©14 The Media Desk
He blinked and focused his eyes. The woman that had spoke to him was wearing a white apron with 'Sisters of Charity' embroidered on it.
"I am your nurse. Please don't speak, it is a blessing that you are awake. You have been very sick, but you are getting better now. You're in the University Hospital in Santiago. Chile. In the Critical Care Unit. You were flown here with pneumonia a few days ago."
He nodded slowly as the memory came back.
"Rest now. Later, when the doctor comes in he will answer your questions."
Once again he nodded as he listened to the slow wheeze of his own breathing.
The nurse smiled gently to him. "Would you like to listen to some music? I have Mozart on my player."
He nodded again. Just that effort all but exhausted him. It was about then that he realized he had an oxygen mask on his face.
The music started in a moment. Then he relaxed and went back to sleep.
Everybody knew that Doctor Rose hadn't felt well in some time. But it wasn't until he got to the point where the fever was making him shiver so uncontrollably he couldn't do anything that he would admit it to himself.
Frau Hedda fretted over him and Doctor Sue made an ayurvedic tea that helped some, but within a day they knew that his illness was beyond their ability to deal with.
Historically, expedition members needing minor medical care would be transported to one of the more or less local bases, or even treated on one of the ships in the area. But as they described his condition it was determined that instead of taking him to Esperanza Base just to find out that he needed to go to someplace better equipped, they'd do that to begin with. Then a friend of a friend called in a favor and by noon the next day Doctor Rose was on a Chilean naval ship waiting on a helicopter to airlift him north.
It was a long week, but they pulled him through, and when he woke up to see the sister standing over him he had been in and out of consciousness for over a day.
"Doctor Rose? This is Doctor Castillo."
He blinked a couple of times and followed the sister's voice with his eyes and found her standing next to a tall dark skinned man.
"Doctor Rose?" Doctor Castillo said to him.
Doctor Rose nodded slowly, "Yes, sir," he managed to say softly.
"My English is not as good as it should be since I went to school in Los Angeles."
"You sound OK to me," he answered slowly but with a slight smile. "How am I?"
"You'll be fine. It wasn't good for a long time, but we won. And I believe it was Sister Olivia here who pulled you through."
"Good," he looked toward Sister Olivia and nodded slowly, "Good. Thank you."
"You should get some more rest."
"See?" Doctor Castillo said.
Doctor Rose agreed but didn't say anything.
He felt a overwhelming sense of relief when they came in and told him that they were moving him out of the CCU to a regular room.
"Thank you, thank you." he repeated several times, in double action of course. A sure sign that he was indeed feeling better.
A day later they got him out of bed and he walked slowly down the hall and looked out the window at the city. Then later that day he got a hot shower and the barber shaved him. Finally, after a very light meal, he started to feel more like himself than the man who had laid in bed half asleep listening to Sister Olivia's endless collection of classical music.
"You had a type of fungal pneumonia that may turn out to be new to medical science, especially since you got it in Antarctica." Doctor Castillo said to him once he was able to sit up and concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. "Once we identified it, we were able to eradicate it. It is gone, and you are on your road to a full recovery."
"Then I'm lucky to have survived so you could discover it."
"I believe you are lucky they brought you here, if you had gone anywhere except a university research hospital, they may not have realized what it was until it was too late."
"How did I get it?"
"We were hoping you could tell us. What were you doing before you got sick?"
Doctor Rose pursed his lips and thought about it.
"Let me change that, what were you doing that nobody else on your base was?"
"Yes, yes. That's it, I know how I got it."
Doctor Castillo leaned forward in his chair, "tell me about it."
"Well, we'd discovered a new cache of eggs along the shore. These were unusual in that they were intact, usually when we find eggs something else has found them first and we have to deal with what's left. These were different."
"What kind of eggs?"
"A local species, like a marine iguana, anyway, we wanted to check the eggs for life without disturbing them so I was down in the nest trying to be careful with Carol handing me things and taking notes while Noel, her beau, watched to see if an angry parent was on their way back."
"You were down in the nest? Without a mask or anything."
"Yes," he paused, "I didn't think about it."
"That explains it. The fungus is an oceanic variety that we've never seen in the lungs before. There's been reports of fishermen in the south coming down with it in their sinuses and in open wounds, but yours is the first we've ever seen in the lungs. Like I said, this is possibly a first."
"Maybe I should contact them and tell them to wear a mask if they go back."
"That would be a good idea."
"And, Doctor, if it is a new one, please don't name it after me. Not after me," Doctor Rose pleaded sincerely.
The nest was in a cleft in the rock along the western shore of the island. The Geologist John Fergusson had spotted it while taking samples of the rocks along the ridge. They gathered their gear and headed out at first light the next day to check out the Plesiosaur nest.
"You're clear," Noel said as Doctor Rose and Carol prepared to scramble down to the spot.
"I don't know how fast they can move on land. I'd like to know before they get out of the water that they're coming."
The nest was intact, and it was obvious that the mother had partially covered it with dried seaweed straw to protect it.
Rose got on his hands and knees and conducted his measurements with minimal disturbance to the nest. "Three eggs, all intact. I'll measure the egg at six o'clock to where I am first."
"OK, I'm ready."
Noel watched the coast for a hundred yards or more either way and as far out to sea as he could. If he saw anything moving he locked onto it with the binoculars. Other than a couple of minke whales out to sea he didn't see anything more threatening than penguins for a long time.
"Head's up," he shouted to them, "there's something big out there."
They stopped their work and looked up, ready to run if they had to.
"It's OK, seals."
"Elephant or something else?" Doctor Rose asked him.
"From the size and color, I'd say tiger."
"Very good, you're learning."
Carol laughed at him, "he's only been down here how long and he's just learning that there are more than two kinds of seals?"
"It is enough that he has learned that. Now, where were we?"
"Any movement inside the egg at two o'clock?"
"Let me check again," he said and put his stethoscope back in his ears.
Two days later he started having an odd cough and was a little short of breath.
Then the fever started.
"Doc, you're sick, stay in bed and drink your tea and we'll take care of things," Noel told him.
"We've got it," Carol added.
"But I am the..." he stopped talking to pant for a second.
"You are the pain in the ass," Hedda said to him, "back to bed you go."
The next morning, he was worse.
The medics from the helicopter recommended immediate evacuation to a full hospital, and with the help of the others on the base they carried him out to the chopper and he was on his way.
Doctor Rose gestured to the loaner laptop the sister had brought in to him, "That last bit I didn't know about until yesterday."
"When they brought you here the navy had stabilized you but you still had a fever of forty degrees."
It only took Doctor Rose a second to convert it, "A hundred and four in American. I didn't know it was that high."
"You wouldn't have."
"Doctor Rose?" A man said from the door.
"Yes, can I help you?" He answered looking up from the laptop.
"I'm Professor Bernardes from the University of Sao Paulo."
"A pleasure to meet you, Professor."
"It is my honor I assure you sir, but we have something in common."
"Yes, sir. We both have research subjects that are, shall we say, unusual."
Doctor Rose had been through enough of these conversations to not be surprised or put off by the topic. If it came up at all, he always steered the topic to that of various large species of squid. Which was true as far as it went.
"You have an interest in Mesonychoteuthis?"
"Only when in a French restaurant. I was more interested in your reptilian friends that Leonard helped you document a couple of years ago."
Doctor Rose nodded at the name of one of his early assistants.
"He mentioned them when we came across a small population of Toxodons in and around the Puinawai Reserve in Columbia."
"I'm sorry Professor, I don't know what that is although it sounds like it's from the Ice Age."
"Please, call me Bernie, it sounds so much friendlier."
"Bernie, then. Most people call me Rose, or something like that."
"I notice you're not wearing your famous tuxedo."
"No. And from what I hear I'm lucky they gave me these pajamas."
He laughed with him. "But yes, according to the naturalists that know all about these things, all of the South American megafauna from the Pleistocene died out thousands of years ago. Except there are several hundred of them still roaming the remote forests in the upper Amazon basin."
"A fascinating story I assure you."
"Perhaps something to convince you that it is more than a traveler's tale," Bernie took out his cell phone and fiddled with the screen for a minute, "watch this, and no, it isn't a animation or something from a movie."
Doctor Rose watched it twice.
"What's that in the background?"
"A type of giant sloth, we've only seen a couple of those but in this part of the forest, unless they move, they're almost invisible. And we've had reports of a herd of Macrauchenia in the lowlands on the other side of the mountains."
"I'm not familiar with that species."
"There's no reason you should be, they're an extinct type of ugly llama like thing with a short trunk."
"You mean, supposedly extinct," Doctor Rose corrected.
"Of course," he grinned, "like the plesiosaur."
"It is no fun discussing our, as Americans might say, our critters, when we have to worry about who might hear something they possibly should not."
"Yes. Yes. I even had to worry about that on Brabant Island," Doctor Rose gestured with the phone. "So where is this?"
"Are you really interested in going up there when you're released? We have a trip leaving in a couple of weeks."
Doctor Rose nodded and handed Bernie his phone back.
"This was taken." He paused and looked around, then lowered his voice, "actually inside Columbia. But they've also been seen nearby in Brazil. We're not supposed to go across the border."
"The largest population lives in an area controlled by guerrilla forces, but I've dealt with them before. Sometimes it can be rough, but, you know. You do what you have to do for your science."
"Your living fossil animals live in hostile territory."
"Yes, we've done surveys from several different local towns and found their habitation in an area not run by the government."
"Which town is the easiest to get to, and the safest?" He waited a second and when Bernie didn't answer he added, "That was a question."
"I know, I'm thinking about it. I don't think any of them are both."
"Which is why they are there. Just as my," he chuckled, "critters, are where they are."
"Yes, that is something common to them."
"Perhaps there are other commonalities that led to their survival. And that is why I am interested."
Two days later Doctor Rose was told that if he passed certain tests later that day, that he could be released as soon as the following day.
"Then I will study. I'll study as hard as I can. It would seem I have a new reason to get out of here," he said to Doctor Castillo.
Bernie made arrangements for Doctor Rose to stay in a guest room on campus while he recuperated fully and Bernie contacted the university in Brazil and set up for a visiting scholar to go on the expedition to check out another reported sighting some distance south of where the video was shot. But, hopefully, it was also in a slightly less interesting area as far as the political situation went.
"This is the Putumayo River," Bernie showed him on the map. "We'll spend a day in Santo Antonia de Ica, here, then go up river for two days, then... we'll see what has been coming to these cutoffs," he pointed to a couple of horseshoe bends where the endless meanderings of the river had created a lake. "If we need to, we'll go a little further up toward the hills. This is where we first found fresh Toxodon tracks about ten years ago. And it is good we're on this river, because just up here, it becomes the border between Columbia and Peru, and we're OK there. In Peru."
"So they're in the mountains?"
"Oh, no, this is still a long way from the mountains, but there are a lot of low hills and rolling countryside up here, and the jungle is so thick you could lose, anything, in there."
"What are the chances of us being lost in there."
Bernie smiled broadly, "I have been, and after a couple of weeks we started to worry about it. But, in the end, we can always find our way out."
"Follow a river."
The following week Doctor Castillo couldn't come up with a reason why Doctor Rose couldn't go on the expedition and it was confirmed that the group going up the Putumayo looking for animals that were supposed to have gone extinct after the last Ice Age.
Doctor Rose was not expecting a three star hotel, but he also wasn't expecting a dirt floor in the main room of their accommodations either. But within an hour of the bush plane setting down at the one runway airstrip he was very glad of one other detail, that he had just had 'all of his shots'.
The owner of the house was a very agreeable older man whose grandson would be one of the local guides going with them up the Ica River as he called it.
"Armando, he likes to go to Puerto Asis," the old man said in whatever language he spoke that Doctor Rose didn't understand, then one of the students with them translated for him.
"Where is that?" Doctor Rose asked them.
"Fifteen hundred kilometers upriver." Doctor Rose looked at Bernie who nodded slowly.
They had to share bedrooms, but there were real beds, and a wooden floor in the bedroom and the improvised bathroom. But there was also warm water in the shower, which counted for a lot.
The next day they met the rest of their crew. Besides Doctor Rose and Bernie, there were three students, Mister and Mrs. DeVos who were a husband and wife team from Europe who were doing a report on possible living fossils in the Amazon basin, and two local guides besides Armando. The afternoon was spent reviewing and packing gear and provisions and getting to know each other.
Somehow Doctor Rose mentioned that they fished to supplement their food at their base on the island and Armando drafted him to assist with that endeavor on their trip and went to get him a 'stick pole' from a friend of his.
"I guess I can do that," Doctor Rose said as the young man ran down the road, "I can do that."
After another hearty meal of local fare they got what would most likely be their last night's sleep in a real bed for the duration.
In the morning they stood on the dock of the muddy river and watched as the guides loaded the long wooden boats that were the ubiquitous vessel for the area and Armando smiled broadly at him, "There are no rapids or falls between here and Asis," he said in heavily accented but understandable English, "the river is as flat as it can be all the way up. It is nice."
Doctor Rose thought about the laundry list of dangerous creatures that he'd seen that ranged from biting fish and stinging insects through some particularly high voltage electric eels all the way to poisonous snakes that enjoyed dropping out of trees into boats and were listed as an attraction not to be missed, he answered, "Yes. Yes. Very nice."
Bernie put a hand on his shoulder and waved to the heavily forested opposite bank, "It is not Antarctica that is certain."
"No. No. It's not."
The first day on the river was fairly dull. He caught two piranha that he was told were large enough to cook, and several small ones that were described as bait to catch more.
In the boat he fished, and made small talk with the female student that had been assigned to his boat. And they watched the jungle go by. No deadly pit vipers fell out of an overhanging tree to bite anyone. And no renegade army shot at them from the bank.
Later they got used to the routine in camp, then laid in their tents and listened to the nighttime sounds of the jungle: animals, rain, and the endless gurgle of the water along the bank.
On the second day Doctor Rose was the leading fish catcher and they motored along quickly as the river turned first left, then right, and left, then went around again.
"It is OK. If it is straight for more than two or three kilometers, we think we are in the wrong river!" Armando called out to them, then he sang a river song about its winding ways complete with wide sweeping gestures.
That night they were all roused awake by two quick gunshots from the night watch.
The youngest of the guides was holding a small bore rifle and was standing over the body of a wild pig and talking excitedly in Portuguese.
Bernie laughed and said they'd eat good tomorrow as Armando took the animal to clean it at the edge of camp. "It's a peccary, they're a harmless but tasty nuisance. If it wasn't one of them it would have been a capybara. These are better."
On the fourth day out they made their first expedition away from the river to look for tracks and other signs that their quarry had been there.
They circumnavigated the lake shore without coming across anything conclusive. But the trip confirmed their methodology.
The next day they traveled a short distance upriver, then they landed the boats and did it again.
Then, just before they reached where the Columbian border should have been that the made another camp that Armando said they could use for a couple of days while they investigated a couple of likely spots.
"There's some daylight left, do you want to go see where this photo was taken?" Bernie asked Doctor Rose and showed him a photo protected from the incessant rain by a plastic sleeve. "It's on this side of the river."
Just visible in the trees in the photo was a large creature that could have been a giant sloth. But then again, given the distance and the lighting, it might have been Winston Churchill.
"Lead the way," Doctor Rose said after just a moment. "Me and Antonia will follow." He glanced at the young lady who had now appointed herself as his assistant.
She nodded and smiled agreeably.
As the three guides made camp the others set out up the hill to the spot. The DeVoses and Bernie and the students spent their time looking for sloth poop and tracks while Doctor Rose just admired the immense variety of foliage and the countless species of birds and small monkeys who found the visitors fascinating. But then he noticed at a couple of the trees looked like they'd been partially shredded.
"Bernie," he said softly, "tell me. How tall are these sloths?"
Bernie looked over at him and then raised his hand to indicate, "About five me... oh," he said as he followed Doctor Rose's eyes toward the trees that had had branches ripped to shreds by something large and powerful nearly twenty feet from the ground. "About that tall."
They managed to get a couple of samples that showed that the damage to the branches had been done by an animal and not a misguided chainsaw enthusiast.
"This is a dental pattern," Bernie said as he examined where a limb as thick as his wrist had been bitten off. "Let's preserve it for comparison with specimens back home."
Doctor Rose proved to have significantly more experience in preparing samples for storage than he did in locating animal scat in rain forests as he showed Antonia how to preserve it intact and, hopefully, uncontaminated.
"This damage appears to have been done in the last couple of days," Mrs. DeVos said as she got a close up photo of another branch that had been bitten.
"But it was only eating these trees," Mister DeVos noticed, "what are they?"
Bernie looked at the leaves, "I'm not sure, but we'll find out."
Back in camp Armando had several different names for the same tree, "Pai calls it the Panama berry tree, but some call it strawberry tree. I don't think it is wild."
"I think I found it," Doctor Rose said as he typed the names into an encyclopedia on a laptop, "Muntingia."
"That's it. We should look for concentrations of those trees," Mr. DeVos said as he compared the sample to the images on the screen.
"There used to be a plantation just upriver from here, they planted them."
"Agreed on all points," Bernie said, "And I remember now where that homestead was. They had several orchards, those would be a good place to check tomorrow."
Doctor Rose nodded, "It's your expedition, I'm just a foot soldier. Just a soldier."
"My friend, you have already made a significant contribution and I plan on listing you as a co-investigator."
Instead of answering, Doctor Rose simply bowed humbly.
That night they had a victory party and Armando demonstrated his talents with an old guitar as well as his singing voice which they had heard now and again during the river voyage.
Doctor Rose would always blame it on the combined circumstances of the isolation of the camp, the heady rush from their discovery, and the local rum that Armando's uncle made which was rum in name only. But that night, he and Antonia had an adventure of their own.
The next morning they set out for the former plantation grounds to begin where Armando and Bernie both said the primary orchards had been.
"How long ago did they live here?" Mister DeVos asked as they walked past the ruins of the house already well reclaimed by the jungle.
"Vo said they had all moved back to Iquitos when he was a boy."
"My mother's father."
"Oh, Ok. So it wasn't that long ago."
Bernie shook his head, "Out here, that is a very long time. A few years can make a big difference once the jungle gets going." He gestured to the vines and small trees that had overwhelmed the remains of the house, "it won't be long and you'll never know it was there."
The jungle hadn't totally swallowed a brick patio that had been next to a fountain and pool that had probably been quite charming when it was first built. Now the pool was gone except for a stone outline and the fountain's slowly decaying concrete base. But it served well enough for a base to work from and they set a folding table and began a systematic search for any local fauna that wasn't already represented in zoos around the world.
In less than an hour two of the students had made a discovery as critical to their investigation as Doctor Rose's.
"This is a trackway," Bernie confirmed as they followed the worn path one way and then the other through a gap in what had been the fence around the plantation house that was now a tangle of overgrowth with every known species of thorn bearing shrub well represented. "But there is no way of knowing who, or what, uses it."
"They probably come in from nesting sites in the jungle, come through here, then go that way." Doctor Rose looked out toward the garden. "That way." He nodded along the path showed that it was still at least occasionally used. "What's over there?"
"Let's go see."
"There," Mrs. DeVos said as they fanned out through the former orchard that was now totally wild. She was pointing to a bare spot of ground where something had left a clear print.
"Megatherium," one of the students said gesturing to where the five ton animal's claws had pushed into the soil as it walked on the outside of its feet.
"And that has been since it rained yesterday," Bernie said as he examined the print.
After they measured and photographed the track, then poured plaster into it to make a cast they tried to extrapolate where the beast had been going.
"It was close to this tree, so it was probably turning right," one of the students said.
"That's a good guess. A good guess, Antonia. We'll go that way and see what we can find."
"Thank you, Doctor Rose," the young woman said.
"We'll take the middle," Bernie nodded to the other student.
"Then we'll go left, for what, fifteen minutes, then come back?"
"Radio check," Bernie said and keyed his small walkie-talkie. The others did likewise and they all appeared to work, "if you find something, let everybody know."
There was lots of evidence that they had been there, and as they looked around Dr. Rose voiced his opinion to his companion that it looked like the sloths traveled in loose groups of a few animals that stayed fairly close together but not within sight of each other like a pack of wolves.
"I'd never thought about that," she answered.
"I've seen this sort of behavior in..." he paused, "in other animals."
"In Antarctica? I'd love to go study down there."
He stopped walking and looked at the vegetation for a moment, "these aren't the right kind of trees, let's keep going." Then he added, "there's not a lot of studying down there, it's all work. Work. Research. Measurements and tests. But not study time. Not Studying."
Antonia nodded, "I can do that. But maybe I should finish my degree first."
"What's your degree going to be in?"
"Secondary education, natural sciences."
"You're going to be a teacher?" Doctor Rose said to her totally unexpected answer.
"I may switch majors, I like this more than a classroom."
"I know I do." He answered and pointed, "There, there, those look right."
They found more tracks and chewed limbs under some of the trees, but then it looked like the creatures had moved off to their left, more or less in the direction of where Bernie had gone.
"I'll look, you call him," Doctor Rose said and scouted ahead.
In a few minutes the radios all lit up with excited talk that they were tracking some sort of large creature through the brush.
"It is huge and moving really quickly," they heard Bernie say. Then he added, "I think there's more than one."
Mrs. DeVos had their radio and answered, "They just crossed about twenty meters in front of us. We think there's five of them. Maybe six. They were moving very quickly."
All the pursuit proved was that whatever the animals were was that they knew their way around the forest better than the humans, and could move through undergrowth that you couldn't see through at a dead run.
"It looks like it was hit by a truck," one of the students surmised as they gathered around a tree that had been broken off over three feet from the ground by one of the fleeing animals.
"Or an elephant," Doctor Rose added as he remembered the description of how large the sloths could grow.
"But they're sloths, they're not supposed to move that fast," Antonia said.
"There is a working school of thought that some of them could move quickly and may have been predators," Bernie answered.
"Then I'm glad we didn't catch them."
"But look," Mister DeVos said, "there is hair and maybe some skin here." He pointed to the shattered wood.
"Evidence," Doctor Rose said. "Antonia, you can collect this sample."
"Are you sure, Rose?" She asked him with wide eyes.
"Of course, if you are going to be in the field, it will have to be done. And you might not catch pneumonia doing this one."
The others laughed at the reminder of why he was with them as the young lady worked carefully with sterile tweezers and sample bags.
They went over what they had besides the fur in Antonia's bags. They had photos and casts of tracks, sticks that had been chewed on, some dung, and a minute or so of video of blurry shapes crashing through the brush while making an enormous racket.
"Well, my friend," Doctor Rose said back in camp, "you may have discovered the South American Bigfoot."
Bernie laughed heartedly.
The last two days of the expedition weren't as exciting, but they were somewhat profitable as more evidence, as in bite marks, tracks, and poop, were added to the collection for analysis back in civilization.
"Well, what do you think of your first trip into the Amazon?" Bernie asked Doctor Rose on their last night in camp before they started the trip back down river.
"I have enjoyed it. Thank you for inviting me."
Bernie smiled at the young woman who was bringing Doctor Rose a cup of what they still called rum. "You've enjoyed it rather more than I thought you would, but I am glad you did."
"I always enjoy teaching."
Antonia smiled, "He has convinced me to switch majors to field research."
"Good," he nodded, "but will you be going to Antarctica?"
"No, I think I will stay in the tropics," she shook her head, "I'm not sure I'd like the cold."
"Excellent. We will be outfitting another trip soon, I'll make sure you are invited."
"Thank you, Professor."
True to Armando's word, the trip back to town down the Putumayo took about half the time it had taken originally, but it was still three more long days in the boats before they merged onto the Amazon itself and turned for town.
Finally, they could relax in what seemed like a surprisingly high level of civilization compared to their camps. Here, the rain fell on a corrugated metal roof and stayed out of the building instead of slowly leaking through aging nylon and canvas. And they had warm showers before a promised supper of food without bugs and leaves in it.
"See? I smell good now," Antonia said to Doctor Rose in what had been a private inside joke between them.
"I thought you smelled fine before," he grinned at her. "But now you don't have things in your hair."
She shook her still wet mane of dark hair at him causing a minor rainstorm of her own. "Now it is your turn," she said to him and pointed to the shower room.
Bernie laughed and shook his head at them, "Oh, yes. Doctor Rose. I had something sent here for you as a gift from me to you. I'll bring it." He said and went to find the old man and get the bag that he had been told had arrived the day before on the mail plane.
"What is it?" Antonia asked him when he came back and knocked on the shower room door.
"It is my secret, but if I am right, he will love it."
Half an hour later, Dinner Rose was back with a flourish.
He stepped out resplendent in a brand new tuxedo that was one shade darker than baby blue, with what was probably the only white silk shirt in town, complete with a silk rose in the lapel. When their eyes got that far they saw he was wearing the gleaming bright blue shoes with no socks. The tailor in Santiago had forgotten to send them.
"I adore it," Doctor Rose said, then he bowed deeply and swept the top hat that had come with it across in front of him. "Thank you. Thank you."
"It fits well. I was hoping it would. He had to get your size from the hospital."
"It fits wonderfully," Doctor Rose answered. "Thank you, thank you. I am in your debt."
"Blue?" Mrs. DeVos asked.
"Why not?" Bernie answered.
"Indeed," Dinner Rose said from his pose.
They parted the next day as friends, and in at least one case, very close friends, as Bernie and Doctor Rose, now in traveling clothes, left on the bush plane back to Santiago.
Then arrangements were made to deliver him back south.
But when he got off the helicopter on Brabant Island, he was wearing the blue tux, but with socks now.
"Well," Noel said as Carol and the others held back a laugh, "I can see you're back to normal after your vacation."
Instead of an immediate comment, Rose gripped his new walking stick and bowed and saluted with his blue hat. Then he nodded to each of them, and smiled, "Indeed."
Dinner Rose 1 and Dinner Rose 3
[NOTE: All characters, places, events, and businesses/organizations are FICTIONAL. No unusual animals were harmed in the writing of this piece. NO inference to REAL anything is to be made. No similarities to ACTUAL anything is intended. This Piece Is FICTION, enjoy it as such. Thank You -the Author.]
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