Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wakeup Call




"Turn off the fucking siren, Steve."

Steven Hatfield refused to comply, instead letting the siren wail incessantly as they struggled to remove the bodies from the wreckage.

“Steve. I can’t even think over the siren. Turn it off, please.”

Still, Steve ignored Ryan’s order. Wincing at the piercing wail that threatened to pierce his skull, Ryan stared around the scene, looking at the cops and firefighters blithely going about their business as if they didn’t even notice the noise. To a man, they walked around Ryan as if he wasn’t even there.

“Somebody please, turn off the siren,” Ryan begged, sinking to his knees in the mud, hands clamped desperately over his ears. “Please, just turn it off. I can’t think…”

And still everyone ignored him, walking around his body as he lay there in the mud, writhing in agony as the screeching sound bored into his brain. Ryan lay there in agony, writhing in the mud, unable to block out the noise. He rolled over onto his back and screamed to block out the noise, but his voice was lost in the endless wail of the siren, and he lay there and screamed soundlessly as the rain spattered his face…

Ryan Pierce opened his eyes, and the rise and fall of the siren’s wail gradually coalesced into a pounding directly behind his eyelids. Nausea rocked him in waves, perfectly timed with the wailing of the…

…phone. The phone is ringing. Get up and answer the phone.

Groaning in pain, Ryan heaved himself out of the deck chair and staggered inside. In his haste, he knocked the handset from the phone base and across the floor, forcing him to lie on the floor and reach under the recliner for it. Thumbing the TALK button, Ryan lay on the floor with his cheek in the wet spot from last night’s spilled beer, put the phone to his ear, and croaked, “Hello.” His tongue was thick and unwieldy.

Jesus, I think a cat shit in my mouth while I was passed out.

“We’ve been calling you all morning!” Satan snarled without preamble. “Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“Half past eight,” Ryan groaned, squinting at his watch. His eyes felt as if they had been packed with hot sand.

“We’ve been calling your cellular phone and paging you for two hours!”

Well, not much chance of reaching me on my cell, Ryan mused, vaguely recalling the previous night’s events. Presuming I’d even answer it.

“Are you calling in sick?” Satan inquired, voice dripping with artificial sweetness. “Since you didn’t notify us, this would go in your file as a no-call, no-show.”

“Overslept,” Ryan lied. “Be there in an hour.” He hung up without bothering to listen to her reply.

Ryan tossed the phone aside and lay face down on the floor, trying to quiet his uneasy stomach. “God, just let me die,” he moaned to no one in particular.

You deserve to, came the familiar, nagging voice.

Shut up. I’m not listening to this.

Really, continued the voice reasonably. Look at all the people you’ve failed. Your mother, Renee, Dawn…now Bob and Linda…

Shut. Up. None of them was my fault. And I’ve never failed Dawn.

That’s because she’s smart, the voice countered mockingly. She left you first. She knew it was just a matter of time before you failed her, and Caitlin too…

Fuck you. You’re just some twisted part of my psyche that shows up when I’m stressed. You’re my SUBconscious, as in subordinate to my will. Any night-school, storefront psychotherapist can banish you in three sessions. Hell, not even that. A twelve pack will work just fine.

Oh yeah? How’d that twelve pack work out for you last night, Hawkeye?

At that, Ryan struggled to his feet and bolted for the door. He made it perhaps five steps before he collapsed to his knees and emptied his guts in one prolonged, heaving retch that left him weak and gasping for breath, stomach acid searing his throat. He lay there for a moment, spent, with his forehead touching the deck. A casual observer might have taken him for a penitent, were it not for the vomit and the empty beer bottles.



**********



Tylenol and a liter of Gatorade began the task of banishing Ryan’s hangover, and Ryan was standing under alternating hot and cold water in the shower, head pounding and still queasy.

This ain’t doing it, he thought. Time to pull out the big guns.

He stepped from the shower and quickly toweled himself dry. He padded to the bedroom closet and dug out his personal ALS bag, the one MetroCare issued to field supervisors, and quickly spiked a bag of Ringer’s Lactate. He flushed the tubing, lay the bag on the bed, and wrapped a tourniquet around his upper arm. Finding a likely vein on his left forearm, he deftly inserted an 18 gauge catheter. As he did so, an unwelcome image of his sister Renee injecting heroin flashed unbidden into his brain, nearly causing him to vomit again. Studiously avoiding looking in the mirror, Ryan focused on the simple task of advancing the IV catheter.

There now. Not too shabby for a one-handed guy with a hangover. Now all I need to do is…shit. How am I going to attach the line and occlude the vein at the same time? I’ll make a bloody mess of things doing it one handed…

Struck by sudden inspiration, Ryan returned to the bathroom, right thumb clamped over the vein in his left forearm, and drug a towel from the rack with his teeth. He sat back down on the bed and spat the towel out on his lap. Laying his left forearm on the towel, he quickly released pressure on the vein and attached the IV tubing. He slapped a Venigard over the site and mopped up a few stray drops of blood with the corner of the towel, and paused to admire his handiwork.

So far, so good. I did that cleaner than I do most days on the truck. Now for a little shot of Phenergan, and let the healing begin…

He quickly drew up 25 milligrams of Phenergan to pacify his rebellious stomach, and injected it into the IV bag. He removed the Glenn Gore lithograph from its place above the bed, hung the IV bag from the picture hook, lay back on the bed and closed his eyes. He had been there no more than five minutes when the phone rang again.

Damn. The bitch called no more than thirty minutes ago. Can’t she just let me die in peace?

Cursing, Ryan heaved himself from the bed, carried his bag of Ringer’s Lactate into the living room and picked up the phone. Collins Ambulance scrolled across the caller ID. Sighing inwardly, he thumbed the TALK button and raised the phone to his left ear. Immediately, blood began to back up into the IV tubing. Reflexively, Ryan clamped the phone between his ear and shoulder, dropped his left arm and raised his right – the one holding the IV bag – over his head…

…and stuck it directly into the spinning blades of the ceiling fan. “Sonofabitch!” Ryan yelped in pain and surprise, nearly dropping the phone.

“Ryan?” a familiar voice asked hesitantly.

“Hey Spud,” Ryan smiled sadly into the phone, “how are you holding up?”

He had known Tyson Collins since he was he was a shy, pudgy six-year-old. His friends and his parents had always called him Ty, but Ryan had teased him that he looked like Mr. Potato Head, and promptly dubbed him Spud.

“Well, aside from my parents being dead, I’m just capital,” Ty Collins sighed bitterly, “and yourself?”

“I’m sorry, kid,” Ryan apologized. “I was going to call, check in on you guys. I just saw it on the news.”

“Yeah. Thanks,” Ty answered perfunctorily. His voice was flat, drained of emotion. There was a long pause, then, “Do me a favor and thank your crew that worked it, would you?”

“Sure, Spud,” Ryan said softly. “Do they, uh, know what caused it?”

“Officially, they ‘hydroplaned on standing water and lost control, leaving the roadway and striking several trees’, according to the Louisiana State Police,” Ty answered, the bitterness creeping back into his voice. “Unofficially, if the truck had decent tires, steering and suspension, it probably wouldn’t have happened. Same shit you bitched about for years.”

“It was an accident, Spud,” Ryan said firmly, “the same thing has happened to dozens of vehicles on that road. Second-guessing won’t bring them back,” Ryan went on gently. “Believe me, I know.”

“Anyway,” continued Ty as if he hadn’t heard, “the funeral and memorial service is on Friday. We want you to be a pallbearer.”

Ryan Pierce swallowed hard. “I’d…I’d be honored, Ty,” he managed to stammer. “Steve and I will bring a rig for the procession, wear our dress uniforms –”

“Everyone will be wearing their Collins Ambulance uniforms,” Ty Collins interrupted flatly. “That’s the way Mom and Dad would have wanted it.”

“Listen, Ty,” Ryan hedged, “I work for another company now. I’m sure MetroCare would be glad to send a representative to the memorial, and I’d be happy to be the –”

“No, you listen, Ryan,” Ty snapped. “I don’t have the time, or the energy, to argue with you until you swallow your pride. I’ve already gotten confirmation from everyone else. You’re the only person who hasn’t agreed to do it.”

Jesus, how did he manage that? Half of us are no longer there, and scattered all over the state.

“Your parents fired me, Ty,” Ryan argued, trying another tack.

“And they regretted it plenty of times since, but they knew you’d never come back,” Ty shot back. He sighed heavily. “Just say you’ll do this for me, Ryan,” he pleaded, voice breaking.

“I’ll be there, Spud,” Ryan promised, after a long moment spent mastering his voice. “Have someone find me a uniform.”

“Great,” Ty Collins breathed. “Look, there’s one other thing I need to talk with you about. Tonight, if you can. Can you drop by the office after work?”

“Uh, I’d rather not,” Ryan suggested, thinking of the likelihood of seeing Dawn’s new boyfriend there. “Why don’t you come out here? You know how to find the marina?”

“I can find it,” Ty assured him. “Eight o’clock okay with you?”

“What’s this about, Spud?” Ryan asked curiously.

“Not now,” Ty Collins answered cryptically. “We’ll talk later. Eight o’clock,” he reminded, and then hung up the phone.

I wonder what the hell that’s about?


**********




Ryan pulled into MetroCare headquarters at 10:00 am, nearly four hours late for his scheduled shift. Steve Hatfield lay sprawled on the station couch, idly watching a game show on the television. He glanced over his shoulder as Ryan walked through the door, then turned his attention back to Bob Barker and the final showcase.

Ryan settled heavily onto the couch next to him with a groan. “Rough night?” Steve asked perfunctorily, not even bothering to take his eyes off the screen.

“Long one,” Ryan grunted. “We okay, Steve?”

Steve Hatfield didn’t answer directly. “Hope you wore your asbestos Underoos. Dickless is in the mood to burn some asses today. Yours is at the top of his list.”

Roger Dickles, a ten-year paramedic who hadn’t been on the street in eight years, was the Operations Manager for MetroCare EMS. His only street experience a two-year hitch at the Holly Hill substation in rural Allemands Parish, Roger had parlayed that into a gig as Dispatch Supervisor, then a six-year stint as Fleet Manager, and a short hitch as Clinical Education Manager before reaching his current rung on the MetroCare career ladder.

Long known for his unwillingness to stick his neck out, Roger’s surname had lent itself readily to the unfortunate sobriquet of “Dickless.” The name fit.

“Well, he’ll have to get in line,” Ryan sighed. “It’s been that kind of morning. I asked you before, are we okay?”

“You catch the news?” Steve asked warily.

“Yeah, I saw it. Funeral’s this Friday at noon. You wanna come with, maybe bring a unit for the procession?” Ryan asked.

“Why me?”

“Because you’re my partner, Steve,” Ryan sighed, “even though I may not act like it some times. You’ve always had my back, and this thing…well, I don’t want to go alone, okay?”

“Okay,” Steve grunted, and then paused, obviously considering what to say next. Finally, “You look like shit, Hawkeye. You get any sleep at all? Or did you drink yourself into a stupor again?”

“Drop it, Steve,” Ryan said flatly, the warning clear in his voice. Steven Hatfield, however, was not cowed so easily.

“I’m not gonna drop it,” Steve said evenly. “I’m your partner, but I’m also your friend. You need some time off. Hell, go get laid. Remember that pretty nurse at West Oneida ER last week? What was her name, Cathy? Go ask her out.”

“I’m a married man,” Ryan reminded him. Steve snorted in disgust.

“Dawn left you, Ryan,” he retorted bluntly. “What’s more, she’s seeing that guy at Collins Ambulance. And you haven’t been yourself since she left.”

I haven’t been myself for years, Steve. But at least Dawn made it easier to hide.

“Anyone else would be picking up their teeth for talking to me that way,” Ryan observed. “What makes you think you can get away with it?”

“Because I am bigger and faster, and because you’re too hung over to take me. Besides, you know it’s the truth.”

“Thanks for the pep talk,” Ryan said sarcastically. “I always feel better after talking to you.”

“Come on,” Steve pleaded. “Don’t go back to the boat tonight after work. We’ll hit the range, burn up a few boxes of ammo. What do you say?”

“Can’t,” Ryan demurred. “I’ve got something else to do. I appreciate the offer, though.”



I’m not stupid, Steve thought. You’re gonna go back to that damned boat and punish yourself some more.

Steve sighed, defeated. “I’m supposed to tell you to report to Dickless as soon as you show up. I’ve already had my ass-chewing this morning. You should know that Satan has been whispering tales in his ear.”

“Took part of my ass-chewing, you mean,” Ryan grunted. “No need to cover for me, Steve. I appreciate it, though.”

“Do you?” Steve asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Yeah, I do,” Ryan said simply. “I know it ain’t easy being my partner sometimes. If I’ve been a horse’s ass lately, well…I’m sorry. You deserve better.” He heaved himself off the couch and groaned, half in jest, “Well, I better go face the executioner. Wish me luck.”

“Kiss ass like there’s no tomorrow,” Steve called after him. “Look where it got Dickless!”

Ryan was still chuckling as he rounded the corner and nearly bumped headlong into Martha Boyette as she was stepping out of Roger Dickles’ office. Her eyes flashed with surprise and anger, and then, smug satisfaction.

“He’s waiting for you,” she sneered.

“Good morning, Martha!” Ryan gushed with exaggerated courtesy, “how lovely to see you!”

“Your ass is in a crack now,” Martha went on spitefully. Her hatred boiled off her in waves. “You’ll be lucky if you keep your fucking job.”

Ryan stood there and carefully considered what to say. After a moment, his face brightened, he smiled beatifically, leaned forward and whispered softly in her ear, “Go fuck yourself, Satan.”

Martha recoiled as if she had been struck, stared at him for a moment and stomped off down the hall.

“You look good, by the way!” Ryan called after her. “You get your hooves trimmed or something?”

“You know, if you didn’t antagonize her so much, she might not be trying so hard to get you fired,” came a dry voice behind him. Ryan turned to see Roger Dickles standing in the open doorway to his office.

“Well,” Ryan countered, “her idea of being antagonized is when someone points out her mistakes. And she’s vindictive, Roger. If you get on her shit list, she punishes you for the entire shift.”

“That’s not possible, Ryan,” Roger sighed as he waved him into his office. After pointing Ryan to a seat, he sat on the edge of his desk, folded his hands in his lap, and went on. “We have a computerized dispatch system, used in every MetroCare operation in this country. There’s no room for anyone to manipulate the system, even if they wanted to.”

So you say, Dickless. That was the party line back when you used to screw people over in dispatch, and Satan was your little protégé.

Ryan rolled his eyes and smiled, but said nothing. Roger Dickles flushed in anger, but managed to keep his temper under control. He got up and walked to the other side of his desk and sat down. He pushed a piece of paper across the desk, tapped his finger on it several times and ordered, “Read and sign.”

Ryan looked at the sheet of paper in idle curiosity. Across the top was the MetroCare corporate logo and the heading Personnel Action Request. In the block labeled Type of Action was scrawled: Disciplinary, Class 3.

They’re suspending me. What for?

“And what have I done that warrants suspension?” Ryan asked, tossing the paper back onto the desk. “Last time I checked, tardiness warranted a verbal warning for the first offense.”

“Read the whole thing, and sign it,” Roger repeated.

Sighing, Ryan picked up the form and read it. As he did, he felt his face growing redder. He met Roger Dickles’ eyes and said what he was thinking. “If you think I’m going to acknowledge this horse shit by signing my name to it, you’re out of your fucking mind, Roger.”

“We have all the documentation we need,” Dickless said coolly. “I can show you the applicable sections in the Policy and Pro-”

“I’m not one of your baby seals you can bludgeon with some obscure reference from your fucking Policy and Procedure Manual, Roger. I know what’s in there as well as you do.”

“Then why don’t you follow it?”

“Because I don’t need a manual to tell me if I’m wiping my ass in the approved MetroCare manner. Apparently you do.”

Roger Dickles’ face whitened, and for a moment, he looked as if he might lunge across the desk. Ryan hoped he would. Dickless composed himself, and said smoothly, “This isn’t about you being a good paramedic, Ryan. This is about you being a good employee.”

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

“So what is this ‘failure to supervise’ shit I’m reading?”

“David Hendricks used profanity over the radio net yesterday at that MCI,” Roger challenged. “Have you said anything to him about it?”

“I didn’t think it needed addressing.”

“You think a lot of things don’t need addressing. That’s your problem.”

“You’re saying you want me to discipline Dave because he blurted something over the radio in the heat of the moment?” Ryan asked incredulously. “Come on!”

“You don’t have to discipline him at all,” Roger answered. “I’ve already taken care of it.”

“Goddamn it Roger, you had no right to do that!” Ryan exploded furiously, rising from his chair. “I can’t believe you’re going to punish the guy for saying ‘fuck’ over the radio when he had a eleven-car pileup happening not ten feet away!”

“He used profanity over an open radio net, and in so doing, reflected poorly on this company,” Roger insisted. “On top of that, your partner ran over a guy last week on the local news. Why wasn’t that written up?”

Disgusted, Ryan rose to his feet and turned toward the door. “You know, you’re really chickenshit, Roger. If I’d have known what you were twelve years ago, you’d have never finished paramedic school.”

“We’re not through here, Ryan. Sit back down.”

“Yeah, we’re through,” Ryan shook his head sadly. “This isn’t disciplinary action. This is a witch hunt. You’ve already made up your mind.”

“So sit back down and write your rebuttal on the form, and sign it,” Roger offered with a cruel smile.

“The only thing on that form I’m guilty of is self-dispatching, and there was a good reason for that,” Ryan argued. “The problem is, you’re not interested in any version but yours and your lackey’s. Hell, you’re even accusing me of unprofessional behavior towards the EMT students I precepted!”

“The last two student riders you had, you stapled Taco Bell applications to their evaluation forms,” Dickless pointed out. “Their instructor didn’t find it amusing. Neither did I.”

“They should have taken the hint,” Ryan said automatically.

“Their instructor said they had the two highest grades in his class.”

“Then they’ll no doubt go on to be shitty paramedics but good employees; just your kind of EMT. I had a student like that once. He could have been a good medic. Instead he turned into a fucking suit afraid of his own shadow.”

Get out of my office, Ryan,” Roger ordered, his voice shaking. “Get out and go spend your three days off thinking about how to salvage your job, because as of right now, your position as a shift supervisor is over.”

“HR says I have seventy-two hours to offer my rebuttal to any disciplinary action,” Ryan shot back. “Rest assured, I am going to contest this, all the way to corporate if I have to. See you in three days, Dickless.”

Ryan slammed the door and stalked back down the hall, his face purple with fury. As he stalked through the break room, Steven Hatfield looked up from the television in concern. “So, how did it go?” he called out.

Ryan acted as if he hadn’t heard, his only reply the slamming of the station door.

“Not well, apparently,” Steve muttered softly to himself, and changed the channel.

**********


Ryan took a circuitous route home, one that wound through the city, across the river into West Oneida, up Highway 74 into Audubon Parish. If a cop had stopped him and asked where he was going, Ryan Pierce would have been unable to answer. He was on autopilot. Eventually, whether by force of habit or psychic inertia, he found himself parked at the marina, staring vacantly out over the basin to the river beyond, receding now for three straight days. The water was low enough now that, by skirting the edge of the basin and taking a running leap to the end of the dock, he could make it aboard Ecnalubma without getting his feet wet. After staring at the water for perhaps an hour, he sighed, turned his truck off and did just that.

The chickenshit bastard has been compiling shit on me, Ryan fumed as he picked up empty beer bottles and hosed the dried vomit from his deck. That stuff with the Taco Bell applications happened a couple of months ago. If he knew about it then, then he’ll have to explain why he waited until now to say something about it.

Back inside, he dug through the refrigerator for something to quiet the ache in his stomach. Seeing nothing worth eating, he abandoned the venture in favor of sitting on the deck and watching the river roll by.

The stuff with Steve bumping the guy with the rig won’t wash at all. HR will throw that right out. Oneida Police Dispatch didn’t clear us to that scene, but Satan never told us to stage anywhere. I could use that against her. She sent us into an unsafe scene. Otherwise, we’d have never been there, and Steve wouldn’t have bumped the kid with the rig.

He disciplined Dave less than twenty-four hours after the incident. I could say that I was planning to give Dave a verbal reprimand, and Ol’ Dickless preempted me…

Shit, that was only twenty four hours ago? It seems like a week! Christ, and it’s only what, two o’clock? What the hell am I going to do until Spud gets here?

He stomped back inside and rummaged through the refrigerator for the makings of a sandwich he didn’t really want to eat. Leaving the cold cuts on the counter, he took his lunch into the living room, collapsed into his recliner and turned on the television.

Ryan vacantly stared at the screen as he channel surfed, the flickering images barely registering on his consciousness. He ate fitfully, a small bite now and then, tasting nothing. After an hour, he threw his half-eaten sandwich in the trash and put the cold cuts back in the refrigerator. He automatically reached for a beer, but something made him hesitate. He stood there, wavering, hand poised over the dark green bottle for several moments, and then savagely slammed the refrigerator door with a muttered curse.

He stalked back to the master cabin and lay back on the bed, still fully clothed. Ryan closed his eyes, and prayed for sleep to take him. It didn’t take long. As he tossed fitfully, he had the nightmare again, the one that left him drowning in a sea of accusing faces.

Only this time, the dream had two new characters: Dave and Barbara Collins.


**********

“Ryan,” the voice said, and somehow he knew it wasn’t a part of his dream. The voice came again, more insistently. “Ryan. Wake up.”

Ryan opened his eyes to see Ty Collins leaning over his bed. He blinked groggily, and then looked at the clock.

8:20. Damn, have I been asleep for six hours?

He swung his legs out of bed, rubbing his eyes with one hand while offering Ty Collins the other. Ty grasped his hand with a warm but tired smile and pulled Ryan to his feet. They stood there awkwardly for a split second, and then the handshake morphed into a fierce bear hug.
“You’re looking good, Spud,” Ryan said emotionally, holding him at arm’s length and looking him up and down.. “Damn, what are you, 230 pounds? Whaddaya bench these days, a Toyota?”

“Maybe a Hyundai,” Ty deadpanned. “It’s been a long time, Ryan. Sorry I let myself in. I knocked, but you didn’t answer.”

“Six years,” Ryan agreed, waving off the apology. “You still had baby fat and barely any fuzz on your nuts back then,” he teased.

“I was almost eighteen,” Ty protested with a grin. “Y’all just treated me like I was a baby.” His grin was forced, and ended at his eyes. Ty Collins was putting on a brave face, but Ryan wasn’t buying it.

“So, how did you know this was my boat?” Ryan asked curiously.

“There could only be one boat on this river with a mirror image of ‘AMBULANCE’ painted on the stern in big blue letters,” Ty said dryly. “I took a chance it was yours.”

“Well, let’s grab a beer, and I’ll give you the grand tour,” Ryan suggested with a heartiness he didn’t feel. He led Ty to the galley, thrust a beer into his hand and shepherded him through a quick but thorough tour of Ecnalubmna, proudly pointing out all of her amenities. Ty Collins nodded appreciatively at all of the proper points, but it was obvious his mind was elsewhere. The tour ended on the rear deck, and Ryan fetched another couple of beers. They sat there watching the river, with only the lap of water against the hull to break the uncomfortable silence.

“Tell me something, Ryan,” Ty ventured, picking at the label of his beer bottle. “How much money did your old man leave you when he died?”

“I don’t know,” Ryan answered warily. “A few million. A friend from high school handles all that stuff for me. I haven’t touched any of it since he died.”

“It bought you a pretty nice boat, though.” Ty swept his arm around, gesturing at his surroundings. “Must be nice.”

“Actually, I bought the boat with the money I got from selling my parents’ house,” Ryan explained.

Where is he going with this?

“Damn,” Ty whistled appreciatively. “This boat cost that much?”

“Not hardly,” Ryan chuckled. “I sold the house to the city at just over 40% market value. The only stipulation was that whatever they did with it would not bear the Pierce name.”

“I’ve been in it,” Ty confessed. “School field trip, years ago, back when you still worked for us. It was impressive.”

“You never told me that,” Ryan grunted.

“Well, it was pretty obvious you wanted nothing to do with your family. Mom and Dad were always curious, but I figured it was none of our business. They hired you because of your Dad, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know that,” Ryan said, surprised. “They talked to my old man?”

“No, not that,” Ty shook his head. “They knew who you were. They figured by hiring you, they’d have an edge on getting a transport contract with St. Matthew’s. Robert Pierce’s word carried a lot of weight.”

Ryan dissolved into a fit of laughter, nearly choking on his beer. “Well, they certainly fucked up there!” Ryan roared. “He’d have been more likely to try to run them out of business, so I’d give up this EMS foolishness and go to medical school.”

“Well, it’s no secret that Dad never had the sharpest business instincts,” Ty agreed with a grin. He idly peeled the label off his bottle, and then continued in a more serious tone. “Still, you never gave up on all this ‘EMS foolishness’ in all these years. You lived for eleven years on the chump change you earned at Collins Ambulance. You’re a multimillionaire, yet you still work for an outfit like MetroCare. Why?”

“Stubbornness and stupidity?” Ryan offered jokingly, and saw that Ty Collins was serious. He sighed. “I don’t know, Spud,” he shrugged. “It’s a long story. I suppose it was because this was always my choice, not my parents’. It’s all I ever wanted to do.”

“You’re worth millions, yet you stay with a job that pays less than fifty thousand a year. Haven’t you ever wanted more?”

“Nope,” Ryan said with conviction. “This is what I was put on this Earth to do.”

Ty nodded, digesting that. He nodded to himself as if he had come to a decision, drained his beer and heaved the empty bottle far out into the river.

“What’s all this about, Spud?” Ryan asked, breaking the silence. “You come all the way out here to ask me to loan money to Collins Ambulance?” he asked, half-jokingly.

“Not exactly,” Ty Collins said evenly, meeting his eyes. “I came out here to convince you to buy it.”

15 comments:

Theodwyn said...

Superb chapter as always AD. Don't ever stop writing. I'm waiting eagerly for the next chapter!

Theodwyn

Anonymous said...

WOOT! I couldn't wait for you to write another story! Keep up the good work!

Becky

HollyB said...

Yes, Indeed! All good things DO come to those who wait. Thnakls for the great read, AGAIN.

rookie bebe said...

Don't leave us hanging much longer!! He ought to buy it!!! lol Do you already know what direction you're taking Ryan in or let us vote on his business decision?

julie said...

Definitely worth the wait - but I hope we won't have to wait quite so long next time, AD!

Jeff said...

What have you done with the real AD? I read everything up to this point today and haven't cried yet.

I'm hooked of course. Keep up the good work.

Peri1020 said...

I'm taking a writing course and one of many tips says "end the chapter on a cliff-hanger, so the reader will eagerly tune in to the next chapter." I think you achieved that in spades. Don't keep us waiting so long for the next chapter!

MedicMatthew said...

The shakes have stopped, I'm not sweating any more, my heart rate is coming down. The addict has got his fix.

Keep it up, AD.

Fyremandoug said...

Damn AD Please dot make us wait this long again for the next installment........... and when is this going to be published its good stuff

your faithful reader
fyremandoug

Strings said...

Great chapter again, AD. Doesn't get you a reprieve though: package goes out friday... :P

Alison said...

Thanks for the great read... looking forward to more of the story!

Anonymous said...

amazing as always! Thanks for the great read!

MidwestRogueMedic said...

He should not buy the ambulance service (I had one and it SUCKED being glued to a business like that).........he should go and be the CEO with a Ford Excursion and become the boss of his soon to be ex-wifes new boyfriend. Maybe he will become friends with the boyfriend and he will dump the ex-wife too!

Anonymous said...

You're a good friggin' writer, amigo.

And I've read more books than I can even remember, these days.

Kudos.

Scott said...

Oh man! If there is more than a little Ryan in you AD, you must be tough to work with--TACO BELL applications? 1) hilarious, 2) cruel! Can't wait for the next one.