[10—Evil Santa Claus]

After they had gone, Mother stood up.

"Okay, it's about time we got going."

She looked at her schedule.

"Mitchell, you and Robbie have an appointment with Dr. Farcott in ten minutes.  Then you get to go to the downstairs lab and fill a Dixie cup."

Daddy coughed into his hand and colored.  He got up and led Robbie away.

"Dani, you have a lab session in Room 341 in just a few minutes, then see Dr. Epstein.  Gina, you have to see Nurse Phelps in 344, so you can go with Dani.  I have to go see the counselor; I will be in room 215 if you need me.  We will all meet back here at 3:30.  Everyone got that?"

"Yes," we all said and took our trays to the clipper.  We dispersed from there.

"I'll hold the elevator for you," I told Gina as we were waiting for it to arrive, "if you need to go pee real quick.  There's a bathroom right around the corner."

"No, Dani, I can wait."

"I thought you'd be drowning by now."

"Why would you think that?"

"You know, at lunch."

"What about lunch?"

"Come on, sis, you were squirming as bad as I was during lunch."

"No, really, I'm fine."

"Didn't you notice how only the women had to go so bad?  What's that all about?"

Her eyes widened and she blushed. 

"Oh," she said covering her mouth with the back of her hand, "that."

"What," I asked after she didn't eleborate. 

The bell on the elevator chimed.

"I wasn't acting like that because I had to pee; Mother and I just came from a gynecological exam, and we're both still full of that oogy stuff from the speculum.  I feel like I've been molested by a loose bicycle seat."

Between floors, I asked Gina what the punch-in-the-arm was about.

"You know."

"No, I don't."

"Don't you think Dr. Epstein is handsome?"

"I guess.  If you like old men."

"Old?  He's not nearly as old as Dr. Nick."

"Dr. Nick?"

"The gynecologist.  His real name is Mendelson, or something like that."

"Why Dr. Nick then?  Is it his first name?"

"No.  Like St. Nick...he must be like sixty years old—white hair, beard, fat like Jell-o."

"Oh," I said, not sure why she was telling me this. "Was it your first time?"

"Yes.  And it was...creepy. "

"Creepy?  What was creepy about him?  Is he a letch?"

"I don't think so.  He was just...odd.  And rude."

She leant in close to me, even though we were alone in the elevator.

"Dani, it was like having Evil Santa Claus in my vagina."


I got to 341, and found the nurse reading a fashion magazine.  Her name tag said 'Crowder, RN'.

She was a stout, avocado-shaped woman in her mid-forties, with straw-colored hair drawn back into a bun and a sallow complexion.  She didn't look healthy at all.

"You're late," she said in a quiet voice that somehow retained its authority.  She was used to being listened to, I could tell.

"Sorry, I had to take my sister to her appointment."

"That's okay then."  She looked at her watch. 

"Come around and sit on that stool."

I did as I was told and she came over with a box of blood vials and a normal-sized specimen cup.  She paused for a second to transfer my information from the chart to the labels on the containers.

"Wait," I asked her, not quite sure what was going on.  "The candy striper on the first floor already did that."

"Candy striper," she asked, not looking up from her writing.  "They don't do that, hon.  I fill them out so there is no mistake."

"Are you sure there has been no mistake?  Dani Heywood, right?"

"Yes," she said, putting the last vial back in the box. "Danielle Lynn Heywood.  DOB May 15, 1960?"

She opened the folder and pointed to a stack of forms.  There was a picture of me paper-clipped to it.

"This is you, right?  It certainly looks like you."

"Yes, that's me.  But the jar...the candy striper downstairs told me I'd have to fill a specimen jar this big."  I indicated the size of the container I'd seen before; maybe I exaggerated a little.

She snickered and held up the plastic cup.

"No, hon.  This is plenty.  I suspect she was having you on.  Was this candy striper a red-head, about five-foot-nine?"

"I don't know, she was sitting down."

"Was she skinny and talk real slow, with a drawl?"


"That would be Grace.  She doesn't like people talking down to her.  Did you tease her?"

"Maybe a little."

She snickered again.

"Then you deserved it.  Maybe I should call her up, and make you fill up her container instead."

"No, that's okay."

"Which hand to you use?"  She held up a vicious-looking needle, with a complicated back-end to plug the vials into.

"Both of them."

"You're ambidextrous?"

"No.  But I use both hands."

"Okay, which hand do you write with?"

"My right.  Why does it matter?"

"It doesn't matter to me, sweetie.  Which arm do you want me to take blood from?  I've got six test tubes to fill."

"The left, please.  But can I give you that urine sample first?  I gotta go really bad."


I ran into Tipper Jackson on the way to see Dr. Epstein, and we started talking.  We were both rushing to the fifth floor and there was a huge crowd at the elevators.

We decided to take the stairs.

"So, you're really sixteen?"

"Yes.  Really.  Why do you care?"  His attention bordered on obsession and I was starting to get a bit nervous, being alone with him in a stairwell.  "Are you some kind of pervert or something?"

"No," he answered defensively.  "Honest.  Look, I'm just interested because I've never met a Rarebit before.  Me and Dawita have been trying to have a baby for two years now, but we just read the Rarin Report.  Now we're concerned that we might be carriers.  We both took it a lot in the Philippines."

"Oh, I didn't know.  Look, I'm sorry about the pervert remark."

"That's okay.  I just want to know more about you.  You're interesting, Dani.  What are you planning to do after high school?"

"I don't know.  I definitely want to go to college, but my folks may not be able to afford it.  I will probably take a couple of years off—wait till I'm eighteen.  I guess I'll have to get a job.  I could be a tutor, or translator."

He stopped at the landing and took a deep breath.

"You're in pretty good shape.  You said 'translator'; what languages do you speak?"

"English and Esperanto mostly, but I had German, Latin, French, and Spanish in high school."

He looked impressed.

"Also Italian," I added, "and Portuguese.  They came pretty easy after French and Spanish.  Oh, and Old English, and a little Gaelic.  I can read Old High German with a dictionary. 

"I can pronounce Russian and Greek, but can't really read it. 

"And I've also started learning a bit of Cherokee, but I'm not good at it yet."

"Wow!  Listen, Dani, if you need money for college I can help."

"What?  Why would you, you don't even know me?"

"No," he said, fingering his collar again.  "I mean the Peace Corps.  I'm a recruiter, remember?  Every year you spend with us earns you money for college.  The higher rank you are, the more you earn.  With your language skills, you'd be great."

"But I'm only sixteen."

"I mean after you finish high school."

"I graduate this December, in about two months."

"Oh."  He thought for a second.  "Do you think your parents would sign for you to join?  You can join at sixteen with their permission.  Fifteen in some states."

"Really?"  I'd never thought about the Peace Corps, but money for college would be a good thing."

"Would I get to travel?"

"Almost definitely."

"Can I say where?"

"You have your choice of available assignments.  The more languages you speak, the more choice you'll have.  You don't have to take an assignment if you don't want, though.  We're not the Army."

"I'd like to think about it."

He paused again, and took some paperwork out of his backpack.

"Here, take this literature, and here's my card.  Think it over and let me know what you decide.  Are you going be in Dallas long?"

"No, just this week.  I'm from St. Louis; does that make a difference?"

"No.  I'm not from here either, we live in California.  We're just here to get checked out on this Rarin thing."

"Oh.  Say, will it matter, me being a...you know...a Rarebit?"

"No, not at all.  The Peace Corps does not discriminate."

"On what basis?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"On what basis does the Peace Corps not discriminate?  Surely you have some standards."

"None, and we mean it.  We'll take anybody."

I thought that was unlikely.

"We'll see about that," I said, but waved the brochure to show him that I really was interested.


  1. Ooooo a peace corps challenge. GRIN!! Let's see, in our time frame, they take stoners and then use ineffective ways to try and force them into not being stoners. So this should be good.

    1. I've got enough societal differences I feel I can change the Peace Corps a fair amount. I'll leave to the story to illustrate them; suffice to say that in this world, it was formed by a cadre of former US Coast Guards, a corps of volunteers drawn heavily from the Boy Scouts, with a sprinkling of customs from the French Foreign Legion.

      When I write, I try to remember three things:

      1) You can change techonology quite a bit,and the effectscan range from drastic to nil;

      2) You can change events sometimes, but the effects are unpredictable and tend to be counterintuitive, and;

      3) You cannot change people at all. All you can do is present them with change. They'll either deal with it, or they will withdraw (or worse). But there will always be radicals and always be fundamentalists.

      Every thing else about the story much be derived from these things, I think.

      Thanks for reading.