My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Mistaken identity?

>> Queens Medical Center

Lily Ah Sun had never before been to the new ER, so she was amazed and impressed at how things ran like some grand dance choreography. The ambulance backed up to the ER, the door opened and the gurney that held her maid Rosalita Resurreccion was suddenly being lifted down and wheeled inside. Lily and Elizabeth, Rosalita's 6-year-old daughter, followed hand in hand.

Inside, in the second surgery bay to the left, paramedics quickly explained to the ER team what had happened to Rosalita -- about the foiled rape attempt, how she'd been struck twice in the face with a pistol -- and what they had done. And then the ER crew took over. As a heavy white curtain was pulled across the bay, a Caucasian woman touched Lily's elbow and said "May I speak with you outside."

"I want to stay with my Mama!" Elizabeth protested.

"I'm sorry," the woman said calmly but firmly. "That's against the rules. But we have a nice place for you to play while you wait." She turned to Lily, said: "Hi, I'm Lin Matsuo, social worker in the ER. We really do have to let the doctors and nurses do their jobs."

"Sure," Lily said, numbly following the social worker. Too much had happened to fast.

Mrs. Matsuo led Lily and Elizabeth, still hand-in-hand, each needing the other, down a hall that opened into a large waiting room. "And over here," she said, "is our special keiki room."

Just off the main waiting area, Lily and Elizabeth stepped into a colorful children's room with games, books and a TV playing kiddy videos. Any other day, Elizabeth would have been the happiest girl in the world to be in the middle of this much fun. Not today.

"I'll come see you the moment we're done treating Mrs. Resurreccion," Matsuo said.

"Actually, I wanted to ask about another patient, Quinn Ah Sun."

Mrs. Matsuo wrinkled her nose, obviously thinking, shook her head. "Quinn Ah Sun? No, I don't think that's the right first name." She'd just spoken to the parents of a young man named Ah Sun -- the one who had fallen and hit his head on a curb when he was attacked during the hate crimes bill rally. But Quinn wasn't right.

"Yes," Lily said adamantly, "Quinn Ah Sun. He was shot in the leg defending Rosalita."

"I don't know," the social worker said. "But I'll check."

Ah Sun isn't exactly a common name, Lily thought. There couldn't be two of us being treated in the ER at the same time, could there?

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at

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