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05 November 2017 @ 12:25 am
_Nowhere Man_ part 7  
 

Eldon tried the wizard story on the reporters, got a laugh, then trotted out the party-crashing-to-meet-the-girl-again story, and how he always wanted to be a kung fu fighter in a movie. They took plenty of pictures of him with and without the horses, with and without his shirt. Jacob looked a bit pained at that, but didn’t interfere. Lily, on the other hand, turned and headed for Jack’s riding arena.

“So, Eldon, how does it feel to step into a dead man’s shoes?”

He picked up his right foot and looked at it in dismay. “No, really! I bought these new!”

That got a bit of a laugh.

Eldon shrugged. “I grew up on a farm. Death is part of life. I’m not superstitious about it. I feel sorry for his kids, losing their Dad. I’m glad he shot a few scenes of the movie and will get some income from it eventually, but I’m afraid his families are in for hard times. That’s the only thing that will haunt me.”

The reporters looked happy with that, and Jacob looked relieved as the reporters dispersed, probably each one looking for good quotes that wouldn’t be repeated on the other channels.

Eldon headed for the arena.

All four horses were being ridden.

“They all look so happy.” Lily grinned in his direction. “I don’t think you’ve been giving them enough attention.”

“Huh. They’re good strong working horses. Carting kids around for a couple of hours is a vacation for them.” Eldon raised his voice. “Hey, Snotty kid! If your reins were even Blazer wouldn’t be walking in little circles.”

The underaged movie star glared in Eldon's direction, but then looked down at his reins and let out slack in the short one. Blazer moseyed over to rub her head on Eldon. "See, Snotty? Much better control."

The kid looked exasperated. “X Treme. That’s for Xavier Treme. Extreme, see?”

Eldon snorted. “Yeah. I see. Now you need to shorten up both reins, so she can’t ignore you.”

Jacob was herded up to the fence by Jack. “See, we can use them for a few of the opening shots. Very picturesque.”

“Very large. I’ll think about it.” Jacob tossed a look over his shoulder. Two camera toting reported were setting up to get shots of both G. and X Treme.

The pair of actors hammed it up for the cameras. Lily eased away, to give the reporters an uncluttered view, drawing Eldon after her. He didn’t resist, and in fact managed to steer her into the taller foliage of a formal garden.

“. . . just wanted to know what was going on.” A male voice, around the corner.

A female voice answered. “It’s none of your business what I did. And I don’t want you asking around, either. I don’t want Harold to know I gave anyone a ride anywhere.”

The deeper voice murmured something. “. . . saw the dent and wondered . . . “

“No.” Female, indignant. “What dent? There’s no dent in my car. Bugger off.”

Lily’s eyes turned from Eldon to the bushes.

Eldon looked down at Lily, whispered. “Can you tell who she’s talking to?”

She slipped up to peer around the corner. Eldon was on her heels, but even with his greater height, all he spotted were backs retreating through the garden in two different directions.                                                                                                                                                                      

Lily rolled her eyes. "Hollywood! Rots the morals." She slipped away down the path he thought the woman had taken.

“Drat. And off she goes, unkissed.” Eldon took the other direction, but found no one.

The party led to an impromptu change of venue for the fourth scene, with Margo riding out to find her little brother and tell him that they're being dragged off to Morocco on yet another Archeological dig.

"At least this one is by the ocean, so maybe I can work on my tan." Spoiled daughter says.

"Oh boy! Maybe there'll be a war while we're there! And Dad will let me carry a gun!"

"God forbid, you little savage."

The twins express cheerful jealousy and envy. "You'd better write us. We collect stamps, you know."

Detective Ivan Goldberg hung up the phone and glared at it in disgust. “The lab says the DNA test on Eldon was kicked back as contaminated, non-human.”

Hildebrandt looked over. “What do they mean by non-human? Good grief, if they messed up they might at least have the cohones to just say so. And anyway, we’re not needing stand-up-in-court purity. We just want to be sure he isn’t a serial rapist on the FBI’s most wanted list.” He stood up and stomped out. Ivan followed.

"Look, it was weird, so I did a quick map on my own time. See? Hundreds of little patches of unidentified DNA all over."

"These red spots?"

"Yeah."

"So . . . how come they're inside the chromosomes, instead of in their own little bacterial or equine chromosomes?"

"Well, these are obviously not human chromosomes – not equine either, they have a different number of chromosomes."

"This has the human number of chromosomes, but with unrecognizable stuff tucked in? Like genetic engineering? I mean, look at everything your test did recognize, the red's, what, one percent? Less? Those are human chromosomes."

"Well, yes, but the contamination has to be post collection, the sample's no good for any kind of stand up in court proof."

Hildebrandt sighed. "Why are we standing here talking to a lab tech? Give us everything. We'll run down a professor or three about it. I know a guy at UCLA."

***

"Someone has done something hideously illegal."

Hildebrandt snorted. “Don’t sound so gleeful.”

The old geneticist grinned. "I make the count twelve large inserted segments of DNA stuck on the end of six pairs of autosomal chromosomes and two small ones on the X chromosome and one on the Y chromosome. Then itty bitty changes, here and there. Twenty, that I've identified. So far. Where is this man from? How healthy is he? How old is he?"

"He claims to be twenty-nine, looks younger. His skin is light negroid or Hispanic, or India, his hair and beard blonde. Six foot six, two hundred and thirty pounds. He has a faint accent, but speaks English as if it's a native language." Hildebrandt eyed the collection of postdocs. "So, who could have been playing around with human genes twenty to thirty years ago?"

"In 2006? We didn't even have the complete genemap. Dolly was recent. Some private lab? The Russians? The Chinese? They never did have proper controls."

"But why would the Chinese use Negroid and Caucasian genes?" Goldberg hoped he didn't look as lost as he felt.

One young man squirmed. "How about South Africa? They shut down the University of Johannesburg's whole biology department in 2019. A racist scandal was the rumor. Could they have tried something like this?"

"Smuggled a child out of the country when it all went to hell?"

"That's about the only way I can see this combination of racial traits. The African National Congress came into power in the mid-nineties. They may have decided to made a superman . . . maybe some mixed up egalitarian professor, or something . . . "

Goldberg sighed. "Well, you all look pretty happy to have decided who to blame this on. Now . . . have you ever seen anything even remotely similar?"

"Never in humans. In fact, never to this extent. Never with this much control. " The oldest sighed. “We’ve never gotten so far even in an animal.”

"Control?"

"Yes, whoever did this put the same genes in the same spots on each pair of chromosomes. They were not placed randomly. I’ll have to search the literature for hints of their technique, it was certainly never openly published."

"All right. Do you have any idea what these genes do?"

"That will take a lot of study. Lots." Nods all around. Eyes brightened.

"And we want to meet this person." The old man put in.

Goldberg nodded. "I'll send him this way when our police investigation is over. Whether he'll come or not is anyone's guess."

He checked his messages as he slid into the car. “Contaminated or merely weird, Brown's DNA was found nowhere in Delong's house nor on the body. His fingerprints are not in any database.”

Goldberg raised an eyebrow. "Yeah. We can't arrest him for being non-human. And the ID counterfitting is nothing more than a thousand Mexicans buy every day."

"Well, it's better than average. Maybe we should find out how he got social security to revive that number. I thought that was difficult."

"So despite his being weird, and operating under a stolen ID . . . "

"And being the one who benefited from Delong's death." Hildebrant added.

Goldberg nodded. "We have no basis to consider him a suspect. As far as I can tell, he fell out of nowhere and landed in money."

"Or landed in trouble. Delong had a career, but never saved any money, there's no inheritance for the ex-wives and children to fight over. So the exes are going to be pissed over the loss of income. If another actor killed him hoping to step into his shoes, someone is going to be pissed at Mr. Brown from Nowhere, who stole his role."

“Heh.” Goldberg started the car, and backed out of the University’s parking slot.

Hildebrandt shifted. "I hate weird stuff. I checked out a third person accident report. Nissan and Suburban. The Nissan's license plate says it's Lily Bryant's. The SUV plate doesn't trace. Report was the SUV skidded across the highway, bumped the Nisan, they both pulled over. The caller didn't think anyone was injured, and no one called in any sort of request for assistance. By the time a black and white cruised the area, they were gone. That's the first time Eldon comes into this at all."

"And Eldon's good at fixing bumpers. Maybe we need to be doing DNA swabs on Mercedes bumpers, instead of looking for dents."

"I almost wish we hadn't been able to eliminate all four exes. And the only kid old enough to be a suspect was on a school trip to DC. So we're back to the damned actors. And actresses. If he had an affair, would one of them kill to save her marriage?"

"Or out of jealousy. Ugg. Well, the other actors. G. Gordon Lamar and Jack Level have better roles. Phillip Magnum is too white, and he's got a good role anyway. That leaves us with the martial arts extras. Christian Kleckner, Havier Mathieson, Damien Green, and Felipe Caesar. Kris Randolph too, although I think his role is about on par with Delong's." Goldberg took the ramp up to the highway.

"Right. Those five for coveting the role. How about Jack Level, if Delong was making passes at his wife?"

"Do actors care?" The freeway was already slow, another hour and it would be stop and go for the next thirty miles.

"At the time. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but what stars haven't got a track record of divorces behind them?"

"It looks like a nice day to drive to the beach. Let's just chat with our suspects and the people they work with."

 
 
 
ekuah on November 5th, 2017 09:46 am (UTC)
Critique (Harsh)
Sorry Pam, but the scene with the police learning about Eldon's genetic oddities DOES NOT WORK.
I mean it takes place 2026 in a north america with a similar history as our world. So it can be assumed that the setting is very similar to the real world. The characters would react like real people and the technology seems the same as ours. It's nether 'the Jetsons' nor 'GATTACA'.
So I think we readers have an idea what is possible there and what not.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
"Look, it was weird, so I did a quick map on my own time. See? Hundreds of little patches of unidentified DNA all over."
- Gene analytics at home? in his spare time?
- If you can do this in 2026 why bother with labs anyway?

"Like genetic engineering? ... Those are human chromosomes."
- Why do he jump to the conclusion of 'genetic engineering' right away?
- How is a police officer able to recognize what a human chromosome has to look like?

Sorry again Pam, I know your Universe, your Series, your Story and so on...
But this scene jumps the shark!

It's like if Gandalf would pull out a cellphone to call for an airlift by the eagles.

Suggestions:
Let Goldberg ask the lab to send them the lab report anyway.
So no home genetics.
And no genetic expertise need. They can just reference to the report.

Also:
Genetic engineering would not my first guess for genetic oddities.
My first guess would be a mutation.

The lab report could then rule out a mutation. (because to many spots affected, to less genetic damage, etc.)
Maybe the lab report could also suggest that patches of unidentified DNA look like 'deliberate changes'.
Then Hildebrand and Goldberg could do the mental leap to 'genetic engineering'.

Edited at 2017-11-05 01:49 pm (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on November 5th, 2017 03:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Critique (Harsh)
"On his own time" does not imply "at home" for a person with access to a full lab where he works. It means he left the "I was curious" time spent off his time card, or after his usual hours.

Nine years from now, weird DNA results, stuff stuck inside chromosomes? Who _wouldn't_ leap to "genetic engineering" as a possible explanation? Especially someone who didn't realize how difficult it was?

ekuah on November 5th, 2017 05:53 pm (UTC)
A somewhat apology .
I read, that part again. This time with a magnifier glass.

Could it be, that:
"Look, it was weird, so I did a quick map on my own time. See? Hundreds of little patches of unidentified DNA all over."
was said by a lab technician?

Because by casual reading, it looks like that dialogue is between Hildebrandt and Goldberg. The presence of the lab tech is only mentioned at very end of the dialogue, when the confusion already sets in.
Therefore my critique.
I thought that Hildebrandt or Goldberg did 'the quick map on their own time' and were discussing the results like genetic experts.

Making clear that they are talking to the lab tech from the beginning, would avoid that confusion.

P.S.
Sorry for my misinterpretation of your story.
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on November 6th, 2017 11:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Critique (Harsh)
I also was confused about who was doing the lab work... I "assumed" that it would be someone competent, but without a descriptive statement, it's easy to think that it was one of the cops.
ekuah on November 5th, 2017 09:49 am (UTC)
Poll. What would you think
Dear fellow readers of Pam's blog.
What would you think when when you see a genetic report full of oddities?
What would be your first guess?


Edited at 2017-11-05 09:49 am (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on November 5th, 2017 03:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Poll. What would you think
I like your input. Don't get pushy.
ekuah on November 5th, 2017 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Poll. What would you think
I just wanted to know if it were my tinted glasses, or if other see it the same.
(Anonymous) on November 5th, 2017 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Poll. What would you think
I'm a reader of Pam's blog. Of course my first reaction would be to find a way to ask Pam where she was really born and how much of this is actually fiction.
matapampamuphoff on November 5th, 2017 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Poll. What would you think
California. I was immersed in weird during all of my formative years. :)

Now as for when? :: Innocent look :: A woman never tells.
ekuah on November 5th, 2017 11:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Poll. What would you think
Anonymous didn't ask for 'when'.
A gentleman does know better than to ask.
matapampamuphoff on November 6th, 2017 03:52 am (UTC)
Re: Poll. What would you think
Especially if the gentleman suspected the answer might be, oh, to pick a year at random (honest), 2251CE.
(Anonymous) on November 5th, 2017 11:24 pm (UTC)
Typo
decided to made a superman . . .

Jane