“You likely think I’m some hayseed lawyer-”
“No, I know you’re well educated, I know your background,” Artemis said. She sat across from the plaintiff lawyer, Jerome Jenkins. His law office was within easy walking distance from the hospitals front doors. It had taken Artemis’ assistant several days to set up the meeting. “Friends call you, J Square? You’re a busy man.”
“Yeah, it’s my nickname, grew up here, high school basketball star, helped get me educated,” Jerome said. He was tall, and red-headed. “Don’t think you being a red too, going to cause me to go soft on this case.”
“I know,” Artemis said. “I figured we can at least talk about the case before we have to respond, and get the dark suits involved.”
“Please send in one them pretty boys out of Lexington,” Jerome said. He twiddled his pen between his fingers. “I enjoy whipping them in court, trust me, they know me.”
“Not sure, yet,” Artemis said. “Maybe we can come to an understanding without them?”
Jerome studied Artemis’ face. He rolled his eyes, and sat back in the wooden conference room chair.
“What’s with the tattoo?” Jerome asked. He pointed his pen across the table over at Artemis’ right hand. “All nice and hidden, but I noticed, how’d they find you?”
Artemis rubbed her right wrist with her other hand. She thought of Benjamin, and the day he had been killed.
“Friend’s birthday,” Artemis said. “I prefer to remember his birthday, he’s no longer with the living.”
Jerome leaned back, he knocked his head.
“Fair enough, sorry,” Jerome said. “Most med-mal folks are pasty-white old farts trying to act all tough, and sinister. You’re rather easy going, you ex-military?”
Artemis stopped rubbing her wrist. She understood Jerome made his living creating mental subterfuge, being observant, and he was just getting warmed up with her.
“Marine, then special forces,” Artemis said. She gave Jerome a death like stare just to mess with him. “I’m a well trained medic, bounced me out, got recruited into medical malpractice, I guess they figured I had the stomach for it, at least it’s always interesting.”
“Well, I’ll be, not many women in that world,” Jerome said. “Guess I’ll not tick you off, either way, thank you for your service.”
“Sure, I was lucky,” Artemis said. “Hospital files look air-tight, where’s your evidence.”
“I like you,” Jerome said. He slipped on a pair of reading glasses. He opened a legal file folder. “Get with it, good on you. I’m old school, like to have paper in my fingers.”
“To be clear,” Artemis said. “Sorry for anyone you knew, opioid addictions a nasty problem.”
Jerome glanced over at Artemis. He acknowledged her point.
“Yeah, I know the families,” Jerome said. He unbuttoned her dress shirt sleeves, and rolled them up to about mid-arm. “We are committed to this cause, it’s not just about money.”
Artemis opened her arms and focused on keeping calm and resolute. She had heard the ‘not just the money’ canard from every plaintiff lawyer that had ever filed a claim.
“Really?” Artemis said.
“Ms. Lamb, for now, I’m funding these cases, it’s expensive,” Jerome said. He looked over at her from above his reading glasses. “This is my hometown, I know everybody. And your hospital has a lot of explaining to do. All I see from them is making money by getting innocent people hooked, and then getting paid again by pushing them into their rehabilitation facilities. And human beings don’t just go into a hospital and then come out after being cremated. I find those DNR’s the hospital waved in my face suspicious, at best. And don’t get me started on the consent forms and every employee is under NDA’s, poor people just want to keep their jobs.”
“At least call me, Artemis,” Artemis said. “Ms. Lamb makes me sound old. But the records indicate your clients had problems, soft tissue injuries, so forth, our physicians were simply following the standard of care, preventing a potential Ebola outbreak, they have solid reasoning behind them.”
Jerome set his readers on the table. He nodded as he pondered Artemis’ statement.
“Once that hospital was sold, taken over by your client,” Jerome said. “I was afraid they’d just focus on making money, and not patient care, they have not disappointed. The people that own that hospital rarely show their faces here in Selene.”
“Hospitals are businesses,” Artemis said. “Nothing illegal turning a profit.”
“True,” Jerome said. “But not at the expense of human lives. And don’t think I don’t notice how busy that hospital is, I hear they’re into whole lot more than direct patient care.”
Artemis considered Jerome’s comment. She was not confident her earlier observations concerning the refrigeration trucks would have been a useful topic. She was certain Jerome was quite aware of the refrigeration traffic, and he was holding his knowledge back for another inconvenient moment.
“The reason I’m here,” Artemis said. “We are prepared to fight this out, might take a long time, a lot of money.”
“That’s all true,” Jerome said. “But, publicly traded companies don’t like bad press. I’m not sure you all want to drag this matter out, either?”
“We’ll see,” Artemis said. She stood up and reached forward to shake Jerome’s hand. “Let’s keep talking, in the meantime, I’ll be in touch.”
Artemis walked down the town’s Main Street blanketed with enough sunshine that warmed her just past the freezing mark. She was certain that Jerome knew exactly where he was taking his case. She thought he had investigated the hospital down to every tongue depressor. And her client was cryptic at best.
As Artemis walked toward her hotel along the sidewalk, past an elementary school, she recognized the handsome face. Satan was in human form strolling along the side walk wearing denim bib overalls and a bright red hunting cap with ear flaps. It sarcastically waved at Artemis, and it quickly moved over to stand next to her.
“Honest plaintiff lawyer,” Satan said. He rubbed his hands together like it was about to lustfully devour a glazed donut. “Imagine that, he’s honest, but Jerome’s been up to no good.”
“Don’t you ever give it a rest?” Artemis said.
“No, I’m Satan –“
“I have a job,” Artemis said. “Why are bothering me in the daytime?”
Satan put its hands on its human form hips, it stared into the sky.
“Artemis, Artemis Lamb,” Satan said, playfully. “I am the great deceiver, remember that you are my human plaything. I could inhabit Jerome. Who else could I play with? Questions, questions, but you’re correct. Jerome knows a lot more than he’s telling you – for now – I am quite pleased with this hospital, they are doing Satan’s work. Get it, that’s me.”
Artemis stopped, and stared down at the concrete.
“You’d do a lot more than, body parts, killing people’s easy for you,” Artemis said. She stared into Satan’s dead eyes. “What are you doing?”
Satan smiled, and it clapped its hands.
“Now you’re using that brain,” Satan said. It leaned in closer to Artemis. “That thing you know who gave you, until next time. Oh, go find that little girl. She’s off limits, for now, I get bored torturing children. And tonight, it’s a full moon, just saying.”
End. Chapter 5.
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