With all the furor over insulin pump security earlier this year (that is, the possibility of rogue outside wireless control of one’s pump), all I could think of was that it would make an excellent Law and Order episode. Intrigue! Medical drama! The perfect crime! Unless the cops could crack the case at the last minute, that is…
I had started my spoof episode and completely forgotten about it. I found it last night, and am determined to share it with the world for National Diabetes Awareness Month. It will be serialized. It will be silly. It will be very strange.
It will be…Law and Order: Special Pumpers Unit.
If anyone is indeed concerned with the possibility of remote bolus control, or think I’m making light of the possibility of serious injury or death from an insulin overdose, I do not mean any offense. Laughter, for me, is the best and sometimes only defense.
V/O: In the pancreatic justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important substances: insulin, that lowers blood glucose, and glucagon, which raises it again. These are their stories.
Well, more specifically, the guys who fight crime related to those substances, really.
I mean, you can’t really just have a show about insulin.
It’s not a very good actor.
It just sort of…puddles and dries up.
Are we…are we still rolling? Can we just cut to Doink Doink already? Come on, I -
CUT TO TITLE CARD: Law and Order: Special Pumpers Unit
Sound cue: DOINK DOINK (echoed by the Beep Beep of a pump, or possibly the whir of insulin delivery)
(Lights up on a corner of Central Park; two young women, stylish, early 20s, about to eat lunch. CONNIE is testing her blood glucose level.)
DENISE: Hey, how’s your salad? I hear the place that took over the bodega actually has some decent produce.
CONNIE: Tell you in a second – gotta test.
DENISE: Does salad even have carbs?
CONNIE: Denise, life is unfair. Everything has carbs. Hold on. (Puts in strip, pokes her finger). Bleh. (Tests) Eh, it’s ok.
DENISE: Are you changing that pokey thing every time?
CONNIE: Dude, witness my lack of health insurance. Lance and me are going to celebrate our six month anniversary, and I'm sure he's going to take me somewhere nice if I give him a year.
DENISE: You named your lancet Lance.
CONNIE: You know me. This comes as a surprise how?
DENISE: Yeah, all right.
CONNIE: I don’t even test as often as I should – despite the nagging- and you know it. Pokey things don’t grow on trees. Well, they do, they’re called thorns, but lancets cost money. Besides, lots of black dots on your fingers aren't in style this year, according to Vogue.
DENISE: Doesn’t it hurt more if it gets blunt?
CONNIE: No pain, no gain?
DENISE: I don’t think that-
CONNIE: Look, maybe I just like blunt trauma, okay? Now shut your pie hole and eat your sandwich.
DENISE: That’s hard to do with your mouth shut. Wouldn’t it technically be a sandwich hole in this instance?
CONNIE: Not if we go get pie.
DENISE: This is true.
CONNIE: Time for insulin roulette. High and the house pays 2:1. Low and its 3:1.
(CONNIE boluses from her meter)
DENISE: So that thing just transmits insulin?
CONNIE: It tells my pump how much to give.
DENISE: Where’s your pump?
CONNIE: Only my doctor knows for sure. (Pause) It’s in my pocket. (Pulls out pump) Here.
DENISE: Shiny as always.
CONNIE: Pumpy got style.
DENISE: Ah yes, Pumpy. And this is why your debut novel won’t be hitting the shelves any time soon.
CONNIE: Shut your sandwich hole.
DENISE: Actually, The Adventures of Pumpy and Lance might be a big seller in certain circles.
CONNIE: Pumpy would never run off with Lance. (Gestures to her site) He's pretty attached.
DENISE: I need someone attached to me at the hip like that. At least Pumpy is more reliable than James.
CONNIE: James might as well have been a small computer. Emphasis on pocket-sized. Hey, he finally stopped calling me.
DENISE: Thank god. That calls for a celebration. Pie tonight?
CONNIE: Pie is a go. I’m just going to take a nap at home after this. I love us being self-employed.
DENISE: You’re going to nap again? You know we need the designs by…we’re kind of really behind.
CONNIE: Yeah, whatevs. I’m on it. Oh, yeah, and if anyone asks me if I can eat the pie…
DENISE: Yeah, I know the drill. Punch to the face.
CONNIE: This is why you’re my besty!
DENISE: Cool. Just let me set up a reminder text. Two pies, apartment, 6pm.
(Zoom in on pump. Shady figure in the background pushes buttons on a device. We see “basal rate” selected. The number of units start rising, and rising. Pump reads, “are you sure?” “Ok” is selected).
SMASH CUT TO:
Major activity going on at the station. JOE filling out paperwork at his desk. Pictures of him with adorable children. Poster above his desk reads, “My Other Pump is a Lexus”
JOE: NYPD, Special Pumpers Unit. Joe speaking. What’s up. (Pause) DAMMIT!
JOE doing the walk and talk with FRANK.
FRANK: So she OD’d? Or miscalculated?
JOE: If she did, it was a pretty severe miscalculation. She went so low that she never woke up. She’s in the hospital, and in no shape to tell anyone anything. Her friend Denise found her after she didn’t show up for pie.
FRANK: So she even missed out on pie. Damn. Was she depressed at all?
JOE: I don’t know, Frank, did she have an incurable, expensive, unpredictable chronic disease that she had to think about all the time?
FRANK: I really have to stop asking that question.
JOE: Yeah, you freakin’ yutz. We know she wasn’t insured, so testing could have been an issue, she could have relied on guesswork.
FRANK: But she tested at lunch.
JOE: Things change quickly, Frank. Anyway, according to what this Denise gal told the police, she had just dumped her loser boyfriend and they had both left their jobs to start a business together.
FRANK: Loser-free, not working for The Man, and the promise of pie. Something here just doesn’t add up to an overdose.
JOE: I agree. Let’s check this out.
(Cut to THE SUSPICIOUSLY LARGE NEW YORK APARTMENT, I MEAN WHO CAN AFFORD THAT, REALLY)
JOE: Hi, this is Joe Langerhans, special pumpers unit. Frank Banting, my associate. We came as soon as we heard.
DENISE: It’s good of you to come. Would you like some pie? When I came home with them I tried to wake her up and…there’s plenty left over.
JOE: That depends. (Makes a note in his jotter.) What kind of pie?
FRANK: Joe, don’t look a gift pie in the mouth. The mouth…of the pie.
JOE: Pies don’t have mouths, Frank.
FRANK: Pies are mysterious creatures, Joe.
DENISE: Pumpkin or strawberry-rhubarb?
FRANK: Ooh, pumpkin, please.
JOE: Strawberry-rhubarb. A pie after my own heart. I like my pies with that subtle tang of sourness and regret.
DENISE: Yes, it’s a real “a la recherche du pie perdu.” (Blank looks from the men) Never mind. (Leaves; men are silent for a minute)
FRANK: Oh! Proust! That was a Proust reference, Joe.
JOE: I know damn well it was a Proust reference. Proust is nothing to joke about.
DENISE: (Enters with pie) Pie.
FRANK: Madam, this Simple Simon thanks you.
JOE: That’s a fairly self-aware description, Frank. (To Denise) Thank you. (Takes out what looks like a speeding radar; flashes it over the pie. Instead of flashing “Your Speed:” radar flashes: “Your Carbs: 42” JOE nods and boluses, starts eating pie.) Now, we should get down to business.
DENISE: Wait, what was that thing?
JOE: Secret…D-Police stuff.
DENISE: But it just scanned and-
JOE: It’s experimental. In fact, it’s not even real. We don’t have the technology, how could we? (DENISE stares at him) Okay, I’m trying to work out a cheap prototype before Pharma copyrights and charges out the nose for it, all right? Whatever. How long have you known Connie?
DENISE: All our lives, almost. I remember when she was diagnosed when she was ten. I was sure I was going to get it too because we hung out so much, shared sodas, everything. I was scared, but then when nothing happened I was almost disappointed. First, she was getting so much attention, and second, to ten-year-old me, I thought that meant I wasn’t her real best friend. When another kid in our class was diagnosed two years later, I secretly thought Connie was cheating on me and she’d only want to hang out with her from then on. Luckily that girl turned out to be a dia-bitch-chick.
JOE: So are you jealous of the attention Connie receives on a regular basis?
DENISE: Yes, if I were still a pre-teen, I sure would be. Me, I’m just thankful I don’t have to deal with any of that crap. The misconceptions alone…
FRANK: Was Connie a responsible diabetic growing up? Did she experience any highs or, more importantly, lows?
JOE: You’ll have to pardon my partner, Denise. I don’t even know why we let pancreanorms on the team. Frank, for the last time, asking if a diabetic experienced highs and lows growing up is like me asking you if you have ever felt hungry, even though you ate earlier in the day. It’s like asking an asthma patient if he’s ever felt shortness of breath even though he has an inhaler. It’s just a thing that happens.
FRANK: I still think it might be important to try to establish a pattern.
(Jump cut to THE LAB, where JEFF is enhancing a logbook on a screen; we see an absolutely random chart generated)
JEFF: Aw, screw it, these numbers never make logical sense anyway. I don’t even know why we do this. I mean, what the hell happened here?
LAB TECH: Let it go, Jeff.
JEFF: I will not! Okay, people, let’s run the numbers backwards and square everything. Maybe that will work. (We see the chart on the screen shift and the dots begin to form the letters “Paul Is Dead” as we cut back to Denise’s apartment.)
DENISE: Well, honestly, she did struggle with the numbers through college. But really, who doesn’t make a total mess of themselves at some point? Her parents told her that a boyfriend or random hookups were fine, as long as they checked her glucose level at 3:30am. It was certainly a way to separate boyfriend material from the immature from that one really creepy fetishist. But anyway, she’s doing much better in recent years. She loves her pump.
FRANK: Ah, yes, Pumpy. It seems Pumpy did not entirely love her back.
DENISE: Pumpy kept her alive for years! Show some respect.
FRANK: …Sorry, lady.
DENISE: It’s…it’s okay. I just don’t like anyone talking shit about Pumpy. I don’t think it was his fault. There’s a reason you’re here, right? You suspect someone who isn’t portable.
JOE: We do.
JOE: So you and Connie have a business together?
DENISE: Such as it is. Yes…yes, we do.
JOE: How’d it come about?
DENISE: It was all Connie’s idea. She convinced me to quit our jobs as paralegals – decent salary, actual benefits- and go into a design-focused business. Housewares, mostly, but we do a line of cute pump-compatible dresses. You’d think someone would have thought of that before.
JOE: What did each of you do?
DENISE: She was the creative, I drew up the business plan and work sales. We outsource construction.
JOE: How’s the business going?
DENISE: She was designing our major cupcakes and unicorns line. It was going to be awesome, but it was taking some time and we’d lost a few orders. We were struggling a bit, and maybe that got her depressed. I mean, she was eating salad for lunch. That’s not the food of someone who’s feeling robust.
FRANK: Is there anything else we should know about?
DENISE: James, for sure.
DENISE: That loser, James. Connie’s ex. He was gross and abusive and always made diabetes jokes. He kept telling her she brought it on herself, and she’d cry. He told her she wasn’t dieting hard enough. She finally wised up and dumped his ass. He wouldn’t stop calling her for weeks. Inadequate little rat man. Really good with computers though. He was designing our website, and it looked amazing.
JOE: What’s the address?
DENISE: Oh, please don’t go there. Ever since she broke up with him, it now redirects to Goatse.
DENISE: Can I help you with anything else, officers?
JOE: No, I think we’ve got some good leads here. Pie for thought.
DENISE: Are you going to talk to James?
JOE: Might be our next stop. Certainly one of them.
DENISE: Can you kick his door down violently?
JOE: We’re supposed to knock, first.
DENISE: I won’t tell if you won’t.
FRANK: Thanks for all your help, and the pie.
DENISE: Well, someone should get to eat it. I don’t want to anymore. Have a nice day, officers.
JOE: Ma’am. (Nods; the detectives leave the apartment)
JOE: Well, we’ve got a few places to go.
FRANK: Hey, Joe?
FRANK: Did you hear how she talked about Pumpy? What was that about?
JOE: No idea, Frank.
FRANK: I mean…do you think…do you think there’s something going on, there? Between them? Sounded like a jealous defense to me.
JOE: It’s an insulin pump, Frank.
FRANK: But she seemed…passionate.
JOE: It’s a small plastic box that vibrates, Frank. What use would a woman have for a relationship with one of those?
JOE: Yeah, okay, but not with a pump. (Pause) Let’s go talk to her pharmacist and forget this ever happened.
DOINK DOINK. DOINK.
(Pharmacy. We see a pharmacist stocking shelves in a rhythmic fashion, much like a New York delivery driver).
PHARMACIST: Yeah, I seen her. I seen her…just two days ago.
JOE: You, uh, seen her?
PHARMACIST: I mean I know…I saw her. Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I have a Master’s.
JOE: That’s right you do.
FRANK: He’s a stickler for grammar.
JOE: Now Mr. Master, where did you see her last?
PHARMACIST: She came to the counter, like usual. Right before closing, like always. If you don’t mind me saying so, she seems very disorganized.
JOE: Well, she has a faulty organ, so…
FRANK: Joe, quit it. What did she come for, sir? Was it dangerous?
PHARMACIST: Oh, very. We won’t release it without papers. (Confused pause) It was insulin. She wanted insulin. She has a prescription for it and picks it up every few weeks.
JOE: She doesn’t pick up a three-month supply? Most people do.
PHARMACIST: Look, she can’t afford it, she buys a vial at a time. I don’t ask questions.
JOE: Maybe you should ask why it’s so expensive.
PHARMACIST: Believe me, I wish I knew. I’d give her more, but my arms are tied. They find stuff missing, they call in D-Fraud.
FRANK: D-Fraud…that is one awesome job, though. Though, obviously less so for you.
JOE: Not enough money for insulin. And yet she could live in an apartment spacious enough to contain more than one boom mike.
JOE: How is that even possible?
FRANK: (coughs) Fourth wall, Joe. Fourth wall.
JOE: She could afford an apartment with four walls, and not insulin? Usury!
PHARMACIST: Look, guy, the pharmaceutical industry isn’t on trial here. I saw her, she came in, she took the insulin, she left. Said thanks, you’re a lifesaver. She always said that.
FRANK: She seem sad? Agitated?
PHARMACIST: Nothing out of the ordinary.
FRANK: You like her?
PHARMACIST: Sweet girl. I mean…you know what I mean. Always nice, always smiling even when stressed.
JOE: Thanks for your time.
PHARMACIST: Look, you catch this guy, you let me know. I got all sorts of nasty stuff you can use.
JOE: You got?
PHARMACIST: Have. Have.
Will Joe and Frank solve the crime? Will Connie wake up and eat pie? Is it James, or some mystery suspect who will be introduced at the last minute without adequate motive or backstory? Will the lab techs ever find a pattern in a logbook? Will the pharmacist develop a solution to his crippling case of Truck Driver Grammar? Some of these questions will probably be answered in Part Two if anyone cares, so tune in whenever that's updated!