-Chapter 3: Westforth Clinic and Dr. Strauss-

The Westforth Clinic was located at Westcliffs-on-Sea at the former Southend Maxim's Casino and adjoining Genting Club. Both had gone out of business during a particularly nasty financial crisis, and had ironically been bought out by a medical concern which had been treating the very type of people that casino had been busy creating.

The clinic's director was Dr. Ellington Strauss.

Dr. Strauss had been living in Westcliffs-on-Sea for about twenty years. He'd spent the first five years of his medical training in the field of dentistry, wanting to hang a shingle in the family business. But a year before he was slated to graduate, his friend Peter's son Richard had lost his life to a heroin addiction. Watching his friend's subsequent deterioration, Ellington was determined to help him.

The more he looked for ways to help his friend, the more he ran into people who either meant well and had no idea what they were doing, or straight up dog-and-pony quack-salvers.

On the other hand, he had learned from talking to his friend and the other clients at many of the better locations which treatments worked and didn't work for them. And in the end, he had realized that he wanted to go into the field of drug rehabilitation psychology to try to put what he had learned to good use.

On this particular morning, the current residents were taking breakfast in the cafeteria.

The felt had been removed from the card tables, and the tops had been stained a deep shade of pine to match the legs.

The large croupier's booth had been converted to a mini kitchen where a small fridge held the milks, creamers, sugars and Stevia, as well as clotted cream and preserves for the tea and scones that were served at breakfast and elevens.

Dr. Strauss had always believed that setting up a positive daily routine was a great foundation for those who truly wanted to move away from drugs.

Most of the day wasn't overly structured. He felt it important to encourage his guests to find their strengths and talents and to build their days according to them. This was, he felt, more conducive to a full recovery than having someone else pick out what they thought might work.

"Good morning, Rita," he said to a slightly chunky girl of about eighteen, "plain scone this morning? Or is that cinnamon?"

"It's only plain until I put the clotted cream on," Rita laughed. "Jacaranda got the last cinnamon scone again."

"When you get stuck with a name like Jacaranda," a tall, wiry girl who was also about eighteen said, taking a bite of her scone, "you take all the victories you can get."

Three boys, ages fifteen to nineteen, joined them.

The oldest boy sprinkled a bit of Stevia into his tea, in contradiction to which he nearly drowned his raisin scone in clotted cream. "Morning, all."

"Morning, Greg," Jacaranda waved her scone to him.

"The last cinnamon again?" Greg asked. "Hey, does anyone else here remember what cinnamon scones taste like? Lucas, what about you?"

Lucas shook his head. "I didn't realize they still made scones like that."

"What's a scone?" asked the youngest boy there, a seventeen-year-old boy with the misfortune of having a Ghostbusters' fan for a mom and an uncle named Skyler.

"Oh come on, Egon Skyler Gray," Jacaranda said, relishing the name which was the only one there worse than hers. "You know what a scone is. You've seen them in picture books."

"Hey, Egon, have you heard?" Lucas said. "You're not gonna be…"

"Going to be," Dr. Strauss corrected him. "Remember, a proper vocabulary…"

"... is an important foundation for a proper life." they group recited together.

"You're not going to be our Little One anymore. We got one coming in today who's only sixteen. That beats you by a year."

"So, when…?"

"He'll be arriving at processing in an hour," Dr. Strauss told them. "So we'll have our morning meeting just a little late so that he can participate."

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