“I can’t believe it.  No patients.”  Deb flops into our one rattan chair.  It’s a papa-san chair that looks a lot more comfy than it really is.

“Yeah, it’s only been how long?”

“Three weeks.”

“Glad someone was keeping track.”  And glad it wasn’t me.  Don’t know how many nights we didn’t sleep.

“Well, Drew and you guys getting the sanitation system up helped a lot.”

“It’s a long way from done.”  When we get an indoor toilet--which I AM going to try and scope out when I’m next in Dakha--then I’ll consider that progress.  Once we get that in order, maybe a shower.

“I can’t believe we’ve been here three months already.”

“I can’t believe we survived the rains and everything after.  God, cholera’s disgusting.”

“Not as scary as malaria.”

“For sure.”  I shudder when I think about that one.  We lost some people there.  Deb tried, but they were real sick and she was so low on supplies.  Plus for two weeks, what they call roads around here were nothing but mud and nobody could get out.   We didn’t lose anyone on cholera, though, and that’s pretty cool, even if Deb and Sampong and Sandy and me spent most of our time cleaning up.  I’ll spare everyone the details.  They weren’t pretty.

Deb closes her eyes and wraps her arms around her knees.  “I don’t want to think about sick people right now.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, need a break.”

“Looks like we’re getting one now.”  Late evening, and it’s Miller time.  Never felt so good.  “You wanna beer?”

“Love one.  Even if it’s that Bengali shit.”

“Good thing you’re not picky, ‘cause that‘s all we got.”  Drew managed some Sapporo last week.  We swarmed it like locusts.  “We also got some Thai whiskey.  Want some?”

“Let me numb my taste buds with the beer first.  Thai whiskey’s a little hard going down without some local anesthetic.”  We both laugh.

“No kidding.  That stuff’s like drinking liquid fire.  And I used to complain if all we had was that J&B shit Frohike leaves around.”  God, I miss those guys.  I miss ragging on Frohike about his bad taste in liquor.  I miss him sniping back at me.  I miss Byers being such a priss sometimes.  I miss Jimmy’s fucking things up.

No, wait.  I don’t miss that.  Especially right now.  Byers and Frohike are losing their nuts.  Anndie says Jimmy took off to find Lois.  I mean, it doesn’t get dumber than that.  They’re trying to track the bitch down.  I should be helping them, but I really haven’t had time lately.  Things have been a little crazy around here, y’know?
I grab a cushion, put it near the chair, and hand Deb a beer as I’m sitting down.  She takes a long sip on it, closes her eyes.   She looks tired but God, even tired, she looks so good.  We keep buying clothes--we’re gonna have to give this stuff away when we leave, and trust me, when her term is up, if we can’t get home, we’re going somewhere civilized, like someplace with real showers--and she’s got on this gauzy sort of blue skirt and white tank top.  No bra.  This is making me feel totally evil, despite the fact that I’m half dead myself.

“Ah.  The good life.”  She smiles as she takes another sip of her beer.  She giggles then.

Fuck!  Someone’s clomping up the stairs.  Goddammit, I need some peace and privacy tonight, and so does Deb!  I’m gonna kill whoever’s coming in...

“Thought you idiots might appreciate some quality beverage.”  It’s Drew, and she drops 2-12 packs of Kirin on the floor.

“Drew, man, you’re a goddess!”  Okay, she’s really a bitch, but anyone who gives us 2-12 packs of Kirin at a moment like this, she can be as much of a bitch as she wants.  Tomorrow.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, remember that when I’m kicking your ass out in the field.  Now if you’ll excuse me, my underlings, as little as they deserve it, are waiting with baited breath for some quality booze.”

“Don’t let the door slam you on your ass when you leave,”  Deb smiles at her.  “Even though it could hardly miss!”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that!”  Drew yells as she exits, stage left.

Deb giggles.  “She is such a bitch.  But she’s amazingly entertaining.”

“Try working for her.”  Actually, she’s okay, once you get used to the fact that Drew Rayne is the most negative person ever born.  Get over that and everything’s fine.  “Think about it.  Heat, humidity, mosquitoes, snakes, mud, and Drew.  Doesn’t get better than that.”

I pop two Kirins for us.  Not cold, but we’re used to it.  I settle back in by Deb’s feet.  We clink bottles.

“What’re we toasting?”  Deb asks.

“I dunno.  Free time?”

She laughs.  “There’s a good one. “

“We got it now.”

“We better enjoy it while it lasts.”  Which isn’t long.  Damn door again.

“Hello?  Dr. Deborah?”  It’s Sampong.

“Quick, hide the beer!”  She whispers.  We stick the Kirin behind the chair and grab our Bengalis, which we hadn’t put away yet.  Sampong cruises in.

“Everybody is stable,”  he announces to her.

“That’s good.  Go take a load off, Sampong,”  Deborah tells him.

“I was...I wish to ask you, I wish to see my parents.  Two days.  I have travel permits.  They expire soon.”

“So what’s holding you up, boy?  Go see Mom and Dad.  Have fun.  How long you going to be gone for?”  Deborah asks him.

“Two days.  Maybe three.”

“No problem.  Go have fun.”

“I cannot leave till morning.”

“So go find something to do.  Like sleep.”  Yeah, he looks like he could use about a month’s worth.  Sort of like the rest of us.  I down my Bengali while he’s there.  No point in even letting crappy beer go to waste in these parts.

“You want to share beer?”  Sampong asks.

Man, I like Sampong.  He’s a cool guy.  It’s rude to say no to guests in these parts, and he’ll probably get real miffed if we don’t let him have one.

“Okay.  One beer.  I’m really tired, though,”  Deb does a nice save.  Okay, small rain delay.  And I can go on line while they’re talking med stuff.  They consider it okay conversation to have over a beer.  Me, I consider it okay conversation only when someone needs our immediate attention.  And as for talking about people’s bodily fluids over dinner, I’m still having a tough time with that one.

“I’m gonna go play on line,” I tell Deb.  She gives me this look like, don’t be too long, I want this guy out of here soon.

I’m set up in the clinic.  Only place I have outlets.  Haven’t taken care of that for as long as we’ve been here.  But it works out okay.  The sat should be pretty stable right now.  Weather’s clear.

I start booting up and I hear the door open again.  God, the lack of privacy is starting to make me insane.  Yeah, I lived with the guys, and Frohike’s the ultimate in old mother hens, but at least I could go into my room and jerk off when I needed to without him watching.  I change the encryption codes again--global satellites change theirs every twelve hours, so once I’ve got those readings, I can change mine so that I’m not tracked.

I can hear the door again.  Damn, does everyone think it’s party time or something?  I hear Sandy.  I thought she was tired, man.  Least that’s what she said earlier.

Sandy comes clomping towards the clinic.  “Hey Ringo, my sister sent me some presents.  I told her to send one for you and Deborah.”  She holds up a bottle.  Jesus, do my eyes deceive me?

“Is that our old buddy Jose Cuervo you’re holding?”  I ask her.

“None other,” she smiles.  “I told Diane how much I missed margaritas.”

“You tell her there’s nothing like ice and mixer in these parts?”

“I don’t know about you, Ringo, but I think I’m ready for straight shots.  Oh, and could I use your computer to email my family?  My parents worry, and I want Diane to know I got this.”

I’m only in the main server right now.  “All yours.  If you give me the bottle.”

“Help yourself.”

I head back to Deb and Sampong.  Deb’s all excited.

“Don’t just stand there, Ringo, open the damn bottle!”

“I think I go now,”  Sampong says.

“Yes, get some sleep, enjoy your trip,”  Deb says to him as I find two tea cups--closest thing we have to glasses--and pour us each a generous shot of the beautiful gold liquid.  I have this vague memory that doing shots of tequila involves some practice at heavy lifting, but since we’ve had Thai whiskey, this is probably gonna be damn smooth by comparison.

We toast, to people who bring good booze and leave quickly, and both of us down the shot at the same time.  God, this stuff is good.  We do another shot.  Sandy finishes her email, and we offer her a shot.  She does two with us, at which point she says if she does another she won’t be able to walk.  We assure her that walking is important.  I even offer to walk her back, but she’s only in the next hut, the one she and Sampong share.  No, they’re not doing it, and if they are, I don’t care.

One thing I also forgot is that tequila makes me very, very horny.  I don’t care if anyone else is doing it.  I just know I want to.

Me and Deb down one more shot.  “I’m ready for a Kirin now,” she announces.  “I’m not sure I’m ready for a full-on hangover.”

I pop a fresh one for her and one for me.  The room’s spinning a little, but kind of pleasantly so.

“Thank God nobody’s due right now,”  she moans as she pulls on her beer.

“You mean, like nobody’s scheduled to pop a kid right now?”

“I think we’re in the clear for another month, if I’ve calendared them all correctly.  Which I may not have, but the two women that are due are both doing well and are healthy and I’m not expecting anything complicated.”  She then crosses her fingers.  “God, I was not cut out for ob/gyn.”

“You do it pretty good.”

“Practice helps.”

“So are you still thinking of the applied version?”  I ask her.  Being around all these people having kids, it’s driving home the point that she wants kids someday, too.  She used to say her bioclock was ticking.  Now she’s saying the alarm’s going off, and she can only hit the snooze for so long.  But not here, she says.  Me, I’m kind of like, I’d like to have kids with her someday.  I’ve gotten used to the idea that if I’m gonna be with her, I’m gonna end up being a dad.  But that’s in the future.  Once we get out of here.

Once we get home.  Which I really should be working on, but man, she looks so good...

“When we get out of here, I’d like to.”

“What about your fellowship?”

“I don’t think I have one anymore.  I wish I knew where we were going to be, when.  I really want to be back home to have kids.”  She looks at me, kind of sad like.  “We are going to get home again, aren’t we?”

“Yeah.  We are.”  If it’s the last thing I do, we’ll get home.  It’s just a matter of when.  Of course, there is the little matter of nailing Runtz, but it’s kind of hard to think about that right now when she’s so close and I’m snuggled against her tits and all I want is to drag her off to bed and do the wild thing.  She slips her hands under my shirt and starts massaging my lower back.  She knows this turns me on.

I look at the decimated bottle of Jose.  Not much left.

“You wanna kill it?”  I ask her.

“Sure.  As we said, here’s to good friends that leave in a hurry.”  She’s slurring her words.  Yep, she’s ripped.  I’m pretty bad myself, but I pour the last two shots, and we down ‘em.  Once the booze is finished, her hands start checking out the waistband of my shorts.

“Girl, you go any lower, you better mean it,”  I say as I start kissing her, real hard and deep.

She and I try getting up, which is a little hard when you’re as ripped as we are, but I’ve got an even greater disadvantage, and that’s her all over me.  Nothing’s as intoxicating as Deb.

“We could do it here,”  she giggles.

“Nah.  I wanna do it in the bed.  Really love you.”

“I’m all yours.”


And it’s killer.  They say liquor makes you numb but I’m anything but that.  Okay, makes it a little harder to get rid of all the stupid clothes that are in the way, but it’s like every nerve in me is wired, right into her.  I feel so jacked into her, and we’re still kissing and touching and giggling.

She’s so awesome.  Have I mentioned she’s got beautiful tits?  I make good use of those, and listening to her moan and feeling her wiggle while I’m running my hands and my mouth over them is just making me want her more and more and more.  Heroin could never be this addictive.

Maybe I feel this way because it’s like we’re really partners now.  Before it was kind of like we were a couple but we were still sort of separate.  One cool thing about being stuck in this miserable situation, we got to be really close.  Maybe that’s what they mean by two becomes one?  I’m not sure.  I don’t feel any less like me, in fact, more so.  I just feel so tight with her, like being together’s gotten so natural, I don’t think about it any other way anymore.  I don’t even think about what life’d be like without her because I can’t imagine us not together.

Especially not right now.  By the way, she knows doctor tricks.  And they leave me wanting even more.  Everything’s liquid and golden and I’m not talking about Jose.  There’s one citronella candle burning (keeps the bugs away) and watching her face in the candlelight, it’s so amazing.  I think this is what ecstatic looks like.

“You’re gorgeous,”  she whispers to me.

“You should talk.”

“Want you, Ringo.”

Oh, do I want her.  She opens her legs for me, I go slow.  I’m getting better at it.  Watching her face light up, hearing the sounds she makes, I slip in a little at a time.  It’s fun teasing her like this.

“In me.  All the way.”  She’s almost whimpering it.

Oh God.  The most amazing sensations come over me as I go as far in as I can.  I can’t even describe it all.

“Love you so much,” slips out of my mouth, and I mean it, even like I never meant it before.  I can’t even talk anymore, I don’t think she can either, we’re just going with the moment, letting it roll over us like this giant warm tsunami, I can’t tell if it’s me or her crying out, all I know is I never felt this fantastic before, and believe me, I’ve never come away unsatisfied.  I stop thinking, all there is is sensation, everything fades to blue and silver, nothing’s there but her skin and her body and her breath and her sweat all mixed with mine.  It’s beyond intense.

Last thing I remember, as she’s curled up against my chest, is thinking, amazing that there can be heaven right here in the middle of hell.  I can live with that for tonight.

Getting out of hell can wait till morning.

Go To Chapter 14