Janet Ross finished the stimulation series profoundly depressed. She stood in the corridor watching as Benson was wheeled away. She had a last glimpse of the white bandages around his neck as the nurse turned the corner; then he was gone.
She walked down the hallway in the other direction, through the multicolored NPS doors. For some reason, she found herself thinking about Arthur's yellow Ferrari. It was so marvelous and elegant and irrelevant to anything. The perfect toy. She wished she were in Monte Carlo, stepping out of Arthur's Ferrari wearing her Balenciaga gown, going up the stairs to the casino to gamble with nothing more important than money.
She looked at her watch. Christ, it was only 12:15. She had half the day ahead of her. What was it like to be a pediatrician? Probably fun. Tickling babies and giving shots and advising mothers on toilet training. Not a bad way to live.
She thought again of the bandages on Benson's shoulder, and went into Telecomp. She had hoped to speak to Gerhard alone, but instead everyone was in the room - McPherson, Morris, Ellis, everyone. They were all jubilant, toasting each other with coffee in Styrofoam cups.
Someone thrust a cup into her hands, and McPherson put his arm around her in a fatherly way. "I gather we turned Benson on to you today."
"Yes, you did," she said, managing to smile.
"Well, I guess you're used to that."
"Not exactly," she said.
The room got quieter, the festive feeling slid away. She felt bad about that, but not really. There was nothing amusing about shocking a person into sexual arousal. It was physiologically interesting, was frightening and pathetic, but not funny. Why did they all find it so goddamned funny?
Ellis produced a hip flask and poured clear liquid into her coffee. "Makes it Irish," he said, with a wink. "Much better."
She nodded, and glanced across the room at Gerhard.
"Drink up, drink up," Ellis said.
Gerhard was talking to Morris about something. It seemed a very intent conversation; then she heard Morris say, "… you please pass the pussy?" Gerhard laughed; Morris laughed. It was some kind of joke.
"Not bad, considering," Ellis said. "What do you think?"
"Very good," she said, taking a small sip. She managed to get away from Ellis and McPherson and went over to Gerhard. He was momentarily alone; Morris had gone off to refill his cup.
"Listen," she said, "can I talk to you for a second?"
"Sure," Gerhard said. He bent his head closer to hers.
"What is it?"
"I want to know something. Is it possible for you to monitor Benson here, on the main computer?"
"You mean monitor the implanted unit?"
Gerhard shrugged. "I guess so, but why bother? We know the implanted unit is working- "
"I know," she said. "I know. But will you do it anyway, as a precaution?"
Gerhard said nothing. His eyes said: Precaution against what?
"Okay," he said. "I'll punch in a monitoring subroutine as soon as they leave." He nodded to the group. "I'll have the computer check on him twice an hour."
"Four times an hour?"
"How about every ten minutes?" she said.
"Okay," he said. "Every ten minutes."
"Thanks," she said. Then she drained her coffee, feeling the warmth hit her stomach, and she left the room.