For those of you who are new: You are now reading an online serial pulp novel. If you didn’t start at the beginning, you may want to do so. Chapter 1:Â Down By The Bay. This serial is the sequel to my first novel, Oasis.
As always, I appreciate typo alerts.
Chapter 10 â€“ Red Highway
Everybody reacts differently to a crisis. Some people sob uncontrollably. Some people go into some degree of shock and freeze up. An awful lot of people become hyper suggestible. It stems from the fact that most folks have no idea what to do, but they know something needs to be done. All they need is someone to point them in the right direction.
And as it happens, I like telling people what to do.
I backed myself out of the car.
Over by the first victim I treated, things were going from bad to worse. The redhead was now standing between D and her brother. D was clenching his fists and getting in the redhead’s face. The little brother was crying. Two guys from the pileup mess took a step forward and looked like they might jump in if D hit the redhead. From their angle, they couldn’t see what I saw- D’s gun.
I glanced at the blue car. What do I do first?
Two of D’s friends were still looking through the shattered window at the last victim.
I pointed at one of them. “Hey, one of you two come here.”
They looked at me and then at each other.
“You. The one on the left.”
The one on the left pointed at himself. “Me?”
“Come over here and help.”
“What’s your name?”
“Ok, ‘um Jackson’ follow me.”
“Follow me and help me out for a minute.”
He didn’t look too sure about helping, but I didn’t care. The situation had to change or it would end in violence.
I didn’t wait to see if he would follow me. I just walked toward D and the redhead. “Hey, D! I’m going to need your help for a minute.”
D turned his head and glared at me. “I’m busy, fool.”
“I know, but your other friend, the one still in the back seat, she’s going to die unless we get her out and get her immobilized. The other guys aren’t a big as you. I need your muscle.”
“She already killed Tyrone and now she’s-”
“Every second you waste over here, you’re killing your other friend right now.”
D pointed a finger right in the redhead’s face. “Don’t go anywhere. I’m not finished with you.”
“Just give me a minute to tell your other buddy how to help this guy.”
D turned and stormed back toward the blue car. He was not looking stable. He smelled like he had been drinking. He looked like he was angry and scared and sick and embarrassed and confused all at once.
I leaned toward the redhead and lowered my voice. “Will your car still drive?”
She shook her head and pointed. “What do you think?”
The front end was mangled pretty bad where she had collided with the blue car.
“Get your brother and get in my Jeep over there. Keys are in the ignition. Wait for me, but if things go nuts, you just take off, got it?”
I turned back.
D was making a big deal about not looking at his dead friend. Jackson was finally making his way over.
“You know this guy?”
“Okay. Your job is to be his comfort. Just talk to him until more help gets here.”
“Talk about what?”
“Tell him he’s going to be okay. Tell him about the weather. Tell him about your mother. It doesn’t matter. He needs to keep hearing a friendly voice. If his breathing changes or he starts looking even worse, you let me know.”
I took a deep breath. Just keep working.
D was already looking a little green around the gills when I got back to the last victim.
I just hope he can keep it together long enough to help get this girl out.
“Okay, listen up, you two. We’ll bunch in there as best we can. My job will be to hold her head steady so she doesn’t drive that shard of glass into her artery. You two guys are responsible for hooking under her arms and doing the heavy lifting to pull her out. We’ll drag her just clear of the car and the other mess. Does one of you know her name?”
“And what’s yours?”
It took the three of us pulling together to get the mangled door open. Thankfully, the jostling hadn’t caused Jess to wake up or push the glass shard deeper. With the door open, I could tell Jess’s arm was definitely dislocated.
I reached in and put one hand on the base of her neck and one hand on the back of her head.
“D, you get in here on my left. Louis, squish an arm around here on the right.”
Somehow we kept her still while D slid the driver’s set forward. It was crowded, but we all had our arms in there. We tugged, shifted, slipped, tugged, switched and tugged again. Just a few feet more and we’d have her out of the car.
I was feeling pretty confident about the whole operation when the unthinkable happened.
Jess came to.
Her eyes fluttered then opened wide. Her shoulder and legs muscles spasmed with a solid jerk.
“It’s all right, Jess. Just be still. You’ve been injured in a car wreck and we need-”
I looked up.
His face had drained. His stare was blank. Louis had just fainted, and he was on his way down.
I fumbled to get one hand under Jess’s shoulder.
It was no use. Her weight shifted and yanked down hard. Her head flopped to the side, driving the shard even deeper. Her body twisted and pulled free.
Her upper body fell and pushed against the Louis’s legs.
His unconscious body collapsed away from us and her upper body hit the pavement. Her legs were still in the back seat. Blood gushed from her neck.
I jumped around her to be on the side of the wound. “No, no, no.”
D stumbled back away.
The blood came in heavy spurts.
I ripped out the glass shard, put my hands against her neck, and pushed hard. “No, no, NO!”
It was no use. I couldn’t stop the flow. I couldn’t even slow it down. Nothing I could do would help, and I knew it. That didn’t stop me from trying, though.
Her eyes were still open, but they were still and vacant.
Unconscious again. Hit her head.
Each spurt from the wound came weaker and weaker as her life ebbed from her body.
My hands shook and I felt the weight of my failure rest on my shoulders.
The spurting slowly came to a stop and then she was still.
I reached over and closed her eyes, then hung my head and wept. There was nothing else to do.
I closed my eyes saw the worst memory of my life. In the memory it is summer and the sky is blue. My father and I jump out of his car and run toward a wreck. My mother is slumped behind the wheel of her mangled car. Her neck is twisted and broken. There is blood on the dashboard and steering wheel. I am fifteen and my whole world has ended. I cannot control my tears, and I cannot understand how it is that nobody could save her.
This is the memory that drove me to become an EMT, and then a nurse in the ER. This is the memory that has ever since driven me to help people. This is the memory that will forever haunt my failures. Failures like the woman half on the pavement in front of me.
I opened my eyes again and took a deep breath.
Two white-stained-red shoes stood near the dead woman’s head. Standing in the shoes was a man.
I looked up and squinted at the glare of the sun. It was D. On his cheek was a tear. In his hand was a revolver.
He flared his nostrils and sucked in some air, then eased his thumb back and cocked the hammer.
Keep Reading! Chapter 11 is here.