"Toxic Shock" by Sara Paretsky

Penguin Books 1988

p.183: After Bobby left I lay back down. I tried to sleep, but (* THE PAIN IN MY SHOULDERS HAD MOVED TO THE FOREGROUND OF MY MIND.*) Angry tears prickled under my eyes. I had almost gotten killed, and all he could do was insult me.

p.183: (* AS I LAY STILL, LETTING IMAGES FLOW THROUGH MY MIND,*) I realized that this time, at least, wanting to give the powers-that-be a Bronx cheer wasn't what had kept me quiet. I was well and truly scared. (* EVERY TIME I TRIED SENDING MY MIND BACK TO THE THREE BLACK-SLICKERED MEN *) (* I SHIED AWAY FROM THE MEMORY LIKE A HORSE FRIGHTENED BY FIRE.*) There were a lot of parts of the assault I hadn't told Bobby, not because I was trying to hold back on him but because (* I COULDN'T BEAR TO TOUCH THE MEMORIES.*) The hope that some forgotten phrase or cadence would give me a lead to who they worked for (* WASN'T ENOUGH TO FORCE THE MEMORY OF THAT TERRIFYING NEAR-SUFFOCATION.*) [NP] (* IF I SPILLED EVERYTHING I KNEW TO BOBBY, TURNING THE WHOLE TANGLED MESS OVER TO HIM,*) it was a way of saying it out loud. Hey, guys, whoever you are, you got me. You didn't kill me but you got me so scared that I'm abdicating responsibility for my life.

p.184: (* ONCE I'D LET THAT LITTLE PIECE OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE FLOAT TO THE TOP OF MY MIND, A TERRIBLE RAGE BEGAN TO SEIZE HOLD OF ME.*) I would not be turned into a eunuch, be driven to living my life in the margins designed by someone else's will.

p.226: "All I can tell you is that Ma's benefits have been first-class. I don't know about any of these other companies." [NP] (* HER WORDS TRIGGERED AN ELUSIVE MEMORY.*) Something someone had said to me in the last few weeks about Xerxes and insurance. I frowned, trying to (* DRAG IT TO THE SURFACE, BUT I COULDN'T GET HOLD OF IT. *) [NP] "It meant something to Nancy," I said impatiently.

p.226: "Nancy's files are gone. The police impounded what she had in her desk, but someone had cleaned out her health files before the cops got them. We just assumed she'd taken them home with her." [NP] (* MY ANGER RETURNED IN A RUSH, FUELED BY DISAPPOINTMENT: *) I was sure we'd reached a break in the case...[NP] (* SHE HEATED UP JUST AS FAST.*) "I told you at the time she was killed because of her work! You just were on your usual fucking arrogant head trip and wouldn't pay any attention to me!"

p.226: We went at it like a couple of six-year-olds, (* BOTH VENTING OUR FURY *) over the threats and humiliations of the past few weeks. (* I DON'T KNOW HOW WE WOULD HAVE EXTRICATED OURSELVES FROM THE ESCALATING INSULTS *) if we hadn't been interrupted by the buzzer outside my front door.

p.251-2: "...what's Humboldt got to do with it?" [NP] 'I wish I knew. Jurshak handles his insurance, which isn't a crime as much as a misdemeanor, but I can't help wondering what Jurshak's doing for Humboldt in return." (* THE ELUSIVE MEMORY I'D BEEN TRYING TO FORCE SINCE SATURDAY SWAM ACROSS THE SURFACE OF MY MIND AGAIN AND DISAPPEARED.*..) [NP] "What?" Murray demanded suspiciously. [NP] "Nothing. I thought I remembered something but (..* I CAN'T QUITE GET IT."*)

p.258: All I'd really gotten from seeing Jurshak was confirmation that he'd been working some kind of fraud with the Xerxes insurance. And something major, based on his expression. But I didn't know what it was. And I needed to find out quickly, before all the people who were mad at me converged once and for all and sent me to my permanent rest. (* THE URGENCY tightened my stomach and CONGEALED MY BRAIN.*) [NP]

p.258: I started again on the chicken with garlic and olives I'd been trying to make the night before my attack, (* HOPING THAT IF I KEPT THE FRONT OF MY MIND OCCUPIED, THE BACK WOULD BEGIN TO SPROUT IDEAS.*) This time I prepared the whole dish without interruption and set it to simmer over a low flame.

p.261: "But, Victoria," Lotty burst out, "what is the sense of all this? Who besides a Mengele is so cold, so calculating in keeping these kinds of records and saying nothing, not one word, to the people involved?" [NP] I rubbed my head. The spot where I'd been hit was pretty well healed, But now that my brain was so stressed out, the injury was throbbing in a dull way, (* THE POUNDING DRUM IN THE JUNGLE OF MY MIND.*) [NP] "I don't know." (* LOTTY'S ENERVATED STATE HAD INFECTED ME.*) "I can see why they don't want any of it coming out now." [NP] Lotty shook her head impatiently. "Not so I. Explain, Victoria."

pp.261-2: Employees would be told that they didn't have coverage for certain tests or certain amounts of hospital stay. Then when the bills came in they'd go through the fiduciary and he'd fix them before sending them to the insurance company. (*I THOUGHT ABOUT IT FROM SEVERAL DIFFERENT ANGLES*) and (*IT STILL LOOKED GOOD*). I got up and headed for the phone extension in the kitchen.

p.269: We spent the rest of the evening silently. Lotty was going through the morning's papers, the light making little prisms on the half-glasses she wore for reading. I did nothing. (* I FELT AS THOUGH MY MIND WERE ENCASED IN LEAD SHIELDING---PROTECTIVE COVERING TO KEEP ANY IDEAS FROM ENTERING. THE RESIDUE OF MY FEAR.*) I kept nipping at the big shark [a malevolent character in the story] but I was afraid to find a harpoon and attack him directly. I hated knowing he'd been able to intimidate me *), (* BUT KNOWING IT DIDN'T MAKE A STREAM OF IDEAS GUSH FORTH.*)

p.272: The bus's grinding diesel had somehow provided the background I needed to (* RELAX MY MIND COMPLETELY,*) (* FOR IDEAS TO FLOW.*) If an ambulance had come for Louisa, if she was completely sedated, they must have found a doctor. And there could be only one guess as to what doctor would be involved in such an infamous scheme.

p.305: (* IN SOME REMOTE PART OF MY MIND I KNEW *) I should think of a way to take the initiative with Humboldt, so that I didn't have to walk around with one hand in my pocket for the rest of my life. I could go to Ron Kappelman and force the issue with him, see how much he'd been feeding to Jurshak about my investigation. Maybe he'd even know how to reach Humboldt.

p.305: The whole prospect of action seemed so impossible that just thinking about it made my eyelids feel leaden, (* MY BRAIN FOGGED OVER.*) Even the idea of getting up and walking to the car would take more effort than I could manage.

p.306: When the phone rang I jumped up eagerly, sure it was Caroline willing finally to talk to me. [NP] "Miss Warshawski?" It was the quavering voice of Humboldt's butler. [NP] "Yes, Anton?" My voice was calm but (* AN ADRENALINE SURGE CLEARED MY LETHARGY LIKE SUNLIGHT ON FOG.*)