Sleuth About six feet tall, my lanky customer from Washington, DC had come to Danville to visit his parents. Other than that, he’d only told me he needed a few business suits.
“What kind of business?” I asked, knowing that would help me find a suit to match his needs.
As he answered, he handed me his card. “I’ve had a successful detective agency for more than 20 years.”
“How many suits do you need?” I asked.
“Two,” he answered.
“How would you like to trade for a little detective work?”
“Sure,” he replied. “What do you need me to do?”
We sat down, so that I could detail my history with Dr. Phenius Vincent Buyck, an extraordinary physician whose ancestors were American Indians, Africans, and Dutch. Before he was ten, he’d begun his study of herbal remedies with his grandfather, a Blackfoot Indian root doctor. Less than a year later, he had a little hospital where he attended to sick animals. Much later, after completing training for his M.D., he elected to revert to the naturopathy of his grandfather. To that end, he travelled the world learning about and securing herbal constituents he used to create his complex remedies for diseases that were generally regarded as terminal or untreatable.
Less than five years after he developed a therapy that seemed a cure for AIDS, I met him. My interest in the threat AIDS posed was the subject of our first conversation, almost an hour long. He had answers to every question that had stymied allopathic researchers. Not long after that, I visited his lab in his basement apartment in Washington, DC. Months later, I met AIDS patients he had saved from certain death.
Often, he sent them medicinals he’d made via UPS. When some of those parcels had inexplicably gone missing, I looked for help to find out why. About that time, the detective came into my store.
By that time, both Dr. Buyck and I had good reason to be suspicious. Although it might have seemed that he was paranoid when he told me that he thought his phone had been tapped, I knew it wasn’t like him to make such statements falsely. Indeed, as I met more of his patients and learned the stories about the hopeless diagnoses they’d received from their allopathic physicians before seeing Dr. Buyck, I grew to appreciate his genius and his integrity; so many of them had been cured.
In fact, years later, I visited two of his most famous AIDS patients when I went with Dr. Buyck to their upscale apartment. Both men were prominent AIDS researchers at NIH. As he had done for so many others, he’d crafted life-saving remedies for them.
That’s why I chose to try to find ways to make the world aware of his work. To that end, I wrote Oliver Stone about making a movie about Dr. Buyck. To my great surprise, his personal physician, Dr. Chris Renna, phoned me six months later because Stone had told Renna to decide whether he should make a film about Dr. Buyck. Sadly, Renna didn’t understand either the scope or the nature of Buyck’s work. The movie never happened.
Other things did. During a visit to Dr. Buyck, he told me the people who lived above him had moved out. Since Buyck was friends with the apartment manager, he asked whether he could go upstairs to see whether they had tapped his phone. I was to stay in Buyck’s apartment and call my store. I did.
Minutes after I hung up, Buyck returned to his apartment and told me, almost verbatim, exactly what I had said to my salesman.
But that wasn’t the only time. Less than a year later, Buyck asked me to drive him to an herb shop he’d helped a man open. After teaching the man about raising and importing herbal medicinals, Buyck became one of the man’s best customers. We were to drive there to pick up an order Buyck had placed earlier that day.
The shop owner looked surprised when we arrived. “Your man has already been here,” the owner told us. That order, important to a number of Buyck’s patients, had had a value of thousands of dollars.
Knowing that wire-tapping had cost him (and his patients) dearly, Buyck developed methods to prevent further losses. For a while, things went well. Both he and I were pleased when a young man who professed to have a genuine interest in volunteering to be his medical assistant did just that. For a while, he was a huge help to Buyck. I got to know the young man after meeting him half a dozen times.
However, when I was asked to speak at a ceremony honoring Dr. Buyck, Buyck told me he was suspicious. Days later, he confronted the young man with the proof of those suspicions. Because the youngster had, by that time, seen the scope of Buyck’s good work, most often done without charge, he wept as he admitted he’d been working for a military intelligence agency.
I wasn’t surprised about that. But I was surprised when I received a call from the detective I’d hired. He’d found proof that government agents had been impersonating UPS personnel; he saw what they’d done with Buyck’s packages. Then, in a whispery voice, he told me he’d have to call me later.
I never heard from him again. Strange as that was, his ad in the Yellow Pages also disappeared; his phone number was disconnected. To this day, I remain mystified; the man vanished.
That said, there is one thing I’m sure of. After having a “completely cancerous” tumor removed from my colon, I was advised by my surgeon at Duke to have a resection procedure. Buyck advised against it; he made medicine for me that I took religiously.
I’ll never forget what my surgeon said following my examination a few months after I completed Buyck’s medicine.
“Pristine,” he said, about the area of my colon on which he’d operated.
Unfortunately, I was the only one who heard him say it.