Many years ago, while working on my advanced degree, I earned a living as a retail pharmacist on the “graveyard shift” of a 24-hour pharmacy located near a major medical center. Seven area hospitals, each with an emergency room, provided a dribble of patients needing a variety of prescriptions filled in the dead of night.
I enjoyed the relative quiet of that shift, an ideal setting to both make money and yet have time to study and plan my clinical research. Secretly, however, I always worried about the sinister side of working such a shift. Would I be robbed at gunpoint for money, for the narcotics locked in the safe, or for both? And, more importantly, would I survive such an event or become yet another victim of a senseless shooting?
The prescription counter, as normal in a retail pharmacy, was situated at the rear of the store and elevated about a foot above the rest of the store. That provided me with a panoramic view of the retail area and anyone entering the store.
One night I observed a twenty-something white male enter. He was dressed in oversized jeans, a hoodie and a baseball cap worn backwards. He looked around, spotted the prescription counter with me behind it and shuffled toward me. I thought it odd that he looked down every aisle before approaching the pharmacy. The acid started churning in my stomach. It inched up my esophagus as I thought, “This is it. I’m about to be robbed.”
He walked up to the prescription counter, smiled and merely stood there. I looked at his hands for a possible gun, or a least a note demanding the store’s cash, or worse yet, all the narcotics. Instead, he simply stood there and smiled. Then he handed me a prescription and asked, “Can I wait for this? I’m really in pain.” I looked down at the prescription. It was written on one of the local hospital prescription pads. As I walked away to process the order, I realized the prescription had been altered.
The order was written for Percocet tablets, a narcotic pain-relieving drug. What was unusual about this order was the quantity—an obvious one had been added in front of the original order of twenty. The change to one hundred and twenty tablets was subtle, but the ink was not quite a match to the remainder of the written prescription.
I was holding a forged prescription! My first thought was that I had to verify that the prescribing doctor had not had second thoughts and sloppily added to the original quantity. I called the emergency room and verified that only the twenty tablets had been ordered. I disconnected and slowly dialed 911 to report a forged prescription and requested immediate assistance from the nearest police cruiser in the area.
What happened next goes under the heading of “you can’t make this stuff up” and “fact is stranger than fiction” but I’ll let you decide. Download my short story Cuffed for FREE to get the rest of the story and as a bonus you’ll get to read the first chapter of my new International Thriller Lethal Medicine that’s included at the end.
The rest of that night shift was reasonably quiet with only a few other patients filtering in occasionally. Needless to say, my concentration was broken and I got no studying done for the rest of that night.
I hope you enjoy the story and get a good chuckle out of it—I sure did, but not so much at the time. From that point forward, I always took a few extra minutes to study those emergency room prescriptions closer before processing them.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!
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