Chapter 5 Sam finished cleaning the worst of the coagulated blood from his face, then moving carefully, returned to the bedroom. Seeing Thomasina's purse on the floor beside the bed, he went through it, finding only a wallet, a compact and lipstick, a comb and a small address book. Thumbing through it, he found the number he was looking for and dialed it. "Who are you calling?" Al asked, moving closer. "Her doctor," Sam replied. "If I go to the emergency room looking like this, the cops will be called in." "That sounds like a damned smart thing to do, in your case," Al said. Sam carefully shook his head as he waited for his call to be answered. "I don't think so. This...what's his name?" "Derek." "...Derek is, as you put it, a loose cannon. I don't know what it was that set him off just before I leaped in, but whatever it was, if the cops show up and start hassling him, he's gonna take it out on me. And...Hello?" Sam responded to the speaker at the other end of the line. "Dr. Conroy's office. May I help you?" "Yes," Sam said. "This is.." he drew a blank on his host's name and looked frantically to Al. "Thomasina Emerson," Al supplied. "..Thomasina Emerson," Sam finished. "I need an appointment to see the doctor, today." "Just a moment Mrs. Emerson," the woman at the doctor's=20 office said. "What seems to be the problem?" "I..I was standing on a chair trying to reach a high shelf, and I fell. I think I may have broken my nose," Sam finished, hoping that the story didn't sound as lame to the nurse as it did to him. The long pause at the other end of the line made Sam a bit edgy, but he relaxed when the nurse told him, "The only thing I have open is a nine-forty five appointment.." "I'll be there," Sam said quickly then blurted, "Where's the office?" This time the answer was a bit slower to come. Sam could almost see the frown furrowing the woman's brow. "149 Meadowdale Drive," the nurse said carefully. "Are you okay, Tommie?" Al didn't like the startled look on Sam's face. "What?" Sam put a hand over the mouthpiece and said softly, "She knows me.. Tommie!" Then, to the nurse, "Uh, yeah, I'm okay. Well, except that I think I broke my nose when I fell. Nine forty-five, right? Okay, I'll be there. Bye," he hurriedly finished the conversation and hung up the phone. He glanced at the clock on the bedside table; four minutes after eight. While Sam found underwear and a simple pullover dress to put on, Al had Ziggy run a background check on Tommie Emerson's family and acquaintances. "Focus on her medical history, Gooshie," Al said to the chief programmer. "Find out who in this Dr. Conroy's office knows Tommie on a first name basis." "Anything else, Admiral?" Gooshie asked. "Yeah, I want you to sync me in to this Derek's brainwaves," Al said. "He's one sick bastard and I want to know where he is at all times." "Will do, sir," Gooshie replied. "If you want, I'll have Ziggy start a life function analysis on him." "Yeah!" Al said. "I like that idea. And if you see where he's about to blow a gasket, you signal me so I can check him out." By the time Sam was ready to leave for the doctor's office, Al was decidedly uneasy about the way he was acting. The Project's Director was moving very carefully, and pausing too frequently because of dizziness for his peace of mind. "Sam, I think maybe you should call a cab," Al said. "You really don't look in any shape to be driving. In fact..," he pulled out the handlink and punched in a code as he said aloud, "Gooshie, find the number of a cab service near this address." "I'm...." Sam began then just held onto the back of the couch while the room swirled crazily around him. "Ohhh," he whispered as he felt his stomach begin to churn as his susceptibility to motion sickness kicked in. Closing his eyes he held tightly to the couch until he felt the swirling in his head ease. Once it passed, Sam moved around and sat down, thankful that there was a phone on the coffee table. He dialed the number Al gave him, asking that the driver come to the door to help him out to the cab, then leaned back and closed his eyes to wait. "Sam!" Al said sharply when he saw his friend close his eyes. "Get up!" He didn't like startling Sam, but knew it was for his own good as he watched him get up again. Fifteen minutes later, there was a knock at the door, and a man's voice responded to Sam's query before opening the door, "Golden Cab Service. You called for a cab?" The time traveler smiled weakly at the man's shocked, "God Almighty, lady, which crosstown bus hit you?!" as he locked the front door. Putting his arm around the battered young woman, the cab driver helped her down the steps and into the cab. "Where to?" he asked, getting behind the wheel and putting the cab in gear.=20 "The Emergency Room?" "149 Meadowcrest Drive," Sam said. "I want to go to Dr. Conroy's office." It was a short ride to the doctor's office, and Sam was grateful again when, after collecting his fare, the cabbie insisted on walking Sam into the doctor's office and seeing him seated in the waiting room. "Thank you," Sam said taking a couple of bills from his purse and handing them to the cab driver. "You'll be okay, now..," the man said with a smile that made the lines around his dark eyes crinkle. "...I hope," he said under his breath as he returned to his cab. "Tommie! My God what happened?" exclaimed the nurse/ receptionist at the window. She was a tall woman with short cropped red hair and brown eyes, dressed in rose colored scrubs. She charged out the door leading back to the examining rooms, making a beeline to Sam. "Oh, honey...." "I'm...okay," Sam began, but his attempt at replying was cut short as the woman took his face gently between her hands and took a closer look. "Did he hit you again?" the woman (Sam sneaked a quick glance at her name tag...Joanna) demanded sharply. Then before Sam could reply, "Wait until Dr. Conroy sees this! He'll go through the ceiling!" Joanna was right. Dr. John Conroy, usually an equably tempered man, had come close to loosing his calm, easy going demeanor when he opened the door to the examining room, and got a look at the battered face of a young woman he had helped bring into the world twenty-four years before. Over the years he had seen and cared for too many results of hot tempered husbands and boyfriends taking their anger out on the women in their lives. "What was it this time, Tommie?" he asked, glancing at the notations on the chart he'd taken from the slot on the door. "You forget to make his coffee? Or did you forget to pick up his jackets at the cleaners?" John Conroy asked as calmly as he could as he took Sam's face between his hands, looking carefully at every inch of what he knew was normally a pretty face. "I...uhh!" Sam sucked in his breath at the sharp pain that seemed to radiate over his whole face when the doctor gently probed the bridge of his nose. "..No. I was standing on a chair trying to reach one of the high shelves in the kitchen, and lost my balance." "Uh huh," the doctor murmured, unconvinced by the story. Taking the pencil flashlight from his pocket, he checked Sam's pupil reaction carefully. "What did you hit on the way down?"=20 Next he checked Sam's ears. "No blood in either ear." *Thank God* Sam thought with relief, then rushed to respond to the question. "Uh..the counter," he tried to think quickly but reply as calmly as he could. "The big can of..peaches I was after fell and hit me right between the eyes. Doctor..." "Be still," Dr. Conroy said as he continued his minutely thorough examination, running his fingers through Tommie's hair until he found the small bump on the back of her head that he knew he would find. *Not as big as the last time* he thought. Turning his attentions to Tommie's body, his sharp gaze caught the bruises around the base of her neck, and he felt the muscles of his face tighten. "Must've been one aggressive can of peaches," he said. "What do you mean?" Sam asked nervously. He jerked, startled when the Imaging Chamber door opened at that moment. He tried to read the Observer's face, but Al wasn't talking as he moved closer to him. "The damned thing left bruise marks on your neck when it tried to strangle you," the doctor replied tartly. "I think you better try a different canned fruit. Peaches just don't seem to like you." Stepping to the door he opened it a bit and said, "Amy, come in here, please." Turning back to Sam he said, "Okay, I want you to lie down," he said, moving to help Sam stretch out on the examining table. When Amy, an older nurse came in, Dr. Conroy carefully examined Tommie for other signs of bruising on her body that would've been hidden by her clothing. The inch long cut on her abdomen, just above her pubic area was the final straw. "What's this?" he asked, lightly touching the cut that still bore fine bits of coagulated blood. "The TRUTH..Tommie!" he demanded. "Don't demean my intelligence or yours with any more lies. How did you get this cut?" Sam looked desperately up at Al, but still the Observer remained silent. A slight quirk of one dark eyebrow was the only response he got. But then he must have had a change of heart when he said, "Tell him the truth, Sam." "I can't!" he tried to whisper as softly as he could as looked up at Al. "Tell him!" Al snapped. "But..." "Tell him, Sam!" Al barked sharply. "Tell him everything that happened." "Why?" Sam whispered, confused by Al's sudden blunt attitude. Dr. Conroy caught the whispered question. "Because if you don't, the next time I see you it'll be at the morgue to identify your body after Derek kills you!" he said harshly. "My God, Tommie, this is the third time in four months that you've come in here with bruises on your throat where he's tried to strangle you! You've got a concussion..again ..from him slamming you up against a wall." Sam could only stare as Dr. John Conroy voiced his frustration about Tommie's handling of her situation. Only the doctors who exposed their hearts to the hurt that caring personally about their patients and what went on in their lives, reacted as this man did. *Don't get involved* was one of the unwritten credos that some doctors and nurses lived by. Yet there were far many more than those who lived by that creed, who strove in the opposite direction, who each day in some small way opened their hearts and lives up to the hurt and pain of really caring about those who sought them out for healing. But what they gained in spite of the daily doses of pain that the "bamboo shoots under the fingernails of their lives" that such caring brought, was a daily enrichment in their souls and spirits that they truly were living their lives to the fullest as they strove to give the utmost of their skills and knowledge to the suffering. And in that striving more often than not, giving hope and encouragement to the dispirited and hopeless. But the ultimate payment for those who daily put their hearts in the line of battle for their patients was, more often than not, the heartfelt "Thank you". It was a payment that Sam, some wisp of memory reminded him, which he had received a time or two. And now, Sam saw in the face and attitude of Dr. John Conroy that same =93daring to care" as he strove to make the badly battered young woman before him understand, that someone did care about her. As the realization of his thoughts crystallized, Sam felt like maybe GTFW was giving him some unexpected help as what seemed to be one of his most dangerous leaps was getting started. Pushing himself up to a sitting position, he modestly pulled the paper sheet draped over his lap up against the open front of the paper gown he wore. "The first thing I remember is him backhanding me," Sam began a careful recounting of every slap, punch, body slam, and incident of intimidation that had been inflicted on him just a couple of hours earlier. *God only knows what he did to her before I Leaped in* Sam thought as he watched John Conroy make detailed notes on Tommie's medical chart. After the doctor finished writing his notes, Sam received treatment for his injuries, including an X-ray of his head ("Yeah, your nose is broken"), and a mild concussion was diagnosed.=20 "Though it's against my better judgment," the doctor said, "I'm going to let you go home. But only with the understanding that you are not to go to sleep, not even a nap, until at least nine o'clock tonight." "Okay," Sam agreed, as he watched the doctor make more notes on Tommie's chart. "I know your head's pounding right about now, but don't take anything stronger than aspirin or Tylenol for pain," he admonished. "And no alcohol. And if you start to experience dizziness or nausea, get to the Emergency Room pronto!" "I will," Sam promised as he sat in the chair beside the examining table still wearing the paper examination gown. He glanced at Al who had been unusually quiet during Sam's entire examination and treatment. He noted that the Observer stood at an angle so that he was slightly to the right and a bit behind him. "Can I get dressed now?" "Yes." John Conroy paused, one hand on the door knob and turned back to Sam. "I'll help you anyway I can, Tommie. But until you decide to press charges, there's nothing I can do." "What's eating you?" Sam addressed the question to Al's turned back as he pulled his dress over his head and settled it down over his hips. He moved around so he was facing the Observer. "You've been acting...odd since you popped in. What's wrong Al?" "While Ziggy was running background checks on the personnel here at Conroy's office, she came across something...interesting about Tommie." Al said. "By the way, Joanna, the receptionist, she's one of Tommie's closest friends, so that's how she knew you. Besides the fact that she's also worked for Dr. Conroy for the last six years." Sam listened but was more interested in the other thing Al had mentioned. "What did Ziggy find that's so interesting?" "She's been working for "Sparkle & Shine", a cleaning service, for the last three years," Al began. "It didn't pay a lot but, it helped her get what she wanted....her independence from daddy." "Why? Did her father abuse her?" Sam asked, leaning back against the examining table. Purse in hand, he was ready to walk out the door should anyone inquire, but for the moment he waited, listening to what Al was saying. "No. But she was an only child of well to do parents. Lara Teal Chastaing, her mother, died five years ago, and her father, Albert, about six months ago. And it wasn't until after her old man's funeral that Derek started beating her." "Why?" "Well, from what the police dug up on the guy, in the original history, is that he was mad as hell when old man Chastaing's will was read and found out that he'd left almost the entirety of his estate to charity. All he left to Tommie was a lump sum of twenty three thousand dollars which was according to the will...." Al paused, punching codes rapidly into the handlink, then read from the tiny screen, "..."a thousand dollars for every year of your life up to and not to exceed the date of your marriage..." "What?" "Seems the old man didn't really care for his daughter's choice of a husband, and let's see if....yeah..here it is. The old man added a codicil to his will the day after Tommie and Derek got married. In that codicil he amended his bequest to her, as well as making his feelings about her choice of Derek plain and sharp as a slap in the face. It said..."On the day of your marriage to Mr. Emerson, a singularly conceited and angry young man who believes the world owes him everything, you were twenty years, five months and six days of age, an adult of sound mind, but, not, in my opinion, of sound judgment. And inasmuch as you willingly spoke the vow.."for richer or for poorer", now let your husband provide for you the rest of your life. In as much as you have chosen to lower yourself from the status into which you were born, by taking Derek Floyd Emerson's name, so do I now chose to lower that which I had so carefully planned and prepared to be yours upon the event of my death. To my daughter, Thomasina Victoria Chastaing Emerson I leave the lump sum of twenty-three thousand dollars, a sum which equates to a thousand dollars for every year of your life up to and not to exceed the date of your marriage." "And he rapes and murders fifteen more women because of Tommie's inheritance being cut down some? That doesn't make any sense. And I also don't see how it could have any connection with the..how many was it... eight women raped and murdered over the last seventeen months," Sam said his tone incredulous at what he was hearing. "That doesn't make any sense," he repeated.=20 "I..don't know about those first unfortunate women, Sam," Al said slowly. "But for the ones he'll kill over the next two years, it might, if you take into account the fact that if Tommie had gotten her father's entire estate, which is how his will was originally written, she would have received nearly one and three-quarter million dollars after inheritance taxes and the like. And being a native of Louisiana, and knowing that there's a thing called forced heirship, meaning that he couldn't just cut her completely out of his will, the old guy was smart enough to make sure that the will abided by that, but was still ironclad to the point that it was incontestable." He paused. "For some, like Derek, it would be reason enough." "Have you got anything on him yet?" Sam asked. But hysterical screams somewhere in the doctor's office made man and hologram jump. Sam grabbed the door open and ran out. "NO! NO!" Amy, the older nurse with salt-and-pepper hair sobbed as Dr. Conroy, Joanna and a couple of men in dark suits tried to restrain her struggles to get free from them. "IT'S NOT TRUE! NO! NO!" she screamed again as tears flooded down her shock-paled face as she frantically pushed and twisted, trying to reach the door that led out into the waiting room. "SHARON!" she screamed, "SHAARRONNN!" the raw reality of her grief made her screams bounce off the walls and echo throughout the small office. "Joanna, get me two milligrams of Valium IM!", the doctor shouted to be heard above Amy's hysterical screams. Disentangling herself from the struggling knot of humanity, Joanna flew past Sam, who hastily stepped back. He pressed against the wall again when she flew back by less than thirty seconds later with a capped syringe. "Hold her still for about three seconds", Joanna said. Sam watched as she flicked the cap off the syringe, but in that same instant, the syringe was knocked out of her hand by her hysterical colleague's struggles. In a flash, he darted forward, and grabbed it up. Without a word he turned and in a smooth, practiced move plunged the needle into the older woman's arm, depressed the plunger, then withdrew the needle, and stepped back. He moved back to stand beside Al, now in the hallway, the look on his face telling Sam that he knew the reason for Amy's grief. "What happened?" he whispered. "Ziggy's ninety-nine percent certain that those two parish detectives just told her that her daughter, Sharon's body was found about an hour ago," Al said quietly. "What?!" Al nodded as he continued. "According to an article in the local paper, Sharon Allegretti Cramer, age twenty-five, was found dead in her home, in the bathtub, on April 7, 1987." He met Sam's eyes. "Her neck was snapped. According to the autopsy report, the coroner said it was a quick, clean break, done either by a professional, or..." Sam hated when Al paused in the midst of grim information. "Or?..." "...or someone very big and very strong. There wasn't any sign of struggle, so they figured she knew the person who killed her." "None?" Sam frowned. "In the bathroom and there wasn't any sign of struggle at all?" Al shook his head. Putting his cigar in his mouth, he continued. "They even analyzed the water she was found in; she had been taking a bubble bath. There was also a single long-stemmed white rosebud tucked between her breasts." He paused. "There were vases of white roses all over that bathroom." "That's it?" "No. There's one other thing," Al said. "Her body had been mutilated." Sam felt his skin begin to crawl again when the Observer said, "Her nose had been cut off. Coroner said it was a very clean removal, done either with a scalpel...or a switchblade."