Dial Log

He: Yeah, no. I'm positive.

She: How can you be so sure?

He: I got tested.

She: How'd you manage that?

He: I know somebody. It cost me.

She: Really. I imagine your tester will have to report you to someone.

He: You'd think. But no.

She: So you're self-quarantined then.

He: Yup. You won't be seeing me for awhile.

She: I'll survive. You're working from home?

He: Yeah. How's your grocery situation?

She: Good. I'm getting them delivered. Toilet paper's holding up. Your father goes through two rolls a week. Single-handed, you might say. Did I recite my poem for you?

He: No.

She: Listen.
News about corona's driving everybody nuts:
Universal panic over nasty, unwiped butts.
People hawking toilet paper right out in the street:
Ten bucks for a roll, or 15 cents per two-ply sheet.

He: I'm laughing. Pandemic profiteering. I'm sure somebody could find ways to make money off the epidemic. How about Corona Cruise Lines?

She: I don't see how you make anything off that.

He: Well you sign up for a cruise where you're guaranteed to get the virus. You get off the boat immune and virus-free.

She: Or zipped into a bag.

He: No, no. The ship is overstocked with doctors, ventilators, nurses. There's an ICU. How about this idea? The ventilator in the ICU? We call it ICU-lator. Because we get off the ship alive and immune, we do see you later, ready to return to normal life. You can't take the cruise if you're over 70 or have breathing issues. That last cruise ship that had an outbreak, I think only one person died and he was over 80.

She: I'll go. When do we shove off?

He: Pack a body bag. No, yeah, we'll get a crew of immune people. Test says I have the bug. Now what am I supposed to do with it?

She: Isolation, right?

He: Maybe not. I mean, I could visit Richard.

She: And kill him?

He: Or make him immune. Didn't he say that he was making your kids his heirs?

She: That's what he claims. You and your sisters. I'm not sure he's ready to die yet, though.

He: They say you get sick for two or three days, then, you know. It could be merciful.

She: I think he has his heart set on dying of cancer. You were there when Bill was whining about getting senile?

He: No, but I heard he was worried about his memory.

She: He was going through his brain troubles with Richard. You know, you come into a room and forget why you're there. Searching for some lost thing and then forget what you're looking for. Not being able to spell a name or know what day of the week it is. He's worried that in a year or two, he won't know who he is, where he is, or who we are. Richard says, "I got all those symptoms, but I don't worry about it. I got lucky. I got cancer."

He: So he's not exactly looking forward to a visit from me.

She: Not so much, but betcha somebody is infecting a rich uncle at this very moment, somewhere.

He: Okay, well, it won't be me. My inheritance can wait. But if the lockdown continues for long, youth are going to get restive, I predict.

She: I can see that. I mean here's a highly contagious illness--almost as contagious as measles, which everybody used to get--that's basically a bad cold, except people my age can get fatal pneumonia from it. Talk about catching your death.

He: They say we're only as safe as the least safe among us.

She: So a lot of people who exist in close quarters to each other--refugees, for instance, or homeless or people who have to go to work--they're going to get infected before the rest of us. We'll all be in lockdown to keep from getting exposed. And the fittest among the infected won't get very sick, and just about all the young ones will get better and be able to go to work and socialize without risk, while the surviving old folks are still confined to our rooms.

He: Sounds like the generation gap could get serious. Suppose large numbers of twenty-somethings decided to get exposed and then fanned out. Millions of Republicans would die. Almost all the infectors would be fine in a week, but the toll on the economy and on the pension crowd could be revolutionary.

She: Intentional infection. Joke going around that Trump hired infected people to get close to Fauci.

He: They'll be dancing in the streets if Trump gets it.

She: This must look a little like justice to your kids' crowd.

He: No, they're worried about Grandma and Grandpa. They don't connect the condition of the planet to the activities of the old folks. But some of their schoolmates do. And who knows what might happen if they suddenly come to power because of the expiration of a whole lot of longtime voters?

She: People who know they've been exposed but have no symptoms--somebody at work came down with it, say--those people could really do some damage if they were organized. Imagine if they had a protest in Washington. March of the infected. Do you think rich people will still be rich after this?

He: They'll be richer.

She: You know, the billionaire's claim of ownership is nothing but words and numbers on paper. Their property right could be as fragile as an Arab's right not to have a missile come through his window. In the blink of an eye, everything could change, and an epidemic is just the sort of catalyst that changes history.

He: As long as it doesn't make anybody I know history. I'm staying in. I'm not sick yet, but I'm plenty expectant.

She: I'll make you some soup. I'll fax it to you.