“Now, Mr. LaCost, would you be so kind as to shed some light on, what I guess we can refer to as our new animal sanctuary program?”
“You mean the lab mice?”
“Yes, I mean the lab mice.”
They had just arrived this morning. How could the big guy have known so soon?
Janet. She hates mice, scared to death of them.
“Boss, they are simple white mice, being used for blood and tissue samples that are necessary for accumulating the data I need. It has to do with the body’s metabolic reactions to food and medicine. They will not be hurt.”
Jason continued, his voice lowered a bit.
“They will, of course, be confined to the lab at all times.”
The last comment brought a smile to Schimmel’s face. He was thinking of this morning’s conversation with Janet.
“Well, let’s be sure they do,” he said. “Having rodents at a biotech facility can lead to some pretty undesirable scenarios, none of which we need, now that our subsidiary is starting up.”
“Right,” Jason said.
The big guy continued.
“Getting this thing up and running is proving to be interesting. We’re dealing with an unusual set of hurdles here.”
“Huboral?” Jason asked.
“Jason, Oscar Crowne is not a man who takes disappointment well. I don’t know exactly how interested he is in us at this point. But ultimately, as the value becomes known, he will become more and more interested. That’s why I needed to take steps to head off any possible action on his part.”
Jason looked at the floor and smiled. This type of thing was so far out of his field. It was comforting knowing Schimmel was handling it.
“And I thought you hired Jack Thompson as a bodyguard.”
Setting his reading glasses down on the desk, Schimmel leaned back into his well-worn leather chair.
“Although Jack would make an excellent bodyguard, he’s here because of his connections. They’re extensive, well placed, and reliable. He’s a man who can help before, and after, something happens. He came here as a favor to me. We go way back.”
“So, I gathered.”
“You don’t hire someone like Jack,” the big man said smiling. “You retain his services.”
Schimmel was relaxed. The future would bring new challenges, but right now he had all his ducks lined up, and things were going smoothly. Jason stood and turned towards the door.
“He’s rather impressed with you, by the way,” Schimmel said.
“Uh, just doing my job boss,” Jason replied, a bit surprised.
“Oh, he’s impressed with the work you’ve done here, anyone would be. But that’s not what I was referring to.”
Jason’s eyebrows came together in a questioning glance.
“Excuse me boss?”
“What he’s impressed with is your behavior at the picnic.”
Jason was quiet.
“There were probably fifty or sixty men nearby when Listerman and his friends approached me. Their intentions were pretty obvious.”
Schimmel looked Jason right in the eyes and lowered his voice.
“When the shit hit the fan, there were only two standing with me, you and Jack. I saw how fast you came running when it looked like I was in trouble, so did he. That kind of thing means a lot to a man like Jack. He feels it has to do with the measure of one’s character.” He paused for just a moment. “And so do I. Thank you son.”
Jason felt a little overwhelmed. He didn’t really know what to say.
“I uh...you’re welcome boss. I don’t know how much help I would have been, and, obviously the situation was under control with Jack and all.”
“That’s not the point. You were there in harm’s way, without hesitation. I won’t forget that.”
Again, Jason was quiet.
Schimmel walked over to the coffee machine, poured himself a cup, and pointed the pot in Jason’s direction.
“Uh, no thanks. I really should get back to the lab.”
Jason turned once more and headed for the door. Schimmel chimed in.
“He was wondering if you would like some training.”
Jason turned back around.
“Self-defense, you know, Martial Arts stuff.”
The company genius cocked his head the way a dog does when he hears a new sound. Schimmel couldn’t help but grin.
“Jack said, that since you’re the type that tends to come to the rescue, it wouldn’t hurt if you had a little extra negotiating power once you get there.”
Jason didn’t know if he should feel grateful, or slighted.
Jack Thompson didn’t seem the type to casually offer self-defense lessons. Realizing this was like Yo-Yo Ma offering to teach one the cello, Jason decided on grateful.
“Tell him I would appreciate that very much.”
“After she had her bath, and gotten ready for bed, she asked me for the Mozart CD’s again. Honestly Jason, the child is positively obsessed with Mozart.”
He took the opening and grabbed himself some of the chips and salsa on the table. It might be his only chance. He had long since learned that Alison consumed food faster than any human should be capable of. Sarah was, again, finding her way to and from the lady’s room.
“I knew she would be,” Jason said through a mouthful of chips. “Genius respects genius. That’s why I got her the entire collection for her birthday.”
Alison pulled the bowl of chips over to her side of the table. “It’s more than that though. She doesn’t just enjoy listening to Mozart, she understands Mozart.”
“I know she does.”
“Jason, when I turned the music on, I sat on the couch with her and listened. I had never really done that before. Usually I’m busy doing something, grading art projects or whatever. I would listen, but if I’m working on something it’s more or less background music.”
He pulled the bowl of chips back toward his side of the table.
“The thing is, when Sarah and I were on the couch, and we were listening together, I wasn’t just listening to the music, I understood it! I could feel what Mozart felt when he wrote it. The flow and the sequence of it all made sense like it never had before. I didn’t just appreciate the music, I began to actually understand it.”
Jason was smiling big time. This was confirmation.
“It’s about time.”
“It’s about time?”
“Yes, it’s about time.”
Alison gave him the most perplexing look. He finished chewing and continued.
“When we first met, the project I was working on had to do with Recombinant DNA formation of plants. At least that’s where it started out. Before long, I was learning more and more about how things work at the molecular level, and by the time the project had completed, I was picking up on how things work on the sub-atomic level. My new research is geared in the same direction, only this time I’m doing it with animals.”
He grabbed another mouthful of chips and salsa before he continued. Alison just listened. She realized that sometimes she could forget just how intelligent this guy she loved really was.
“Combining this with what we’ve learned about how Sarah’s mind works has helped me approach this new research from an entirely different angle. It’s been leading to some really interesting conclusions.”
Alison cut in.
“I think I’m starting to get lost here. Are you saying that Sarah’s intellectual gifts are somehow connected with the research you’re doing?”
“In a way yes.”
He thought for a moment.
“It’s going to take some time to explain. I know we’re all hungry, and Sarah’s almost back. How about we continue this tonight after she goes to bed?”
Alison looked behind Jason toward the lady’s room, and saw Sarah coming through the doorway. She really wanted to continue this conversation now, but realized he was right.
Turning back to him, she smiled.
“Well, I do have a bottle of chardonnay already chilled.”