The company whose database was used for coronavirus studies in prestigious medical journals that resulted in worldwide changes to healthcare policies has only three employees; one is a science-fiction writer, another is an “adult content model,” and the third is a defendant in three medical malpractice lawsuits.
The Guardian, June 3, 2020
It was getting late and I was tired, but I had to hang in there for another ten minutes until Audrey arrived from her other job, whatever that was. I was waiting for the computer to crunch the latest numbers from hospitals around the world as to the likely spread of the coronavirus, the deadly disease that changed the course of world history–all because of our data!
The thing I like the most about working at Surgisphere is the casual dress code. Audrey, for example, likes to wear extremely low-cut blouses and high-rise hot pants that expose her thong straps. I don’t know what Madame Curie did to goose her career in science, but let me tell you, nothing screams “scientific breakthrough” like a little cheesecake when she comes in to work on the morning shift.
“We’re ready to take a sample of your ‘hot sauce.’”
I turned my attention back to my draft of “Doom Lords of the Planet Gnarf-X,” my first full-length science fiction novel. I’ve had a few short stories published in sci-fi rags–“Genome Thiefs From THX-1138 Spiral Galaxy,” “Red Planet Killer Wasps,” but I’m ready for the big-time–chicks asking for my autograph at Star Trek conventions, six-figure advances, cool fleece half-zip pullovers with my publisher’s logo on the left breast telling everybody I’m a real published author.
Madame Curie: “C’mon, baby–show us some skin!”
I mean, I pay attention to the data we mine, don’t get me wrong, but you tend to lose focus after a while. You go “snow blind” with all the numbers for St. Swithin’s Influenza and Pneumonia Center, Bangalore General Lying-In Hospital and HealthMatrixCarePartnerGeneralHealthAgain, a conglomerate formed when three HMOs collided with two PPOs at the corner of Michigan and Wacker. Besides, what’s the big deal about being a decimal point or so off? If, like me, you have congenital Liberal Arts Major Disease, you know–deep down in your heart, if not your head–that all big numbers are basically the same.
I caught the scent of Evening in Albany–Audrey’s “signature” fragrance, and in she strolled, just a few minutes late. Have to say, if we didn’t have a strict no-sex-between-employees-unless-one-is-the-CEO rule in our Employee Handbook, I’d be tempted to make a play for her. She’s so young and innocent, with such a refreshing girl-next-door smile and enormous mammary glands.
“Hey Miles–how are the space creatures coming?”
“Oh, you know. Blast one with a super-sonic ray gun, there’s another one right behind it.”
“Ha! It must be wonderful to be so talented.”
“Oh, it’s nothing really.” As I said these words I felt my manhood rise up and stiffen, like an Army recruit snapping to attention at the barking of a drill sergeant. Now, my inner horndog said to the side of my brain where language is formed, is the time to make your move.
“Like how?” the left side of my brain said to my libido.
“Ask her to tell you something about herself.”
“Well, aren’t you just a little curious about the ‘other job’ she’s sometimes late from?”
At this point I cut off the voices within me before Audrey heard their chatter, and tried to formulate a question that would open the door to her life outside the office for me to peer into.
“Public health data make me HAWT!”
“So, no overtime tonight?”
“I mean, at your ‘other’ job?”
“Oh, right. No, we ‘wrapped’ early tonight. It doesn’t take me long to get out of my work clothes.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, we pretty much have to wear what the company tells us to, and I guess they don’t like to spend a lot of money on uniforms.”
I took this in and mulled it over, like wine with cinnamon sticks and fruit and anise and honey and brandy. “What did you say you did?”
“Oh. Well, what is it you do?”
Her cheeks flushed crimson, and I realized I’d gone too far, too fast. When she’d recovered a bit, she inhaled and said “I’m an adult content model.”
I pursed my lips and nodded. “Well, we work on models here, although they always seem to turn out wrong!” I said with a laugh.
“You’re bad!” she said with a mock-scowl, like a National Honor Society Vice President turning down an invitation to go make out in the cloak room at a Junior Prom.
“I love it when you get all science-y!”
“I know–I’m just . . . curious.”
“Curiosity killed the cat.”
“Then curiosity is a very bad noun.”
She laughed, and I got the sense that I’d broken the ice and she was warming up to me–to mix my metaphors.
“What I do wouldn’t interest a super-intelligent novelist like you.”
“Okay. I’m an adult, right?”
I looked her straight in the eyes, barely clearing the bulging breasts that peeked out of her tank top. “As far as I can see, yes.”
“And a lot of places need content, right?”
“Nature abhors a vacuum.”
“Right. So, what I do is act like an adult in underpants so that lonely men around the world have something to look forward to at the end of the working day–or even during it.”
“So, it’s kind of a humanitarian mission?”
“But you get paid for it?”
“Let’s just say I ‘Do well by doing good.’”
“Like the CEO of a charity who makes a six-figure income berating people to give to the poor?”
“Sort of, but my other job doesn’t come with health or dental benefits.”
“Wow,” I exclaimed. “Is that even legal anymore?”
“I guess it is if you’re paid on a ‘piecework’ basis.”
Our little tete-a-tete was interrupted by our boss, the world-famous physician who’d put aside his medical practice and lucrative cryptocurrency business to fight the good fight against COVID-19 for fun and profit.
“Hey guys,” he said with the affable, devil-may-care smile that constantly graced his lips. “Any mail?”
“New issues of The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet,” I said, “and a couple more malpractice suits, a cease-and-desist order, and coupons from pizza places and donut shops.”
“Save the coupons, throw the rest out.”