This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Twenty-Seven from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the gravity of the situation, and how important it is for you to remember exactly what happened in Oncology this morning. I must ask you to pledge that you will tell the truth and sign your pledge. Will you do that?”
Penny glanced at Carina, who smiled and nodded. With less enthusiasm Penny said, “Yes, I will.”
“Good. We are going to interview you individually, then talk with you together.”
After signing the paper, Penny walked out into the hall to await her turn. Lined up against the wall were six padded executive chairs, upholstered in red leather. She dropped into the first chair, her heart thumping and her muscles tight. Her neck hurt. She hung her head forward and lowered her chin to her chest, listening to her vertebrae crunch. The crunching sound increased when she turned her head from side to side. She checked the time. Unable to sit still, she walked to the end of the hall and returned, counting her steps back and forth, and back and forth, checking her watch often, her anxiety increasing as the minute hand advanced more and more slowly. After ten minutes the door opened and her chest constricted, squeezing adrenalin out into her tissues. As Carina passed, she touched Penny’s arm with icy-cold fingers.
Penny entered the conference room, where both men stood waiting behind the table that crowded the room. The short officer hurried around to pull out a chair for her. He had a sallow complexion and bruised areas on his hands, like someone in liver failure. His fleshy face glistened in the harsh, overhead light. Penny smiled at him, but his gaze rested on the back of her chair, and he did not smile in return.
The older man, who had a long face with a humped nose, sat down before Penny was seated. He opened a manilla folder and selected one page, studied it briefly, then laid it on top of the folder and looked at Penny like a cat ready to pounce, making her conscious of her foot tapping movements under the table. She stilled her foot immediately. As he leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs, his lips parted in a self-assured smile.
“Mrs. Pewitt, have you worked at this hospital long?”
“Not very long...not a year yet.” Penny’s pounding heart shook her vocal cords, causing her voice to tremble.
“And you knew Flossie Mae Fox before you came to work here. How well did you know her?”
Carina must have told them that she already knew Flossie Mae! “I worked with her several times in Dixiana, and after she came here I went to her apartment one morning for awhile when I was sick.” Conscious that her words sounded like they belonged in a TV courtroom, Penny continued. “I met her son once, when I rode the ambulance to transfer him from Dixiana up to this hospital, and...”
“You know her son?” Both men leaned forward. They seemed excited. The fat one rolled his eyes toward his partner, positioned a legal pad in front of himself, picked up a pen and clicked its point in and out.
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