By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The next budget-planning session starts in March, and Eckels says there is support to continue the funding.
Sandy has this dream where, for some reason, she's running toward a helicopter. The engine's on, the blades are spinning, and she's just feet from the door. All of a sudden, the devil appears, pulls out a knife and slits her throat.
"I don't know what it means or anything, but it's not the best dream in the world," she says.
Recently, Sandy has formulated a plan to get her kids and herself away from her boyfriend. Devising this plan, and applying for jobs, were necessary in order for Dr. D.J. and Elsner to close the case in good conscience. They're tight-lipped about the plan, and for good reason. No one wants her boyfriend to find out.
Dr. D.J. and Elsner officially closed Sandy's case a week earlier, but they saw her again on a weekend trip to the movies. The MCOT workers wanted to commemorate their relationship with a fun outing, a trip outside that didn't have to do with doctors or job applications. They suggested seeing a movie of Sandy's choice. Inexplicably, she chose Gothika, a horror movie about a woman trapped in a draconian insane asylum. She says she loved it. It was the first time in ages she wore a dress and fixed her hair.
Today, Elsner has stopped by Sandy's house to give her a bag of presents the staffers bought for her daughter's birthday. If the escape plan works, this will probably be the last time Elsner sees her.
When Elsner comes to the front door, Sandy's in her pajamas, smoking, sitting in her favorite chair in front of the large-screen TV. These are totems of the part of her life she wants to put away.
Sandy is jubilant about the presents. The staffers had all pitched in for a child's birthday before, and Sandy was hoping they would again, but she didn't want to get too excited.
Elsner sits down as Sandy eagerly picks through two bags of gifts. Elsner says her daughter, who's the same age as Sandy's, helped pick out the gifts. There's a makeup kit, some Barbie accessories and a stuffed bear.
Most intriguing to Sandy is the Magic 8-Ball, something she says she's never seen before. She asks what it does. Elsner explains: You ask it a question, shake it, and look at the bottom for an answer that reveals itself in what resembles a pool of bubbly blue amniotic fluid.
Ask a question, Elsner says.
Sandy thinks. Foremost on her mind is the accounting job she applied for, all the way on the other side of the city. It'd be a cruel commute, but it'd be worth it.
She takes the 8-Ball in her hand and asks, "Am I gonna get a job?"
She shakes it, flips it over for the answer.
Cannot predict now.