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184 38 ~ Emily The emergency room was overflowing with people, a crush of hacking, bleeding, moaning, wheezing, miserable citizens crowded on rows of chairs, spilling onto the floor. “It’s a full moon,” the triage nurse said by way of explanation. Or apology. “Otherwise , it’s never like this on a Tuesday night.” Lunar effect. We learned about that in nursing school. There’s no evidence that more people get into accidents, have babies, or commit crimes when there’s a full moon, but people believe it anyway. Even doctors and nurses in the E.R. The nurse scanned the intake questionnaire, glanced at the rash on Pippa’s ankle, then back at her face. “Any trouble breathing?” Pippa shook her head. The nurse pointed to the rows of chairs. “It’s going to be a wait.” “Any idea how long?” I asked. “An hour, easy. Come see me if the hives get worse or you have trouble breathing.” The nurse turned to the next person in line, a squat man clutching a blood-stained kitchen towel printed with tulips tight against his shoulder. I checked my watch. Almost eleven. “We should be back by midnight,” I told Pippa. “But I bet it’ll be closer to one before they call you.” We walked through the rows of chairs towards the red exit sign, stepping over bundles and bags and outstretched legs. “Hey, Emily,” a man’s voice called out. I looked around, but didn’t see anyone I knew. “Over here.” Andy pushed through the crowd, wearing rumpled scrubs splattered with the leftovers of a long E.R. shift. “What’s wrong?” Terrific. Marge’s spy just as I was breaking the law and every rule in the book. “Hi, Andy. This is our client, Pippa. I’m here with her.” Ellen Meeropol ~ 185 “I’m just going off shift, but I can get you in quick.” “Don’t bother. The triage nurse said it wouldn’t be long,” I lied. “Pippa’s having an allergic reaction to latex, but it’s mild. I’m probably being overcautious. Because of the pregnancy, you know.” Stop blithering, I told myself. Shut up before you make him more suspicious. “It’s no bother,” he said. “No thanks.” Pippa smiled up at Andy. “But that’s really sweet of you.” Smart girl. I smiled at Andy too, adding, “I didn’t know you worked here.” “Just per diem. For now. Got to go.” He hurried through the staff-only door. “We’re out of here,” I said. I can’t believe I’m doing this, I thought. Outside, we waited on the sidewalk while three ambulances, sirens screaming, flew up the road and screeched into the emergency bay. I turned to Pippa, who was staring open-mouthed at the flashing lights and rushing figures pushing gurneys into the frigid night. “That gives us an extra hour.” That is, if Andy doesn’t turn us in, doesn’t call Marge and snitch that I’m overreacting again about this latex allergy stuff. If Nan doesn’t get suspicious and call out the squad cars. Not being truthful with Andy and Marge was one thing, but lying to Nan had been harder than I expected. We drove to the park in silence. Thick snowflakes fell heavily into the oval pools of streetlight. The drive took forever on slippery pavement, but finally I turned onto the residential road leading to the bronze arch entrance. The dark was sliced by the warning strobes of lights from three police cars, pulled up in front of the gate. “Shit.” Pippa slipped out of her seat belt and curled on the floor. “Should I turn around?” “No. Keep going. Pretend this has nothing to do with you.” I wished it had nothing to do with me. Though there was something almost enjoyable about the tingle of excitement, the pulse palpable in my fingertips. I wondered if my parents felt that mix of thrill and fear when they spread kerosene on military registrationfoldersonthefloorofthedraftboardoffice.Whentheystruckthematch. The cruisers were empty, both in front and in the wire-caged back seats. No sign of any folks in white robes. Funny coincidence though, a pickup truck just like Sam’s was parked near the entrance. Once the flashing lights withered behind us. I pulled the car over on a dark stretch of road between two cones of streetlight. I peeled my fingers from their tight grasp on the steering wheel, then held my hand...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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