911, What is Your Emergency?

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“911, What is Your Emergency?”

“As you all know, one of our own has a big event coming up this week. Reece Anderson is completing his probationary period and will become a full-fledged member of our team this Friday.”

Everyone in the house stood and clapped. Some whistled and there were calls for, “Speech, speech” followed by, “Yeah, but make it a short one!” The other EMTs laughed as Reece stood up. The captain motioned for him to come up front so in spite of his overall shyness, Reece stood next to his boss.

“Thanks, everybody. I appreciate how everyone here has helped me learn the ropes. The captain took a chance on me and helped me get into the training pipeline after my mom passed away last year. Most of you know I was in my junior year of college kind of lost my way and then dropped out. I was really floundering until Ken over there…” Reece stopped to point to his primary trainer, Ken Fernandez, “talked me into looking into EMT certification. The captain agreed to sponsor me and the rest is…”

The applause was cut short when the PA system blared. “Unit 3 respond. Multiple car accident with injuries the intersection of Denny and Terry.” That was Reece’s team.

He grabbed his gear just as he’d rehearsed and done so many times before during the two months. In that short time, he’d already pretty much seen it all from fender benders to people incinerated inside a burning vehicle. On his second response, he’d witnessed a decapitation which was the result of a high-speed chase involving the police. The suspect darted in and out of traffic at very high speed and didn’t notice the 18-wheeler slowing in his latest new lane. The Mustang he was driving slammed into it doing well over 100mph. Chase threw up when he looked inside and saw the headless body in the passenger seat. Since then, nothing had gotten to him like that but it was still difficult to see any accident that involved children or fire. This one sounded like it might be bad.

As they arrived on scene, Reece noticed a silver sedan that had been T-boned by a white pickup truck at the worst intersection in the city. A police officer was attending to someone in the sedan while it appeared the driver of the pickup truck was standing next to it apparently unharmed. He couldn’t see her face but she didn’t appear to be seriously injured. Since he was still technically on probation, Reece was assigned to the pickup while Ken and another team member attended to the sedan.

He grabbed his gear and ran toward the small, older looking F-150. The passenger was a woman who appeared to be in her early ’30s. A uniformed officer had her blowing into a breathalyzer. She was clearly distraught and Reece heard her saying, “I didn’t see them. They just came out of nowhere. Is everyone okay?”

“Ma’am, I just need you to blow into the breathalyzer for me. We have EMTs on scene attending to the other vehicle’s passengers.”

“Is there anything I can do, officer?” Reece asked her.

“She’s got a nasty gash in her forehead but otherwise seems okay. I can’t say for sure I’m guessing she’s well over the legal limit. She better hope no one in that other car dies or she could be looking at serious jail time.”

“Okay, let me know when you’re done so I can treat her.”

The woman finished with the breathalyzer which the officer took from her. “Go ahead. You can took a look at her now.”

Anderson took a few steps and came up behind the woman. “Ma’am. I’m here to help you. Are you okay?”

When she turned around, he didn’t immediately recognize her. There was a considerable amount of blood on her face and if it actually was her, he hadn’t seen her in years. But he couldn’t help but think that was her. “Ma’am? I need to take a look at that cut. Do you mind?”

She leaned against the banged up front of the vehicle as Anderson pulled on a pair of latex gloves. He saw the cut wasn’t deep but because there are so many capillaries in the face, any cut can bleed like hell, and this was one of them. He got out some alcohol wipes and began cleaning off her face. As the dried-on blood was cleared away he was struck by just how attractive she was and that’s when it hit him. “It’s just superficial, ma’am. You’re gonna be fine.” He put a small bandaid over the cut then asked, “Ma’am? Is your last name Kennedy by any chance?”

She was non-responsive at first then slowly looked up and said, “It used to be. That was my maiden name. Do we know each other?”

Reece could smell alcohol from two feet away. “I believe so. Did you used to work at Seattle Memorial Hospital?”

“Yes. I still do. Were you a patient of mine?”

Just then the uniformed officer stepped and said, “Is there anything seriously wrong with her in terms of injuries?” Reece shook his head and explained it was just a superficial cut from her head hitting something sharp like the buckle on the shoulder harness. He started to explain what he thought happened when the police said, “Okay, thanks. That’s all we need.” He pulled out his handcuffs and said, “Abigail Kennedy-Wilson, you’re under arrest for driving under the influence. Kartal Escort You have the right to remain silent…”

Anderson watched as she was put in the patrol car and driven off. As he stared at her face in the rear window, he began recalling how it was he knew her. She’d been so kind to him. In the background he overhead Ken and the others. It was the sound of the Jaws of Life that snapped him out of his trip down memory lane. He ran over to the sedan and said, “What’s the story here?”

He could see a woman in the front seat who appeared to be unconscious. Ken was working furiously to get the door off. He grunted, “White female, late ’30s to early ’40s took a direct hit to the driver’s side door. She’s breathing but unconscious. Multiple abrasions, possible internal bleeding.”

Fifteen minutes later, she was in a neck brace, on a gurney, and still unconscious as she was loaded into a waiting ambulance. Ken was pushing the gurney and Dale Jansen was bagging the woman. He couldn’t tell whether or not she was still breathing on her own.

______________________________________________________________________

“Where were you yesterday?” Reece asked weakly.

“I’m so sorry I wasn’t here but I had to take a day off, Reece. I got married,” she said with a subdued excitement. She’d been by the young boy’s side every day since he was admitted with kidney failure three weeks ago. He was scheduled for surgery the following morning and Abby Kennedy-now-Wilson had postponed her honeymoon so she could be there for him. He was too young to fully understand all of this, but he was still very brave for a 12-year old boy.

“You did?” he queried.

Abby showed him the big diamond ring on her finger and said, “Yes, I did. Is that okay with my favorite patient?”

Reece was exhausted. He was always exhausted. Just staying awake took all of his energy. But he thought Nurse Abby was the nicest person he’d ever known except for maybe his mom. “Oh, sure. Of course it’s okay. I should have known you have a boyfriend,” he managed to say.

“Really? Why is that, Reece?” she asked as she held his swollen hand.

He did his best to look at her as he tried to tell her, “Because you’re so pre…” Reece wasn’t able to finish his sentence. He couldn’t fight the heaviness in his eyelids any longer as he fell back into a deep sleep.

Abby woke him up at 2pm. It was time for his final dialysis before the surgery the next day. Three hours later, Reece’s blood was as clean as it could get and that wasn’t saying much considering how long he’d been living without a functioning kidney. He slept nearly all of the rest of the day and all night.

Abby was there at 5am to wake him up and at least try and get him to have a bowel movement before surgery—if there was anything for him to eliminate. Reece didn’t have much of an appetite, and he had wasted away over the last several months. Even so, what remained of him was bloated because of his body’s inability to get rid of excess fluids. She held one puffy hand as his mom held the other when they wheeled him in for surgery at 6am. “You’re going to be just fine, Reece,” Abby told him.

“I love you, honey!” his mom told him as she kissed his forehead. “I’ll be right there when you wake up, okay?”

“Okay,” he mumbled. He turned his eyes toward Abby and said, “Will you be there, too?”

She was supposed to start her honeymoon that afternoon. Her shift ended at 10am and she had a 2pm flight for the Poconos. As the charge nurse, she’d made sure she was on duty when Reece went in for surgery. A delay would mean changing tickets and cost her and her new husband several hundred dollars they didn’t have. Even so, she knew she couldn’t abandon him. “Yes. I’ll be there too, Reece.”

“Promise?” he managed to say.

“I promise,” she said as she squeezed his hand a final time.

When he woke up around noon in the ICU, both his mom and his favorite nurse where there just as they’d both promised. Abby left an hour later and when she returned the following week, the young boy was out of the hospital and on his way to a full recovery. His body tolerated the new kidney quite well and it began doing its job immediately. Within two days all of the swelling was gone and his appetite was back. After five days, he was feeling stronger and was well enough to go home. Abby’d never seen him again after that.

____________________________________________________________________________

“Come on, Abby! You can’t sit home again and watch some sad movie again. The trial’s over and Eddy’s in jail. There’s no reason for you to sit around and sulk. Let’s get out and have some fun for a change!”

She loved Gayle dearly, but Abby had no interest in going to some bar and trying to get picked up but some drunk stranger. She spent so much time at the hospital the little bit of time she had to herself was precious. Besides, she had laundry to do, groceries to buy, and a ton of errands to run. There was no time to kill an entire evening drinking and the next morning recovering from a Tuzla Escort hangover. And frankly, she didn’t have the money to spend on drinks and dinner. Eddy’s secret life had cost them everything they had and then some.

Eddy. She’d been so smitten with him and against her better judgment and the warnings from her friends, Abby had trusted him completely. She knew she shouldn’t, but he was just so different from all the other guys she’d dated—fellow nurses, a couple of doctors, and even a very nice guy who as a pharmacist. But Eddy was…dangerous. He was everything Abby wasn’t. He had that forlorn James Dean kind of look to him. Not just the dangerous thing but he looked…sad. Handsome but somehow sad. Like the late actor, Eddy had a motorcycle and he liked to ride it—very fast. Abby felt so alive when she was with him. Her life at the hospital was interesting and she genuinely loved helping people—especially children—but it was mostly routine and quite often—dull.

How could she know the car repair shop Eddy owned was a front he used to launder the real money he made selling drugs? How could she know her husband was a real-life version of Walter White from the hit TV show Breaking Bad? Eddy was moving nearly 20 pounds of meth a week in and around the Seattle-Tacoma area and all the way down to Portland, Oregon and up into British Columbia in Canada. His arrest a year ago came as a total and complete shock to her as it did to their neighbors in the quaint Seattle suburb where they lived.

During the trial, all of the details came out. The drugs, the money, the other women. His secret life; a secret he’d kept from her completely for just over seven years. She’d never heard the term “RICO” before but after everything they’d jointly owned was confiscated by the government, she became intimately familiar with it. A judge left her with the assets she’d brought into the marriage which amounted to about $10,000. The nice home, the two cars, and nearly all of their furniture was taken. She’d even been forced to get rid of her wedding ring to pay the first and last month’s rent on a modest little apartment in a part of town that made her very uncomfortable.

Since then, she’d lived alone in a small place a block from Seattle Memorial. She walked to and from and kept her expenses to a minimum. As a registered nurse, she made fairly decent money, but it was only enough to pay for her apartment and living expenses as lawyers and other creditors kept hammering day in and day out for more money. She was now less than four months from turning 37 years old and all alone.

Abby had told her girlfriends ‘no’ every time they’d asked her to go out and let off some steam. She’d done the same tonight but after thinking about all of this…shit…for the umpteenth time, she called Gayle back and said, “You know what, I could use a night out. Can you come by and pick me up?”

She and Gayle had dinner at a nice restaurant because her friend agreed to pick up the tab. They’d each had two glasses of wine before they went to Gayle’s favorite bar and started shooting tequila. Abby only had three more drinks but Gayle was completely wasted.

When they left, Abby insisted on driving because Gayle was so out of it. She thought she was fine but she had had five drinks in just over two hours. Then again, Gayle had had three more than her so there was no way she could drive her old pickup truck. Abby dropped her friend off at her apartment and briefly thought about staying overnight but Gayle told her she could take the truck home and bring it back the next day.

Abby didn’t even see the red light when she drove straight through the intersection and slammed into the small sedan. The momentum of the truck shoved the little car completely out of its lane and had completely caved in the driver’s door. Abby knew she was beyond the legal limit and she was scared. When the preliminary results of the breathalyzer came back, she had every reason to be. She blew a 0.15 which was almost twice the legal limit. What was left of her world began to fall apart as the police officer handcuffed her and read her her rights.

The following morning, Abby met her court-appointed attorney, a frail little man named Saul Levinsky. He informed her the passenger in the sedan had died from her injuries and that the state was charging her with vehicular homicide. There would be a bail hearing at 10am. Abby was now stone-cold sober and this news sent her into shock. She was unable to think or feel anything but fear. She sat alone in her cell staring into space until the guard came to get her.

Bail was set at $100,000 and Abby didn’t have 10% of that to post so she sat in jail awaiting trial. To add insult to injury, her union rep showed up that afternoon and informed that the hospital was suspending her without pay. He said he was sorry as hell, thought it was a dirty deal since she hadn’t been convicted of anything, and promised the union would fight her dismissal. For now, though, she had no job and no source of income.

Later that night, it all came crashing down on her. Anadolu Yakası Escort Abby felt the first tears fall followed by the deepest of sobs. That’s when she learned there was no sympathy in jail. Two very large, very intimidating women told her to shut the fuck up. They then went into a tirade about jail, life in prison, and the need to be strong. They told her in no uncertain terms what weakness meant and how it was dealt with. Abby managed to stop crying, but the tears were replaced with a fear she’d never known. She literally shivered as she thought about life in a state penitentiary. At some point, she finally managed to fall asleep but woke up exhausted a few hours later. To her deep chagrin, it hadn’t been a dream. She was still wearing prison orange and she was still surrounded by some of the loudest, meanest women she’d ever seen. “This must be the tenth circle of hell,” she thought sardonically. “No, that’s not true. This is ‘only’ jail. Prison must be worse than this,” she told herself although she still couldn’t realistically imagine how that might be so.

She met with her lawyer who began developing a strategy. Truth be told, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do for her. She was indeed well over the limit, she ran a red light and the event was caught on video. But the most damning aspect was that the other woman had died as a result. In her favor was the fact this was Abby’s first offense. She hadn’t even had a traffic ticket since high school. The only other hope she had was that King County, Washington, was one of the most liberal, progressive counties in America. If she drew the right judge for her trial, she could get off with probation. The wrong one could send her to prison for a very long time. More than likely, she would do some jail time followed by a period of probation. An outright acquittal was a virtual impossibility.

Abby agreed to waive her right to a jury trial and hoped against hope she might be assigned a judge who favored rehabilitation over prison. It was a huge roll of the dice because it really did all boil down to the luck of the draw. Two days later, she learned her case would be heard by Judge Hastert. He was most definitely not the progressive type, but he was also by no means a “hanging judge.” Saul told Abby she really was at the mercy of the court.

Abby elected to invoke her right to a speedy trial and the date was set for 75 days hence. She met with Saul several times, but he repeatedly told her there was very little he could do. He would demand to see calibration records on the breathalyzer used, he would look into any technical detail he could, but in the end she had very little control over her fate. She would dress modestly, present herself as a hardworking citizen who’d been a caring, concerned, registered nurse for many years, and express her deepest sorrow and regret for her actions.

About a week before the trial, Saul felt he’d finalized his list of character witnesses he wanted to call on Abby’s behalf. “Is there anyone else you can think of who could help our case?” he asked her.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought and the only other person I can think of is the EMT who showed up at the scene. But I don’t remember his name.”

“How could he help us, Abby? Did he see something you’re not telling me about?”

“No,” she replied. “But I’m almost certain he knows me from somewhere. It would at least be worth checking into it, don’t you think?”

“It couldn’t hurt, that’s for sure,” Saul told her. “You don’t know his name so describe him to me please.”

“He’s about 20-25, dark hair, maybe six feet tall, muscular, and for what’s it worth, very good looking.”

“I’m afraid his looks won’t do a thing for us at trial. The key is what he might have to say. I’ve gotta tell you it sounds like a long shot but I’ll check into it. Every person we get to testify as to your otherwise stellar character is a plus.” Saul reached into his briefcase and pulled out an envelope. “I’m sorry, Abby, but I’m the reluctant bearer of more bad news. Your landlord is evicting you. You’re now three months past due and we both knew this was coming so…”

Abby shook her head and said, “That’s okay, Saul. It’s not your fault. Besides, I’m not going to be needing an apartment anytime soon.”

Her attorney was going to upbraid her for being so negative but in his heart of hearts he knew she was right. If she got anything less than six months it would be a miracle. A year was a more likely sentence and two wasn’t out of the question. As the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, Saul Levinsky didn’t believe in miracles or even God. “Stay strong, Abby,” was all he said as he picked up his things and asked to be buzzed out.

Her mystery EMT was the last witness to be called on the second and final day of her trial. He was even more attractive than Abby remembered. He was wearing a suit and tie and Abby as she tried not to stare at him, it made her realize she hadn’t been with a man in a very long time. And this young man was just that—young. He was much too young for a woman her age but dreams and fantasies were the only things she had left so she let her mind wander if only for a moment. She also realized no guy in his right mind would date a convicted felon even if she were closer to his age. She was snapped out of her brief fantasy state when she heard him say, “I do” after being sworn in.

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