Random Acts by a Peer Specialist Part 8

April 28, 2023 By Howard Diamond

Random Acts By a Peer Specialist Part 8  by HOWARD DIAMOND

(This is part 8 of an ongoing series. To view from the beginning, click here.)

Three’s a Crowd, Three Strikes You’re Out, Three Incidents in Three Paragraphs Too Many Threes

Tuesday May 21 was not a good day for several people in Lake Town. Ruth Haines received two prank calls. Basically the message was the same and she was upset. These calls have been angering Ruth for several months and is often a topic of conversation in her therapy sessions with Jane Frederick. For fifteen months Ruth has been getting therapy from Jane. It all started that cold February day after he was referred to by Peer Specialist Holly Stephens.

Also, Holly’s Supervisor Taylor Thompson was almost in a horrific car accident on the way home from work. Timing is everything, as Taylor past Greene Avenue, then passing Wicks Road, Clark Street, Elm Street and Front Street. Suddenly, an auto speeding on Wicks Road turned onto Clark and plowed into another vehicle which was a third and a fourth. Fortunately, Taylor was two blocks ahead of the accident, but he was shaken, nevertheless.

Thirdly, after work there was a police report filed on Tuesday at about 6:30 pm. A person was found, bloody and semiconscious. The man looked familiar to a witness who identified him as Steve Washington and phoned the police plus an ambulance to take Steve to the hospital. After the cops arrived, she said she was up the block and saw most of what transpired. Since the couple of attackers were wearing masks, no one was able to name either one. Unfortunately, Officer Grey was off this week and won’t return until after Memorial Day. The next day, both Taylor and Holly visited Steve in the hospital. His right arm and hand were broken, plus he was black and blue almost everywhere. In addition, he was conscious and pretty much awake plus talking up a storm.

Summer is around the corner, fall is not far behind 

When Officer Grey returned to work, he re-interviewed Steve several times over the next week. Steve tried to give a description of his assailants, but his information was not the same. This is probably due to his concussion and the hope is his symptoms will lessen and his recall will return. Holly was informed by Steve’s issues and followed up, when necessary and along with a new temporary assistant secretary, named Mary Blackman. 

Mary was taken from the local temp agency, but she did not look the part. Her blond hair was long and stringy. Her blue dress had a slight tear around her left shoulder and her shoes were not polished. In addition, Mary had not worked in over eight months, but her office skills were superb, except for filing. She was five foot and maybe 100 pounds, but what a loud, dirty mouth, heard emanating everywhere around the office, including the bathrooms. After her first day, Taylor gave Mary instructions to cut her hair, wear no holy dresses, polish her shoes and to stop yelling profanities.

June brought summer for Lake Town. After a month, Steve was released from the hospital, but had a nurse and a physical therapist come to his four room apartment four days a week. Even though Steve did not like the arrangement, he enjoyed the  extra attention. On alternate days, Holly would visit Steve and bring what he needed to recover. Also, some of Steve’s bruises and his bloody face are healing, but too slowly for Steve. However, his right arm will still be in a cast for three to four weeks and then his doctors will decide what to do next.

Ruth and Jane are still doing therapy once weekly. Although Ruth has steadily progressed, she has no memories of having a child or being raped. Jane is saying that there is no way to tell when her memories will return. According to Ruth’s plan, she might be working two days a week shortly after Labor Day in the Cafe in town. Near the end of August, Holly will help Ruth figure out a budget, so she does lose her disability benefits  (SSDI ) or her medical insurance (MEDICARE AND MEDICAID).


Downtown Lake Town was getting ready for a parade. The committee had many volunteers, including Ruth, Holly, Taylor and Steve.  Each lamppost was adorned with red, white and blue balloons, with Taylor helping to hang them. Along the parade route, Ruth plastered signs everywhere possible. At the end of the way, Holly assisted in decorating the waterfront area with red, white and blue streamers. While Steve ordered food and drinks from an assortment of local delis, cafes and restaurants plus purchasing water from the supermarkets.

Also, Marty from Generations booked the entertainment. Meanwhile, on the downtown streets, there was a group of suspicious characters looming in the shadows, especially the Mystery Man, who was spotted twice. Most evenings the vagrants would remove signs, take balloons off the lampposts and do other nefarious activities. These nights Officer Grey and the police staff had their collective hands full. Unfortunately the cops could not catch anyone.

It was a glorious day on July 4 with clear blue skies, temperature around 80 and little or no wind. At around 4pm, the parade began with crowds estimated at about 6,000 men, women and children. A group under the bandshell by the waterfront was playing 60s and 70s plus a selection of patriotic songs for people waiting there for the parade. When the parade arrived, Holly and Steve were handing out free water bottles to everyone. As people entered the waterfront area, volunteers including Ruth and Taylor handed out programs for the evening festivities that was scheduled to begin at 7pm and to end with fireworks at 9pm over the lake. 

In the crowd were Marty from Generations and Ruth ‘s therapist, Jane Frederick. Promptly at 7pm, the program started with Lake Town Mayor welcoming everyone and introducing the emcee for the evening. Then, the people stood for the National Anthem and the slate continued. There was a magic show, a comedienne, a few musical acts. At 8:45 everything ended, the fireworks were still fifteen minutes away, so the crowd rested. 

At 9:05pm, the emcee introduced the fireworks with a couple of bad jokes. The lights were turned down and the fireworks started over the lake. About halfway through the presentation at 9:15 bangs were heard in the crowd. Gunshots were heard everywhere and when the lights were in effect, sixteen people were hurt, three were sent to the hospital. One was Ruth. A message was left on Officer Grey’s at 5pm phone stating, BEWARE THE STREETS,  YOU’VE BEEN WARNED, BEWARE THE STREETS“.

At the hospital, it was determined that Ruth had a gunshot lodged in her leg and lost some blood. Emergency surgery was necessary. Taylor was notified, he informed Holly and they agreed to meet at the hospital. At the Lake, Officer Grey and the police staff had many things to do. They had to disperse the crowd and try to investigate the gunshots. Two hours later, it just hit midnight, Ruth was still in surgery, Holly and Taylor were waiting for results. Shortly afterwards Marty arrived to lend his support.

Eventually at around 4am a doctor came by the sleeping trio. Dr. Rich Sanders, neurologist, gently woke them and informed them that Ruth had gone through several hours of successful surgery of her right leg where part of a bullet was removed along with several other fragments. The bullet parts are now bagged for safekeeping until an officer can pick them up. Also, a piece was removed from her head. Currently, she is sedated and asleep. No visitors are allowed

until 9am in the neurosurgical unit. Her healing will take a few weeks, but her discharge will possibly be several days from now. The trio all decided to leave.

For Ruth she was at, “the wrong place at the wrong time“.

The mysteries will continue in Part Nine of Random Act of a Peer Specialist in about a month from now. Can hardly wait. What about everyone else? See you in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters. 
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island.

(To view the whole series from Part 1 through Part 8, click here.)

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