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Distant Shore

An Emergency Story by

Susie
 

 

Every day I swim an ocean, fightin your memory like endless waves

I surrender to the truth, I'll always love you, but I know someday

I'm gonna reach the banks of a distant shore, where I won't miss you anymore

 

Once in a while I ride the river, of whiskey wishes from an old shot glass

But the way it used to be follows me downstream, so I keep knockin em back

Till I reach the banks of a distant shore, where I won't miss you anymore

 

Someday I'm gonna get there, It might take my last prayer

 

One of these days I'm gonna cross that ocean, some sweet angel will set me free

And they'll tell my stories, sing a song about glory, and read Psalm 23

When I reach the banks of that distant shore, where I won't miss you anymore

 

Gonna rest my soul in the hands of the lord, where I won't miss you anymore

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Roy walked into the crowded courtroom. Today would be the day to find John’s innocence. Guilty or not guilty. Roy had testified, but it didn’t do much. It was though, the first time in a long time he had seen John cleaned up. In fact the first time he’d seen him after the accident.

“We the jury find the defendant John Roderick Gage…”

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John and Roy walked into the hospital. The run had been nothing. Since Susie’s death, John became quiet, too quiet. Unless he spoke about a patient, he didn’t say much. The harder runs were getting to him. Infact, he thought of quitting, but said nothing to no one.

They walked to the desk. “I thought you guys left minutes ago?” Dixie asked as they walked to the desk.

“Dr. Morton wanted to see us.” Roy told her.

“What was it this time?” She asked.

“An IV.”

Dixie looked at John. “So Johnny, I haven’t seen you around lately, how’s Kelly?” She asked the younger paramedic.

“Fine.” He looked at Roy. “I’ll be in the squad.”

He walked out the squad as Roy and Dixie talked. A few minutes later Roy joined him.

Roy began pulling out of the parking lot.

 “Roy wait.” John stated.

Roy pulled into a parking space.

“I don’t blame you. It’s that since I came back some people have given me a time table to move on. I’m not ready. Everywhere I go there she is reminding me.”

Roy looked at John. “I have no idea what you are going through, and maybe on some level I don’t want to. I’m not giving you a time table. I liked Susie a lot, hell we all did. If you need to talk to someone I’m here day or night, but you need to talk to someone, keeping all that bottled up inside you isn’t good for anybody.”

A few minutes later they were back at the station.

Chet Kelly looked at John. “Hey made your favorite, best chili in the fire service pal.” He told him.

John gave a little smile. “No thanks, Chet.”

He walked back to the locker room, and opened his locker. Inside he pulled out a hidden flask, and took a drink. He quickly hid it again. He walked back out to the kitchen. He sat down on the couch and began watching TV.

The alarm rang out.

“Squad 51, Man injured. 1133 Eleanor Drive. 1-1-3-3 Eleanor Drive. Cross Street Tyson. Time out 10:10.”

Roy and John began making their way to the scene.

When they arrived on the scene, a man was lying on his front lawn. Catching the glimpse of a little girl John became nervous. Noticing the scene, Roy began helping John get the equipment. He knew what John was thinking it wasn’t the patient, but the little girl watching. Together they could get the patient stable.

 “Please help my dad, he’s all I got.” The little girl told John.

“Were going to do everything we can.” He said looking at the victim.

They began hooking up their equipment and getting vitals. The whole time John kept from looking at the little girl, knowing it would mentally break him down. She needed reassurance her father was going to be ok.

“Rampart, this is squad 51.” Roy stated.

“Go ahead 51.” Dixie told him.

“We have a male patient approx. age 36. Victim may have a heart related problem. Stand by for vitals.”

He looked at John, and noticed something unusual. The seasoned paramedic had already pumped the BP cuff 3 times trying to get a reading. Thinking nothing of it he started taking the pulse and respirations. Maybe he couldn’t hear with all the noise going on? It happened all the time. He would find it.

“Here.” Roy lifted the stethoscope from his chest, and began taking the BP.

“Rampart, the BP is 80/60. The pulse is 140. Respirations 16. The patient also has one arm swelled. The skin is cool and clammy, slightly pale.”

“Squad 51, start IV D5W TKO followed by ringers lactate. Send me and EKG strip.” Dr. Brackett ordered.

 

John began getting the IV out of the drug box, as Roy began looking up the heart monitor, he noticed John fumbling for supplies, but never said a word. He knew what he was thinking about the little girl watching said it all.

“Roy, I can’t find a vein.” John told him.

“Here. I’ll get it. You follow up with Rampart.”

Roy and John traded places. John looked on helpless. The EKG began reading out the heart rhythm.

“Rampart, victim is in sinus rhythm. BP is also up.” He looked to Roy for confirmation.

“10-4, 51 transport as soon as possible.”

The little girl looked at John. “Is my daddy going to be ok?”

“He’s going to be fine. See the ambulance is here, and were going to take him to the hospital.” John told her.

John led Roy to the ambulance. A few minutes later he and the little girl left in the squad. As the sirens began wailing out so did the little girl.

“Sweetheart, your dad’s going to be fine. Good as new. Trust me. I’m going to make him better, I promise.”

How he kept from almost crying himself he didn’t know. He stared straight ahead at the ambulance. It was the only thing that calmed his nerves. They finally reached the hospital. There he could finally think about something else.

John scooped up the little girl, carried her into the emergency entrance, as Roy began getting the patient out of the ambulance. As long as he focused on something other than the little girl he was fine. She began to whimper as her father disappeared into a treatment room. She began holding on tighter to John.

“He’ll be just fine. The doctors will make him better.” He looked at the little girl. “Would you like to see my little girl?” He asked.

“You have a little girl?”

“Kelly. That’s what her mommy named her.”

He held her hand, and led her to the elevator. Walking into the nursery, children were running around playing. For a moment it made John smile. The little girl retreated into John’s arms. He walked into a room with several cribs. There he found Kelly playing with a little doll.

Kelly looked at him, and grinned. “Hi, sweetie pie.” He looked at the little girl. “See this is my little girl.”

“Can I play with her?” She asked.

“Sure.”

The intercom went off.

 “Fireman Gage to base station. John Gage to base station.” Someone said.

He looked at the little girl.

“I’ve godda go. Take care of her for me, will ya?”

He walked out to the doorway, and glanced back. Both girls were keeping each other well entertained. Kelly began laughing, something she hadn’t done in months. He gave his crooked little smile, and walked out. Walking to the base station he relived the moment in his mind.

Roy looked at him. “Hey, we got a response. Woman down.”

They ran to the squad, and began making their way to the scene. A few minutes later the response was cancelled. John became quiet once again. He knew he was in deep thought. John had always been kinda quiet, but since Susie’s death he’d reverted inward more than before. A few minutes later they were back at the station.

John walked into the locker room. He sat down on the bench. Pulling out his wallet he found a picture of Susie and Kelly together.

“God, I miss you.” He said out loud.

Roy walked into the locker room; he too sat on the bench.

“Anything you wanna talk about?” He asked.

John glanced at him. “Not really.”

“I’ll be in the kitchen if you do.” Roy told him.

John looked around, opened his locker, and found the flask once again. He took a drink and shoved it back into his locker.

The alarm rang out again. John and Roy ran to the squad.

“Squad 51, woman difficult breathing. 1515 Townhouse Road. 1-5-1-5 Townhouse Road. Cross Street Isom. Time out 13:12.”

A few minutes later they were at the scene.

 “Fire Department.” Roy yelled.

A woman began screaming. They kicked in the door and ran inside. A pregnant woman was lying on the floor.

“Are you in labor?” Roy asked.

“You…bet…I…am.” The woman replied.

 “What’s your name?” John asked the lady.

“Rebecca Conner.”

“Is this your first?” Roy asked.

“Yes.”

Both John and Roy looked at each other. They contacted Rampart and began delivering the baby. A few minutes later the baby began crying.

“It’s a girl.” John told the woman.

They woman passed out.

“Hey.” John began shaking the woman. He looked Roy in the eyes. “I can’t get a pulse.”

Roy looked confused. “What?”

“I can’t find a pulse.”

John began doing CPR, as Roy went for more equipment. Frantically, Roy handed the defibrillator paddles to John.

“Clear.” John called out.

“Nothin’.” Roy hit the button again. “Hit her again.”

 “Clear.”

“Nothin’.” Roy grabbed the biophone. “Rampart, the victim has not converted. 2 amps Sodium Bicarb followed by a Lidocane drip 10-4.”

They worked quickly to try and bring the woman back to life.

“Nothin’. Hit her one more time. Roy told him.

 “Clear.”

“Rampart the victim is now flatlined. Continuing CPR.”

They put the woman into the awaiting ambulance, and began rushing her to the hospital. John kept trying everything in his power to keep her alive. They both knew the outcome. She was gone. A child would not have a mother.

She was already gone. They pulled into the emergency entrance. John took the child as Roy took in the mother. As they stepped out of the treatment room a young man ran in. Each one looked at each other.

 “Where’s my wife?” He asked. “She was having our baby.”

Dr. Brackett pulled the stethoscope from his neck. “I’m sorry, but she’s gone son.”

“And the baby?” He asked.

“In the nursery.”

As the man ran to the elevator John ran outside. Everyone looked at each other knowing what was going through his mind. They also knew the fragility of life, but today it close to home. No one knew what the man and John’s minds. For John it brought back all the recent memories.

Roy gave him a minute and walked out to the squad. John had been crying. Roy never said a word. The entire trip he sat staring at the floorboard. Roy knew better than to talk to him. He might get blamed for Susie’s death all over again.

Before he could get the squad backed into the station, John was already out, walking to the locker room. He grabbed his keys, and ran to his car. He got in and started the engine. He just sat there, alone. No one bothered him. They knew not to.

The shift left John to himself. They knew better. It would only make things worse. Almost every shift brought another memory of her along. Roy opened the door.

Roy looked at him. “You better be glad the captain didn’t come out here.”

John had been drinking. Somewhere in the car he had hid a bottle. Roy had no idea that John had resorted to alcohol to cope. Now he knew. All the signs were there.

“I’m calling Joanne to come and get you.” Roy told him.

John grabbed the door, slammed the car into reverse, and sped out of the parking lot. The crew ran outside. At the moment Roy didn’t know what to do. Tell the captain? Have the police track him down?

“What the heck got into him?” The Captain asked.

“Johnny wasn’t feeling well. That last run really got to him.”

Roy’s face turned white. He knew he’d just lied. Captain Stanley needed to know what was going on. John could hurt himself or someone else. He walked inside and called the police. They would now be on the lookout for him, only if the squad wasn’t called first. Roy knew the dangers of drunk driving; he’d seen it all the time. Now it was beyond his control. John would have to face that danger.

Captain Stanley put the squad out of service. Roy told the others to look for him after their shifts, but Roy probably knew where he was. He’d gone to a bar and gotten drunker. Looking for several hours he and the guys finally went home.

Still in his uniform John had a seat on a stool. He felt even ashamed for walking in. He sat there looking at the floor until the bar maid came to him.

“You look like you could use a drink.” She told him.

“You might say. I’ll take that bottle of Jack back there.” He told her.

“I’m not supposed to but, if you won’t say anything neither will I."

She handed him the bottle. He took the cork out and drank down half the bottle, and staggered to a seat. Close to an hour later the bar maid walked over to the table.

Roy made it home. Joanne met him at the door.

“Did you find him?” She asked.

“No luck.”

“Well I picked up Kelly. I guess were about the only one’s Johnny will trust with her. Roy, I know he’s been through a lot, but this is way out of character even for him. This has got to stop before something else happens.”

“I don’t think that’s what he wants to hear right now.”

“If he doesn’t come back soon I’ll have to call the police about Kelly.”

Roy looked at Joanne. “Just let me find him first. I’m about the only one he’ll listen to.”

John grabbed the bottle and staggered outside. Just a year earlier the thought of a bar would have been the furthest thing from his mind. He had seen many places like this. Pulling old drunks out and the occasional bar fight. But not on the receiving end of the bar.

He looked at the mirrored glass on the door. He had turned into someone no one recognized, not even himself. He took one last drink from the bottle and threw it against the door. He fished into his pocket and got his keys.

 

Both Joanne and Roy stayed up all night watching Kelly, thinking that maybe, just maybe he would come back. As the sun rose Roy began getting ready for work.

“I got Kelly down.” Joanne told him.

“When we’re not getting responses I’ll try and look for him.”

A few minutes later Roy left for work, and Joanne went back to sleep. Sometime that afternoon the front door flew open, and someone stomped through the house.

“Joanne! Joanne!”

She got out of bed and ran into the living room.

“Johnny! I’m glad you came back. Listen I’ve got Kelly.”

“Where is she?” He demanded.

She tried to stop John. “I can’t let you take that child you might hurt her or yourself.”

John pushed her into the floor, stammered into her bedroom, and grabbed Kelly.

He looked at her. “You and Roy need to stay out of my life!”

He kicked the door open, ran out to his car and drove away as Kelly began screaming.

A few minutes later Roy arrived.

“Joanne.” He called out.

Joanne began crying herself. “I’m right here.”

“Oh, honey did he hurt you?”

“Oh Roy, I tried to stop him I really did. He took Kelly and left.”

“Did he say where he was goin’?”

“No just stormed out of here. I can still hear that babies cry.”

“I’m calling the police.”

Everyone began looking for John. By sunset he had crossed the Nevada line. Anywhere was better than LA. The only stop he made was for more whiskey. He just kept driving.

For a minute he looked into the rear view mirror. He saw Kelly sleeping. It reminded him of Susie, the peaceful complexion she always had. It took his eyes off the road for only a minute. Looking back onto the highway he saw an eighteen wheeler coming into his lane.

He served to miss it and rammed into a hillside. The car bounced right into the path of the truck. The glass shattered. The world went silent, not one sound. The night still. Just two vehicles on the same piece of highway.

John woke up on the floorboard. He looked up at the stars shinning. The cool desert air was coming through the shattered windshield. It began waking him. Getting free he noticed blood everywhere.

He looked into the backseat. He had to think for a moment Kelly was with him. He began reaching for her injuring himself once more. He freed the remnants of her car seat. A little shoe fell into the crumbled glass.

 

He got her and himself onto the shoulder of the highway. He fell into darkness. The midnight sky told the tale, crystal clear. Someone was going to join them. It also told they were alone.

John woke up once again. At first he was unsure how he’d got there, but then glanced at the car. He looked down at Kelly, then back at the scene. He wasn’t thinking of being a paramedic or a father, just leaving the scene. Something made him pick up Kelly. He began rocking her back and forth.  He wasn’t sure if she was alive, and didn’t want to think she wasn’t. Suddenly sirens came from the horizon. John just kept looking at Kelly. He sat there numb. What made him do this horrible thing? How could he kill someone?

A Fireman took Kelly from his arms, and began rushing her to the hospital. The police took John into custody, and placed him into the back of patrol car. John looked on as the firemen pulled the other victim out of the truck. They placed a blanket over the driver. It was a sign that he had affected more than just his family. An innocent person lost their life to a senseless selfish act, a drunk driver.

 

 

 

 The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

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