The meeting finally wrapped up, and as I got up to leave, the D.C. Medical Director, Dr. Cadore, tapped me on the shoulder again.

“Good work ‘Mr. Benton,'” he said wryly and winked.

“Thanks, Robert Dingle, nice to meet you.” I said, with my still-sweaty hand, outstretched.

“Doctor Arturo Cadore, at your service.” He spoke with a heavy accent. My best guess would be Argentinian, but my ‘best guess’ is nothing more than a stab in the dark. He was short, maybe 5’6″, and bald with unkempt white hair above his ears. His eyes were tight and sharp. He had a short,  white beard as well, making him look like an evil Santa Clause.

“You did very well for yourself just now. You should be proud,” le hablas.

“Thank you Dr. Cadore, I’m not sure what to tell my boss about all this, looks like I roped us into a report on the Constitutional rights of those things…today is my first day here, you know.”

“Ahh, I see. Don’t worry about it,” he suggested with a shrug as he mimed wiping his hands and throwing them into the air. “You’ll do great things, I’m sure I will see you around.”

“Thanks!” I was relieved, at least to think that someone thought I wasn’t a total asshole.

I walked back to the office, it was around 10:50 am, just now realizing that it was almost lunchtime on my first day at work and I hadn’t even been more than ten feet inside my office.

As I pushed open the doors, Betsy The Receptionist called out my name. My first name, as if I was in trouble and she was my mom.

“Robert! There you are, you have a client waiting. He’s been here almost an hour.” She said to me, sounding somewhere in between disappointed and perplexed. She pointed to a middle aged man, sitting quietly in the waiting area. He made eye contact with me, and I could tell that he was nervous. Not as nervous as me though.

“Miss Betsy, um…”

“Come on with it,” she snapped.

“I don’t mean to sound like an idiot, but how do I have a client? Do I have an office? I’m not exactly sure…”

“Oh, you’ll be fine,” she said reassuringly. “Your office is the third one down on the right. I’ll let the man know you’ll be with him shortly.”

“Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.” I said, and walked to MY office.

I walked into my box, turned on the computer and spread some papers around my desk that were in a pile so it looked like I actually worked here. Just then the phone rang. It was Betsy, calling me “Mr. Dingle” and letting me know that she was bringing my client back to see me. Then she whispered”

“just act like you’ve done this before. all you have to do is fill out form D-37 and take his story, I’ll fill you in when he leaves.”

Before I had time to process this data, the man walked in and stuck out his hand for me to shake.

“My name is Nassir, and I have something terrible to tell you, I am sorry,” he said.

I grabbed his hand and asked him to have a seat. “Thank you for coming in, don’t worry, everything will be ok,” I told him.

“I am a cab driver.”

“Well that’s not so terrible,” I joked. He didn’t get it.

“I have come to you because I…I…believe one of my co-workers has been attacked,” he paused, “by one of the unmentionables.”

He looked at me like a 4 year old when he finds out his goldfish has died. I’m the mommy, telling him ‘don’t worry, we’ll get you a new one…’

I straightened up in my chair and tried my best not to let him know that I was just as freaked out. “I understand. Tell me sir, why do you say that?”

“Well, you see, I was on the phone with him last night, he is a driver too. I was taking a customer to Georgetown and I was stuck in traffic. I was on the phone and I heard…” His eyes began to well up.

“Please, go on.” I said, looking for a box of tissues. I felt like a psychiatrist (and how did this make you feel?).

“And I heard as he stopped to pick up a customer. He said, ‘where do you want to go?’ and I heard in the background through his earpiece, ‘Aannnggggrrr,’ and he replied, ‘ah, N St., and what cross street?’ then the voice said, ‘eehhhgsh,’ so he replied, ‘yessir, 8th St. and N St. very good.'”

“Ok,” I said, still scanning my desk for from D-37. “Please continue.”

“And then,” Mr. Nassir continued, “I heard my friend put his turn signal on, and as he began to say something about all the snow, I heard…I heard a nightmare noise. I heard him scream, ‘No, no, no!’ then nothing. I yelled out to my friend, but all I heard was the sound of…eating…”

He began to cry. “Like someone was eating my friend.”

My heart sunk. All I could think of was what I saw over the weekend. I looked down, and saw form D-37 in front of me on my desk. What do I do now?

“I’m so sorry, sir.” I responded. “Have you heard from him since?”

“No. He doesn’t answer his phone. What do I tell his wife?”

“Ok, well, please fill this out, and I assure you we will take care of it from here.”

He looked at me like I was a heartless asshole. He took the form and started writing. He filled out his name, address and occupation. When he handed it back to me all that was left to fill out was a series of boxes, “TO BE FILLED OUT BY ADMINISTRATOR.” I guess that was me. There were wet tear marks on the form. I couldn’t bear to look up.

The options were: 1) Zombie sighting, 2) Report and infection, 3) report and undeath, and 4) other, with a one inch blank line to write in. I wrote, “cab driver mauling, possible.”

I looked up and saw his face. He was as confused as I was. I did what I do best. I lied.

“Thank you Mr. Nassir, we have enough here to go on, we’ll be in touch.”

I hurried him from my office and back to the reception area. I went back to my office and sat down. A knock came on my door, it was Betsy.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Before I could respond, she grabbed the form D-37 and said, “Follow me.”

I did and she took me down the hall to a room lined with filing cabinets. She picked one and put the form inside.

“There, you’re done!” She said, “I told you you’d be fine.” She smiled.

She took me back to me office and I sat back down. Is this really it? What happens to those forms? Who follows up on them? Is this my job?

I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

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