2007-11-14: Finding A Connection


Ian_icon.gif Kitty_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: The interview with a widow finally takes place as the people in search of a cure for a virus struggle to find a connection. They find a little bit more than they expected, though. And apparently took far too many precautions.

Date It Happened: November 14th, 2007

Finding A Connection

Meatpacking District

The meatpacking distict of NYC is actually quite fashionable, despite its misleading name. An old, well-kept tenement building is where Mrs. Burstein lived with her husband, and still lives today on the first floor.

The sound of her breathing fills the room she practically makes her home, as she lays on a bed that's been adjusted so that she may sit half upright. Afternoon light filters through the blinds, barely catching a speck of dust — the room is very clean, very tidy. Once upon a time, she was an attractive woman; now, her blonde hair is dull and greying, pulled back into a bun, and her neat features are gaunt, her skin pale. She's in her fifties, but looks much older. Unaware that she's getting visitors today, she works quietly on a scrapbook laid out atop the blanket over her lap.

Flickering of lights greeted Ian when he got to the apartment, and not caused by him. Luckily, as Peter promised, he got it under control fairly fast. Piling into a cab, which he pay for, rather than a rented car, the three headed over to the meatpacking district on the west side of Manhattan and piled out. Checking his watch— which luckily was not fried— he moves up to the tenement building and looks for the right one. He's dressed nicely, but didn't go as far as to put on his old nurse uniform for this ruse. Just hadn't felt right to go to such steps. "The two of you are supposed to be here to observe, but feel free to ask questions to, if you have any, and Kitty's job is to also find personal objects to touch— if there's an opportunity to do it in a way that won't be noticed, do— And Ian or I will provide distraction and escape if we need to get out quickly for any reason." With last minute instructions given, he buzzes the room.

"Hellooo?" A curious female voice answers the buzzer almost immediately. P. & G. Burstein, it says beside the apartment number.

Ian has abandoned his usual rather gothy garb in favor of a white t-shirt, faded dark blue jeans, and Converse sneakers, with a heather-gray hoodie. He's got his messenger bag over his shoulder, a notebook under one arm, and his best perky junior reporter face on. Which does at least somewhat to counteract having naturally saturnine features. Ian nods, sagely, before facing front again.

"Let's hope everything goes according to plan" Kitty says softly and then readjusts the messenger bag on her shoulder. She is dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a red top along with a pair of sneakers and her infamous fingerless gloves. Her hair is in a tight ponytail and her brown eyes have a focused look to them. Perhaps she is preparing for the impending visions.

Time to try and make everything go according to plan. At first, the plan is pretty simple… "Hello, is this the residence of Mrs. Geraldine Burstein?" Peter asks the voice through the buzzer.

"It … certainly is," says the voice, which becomes distant a moment later as the woman can be heard saying, "Geri, are you expecting anyone?" Then, to the guests, more clearly: "Are you from the plant too?"

"No, I'm not from the plant. I'm sorry, I should have called first," Peter sounds genuinely apologetic, even if he had considered calling ahead, and didn't actually do it when it came down to it. "I'm a nurse that's been asked to investigating some of the circumstances surrounding the death her husband." Only one part of that is a lie— and then only in the terms of him not being a practicing nurse right this moment.

"Oh!" the woman's voice brightens — and falls, a moment later with realization. "Oh." But the important thing is, she lets them in. "Come on up. You'll wanna go left in the hall. We're right in the corner." The door buzzes loudly.

Ian puts a hand on Kitty's shoulder, lightly. But he says, nothing, merely listening - prepared to fall in behind Pete.
"Thank you," Peter answers politely, opening the door and waiting til the ones behind him grab the door before he lets go of it. The story is pretty simple, with little in the way of a lie. Which is good. Sometimes he's a notoriously bad liar. Left down the hall— right in the corner. Once he's there, he knocks on the door.
Kitty looks up to Ian with a faint smile and then she waits for Peter to enter the home. Nothing is said, Kitty's eyes retain the focused look. She enters after Peter and looks around and comes to a halt behind their fearless leader.

Just as immediately, the door opens to reveal a short, plump, rosy-faced, middle-aged woman with frizzing red hair. She has scrubs on - lavender bottoms and a flowered top. "Come" Her polite greeting trails off when she sees the other nurse has a posse. "in. My name's Paula, I'm Geri's live-in nurse." Her voice lowers as if saying something in confidence. "She's not so well these days. Especially since Phil well, you know how it is. Would you mind taking off your shoes? She's right through here…"

After Paula moves, it's revealed that the apartment is about as large Peter's (or as small; it depends on whether you're a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person). An antique buffet takes up much of the room in the living area, lined with family photos and neatly arranged trinkets (such as porcelain cats), as are most available surfaces. It's homey, lived-in, with closely-arranged, old furniture. It's dark, due mostly to the heavy, forest green curtains. The door is open to Mr. and Mrs. Burstein's room, a small beacon of light where the sunshine's allowed in, but the woman herself is situated in the one part of the room that avoids the slatted light of her window.

Ian obediently takes off his worn sneakers, and is left to patter along in his socks. Which prove to be tie-dyed in a rainbow of garish colors. He murmurs his thanks for the welcome, but for the most part, he's content to be owlish and quiet, taking it all in.

Some people call his apartment a shoebox— and in comparison to his family home, it really, really is. At the request, Peter takes off his shoes, leaving black socks on his feet for padding around. "I'm Peter. And this is Ian and Kitty, they're students who are here to assist me." There's a pause. "We'll try not to take up too much of her time."

Kitty nods her head in thanks to the woman and removes her shoes, red socks cover Kitty's feet and the young woman tilts her head as she studies the apartment and looks at the all the things around that she may be able to get a vision from.

"Geri, here're your visitors. This is Peter, he's a nurse, and Ian and - Kitty, was it? That's adorable, she loves cats — are students. I think it's lovely they've come along, I never got to do anything like that," says Paula.

The widow has since looked up from her scrapbook, although a pale hand lingers on top of a stack of photographs — of herself, looking younger and healthier, and a man who looks much more alive than he currently is. "Hello. Come in," she says. Her voice is raspy and laboured, interspersed with puffs of troubled breath. There's an oxygen machine nearby, though it's not hooked up. "Do you want to sit… down…? Paulie, get them some chairs, they'll want to sit down. This is about my Phillip?" The bedroom is similar to the rest of the apartment in that it's filled with organized clutter; trinkets, photos, quilts, a lunchbox hanging from the door with a Gemini Meats logo.

Ian nods, all apparent earnestness, though his face is pale.

Kitty nods her and looks at the older woman, "I'm sorry to hear of your loss" Kitty says because she doesn't know what else to say.

"Yes, thank you," Peter says in response to the offer of the chairs, stepping deeper into the room and standing for the moment. It's the oxygen machine that gains his attention at first, and he glances back at Ian. It's almost a wince for a moment, but he gives the man a small nod. They both know the risk, they don't need to be said outloud. But— then he glances toward all the things left laying around on the bed— and glances at Kitty, before returning his eyes to the woman in the bed. "Yes, this is about Mr. Burnstein. There were a couple things I wanted clarity on for investigating the circumstances. When exactly did your husband start showing symptoms? How fast did they progress?"

"Thank you, sweetheart," the widow tells Kitty while her nurse goes about moving chairs in place. "I… well, it was… I suppose it was just a couple months … ago," she says, her attention refocusing on her scrapbook project. She turns a few pages back and lets her fingers drift over a few select photos of herself, her husband, and a younger woman, all smiling and wearing colourful leis. "It was … just after his sister's birthday. Early in September. It got pretty bad, you know, at … the end, it came fast."

Ian nods fractionally at Peter in acknowledgement. He's a little tight-lipped, expression now a little absented, as if he were listening to some sound just at the edge of hearing.

Kitty nods her head silently at Peter and takes the time to look around the room, her eyes scanning for something that she can receive a vision from. Her gaze settles on the scrapbook in the woman's lap. "Excuse me miss, may I see your scrapbook it looks nice" Kitty hopes the woman doesn't freak out and tell her no.

"September," Peter repeats softly, seeming to be thinking rather intently for a moment. Kitty's question doesn't seem to have any disapproval from him, even a hint of a smile, and he finally takes a seat, close to the woman he's questioning. Reaching into his coat, he pulls out a small notebook and pen and starts to write a few things down. Early September. Sister's birthday? "Did he go anywhere or do anything that he normally wouldn't do on a day to day basis right before it started?"

"Sure. It's a a work in progress," Geraldine rasps softly. "I'm just trying to put together all these pictures, you know, memories, while I I have the time. I like to have something to look at. I love photographs." She lifts the wide book off her lap, a pair of scissors sliding from its crease before she hands it to Kitty. As she picks up the scissors from her lap, she knicks her finger, giving a small 'oh' as blood beads on her frail skin. Paula is still off trying to find an extra chair. "Well… unless you count wearing those as out of the ordinary," she says, nodding toward the scrapbook open to the Hawaiian-themed photo. "His sister fell in love with Maui. She had this … theme party. Never thought I'd see Philip wearing pink flowers, but he'd do anything for Lucy."

Ian returns from whatever little reverie he was in at the mention of Hawaii. "Maui is lovely," he says, voice soft. "I got to go once, a few years ago, with my family."

As Kitty receives the scrapbook from the lady her eyes immediately close and she gasps slightly.

Flashes of the birthday party that Geraldine speaks and the apartment number 1305. The feelings of happiness and joy fill Kitty as the vision ends. Nothing seemed to have been wrong in the vision.

Kitty smiles faintly as she slowly caresses the picture, "Nice family" she comments softly and then looks to Peter.

"That looks like a lovely party," Peter responds with a small hint of a smile, looking at the scrap book where he writes down Maui theme party? Flowers? He's not sure what to make of that, honestly, but he looks back at the woman. "Has anyone else who was at the party been sick at all recently?"

"Yes, aren't they," Geraldine replies to Kitty with a fond smile. "No, I… I don't think so. I saw most of them at the funeral… Lucy, she hasn't been feeling all that great but she's under a lot of stress…" The widow's eyes crease as she regards her guests, confused and increasingly fretful. "I'm— " She's cut off by a vicious cough. Afterward, she all but melts into the bed, as if the effort took out all her energy. "Could you pass me one of those tissues, I cut my finger. I'm not sure I understand what… this is… all about, Philip passed away because of his kidneys."

Paula finally arrives with that chair.

"There's some indication that he might've been carrying a particularly rare virus," Ian finally pipes up with, though his voice is tentative. "Or so I understand…" HE flicks a look at Pete, as if for direction.

Kitty just nods her head as she slowly sinks into her chair. Not tired from that vision, maybe she can squeeze one more from something. Her eyes scan the room again.

"Oh, sorry," Peter says, looking apologetic and moving to reaches for the tissues. While he's doing this, he looks at Ian for a moment, then nods. "It's a possibility. There's diseases that can cause— kidney failure. It might be a good idea to…" He trails off, pausing before he moves closer to hand her the tissue. "You've been ill— I'm not sure how long you've been sick, but you don't have any symptoms similar to your husbands, do you?" He's starting to look rather serious now, even worried.

The widow nods her thanks as she takes the tissue. It shakes in her hand, an indication of just how weak she really is. "I have terminal … cancer," she says. "I have more symptoms than I can count. Paulie… water, I just… I need some water, please." Geraldine takes a few moments to catch her breath. "Doctors say my organs might start shutting down after long." She closes her eyes.

"And she doesn't want to stay at the hospital," Paula interjects, pouring water from a water cooler in the room. "Just like Philip, he wouldn't go, even at the end, he just kept trucking."

Ian's face is tight, as he nods to that. He closes his eyes for a moment.

Kitty gasps again this time of a more startling vision.

It shows Geraldine dying in the same clothes that she is wearing today, also the scrapbook is laying on her lap. The nurse tries to get the oxygen running but it is obvious that isn't helping any.
Kitty stands and the scrapbook falls to the floor with a thud, "I'm so sorry" Kitty says as she places the scrapbook in her chair. The young woman tries to make eye contact with Peter, "Can I talk to you for a second Peter?" Kitty's eyes are widen slightly and she looks to Geraldine and the oxygen tank. Her breathing is ragged and she blinks a few times and then shakes her head to rid herself of the side effects. Kitty rubs her temple as she begins to leave the room.

"If given the choice, I would choose my own home as well," Peter says softly, thinking on his days as a hospice nurse, most likely. He's looking thoughtful, considering something, when Kitty makes eye contact and asks the question. He nods and tucks away his notebook. "I think we've taken enough of your time, Mrs. Burnstein," he says, starting to move away. But before he gets all the way out of the room, he does ask, "Would it be too much trouble if we call with a few more questions later, Paula?" he asks, looking towards the nurse.

The widow's eyes open - and widen. "Is… is that poor girl going to be alright?"

Paula hands the other woman the water, but it's the visitors she's watching. "I don't see why not."

Geraldine gives a weak sigh. "I think I need to… rest. It was nice to… to m…" Clearly having trouble breathing, she makes a vague, desperate gesture to Paula, who rushes for the oxygen mask.

With the sudden development, Peter looks a little alarmed and glances at Ian. "Take Kitty outside and wait for me there." This could get bad, but he does have medical training and might be able to assist. With that, he moves closer to the bed, trying to find out what he can assist with, without getting in the way of the other nurse.

Ian nods, tightly, and takes Kitty by the hand. He's gentle, but insistent.

Kitty looks worried but she follows after Ian, her gaze stays with the older woman as she exits the room.

A rush of activity fills the cozy room as Paula presses the oxygen mask to the woman's face and Geraldine takes in deep breaths. "Okay, Geri, nice and easy." All the while, the nurse is surreptitiously checking vitals. She shoots a worried look at her fellow nurse in the process and points to the nearby blood pressure cuff on the bedside table. "Swear she's been getting weaker every day since Phillip," she tells Peter quietly.

"It's understandable," Peter says softly, while he stays out of the other nurse's way as much as he can. However, that doesn't mean he does nothing. He does attempt to take her pulse, though the other nurse likely does the same thing, holding onto her wrist for the moment. "Have she had blood tests?" he asks, glancing toward the tissue with the blood on it. There's a long moment where he's just looking at it. "She mentioned that the doctors thought her organs would fail soon— Are her kidneys one of the ones that she has a problem with?" He's not paniced, but definitely worried.

"Routinely. She has to, you know, with her disease. She's due for another round." Paula frowns tightly as she feels the pulse also. It's high, but weak. "Them and everything else," she says, taking a moment, while holding the widow's mask in place, to cough over her shoulder. "Come to think of it, her doctor did mention the kidneys first."

Geraldine loses all colour in her skin, meanwhile, but isn't gasping so much; mist forms on the inside of the oxygen mask as she breathes in and out.

There's a long pause. It's the cough that draws his attention, perhaps finally. Peter looks between the two quietly. "Would it be possible to get a blood sample from the both of you? Her cancer is probably causing a lot of damage, but I think there might be an outside agent. She mentioned her sister-in-law, too— How long have you not been feeling well? Is there anyone else who you've interacted with in the last month that's had similar symptoms?"

Mrs. Burstein is too powerless to interject in this conversation; even if she hears it, she can't speak.

It's Peter's lines of questioning that worry Paula. She eyes him, seeming to wonder exactly what he knows that she doesn't, more than he's said. "…You sure can. I have a kit, if you need one. For the samples. It's in the drawer, there, on your left. I'm… I feel fine, really. A little light-headed the past couple days. Little off I guess. Well, there's Lucy, oh, and that man of hers. I think there was something going around at Phil's work, but with this weather, it's that time of year, everyone's getting sick. Colds and flus. You don't think…?" She looks perplexed. "Any more of this sick business from me and I'll have to refer another nurse over here, and I'd hate to do that, but you know how it is, with her immune system being so down…"

As if on cue, Geraldine starts another fit of coughing.

There's a lot of information there, and all of it seems to bother Peter. He does let go of the woman's wrist, though, moving toward the sample taking kit he was told about and pulling it out. This is one thing he's fairly decent at, at least. Hand sanitizers first, gloves— "I'm going to need to name and address of his sister and her boyfriend, as well as the plant. What do they manufacture there?" There's definitely a 'damnit' look to his face, as he prepares to take a blood sample. The woman coughing concerns him, and he may have to wait for it to pass, but blood samples don't take terribly long. And now he's in a hurry. He definitely needs to get this information back to Cass as soon as possible.

"Oh, um…" Paula is distracted as she makes sure her patient — and friend, it seems — is okay, stroking the sick woman's arm as she keeps her breathing. She manages to multi-task, taking a small, blue book from a bedside table to hand to Peter over Geraldine. "Lucy's in there under B for Burstein. Gemini Meats? Well…" It should be obvious! Right? "They process and pack meat, you know, mostly deli stuff." Frowning in concern at Geraldine, Paula steps back when the coughing seems to finish; the window even manages a nod as if to say 'I'm okay'. Still, the mask stays on. "Here, you take mine first, give her a break, honey."

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