Chapter 4 – Au revoir New York

The year was 1932, the clinic was filled with men sick with some unknown cause. Some of them were struggling with breathing, while many had lost their ability to hear and were having minor seizures. Almost everyone looked invited by death.

Their below poverty line status brought them to this free treatment camp at the end of Monte Rosa Street in western Alabama. These men, for the most part, were illiterate sharecroppers and all they knew about the disease was “it was a mild fever with some allergic reactions.” That’s what Dr. AM have been telling them.

Dr. Anne Marie was their primary care physician. She promised their families that it’s just a start and they will improve in time. “The medicines are working” she would be heard saying to the relatives. Something was unique about this patients, their color, they were all black men.

15 years later, a file was lying on the desk of special agent Bo Scottsdale. Her chirpy self got a roadblock in the tongue when she saw “a file” on her desk. Files never got her good news, and they always signaled to a spark of life about to go dark. She hated this job but she was protecting the country, and under the name of the motherland, she was ready to fight any evil that came in the way.

Bo Scottsdale was Active 56’s best assassin. She was trained for this job right from her teenage. Bo was a special child, she was a great fighter and had a presence of mind beyond imagination. She could single-handedly take down four giant men without any weapon. She was approached by Active 56 at 14 years. Her mother convinced her that it was her best chance to do something for the nation, a kind of opportunity not everyone gets. It paid well, she got to go places for work, and she had some of the best work colleagues.

The only drawback; it was a secret agency funded by government to maintain peace. The aim of Active 56 was to create a balance in the world. They would eliminate any kind of threat without creating panic and chaos. Their Intel came from CIA.  The institution had 56 world’s best assassins, and within no time, it was evident that Bo was the best they had. She could handle dangerous operation seamlessly and gracefully. No trace of anything left behind.

A doctor in her mid-sixties named Anne Marie had a target on her back. Bo was ordered to take her down with the claims of Doctor being a traitor and the reason for the death of 399 black men in 1932. As Bo read the file, she slowly unearthed her history.

Dr. Anne Marie was a renowned doctor of her time, and in 1932 she took part in a covert operation financed by some international drug company to study the effect of their drug on Syphilis. All the participating black men were never told they had syphilis. In fact, they were not even told about any kind of study. Those people came from such poverty that most of them had never seen a doctor before. They could only visit Dr. Anne Marie because it was a free medical camp. Their families had high hopes of curing them, but they all died the slow and sad death. The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.

Bo saw the attached pictures of dead men, and she felt sorry for them. Some of them were so young that Bo could imagine their alternative life where they had a beautiful family of their own and were living happily. She felt a pit in her stomach for all the anger she had just developed for the doctor.

“People like her are cancer to this society, ” she thought to herself, and she prepared on taking her next target down.

The doctor had been hiding since 15 long years after a whistleblower unearthed her covert operation but now no one could save her from Bo.

Natasha was done with her work by 5:30 pm and decided to head home and start her private investigation with Chloe. She was determined to know all about herself. She took the taxi to work every day, and Chloe would drop her back.

“What should we call ourselves? NC Private Investigators” Chloe laughed

“Shhhhh…..just be fast. I want to get everything before Pa enters this house.”

“Yes my Nancy Drew, I will fast, super-fast.”

Natasha was little confused about the whole situation, but she needed to find out about herself, especially when Pa was so strict about keeping things away from her. They went to the storage, pulled out every bag and started to open them one by one. Old clothes, newspaper cuttings of disaster around the world and some old dusty novels. Nothing of particular significance.

“Dude, you are like the first chic I know without any family pictures popped out from anywhere”.

Their house might have been decorated with best paintings from artists around the world, but there wasn’t a single family picture.

“Honeybunch, this is taking us nowhere” Chloe had that grin on her face

“Tell me what? You have that face again.”

“errr..well nothing just a thought.”

“What thought?”

“Do you…ummm…can you…I mean…”

“Say it, Chloe.”

“Can you trust Pa? I feel he is hiding some bomb there.”

She looked around one more time, just to be sure. She couldn’t find a thing. She took an intake of breath, trying to think straight. Her instincts aligned with Chloe but her heart said differently. She trusted Pa too much, but she had seen him being strange all the time; having those secret conversations in whispers, talking to some strange men every Tuesday, going quiet when she entered the room, and a lot of such small little things that were pointing towards Pa being dishonest with her.

“Oooooh look what I found, your medal.”

“My medal; lemme see.”

“oopsy whoops sorry doesn’t belong to you. Whose Scottsdale? Your mom?”

“My mom? My mom was Erin Landberg, and she was ….”

“She was? What? “

“Chloe I don’t remember my mom, ” and she started sobbing. A large arm circled around her waist as Chloe hugged her trying to comfort her. For next few minutes, she was lost in her own world, oblivious to the sound of the door knob opening.

 

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