A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Chapter Ten

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Ten from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Penny sat behind one of many computers connected to a teaching module in a newly decorated basement classroom as Ruth Robertson, Clinical Director and part-time Supervisor at JMC concluded her lecture. “Thank you for your patience. We are among the first hospitals in the country to try this and, as we all know, new things can be upsetting, but if we work together, I believe we can create a computer program that will save us time and improve our accuracy. We’re starting from scratch, correcting it as we go, and your input is part of the process, so E-mail your suggestions and your problems to me. You have my promise that you will receive a prompt reply.”

The in-service over, Penny stretched her stiff shoulders and added the handouts to her collection of instructions and examples for the program-in-progress. Three months ago, she had not known the difference between hardware and software, and after this demonstration that was the only information of which she was sure.

Before heading home to lunch, Penny ran up the stairs to Oncology to find no one at the desk and the phone ringing. Breathless, she picked up the receiver. “Oncology Department, Penny speaking.”
“My buddy’s real sick. He needs to go to the hospital,” a gruff, male voice stated.

“Bring him to the Emergency Room.... What’s his trouble?”

“I’m Colonel Philpot and I’m paralyzed, see? I won’t bring him unless you guarantee me a room with a recliner. My phone rang a while ago, and I almost grabbed it out of the wall tryin’ to answer it and now I’m paralyzed. If I don’t get a recliner, I’m takin’ Watt to another hospital.”

Penny assured him that all the rooms had recliners. “If you can’t drive, call an ambulance. They will bring both of you to our ER.”

Penny replaced the receiver as Ellen, the day-shift unit secretary, returned to her desk. “Thanks, I was helping them turn Darlina.”

Penny gave Ellen a wry smile. “That was Colonel Philpot.”

“I know him,” Ellen said. “We’ve had his friend a couple of times—Watt Weeks, a real nice man—but Philpot’s crazy! I heard he came to ER last night in a pair of undershorts, drunk, and complaining of pain in his neck and shoulders. He told the doc he was an architect, and he had strained his neck drawing! When the ER doctor refused to admit him, they had to call security because he was hitting empty stretchers with a long, red and white stick. I guess he’ll keep on ‘til one or the other of them is admitted.”

Thankful for the afternoon off, Penny cruised home. Crossing the line back into Riverdale County, she opened her window, drew in a deep breath, and felt a difference in the air. High over her car, seven wild ducks flapped in formation. It was the second week of October, and cool. Trees along the interstate still displayed a collage of gold and crimson, but gusts of wind brought their leaves swirling down, leaving bunches of green mistletoe visible in the upper branches.

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"In her new novel PERSONAL BAGGAGE author Margaret McMillion gives us fine details of Southern family life and, she herself an..."

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