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PART NINETY-SIX

Officer Rosenstock shooed Stacie and Suzann back to Trinity Hospital’s waiting room. “I have an interview to conduct,” she declared, leaving the two women on the wrong side of the emergency room’s No Admittance sign.

The waiting room was largely unchanged, though the abdominally wounded tee-shirt stauncher had either been given medical attention, died of his wounds or fled. Suzann and Stacie traversed the short part of the L and returned to their earlier spot around the corner. “Well, now what?” Suzann asked, eyebrows raised high.

“I guess we wait,” Stacie said, shaking her head. “That poor girl.”

“Sara or Karla?”

“Well, both? Though I meant Sara. Karla’s a bit too old for me to think of her as a girl. I’m just a year older than she is and she’s been through so much more than I.”

“Yes,” Suzann nodded. “I have to tell you that I underestimated her. To tell the truth, I just saw her as a young, unwed mother who was, shall we say, less than enamored with people of my skin tone? It’s nice to know that she realizes that her upbringing limited her perspective when it comes to race and creed, though her crack about Sean and Tyler being funny when we first got to the restaurant was a bit off-putting.

“Sorry. I know that’s petty. She’s under extraordinary pressure and we didn’t -couldn’t?- comprehend the enormity of her fears. I’m just… sensitive is all.”

“Did she say something about Sean and Tyler?” Stacie asked.

“Oh, it was nothing. When we first sat down, and you said how much you enjoyed having the boys as your neighbors? Karla made a comment about young men’s, shall we say, ceaseless appetites? She just said something along the lines of Tyler being sexually attracted to you unless he was ‘funny.’ It’s a sensitive subject for me. My son is gay.”

“Eugene? You never told me that.”

Suzann looked at Stacie, her head tilted, a wry smirk lifting her right cheek. “And why would I? I don’t normally discuss people’s sexual proclivities. He’s my son, Roxanne and Photina are my daughters. Gene’s preferences are his business. I’m just a bit sensitive to homophilic statements, that’s all. I’m sure she meant no harm.”

“Homo- Ah! Philic. Hating rather than fearing. You really think that Karla’s homophilic?”

“I have no idea. I really don’t have any reason to think so; just that offhand little ‘funny’ joke, but I find there’s plenty of hate to go round in this world.

“When I called Manny, he was teasing me about Eugene getting arrested at a gay pride parade back in 2012. Gene was, shall we say, showing a bit too much pride? Not improper conduct! Just too much skin. Too much gay, black skin? He was arrested by some over zealous bigots and Manny intervened for me. He phoned the precinct and the next thing I know Eugene’s been released, no charges filed.”

“Sometimes it’s good to have friends in high places,” Stacie said, nodding.

“Sometimes? I’d say always, though I don’t think Manny thinks of himself as coming from high places. Just a cop doing a favor for a friend. Way of the world, eh? One hand washes the other?

“Speaking of high places, we’re going to have a lot of explaining to do come Monday. I think Doctor Mann may feel that we’ve exceeded our authority, and certainly our responsibilities.”

“Oh, crap!” Stacie said, eyes opening wide. “I hadn’t even thought of that. Ha!” she added, shaking her head. “I also forgot about Jim Lance! I promised I’d call him with an update. Man, oh man, is he going to be surprised.”