovort again. She'd done good.

It was because he'd known her father that he'd come to her small office the previous Wednesday afternoon. It was nearly three years since she'd seen him, since her father's funeral in fact. He'd arrived unannounced at her small office on Birch Street in Stone Bridge, and told her that, just like her father, his father was undergoing chemotherapy, not for the lung cancer that had killed her father, but for Stage 4 colon cancer. In the middle of it all, he'd been told by his oncologist that the supply of Culovort had been drastically cut. Dr. Kender didn't know what she could do to help him, but he'd been trying to pressure Schiffer Hartwin Pharmaceutical to start up full production of Culovort again.

"Culovort isn't a cancer drug, but it's used in conjunction with other chemo drugs for a wide range of cancers," he'd explained to her. "The kicker is that Culovort is critical in treating colon cancer. It's used along with another cancer drug, Fluorouracil, or 5-FU, as it's commonly called. Think of 5-FU as a grenade that masquerades as a component of DNA and explodes inside the cancer cells. Culovort is an accomplice that helps it get past the guards. Without the Culovort, you've got all the toxic poison of 5-FU, but fewer cancer cells getting killed."

He steepled his long thin fingers together, and looked over them as he spoke. "The problem is, Culovort is off patent and therefore it's cheap."

Erin said, "That's a problem? Oh, I see."

Edward Kender nodded. "Schiffer Hartwin Pharmaceutical makes only a negligible profit off it. Without it, the people suffering from colon cancer are the biggest losers, like my father. With no Culovort, they'll be forced to use the new oral drug-Eloxium. Some believe the oral drug is better-but the thing is, Eloxium can cost twenty thousand dollars for the treatment course.

"Most insurance companies do not cover the oral treatment, or only a small part of it, which means that many colon cancer patients will have to come up with thousands of dollars to pay for the Eloxium. Dad's oncologist is furious about it because she'll have to force patients over to the oral medication. There'll be simply no choice once there's no supply. Even worse, if a patient begins the Eloxium, there's no going back, even if Culovort becomes available again."

Erin said slowly, "So mortgage your home to pay for the treatment of a life-threatening disease, and have a nice day."

"Can you imagine, Erin, not only dealing with chemotherapy and all the brutal side effects, the possible prospect of dying, your family's grinding fear, the unending stress, and then being told that one of the major components of your chemotherapy course isn't available anymore because of unexpected production problems? And, oh, yes, sorry, but on top of all that, it's going to cost you a bundle out-of-pocket to switch over to a new chemo drug."

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