Social Worker Molly Atkinson deals with routine matters until she is called away on an emergency in this excerpt from An Accidental Life.


Engrossed in her report on Savannah Chacon, all thoughts of the homicides had temporarily fled from Molly’s mind.  Next month’s hearing would be significant, in that she would be able to recommend that Sasha be placed with her mother.  She thought about the past few weeks and the reportedly successful weekend visits that provided additional support to the planned recommendation.

Oh, Alexandra Brigham had continued her complaints, but since all visits were taking place in the secure and structured foster home setting, there was no evidence to back up her allegations.  And, at Molly’s instruction, Vee Moore was photographing the baby before and after visits, dispelling any claims Alexandra might make about her physical condition.  Of course, there was always the “fussy baby” complaint, which was not an unusual one.  Other care providers often made these same remarks.  Molly had uttered soothing comments about the normalcy of transition difficulties and encouraged Alexandra to aid the process along by trying to be more relaxed when the baby returned.  Molly reminded her that a calm attitude on her part could smooth the transition.

Molly had finished the preliminary report when a receptionist appeared, waving a pink message slip.  Noting the “urgent” scrawled across the top, Molly frowned and then punched in the number.  She didn’t recognize it.  When a voice on the other end answered, Molly was still groping in the dark.  “Hello,” she told the woman who had answered the phone.  “My name is Molly Atkinson and I’m a social worker.  I received a message…”

“Oh, yeah,” the guttural voice spoke.  “You have someone named Mary Vincent on your caseload?  Well, she’s been holed up in one of my rooms…” The woman gave the name of a downtown motel and then continued.  “She checked in a couple days ago, with some man.…He left, but she’s still there.  I think somethin’ might be wrong with her…”

“Did you call 9-1-1?”  Molly asked, feeling irritation growing at the blasé attitude of the hotel clerk.  Or maybe the attitude was a result of desensitization from the harsh realities of her everyday world.

“No…Didn’t want to cause any trouble for her…She’s probably been fixing in there…”

“If she doesn’t respond when you knock, please call 9-1-1.  I’ll be over there in a few minutes.”  Molly quickly gathered her things and headed down the stairs.

When she arrived at the motel, she could see the paramedics already pulling up.  Several onlookers were mulling around and as she approached, looking official, a woman came toward her.  She was apparently the same woman who had called, as Molly recognized the voice.  “I did like you said,” the woman spoke nervously.  “I even went in, ‘cause the door was unlocked…She was passed out on the bed…”

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