P.S.I. Part II -- The Thaw

Chapter 9 -- Farewell, Big Red

Home | Chapter 1 -- The Dead Eyes of the Prophet | Chapter 2 -- Rooster & Mundelein | Chapter 3 -- Where's Mike? | Chapter 4 -- The First Visitation | Chapter 5 -- Two Bridegrooms and a Baby | Chapter 6 -- Adding Emeralds to Sapphires | Chapter 7 -- Body Memory | Chapter 8 -- "I Wish You'd Take Better Care of Him!" | Chapter 9 -- Farewell, Big Red | Chapter 10 -- The Real Brin | Chapter 11 -- As Newfangled as Pringles | Chapter 12 -- When the Fat Lady Sings | Chapter 13 -- The Video, The Article and The Interviews | Chapter 14 -- Letters | Chapter 15 -- The Thaw | Chapter 16 -- Where She Walked | Epilogue | Author's Notes | Soundtrack

"Mike?  It's Dr. Brackett.  Can you hear me?"
Mike groaned.  His entire body hurt worse than he ever imagined possible.  The pain was concentrated on his left side.  The left side of his head felt as if it'd been split open.  His left shoulder was having sharp pains.  Breathing was hard because of the pain in his left side.  But worst of all was the pelvic pain.  He felt like someone was trying to cut off his left leg at the hip with a plastic knife.
His brain was beginning to reconnect with the rest of his body.  He heard a cacophony of voices, almost like hearing the ocean in a conch shell.  He could tell he was on his back.  Someone put a blanket on him.  As the warmth crawled through his body, he gained more awareness.
He was confused, though.  Had he missed Mandy's funeral?  He didn't know what he was doing when he ran for the window.  Maybe that's what the beginnings of a nervous breakdown felt like.
"Mike?  It's Dixie.  Can you open your eyes?"
Dixie?  I thought you were dead!  Am I dead?
He tried to speak, but his mouth wouldn't cooperate.  When Dixie's request made it to the correct area of his brain, he felt his eyelids trying to move.  When he did finally get them open, everything was blurry.  A bright light was overhead.  He whimpered and shut his eyes.
"Could you see anything?" asked Dr. Brackett.
Mike was trying to form words, but his brain seemed to have forgotten any vocabulary.
"Blur?" asked Dixie.  "Yes or no?"
"Yes," he whispered.
Sensation was returning, but he felt like he was in total disarray.  His brain was now processing his surroundings and he was able to form more thoughts.
"At least you could see something.  Where do you live?" asked Dr. Brackett.
"I don't know.  Ask my wife," he said, not knowing what he was saying.
Everybody laughed.
Now he was really confused.
"Mike, it's Johnny.  Remember, you don't have a wife."
He started crying.  "Oh, that's right.  They both died."
More laughter.
"How could you be so cruel?" Mike said, weeping.   "Brin was murdered!  Mandy died of a heart attack when she was pregnant!"
"Sounds like one whale of a dream you had," said Dr. Brackett.
"I can assure you," said Johnny, "No woman in your life has died within the last two weeks."
Dream?  Huh?  What?  Two weeks?
"Didn't I jump out of a window at the Pavilion?  Where. . ."
"The Pavilion?!  I'm jealous!" said Dr. Brackett.  "You're in Rampart's ICU.  I'll let Johnny tell you the rest."

"We were on a run. . ." Johnny started.
Station 51 was on a code 3 response, and the squad had just cleared an intersection, when Johnny saw in the rearview mirror a large truck t-bone the engine, knocking it on its side.
"THE ENGINE!!!" Johnny screamed.
"What?" said Roy, throwing on the brakes.  Johnny nearly went through the windshield.  When they disembarked, they saw Mike on top of Cap in the cab.  Chet was running around the left side to the front of the engine.  "WHERE'S MARCO?!," Johnny and Roy both shouted as they gathered their equipment.
A man ran into the intersection.  "YOU'VE GOT SOMEONE IN THE STREET OVER HERE!" he yelled, pointing to the other side of the offending truck.

Roy radioed for additional help as he ran to the engine.  Mike was literally in Cap's arms like a child.
"Get that windshield out!!!" Cap yelled.  "He's bleeding all over me!" 
"Mike's real bad!" said Chet as Roy jogged up to him.
"Are you okay?" asked Roy.
"I'm fine!  Take care of Mike!"
The front of Cap's turnout coat was turning red.  Roy glanced up at the driver's side--it was caved in from the impact.
"Head injury," said Roy.  "His brain's starting to swell."
After extrication, the ambulance transported Mike to the helicopter waiting in a ball field half a block away.  Cap and Chet drove the squad in, as Roy rode with Mike in the chopper.  Johnny rode with Marco in the ambulance.
In Rampart's Treatment 3, the paramedics and nurses watched as Dr. Brackett slowly administered the barbituates.  He was putting Mike into a drug-induced coma to keep his brain from swelling.  When his EKG showed the appropriate slower rhythm, Dr. Brackett patted him on the arm and quipped, "Let us know if the basement's still there."
Marco, in Treatment 4, could have been considered not so bad off, but he had his own head injury issue to deal with. 

Dr. Morton was attempting to check Cap in Treatment 2.
"I'm fine, just let me see Mike and Marco!" Cap protested as he tried to get up.
"You're not fine until I say you're fine," said Dr. Morton, pushing Cap back down onto the gourney.  "County Fire's not going to let you go back to work until I say you can.  Now sit still and let me check you over!  Dr. Brackett put Mike into a drug-induced coma to keep his brain from swelling, and Dr. Early has called in the orthopedic surgeon and an opthalmologist for Marco."

Meanwhile, in Treatment 1, Dr. Early was examining Chet, who sat on the side of the gourney.
"Did you hit your head?" he asked as he checked pupil response.
"I don't think so.  It all happened so fast."
"So you say your shoulder hit the engine on impact?" asked Dr. Early, as he used both hands to rotate Chet's arm.
"Yes, sir."
"Does that hurt?"
"Only a little."
"Can you bend your neck back?"
Chet did so without pain.
No problems there.

After the examinations; Mike's admission to the ICU; and while Marco was still awaiting the specialists; Dr. Brackett took Johnny, Roy, Cap, and Chet to his office, and asked them all to sit down.
"I'll start with Mike," he said.  "If he'd been Chet's size, the impact would've killed him.  As you know, he's sustained a serious head injury; fractured clavicle; ribs; and pelvis.  The first and last ones are of greatest concern.  If he survives the blow to the head, and the ribs and collarbone heal properly, the pelvis is going to be the hardest for him to cope with.  He will more than likely end up disabled, and if not walking with a walker, will likely need a cane."
Everyone looked shocked.  "Man, that's gonna kill him," Chet said.  "His job's his life."
"And all because some twit didn't set the brake," Cap scowled.
"What about Marco?" Roy ventured.
"Marco--that's another story.  As you know, he suffered head trauma and broken patellas when he was thrown from the engine at the impact.  I hate to have to report that he's experiencing vision loss right now.  I'm not sure if he'll ever regain it."
Dr. Morton burst through the door.  "Kel, we need you!  Five ambulances coming in.  Bus accident."
"Duty calls," said Dr. Brackett as he got up.
"Can we check on Marco?" asked Cap.
"Do you need our help?" asked Johnny.
"Yes to both of you," said Dr. Brackett.  "If you're not doing anything else," he said to Johnny.
"I'll need to move the squad," said Roy.
"We can help, too," said Cap.  "After we've checked on Marco."
"Uh, Cap," Chet started.  "Have you called HQ yet?"
Almost as if on cue, the hospital operator paged for Cap.

As Cap made his way to the waiting room, deputy sheriff Vince asked 51's crew if they'd seen what was happening outside.
"There's five ambulances coming in, right?"
Vince looked confused.  "I'm talking about the hospital's front yard.  There's about a hundred firefighters out there."
"Oh, wow," mused Mike.  "Just like in the 'dream,' as Dr. Brackett called it."
"What's that?" asked Johnny.
Mike grimaced.  "I'll have to explain later.  Can I have a pain shot now?  I'm really starting to hurt."
"One fist or two?" asked Johnny.
"Both!  Please, just knock me out!"
"I'm going to put a shot in your right thigh," said Dixie.
"I won't feel it.  Johnny. . ."
"Does Cap have a niece?"
"I don't know.  I can ask, though."
"Please.  Please, do!"
"Please. . .just ask."

The next day, Johnny and Roy checked in on Mike and Marco, who were now sharing a room on the orthopedic floor.  Marco was extremely depressed about his eyes.  Mike was still "in and out" due to his pain medication.
Johnny went to Mike's bedside, as Roy tried to cheer up Marco.
"Hey, Mike," Johnny whispered as he bent over the man's bed.  Mike was flat on his back due to his pelvic fracture.  His chest was bound due to his ribs, and his left arm was crossed over his chest due to the splinted fractured clavicle.  Since his head was still swathed in bandages, he could either keep his head straight or turn to the right.
The groggy engineer had his head turned right, and he looked up at Johnny.  Mike's blue eyes were now patriotic--the left one in particular.  Due to the blow to his head, the left side of his left eye was completely red.  Otherwise, they were bloodshot.
"Cap's got two nieces, and they're both in Kentucky.  One of them works with horses, and she's coming out here for the summer."
Mike's eyes widened, and he thought he'd choke; he started coughing.
"Don't tell me," said Johnny. "Just like the dream?"
Mike nodded.
They were distracted by a noise from the other side of the room: Marco fell over onto Roy and was crying.
Johnny turned back to Mike, and whispered, "If I'd lost my eyesight, I'd be crying, too."

Introducing. . .