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The broad downtown street where several hospitals are located was quieter after nightfall. Doctor Diane Goldstone sat at her desk and looked down on the sparse traffic. It is usually teeming with cars up and down on either side of the wide boulevard. Grass, flowers and benches on the traffic island make it like a long, thin park between the traffic lanes.

She forced her attention back onto the paperwork on her desk. She was not usually at her office at this hour, but the week had been overwhelming with a flu going around in the hospital, both staff and patients. There were several traffic accidents and a few shootings, so the Emergency Room was non-stop, which was not unusual. Still, paperwork had to be done, so working late is the only answer. Besides, if she lets it go, it just piles up and becomes almost impossible, and that’s bad, real bad.

Nurse Ruth stood quietly in the open doorway to Diane’s office, her face white, her posture tense. She cleared her throat before she spoke.

“Uh… Doctor Goldstone…” she said quietly while she tapped on the door frame with her knuckles. Diane looked up quickly.

“Ruth, how are you?” Diane said.

“Please come with me, Dr. Goldstone,” Ruth said. Diane got out of her chair.

“Ruth, dear! What is it?” Diane said, rushing to Ruth’s side.

“Come with me to Emergency, doctor,” Ruth said. “I’m not sure, but I think it’s someone you should see.”

“Is it serious?” Diane said as she hurried along the corridor with the nurse.

“It’s serious and more,” Ruth said as they entered the ER. She guided Diane to a gurney on the far side of the busy room. Diane looked down at the battered face of the woman on the gurney and gasped.

“My god! My sister Renee!” Diane said. She had not seen her in almost six years. Diane had given up looking for her.  Renee had it out with their father and left town.

“I thought it was when I saw her ID, and I could see the resemblance through the damage. Poor girl.” Ruth said.

Diane called in her colleague, Doctor Sherman, to take care of Renee. The hospital frowns on doctors administering to their own relatives. After an initial examination, Dr. Sherman informed Diane that her sister had been severely beaten and kicked. She had two broken ribs, a pierced lung, several fractures and lacerations.

Doctor Diane Goldstone sat at her desk and shook with shock and anger. She blamed herself for being unable to stop Renee’s drug downfall. She felt she’d been inadequate to find Renee after she fled. In any case, she had Renee now, and would see to her social and physical rehabilitation. For the moment, Diane was shaken and fatigued, and decided to go home and leave Renee in Dr. Sherman’s able hands.

Leaving the Hospital, Diane was accosted by a tall, beautiful black girl. Diane noticed her impractical clothing but didn’t assume she was a prostitute.

“Doctor Goldstone?” the girl said. Diane stopped and turned to the girl. “That girl brought in tonight,” the girl went on, “that sonuvabitch cop did it.”

“You saw what happened?” Diane said.

“Yes. And I’ve seen him do it before, but not this bad,” she said, shaking her head. “She’s brand new on the hookers’ walk, and Big Mike had to show her who’s boss.”

“Hookers’ walk? Who’s Big Mike?” Diane said.

“Detective Inspector Mikhial Fedorov – We call him Big Mike Fedora ‘cause he always wears a fedora and a trench-coat, like he’s Sam Spade or something,” the girl said.

“Thank you miss… uh…”

“That’s okay, doc,” the girl said. She turned on her heel and went to a Lincoln Town Car at the curb, where her pimp was waiting.

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