Joel and a Patient

This scene existed SOLELY to set up a book I may never write. And the mother is WAY too calm. (It was a first draft. That's the way it goes.)  Soooo… it's here and not in Precedent. Besides, I can't have any characters names Cullen after Twilight.



Tuesday, December 16

“I hate this part of my job,” Joel Molinsky thought to himself as he scanned a set of test results, before slipping them in the patient’s file. Turning to Janet Newton, the nurse he worked with most often, he asked, “Brandi’s here, isn’t she?”

“Yes, in room seven,” the nurse answered, pointing to the exam room.

“This one may take a few extra minutes,” he said.

“You need some back-up?”

“I might, after I drop this bomb,” he said holding up the patient file. He took a deep breath, with his hand on the exam room doorknob, then he swung the door open. Fifteen-year-old Brandi Cullen and her mother seemed to snap to attention. “Brandi, how are you doing today?”

“I’m okay,” the girl answered. Brandi was an average teenager in every sense of the word. Nothing about her grades, her looks, or her demeanor would cause her to stand out in a crowd. Today she was dressed in an over-sized sweatshirt, with her light brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, and her nails recently chewed down almost to the quick. “What did you find out?” Her mother, seated next to her, leaned forward.

“Several things,” Joel said. He pulled up a stool to sit on and laid the folder open on the counter. “This is going to be tough to hear for both of you, but I need you to listen to all of it.” He turned and looked Brandi in the eyes. “You tested positive for three sexually transmitted diseases.” Mrs. Cullen gasped and Brandi dropped her eyes. “Brandi, keep listening to me. Two of them we can treat and get rid of.”

“What about the third one?” Mrs. Cullen asked.

“It’s viral. It will never go away. We can only treat the symptoms.”

“A virus? Like AIDS?” Brandi asked, her eyes wide with panic.

“It’s not AIDS, and it won’t kill you. It’ll mess with your life, though, and it will impact your marriage someday.”

“Married? How can I get married now?” The teenager started to cry. “I’m ruined.”

“You’re not ruined,” her mother said, gently, taking her daughter’s hand.

“Brandi, keep listening. I’m not through talking to you. Tell me about your boyfriend.”

“Well, he’s nineteen…  He’s in college.”

“What about girlfriends? Has he had a lot of them?”

“I’m sure. He’s really cute.” She sat up a little straighter.

“How’d you meet him?” Joel asked.

“Online, one of those friend of a friend deals.”

“Did any of your friends date him before you?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Because she probably has the same things you have, and she needs to see a doctor. This guy needs to, too.”

“I can’t tell him this!” Brandi protested. “He’ll dump me!”

“Maybe not. How long have you been dating him?”

“Three months.”

“And how long before you had sex with him? I mean real sex.”

“About three weeks.”

Joel shook his head. “How did he convince you?”

“He said that’s what people do when they love each other.”

“Do you love him?”

Brandi glanced at her mother, then looked away. “No,” she said quietly.

“Then why did you…?” her mother began.

“I didn’t really want to…  He just…  I don’t know.” Brandi wiped a tear away. “This is embarrassing.”

“I’m sure it is,” Joel said softly. He watched Brandi’s eyes dart back and forth, waiting until she looked at him again. “Brandi, did he rape you?”

“I don’t think so. He just…” Brandi paused and stared off across the room once again. She pulled the sleeves of her shirt down over her hands, then she sighed. “Yeah… he did.” Mrs. Cullen knelt down in front of Brandi and hugged her tightly, both of them crying quietly.

Joel made a note on her chart, and said a silent prayer for the teenager. “Mrs. Cullen, do you want me to get a police officer in here?”

“You can do that?”

“Yes ma’am,” Joel said. “Brandi, this is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you need to go after this guy. He’s a slime and he doesn’t love you. He took advantage of you, but you can stop him from hurting anyone else. You’ve got solid testimony and you have a doctor who will go to court and back you up.”

“You’d do that?”

“You bet. Don’t let him get away with this.” He took a prescription pad down, and began writing, filling out four slips altogether. “These two are antibiotics,” he said handing her the first two slips. “This one we’ll talk more about in just a second.” He handed her the third slip, and held the last one up. “This one, give to the girls out front. When do you get out for Christmas?”

“Thursday’s our last day.”

“Nope,” Joel said. “It was yesterday.” He handed her the last slip. “They’ll write you an official doctor’s note. I think you need some time to absorb all this.” He flipped the folder closed. “I’m going to go call one of the police officers we work with. You’ll like her. She’s not as scary as I am.” He smiled at Brandi. “Then I’ll come back and we’ll talk more about this diagnosis and the treatments.”

“Thanks,” Brandi said. “You’re not scary. You made it easier to talk about.”

“You need to tell that to my wife,” Joel said with a grin as he opened the exam room door. “She says I’m really scary.”