Worthy, Part 38

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Abigail waits in the visitors’ center of the CDC’s facility in Chamblee. Winn enters and approaches her with a brisk step, wearing a military uniform. He is almost a carbon copy of his father, but thinner and with slightly darker hair. Abigail waves. 

“Abby, hi. Good to meet you in person.”

He gives her a warm hug.

“Neil didn’t tell me you’re in the military.”

“Commissioned corps, US Public Health Service. We’re the first line of defense when something threatens the public’s health.”

Winn signs her in and hands her a visitor’s badge.

“We’ve got a pretty good cafeteria here. You should find something to your liking.”

He leads her out of the center into a long, windy corridor between buildings. Winn uses his badge to admit them to the next to last building. He gets a tray of food and waits for her just before the cashier. 

“You weren’t kidding about the selection,” she says as he pays for their lunch. 

“I spend a lot of time here when I’m not on a detail or at my practice.”

“So you still see patients?”

“Wednesdays and Fridays. Mainly established patients. I haven’t taken on any new kids lately.”

They sit at a table near the windows.

“It’s a beautiful campus.”

“Hope you didn’t catch a whiff of the dump.”

“Dump?”

“DeKalb county has a garbage dump next door. Some days it’s more apparent than others.”

“I didn’t notice. Why would they build the campus near a dump?”

“One of the enduring mysteries of the government, I suppose.”

Abigail looks him over, then shakes her head and chuckles. “It’s weird. You look so much like your Dad, but don’t sound anything like him.”

“Yeah, there’s a lot Dad and I don’t see eye to eye on. Like Roger.”

“Who’s Roger? 

“Here, he’s considered my partner or significant other. In ten or twelve other states, he’s my husband.”

“You’re gay?”

“Neil didn’t mention that?”

“Neil didn’t tell me a lot. Just to look you up.”

“That’s Neil for you. I understand the two of you have gotten rather close.”

“That’s an understatement. Sometimes I can’t seem to get rid of him.”

“My little brother is certainly an experience.”

“I fixed him up with one of my friends from high school to distract him.”

“Did it work?”

“So far.”

They continue to talk as they eat. When they’re done, Winn gives her a tour of the campus and the office where he works. Whenever they encounter one of his colleagues, he introduces her as his sister.

Back at the visitors’ center he says, “What did you think?”

“Intriguing. There’s so much going on here.”

“Think you might want to make a career out of something like this?”

“Would I get my own uniform?”

“That’s a separate process. You don’t need to work here for that, though many do.”

“Thank you so much for giving me the tour.”

“I want to have you and your cousin over for dinner before you leave. You can meet Roger and the kids.”

“Sounds like fun. Just give me a call and we can set something up.”

They say their goodbyes and Abigail heads back to the bus stop.

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