Chapter 01



“What the hell!”

For an instant there had been a lot of stinging pain.  The pain had quickly subsided to a dull numbing sensation.  Gerard’s fingers could not lift the edge of the sticky rectangle and the skin of his neck moved with the fabric as he tugged.  Gerard started to turn and then sank into the man’s arms.  He tried to speak as the man walked him into the stall and could not.

“That microneedle patch is quick acting,” said the man as he eased Gerard onto the toilet.  “A lot better than the transdermal patch.”

Gerard was frozen yet awake.  He watched the man remove his blue blazer and then hang the jacket on the door hook.

“The transdermal patches work like a nicotine patch, slow release.”

Trapped behind his eyes, the side of his face flat against the cool tile wall, Gerard watched the man crouch in front of him and unzip the duffel.  The man pulled out a clip-on bow tie and, still crouching, wrapped the tie cord around and under the collar of his white shirt.

“A real headache.  The skin is a good barrier.  You have to estimate when it will take effect.”  His shirt buttoned and tie clipped, the man opened his hands, palms up, to measure his statement.  “You take into account how much a guy weighs, how much he ate, monitor what he ate.  I mean c’mon, if a guy just had lunch, you could forget it.”

The man dropped his hands to his thighs and patted them twice.  He smiled at Gerard, stood up, and took Gerard by the shoulders.

“You know, once I had to follow a guy for three hours before he got queasy, the whole time tryin’ not to get noticed.  On the subway, down fifth and over to sixth, every floor of Macy’s.”  Gerard felt the man lift him and pull the white waiters coat from his shoulders.  The man shook his head, “I swear, I thought that guy was never gonna go down.  Now these microneedles are almost instant,” the man adjusted Gerard so that Gerard was sitting upright facing him, “but you know that.”  The man gave Gerard a pat on the cheek.

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