Zev crossed over the Salinas valley north of King City. Trails laced the spine of the coastal mountains that paralleled the coast and, at its northernmost extent, formed the San Francisco peninsula.
The trip was 100 miles as the crow flies. It was considerably longer by trail.
Zev stuck to the mountains and avoided towns and cities. Often he would find ripe fruits to extend his food. Figs, apricots and plums were in season. He was untroubled by constipation.
Zev wished he had the foresight to plant caches at strategic points while he had still been a billionaire. For the price of hair cut or a shoe shine he could have positioned a half dozen buckets of rice and lentils and chocolate bars along every route he might ever wish to take. Oh well. Opportunities lost.
Zev had been floored by Scooter’s generosity. Especially the food-bars that Scooter’s wife had baked for him. Essentially, they were a fruit-cake of walnuts and almonds, dried apricots and raisins and held together with the barest minimum of honey sweetened shortbread batter.
Scooter had been reluctant to talk about it but time spent together made him more at ease.
Zev was ashamed that he did not remember.
Scooter had mentioned, in passing, while guiding Zev the difficulty the local medical facility had in acquiring drugs that were not supported by “best science”. Most times “best science” was a euphemism for “cheapest per dose”.
Apparently, Zev had told his sales reps to be very generous and pass out “samples” of generic mid-level drugs to rural clinics. Zev had been clear, the drugs did not even need to be ones that Azrael Industry produced. If there was demand, hand out the samples. Just make sure that they were in an Azrael Industries tote bag.
The sales reps were more than happy to carpet bomb the rural clinics with free samples. The purchasing department had gotten the memo and there was never a shortage of pediatric antibiotics, antivirals, asthma drugs, pain killers and anti-psychotics and ADHD drugs in the rep’s sample cases.
Children with dangerously high fevers and infections had been healed. Children whose whistling, labored breaths caused parents to stay awake nights, holding them upright as they rocked them in chairs had been able to sleep without guilt as their children’s breathing returned to normal. Mother’s ripped by the pain of childbirth had been given ease from the torment. Revered patriarchs and matrons had been able to remain in the bosom of their family when anti-psychotics blunted the cruelty that is dementia.
What had been a causal response to Zev had been deeply appreciated by the people who the power elite viewed as social flotsam.
Scooter’s children had been recipients of Azrael Industry largess more than once, sometimes for life-threatening conditions.
Zev had been totally honest with Scooter. “I don’t remember saying that. Really, I think you are giving me way more credit that I am due.”
Scooter and Scooter’s wife had been unmoved by Zev’s modesty. “There is a passage in the Christian Testaments that say something to the effect that ‘the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing’ when giving charity.”
By their figuring, Zev’s forgetting what he had done spoke well of him. That he would forget it was a statement about his character as we remember what is jarring or out-of-the-ordinary.
So as Zev eased his way north, Scooter and Scooter’s wife had a few, quiet, discrete conversations with a few select friends, family and neighbors. If the man who had saved the life of their child or spouse needed help...would they be able to ignore the accusations of the mass media and very quietly come to his aid?