introduced herself as Dr. Ajeet.
âI consulted with two other doctors, Mrs. Nichols. They wanted to know what heâs had to eat in the last eight hours. Weâve already got the blood we need for a test. Itâs in the lab now.â
âIâm afraid I wouldnât know, Doctor. Kate might know.â
Kate raised her head as if scanning the ceiling. âLetâs seeâwe had lunch brought in to campaign headquarters from a deli down the block. He either had corned beef or ham on rye.â
âHe had one of those energy drinks around four oâclock,â Billy said. âI was alone with him going over a speech for tomorrow.â
âHe guns Diet Pepsi all day,â Laura said. âItâs pretty much a joke with the staff that when the senator dies, he wants heaven to be one big vending machine with Diet Pepsi in every slot.â She was smiling until she realized the implications of what sheâd said. âOh, God, Iâm sorry, Teresa.â
âOh, câmon, Laura, I know you didnât mean anything by that,â she said, looking down fondly at the face of her husband. Teresa was one of those trophy wives whoâd surprised everybody by being a woman of intelligence and compassion. And a valuable political asset. The men of Washington wanted to jump her and their wives wanted to count her as a friend.
âIâm wondering about the Pepsi that tasted funny,â I said. âRight before the debate.â
âSo am I,â Kate said.
We told Dr. Ajeet about the incident that Warren had put down to melted ice.
âThatâs very interesting,â the doctor said. âWeâre already working on the possibility that he ingested something harmful in his food or drink. But weâre considering many possibilities. From what we can see so far, Senator Nichols is in a deep sleep. His vitals are all normal.â
âHeâs asleep?â Laura said.
âYes. The same kind of sleep youâd get if you took too many sleeping pills. Not enough to kill you or do any permanent damageâhopefully not anywayâbut enough to put you to sleep for a long time and then to wake up with a pretty bad hangover.â She turned to Teresa. âRemember, when we first examined him, Mrs. Nichols, we were able to get him to open his eyes and talk a little. Thatâs certainly something we can do with cardiac patients, too. But itâs also symptomatic in some cases of drug overdoses.â
âThen heâll be all right?â Teresa said, hope making her voice sound much younger, stronger.
âWell, weâre more confident now that thatâs what weâre dealing with, anyway,â the doctor said. âWe still want to run some more cardiac tests on him, but at this point I think weâre going to be able to eliminate cardio pretty soon now.â
Billy said, âHeâs snoring!â
And so he was.
We all fixed our eyes on Warrenâs face. The waxen look was receding. The eyelids fluttered, though they remained closed. And through his lips came a wet nasal blast that was almost violent. He was a master snorer, no doubt about it.
âOh, thank God,â Teresa said, clutching my hand again.
At this point I assumed that Warren was going to be all right, so my mind shifted back to the mysterious makeup woman. And to a man named R. D. Greaves, the dirty-tricks man Jim Lake had employed in
all three of his congressional elections. And had most likely employed for this one, too. Tampering with the drink sounded like something Greaves would do. Lake was, after all, running behind with only three weeks to go.
âAre you leaving, Dev?â Teresa said. She seemed frightened by the possibility.
âIâm afraid I have to, Teresa. Thereâs a lot to handle now.â
âMe, too,â Laura said. âI need to go out there and face down that pack of jackals. Kate had her turn, now itâs