"Strip club?" asked Jewel.
    "I didn't look, but I think the monkey did," John joked.
    Jewel laughed for several minutes with such intensity she had to sit on the floor, and almost passed out.
    Jewels laughter was contagious.  Everyone within hearing distance also began laughing, as did John.
    "I needed that," Jewel said while trying to catch her breath.
    "Guess I needed a laugh myself.  The latest bing off Luke's phone put him in New York.  I guess he decided to get out of here just in case," John proclaimed as he straightened up after bending over from the laughing.
    "You should get there.  I'll stick to Lenny," said Jewel.
    "On my way.  Keep an eye out for Luke incase it's a ruse," said John.
    A week later Lenny was ready for release.  Lenny and Jewel had become friends of a sort, and Lenny hired her as a private nurse while he received outpatient treatment.
    "So, this is BTI headquarters," said Jewel as Lenny met her in to lobby on his building the day after his release.
    "Yep.  This is it.  Ready for the tour?" Lenny asked.
    "After I check those bandages," replied Jewel.
    Jewel got the deluxe tour.
    "Just enough time for a quick launch if you like," Lenny suggested.
    They went to a small open-air café across the street.
    "There's something really serious we need to talk about," said Jewel after the waitress had taken their order.
    "I had the feeling there was something on your mind," Lenny replied.
    Jewel told Lenny the whole story right up to the time the waitress took their order.  Lenny just sat there staring at the table with a pale face.
    "I felt there was something wrong.  Couldn't quite put a finger on it.  So, what happens now?" asked Lenny looking up from the table.
    "One, if we say anything about how easily the virus is transmitted, we will be quarantined forever.  Two we have to stop Luke by any means possible, then pray he hasn't created more like us we can't get to.  If he has, and we can't stop them as well, the whole world could wind up infected.  That's a nightmare right out of the movies," stated Jewel.
    "Wow.  This is a bit to take in.  Is it fatal?" Lenny asked whose face had gone from pale to kind a gray.
    "Nope.  In fact, you'll have enhanced physical ability.  We haven't noticed cognitive improvement, but it's early yet.  Plus, there is no way to know the long-term effects.  We might burnout in a few years, but I'm guessing not," said Jewel.
    "So where do we go from here?" Lenny asked.
    "The best thing would be to find a cure.  So, within your connections list, do you know anyone who could work on the cure without actually knowing what the virus does," Jewel asked.
    "Not off the top, but I could check around.  As I stated, our primary affiliations are environmental testing and cleanup type companies.  I guess someone in the bunch knows someone who has that capability.  When do I need to start the drugs?" Lenny asked.
    "Now.  One a day, and we remind each other.  Going cannibal is not an option," said Jewel as she handed him box with a year's supply.
    " Thanks," Lenny replied as he lifted the lid.
    "Time is of the essence.  There is no way of knowing what Luke is up to," said Jewel.
    "When do I meet John?" asked Lenny
    "He needs to stay on track locating Luke.  I will tell him of what we've discussed, and we can do a conference call," Jewel stated.
    "I have an excellent conference system," Lenny replied.
    "Keep in mind how important it is to keep this secret.  We don't want to end up in permanent quarantine.  Even if you think your communications are secure, play it as if your live on the radio to a worldwide audience.  That way you watch your words," Jewel emphasized.
    "Got it," replied Lenny.
    "I'll see you every morning for an update and check your wounds," said Jewel.
    "Come on.  I'll get you a security card," Lenny said.
    Lenny now had a half grin that seemed permanent, and he walked a bit bent over.
    Jewel knew exactly how he felt.
    "How's New York?" asked Jewel.
    "It's a somewhat bigger than I imagined," John stated.
    Jewel updated John.
    "That's good.  He's bound to have some real depression episodes.  I hope he can make it," John replied.
    "I'll arrange a telecom meeting tomorrow," Jewel said.
    "Great.  Till then," John responded
    The next day Jewel showed up for the morning meeting.  There were police standing at the door.
    "Sorry, no one is allowed in.  This is a crime scene," said the officer in a squeaky voice.
    "What happened?" asked Jewel.
    "Can't say.  Please return to the sidewalk, the officer said with a stern voice.
    Jewel soon learned that Lenny had been shot, and had died at the scene.
     "Somebody killed Lenny, so either Luke paid someone to do it, or he did it and the phone is being used by someone else," Jewel stated in a subdued voice.
     After a long pause John said, "The world keeps tuning, and today is brand new, just like tomorrow will be.  There will be other opportunities.  I'm going to stay in New York.  Get here as soon as you can, you'll love it."
    "I know.  It's just so difficult to even breath sometimes," Jewel answered.
    "Think of the story we'll have to tell when it's over," John returned.
    Jewel decided to get drunk to offset the depressive state mind she had at that particular moment, so she went to first lounge she came across.
    "What can I do for ya little lady?" asked the bartender.
    "Scotch on the rocks please.  Make it a triple," Jewel ordered.
    "You got it.  One of those days, is it? " queried the bar tender.
    "You have no idea.  Another," replied Jewel as she gulped down her drink, and pushed the glass toward the bar tender.
    "Okay.  Another triple," the bar tender said shaking his head.
Robert Evan Howard