burger and bread in a slimy green liquid.
âWater,â Tamara snapped at Luke. He ran into the bathroom and fumbled with the plastic-wrapped paper cups on the sink. He could hear Angie gagging and moaning.
By the time he came back into the bedroom with the water, Angie was sitting up, her thin pajamas a foul-smelling mess. But the coughing and upchucking had stopped. Tamara sat on the edge of the bed, gently massaging the childâs back.
She looked up at Luke and reached for the water. Holding the cup to Angelaâs lips she said softly, âTake a sip, Angie. Itâll take the sour taste out of your mouth.â
Angela sipped. âIâm okay now,â she said weakly. âI donât know what happened. Iâm sorry.â
âNothing to be sorry about,â Tamara whispered. To Luke she said, âYou go to your room. Iâll clean her up.â
Feeling useless and grateful at the same time, Luke went to the door that connected the two rooms. âIâll come back to say good night, Angel.â
Angela nodded and tried to smile.
As he fidgeted in his room, unable to concentrate on the movie the TV was showing, Luke heard the squeaky wheels of the chambermaidâs cart, then muffled sounds from Angieâs room. Changing the bedclothes, he figured. Then the cart squeaked past in the other direction.
At last Luke heard a tap on the door. Pulling it open, he saw that Angie was sleeping peacefully, as if nothing had happened.
âSheâs all right now,â Tamara said as he stepped into the room. The bed was freshly made. Luke wondered what his granddaughter was wearing beneath the covers. We didnât bring that many clothes for her, he realized.
Tamara wiped the back of her hand across her forehead. âI shouldnât have let her have a hamburger. That was stupid of me.â
Luke asked, âShould we feed her intravenously?â
Tamara nodded. âFor the time being. We can give her broth, gelatin, things that are easy to digest.â
Tamara saw Lukeâs unfinished hamburger, still resting on the night table. âAre you going to eat that?â
He shook his head.
âDo you mind? Iâm starving.â
âGo right ahead.â
Luke almost grinned at her. Slim as she is, sheâs a real carnivore, he thought. Must have a high metabolic rate.
âDid you have enough to eat?â she asked.
âYeah. Plenty.â He realized he was very tired. And he felt chilled, achy. âIâm going to bed now.â
Tamara nodded. âItâs been a long day.â
âTomorrow will be easier.â
He left her chewing on his half-eaten hamburger and closed the door that connected the two rooms. Stripping quickly, he rummaged in his suitcase for the one pair of pajamas he had packed. Prison gray. Could be appropriate, he thought.
Once he stretched out in bed, he still felt cold, even with two blankets over him.
This isnât going to work, he told himself. Iâm too old to do this. Iâm already falling apart.
Then he realized, Iâll have to do something about it. In his mindâs eye he saw the mice heâd experimented on in his lab, scampering in their cages youthfully in spite of their advanced age.
If it works for the mice it ought to work for me. Same genes involved. Get me to start producing telomerase the way I did when I was a teenager. The freaking fountain of youth.
He fell asleep and dreamed of the day heâd met the young beauty who eventually became his wife.
Lucas Theodore Abramson
â Y OU HAVE GOT to be the stubbornest SOB I have ever had the misfortune to attempt to educate,â his biochemistry professor once told Luke.
Twenty-two-year-old Luke stood in front of the older manâs desk and bit back the reply that came to mind.
âYou think youâre so goddamned smart, you donât give anybody else any credit for having
Elizabeth Amelia Barrington