Read Chapter 1

Chapter 1
Jack Woodman was furious. Dueling with brain-dead cretins
blockading the hospital’s emergency entrance played on his
nerves more cruelly than the poor dying souls he so often
carried in his ambulance. The routine had become a daily
ritual that shook his confidence in the wisdom of pursuing a
career as a paramedic. He had climbed a mountain of
personal obstacles to achieve his career goal but now
questioned his emotional ability to continue fighting this
ba􀀤le with mindless locals in a daily life and death race
against time. His personal pride in saving lives was eroding
by frustration ignited by the callous disregard of drivers
clogging access roads. The oblivious, hollow glare of
apathetic robotic drivers was beyond his comprehension but
they unfailingly triggered a rage he was finding increasingly
difficult to control. “Move, for Christ’s sake, move you
dumb-assed shit” he yelled as he leaned on the horn and
repeatedly pulsed his siren. Why were these ass holes so
damned heartless and casual moving the few feet he needed
to pass? How could they not realize the people he carried
were critical and near death? He had long ago concluded
they just didn’t give a shit.
Without taking his eye off the road he called, “You okay back

there?” Kayla Johansson yelled back above the howling
sound of the siren and horn, “Don’t know. She’s still losing
blood and her pressure’s way too low. You be􀀤er hurry,
Jack.” Woodman just said, “Shit.” He kept swerving around
the cars li􀀤ering the narrow street, a few parked but most
occupied with drivers appearing unfazed by the ambulance
with a blaring siren, flashing lights, and the driver relentlessly
blowing his horn. “C’mon, C’mon, move it, you dip-shit”
Woodman yelled as he swerved to navigate the obstacle
Norwood Hospital was not located in the most accessible
section of town. It was okay for visitors parking on the main
street and coming in through the front door. But, if a patient
was unfortunate enough to enter through the emergency
room it was an entirely different story. Access to emergency
was through a series of small, converging roads in various
stages of disrepair with several intersections forever clogged
with excessive traffic. Woodman could live with that, he
understood these old Massachuse􀀤s towns were built up
around ancient cow paths. It was the dumb-assed class of
people taking over the town. They just acted entitled and
impervious to common decency. How the hell would they
feel if their spouse or child were the one whose life he was
desperately trying to save?
Dr. Anna Riccardi was a surgeon and board-certified
Emergency Medicine Physician responsible for the hospital’s
emergency room. Norwood was caught in the economic
polarization sweeping America and as it and neighboring
towns struggled to manage change, week-ends at the
hospital’s emergency room increasingly flowed over with

victims of senseless crime, accidents, and drug abuse.
Considering the difficulty accessing emergency, Riccardi
often wondered who were the geniuses that designated
Norwood could a regional trauma center. It was not her
concern, though, as she prepared for a typical Friday evening
of victims of heart a􀀤acks, car crashes on I95, domestic
violence, drug overdoses and a handful of shootings or
knifings. She had just gone on duty when Woodman’s frantic
voice came over the radio. She thought it strange because
Jack Woodman normally suppressed his volatility until he
had delivered his cargo. She grabbed the microphone and
asked, “What’s going on, Jack?”
Woodman reported he and Kayla Johansson were on their
way with a critically injured teen-age girl. He informed
Riccardi the girl had deep lacerations on her arms, had lost a
great deal of blood, and had apparently consumed an
unknown mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs. He
reported that Johansson had stopped the blood flow but the
girl was unconscious, her breathing very shallow, and her
blood pressure was still dangerously low. “What’s your
ETA,” Riccardi asked. Woodman informed her they had
picked up the girl at her home on East St. in Dedham. They
had just turned from Broadway onto Guild Street and could
practically see the hospital.
“The traffic is brutal, though, it’s hard to tell how long this is
going to take.”
Kayla yelled, “C’mon Jack, we don’t have much time.”
Jack made a quick decision and grabbed his mic, “Shit, Kayla
says we don’t have much time so I might need your help with

the cops later.” Riccardi said, “Okay, just get her here, we’ll
be ready.” She then asked, “Have you pumped her
stomach?” Woodman said Kayla had but they didn’t know
when she took the drugs so couldn’t tell how much she had
absorbed. Riccardi asked if he knew what drugs she took and
was told “Oxycontin.” Riccardi exclaimed, “Christ almighty!
Just get her here ASAP. We’ll be ready. Go􀀤a go and prep
the team. Good luck with all this traffic; it does seem worse
than usual.” She flipped the switch to close communications,
glanced at her watch and calmly but quickly went to alert her
team and make any needed final preparations to a treatment
Woodman was inching up Guild Street creeping closer and
the hospital was just a few hundred yards away. But, he was
forced to a complete stop by traffic backing up from the
intersection with Washington Street and the Post Office’s
day-shift release. Curses poured from his mouth aimed at the
hospital, its location, and the town for not fixing the problem.
Norwood was a regional trauma center and Woodman drove
here two, three, and sometimes four times a day. It was
always the same. How quickly things would change, he
thought, if a selectman’s child died in an ambulance stuck,
paralyzed in this mess. Kayla yelled, “Jack, she’s going into
shock. She won’t make it if we don’t get through this stuff
right now.”
Woodman refused to lose this girl because of a goddamn
traffic jam so he took a deep breath and yelled, “Hang on.”
Kayla grabbed the safety bar as Jack threw the truck into
reverse, gunned the engine, and smashed into the car about
five feet behind him. He vaguely heard the shocked driver

yelling, “Hey, ass hole” but didn’t hesitate long enough to
hear more. He switched the siren to a constant scream and
turned the wheel as far as it would go, turning onto the
sidewalk. Fortunately, no one blocked the way so he quickly
drove up Guild Street and turned left onto the small feeder
road leading to the emergency entrance. The response team
was waiting and burst through the swinging hospital doors
just as Kayla pushed open the rear ambulance doors. Two
men jumped into the vehicle, released the latches on the
portable gurney, and pushed Julia Webster out of the
ambulance. They were met by the team who immediately
began reviewing her vital signs, prepared her to receive more
blood, and checked the status of the saline infusion Kayla had
started. His job complete, Woodman collapsed onto the
steering wheel giving his adrenalin the time needed to retreat
to its normal levels. Several minutes passed before he felt
calm enough to leave the truck and find Anna Riccardi.
Sweating profusely, Woodman continued calming his nerves
as he walked around the ambulance where he was confronted
by the irate driver of the car he had just damaged. He
understood the man’s anger so contritely listened quietly as
he vented his rage and threatened a lawsuit. When finished
Woodman put a hand on each of the man’s arms and
sincerely apologized saying, ”I am really sorry Mr.?” The
man told him his name, ”Thompson, Charlie Thompson.”
Woodman continued, “Mr. Thompson, I was transporting a
girl who may be dying. Her only chance was to get here as
quickly as possible. We still may lose her. I didn’t have a
choice; she would be dead now if I didn’t do it.”
Thompson’s rage melted and was replaced with a

sympathetic look. Woodman continued, “If you can wait I’ll
be back in a few minutes and we can do the paperwork. If
you have to leave take my card and we can se􀀤le things when
you have a chance.” He handed his business card to
Thompson who looked confused but then nodded and
agreed, “Yeah, okay, no problem. I’ll give you a call later. He
turned to leave, then stopped, looked at the card, turned back
and said, ”Jack, I’m sorry for the outburst, you did the right
thing. If my daughter ever needs an ambulance I hope you’re
the driver. I hope the girl is okay.”
Woodman felt a fleeting remorse for his evil thoughts about
Norwood residents. He recovered in an instant, turned, ran
up the stairs and into the waiting area where Johansson was
still trying to calm herself. She looked up and said, “You look
like shit. What the hell did you do, anyway? No, never mind,
don’t tell me. I don’t think I want to know. I’ll tell you this,
though, my friend, I think I am very happy to be too busy
with patients to pay any a􀀤ention to your driving
techniques.” Woodman smiled in acknowledgment then
asked, “Is she going to be okay?” Johansson answered, “I
really don’t know, I think so. She’s lost a lot of blood, though.
And, the drugs and alcohol? I wish I knew. But, we got her
here alive and she’s in good hands.” Woodman said, “Yeah, I
guess.” He then looked around distracted before returning
his a􀀤ention to Johansson. “Look, Kayla, I need to find Anna
Riccardi.” She looked puzzled but said, “Okay, sure. What’s
up?” He answered, “Trust me. I know this girl and she needs
to be in Boston.” Kayla said, “I’ll go with you, I saw Riccardi
head toward the treatment rooms.”
They found Riccardi in her office a few feet from the room

where her team was working on Julia. She looked up from
her paperwork and invited them in. Looking from one to the
other she greeted them, “Hi Jack, Kayla, nice work today.
Jack, you look like shit, what’s going on?” Woodman said,
“Thanks, you’re the second person in five minutes to tell me
that.” Riccardi said, “It must have been hell ge􀀤ing here
today. Jack, your foolish stunt on the sidewalk probably
saved the girl’s life, though. Congratulations.” Jack half
smiled and asked if the girl was going to be okay. Riccardi
answered, “It’s hard to say. We’ve only had her a few
minutes but it looks like she’ll be okay physically, Kayla did a
great job. But, it’s too soon to tell about her mental recovery.
She has brain activity but there’s really no way to be sure
until she wakes up. We just won’t know how much damage
was done by the blood loss or the drugs and alcohol until
then. She seems to be in a coma and we may keep her there a
few days.”
Woodman nodded that he understood but then cautiously
said, “Doc, I’ve got to ask a favor.” Riccardi looked up
curiously and waited. Woodman continued, “I have to ask
you to trust me.” Riccardi put her pen on her desk, leaned
back in her chair and asked, “What’s wrong, Jack?”
Woodman was eager to talk but he didn’t know where or
how to begin. Riccardi and Johansson waited, giving him the
time he needed. After a short minute he said, ”You’ve got to
get her out of here.”
Riccardi looked stunned. She said, “What? What the hell are
you talking about?”
Woodman told her, “Look, Julia is my neighbor. I can’t say I

know her very well but I do know her father and my li􀀤le
sister is in her class. I don’t know him very well either but I
know him well enough to know he is dangerous. Julia’s
parents are divorced and for several years she only visited on
weekends. Then, about three years ago she suddenly moved
in with him.”
Riccardi interrupted, “That’s a li􀀤le unusual but not really so
much so that it should cause alarm.”
“No, but I have been around this guy enough to know he has
issues. He has personality disorders and I’m almost positive
he caused Julia’s problem.” Riccardi made a mental note to
follow up on his comment about personality disorders.
Now, it was Johansson, “Problem? We don’t even know
what happened or why. Maybe her sister hurt her.”
Woodman replied, “No, you’re right, we don’t know for sure.
But, I’m willing to bet that this kid was being abused. I can’t
prove it but do you want to take the risk?”
Johansson said, ”Jack, other than the cuts there’s not another
mark on her. No cuts, no bruises, nothing. If she was abused
there’d be something. Unless you mean sexual.”
“No,” said Woodman, “It’s not that. I know it’s unusual but
that’s why I’m asking you to trust me.”
Riccardi said, “You said your sister is in her class. Has she
talked about her at all?”
“Yes, she has. Judy doesn’t talk much about the kids at school
but I once asked her about Julia only because of her father.
So, yeah, she has told me a few things.” Riccardi asked what
he knew.

“Well, Judy said Julia is really smart, actually she said
brilliant, but she also said she is kind of odd. She is the top
student in the senior class and will definitely be valedictorian.
She told me she’s not a geek but she is very quiet and mostly
keeps to herself. She’s friendly enough but doesn’t seem to
have any friends. She usually eats lunch alone and when
other kids sit at the same table she doesn’t talk with them very
much. She takes the bus home every day but her father
always drives her to school in the morning. She always seems
Riccardi asked if Judy ever mentioned dances, boyfriends,
girlfriends, drugs, or extracurricular activities. Woodman
said, “Yeah, she never goes to dances and Judy said she
didn’t think she participated in any school activities. Judy
wasn’t sure about drugs but said she seemed to be the type.
She didn’t say anything about either a boyfriend or girlfriend.
I guess she is heavy into Anime, though.” Riccardi asked,
Kayla explained the fundamentals of the phenomenon then
added, “For the most part Anime is an addictive but harmless
pastime but few parents realize there can be a very dark side
to it. There’s lots of violence and suicides. And, it can a􀀤ract
some pre􀀤y troubled people.”
Woodman added that Julia was adopted from China.
Riccardi then asked at what age was she adopted but
Woodman did not know. Riccardi said that could be
important information and made a note to find out.
Woodman forcefully repeated his request that Julia be
transferred. He argued she needed to be in a Level I trauma

center with a locked psychiatric ward. Riccardi responded,
“Wow, that seems pre􀀤y extreme. Come on, Jack, what the
hell is on your mind?”
After a minute’s thought he warned, ”This is what will
happen if she stays here.
“Her father will show up soon, probably tonight. He will
charm the medical staff and convince them he is a loving
father totally confused by the situation. He may even suggest
the injury was caused by Julia’s sister, Margaret. And, he will
be sure to be at her bedside when she wakes up. They will
chat for a while and, if it was a suicide a􀀤empt she will decide
she was totally confused and made a stupid mistake. Then,
after about three sessions with a psychologist she will
convince the therapist she is fine and will be released to the
care of her father who will vouch for her safety and promise
to continue the therapy. She will then return to the hellhole
that caused her to a􀀤empt suicide in the first place. After one
or two sessions with a therapist her father will renege on his
promise claiming that everything is now fine. So, everything
will be as if this li􀀤le event never happened.”
He stopped for effect then, after a moment continued, “And,
you will forget her within a few days but she will return to
her miserable life. She will bide her time trying to cope with
her depression until she realizes there is no escape. She will
tell nobody and silently suffer until she tries suicide again,
this time probably with success.
He emphatically said,He repeated, “Julia needs to be confined for a while to a leve “There is nobody here who
understands her problem or can help.”
He repeated, “Julia needs to be confined for a while to a level

1 trauma center with a locked psych ward, insulated from her
family. And, she needs therapy with someone who knows
and understands her situation and won’t be fooled by the
tricks she learned from her father.
“I know this sounds weird but that’s why I am asking you to
trust me. I really can’t talk much more about it but I do know
the pa􀀤ern. And, I’ll bet a week’s pay I know what happened
that caused her to be here in the first place.”
“So, what do you want us to do?”
“As soon as she is stable enough I want you to transfer her to
Mass General and get her case assigned to Elizabeth Malone.
Doc, you can call her and make the request. I know she will
agree, especially if Dr. Malone knows the request is coming
from me. I’ll make the transfer on my own time if necessary.”
Johansson said, “Wait a minute, Jack. We’re driving a
company ambulance. But, if you can pull it off we’ll go
Woodman said, “It won’t be a problem if Doc Riccardi
formally requests an immediate transfer along with a request
to file a 51a report.”
Riccardi was genuinely concerned. She was trained to avoid
personal a􀀤achments but she had known Woodman for
several years and had always considered him level headed,
reliable, and trustworthy. Now, he was reluctantly revealing
a part of himself she knew nothing about. She withdrew into
her own thoughts and unconsciously massaged the sides of
her mouth with her thumb and index finger. After a short
minute she snapped out of her reverie and held up an index

finger silently requesting a few minutes. She then turned to
her computer and searched “Dr. Elizabeth Malone.”
After a few minutes quietly reading the results Riccardi
turned to face Woodman and Johansson. “Okay, Elizabeth
Malone is a resident psychologist at Mass General and a
tenured professor at BU specializing in teens and young
adults who’ve been victims of abuse. She has quite a resume.”
She had read more but did not mention it out of respect for
what she thought was Woodman’s personal concerns. “I
don’t know Elizabeth Malone but I do have hospital
privileges at Mass General. Maybe those privileges will buy
me a li􀀤le credibility. Give me a few minutes to make a call.”
Her smile served as their dismissal. “You wait in the lobby
and I’ll come get you as soon as I finish.”
Riccardi turned back to her computer to get the number and
finish reading Malone’s biography. She wanted to spend
more time considering the relationship between Jack and
Malone but concluded, as Jack said, time was short. She
dialed and after two rings she heard, “Elizabeth Malone.”
Riccardi introduced herself and explained the purpose of the
call. When finished Malone asked, “Who, again, did you say
referred me?” Riccardi answered, “Jack Woodman, he’s the
paramedic who brought Julia to the hospital.” There was an
extended dead silence and Riccardi was beginning to think
she had wasted both their time. She had no way of knowing
that Woodman’s name had triggered some special memories
with Malone. Riccardi was about to hang up when she heard
Malone say in a long, slowly rising, almost questioning
manner, “Really?! Yes, I know Jack. How is he?” Riccardi,

somewhat perplexed, answered, “He seems fine to me.”
Malone seemed genuinely happy to hear about Woodman.
She said, “That’s great, that’s really great.”
Riccardi was beginning to realize Woodman was, as usual,
revealing character when he asked her to trust him. There
obviously was more to his story and his relationship with
Malone than he had revealed. Malone said, “Anna, I’m sorry
for my slow response but I should fill you in a li􀀤le. Since
Jack did ask you to call me I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Jack
must be around 25 now, right? I first met him when he was
about 17 and a patient here in our psych ward. As I recall he
spent a few weeks with us but I remember very well I was his
therapist. He was released to the custody of the state’s DCF,
actually it was DSS at the time. He beat the odds by doing
well and we kept in touch for a while. Eventually, we lost
contact and I haven’t heard anything from him for about five
years. I assumed, or hoped, that he made it okay out there in
the cold world. But, I must have had my doubts because I
am really thrilled by your call.”
Malone shifted her thoughts to Julia. “If Jack recommended
me I’m sure he is convinced that Julia’s situation is very
similar to his. There aren’t many therapists that recognize the
disorder and family dynamic. Most of those who do are child
psychologists and there are not many of us around. So, very
few victims receive any quality treatment. The results are
pre􀀤y grim and statistics show that most of these kids will
never lead normal or happy lives. Your patient may be an
exception. Maybe her trauma actually saved her life, or at
least some quality in her life.”
Riccardi asked, “So, what do you suggest? Jack wants Julia

under your care.”
Malone said, “By all means, if it’s okay with you please
transfer her as soon as she is stable, tonight if possible.” She
added, “You have privileges here so it shouldn’t be a
problem. I’m sure you already know we do have a locked
psych ward so we should be able to concoct something to
keep her isolated for at least a few days. It’s Friday night but
I will file the 51a report as soon as possible which should
assure us a few days to evaluate her without any parental
interference. I will also alert DCF and the Boston police. If
you can get Julia here tonight, I’ll pull everybody together for
a team meeting right away.”
Riccardi responded, “Okay, then. We’ll get her stabilized and
send her to Boston as quickly as possible. Jack volunteered to
transfer her so maybe you can catch up with each other. I’ll
call you as soon as everything is confirmed.” She finished the
call and went off to find Woodman and Johansson.
Riccardi decided to play a little puckish. She entered the
lobby with a dejected appearance and looked long and hard
at them. It worked. Their rising anxiety levels were obvious.
And, she noticed Johansson was as nervous as Woodman so
she assumed he had sold her on his theory. Eventually, she
told them, “Well, unfortunately, my hospital privileges at
Mass General aren’t worth a damn.”
She paused to let the news sink in and when the two
paramedics looked sufficiently distressed smiled and said,
”But, you, Mr. Woodman, are something of a celebrity, at
least with Elizabeth Malone. She would like us to transfer
Julia as quickly as safely possible and she requested Jack .