Above Suspicion - Short Story (3rd installment)

Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:52 PM

“Hey, accidents happen,” she replied in a sugary sweet voice, giving  him the best smile she could muster under the circumstances.  It had in fact taken her hours upon hours to redo the research.  Not to mention, having to have the interpreter explain to twelve sets of parents as to why she had to conduct their interviews over again had been beyond uncomfortable.  She was on a rather tight timeline and only had a few more weeks to shore up her research findings until she had to head back to the States.

“How is your research project going, Kevin?  It’s in molec  … molecular astrophysics, right?”
Kevin chuckled.  “No, not quite.  One of my degrees that I’m working on is in molecular physics.  My research project for the summer is involving a placebo-drug controlled testing program for an AIDs vaccination program that may potentially be implemented globally if it’s a success.”
“Oh, I see.  That sounds very impressive.  What exactly do you do in the program?”
“Well I mainly just follow up with the patients.  It’s a double-blind study so neither I nor they are aware of which ones receive the actual vaccine and which receive the placebo.  I basically determine if they are having any side effects, big or small.  The drug trial period lasts for longer than my research project, of course.  In addition, I’m doing most of the scut work—you know running to get the lead researchers glasses of water,” he said with a self-depreciating smile.
“How did you get involved in something like that?”
Kevin laughed again.  “Well, I know some low people in high places.”

“Yoo Hoo!  Hello, Vivienne!”  They both turned their heads towards the small administrative building located to their left.  Hanging out the door was one of the receptionists at Our Homeland, Marie Lowrey.  Marie was a middle-aged, rosy cheeked woman who looked like she stepped right off a Christmas greeting card where she was fulfilling the role of “Mrs. Clause.”
“You have a telephone call from a young lady named Sophie,” Marie continued.
Sophie was Sophie Njoku, one of her research subjects.  The young girl was around fifteen years of age and went to a local girl’s school.  Even though Vivienne had given the teenager her telephone number and told her to call if she or her parents had any questions, it was unusual that she would be calling two weeks after her interview had been taken.
Bidding Kevin adieu, Vivienne left the outside seating area near the large willow tree which happened to be at the very center of the courtyard in front of the Our Homeland facility.  She exchanged the hot outside for the hot inside of the building.  Despite the millions of dollars that were generated by the non-profit, part of the mission goals were to use natural resources wisely—as such, air conditioning was used very sparingly.
The building itself was relatively small, only the size of a three-story home.  In it was the hub of Our Homeland’s Senegal operations.  The first floor contained a pretty sophisticated computer lab which the researchers and aids workers were able to utilize.  The second floor contained a couple of small rooms that were used as a library and storage for supplies.  The tour of the building had bypassed the third floor, which they had been told was additional storage space.  Vivienne walked into the main foyer of the building and picked up the phone that Marie had placed downwards on a desk.
“Hello, Sophie?” Vivienne inquired into the phone.
“Hi…Ms. Davies?” a quiet, shy voice answered back.
“Sophie, what’s the matter?”
“I need your help, Ms. Davies … I need to talk to you right away.”  Vivienne couldn’t see Sophie, of course, but the girl sounded like she was on the verge of tears.
“What’s wrong?” Vivienne asked the concern evident in her voice.
“I don’t really want to say over the phone, but can you meet me later this evening at my school?”   Vivienne had interviewed Sophie earlier while in one of the school conference rooms, so she knew exactly where it was located.
“Sure …  I can meet you later at around 7:00,” Vivienne stated.
“Thank you, Ms. Davies,” Sophie replied back before hanging up the phone.  Vivienne sat for a few minutes at the desk, unsure of what to make of the situation.  What had prompted the phone call? Why was Sophie’s voice so shaky that she appeared to have difficulty even getting the words out?  Vivienne attempted to push the conversation out of her mind for the next couple of hours while she got up to finish some more of her work.
Above Suspicion © 2013 Loren Mathis
 All Rights Reserved.
Loren Mathis

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