The Trikon Deception by Ben Bova & Bill Pogue. Part seven

31 AUGUST 1998


I feel like Captain Kirk in the old “Star Trek” series I watched as a girl. “Captain’s Log, Star Date August 1998.” But the truth of the matter is that I am troubled, and when I am troubled I write down my thoughts in order to sort them out.

My relationship with Kurt Jaeckle is not going well. It’s not just that he’s so eternally self-absorbed, even when we make love. The trouble is, he’s so childish! This world-known scientist and teacher turns into a high school boy when we make love. Even when we went to the observatory. I was so thrilled by the invitation, so interested in learning about the sky. But Kurt had other ideas. I feel used.

I am not a kid. I realize that love is not what is depicted in the movies. I have no illusions. I fully expect that one day he will regard me as a fling. The one on the space station. Doctor What’s-Her-Name.

But at least the here and now, the lovemaking, should be better. Instead, I feel as though he would rather be playing with a teenager.

Would it have been this way with Dan?

—From the diary of Lorraine Renoir

O’Donnell realized that there was something wrong with Lorraine. Her hair was no longer twisted into a neat French braid. Instead, it was bound by a net that seemed poised to fly off her head with the force of her loosened chestnut tresses. Her lips, usually pressed together in an expression he called grim, were noticeably turned down into a frown. She refused to meet his eyes.

His daily meetings with Lorraine had diminished from a half hour to barely ten minutes. Their tenor had shaded from openly adversarial to politely civil, if not genuinely friendly. They would chat until Lorraine apparently satisfied herself that the whites of his eyes weren’t bloodshot, his pupils weren’t dilated, his speech wasn’t slurred, and his limbs were not twitching uncontrollably. So he was surprised when she immediately ordered him to roll up his sleeve.

O’Donnell watched silently as Lorraine readied a syringe. Her breath sounded thick, as if she were congested. Still refusing to meet his eyes, she tied a rubber tube around his biceps and told him to pump his hand until his already prominent veins threatened to burst out of his skin. As with the last blood test, O’Donnell concentrated on the small Monet print fastened to the wall. He felt the coolness of the alcohol as she swabbed his inner elbow. He expected the thin prick of the needle. Instead, he felt as if his arm were being gouged by claws.

“Easy, Doc!”

Lorraine’s hands trembled. The needle scraped across his skin, leaving a darkened line of blood behind. O’Donnell grabbed the syringe with his free hand and lifted the needle out of his arm. Lorraine wrenched the syringe away and, with the same motion, stuffed it into a waste receptacle.

“You okay, Doc?”

“Fine,” she said. She didn’t look at him and furiously prepared a second syringe.

O’Donnell thought he heard her sniffle. He pulled the tube from his right arm and tightened it around his left. This time he watched her. As she moved to stick him, he gently placed his hand on hers and guided the needle into his vein.

“Do you want to tell me what this is all about?” he said when she finished drawing his blood.

“It was time for a test.”

“I’m talking about the butcher job on my right arm.”

She was labeling the syringe. O’Donnell placed his hand on her chin and turned her head so that she faced him. Her brown eyes were wet.

“You want to talk to me for a change?” he said.

She hesitated, but only for a moment.

“Have you ever thought you loved someone and tried to make that person notice you?”

“All the time,” said O’Donnell.

“Did they?”

“Sometimes, sometimes not. I never gave it much effort. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to that.”

“Well, did it ever happen that after you gave up on the one person and started seeing someone else, you realized that the first person had noticed you all along. Only now, because you are with the second person, and because you may have done things that are not in the best interests of the first person, you realize that you can never go back.”

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Categories: Ben Bova