This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Twenty-One from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Hoping to find Flossie Mae’s apartment and visit with her before time to clock in, Penny left home an hour early that afternoon, but Jacksonville’s streets were a mess. People had piled so many limbs on the curbs that in the neighborhood near the hospital two cars could not pass without scraping against branches. Abandoning her plan, she turned into the employees’ parking lot.
Coming into the bright, bustling emergency room was like entering another country. Penny asked a familiar-looking nurse for Flossie Mae’s phone number, and the woman consulted the staff Rolodex.
“Her number is unlisted, and she asked us not to give it out, but she works tonight. I’ll leave a note for her to call you.”
Penny had enough time before work to eat a real meal. In the cafeteria, she tarried before the steam table, contemplating the containers of food.
“I’ll tell you what’s good,” said Kerri Kenyon, one of the first people Penny had met at Jackson Medical Center. “Ask them to put a slice of cheese on top of those butter beans. It melts down and...” Kerri smacked her lips, turning her head side-to-side with each smack, then brushed bangs out of her eyes. The girl’s hair was bright copper.
As they took a corner booth together, Penny averted her gaze from Kerri’s hair. “So, how have you been?”
“Hanging in there—but I’m tired of working in laundry.” Kerri glanced around the room. “There’s going to be an opening on Fourth, and I’ve applied for it. The woman I work with downstairs is a snit. You know? Thinks she’s better than anybody else! Today at break we were having fun—everybody telling their favorite body function—and she ruined it. What a bitch! My favorite’s belching. What’s yours?”
“I never thought about it before...sneezing, I guess.”
“I won’t mention some of the things they said,” Kerri cackled. “Hey, I hear there’s a celebrity patient in your department. Who is it, really?”
“I have no idea. This is my first night back since last week.” Penny finished eating, ascended the stairs, and still arrived early. She stepped to one side to avoid bumping into a grey-haired man in a blue suit and red tie, and then moved back against the wall to allow two more suits to pass by. She watched them enter one of the patient rooms.
and all the others, when you
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