Pillars of Foundation
A Whateley Academy Tale
The Pillars of Foundation
Medicine rests upon four pillars:
philosophy, astronomy, alchemy, and ethics.
November 9th, 2007
The Office of Milton Anderson, M.D., 2160 Center St, Boston, MA
The man on the screen didn't look like a super villain.
He was actually quite dapper, in a conservative silk suit of European cut and dark color, over a simple white shirt and his one concession to fashion a remarkably colorful tie of abstract polygons with a matching kerchief in his breast pocket. Neither did he look like the persona he frequently affected, the Mad Herr Doktor in a nineteen thirties white, off set breasted lab coat and high rubber gloves. But for the 'devil's horn' forelocks in his hair, he could have been a senior partner in a well established law firm. He sat at a magnificent desk, his hands clasped before him on it, speaking directly into the camera with remarkable sincerity and compassion. “Mr. and Mrs Dawson, now that your family doctor has had the technical briefing he needs, I would like to take a moment to have a word with the two of you. I am afraid I am unaware of the...progress...Alzheimer's has had on your wife, Mr. Dawson, so you may need to explain things to her, or make the decision yourself.”
He leaned forward, his pleasant baritone slightly blurred with a central European accent that was hard to pin down exactly. “There are risks, Mr. Dawson, to every advancement of science. The drug I have provided you has undergone some extensive testing here in my laboratory, but do not let that placate your sense of judicious caution. While I can assure you it is not fatal, and that you will experience benefit from it, how much, or the nature of that benefit I cannot fully articulate to you. There simply has not been time for sufficient human trials. In addition, the variations of genetics mandate that you understand the unforeseen is possible.”
Leonides Daibliku sat back, his expression somewhere between compassion and frustration of his own shortcomings. It was readily apparent that he was his own harshest critic. “The sample I have supplied your doctor with is absolutely pure and of itself, it will not harm you, but that is not the same thing as being safe! Paracelsus famously said, 'Everything in Nature is poison, the difference in medicine is the dose.' That holds true with Solon 5. It will invigorate you, it will have beneficial effect, but that implies everything in your body will be invigorated, and if you are, for instance, prone to cancer...”
The doctor trailed off, leaving unsaid his warning. “If you choose to use this, I ask two things of you. First, Mr. Dawson, you should share the danger with your wife and be dosed, this is why I have included sufficient amounts for both of you. Likely, you will find there are anti-geriatric benefits of the chemical.”
He spread his arms to indicate himself. “Do I appear to be seventy five to you? I do this because what ever the future holds, I can tell by your devotion and love for each other that you, as a couple, lean on each other. I would not deprive you of that after curing your current struggle.”
The doctor's face became deadly earnest and he leaned in once more to the camera. “Second, if we are successful in your wife's treatment, I implore you, no, I beg you, be vocal in your experiences. You are persons of means, doubtlessly well-connected with friends in convenient places. I admit, I am a criminal and a murderer, but I believe with all my being that what I have done will be justified by the judgment of history. Your kind and truthful words may weigh on the hearts of the heartless who seek to block and embargo my gifts to humanity out of spite and petty revenge. I do not care about their opinion of me, but my work must reach the people it is meant to help. I ask your help in doing so. Now, discuss what I have said with your physician and make your choice. I wish you both health, long life and prosperity. Thank you.”
The screen darkened and Daniel looked up at the face of his physician and friend. “Ok, Milt, now what?” he asked.
The doctor was somewhat aggravated as he closed his laptop. “Dan, this isn't like some school prank we pulled in the old days!” he told him earnestly. “This is serious! Dr Diabolik for Christ's sake! I can't believe...”
“Will you inject us or not, Milt?” Dawson demanded.
“Slow down, Dan!” Milton pleaded. “Nobody doubts for an instant you are devoted...”
Dawson rose to his feet. “Milton, we've been friends since college,” he said softly. “You know how much I love Penny. Don't risk our friendship...”
The Doctor's finger came up. “Hold it right there, Dan! Don't you emotionally blackmail me. You think I don't care about Penny? My God, man, do you have any idea, of the strings I pulled and the favors I cashed trying to get her help? We're human, Milt, and humans grow old and die! This fountain of youth garbage of that mad man,” and he pointed at the laptop “is likely the worst Snake Oil since the patent Medicine days! I swore to Do No Harm!”
“I can't lose her, Milt!” the other declared in a whisper. Milton flinched. He was prepared for shouts and threats, he knew his friend well, and knew he could be a dangerous man when he put his mind to it. He wasn't prepared to see his facade crumble and this poor, defeated soul be behind it. “I just can't,” he repeated. “I am going to do this, and you can either help me or...”
“You'll find somebody,” Milton finished. Rubbing his eyes he shook his head. “Now I know how Pontius Pilate felt.” The doctor looked up at his patient and his friend. “You're going to make me be a part of this, aren't you?”
“I can't lose her, Milt.”
Dr Anderson took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “And if it kills you? Or gives you cancer? Or worse, if it does everything he promised and you're a young stud of twenty again but Penny gets cancer, what will you think of me then, Daniel?”
A little bit of fire entered the defeated man and he rallied himself to fight for what he wanted. “Who introduced you to Jessica?” he demanded, drawing a look of shock from his friend's face. “Who gave you the alibi that kept you from getting thrown out of medical school? Who...?”
“God damn you, Dan, that's low!” Anderson growled. “Do you think I'm enjoying seeing this happen to Penny? Do you?!” The two friends looked at each other, expressions of contrition on both of their faces.
“It's on me, Milt,” Dawson swore sadly. “I take the blame, all of it. I won't hold it against you, you have my word. I...I just can't do nothing!”
The Doctor reached out and grasped the arm of his patient and his friend. “Death is a part of life, Dan,” he said softly. “You'll have to face it some day.”
Dawson forced his lips to smile. “Someday, I might even be able to, but not now, Milt. Not when we just got our daughter and granddaughter back. Please...!”
“I could lose my license for this,” Doctor Anderson muttered, then looked the other man in the eye. “I should too!” Daniel Dawson, dignified, old money scion of the Boston philanthropic society circles sank down to his knees.
“Do you need me to beg, Milt?” he asked desperately. “I will!”
Milton grabbed his friends shoulders and helped him up. “Damn it, Dan, that's just wrong!” The doctor sighed and shook his head. The ticking of the clock on his bookshelf was loud in the silence as the moment drew out and Milton Anderson felt the weight of his friend's gaze on him. He wondered if the office, his practice, the entire path of his life to this point weighed against the most stead fast of his friends facing losing his wife. His eyes fell on the framed text of the Oath of Hippocrates that hung on the wall next to his diploma above a bust on a pedestal of the father of medicine who had authored it. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, he thought to himself. “Alright, Dan, I'll do it.”
“What a lovely shade of blue!” Penny declared as she laid eyes on the syringe and needle in Milton's hand. “Isn't that lovely, Danny?” she asked, looking up into his face. She remembered his face being so much younger, it didn't seem right to be so lined now. And heaven's look at Milton, why he's practically an old man!
“Beloved,” her husband's voice brought her attention back to look at his face and Penelope Dawson struggled to remember. Just last month they had seen little Marissa and she had a daughter, but that couldn't be right, could it? Hadn't she just gotten married? Penny had always been good with rhymes and suddenly remembered she had made a poem to help herself remember. How did it go? “Beloved?” Daniel asked again.
“Danny, where are we?” she asked, feeling a flash of fear. She suddenly remembered she didn't know where she was.
“We're at Milt's office, baby,” he told her in that soothing, loving voice. Penny had always loved Daniels voice. She had always thought it such a shame he didn't sing more. She stumbled through her memory, trying to put the pieces together in a way that made sense. Daniel was here and Milton was a doctor, so why were they here? Was someone sick? But she had made sure that little Marissa had all her shots! Those foolish people prattling about autism. Vaccinations didn't make you sick!
“Why are we here, Danny?” she asked, becoming more and more afraid that something was badly wrong because she couldn't find a reason to be at a doctor's office.
Her husband's eyes were full of tears as he kissed her hand and held it tightly. It almost hurt he held it so tightly, he was so strong, but Penny loved when he held her in the night and showed her how strong he was and she didn't care if good girls were supposed to like it or not, she loved it. And... “We're going to get you well, sweetheart,” Daniel told her.
“I'm sick?” she asked, fearfully, then something cold and wet was wiping her arm. She looked down to see the beautiful blue fluid vanish into her arm. Immediately, Penny felt flush, it was hot and breathless, and her vision was becoming so blurry. She turned to Daniel and she saw the love and concern he had always had for her. How whenever she had been afraid he could soothe her and she knew everything was going to be alright. She saw a hand come up and caress his face and tears leaked from his eyes when he closed them. “I'm not going anywhere without you,” she heard her voice say.
Her eyelids were so heavy, and it was so hot, and then the darkness was lovely and cool.
November 9th, 2007
The March of Dreams
Penny looked around in confusion. The world was a kaleidoscope of colors and then sounds and smells. Her senses were overwhelmed and she closed her eyes and leaned against something hard. The pungent smell of horse manure filled her nose, then the deep, musky scent of horses themselves. She heard them breathing as they snorted and nickered softly at each other. Penny opened her eyes slowly, ready to close them if that terrible swirling nothing...but no, it was tranquil and the sun was shining and the skies were a wonderful shade of blue.
She looked about, confused and delighted as recognition settled on her. “I know this place,” she whispered to herself. “But it's impossible!” A nicker brought her over to the stall where a magnificent, brilliantly white Lipizzaner looked out at her. “Maximilian, you old devil!” she declared, delighted. She opened the stall door and found the stallion saddled and bridled. Gathering the horse into her arms she hugged him, blinking back tears.
“You... you can't be here,” she whispered. “Daddy's ranch burned and...”
The horse whinnied impatiently and pushed at her with his head towards his saddled middle. “All right, you! I'm going!” Penny swung up into the saddle and took up the reins, urging him out of the stall and out into the yard. “What a wonderful dream!” she thrilled.
November 9th, 2007
The Office of Milton Anderson, M.D., 2160 Center St, Boston, MA
“What's happening?” Daniel asked breathlessly as he watched his wife lose consciousness, her eyes jerkily moving under her eyelids.
“You're asking me?” Milt demanded. Then taking pity on his friend he began to attach the leads of the monitor to her. “Diabolik's notes said it would put her under to make the changes painless. Now, up on the table sport, it's your turn to take a bite of the forbidden fruit.”
“Milt?” Dawson asked as he sat on the table, rolling up his sleeve in preparation for his own shot. “Thank you, for this, for being my friend, for...for everything.”
The doctor sighed and shook his head. “What are friends for?”
Daniel Dawson came to himself slowly, as if from a great distance. He shifted, slowly waiting for the stab of pain from his knee...but there was no stab of pain. He cautiously flexed his leg and was rewarded with a feeling of just smooth cartilage traveling under bone. There were a dainty pair of hands on his chest and all of the little aches and pains he'd been struggling with were gone. Except the one one in the front of his slacks.
“Well, well,” the voice purred. “What's this? Morning wood? Why, Mr. Dawson, what have you been dreaming of?”
Daniel opened his eyes to be lost in the deep, icy blue eyes of his wife, grinning at him. There were subtle changes, her face was flush and fuller, the lines, seemed less, and there was honey blond at the roots of her silver hair. But most important of all, that sharp, impish personality that he had fallen in love with was behind her eyes again. “Penny?”
“Danny, I just had the strangest dream.” She looked down, then back. “Some of it is still a blur, but I feel like I've been asleep for weeks, and...” she paused, then her hand took a hold of him. “But, I can tell you all about it later. This is the first one you've had without those damned pills in years and I'm not letting it go to waste!”
Daniel Dawson gave an inarticulate cry and pulled his wife to him. Thank you, God! Thank you!
On top of him, his wife wiped away his tears. “Daniel, are you alright?”
“I'm wonderful, beloved!” he declared through his tears. “I'm wonderful!”
* Finis *