PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Chapter Nine

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Nine from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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More than half of the year had passed; days were growing shorter and hurrying by. Acorns littered the concrete and spun like ball bearings when Penny stepped across them to her car, and as she drove down Oakwood pine needles tumbled beneath her tires. Now that Penny knew the way, the interstate flowed beneath her like a gray river, and her commute to Jacksonville was a time of solace.

But late one afternoon as she approached Jacksonville, anxiety swelled inside her. She had rotated through every nursing department, met more faces than she could remember, and accepted a night position in the Oncology Department. They had hired her so they must have believed she could do the job, but could she? Sometimes she found herself in a room and couldn’t remember why she was there. There were too many names to learn, too many drugs with too many side effects, too many visitors in the patients’ rooms. Maybe her mind was slipping–-she forgot too much! She would have to work harder, concentrate better, and do whatever it took to keep up with everything.

From Employee Parking, she went into the basement of the hospital through the staff entrance, planning to burn calories by climbing the steps to Oncology on the fourth floor. The elevator and the stairwell were side by side, and as Penny approached, the housekeeper with a commode-seat fixation called her name, beckoning and holding open the elevator door. Penny sneaked a look at Kerri’s name badge before she was enveloped by her arms and her flowery fragrance.

“Oooo,” Kerri cooed. “You’ve had your hair cut—I love it! Come in here with us, Penny. My boss wants to show me some stuff, then we can ride up together.”

Although not an easy hugger, Penny enjoyed the goodwill and entered the elevator. She watched the tough-looking housekeeping supervisor sway from side to side like a metronome keeping time to inaudible music and wondered if the woman heard music in her head.

The elevator door slid shut, but they remained in the basement. Kerri’s boss pulled out the red STOP button to hold the elevator stationary, then bent down and opened a small compartment on the wall beside the emergency phone. Reaching within, she depressed a button and the rear of the elevator slid open to reveal a large room filled with various pieces of equipment.

Penny restrained the door while Kerri and her boss moved three IV poles, two suction machines, and a vaporizer out of the way, then shoved a cooling-blanket tank onto the lift. Penny pointed to a metal door at the other end of the storage room. “Where does that go?”

Kerri displayed her knowledge with enthusiasm. “It goes behind the morgue and connects to a tunnel that goes out to the maintenance building behind the hospital.”

“I’m not very observant,” Penny said. “I’ve never noticed that the elevator opens to this other side on every floor but the basement!”

“I doubt if many people know about the elevator room,” the supervisor said. After the back of the elevator snapped shut, she depressed the red button, then opened the front door and turned to Kerri. “Carry this machine up to Four Main. I want to check today’s linen delivery while I’m down here.” Penny watched the woman enter a doorway marked LINEN across the basement hallway.

“So now you know what my job is: moving heavy equipment.” Kerri giggled and depressed the fourth floor button. “I can hardly believe we’ve been here almost three months! Do you like Oncology? I’d think it would be depressing to work up there.”
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"Healthcare can be murder. "Personal Baggage" is a novel from Margaret McMillon discussing the current issues surrounding the modern healthcare..."

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