Longform

BUYING TIME

Page 3 of 7

Myers slaps Jeff lightly on the back and tells him there's probably nothing to worry about. "But if you feel pain in your legs or scrotum, you get yourself to the hospital immediately, okay?" he says. He makes Jeff repeat the instructions.

The day's last patient is also new to the clinic. Roger looks ten years younger than the thirty-two years he gives in response to the doctor's question. He's rail-thin and his big, brown eyes follow Myers around the room. Beneath the pale skin of his face, dark lumps immediately signal why he's here.

Roger is accompanied by Tim, a large, muscular man who hovers near him like a mother bear watching her cub. His attention flies back and forth between his companion and the doctor as Roger reports waking up in the mornings with a bloody nasal discharge attributed to the Kaposi's that has invaded his sinuses.

Myers listens attentively, then launches into his spiel about who qualifies for the drug studies being conducted at the clinic.

Roger nods and seems satisfied. But Tim has questions. He works with children and tends to pick up every childhood sniffle. If Roger's immune system will be lower than ever as a result of the chemotherapy, is there any danger from childhood bugs?

Myers tells him to use common sense. "If you feel ill, try to avoid much contact," he says. "But otherwise, don't worry about it. It's more important to have your support."

"Any other questions?" Myers asks as he prepares to leave. "There's no such thing as a silly question."

Tim looks uncomfortable, as though he's not sure if the question he wants to ask constitutes treachery. He looks at Roger, then at Myers, then at Roger again. Finally, he blurts out, "Kaposi's isn't contagious...is it?"

Myers has just begun to reassure him that cancer is not communicable when Tim interrupts, glancing at Roger, who just stares at him and hurriedly says, "Yeah, I knew that. I just..."

The last remains unsaid. Myers nods. It's not a crime to be frightened of AIDS, and the couple will need all of their courage and love in the days ahead.

The doctor gets ready to leave the clinic. He'll have to return later tonight to write up the voluminous reports necessary to comply with the drug studies. But first he plans to attend the mayor's HIV Resources Council meeting. The council will be awarding Ryan White Title I and II monies--the largest federal funding for AIDS services. DGH has applied for nearly $1.8 million to expand the clinic's services.

Before he goes, Myers looks in on the men in the Library. He notices that John is missing. He locates him in one of the examination rooms, asleep on the table as the orange liquid runs down a tube into his arm.

John rouses himself from his nap, looking sheepish. The doctor and patient embrace for a long minute. They take their time pulling away from each other. They never know when an embrace will be the last.

Homos, the Return of the Bogeyman, and Cheating Death

It was a rainy night in 1960, and Adam Myers was standing at the curb with his thumb out, trying to hitch a ride.

A freshman at Villanova University, he'd chosen the Catholic school because he wanted to feel part of the majority for once. Although he had never really suffered from any sort of prejudice as one of the few goyim at his high school, he'd felt left out economically and socially, especially during Jewish holidays and community events.

For a good Catholic boy, the conservative university was a reassuring haven with strict rules about wearing coats and ties to school, as well as codes of conduct. Adam was a virgin and very conscious that even thinking about sex was a mortal sin.

On this night, though, sex was the last thing on his mind. He was standing out in the rain, trying to stay dry, hoping for a ride. He hadn't waited long when a car that had begun to pass him in the dim light came to a screeching halt. Adam ran to the car, opened the door and climbed in.

"Thanks for stopping," he said.
The driver put the car in gear and began moving down the road. He appeared to be in his late forties and was conservatively dressed in a business suit. The man didn't say anything or look at him, but Adam began to feel uneasy when the man placed his right hand on the bench seat and began to slide it over. The hand touched Adam's leg just as the car came to a stop at a stoplight.

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Steve Jackson