Santiago No. 3: Appointment Day

Two days later, Councillor Rafael Santiago is expected to visit a Manhattan hospital under the assumed identity of Liam Turducken.

Dressed in a pair of jeans and a golf shirt, with a light jacket on and glasses – Santiago enters the hospital and alerts the receptionist that he has arrived for his appointment, under his assumed identity. He sighs, looking around hoping he is not recognized as he waits to be ushered into the doctor’s office.

“The doctor will see you as soon as possible,” the receptionist – a pudgy woman – burbles at Santiago. “Please make yourself comfortable.”

The busy waiting room features rows of formed plastic chairs that seem designed more with torture than comfort in mind. And sitting in one of those chairs, oddly enough, is a journalist from the Consortium Broadcast Network. She glances up from her PDA to see the familiar face of the Martian politician.

“Councillor Santiago?” she ventures, rising from the chair and approaching him.

The Councillor is startled, has his cover been blown that quickly? He adjusts his fake glasses, squinting. “Do I know you?” He asks. “My friend says I have a striking resemblance to that man, I can’t see it myself though.” He shrugs, offering a slight grin.

The journalist frowns, eyes narrowing as she studies the man’s face. “Well, Councillor Santiago always did look taller on the vids. And skinnier.” She shrugs. “Sorry for the confusion.”

The receptionist announces: “Mr. Turducken, Dr. Clowell will see you now.”

That gets an eyebrow rising from the reporter. “Turducken? And you’re here to see a gynecologist?”

Santiago nods to the woman, “Indeed. And you’re right, I think I need to start hitting the gym abit more.”

The Councillor stands up, heading towards the door to see the doctor not wanting to take any more questions from a reporter.

The reporter captures a mildly blurred image of the man as he departs, muttering: “Damned peculiar.”

Moments later, Santiago finds himself in a curtained-off room with a dark-haired young woman in teal scrubs. She calls up his file on a PDA and says, “Turducken. Couldn’t you just use Smith or Jones?”

Santiago grins, “What’s wrong with Turducken, hmmmm?” He asks. He’s just trying to buy time as he searches for the datapad he brought with him with the information he needs.

“I’m Dr. Clowell,” the woman says, crossing her arms as she peers suspiciously at her new patient. “It’s not absolutely unheard of for a man to visit a gynecological specialist. It is, of course, exceedingly rare. Usually it’s for anal cancer screening, but that’s the sort of thing you get a referral for. I don’t think this is a referral, is it?”

“Say what?” Santiago says, having expected to see another type of doctor. He shakes his head, “Anal cancer screening it is then. And uhhh, yes.. A ‘referral’.” He sighs, finding the datapad with the information on it from the transmission he received. “Alas, doctor, while officially we will say I am here for a cancer screening, I need you to look over this information.. I was told you might have some information.” The datapad contains all the information from the transmission he received earlier. He watches the woman, waiting to see her response.

Her reaction is a furrowed brow, clenched jaw, and: “Who are you *really*? And why do you want to know about Maureen?”

“Rafael Santiago. Olympia Dome Councillor for the Consortium.” He replies, taking a seat. “As far as anyone knows, I’m on Mars attending a meeting right now, and my alter ego is here to get checked. Tell me what you know, we’ll compare notes.”

The doctor frowns. “I told that other intelligence agent everything I know, which isn’t much. I’m not sure why anyone asks me. I knew she was a spy, but not much else.”

“Other.. intelligence agent? Neidermeyer?” Santiago asks. “He was here? Or someone else? What did you tell them? When was he here? Did you give him any specifics?”

“Look,” the doctor replies, “I’m not supposed to talk about this. He told me other people might come around, asking questions. Warned me they’d be up to no good.” She frowns. “Don’t suppose you’d come in person if you had harm in mind, though.”

“True. Also, I have too much to lose if I did anything stupid.” Santiago replies. “So I assume we are talking about the same person.” He turns to look out the window, slipping his hand into his pocket and turning on a recording device. “I know abit, but you need to fill in the blanks.”

She furrows her brow. “Not here. I’ve got actual patients with real needs, Councillor. I’m willing to talk, but after my shift is over. There’s a cafe near a duck pond in Central Park called Wynden’s. I’ll meet you there tonight around seven. If I see anyone else with you, you won’t see me. Okay?”

“With all due respect, Doctor, I’m here with an appointment. Fill out some fake forms and requisition papers and we should talk here. If I leave too soon, it will arouse suspicion.” Santiago says, hoping he can get some information now.

“Suspicion!” That gets a laugh from Dr. Clowell. “You show up in the hospital after making an appointment with a gynecologist, using a fake name. I think you’d be better served leaving right now, claiming your secretary made the appointment with the wrong doctor, and meet me at Central Park.”

“Very well. I will be there.” Santiago nods, then departs the office.

Later that day, Dr. Clowell sits at a table outside Wynden’s in Central Park with her back to a wall of the building.

Santiago arrives at Wynden’s, not an establishment he frequents but it’s where he was told to be. He turns the recording device on before sitting across from the doctor. “Doctor, shall we finish our discussion?” He says, offering a polite nod.

“She nearly killed a bunch of people at Cape Canaveral and now she’s dead,” Dr. Clowell says, lifting a cup of coffee to her lips. After a sip, she concludes, “I wish I’d never met her.”

“I think you can be a little more specific than that.” Santiago replies, ordering a tea. “What did you tell Consortium Intelligence?”

The doctor knits her brow, then crosses her arms. “We were roommates in college. She didn’t spend a lot of time on campus, though. She told me that she got an internship with a firm called Avatek. Never heard of the place. Couldn’t find it, no matter how I searched the infomatrix. One weekend, she came back with her arm in a sling and half her face bandaged from burns. Told me it was a camping accident. I called that bullshit. Then she said it was an angry ex-boyfriend. I asked when she found time to date, let alone build a relationship that volatile. Bullshit. And then she said ‘I’m an apprentice spy in Consortium Intelligence and a Belter saboteur nearly blew me apart with a car bomb.’ So I told her I was tired of hearing bullshit answers and went to bed.”

Santiago nods. “The name Avatek doesn’t ring any bells. I’ll check it out though. But it sounds like given everything that has happened, maybe she was telling the truth in the end?” He sighs, pondering. “And the Intelligence Agent that came to you, what did he say? Did you tell him all this?”

“Neidermeyer? Yes. He didn’t say much. I told him what I know,” she says. She takes another sip from her cup, then adds, “I also told him about the last call. A month or so before she died. She apologized for shorting me on our apartment rent back in the day. The day after she died, the bank recorded a deposit from an unlabeled account on Luna. Something in the neighborhood of 200,000 credits. Helped cover my college loans!”

“Interesting. Can you send me the account number?” He writes down some information on a piece of paper for the woman to send the information to and hands it to the doctor. “Unless there is anything else I need to know, I should start following up on these leads?”

“I could still check you for rectal cancer,” Dr. Clowell replies, placing her cup on the table. “Scans I got before you left my office were negative for that. Good news. You should cut back on the cholesterol, though.”

Santiago stands up, snorting. “Only way anyone checks my rectum anything, doctor, is if they take me to dinner first.” He chuckles, “We shall be in touch if things develop.” He nods to the doctor before walking off to head back to his office.

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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