The CARD clinic office was packed again. Dr. Whyte had been out for three days and the backlog of patients waiting to be seen was getting out of control. People were sick, people were scared and all Julie Reynolds could do was sit at the front desk, nearing her breaking point, and listen to them cough, complain, even cry.
This had happened before. Dr. Whyte disappeared for a couple of days from time to time with very little explanation, but this time he was gone longer than usual and the clinic had a higher than normal volume of appointments. Julie was grateful for her job, it paid better than most in Libby, but after three years of watching the residents of her home town come to her dying, poisoned by the after effects of the vermiculite tailings left by the Zonalite mine, she was about to break.
She stormed out of the office, nearly sick to her stomach, and went straight to her truck. Before she knew it she was in her driveway. Heart pounding, cell phone ringing. It was the clinic. She couldn’t pick it up. She couldn’t go back. Not today, maybe not ever.
Sheila had told her this morning that they had found her dad’s truck and that the feds were stopping search and rescue from getting into the area. Why hadn’t she heard from the Sheriff? Why weren’t they searching? She knew deep down that her dad was dead.
Sobs shook her in the front seat of the truck, she finally picked up the phone, ignored the incoming messages and pushed speed dial #1 to call Neil. He would know what to do. His phone went straight to voicemail.