A mere chuckle
Trying to stand, the EMT stopped me. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Looking over at him, I had thought it obvious. “Over to the ambulance. You said a trip to the ER was in order. I can’t disagree with that.”
“Sit back down, we’ll bring a gurney over for you. I think you earned a bit of a free ride.”
It was then I looked over and saw a gurney being loaded into one of the ambulances. Brett lay on his side, the white picket fence still protruding from his eye. The others looked over as they saw what attracted my attention. “Oh man, that’s gotta hurt.” Donny muttered. “Is that Brett?”
“Yeah, that part was an accident. One of the neighbors tripped him as he was rushing me. I was holding the piece of wood. Hoping for a bit of protection. He fell face first onto it. Sort of pierced his eyeball. He twitched for quite a while.” An involuntary shiver came over me. “It was pretty gross.”
Mac took over. Talking to the EMT and fireman, “Look, guys, they don’t appear to be seriously injured. I need a couple minutes alone with my man here. Can you give us a bit of privacy?”
The two were a bit taken aback, but then Mac pulled that badge out again and showed it to them. Standing, they both walked over to the ambulance. Mac kneeled down in front of me. “Dennis, we have to go over this again. Any possible contamination? Any way anyone might have felt something from you in this incident?”
“Mac, my gift had nothing to do with what happened here tonight. We came up to the door and I could see it was ajar. I did feel the man, his anger. Murderous anger. But he was parked in that white Gremlin a few houses down the road. I kept Katy from opening the door, and pulled her backwards away from it.”
One of the firemen ran up to us then. “Look, we need to know. Does the house have gas?”
Katy now responded. “Yes, a gas stove, water heater and forced air gas heater. Was the gas what caused the explosion?”
“Probably. We need to turn the gas off. We can’t see the gas meter. Is it in back?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
And he trotted off. Mac looked pleased. Those furrows lessened. “Then what happened?”
“We were in the middle of the yard. I tossed a shoe at the door and the house blew up. Fuck man, that was not what I was expecting to happen. I stood up, he tried to run me over. Then the neighbors came and as he attacked me, well, that happened.”
“So nothing to do with the gift. Other than that you felt Brett a distance away from you?”
“Nope. Not this time.”
Directing his attention to Katy, “Katy, is that how you remember it?”
Shaking her head. “No, I was unconscious for a minute. I think anyway. I sort of came to, then stood up as the attack was going on. But other than that. Yeah. My house. Mac, Granpa, I love that house.”
Happy hugged her tightly, “I know honey. But you’re alive. The house can be rebuilt, you’re not hurt. It could have been horrific.” And then he reached over and grasped my hand. “Thank you Dennis, thank you for saving my little baby girl.”
Donny and Pete seemed to simultaneously express their gratitude as well. From Donny, it was sincere. Of course I felt nothing from the others, barely aware of their words.
I tried to stand up, I failed. Mac signaled the EMTs and they wheeled over a couple gurneys. Just then there was a screeching of brakes and a car pulled to a halt in the middle of the road, very nearly knocking down the policeman standing in the roadway with arms extended upward. Jaime jumped out of the car and dodged the policeman and ran over to where we were. "Baby! Baby! Are you all right?" She kneeled down between Katy and I, where there was barely enough room. Sitting sort of on my right hip, I began to realize my ribs and hip were damaged as well. The pain was pretty intense. It blots out what Jaime is saying.
Moments later, she turns around, crushing that hip even more. Sticking a finger in my face, she begins. "And you! I'm going to kill you myself." lowering her voice, "You're just lucky there are cops around here. What did you do to my little girl."
"Mom, mom." Came the plaintiff cry from Katy. "Mom, Denny saved my life. I'd be dead right now if he hadn't seen the door wasn't latched. He saved me."
Turning back and forth from her daughter to me, back and forth again. She grabbed me around my chest and hugged me tight. "Ohhhhhh, crap. Jaime, please, the ribs."
"Oh God, I'm so sorry."
"Okay, we need to get in here and take these two over to the ER. So everyone back up and let us do our job." Came from the EMT that had administered to me.
In a fluid movement that hurt a lot, I stood. "Look we're both mobile, neither of us needs to be on a backboard. We can get up on the gurneys and get in a more comfortable position, something better than lying on our backs."
The pair looked at each other, the one spoke. "You examined them, okay with you?"
My guy nodded, and I walked over to the gurney and slid onto it. I was tall, it was butt height. I sat up straight. Jaime, Happy, Mac and the other EMT helped Katy stand then picked her up and got her onto the other gurney. I wasn't about to lie flat on my back. Thankfully they understood and raised the backs of the gurneys for us to sit sort of upright. Still banding was required and they fastened the straps to hold us onto the gurneys. A necessary yet silly gesture.
Rolling us over to the ambulance that remained, another firetruck pulled up just then. That deep rumble of the diesel melded with the roar of the pumper still pouring water out onto the flames, still visible through the windows and door. Mac brought my pants and shoes over to the ambulance. Placing them into a bag just for that purpose given to him by the EMT tech, he seemed oddly pleased. Perhaps because of the lack of contamination.
Then a thought hit me. Perhaps because of the distance involved in my feeling Brett. For our work, I began to realize just how important that would be. Bouncing a bit, they put both of our gurneys into one ambulance. Jamie tried to get in the ambulance and she was stopped by Mac. Pointing toward her car, he implored her to just follow, as would they.
A policeman came over and told us that we would be interviewed at the hospital. Safety first, concerns about the integrity of our bodies was more important than the why this had happened. However they should have had a pretty good idea as to the why from the neighbors. The man attacked me after trying to run me over with his Gremlin. As I thought about it, Brett must have been on the lowest stages of despair. Divorce from a rich wife, driving a Gremlin. I had no car, but I would never buy a Gremlin. That’s about as low as one can get. Well, maybe a Pinto.
The drive to the ER was bumpy, loud and not what I thought an ambulance drive would be like. Damaged humans shouldn’t be in a big vehicle that rode that rough. It was what it was though and after a precariously painful ride, we arrived at the ER. The staff at the hospital was nice enough to put us into adjoining spaces and draw back the curtain between us. As the attendants gave the information to the ER staff, they prepped our arms and put in the obligatory IV’s with saline. Readying us for other meds should they be deemed necessary. Clothes removed, gowns attached, we became cognizant patients, gazing at each other over the space between us. 'I love you' I silently mouthed at her, and watched as she smiled broadly.
With Mac flashing his badge, the five of them entered our curtained area. Jaime stood next to Katy and held her hand as we waited several minutes for the attending physician to arrive. Once there, he looked at the charts that had suddenly appeared at the end of each bed. He approached me first. All I did was point over at Katy.
“I don’t think so. Dennis, right?” I nodded. “You were hit by a car. Is that correct?”
“Well, I tried to jump over it, but yeah, I wasn’t in good enough shape to make it high enough. So yeah, he hit my legs. They’re pretty long.”
“And you were standing in front of a house that blew up. Dennis, you go first.”
Not much I could say to get him to look at Katy first.
“Dennis, my name is Doctor Brian Johnson, and I think that before we do much of anything else, we want to get some films taken. Is it just your legs?
“No.” I told him. “My ribs, hips and legs all have some damage.”
“See, that was easy. Now I can take a look at your young friend here. We’ll talk more once we see more of what’s going on inside. You seem bright and aware of everything, so for now, I’ll defer to what the EMTs told me about your condition.” Then he lowered his voice a bit leaning toward me. “And you just picked her up and carried her?”
“Yeah, probably not a good idea in retrospect. But she isn’t very big.”
Shaking his head in that same manner that Mac does when I say or do something oddly not in conformance to societal standards, he walked over and picked up Katy’s chart. I didn’t get to see what transpired as two techs came in and began to wheel me off to Xray for pictures.
It had been nearly an hour since the explosion. The adrenalin had worn off, the shock of the events had left, the pain now was the dominating theme of my consciousness. Pictures. Yeah, that’s just a weird way of saying let’s move you around and stick this cold frame of film under you as we have you not breathe for seconds that seemed eternities.
Wheeled back to the ER, I was placed once again in the double curtained area. Katy was gone, I assumed for her own sets of pictures. The five hangers on stood around in the enclosed space, wanting to be helpful, but with nothing to offer. Here anyway.
Mac looked at me. “How are you doing Dennis?”
“Words can’t describe what’s happening to me Mac. I hurt all over. Katy, well, Mac, I can’t even imagine what’s going through her mind right now. Did I cause this? Would this have happened if I didn’t try what I did this afternoon?”
Thinking about that a moment, Mac lowered his voice and leaned next to my ear. "Jaime has no idea what took place earlier. Let's not alarm her anymore than what's needed about this evening." Straitening back up, he continued. "This man has been a thorn in Katy's side for a long time. This incident, it's just another in a long line of things the man has done. What brought about this, this total unhingement from reality is something we'll never understand. Dennis. We're just lucky that you were with Katy this evening. That's what we need to remember."
Jaime then walked over and took hold of my hand. The pain was great within me, but the compassion and gratitude came through from her. "Dennis, I want to thank you for what you did tonight. Saving my baby girl, well, thank you. Now, what happened this afternoon?" and her demeanor turned cold, decisive, chillingly protective. The grasp on my hand turned to a vise-like grip, crushing it with strength only a mother in fear for her daughter could produce.
Rushing over to save my hand from being added to the list of injuries, Mac grasped hers and held it until she relaxed her grip. "Let's go outside and talk about it. Away from," Then Mac used his one free hand to point in a circle around us. "We can talk alone for a minute."
Dropping my hand, Jaime scowled at me. "This isn't over young man. I'll be right back."
Happy, Mac and she walked out of the curtained area. Donny came over to me and leaned close, "What happened this afternoon?"
It would appear they were not yet privy to events from earlier. Lowering my voice, they both came close to the bed to hear me. "We were at a restaurant, Brett was there. He wanted to kill her. I used, you know, and turned his mind away from anger. I had no idea it wouldn't last long."
"Wow. We've got a lot to talk about when you're up to it man. God, you were right in front of the house when it blew up. Shit, you're lucky you're both still alive man." Donny was amazed. Him, I could feel.
Pete just looked at me. Shaking his head. "Bet you never thought hooking up with Katy would end with you nearly getting blown to Kingdom Come?"
"I wonder what Stevie's going to think." I asked them.
And the two burst out in laughter. Donny quickly added. "The guy's kinda scared of Jaime as it is, I can't imagine how he would've handled this."
"Oh guys, don't make me laugh, it hurts pretty badly."
And their laughter reduced to a mere chuckle.