Deja Who (Insighter #1)(3)

The diplomas and certificates on the wall behind her trumpeted her expertise via large font and dark dramatic lettering:

anesthesiology (The American Board of Anesthesiology hereby certifies that Leah Nazir, a licensed graduate of etc., etc.), library science (By virtue of the authority vested the trustees have conferred upon Leah Nazir etc., etc.), competitive reading (Leah Nazir earned this award for participation and completion of the fifth-grade reading club), and Insighting (Leah Nazir: Certified Insider, ID #29682).

The last one, she knew, either impressed or horrified people. The first one just impressed them. They were indifferent about her library science and fifth-grade reading awards. Maybe it was time to go back to school, get a doctorate in . . . God, anything that sounded like it could be good for a few laughs. Criminal psych. Cannabis cultivation. Fermentation sciences. Auctioneering. Gunsmithing?

“Who are you?”

“My name is Alice Delaney.”


“Why? It’s . . . it’s my name. Is why.” Chart #6116’s expression = pay attention, dumbass.

Chart #6116 was not yet down deep enough. She could only see herself, which was a large part of her problem. Problems.

Who are you to talk, sunshine? You see yourself and all your past mistakes and has it made you happy or well-adjusted or pleasant to be around?

Ah . . . no.

Leah double-checked the feed and hummed. She did this more or less unconsciously; she scarcely heard it anymore, though colleagues occasionally teased her about it. It had a tendency to soothe her patients. And herself, of course. If she didn’t hum, she might stab.

“Who are you?”

“Alice . . . hmmmm . . . mmmm . . . my name . . . my name is . . .”

“Who are you?”

“My name is James Clark McReynolds.”

Excellent. Leah crimped the tube. Past memories would come easier now; Rain Down (generic name: reindyne, courtesy of the good people at Pfizer, discovered by accident in 1987 when Pfizer was trying to develop a heart medicine/diet aid) was invaluable for that, possibly more invaluable than Leah or any of her colleagues. But if she kept the IV running wide open, Alice/James/etc. would fall so far down the rabbit hole they’d never make it back.

“My name is James Clark McReynolds.”

“There you go.”


“Nothing, Judge McReynolds.” Leah flipped through the chart. DOB February 3, 1862. DOD August 24, 1946. Aquarius, a masculine sign. A fixed sign, with keywords like “stubborn,” “sarcastic,” “rebellious.” American lawyer and, later, judge. Possibly the most vile wretch to ever sit on a Supreme Court bench.

Even by the standards of the time, Judge McReynolds was a gold-plated jerkass, foisted on the unwary by President Taft, and what the hell had el presidente been thinking? Thanks to history’s long memory, and her job, Leah knew exactly: Taft was thinking what he was saying, and what he was saying was McReynolds had been “someone who seems to delight in making others uncomfortable.” Wasn’t that a terrific quality for any judge to have? Why, it ought to be a mandate! Oh, and lest he hadn’t been clear, Taft also described McReynolds as “selfish to the last degree . . . fuller of prejudice than any man I have ever known . . . he has no sense of duty.”

So naturally, the politicians of the time were in full agreement: Hire that man! And keep promoting him. Eventually promote him just to get rid of him. Promote him again. And again. Eventually give him a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. Because in politics, shit flows uphill.

Leah was not surprised to find she was not surprised. Her research—hours and hours looking up birth and death certificates, hours on the online juggernaut that was the Insighter database—helped her figure out who Alice was, and who Alice had been. Chart #6116 was leaking McReynolds all over the place. And that wasn’t even the bad news. She had the same thought about almost every patient: if only they’d come to see me sooner. Before she did things she can never undo.

Well. She


were here now. Leah would help as best she could. Of course, her idea of help and her patient’s idea of help were likely different.

“. . . the only way you can get on the Supreme Court these days is to be either the son of a criminal or a Jew, or both!” #6116 was ranting in a shrill old man’s voice.

Be glad you didn’t live to see the twenty-first century, McReynolds. African-Americans in Congress, the House, the White House, and the Supreme Court. Jews roam freely, secure in the absurd notion that religion doesn’t have to dictate career paths. Lesbians brazenly being lesbians. Homosexual couples marrying! And then adopting! Legally!

She swallowed her snicker. “Further, Judge McReynolds.” Leah checked the IV crimp. “Go back further. There’s all kinds of stuff in there. You have to dig for it.”

Her voice changed at once; no hesitation, Rain Down was working nicely and #6116 was deep in EffRe (Effortless Recall). #6116 went from a self-confident young woman to a shrill old man to . . . “My name is Westley Allan Dodd.”

There you go. I cannot tell you how much meeting a serial killer before lunch brightens my Wednesdays.

“Mm-hmm. Tell me all about yourself, Mr. Dodd. This is your chance to be heard.” The thing they all needed. The thing they would kill to get. If she were nicer, she would be sympathetic.

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