I’m privileged to have a dear friend whom I also think of as a mentor. For the majority of her life she has given huge effort to educating herself about complex medical issues that have touched the lives of her loved ones. That truly amazing woman sent today’s set of “things” and as usual, my mind went to unexpected turns with our 1920’s serial.
This episode is a bit longer than I usually like to post. I confess that it took me a little while to work my way to angiogram! However, it was enlightening, educational, and fun. Be sure to check out the story that I did not tell, by clicking on the link near the end for Werner Forssmann. It’s pretty amazing.
26. Angiogram, Burglary, Cockroach
Countess Babikov was utterly fascinated with Pear the hedgehog. She had pulled both Mona and me into conversation. However, I still noticed when John Ringling covertly motioned to Frankie and they began a quiet little exchange on the other side of the room.
The fireman looked over at me. Oh, he was hiding something; that was for sure. Frankie was about as obvious as a cockroach going after a plate of leftovers. But he pretended nonchalance. His long legs took him across the cabin in two strides. Frankie excused himself and put his hand on the lovely wood of the door. Then he turned back and I saw the glint of an idea in his eyes.
He moved to the countess who was still on the sofa with the tattered quilt over her lap. “Here ma’am,” Frankie said bending down. “Let me take this dirty old thing and get you a nicer blanket. Something that smells nice and fresh.”
The circus magnate’s eyebrow shot up and his lips pursed. I could tell that Frankie had just done something unexpected. Ringling seemed to guess what the young man had in mind. But I couldn’t imagine what he was up to!
After a moment, the millionaire left briefly and returned with a soft wool blanket. He carefully placed it over the white-haired woman. I asked him where Frankie had gone. I felt a sudden pang of worry. First there’d been a shooting with the countess being abducted. Then the same night a burglary at Boris’ place. Now the older woman was safe and sound, but the kidnappers were still free. And I had a hunch they wouldn’t be satisfied with the payoff John Ringling gave them for very long. I felt worried thoughts taking a firm hold on my mind. My face must have showed it too.
That statement got a pleased response from Countess Bepa. She had taken Pear out of his lunch pail and held him in her lap, but her eyes were looking sleepy. I thought the brandy was finally kicking in, and silently blessed the millionaire for skirting prohibition and having that kind of hooch on hand.
I wasn’t very pleased with this turn of events. I should have gone with them to get Boris. He hardly knew Frankie. The retired dancer would feel less threatened if I was there. I started to protest, but I already knew that somebody would tell me that it might be dangerous and that it was no place for a woman. Now, I ask you — what self-respecting flapper could sit still for that? However, a glance at the countess silenced me. I didn’t want her to hear the word “danger” in the same sentence with “Boris.”
Ringling deftly changed the subject by complimenting Mona, and it quickly turned into a discussion of her acting career. “My dear, you move with a natural grace,” he told the brunette. “Have you ever worked on the trapeze?”
While Mona replied animatedly, I looked out the porthole at the strangest sight. Flavio and two men I hadn’t seen before got onto the old fire truck. Even at a distance I could see that Frankie’s cousin still didn’t feel well. One of the men helped him up onto the truck. The really strange thing was what appeared to be a very large old woman hunched over a cane and hobbling along with two burly men. They got into a sedan and sped away. I couldn’t see what the woman looked like because she was huddled in an old quilt.
Then I turned an accusing look on Ringling. That quilt was the same one the countess had been using. And it had to be Frankie under it. Was Frankie setting himself up to lure out the villains?
The circus magnate shot me a silencing glare and pointedly looked at the countess. I could tell he was concerned about her, so I held my piece. The white-haired woman was dozing quietly with the little hedgehog snuggled in the blanket. Mona looked at them fondly. She seemed to have had an instant rapport with the older woman.
“Why don’t you young ladies go enjoy the party for awhile,” Ringling suggested kindly.
Mona and I softly closed the cabin door behind ourselves. As we approached the room where I had found the microscope, I heard male voices escalate. One had a German accent. We paused at the open door because we were so startled. A bunch of brainy looking guys sat around the table. The one with the German accent waived his arms in frustration.
“Calm down Werner,” another man said to him. The guy on the other side of him said in a calm voice, “Dr. Forssmann, we know your ideas are scientifically sound. But you know everything has to be properly tested. Things involving the heart even more so.”
The German didn’t look as upset as he sounded, but he was still intense. He vowed to everyone at the table, “I will create a true angiogram even if I have to insert a catheter into my arm myself, and pass it into my own heart!”
Mona and I exchanged startled looks. A young man in waiter’s clothes came up behind us. “Don’t worry ladies,” he said as he adjusted his uniform. “The German doctor isn’t as frightening as he sounds right now. Werner Forssmann has ideas that sound like something Edgar Rice Burroughs would dream up. But the others say he’s a real pioneer of medicine.”
“I don’t know…” Mona said to the waiter’s back as he went into the cabin to check on the group of men. “He sounds like he really means to do… whatever he was talking about. Good golly, that’s a lot of science talk!”
I had to agree with Mona. It sounded like the German meant to do some very risky procedure on himself, just to prove it would work. Mona and I retreated to the yacht’s deck. Neither of us wanted to get into that conversation.