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Not for Sale

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other patients out of the clinic; and station security on standby in case Sam suddenly turned violent. My job was to keep him calm until the police arrived.

“What’s up, Sam? Long time no see.” I ignored the machete.

“The FBI put a radio in my head. I can’t turn it off.” Sam was distracted by a bug crawling under the sink counter.

“Well, I can see that would be a turnoff,” I deadpanned.

“Huh?” said Sam, half listening to me and half listening to the voices in his head.

The police arrived in a matter of minutes. They hid around the corner of the examining room until they heard Sam launch a particularly long and disjointed sentence. Before he could get to the direct object, they were on him, one officer hammer-locking his head and arms, another grabbing the machete.

“Nice work, Doc,” claimed the arresting officer.

“Not bad for an academic,” I replied.

“Where’s my Baker Act?” In Florida the Baker Act allows a physician to treat a mentally ill person considered to be a danger to themselves or others involuntarily.

“Gee, I’ve been kind of busy. I’ll have it for you in two minutes.”

Ruth flashed me her “if anything had happened to you I would have killed you” scowl. Not waiting for the verbal zinger sure to follow, I retorted: “Hey, poor Sam’s slowed by drugs, mental illness, and AIDS. If I couldn’t outsmart him, I would have outrun him!”

“It’s a good thing he didn’t come in while ABC News was here! Sam’s too scary. Our 15 minutes of fame would have been reduced to 10 seconds or less!”

ABC had been by a few weeks before at the insistence of Joe, my former resident who founded the clinic. They put together a nice piece on the problems of the homeless, with some great sound bytes from the dean on how we were developing a “culture of compassion,” a small clip from my interview, and a lot of footage of Joe in his white coat and our medical students working out under the

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