A story from New Domangue
Emmanuel Menos-Día didn’t have time to think of Shauntile, the housekeeper, during the first five hours of the graveyard shift. As the night orderly for New Domangue Midtown Medical Center emergency room, he had to make sure that every room was clean and well-supplied, which is why it was often left to him to call the housekeeper if she didn’t show before midnight. But he didn’t have time this night. No one did.
The emergency room was overwhelmed with so many patients that it seemed to Emmanuel as if an epidemic had broken out. The majority of the cases weren’t emergencies, and most of the patients were from New Domangue’s rundown southern parts of town, which struck a nerve with the disgruntled nurses, as it had two days ago.
Emmanuel recalled how on that night the nurses had used oversized needles and made patients wait without reason, making him feel uncomfortable for most of the shift. He had worked quietly, keeping as out of sight as possible while helping patients where he could, doing his best to calm down the ones who were angry as he placed them in treatment rooms.
Tonight was slightly slower than two nights ago, and by two in the morning Emmanuel could make out empty seats in the waiting room. As he changed bedding, cleaned rooms, and assisted with patients, he wondered if the sleet forecast to fall ahead of the cold front had arrived. Toward three in the morning, the emergency room looked to Emmanuel as if a flood had receded and left debris behind. The housekeeper had not come, and no one had put in a page, Emmanuel realized as he watched fat droplets of blood from a new patient’s hemorrhaging nose form a trail down the middle of the main hall. Someone from housekeeping should have made at least one trip to the ER by now, he thought. He shuddered at the prospect of seeing Shauntile’s round body, hairy chest, and flashy gold teeth. God, he hoped, let it be some other housekeeper on duty.
He knew the stories about Shauntile’s on-the-job escapades—he recalled the fourth-floor nurses’ laughter as they described how one night they had found her asleep in one of the patient rooms. He knew that her pager was set to the highest volume, and that it could be heard down the length of entire passageways. He knew, as well, about her many hiding places. And he knew the stories that circulated about her tremendously laborious snores, even though he’d never heard them himself.
Emmanuel thought it a mystery that she managed to keep her job at all. When the medical staff in the emergency room complained that Shauntile should be fired, Emmanuel usually agreed, though he didn’t tell anyone. There were times, however, when he didn’t agree, such as those times when disparaging talk about welfare patients circulated around the nursing station, which always left him feeling as if they were referring to him. When this happened, Emmanuel would recall boyhood memories from his first few years in the States, memories of long hours in welfare lines with his brother and sister as they stood quietly with his mother, none of them able to understand the English signage that was all around them. Usually, he would stay out of the nurses’ conversations and drift away toward some task on his nightly checklist.
Emmanuel walked over to the nursing station and asked Sister Clark, the black desk clerk he’d befriended and whom he affectionately respected as if she were a second mother, to page Shauntile.
“Who spilled what?” Sister Clark asked as she punched in the numbers, her nimble fingers moving with speed and accuracy over the ivory phone.
“Blood in the waiting room,” Emmanuel said. He was about to sit down and talk with her about the patients, but he didn’t have time. One of the nurses called him from a patient room down the hall.
Emmanuel entered a treatment room where a small boy with a high fever needed to have his blood drawn. The child was giving Cynthia, one of the nurses, a spirited fight. Looking as if she was ready to strangle the toddler as he struggled beneath his mother’s reluctant weight, Cynthia let go of the boy’s flailing arm with a gesture of utter frustration and addressed the parent while keeping her eyes on Emmanuel.
“We’re going to have to papoose the child,” Cynthia said.
“What’s that?” Emmanuel heard the mother ask as he slipped away in a hurry toward the supply room. He hoped, as he grabbed what he needed, that once he became a physician he would show more sensitivity toward his patients.
Emmanuel helped wrap the boy promptly, despite his fits and screams, and as he waited for the blood vials he stared at the top of Cynthia’s head. She was like a robot, he thought, simply in here to get the blood. As he left with the vials, Timothy, the other nurse, called for him.
Emmanuel entered another treatment room. The confused faces of an elderly Latin American couple turned to him with relief. Timothy noticed from his place near the side of the bed and rolled his eyes. Realizing why he’d been called, Emmanuel did his best to translate the old man’s story about intestinal pain and constipation. Emmanuel rarely translated, and when he finished, he walked away from the old couple’s nervous and ingratiating smiles as soon as he could, despite their pleas that he stay and talk with them.
After saying goodbye to a patient he’d helped earlier, he made a mental note to clean room four after a quick run to the bathroom. He passed the nursing station, left the vials with Sister Clark, and then stepped on a smear of blood and remembered the page for Shauntile. He asked Sister Clark if the housekeeper had responded.
“No. You want me to call the nursing supervisor?” she asked, phone in hand.
“No,” Emmanuel answered, “not yet. Page her again, please.”
As he walked into the staff-lounge bathroom, Emmanuel suddenly felt tired. He thought about the night’s bombardment of non-emergency patients from New Domangue’s slum neighborhoods, and it seemed to him that each and every one of them was similar to Shauntile: ignorant, lazy, and abusive. It’s not that he had a problem with her or them, he argued with himself. It’s just that, well, how could they choose to live the way they did? Couldn’t they do any better? Couldn’t they go to school, study, or work hard, as he had done? None of it made sense to him, not even his own strange thoughts, which he jokingly dismissed as the sort of thing that the nurses often said. Sure, he admitted, he could understand the nurses’ frustration about these issues, but still, their duties were to patients, regardless.
When he returned to the nursing station, Emmanuel found Timothy in an uproar over something.
“Goddamn it,” Timothy said. “Sure is a bitch working down here. Where the hell does Louisiana find so many ignorant people? And who let all these immigrants in? They can’t speak a lick of English.”
Emmanuel ignored Timothy, having learned over the past two years to ignore these types of comments. But on the nights when it seemed as if the entirety of New Domangue’s slum population attacked the emergency room with their late-night, non-emergency medical needs, causing Timothy to lump everyone except the white and wealthy into the same pot in which he spat, Emmanuel struggled to remind himself that Timothy simply spoke from frustration. He liked Timothy well enough, and most nights, when the shift ran smoothly and there was little to complain about, Emmanuel would spend hours discussing medical procedures and dosage protocols with him.
“What’s wrong now?” Emmanuel asked, feeling no need to bring up that his parents had been immigrants from the Dominican Republic, that his skin was a dull, light brown color, or that his first language was Spanish.
“Why can’t they learn English?” Timothy asked. He looked up at Emmanuel after tossing a pen onto a patient’s chart. “That’s all I ask. After living here for twenty years, you’d think that they’d want to learn some English.”
“What you worrying for?” Sister Clark blurted out. “You got Manny here to translate for you.”
Emmanuel admired the way Sister Clark negotiated the waves of insulting commentary that often crashed down on the desk in front of her. Sometimes she played along, feigning imperviousness, as if nothing they said had anything to do with her. Other times she would get angry, and when this happened a muscle in one of her cheeks would tick. Sometimes the tick gave way to an outburst of contempt, which she had no problem offering up, and sometimes it gave way to an abrupt silence and quick disappearance.
“I’m just saying,” Timothy continued, “that if you live in an English-speaking country, you learn English. If you live in a Spanish, Japanese, or whatever country, you learn that language. How the hell do you expect to get along if you don’t?”
“Oh,” Sister Clark added, “don’t worry about it, you just feel beat from these people wearing you down.”
“I don’t know, I think most of them get along fine,” Emmanuel heard himself say, almost as if it jumped out of him.
“It’s not the foreigners you need to worry about,” Cynthia said as she walked up to Emmanuel. “At least they work.”
Emmanuel looked over at Sister Clark. They both knew that Cynthia was referring to the welfare blacks the emergency room frequently treated. He also knew that Sister Clark had been on welfare and in the projects and that she was proud of having moved up and out on her own. None of the nurses, not even the other clerks knew her history. No one understood where she was coming from, Emmanuel thought, when a curt remark flew out of her mouth, followed by a cigarette that would appear in her hand before she rushed away. But she seemed unaffected at the moment as she separated triplicate charts into neat piles of threes, her hands busily tearing and sorting. Emmanuel could never tell when some ridiculously insulting comment would get to her. It seemed to be a matter of mood sometimes.
Emmanuel watched Cynthia take a position behind Timothy’s hunched back and begin massaging his broad shoulders. He thought that the night must really be slowing down if those two could take a moment to give each other massages. As he watched, he failed to notice the emergency-room physician, Dr. Stonewall, approach.
“Arrogant bitch,” Sister Clark said beneath her breath after Dr. Stonewall tossed a chart at her from the hall as she passed by the nursing station.
“Don’t sweat it, Sister,” Emmanuel encouraged.
“What the hell!” Dr. Stonewall suddenly yelled from one of the back rooms. “Has anyone thought to page the housekeeper? Ms. Clark, page housekeeping, stat!”
“It’s been done twice,” Sister Clark answered.
“Well, do it again!” Dr. Stonewall barked before storming off. Emmanuel noticed that Sister Clark’s cheek twitched slightly.
“I wonder what your friend be doing on hospital time, Sister Clark,” Emmanuel interjected in a poor imitation of Shauntile’s heavy dialect. “Not all of ’em be working hard like Sister Clark. Ain’t that right, Sister?”
“You got that right, child,” Sister Clark said. “You trying to imitate Shauntile?”
Emmanuel nodded and smiled back, glad that he was able to shift Sister Clark’s attention.
“If she doesn’t respond in five minutes,” Timothy said, “page the supervisor.”
“Ms. Clark,” Dr. Stonewall called out as she returned from another patient room. “Order routine labs and a chest X-ray on the boy in two. And get a portable chest and a KUB for room three. I’ll be in my office. And for crying out loud, get housekeeping down here!”
“I would get her cart and clean this mess myself if I knew where she parked it,” Emmanuel said. As soon as he said this, he realized that he should get back to work, as there were now a handful of empty rooms that needed sheets and trash bags changed.
Timothy, whose head was doubled over on the nursing-station desk while Cynthia rubbed his shoulders, called after Emmanuel as he walked away. “Where you going to, Manny?” Timothy asked, looking up at Emmanuel through the curled blond bangs that dangled across his lowered face. “Do you know where it is?”
Emmanuel stopped and turned around in the middle of the hallway. “Know where what is?” Emmanuel asked.
“You know. Where it is. Your lover’s tools of the trade.”
“Not that again,” Emmanuel said, turning back around.
“Ooh, he just hates it when he be reminded about Shauntile,” Sister Clark laughed.
Emmanuel ignored the group laughter, which persisted as he entered a dirty treatment room at the opposite end of the emergency room. He didn’t mind Sister Clark jumping in. She sometimes joined the group when there was good fun to be had at someone else’s expense. In the beginning, Emmanuel had been able to play along as well, but lately the whole mess with Shauntile irritated him. He tried to keep from thinking about her, but he couldn’t. His mind wandered to an image of her indecently low neckline and he shuddered with disgust at the thought of that chest coming near him again. He recalled the day she trapped him in the small office behind the staff lounge and thrust her bristling, exposed cleavage, which was coated with caked baby powder, into his face.
“There was this one time early on when Shauntile first got here,” Emmanuel overheard Sister Clark saying as he entered another treatment room, “when Manny was in the utility room cleaning some bedpans and she walked in there and tried to grab him. She sure didn’t take long to do what she wanted to do. The boy must have jumped straight to the ceiling when she reached for his pants. I heard this loud banging and clanking like a crash up in there. When she walk out, she pass by me and say, ‘I sure wants me some of that young stuff.’”
Emmanuel let out a small sigh. There had been other times that Sister Clark didn’t know about, moments that Emmanuel dared not share with anyone. One moment in particular stood out in his mind as if it were a scene from a trailer for an adult film. Shauntile caught him alone in the middle of the hallway one slow night when no one was looking, called him over as she bent over at the hips to pick up a small garbage can, and startled him with her bared genitalia. After that, he learned to avoid being alone with her and eventually became so attuned to her movements that he would often walk out of an empty room just as she was entering.
As Sister Clark spun another Shauntile story—a story which, Emmanuel thankfully noticed, related to escapades that didn’t include him—he began to wonder why the housekeeper still had not arrived. Where was she? Why had she not answered? Was she sleeping in some corner, as usual?
“What’s the matter, Manny?” Sister Clark asked as he returned to the nursing station. “Don’t you like us talking about your love life?”
A burst of loud laughter filled the entire emergency room, making Emmanuel uncomfortable. The sound of happiness with so many sick people around worried him. Letting a big awkward smile stretch involuntarily across his face, he shook his head and looked at the floor for a second. “I think we better page the supervisor again,” he said.
“Oh no, you can’t get off that easy,” Timothy shot back, arching his head up from his massage. “We’re going to drill you ’til you admit you’ve got a thing for that hot babe.”
“Yeah, right,” Emmanuel said, rolling his eyes and shaking his head.
“Go ahead, page the supervisor, Sister Clark,” Timothy said before turning his attention back to Emmanuel. “You mean you haven’t given her any?”
“He needs to give her some, don’t he?” Sister Clark chimed in after she paged the supervisor. She spoke to Timothy as if Emmanuel wasn’t there. “I’ve told him before, if he just gives her some, she might leave him be. She just wants a taste of Latin loving.”
The three of them laughed again. Emmanuel shook his head and was about to walk away, when Sister Clark suddenly stepped out from behind the desk and began imitating Shauntile.
“Ooh, come on, baby, come on,” she said as she rubbed herself and swayed her hips as if she were swimming and dancing at the same time. “Ruffle my chest hairs. Ruffle my chest hairs here, harder, harder. Yeah, rub them deeper, deeper. Yeah, like that. Ooh, yeah.”
Emmanuel couldn’t help laughing. Sister Clark looked as ridiculous as the person she portrayed. Everyone let loose with outrageous stories about Shauntile after that. They all agreed that even if the gold teeth, the bug eyes, the bulbous lips, the bushy chest, and the plastered-down curls were improved, Shauntile would still provide enough material for ridicule and general amusement.
The phone rang while they were in the middle of their banter, opening an awkward space into which a painfully long silence crept. Emmanuel noticed Sister Clark’s soft smile give way to a clenched jaw as she responded with grave yes, ma’ams and no, ma’ams for a brief minute. Everyone waited for her quietly. When she was finished, Sister Clark relayed what she had learned. Shauntile had not been seen all night. Other units in the hospital had been trying to call her as well, but no one had heard from her.
“Either she’s getting drunk,” Cynthia said, “or she’s already lit and forgot about work.”
“So who’s going to get that dried blood off the floor now if your girlfriend ain’t coming in, eh Manny?” Timothy asked.
“Towels with peroxide should work until the day crew gets to it,” Emmanuel responded.
“That’s blacks around here for you,” Timothy spat.
Sister Clark’s cheek twitched a few times almost immediately, Emmanuel noticed. He could see her jaw muscles jump.
“They’re so used to the damned welfare system,” Timothy continued. “Getting paid to have all these babies and not even having to worry about work.”
“Work!” Cynthia said. “They’re working hard enough walking to the welfare office. They don’t have a dime on them, but when they walk in here they expect better service than the people with insurance.”
“Blacks aren’t the only ones on welfare,” Emmanuel cut in. “Just because all our welfare patients are black doesn’t mean that’s the way it is everywhere.”
“Sure are touchy, eh?” Timothy said. “I know what you’re saying, but it doesn’t matter. I’m talking about New Domangue blacks who come in here with bullshit problems.”
Emmanuel reminded himself that this was just frustration, same as two nights ago.
“What do you say to that, Sister Clark?” Timothy asked. “You can’t deny that these ignorant black folks that come in here are the rudest, most demanding trolls you ever seen.”
“Well,” Sister Clark said, her twitch becoming more pronounced, “I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t understand the whole thing myself. I don’t like how they do any more than you. But I can’t blame poor black people for every problem I see, just like I can’t blame you for what white people done black folks for most our history.”
Sister Clark grabbed a cigarette out of the flower-printed wallet she kept inside a drawer beneath the counter and walked outside.
Emmanuel retreated from the nursing station. He grabbed a bottle of peroxide and a few towels and began working methodically on the dried blood on the floor. As he cleaned the blood, Emmanuel heard Sister Clark’s voice calling for Dr. Stonewall over the intercom. He looked up from his work and saw through the window that there was an emergency on the ramp where, from what he could make out, Timothy was struggling to extract a limp body from the passenger seat of a taxicab. Emmanuel ran outside. It wasn’t until a few minutes after he’d helped lay the person on a stretcher that Emmanuel recognized the powdery, hairy chest beneath the torn housekeeping uniform of New Domangue Midtown Medical Center.
After rolling Shauntile into one of the treatment rooms, Timothy and Cynthia began assessing her condition. No one said anything as they removed Shauntile’s torn clothing. She was incoherent and unresponsive. Emmanuel watched Timothy and Cynthia employ the same tactics they routinely used on the severely drunk as they attempted to establish responsiveness.
Timothy yelled at her, pinched her several times, and tried to get her to sit up on her own, but nothing worked. Cynthia slapped her on the face, but it had no effect. It seemed to Emmanuel that they weren’t quite clinical.
“I can’t stand this,” Timothy said. “Come on, Shauntile, cut the theatrics. Come on, wake up! We know you can hear us.”
Cynthia cuffed her on the cheek several more times.
“Dammit! You got in the damned cab. Wake up! Okay, that’s it,” Timothy blared. “I don’t feel like playing this game. Manny, get me some ammonia.”
Emmanuel ran into Dr. Stonewall, who was emerging from the doctor’s lounge hurriedly as she donned her lab coat.
“Which room?” she asked.
“Five,” he answered.
“What do we have?”
When he returned to the room, Emmanuel tried not to think of his disgust at the large and round body that had tried to rub against him.
“Does anyone know what happened to her?” Dr. Stonewall asked. No one answered.
Emmanuel recalled Shauntile sometimes referring to a husband, but he didn’t know if she was truly married. He also remembered someone telling him that Shauntile was a mother.
“Manny,” Cynthia ordered, “go tell Sister Clark to call the nursing supervisor.”
As Emmanuel left the room, he could hear Shauntile’s startled cry when the ammonia ampoule was cracked beneath her nose. He found Sister Clark outside. She was talking with the cab driver. Emmanuel beckoned her inside.
“They want you to page the supervisor, Sister.”
“What’s going on?”
“Don’t know,” Emmanuel said, “but they’re being rough with her.”
“Damn it. Ain’t they supposed to treat everybody like a human being?” Sister Clark asked. “Just cause they all mad about a messed-up night, they want to take it out on an ignorant black woman. You think they care about why she come in here like this? Doubt it. Worse than that, they probably in there seeing every black person they’d like to beat in the ass.”
Emmanuel noticed that her face ticked wildly. Sister Clark put in the page, called several nursing units, and then took out another cigarette. She dropped it, picked it up, and hurried back outside. He would have followed her, but instead he manned the phones, knowing that the supervisor would soon call and that Dr. Stonewall would soon bark orders from the treatment room. As he sat there, thinking over what Sister Clark had said, he listened to the nurses’ voices as they worked on Shauntile.
“If you don’t open your eyes and answer my questions I’ll ship you out to the public hospital in New Orleans as soon as I can,” Dr. Stonewall ordered.
“Come on, Shauntile! Cut the crap!” Timothy bellowed.
“Hold her arm tight, Tim,” Cynthia said. “Hold it, hold it.”
“Yeeoowww!” Shauntile yelled.
“Damn! She moved!” Cynthia grunted. “Hold her tight, Tim!”
Shauntile screamed again as the second needle went into her arm.
Emmanuel rushed to the door of the treatment room, in case he was needed, but everyone was already filing out by the time he reached the room. Timothy, who was the last to emerge, grabbed Emmanuel by the elbow and turned him around.
“Come on, Manny,” he said, “your lover needs some rest.”
Emmanuel turned his head toward Timothy, preparing to say something, but he decided to keep quiet.
When Sister Clark returned to the nursing station, Dr. Stonewall asked her to get information from Shauntile. The emergency room quieted down for a spell, briefly falling back into its routine. The nurses checked on their patients while Emmanuel stocked empty treatment rooms.
As he worked from room to room, Emmanuel overheard Timothy comment to Cynthia that there was probably nothing wrong with the housekeeper. They were at the nursing station, talking about Shauntile and blacks and welfare again, when Emmanuel walked past them and into a nearby treatment room. He wondered why those topics should be so important inside the emergency room, and why it was that such things should change the way that the people he worked with cared for their patients. Emmanuel wanted to say something to them to this effect, and had already stepped back into the hallway in anticipation of walking over to them when he heard Timothy blurt out that he wouldn’t mind shipping all the ignorant welfare patients up to New Orleans. Suddenly, Emmanuel visualized Timothy informing a despondent-looking immigrant family that the New Orleans emergency rooms were much better, that they would be treated in no time and that they would be cured of whatever ailed them. In this vision, Timothy, after giving the despondent family bus directions, walked back to an empty nursing station where he sat down to receive a massage while a smug grin spread across his face. Instead of saying anything, Emmanuel took a few deliberate steps past the nursing station and out into the cold night.
Despite the chill wind that cut at his throat, Emmanuel gasped for air as if he were drowning. He looked up at the orange glow cast by the light post on the empty street and closed his eyes. Maybe it was only the difficulty of dealing with so much illness and death that made them that way, he considered. There were times, he knew, when he felt abused, when he said similarly cruel things because there was nothing else, because there was nothing that could be done. Maybe the fact that they worked the graveyard shift had something to do with the way they reacted to things. Who could tell? Maybe the fact that none of the nurses were from New Domangue had something to do with the way they saw things. Emmanuel couldn’t figure it out. If they worked in one of the big hospitals in New Orleans, they would certainly have the same experiences, he reasoned. They would see the same sick people with the same sick problems, regardless of color, money, or education, all of them patients, all of them with twisted stories.
Emmanuel lost himself in his thoughts until Sister Clark’s slight touch upon his shoulder roused him. “Just getting some air,” he said.
“Yeah, if you like freezing your buns off. Come back inside, I got something to tell you.”
“No,” Emmanuel said. “Tell me right here, Sister. They can make do without us for a few minutes.”
“Sure,” Sister Clark said. She told him everything she had learned from Shauntile.
Emmanuel listened as if he were hearing about Shauntile, this person from the housekeeping department, for the first time. Her story was gruesome: a drunken husband, attempted rape, a fight, broken windows, thrown furniture. Her story was similar to other emergency room stories, stories in which the victims were so accustomed to daily abuse that they explained them as a matter of fact—stories that Emmanuel could never quite believe were real. When Sister Clark finished, Emmanuel asked her if she believed any of it.
“I think so, Manny,” she said. “But you never know. Tell you something, though. True or not, I don’t like the way those bastards acting up in there. You’d think Shauntile was some kind of goddamned animal, the way they keep on. Makes me sick. Ain’t she a patient right now? Why can’t they just shut up and treat her like one? Makes me sick.”
Emmanuel agreed, wondering the same thing as the two of them returned inside.
Dr. Stonewall was in the middle of asking if the rape investigators had responded when she ordered Emmanuel to move Shauntile into a private examining room.
“Yes, ma’am,” Emmanuel answered, noticing Timothy giving him a sly wink.
“What a pain in the ass,” Cynthia said as she drifted off toward one of her patients’ rooms. “Probably isn’t even true.”
Emmanuel wondered if the now-quiet person lying on the stretcher that he pushed down the hall understood Cynthia’s reference.
“Okay, Doc,” Timothy said when Emmanuel returned to the nursing station. “Emmanuel has moved the patient. Our joy-luck housekeeper is ready to be probed.”
Emmanuel didn’t laugh, and neither did anyone else. Timothy didn’t seem to notice, and as he walked away, he winked at Emmanuel again.
“I’ll be back with Cynthia, unless Manny wants to do the honors.”
Emmanuel ignored Timothy and walked back toward Shauntile’s room. As he entered, he felt strange that he should be walking toward the same person who so often disgusted him. Once inside, he noticed how the sagging outline of her body shook beneath the thin hospital sheets with an exaggerated shiver. Even as he entertained a slight suspicion similar to Cynthia’s, Emmanuel decided that it didn’t matter. Then, as if it were someone else speaking, he listened with surprise to the sound of his own voice.
“Don’t mind them any,” he half-whispered. “They’re always that way when they’ve had a busy night.”
“Can you get me a blanket?” Shauntile asked.
“Sure,” Emmanuel responded after a while. He was taken aback by the request and it had taken him half a minute to realize that he didn’t need to do anything else.
As he stepped out of her room, Emmanuel saw that this was how things were and that this was how they would remain. The next day, everything could play out the same way in the emergency room, and it would only matter that he had done his job. He only had to do what he could, doing his own portion of housekeeping, if necessary, until the end of the shift.
About the Creator
I'm a Dominican immigrant living in the New Orleans area since the 70s. A father of two, I've been a service worker, war medic, ER tech, pro fundraiser, nonprofit leader, city bureaucrat, and now a PhD'd person, but always a writer.
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