PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Chapter Four

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Four from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Penny leaned against the desk as she washed down her last bite of peanut butter cracker with orange juice. “It feels good to rest a minute.... You’d think somebody would notice we missed lunch.”
“You got to look out for yourself, sister.” Maureen stood up and stretched her back. “Let’s get at it; we can rest after we catch up.”

Sixty-year-old Maureen worked accurately at a speed Penny could not match. She helped Dr. Scales’s tobacco-chewing patient into a wheelchair, loaded up his belongings, and rolled him out to a room on South Hall. Following Maureen’s example, Penny opened the door for visitors and called the X-ray results to Dr. Lawrence, who ordered his patient moved to a telemetry bed. By mid-afternoon only Dr. Ghent’s two patients remained in the Unit.

Maureen set a cup of fresh coffee on the desk in front of Penny and pulled up a chair. “We can handle whatever they throw in here, you know it? We tore through that like tornadoes in a trailer park! Now. Tell me about JMC—you like it?” Maureen listened to Penny’s description of her day at orientation, the realistic fire in-service, and her frightening dream. She patted Penny’s hand. “Girl, you’ve got your drawers in a wad. I don’t have the itch to do what you’re doing, but you’re gonna see the big stuff up there. You best learn all you can and then come teach me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained—that’s what we say.”

“That dream was so real I was scared to move, like somebody I couldn’t see was standing there.... I was afraid to go back to sleep.”

“Probably a spirit.” Responding to Penny’s dubious expression, Maureen continued. “Old City Hospital was haunted, built on an Indian burial ground–-didn’t I tell you about that? Strange things were all the time happening.”

“Like what?”

“I saw a bed pulled way out from the wall in an empty room and no matter how many times I pushed it back, next time I went in, it was out again...then there were the burst pipes, and trouble with the heating—like some rooms turned cold for no reason. Everybody knew the spirit had done it.”

Penny snickered, thinking Maureen was teasing. “But you never saw it.”

“I didn’t want to see him! Plenty of folks saw him: six-foot-tall, walking backwards all over the place...said he was so cockeyed that if he’d a cried, tears would have dripped down the back of his neck.”

The phone startled them and Maureen, champion sticker of the hospital, agreed to start a difficult IV down the hall. She approached the Unit door as it swung open to admit Buck, who had come to chart results on some tests that had been sent to another hospital because the Dixiana lab lacked the equipment to run them.

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"In a story of evolving relationships, Margaret McMillion breathes life into her characters, especially Penny, who must find..."

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