Mavis Molloy worked seventeen dutiful years in the employ of Abraham, Isaacs, & Jacobson, attorneys at law.
Her parents had both been lawyers. As had her sister-in-law, Millie Abramowitz, before she left a firm unexpectedly and opened an adult video store in Valdosta, GA, using the proceeds from a lucrative separation package.
Mavis was a smart, detail-focused and meticulous research assistant, uncompromisingly dedicated to the firm. She was well-compensated, secure, and could afford a comfortable fourth-floor walk-up above the trees on Carroll Street in Brooklyn, just above Fifth.
An adequate amateur runner, she ran the NYC marathon twice with the AI&J charity team, raising over $150K for the Presbyterian Hospital burn unit.
She enjoyed her good fortune, despite her mother’s constant admonition: Don’t be a fool, Mavis, nothing good ever comes from good fortune. Never will.
On one hot July day, Mavis’s mother proved to be remarkably and pointedly prescient.
On her way to work that morning on the F train, as it was stalled over the Gowanus Canal, Mavis had a minor run-in with another passenger.
As Mavis stood, holding the handrail above the seats, a fellow passenger, a woman wearing several layers of overcoats and a pair of Gucci sunglasses, looked up and said to Mavis, who had been lost in thought, and a bit queasy, “The fuck you looking at? You think you better than me, bitch?”
Mavis felt trapped, like she couldn’t breathe. She turned away from the woman, taking a seat in another part of the car. The woman continued haranguing Mavis until she gathered her bags and left the train at Jay Street.
Mavis was unwell. Instead of going to the office, she got off the train and walked to the health clinic near St. Vincent’s and was seen by a young doctor, who ordered an EKG.
The results showed nothing untoward and when Mavis asked for some medication for anxiety he told her he could not prescribe her any without doing a full psych exam, instructing her to go home, breathe into a paper bag, and go to the ER if her chest pain persisted.
Which it did, and which Mavis did.
Her hand to her chest, she hurried the ten blocks to the Brooklyn-Presbyterian-Methodist Hospital and within minutes was on a gurney ringed by blinding white lights, cold ethereal odors, and masked earnest-seeming professionals with reassuringly sophisticated-looking medical paraphernalia.
It was her left circumflex coronary artery. The one that branches into the left anterior descending artery and into the thick muscle of her heart. Eighty-five percent blocked. “Not good,” they said. But the several stents they snaked into her artery should do the job.
Well, the job itself was not good. Far from good. What, exactly, was not good the hospital was a bit vague about.
It was only through her own thorough review of the medical notes of each of the surgeons and nurses, and a tape of the procedure which she obtained, that she discovered that he coronary stent and the balloon catheter had become trapped while crossing the angulated segment between the left circumflex and left main coronary artery and the balloon had become stripped from the stent. The catheter had to be forcefully removed by an unorthodox trans-catheter maneuver resulting in tearing of the arterial wall causing the potential for an aneurism to develop at some time in the future. It had been a rare but avoidable complication, but nothing an experienced cardiac cath team couldn’t handle.
The point though, which Mavis learned from the audiotape, was that the interventional cardiologist became flustered and flummoxed and defensively ignored the team’s advice.
Mavis was devastated. Felt violated. Invalided. Had the rushed surgery even been warranted in the first place?
With the data in hand, Mavis spoke in confidence to Arnie Abraham, the senior partner and close friend, who told her she had a good case against Presbyterian. A very good case.
She wanted to be made whole again. She was heartened. Temporarily.
But AI&J, Arnie continued, could not take her case. They represented Presbyterian in medical malpractice claims, had lost only a single case in forty-three years, and could not lose another.
Bernard Iskowitz, the security officer, helped Mavis to the elevator door with her things, leaving neither an opportunity for goodbyes nor a warm consoling cup of tea. The computer passwords had already been changed and encrypted.
With Milliie’s help, Mavis filed suit. Arnie called her. Told her to drop it. To settle. She didn’t.
She lost. Not a soul from the hospital would testify on her behalf. She appealed. She lost again.
She felt wrecked and wretched and moved in with Millie over the video store in Valdosta. She made friends there. Shared her story with a few empathetic folks she trusted and tried to put the whole thing behind her.
To no avail.
She was relentlessly enraged. Increasingly consumed with anger and a bleeding desire for revenge. She could see herself, feel herself, beating Arnie about his back and shoulders with a tire iron. Pounding hard against his flailing arms. Though, of course, she told herself, she would never do that.
Someone, somewhere along the line, would have to pay for what had been done to her.
Time went on. She made subtle inquiries, was given names and numbers.
She met a gentleman on a sandy beach north of Delray through someone who knew someone who knew someone, without a single real name being exchanged. He said he could help her out. His name, he said, was Sedge. He said he had worked as a CO up north, in Jersey, in another life. He had connections.
Sedge was a good guy. He had a kind and caring heart. She trusted him.
She gave him a considerable sum of cash and he told her that her Arnie problem would one day be taken care of.
They walked along the beach. Sedge was well tanned. He smelled of lemon grass and the sun glancing off of his shoulders gleamed in her eyes.