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Please join me for an Author Discussion with your Book Club or a group of friends.  Just go to the Book Club or Contact tabs above and schedule a session in person or by Skype. It's been a pleasure to chat with a wide group of folks interested in learning about addiction or just wanting to tell me what they think about Shawn Marks, that egotistical but likable big shot attorney from Boston.  Although some of you think that Jimmy, the heroin addict from away, was falsely accused; was he?  And don't forget what Aunt Betty said, "When people are high on drugs, accidents happen and sometimes it looks like it wasn't an accident.”  I hope my book will continue to entertain, keeping readers on the edge of their seats while also exposing the life of addiction.  Oh yes, one more thing - Is Shawn Marks able to fall in love? 

Addiction Medicine and Emergency Medicine physician delves into world of substance abuse, family dysfunction and the ‘what-ifs’ of life

“Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine” by Dr. Steven Kassels is a unique medical murder mystery/legal thriller that entertains audiences and educates readers through the realistic depiction of the struggles of addiction. The book dissects our societal discrimination toward drug addicts and explores common misperceptions of what addiction really is – a chronic illness requiring a similar treatment approach as other chronic diseases. The book exposes the real challenges of addicts and their families through a trio of characters who are drug dependent on heroin and cocaine as well as a father who is consumed by alcoholism.

 The medical topics unfold while the reader is exposed to a riveting murder trial and the adventures of Shawn Marks, the egotistical but likable Boston big shot attorney, who juggles an array of female companions without taking his eye off the legal challenges in Downeast Maine.

“Addiction on Trial” combines Dr. Kassels’s professional experiences with current events by delivering its messages in a non-scientific, approachable way in hopes of changing hearts and minds of how best to approach the scourge of addiction. Kassels hopes the book will help to clearly define the disease of addiction as an equal opportunity illness that has no socio-economic barriers while providing insight into the current heroin and prescription drug epidemic ravaging our communities.

Purchase the book

Purchase the book

 To order from Amazonhttp://amzn.to/1lDGvqu

Additional information or to schedule:

Free Medical &/or Book Club Discussions - In person or by Skype http://addictionontrial.com/book-clubs/

Published by AuthorHouse - Book also may be purchased at: barnesandnobles.com, authorhouse.com & iBooks

 

About the author

Dr. Steven Kassels is an author and physician who has been board certified in Addiction Medicine and Emergency Medicine. A graduate of Milton Academy and Lake Forest College, he received his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, UClub_Addiction-28 cropMichigan. He has served as chief of Emergency Medicine at an inner city hospital and currently serves as the medical director and founder of Community Substance Abuse Centers. Dr. Kassels is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and has presented numerous lectures and round table discussions on drug abuse related topics. Dr. Kassels currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts and Southwest Harbor, Maine.

Author : skassels
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I hope you enjoy meeting Dr. Saul Tolson.  At the time of this therapeutic session, Jimmy had been "clean" from heroin for thirty-four months.  This would be one of his final sessions with Dr. Tolson before moving from Kansas City to Downeast Maine, where Jimmy would be accused of murder.  Read on and experience the life of an addict, who struggles with his past demons; and meet Saul Tolson, the compassionate and insightful therapist, and listen to one of his passionate lectures on the disease of addiction.

Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine; Chapter 13.

It was the end of March when Jimmy finalized his plans to return to West Haven Harbor. His last three sessions with his Kansas City therapist, Dr. Saul Tolson, were dedicated entirely to the courageous steps and the inherent risks of changing his habitat and job. They reviewed the triggers to drug use and the need for continued awareness that drug addiction is a chronic disease, a lifelong challenge.

Jimmy had heard all of this before but no longer exhibited a defensive response to the message. He was full of optimism. After more than twenty years of drug abuse and addiction, three years at an alternative high school focused on building self-esteem, multiple rehab experiences, and a near death experience, he felt he finally understood the pressures and cues that had guided, or misguided, him all these years. Jimmy had finally acknowledged and fully embraced the message that he could not blame his actions, his addiction, on others. He, and only he, must be accountable for his behavior. He acknowledged and accepted the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous, a self-help program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.  Although he could not relate to what he considered to be the subliminal religious connotations of NA or AA, he did ascribe to the message that he needed to admit that which he had no control over and do his best to stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol.

As a member of a program of rigorous honesty, it was problematic to conceal that he was taking a prescribed replacement medication like methadone. He was not alone, as other participants withheld information about medications prescribed by their doctors to treat symptoms and manifestations of illnesses related to the disease of addiction. Many individuals become addicted after turning to either illicit drugs and/or illegally obtained prescription medications in an attempt to self-medicate a primary brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disease. The diagnosis of underlying mental illness can be more difficult to determine for those with the disease of addiction, but many participants in NA and AA do benefit from prescribed medications, some of which have value in the detoxification from drugs and alcohol. Even though many NA and AA groups discourage the use of some prescribed medications that may have effects on the mind, believing that a medication-free approach is always best, most physicians and many Twelve-Step followers disagree with this philosophy.

Jimmy learned through NA and counseling that he could no longer use as excuses the pressure he felt from his father’s professional success or the abandonment by his mother due to her premature and tragic death when he was barely three years old. It had taken him over thirty years to be able to talk about the “what ifs.” What if his mother, had lived? What if she had not left the house that evening to check on an elderly neighbor when the electricity failed? Why couldn’t her friend, Marjorie, have gone instead? These were questions he would never be able to answer, but he was finally able to forgive her and to stop blaming himself for her death. He finally felt at peace with his mother and thought about her daily. He kept her picture in his wallet. He was no longer angry; sadness replaced that destructive emotion. How could he be angry with his mother; she had been so thoughtful and caring in her actions that evening. He was so proud of her and whenever he looked at her photo he could feel her warm eyes looking back at him. He desperately wanted her to be proud of him.

“Jimmy, are you okay?” inquired Dr. Tolson in one of their last sessions.

“Ahh, yes, I was just thinking.”

“I knew that, but what about? It must have been important. You were scratching again at your hand.”

“Yes, I know. When you asked me if I had fully given up my anger and was ready for this transition, I started thinking again about my mother. I really am not angry anymore, but I’ll always wish I could have gotten to know her better. It still hurts that I have no real memory of her when she was alive.”

Dr. Tolson, whom Jimmy called Saul, let silence rule the moment. In his mid-sixties, about the age of Jimmy’s dad, his wiry body was clothed in blue jeans and cowboy boots. He had planned to retire after giving up his private practice of psychotherapy five years earlier and saying good-bye to his many neurotic middle-aged clients. But after two years of retirement he became restless and took his PhD in Psychology into a different arena, first as a part-time consultant and then as a full-time drug counselor at NewBeginningsAddictionCenter. He had never enjoyed work more. The fact that he could trade in his sport coat and tie for more relaxed attire was not an insignificant aspect to the enjoyment he felt while working in his retirement years. Seasoned, articulate, insightful, and with a professional demeanor and attitude of refined independence, he had mentored many young therapists throughout his professional life, and more recently at New Beginnings. But his greatest contribution was to his own patients. He preferred the word “patient” to “client.” This was not a practice of suburban psychotherapy; this was the psychotherapeutic arm for the treatment of a chronic disease and Jimmy was a patient.

Dr. Tolson understood in a very philosophical manner that Jimmy’s illness, the disease of addiction, was composed of biological, psychological, and social elements. He would give lectures on a regular basis to fellow drug counselors, local school committees, police, and to anyone who would listen. He always started his presentation the same way, with a story about the Harvard crew team.

“When I was at Harvard, more years ago than I wish to remember, I was initially confused about why the crew coach recruited athletes who had no prior rowing experience to try out for the scull team. The coach preferred to train disillusioned or frustrated former football players or other passionate athletes who were not quite talented enough to play their chosen sport at the college level. He wanted to teach these athletes how to row from scratch and to learn his way. He was of the philosophy that it is more difficult to undo a wrong technique than to teach the unindoctrinated the correct method. This strategy seemed to work as the Harvard scull teams were always competitive, even at the Olympic level.”

He continued his presentation with a comparison between the approach of the Harvard crew coach and his own current predicament.

“Well, I do not have the luxury of the Harvard crew coach. Everyone in this room already has an opinion of what an addict is. Usually we use the word addict in a special way—cocaine addict, heroin addict, but rarely do we hear the words alcohol addict or nicotine addict. No one would refer to Vice President Cheney as an addict, despite the fact that we know that nicotine contributes to heart disease. And Mickey Mantle remains a hero despite needing a liver transplant because of liver cancer, complicated by cirrhosis from his years of drinking. I am hopeful that each of you can put aside any bias, any preconceived notions that you bring here today. For thirty minutes I ask that you be like that athlete who has never rowed before and put aside your current opinion of addiction. Give me your cleansed minds for just a brief time. At the end of my presentation you may accept, reject, or modify anything I say, but please start now with a clean slate. Before I begin, I want everyone to join me and tightly close your eyes. For just sixty seconds let us each listen to our own breathing and contemplate nothing.”

Not everyone followed Dr. Tolson’s request, some dumping him into the category of one of those earthy crunchy granola type liberals—precisely the type of labeling he was trying to combat, which is why he would wear a sport coat and tie to the lectures. He would wait a full sixty seconds before saying “Now, slowly open your eyes and without verbally responding, I want you each to ask yourself if the last sixty seconds were spent only listening to your breathing while repressing all thoughts. If you were not successful in completely voiding your mind, you now know the struggles of addiction. It is not just mind over matter. I will do my best to further explain the complexities of addiction.”

Dr. Tolson had a sincere and disarming manner to his presentation. Part professor, part psychotherapist, part scientist, but always human, he discussed in painstaking detail the disease of addiction in a respectful manner while laying out the cornerstones of the disease as a bio-psycho-social illness of lifetime duration. He described it as a disease of incurable nature, possible to be put into remission, similar to some cancers. He elucidated the Scandinavian alcohol studies of identical twins being adopted by different families to illustrate that genetic predisposition as well as Skinner-like conditioning were contributing factors. He explained how veterans who had become heroin-addicted in Vietnam could more easily overcome their drug use when returning stateside as representative of the social aspect of the disease; that the elimination of social cues was such a powerful determinant of remission. But the next eye-opening part of his lecture was the presentation of slides showing the reward centers of the brain. He only spent about two minutes on these projections, but it was compelling information.

“I now wish to briefly bring your attention to these next few slides. Here is the nucleus acumbens, the ventral tegmental area, and the prefrontal cortex. They all are integrated into the activation of the brain’s reward pathway.”

Saul Tolson knew all this scientific mumbo jumbo lulled much of the audience to sleep, but he needed everyone to be alert for his next comment. He purposefully lowered the octaves and raised the volume of his voice while adding brief pauses to summon attention as he continued.

“Now, for those of you who have dozed off . . . and I do understand why . . . this next slide is a must to see. It clearly demonstrates that there is very little disparity between the different chemical addictions. This colorful slide demarcates the areas of the brain affected by various drugs and clearly illustrates that alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and heroin all create their effects through the same common pathway, which originates directly or indirectly at the level of the nucleus acumbens. In fact, the same medication, called naltrexone, is used to curb the craving effects of both alcohol and heroin.”

Dr. Tolson concluded his medical presentation with a sobering analogy.

“Diabetes is a chronic disease. It is a disease that can be controlled, but, as of yet, cannot be cured. It has a genetic component but is exacerbated by poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of attention to medical management. Think about a person with uncontrolled diabetes or for that matter a smoker with heart disease who eats a bag of potato chips on Super Bowl Sunday and goes into congestive heart failure. Both of these patients now need emergency care that doctors immediately render. Many of these patients return again and again, and for many it is for reasons at least partially due to their noncompliance with recommended treatment. Nevertheless they are readily evaluated and treated for both their acute and ongoing illnesses, even though their own behaviors are contributing or causative factors to their deteriorating health.”

Pausing while attempting to make eye contact with each and every individual in the audience before proceeding, Dr. Tolson delivered his next few lines in a compassionate tone. “With no disrespect, but as a way to reinforce the point I am trying to make, I’d like to ask you to please tell me the difference between a nicotine or alcohol addict, who in some cases may even receive a heart or liver transplant, and someone addicted to heroin or cocaine? Why are those afflicted with the disease of addiction to certain drugs treated so differently than patients who suffer from nicotine or alcohol addiction or other chronic diseases like diabetes? Are they really any different?”

Dr. Tolson never relinquished the podium without one last attempt to convert the naysayers. “Now for those of you who fail to agree with me, and I know you’re out there, let me appeal to your wallets. To incarcerate one addicted patient—that’s right, jailing patients—costs between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. A one-year stay for a patient in a halfway house costs society about $20,000 per year and this does not include any medical care. But to treat one heroin addict as an outpatient with regular individual and/or group counseling sessions, ongoing urine drug testing to monitor for illicit drug use, a complete admission physical exam including laboratory tests that screen for contagious diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV, and the daily monitoring of medication administration costs approximately $5,000 per year! That’s right—only $5,000 per year or about one-tenth the cost of putting this patient in jail! And how much does it cost and what is the risk to society when patients are denied access to care and get sick with HIV and spread that disease? So what’s the total economic cost of drug abuse to society? You better be sitting down, because according to a ten-year study from 1992 to 2002 on the economic costs of drug abuse by the Executive Office of the President for National Drug Control Policy, the financial price tag to society related to crime, health care, and lost worker productivity is 182 billion dollars—yes, you heard me correctly—182 BILLION dollars! Is not an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? Like they say in the Midas commercial, ‘you can pay now or you can pay later, but you’re gonna pay.’ Thank you all for your attention. I am able to stay for questions.”

Uncomfortable with the inevitable applause, Dr. Tolson kept repeating through the clapping, “So, there must be some questions.” The questions came, but none of his answers carried the consequences of those he would have to give to questions posed while under oath at the murder trial of James Frederick Sedgwick in Downeast Maine.

Author : skassels
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What is it like to be a heroin addict in withdrawal and in jail - and to be the parent receiving the call from your son! I want to share Chapter 2 with you - to allow you an opportunity to experience it!

Also, as a new author and an "old" doctor, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to all of you (established authors, fellow physicians, dedicated social service folks & more) who have offered support to my goal of becoming an established author - but even more importantly thank you for your support as it relates to getting the message out that the disease of addiction is an equal opportunity disease, that it has no socioeconomic boundaries! I hope that by creating a medical murder mystery/legal thriller readers will be enthralled and educated, but without the encumbrance of heavy scientific jargon. In this way, I hope to attract and inform readers who might not otherwise choose a book about the disease of addiction,  And now if you read on, you will know how Jimmy Sedgwick felt in the Prescott County Jail . . .

C H A P T E R 2

Jail

Adam was led into a sterile, white, windowless room approximately ten feet square. Jimmy was in the far corner of the room behind a cold metal table. Seated on a low wooden stool, he had the appearance of a small boy who could barely see above the grown-ups’ table. Jimmy’s head was bowed as he nervously picked at an excoriated lesion on his left palm, having removed the bandage that the nurses had previously placed over it. He scratched back and forth with the raggedly bitten nails of his middle and ring fingers of his right hand, digging progressively deeper into the layers of tissue until fresh blood mixed with dried scabs from prior scrapings oozed out and trickled on his blue jeans. This was a vile habit that paralleled his drug use. It did not matter whether he was high from drugs, in withdrawal from waning drug effects, or just dreading the discovery of his drug use, he would pick at the thick muscle below the thumb where it merged into the hollow of his palm, burrowing until it bled, as if this self-mutilating behavior would heighten his awareness of the painful path of drugs he had once again chosen. When he was clean from drugs, the bleeding stopped.

Jimmy Sedgwick had spent Sunday, June 6, his third evening behind bars at the Prescott County Jail, drenched in perspiration and shaking with chills while retching and doubled over with stomach pain. As a teenager Jimmy had been incarcerated briefly, but he had avoided run-ins with the law for the last eighteen years. Jail was quite a different experience as a thirty-six-year-old heroin addict. He repeatedly asked to see a doctor as he struggled to cope with the increasingly severe symptoms of heroin withdrawal. He was exhausted from his physical condition and lack of sleep, making the barrage of questioning, first by the police and then by his court-appointed attorney, intolerable.

Upon arrival at the jail on Friday night the nurse had performed a cursory physical exam. The initial medical report stated that Jimmy was experiencing mild symptoms of opiate withdrawal, with pupils slightly constricted but reactive to light. He had a wound on his left palm. Vital signs were within the normal range. On medical recheck Saturday afternoon the daytime nurse simply noted that his condition was stable.

“Stable my ass,” thought Jimmy. He was not an angry sort, but had become much more irritable and anxious since the prior evening. What a difference twelve hours had made. He did not want to have a confrontation with the nurse; but he needed medication to combat the well-documented debilitating symptoms of withdrawal. He had lived through this before. Jimmy knew after the first eight hours or so the restlessness, nausea, sweating, and mild abdominal cramps would progress and peak in about three days. At that point the vomiting, diarrhea, racing heart, fever, chills, and diff use muscle pain would reduce him to the fetal position. Then all he would think about was how to get his next “fix,” which would be impossible to achieve while behind bars. It was at this moment, practically jumping out of his skin with fear and anxiety, that he placed the call to his father—the only person he could turn to for help.

The Prescott County Jail was not a place for hardened criminals or for emotionally unstable prisoners. For most, it was just a way station on the path to a probationary sentence. Adam was as uncomfortable in this setting as a psychiatrist would be in a surgical operating suite, but he intuitively understood the need to suppress both his disappointment and self-blame. An overprotective or defensive approach to Jimmy’s mistakes would do nothing to ameliorate the current state of affairs.

When Adam had tried to garner information from the sergeant working the desk at the West Haven Harbor Police Station that morning, he began to understand the rules by which he was playing. Being Dr. Carter Adam Sedgwick was of no help at all. Here in Downeast Maine the locals quickly stripped one of any presumed superiority, while still remaining respectful. The sergeant was adept at never directly responding to Dr. Sedgwick’s request to speak with Police Chief Bergeron. Adam did not know at that point that Chief Bergeron had just been urgently called away by the two policemen who had been assigned to investigate circumstances pertinent to Jimmy’s arrest.

The jail guard who led Adam into the room to meet with Jimmy was a petite woman in her fifties. Jimmy looked up and smiled through clenched teeth as his father entered. Adam did not utter a word or look at his son directly until after the guard explained the rules.

“Alright, Mr. Seddick, you've got twenty minutes and then I’ll be back. If you need anything, just push the button here on the wall.”

Adam chose not to correct the guard’s pronunciation of his name. “OK. Thank you.”

“I want to remind you again that this room is video monitored.”

The guard departed and the harsh clicking sound of the door being locked from the outside echoed in the white painted cinder block room. Adam slowly turned toward his son, who was now standing behind the table. Jimmy’s frail appearance and sunken eyes resembled the final days of a cancer patient. His thinning black hair had not been brushed in days; scattered oily strands hung heavy over his forehead. Adam moved his head ever so slightly to one side and Jimmy responded as he had done for years. This was the same nod he would receive from his dad after his Little League baseball games. It simply meant “I am proud of you son, come get a hug.” The hugs were never correlated with the number of hits or errors Jimmy had made; they were always unconditional. This embrace was no different. Adam held his arms out wide to welcome his son; but this time Adam knew his sphere of protection was not enforceable.

Jimmy started to cry, breaking into uncontrollable sobs as his father held him tight. The son rested his head on Adam’s shoulder, “Oh Dad, I’m so sorry. This is not what I wanted. I just don’t know what happened to me. I need you to help me.”

Adam’s thoughts returned to Missouri. He remembered vividly from twenty-five years ago the conversations, actually lectures disguised as chats, he had listened to from Suzanne’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth. “Aunt Betty,” with her soft rounded torso and commonsense love, was a comfort to Jimmy and all of the neighborhood kids as well as to her own. She was the only one who called Adam out on his parenting skills, insisting that Jimmy needed more boundaries. Adam knew she meant well, but was determined to do it his way. Having been raised by parents with an ironclad approach, Adam was not going to make the same mistake. But somewhere in Aunt Betty’s message was the voice of Suzanne, whose essence he continued to feel as strongly as the very first day he had met her. Sometimes he thought Betty was put on this earth simply to provide, in Suzanne’s absence, a female challenge to his male thought process. Adam tolerated Betty’s badgering with calmness and respect, but the nagging did not change his parenting.

Adam slowly released his firm embrace as Jimmy wiped away the tears on his cheeks.

“Jimmy, look at you. Can’t you ask to take a shower?”

“I know. I need to. But it’s been really hard even just to Walk. The doctor finally gave me some medicine last night.”

“What did he give you?”

“Some Clonidine.”

“Anything else?”

“No, they refused. I’m still feeling pretty awful. I gotta get some methadone or something. This Clonidine stuff won’t do it and it makes me feel like shit.”

“OK, but you need to get yourself cleaned up and brush your teeth.”

“I know father.”

“Have you eaten anything? You need to stay hydrated—drink lots of water.”

“I know! I know! I’m not fifteen. But my stomach cramps are awful and every time I eat or drink anything I throw it up. I feel like shit!”

“Sorry, Jimmy, just trying to help.”

It turned out that beyond Jimmy’s physical discomfort, he felt betrayed by his attorney, who had assured him that he would get to see a doctor and receive the necessary treatment much sooner. The delay in getting medication only served to magnify Jimmy’s agony and paranoia.

Due to the promise for more timely treatment, Jimmy had agreed not to contest the delay in his arraignment, scheduled for the Monday morning docket. Although that meant a few more nights behind bars, Jimmy was so confused, frightened, emotionally drained, physically pained, and desperately consumed by his need for medication, he thought he was making the best choice. He would have agreed to almost anything in exchange for some pharmaceutical relief.

“I know! I know you’re here to help; but they could care less about how sick I am.”

Jimmy related how the prior evening the nurse had said, “Here, take this. It’ll make you feel better for a little while.”

“But this is Clonidine, right? Can you ask the doctor if I can get something stronger?” Jimmy countered.

The nurse quickly responded, “You seem like you have some experience with drugs. I don’t think you’ll get anything else, so you best take what the doctor prescribed.”

“Hey, wait a minute. I have rights too. Th is pill might take away some of my sweating and stomach cramps, but it makes me dizzy and doesn't do anything for my shaking and it never stops my vomiting. You’re a nurse — you ought to know that Clonidine only treats the symptoms a little bit and your blood pressure can drop and make you feel dizzy all the time.”

“Young man, I think your rights were put on hold when you got yourself arrested,” the nurse snorted. “You’re lucky you’re getting anything!”

Adam, as an Emergency Medicine physician, understood all too well the ironies of medical treatment of the incarcerated drug addict. Once the addict is behind bars, the criminal justice and penal systems, despite their mandate to rehabilitate, turn a blind eye to adequately treating the prisoner. The result is an uncooperative, agitated, disoriented inmate, who upon release back to society returns to drug abuse, creating the revolving door of crime.

There was much for Adam to understand and Jimmy was not helpful in this regard. Adam assumed Jimmy’s arraignment had not yet taken place, and as a result did not ask his Emotionally fragile son about it. Jimmy never mentioned the conditions set forth by the judge at the hearing that morning, to which Adam was oblivious as his early morning phone message to the attorney had not been answered.

Adam reassured his son that he would not leave the island until there was clarity on the issues and a plan in place, but as Director of Emergency Medical Services at Kansas City Memorial Hospital he had responsibilities he needed to return to, especially after having left on such short notice.

“Now, Jimmy, you know not to speak with anyone without your lawyer being present.”

Jimmy acknowledged the succinct advice but his emotions overcame his reasoning, “Yes father, but I don’t think the lawyer knows much of anything. I don’t like him and I don’t trust him.”

“I’ll speak to him. Remember, don’t talk to anyone!”

Adam was confused and irritated by the legal Procrastination. Possession of drugs in quantities determined to be for personal use, which was what Jimmy had told him was the basis of his arrest, was not such an unusual or egregious act to justify the delay of an arraignment for three days.

Jimmy, trying to control his spasming muscles, apologized again, “Dad, I’m so sorry for causing you this inconvenience. Please forgive me.” They embraced one last time before Adam pushed the red buzzer on the wall.

On the way out, Adam overheard the jail guard talking on the phone, “This guy from away is in the clink for selling drugs. You should see him. He’s a mess.”

Adam paused as he registered the comment: was Jimmy being accused of being a “drug pusher”? It would not be long before Adam would have welcomed as a blessing the charge of possessing drugs for distribution as the most serious accusation against his son.

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Author : skassels
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As a new author and an "old" doctor, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to all of you (established authors, fellow physicians, dedicated social service folks & more) who have offered support to my goal of becoming an established author - but even more importantly thank you for your support as it relates to getting the message out that the disease of addiction is an equal opportunity disease, that it has no socioeconomic boundaries! I hope that by creating a medical murder mystery/legal thriller readers will be enthralled and educated, but without the encumbrance of heavy scientific jargon. 

Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow you to read a chapter to get to know Shawn Marks, so here are some snippets of that egotistical yet likable Boston big shot lawyer who can juggle an array of female companions without taking his eye off the legal challenges of his work . . . and now may I present to you Attorney Shawn Marks . . .

Pages 117-119

           The brass name plaque next to the door of Attorney Shawn Marks’s grand office was the polar opposite of Rob Hanston’s faded sign. The big city lawyer looked the Bangor attorney straight in the eye with a “you have my full attention” look while Hanston relayed the details of Jimmy’s case. Occasionally Marks glanced Adam in an attempt to convey his empathy for a father in an unenviable predicament. But Marks was really thinking about the splendor of summer and fall on Mount Desert Island and the borrowing of a sailboat from an indebted client to provide some additional enjoyment.

At age forty-dreading forty-five like most people dread sixty, Shawn Marks had never been married and had never fathered any children that he knew of. He kept his six-foot frame slim and his heart fit by taking weekday jogs from his waterfront office to the Back Bay. His routine never varied. He left his office promptly at 10:00 a.m., and ran mostly along the Freedom Trail, passing by Paul Revere’s House, the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, and then the current State House on Beacon Hill before heading across the Boston Commons and finally across the Public Gardens to the Ritz-Carlton where he met his Harvard law school classmate. From there they always walked to the same quaint coffee bar for their jolts of espresso while standing and chatting at the bar like long lost friends. Then they hit the pavement again for the return jogs to their respective law firms—one in Cambridge near MIT overlooking the Charles River and one on Boston’s waterfront.

Since Marks’s day started at 4:00 a.m., when he woke to his blaring alarm, by the time of his jog he had already put in nearly five hours of rigorous work. A midmorning endorphin rush was a prerequisite to successful completion of his remaining eight hours of work. It is hard to get anything accomplished in less than thirteen hours was his motto. After returning from his jog, he almost always headed directly to the private exercise room within the law firm suite. After a hundred sit-ups and forty push-ups, and a quick shower, he settled back into his desk chair before noon to enjoy a low-fat yogurt drink—always peach flavor—as he disappeared back into his legal world.

Sundays Marks worked from his Swampscott, Massachusetts, home, but Monday thru Friday he took the thirty-minute commuter train ride and five-minute taxi trip to his office. Sometimes he walked to the office from the downtown Boston train station, but it generally made more sense to take a brief taxi ride: at 5:00 a.m. there is not much traffic in Boston. On Saturdays he always drove his 1987 Porsche 911 Cabriolet convertible to work, leaving the house at a luxurious 7:00 a.m. for the exhilarating ride to downtown Boston, arriving at his leather office chair in twenty-five minutes, door to door. The Saturday workday had no intermissions and no jogging escapes, just yogurt and nine nonstop hours of mental grinding. He arrived back home by 5:00 p.m. for one hour of yoga and a long Jacuzzi before a social evening: first to wherever paying clients were treating him to a superb dinner and thereafter, more often than not, he was free to chase one of several women he fancied around the Saturday night dance floor of life.

Marks was a man who left nothing to chance. He never outright lied but rarely did he volunteer information in his relationships with women or in the courtroom—always maneuvering, constantly working to get the upper hand. He was a master of manipulation as was evident from the second one entered his office. The coffee table in front of his office leather couch was adorned with original drawings of Marks at the helm of a sloop at least forty-five feet long, next to photographs of Marks with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, and of course the obligatory copies of the Harvard Law Review. Not just a couple of copies, but a dozen or more, dating back a decade or so, with each copy carrying an article his legal staff had authored but that always listed Marks’s name first.

 Pages 162 – 163 

…Marks had not considered a first-date sleepover as an available option and therefore was not prepared for the morning race to the airport. He had felt a paralysis as he looked at Samantha Kotts, the former and never to be referred to again, Ms. Snoot. He had enjoyed lingering in bed next to Samantha, still asleep, lying on her side facing him, soft auburn hair draped gently over her forehead and sheet clinging to her mid back, exposing her youthful velvet skin. It was very difficult leaving Samantha Kotts behind, as he dreamt about spending a morning in bed with this spunky lawyer, especially after a night like the one from which he was recovering. Marks was at peace with his frustration of having to leave; he knew he had laid more groundwork than ever anticipated. After a peck on her cheek and with coffee in hand, he headed down the steps to the cobblestone sidewalk and into his waiting Porsche. The parking ticket under the passenger windshield wiper served as a reminder that everything good in life comes at a price. He had never wanted to pay the price of a day-to-day monogamous relationship despite the positive benefits. But what Marks felt that morning as he looked at Samantha made him uncomfortable. The $60 parking ticket was a small price to pay compared to the emotional price of a committed relationship. Marks avoided being distracted by his feelings, as he wanted to focus on the euphoria of the moment. He seamlessly slipped back into denial, as he regressed to a prior stage, putting the convertible roof down to celebrate a great evening with the rest of the world. Shawn Marks was thirty again!

Marks had to abruptly shift gears when he became aware that the extra time he had spent next to the sleeping Samantha had left him running later than he first thought. During his unnecessary drive to Swampscott, he called the pilot and delayed departure. Marks did not have a clue that Samantha would soon end up as a factor in an approach-approach conflict, complicating his life further. In psychological terms, an approach-approach conflict occurs when one is presented with two apparently equal and favorable options, but can choose only one. Marks always seemed to be able to balance life’s many options, and by doing so avoided or at least postponed being tormented by the need to make choices, especially those of the approach-approach variety. If anyone could have their cake and eat it too, it was Shawn Marks...

 Pages 177- 178

         “Hello, James, I am Attorney Shawn Marks and I am here to introduce myself and to let you know that I, along with Attorney Robert Hanston, and with the assistance of your devoted father, plan to defend you and attain an acquittal of the murder charges that have been wrongly placed upon you. However, in order to reach the desired verdict, we must have your complete cooperation. You must not hide any facts from us and protecting yourself or others will put your freedom in jeopardy.”

Then Marks broke with the niceties and leaned forward across the small table and placed his nose about ten inches from Jimmy’s. “Really what I’m saying, Jimmy, is your ass is on the line and where they’ll send you if you’re found guilty won’t be pretty . . . So now that we've cleared up that issue, let’s clear up the issue of your honesty. You cannot lie to us. If you lie to us, you may spend every remaining day of your life in jail. Do you understand?”

Before Jimmy could respond, Attorney Marks reiterated as if questioning a witness in court. “Let me repeat the question. Do you understand that if you lie to us, if you do not tell us the entire truth, we will not be able to appropriately defend you and you will probably end up spending the rest of your life behind bars—cooped up in a jail cell about half the size you’re in now, with a cell mate, a cement floor, no windows, and a toilet in the corner? Is this what you want?”

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Author : skassels
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