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Monday, December 19, 2011

("Runaway train never going back, wrong way on a one way track. Seems like I should be getting somewhere. Somehow I'm neither here nor there….")…Soul Asylum

Chapter Forty-nine

LA General, Los Angeles, California, Thursday, September 1st, 2005…1:30pm

Lizzie sat for several minutes staring at the phone on her desk. She hardly knew where to start reaction-wise. This Alma Donnelley woman had opened Pandora's Box with her revelations and their mysterious connection to one another. Curious, she had absolutely no memory of the woman yet Alma spoke as if she should? Lizzie racked her brain as she concentrated on the silent telephone. If she had Super-Girl's heat vision she'd have melted the darn thing into a molten heap of plastic and copper by now! No matter how hard she thought she came up with bupkis. The woman was a stranger as far as she could tell. But Alma's instance that she call Uncle Ethan was bugging her. Lizzie hoped she didn't wind up like the curious cat, you know what happened to that Tabby! She'd risk it though and call her uncle as soon as she got home, but first she'd call Noah or Jace to see what they knew. Maybe they knew all about Alma Donnelley? Maybe they had a clue about what she wanted to talk about?

Lizzie shook her head and broke free of her trance. She looked around the small office to make sure nobody was watching her, as if anyone could in her fortress of solitude. This so called office was only slightly bigger than her closet at home and there weren't any windows to look into or out of for that matter. She leaned back in her chair and picked up her half eaten pastrami sandwich and wolfed it down in three bites. Waste not, want not, right? She wiped some mustard from the corner of her mouth and then licked her finger clean, using the napkin in her lap to complete the task. Shifting gears she turned her attention to Patrick Bouchard. Or should she say Jean-Luc Rojier? She picked up the pen and steno pad from her desk and started doodling, a habit she had from childhood whenever she mulled things over.

"What's up with you Pat old buddy?" she muttered.

Lizzie printed his name at the top of a clean page and then in her best cursive hand wrote his new identity beside his real name. She traced over each several times until they were a blurred blue blob and then tapped on the margin until a new thought materialized in her brain. Moving down a couple of lines she wrote down everything she knew about each person. She didn't really have time for this. She should be finishing her own work, but this had consumed her now and there wouldn't be any rest until she wrestled the facts to the mat and pinned down an answer that she could live with. It was a puzzle too interesting to resist and Alma's revelations had only made it more so!

PATRICK BOUCHARD:                                                   JEAN-LUC ROJIER:

Wife - Monica; Son - Gabriel                                            Noah says no records prior 2004

Gabriel dies at LA General 2004                                       G.A.W.D. appears 2005

Monica dies from injuries in 2005                                     Runs the G.A.W.D. Foundation

Noah says Patrick quit job 2004                                       Katie Tate receives G.A.W.D. $

Noah says Bouchard home for sale                                   Visited LA General in 2005

Alma Donnelley???                                                           Alma Donnelley???

It wasn't much of a list but there was a clear pattern as far as Lizzie was concerned. Jean-Luc appears on the scene just as Patrick disappears from it. There was a definite connection there, she was certain of that. She smiled to herself as a thought suddenly occurred to her. For whatever reason, she suddenly remembered something that her high school math teacher used to say. "Factoring fractions is like solving a mystery. The surest way to the right answer is to find the common denominator."

Lizzie almost jumped out of her chair, "BRILLIANT! Mr. Baker I could just kiss you!" she shouted to the empty room, shushing herself quickly by clasping her hands over her mouth. She watched the door to her office for a second, half expecting someone to burst in to see if she was okay. When nobody appeared she giggled and ran in place while still sitting in her chair. She took her pen and steno pad and wrote out her fractional equations and started factoring:

                        Patrick  +  Patrick  +  Patrick  +  Patrick   +   Patrick  +  Patrick
                         Gabriel       Monica        LA Gen       Disappear     GAWD       Alma

                    Jean-Luc  + Jean-Luc  + Jean-Luc  +  Jean-Luc  + Jean-Luc  + Jean-Luc
                       Ghost          LA Gen         GAWD            Alma             Katie Tate      Philanthropy

                                       Patrick                    +                   Jean-Luc
                          LA Gen +  GAWD + Alma              LA Gen + GAWD + Alma

                                                           Patrick + Jean-Luc
                                                      LA Gen + GAWD + Alma

And there it was; the answer with a common denominator comprised of three separate yet somehow connected elements. The reasons for Patrick's deception would be in a shared experience or experiences within the boundaries of these three factors in his life. Lizzie could guess the first; that was a no brainer. Patrick Bouchard's only child had been a patient at LA General. She knew that first hand as she had been personally associated with that tragedy. Patrick had been devastated by Gabriel's death and she knew that he had to be bitter about the circumstances. He must have been, because she was herself and it wasn't even her kid! She remembered having the same conversation with the Bouchard's as Linda had had recently with the Tate's. Patrick however was not the soft-spoken compassionate soul that Wallace Tate was. Patrick Bouchard felt betrayed and abandoned by LA General. He did not understand nor could he accept the hospital's blunt and heartless business decision to discharge his son. He must have felt used up and quit on. Why? He paid all the bills? He did everything he could to help with Gabriel's care. He'd committed everything he had, and everything he was to the cause. Why does everything in the world have to come down to money? It isn't fair, it isn't right. Maybe her Sunday school teacher was right. Maybe money really is "the root of all evil."

Lizzie knew in her heart of hearts that this was where Patrick Bouchard's thoughts were at that time. She was certain of it because she remembered asking herself those same questions. She remembered how ashamed she felt for being part and party to the whole matter. It sickened her. Now these feelings had resurfaced as she dealt with the whole Katie Tate mess. You know what, life goes on, or so they say. What a crock! Anyone can "move on" that doesn't require any courage, that's a quitter's way out. Facing your fears and your shortcomings, your sins if you will, and overcoming them, alone if you're alone, or together if you are with someone, that's the true measure of a person. Redemption is the reward for those brave enough to stay the course, to see things through, alone or together.

Lizzie needed to talk this over with someone. Her cousins, Jace and Noah were good sounding boards, but she wanted to talk to someone close to the events, then and now. She knew exactly who she needed to see, but she was a little nervous about it. Linda Bradley was the big cheese at LA General, and frankly she was unsure of her. Linda had become somewhat of a friend of late, but she was still a corporate insider and her boss to boot. Lizzie wasn't sure how much she could share with the woman? The smart money would be on Linda towing the company line. But Lizzie had a hunch about her, she'd seen past Linda's hard shell and into her soft heart. She decided to put her money on the shy girl from the small town in the Midwest that she was, instead of the corporate land shark from the big bad city that she pretended to be.

"I hope you know what you're doing Lizzie girl," she muttered, questioning herself as she picked up the phone and dialed Linda Bradley's extension.

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