The Bob

In the following scene from A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about a novel disease, investigative reporter Greg and his editor Olaf are talking about an article on the pandemic Greg is hoping to write.

—-

“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartily.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it.

Olaf tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”

—–

And it works for me. From now on, I’m going to call this current novel virus “The Bob.” No insult meant to any Bob living or dead, but I need a different name to call this disease because I am already sick of seeing its name wherever I go on the internet and hearing it out in public. And anyway, I named the disease many years ago back when I didn’t know any Bobs.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Different Kind of Christmas Story

No Santa 🎅, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, 🎁 nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but still,  A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

Kate isn’t the only point of view character in the book — the story is told by four different characters who show four different ways of dealing with the horror of the red death that descends on Colorado right before Christmas. Kate is the spark of heavenly fire, the woman who blazes with generosity during this dark hour of adversity. Two of the other characters are the opposite — they do everything they can to ensure that they survive. And then there is Greg, a reporter, who is consumed with finding the truth of the red death.

I’ve always liked the following scene, which takes place between Greg and Olaf, his boss:

***

“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartilty.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of Takamura’s articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it. He put his hands together as if in prayer. “Please tell me it’s not written by John Takamura.”

“It isn’t. Doris Stefano, Melanie Levy, Andrew Forbes, and Lee Nishimura collaborated on this particular gem.”

Good. That meant he had to scan it for Takamura’s name instead of reading the entire thing.

“These two are by Takamura. ‘Self-Dispersement of Genetically Enhanced Corn,’ ‘Deviant Behavior in Recombinant Plant Parasitoids.’” He tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”

***

Click here to read the first chapter of A Spark of Heavenly Fire

Click here to buy A Spark of Heavenly Fire

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

Seven by Seven by Seven

7A fellow author tagged me in a game on Facebook the other day where authors were supposed to “Go to either page 7 or 77 of your manuscript. Count down 7 lines, then copy the next 7 lines to your status. Then tag 7 other writers.”

I don’t like tagging people because it seems rude to include them in a game they didn’t ask to play, but still, all those sevens caught my attention, so I thought I’d play out the game here. Feel free to tag along!

A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE

He ushered her toward a battered red Honda Accord that looked as if it could have been one of the first models off the assembly line.

“It has close to two hundred thousand miles on it,” he said proudly, opening the door for her.

To her relief, the heater worked.

They headed down the long sweeping driveway.

MORE DEATHS THAN ONE

“Then he met you,” Kerry murmured, “and found contentment once again.”

Bob swallowed. “Yes. After he finished telling me the story of the figurines, he said a consortium of Japanese executives had approached him. They wanted The Lotus Room for a conference center, and he decided to sell it to them. He said his dreams of looking for the gold Buddha had faded, but he wanted to find the remains of his wife and child, and give them a proper burial.”

LIGHT BRINGER

“We were inept.” He clamped his mouth shut. The challenging assignments in exotic locales he’d expected when he transferred to Teodora Zaroff’s unit had not materialized, and now it looked as though they never would. He’d have been better off staying in Identification; the work was as elementary, but at least he’d be back in the real world where things made sense most of the time.

DAUGHTER AM I

Once inside, they could barely move around. A folded rollaway bed, a shallow wooden cabinet, a metal desk and chair took up most of the available space.

“A secret room,” Mary breathed. “It’s like something out of Nancy Drew or the Hardy boys.”

“It’s a storage area,” Bill said.

“Then where’s the door?”

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+