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152 29 ~ Emily After the hearing, I followed Nan Malloy out of the courtroom. Nan nodded in the direction of the guard stationed against the corridor wall, but her words were aimed straight at me. “You’re not getting overly involved with Glenning, are you?” What did she mean? Nan’s tone was offhand, but her words were pointed. I shrugged my shoulders, trying to match the probation officer’s nonchalance. “I’m just trying to do my job.” “Good.” Nan fingered through the stack of manila folders balanced in the crook of her arm. “These cult people may not be murderers, but that doesn’t mean they’re wholesome. They’ll manipulate your emotions, convince you it’s your mission to rescue them from the interference of the big bad outside world. But you’re a professional , a nurse. You must know about keeping your distance.” I turned and glanced back down the corridor, looking for any members of Pippa’s family. “What do you think will happen to them?” Nan didn’t answer until we reached the door to the probation department. She stopped and turned to face me. “That’s up to a jury of their peers. But you want my guess? They’ll be convicted. Tian will serve three to five. The woman too, probably. Your Glenning might get a year, maybe suspended. Especially if Judge Thomas agrees to separate her case from the other defendants. If it were entirely up to him, I bet he would just give Pippa probation. So the little woman could stay home and take care of her baby.” Nan shook her head, like she didn’t agree with the judge’s priorities. I didn’t care about the judge or his priorities. During the hearing, it had been hard to look at him without thinking about the high-risk O.B. he resembled, a guy I worked with in Portland who made awful puns except when a birth wasn’t going well. Then, his thin features rearranged themselves as he focused every brain cell on Ellen Meeropol ~ 153 saving baby and mother. I hoped this stern-looking man wanted to save Pippa and her baby too. Shifting the stack of files onto her hip, Nan opened the office door. “We’ll talk next Monday. Try to control your maternal instincts with that girl, okay?” “No problem.” Buttoning my jacket, I promised myself to listen to Nan’s advice and keep my professional distance with Pippa. That should be easy enough. Pippa’s world was way too frightening. That reminded me. “By the way, do the cops have any idea who killed Bast?” “Who?” “Bast. Pippa’s cat?” “No leads I’ve heard about. But come to think of it, why don’t you leave by the back door to avoid the skinheads.” She pointed to the Exit sign at the end of the hallway . “Take those stairs two flights down. Leads right into the parking lot.” Cracking open the door at the bottom of the back stairway, I peered outside. All clear. Once safely inside my locked car, I drove past the demonstrators still pacing back and forth in front of the Hall of Justice. Their numbers had shrunk to about a dozen and their picket line looked straggly now, with hardly enough people to cover the sidewalk. I drove a roundabout way back to the office. Skirting the historic district, weaving in and out of residential streets to avoid Sumner Avenue and the park, I again considered Nan’s advice. Okay, I promised myself. No more buddy-buddy with Pippa . Do the job; toe the line. Toeing the line made me picture Pippa, walking heel to toe along the red striped line on the hospital corridor floor, airplane-wing arms aloft on her own convictions. Had I ever felt that confident, that certain about anything? Marge’s Oldsmobile sat in its reserved parking spot next to the brick wall of the Hampden County Home Care building. I hoped she didn’t try to mess with me today. My plan was to quickly chart on Pippa’s ultrasound visit, check to see if any of the lab results were available, and then pack up for my afternoon patients. Surely I could do that without having Marge in my face. Her office door was closed. The large nurses’ room was empty except for Andy, who leaned over his desk closest to the supervisor’s office, unpacking his shoulder bag. I waved...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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