Chapter 37

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"You wanted to see me?" Dr. John Sondheim says, still dressed for work at Stevens Point Hospital in a suit and tie. Apparently, something was important enough for him to go straight from branch of science to the other, putting him opposite of Zandra at the oak desk in Sneak Peek.

The doctor is a rarity unto himself. Few medical specialists yearn for a job outside of the large hospitals in metropolitans. Stevens Point, a micropolis of 50,000 if the surrounding communities are included, is hardly a place for someone with his education and experience in nephrology, the study and treatment of kidney ailments.

That is, unless, there's a good reason for him to be the only game in town for kidney doctors. As Zandra determined from a hypnosis session to curb the doctor's obsessive attitude toward Internet porn, albeit the legal kind, he unintentionally revealed how far he'd followed his appetite. Dr. Sondheim would target patients he deemed desirable and forged otherwise mundane blood test results in order to get them to book appointments with him. A creatinine level, for instance, would turn out to be much higher than normal, a sure sign of kidney failure.

The patients would book, the doctor would administer general anesthesia in the name of a kidney biopsy, then commit certain acts with the patients while they were unconscious. Because he's the only kidney doctor around, he had free rein to string patients along until he administered a miraculous "cure," as shown in unmolested blood work. He became quite famous in nephrology circles for his techniques at reversing kidney failure, which up until that point had no cure.

There's only one problem. Dr. Sondheim is a total fraud, and Zandra is the only other person who knows it. Even more, Dr. Sondheim knows Zandra knows.

He's far from the worst around here. Those files, if I still had them, contain enough to lock up the whole town.

But Zandra didn't run off and tell the press upon learning of these revelations. No, she kept it as a card to play another day, when it could be paired with something else to make a complete hand.

That day is today, as Zandra explains. She details how she left an urgent message with his wife at their home, stating how important it was the doctor go to Sneak Peek immediately.

"I don't know what mind tricks you played on me back then, but there isn't a jury in the world that would believe a confession made under hypnosis," Dr. Sondheim says. He sneers. "Especially from someone like you."

Did you catch that? He didn't deny it. Liars like to pull that game, switch up the focus of the conversation on whether the allegation will stick. Happens a lot with those accused of sexual assault.

"Even if it's not true, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can get out of bed," Zandra says, her voice calm. She narrows her eyes. "I'm willing to bet you don't want to take that chance."

Dr. Sondheim pauses to adjust his tie, gather his composure. "So what now?"

Zandra produces a copy of the print out from the library. Pushes it across the oak desk to the doctor.

"I want everything you can find on this patient. He received a kidney transplant not long ago. I want details," Zandra says.

Dr. Sondheim looks the paper over. He tosses it back at Zandra.

"You can't seriously expect me to break every patient privacy law in the books," he says.

"Oh, doctor, I think you're well past that argument," Zandra says and leans back in her chair.

The creaking and popping of the rafters starts its daily afternoon routine from somewhere up above Sneak Peek. Has something to do with the heat of the sun and old wood. Zandra used to time it so she could point the noise out to clients at certain moments. "The spirits are restless. Listen, child," she used to say.

Dr. Sondheim fetches the paper, grumbling something under his breath. He turns to leave Sneak Peek, destined for the hospital and yet another unethical probing of a patient. At least this time he won't have to take his pants off.

"You have until tomorrow morning or I'm telling your wife everything," Zandra says before he closes the door.

You better hope I'm in a better mood tomorrow. I mightjust tell her for the hell of it.    

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