Darkest Fear Page 68

Myron swallowed down the clichés. Chase took deep breaths and reached for the bar.

“Need a spotter?” Myron said.

Chase Layton gripped it and jerked it off the stand. “I don’t need anybody,” he said.

Thursday came. Karen Singh introduced him to a fertility expert named Dr. Barbara Dittrick. Dr. Dittrick handed Myron a small cup and told him to masturbate into it. There were more surreal and embarrassing experiences in life, Myron guessed, but being led to a small room to masturbate into a cup while everyone waited for you in the next room had to be right up there with the best of them.

“Step in here, please,” Dr. Dittrick said.

Myron frowned at the cup. “I usually insist on flowers and a movie.”

“Well, at least you got the movie,” she said, pointing at the television. “The TV has X-rated videos.” She left the room and closed the door behind her.

Myron checked the titles. On Golden Blonde. Father Knows Breast (starring Robert Hung). Field of Wet Dreams (“If you watch it, they will come”). He frowned and passed. So to speak. He stared at the swivel leather chair, one of those lean-back kind, where probably hundreds of other men had sat and … He covered it with paper towels and did his bit, though it took some time. His imagination was spinning in the wrong direction, generating an aura about as erotic as mole hair on an old man’s buttock. When he was, uh, finished, he opened the door and handed the cup to Dr. Dittrick and tried to smile. He felt like the world’s biggest doofus. She wore rubber gloves, even though the, uh, specimen was in a cup. Like it might scald her. She brought it to a lab where they “washed” (their expression, not his) the semen. The semen was declared “serviceable but slow.” Like it was falling behind in algebra.

“Funny,” Emily said. “I usually found Myron to be serviceable but quick.”

“Ha-ha,” Myron said.

A few hours later Emily was in a hospital bed. Barbara Dittrick smiled while inserting what looked suspiciously like a turkey baster into her and pressed the plunger. Myron took her hand. Emily smiled.

“Romantic,” she said.

Myron made a face.

“What?”

“Serviceable?” he said.

She laughed. “But quick.”

Dr. Dittrick finished her part. Emily stayed prone for another hour. Myron sat with her. They were doing this to save Jeremy’s life. That was all. He didn’t let the future enter the equation. He didn’t consider the long-term effects or what this might one day mean. Irresponsible, sure. But first things first.

They had to save Jeremy. The hell with the rest.

Terese Collins called him from Atlanta that afternoon. “Can I come up and visit?” she asked.

“The station will give you more time off?”

“Actually, my producer encouraged me.”

“Oh?”

“You, my studly friend, are part of a huge story,” Terese said.

“You used the words ‘studly’ and ‘huge’ in the same sentence.”

“That turn you on?”

“Well, it might a lesser man.”

“And you are that lesser man.”

“I thank you,” he said.

“You’re also the only one in this story who won’t talk to the press.”

“So you just want me for my mind,” Myron said. “I feel so used.”

“Dream on, hot buns. I want your bod. It’s my producer who wants your brain.”

“Your producer cute?”

“No.”

“Terese?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t want to talk about what happened.”

“Good,” she said. “Because I don’t want to hear it.”

There was a brief silence.

“Yeah,” Myron said. “I’d like it very much if you came up.”

Ten days later, Karen Singh called him at home. “The pregnancy didn’t take.”

Myron closed his eyes.

“We can try again next month,” she said.

“Thanks for calling, Karen.”

“Sure.”

There was empty space. “Anything else?” Myron asked.

“There’s been a lot of marrow drives,” she said.

“I know.”

“One donor looks like a match for an AML patient in Maryland. A young mother. She would have probably died if it weren’t for these drives.”

“Good news,” Myron said.

“But no matches for Jeremy.”

“Yeah.”

“Myron?”

“What?”

“I don’t think we have much time here.”

Terese returned to Atlanta later that day. Win invited Esperanza to his place for a night of mindless television. The three of them sat in their customary spots. Fritos and Indian takeout were on the night’s menu. Myron had the remote. He paused when he saw a familiar image on CNN. A basketball superstar simply known as “TC,” one of the NBA’s most controversial players and a teammate of Greg’s, was on Larry King Live. His hair was razor-carved to spell out Jeremy, and both gold earrings had Jeremy’s name on them. He wore a ripped T-shirt that simply read HELP OR JEREMY DIES. Myron smiled. TC was something else, but he’d get the people out in droves.

More flipping. Stan Gibbs was on some talking-head show on MSNBC. Nothing new. The only thing the press loves as much as tearing somebody down is a story of redemption. Bruce Taylor had gotten the exclusive, as promised, and he’d set the tone. The public was mixed on what Stan had done, but for the most part, they sympathized with him. In the end, Stan had risked his own life to catch a killer, saved Jeremy Downing from certain death, and been wrongly accused by a too-eager-to-convict media. The fact that Stan had been confused about turning in his own father played for him, especially since the media was anxious to wipe away the awful mar of plagiarism they’d so quickly tattooed on him. Stan got his column back. Rumor had it his show was coming back too but in a better time slot. Myron wasn’t sure what to think. Stan was no hero to him. But so few people were.

Stan, too, was pounding the bone-marrow-drive drum. “This boy needs our help,” he said directly into the camera. “Please come down. We’ll be here all night.”

A blond talking head asked Stan about his own part in this drama, about tackling his father, about racing to the cabin. Stan played the modesty card. Wise. The man knew the media.

“Boring,” Esperanza said.

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