The therapist is pleased with my progress and figures I can report back to more active duty in a few weeks. After my visit with him, I headed over to Ray’s.
I woke him up and at first he was very... unreceptive to my idea, but as I explained it (and he woke up) it started sounding better and better.
Lets face it, Ray is a doer and dispatch has been wearing thinner on him than it did on me. I don’t think he’ll ever go back to motorcycles. Now that I’ve seen him, that’s pretty clear. He loves the job, but the toll it took him was too high.
I could see it as he tried to get out of bed. He was trying to look natural, but he looked more like a geriatric case than a man in his early thirties. When he saw my expression he gave up trying.
“Some mornings are worse than others,“ he told me as I helped him up. “I should get back most of my mobility in time– but its going to be a while in coming.”
I nodded. None of us like to think about the time when we’re too old or too ‘damaged’ to do the job, but it’s a reality we all have to face sooner or later.
‘Course, if I keep up like I’ve been– I’m not going to have to worry about old age.
Ray grabbed his robe and told me to wait in the ‘front room.’ While he showered, I started the coffee pot – it looked like it was going to be a heavily caffeinated day before too long.
Three cups of coffee later we had the groundwork done and a good plan for selling the brass on it. If they accept it, it means the program gets a jumpstart and we’re back in the running.
Armed with this information we scheduled a meeting with Citywide’s board of directors.
At first they were going to make us wait until next week, but when we explained that it involved getting the motor-medic program back on track, they were more than willing to meet. It seems that its one of their big selling points they want to use while negotiating their next contract with the city.
Its like a friend of mine told me once, show the medics how it will help them, and they’re sold– show the accountants the bottom line, and how it can increase profits, and they’re sold.
They agreed to give it a go. They weren’t to crazy about letting Terry into the program– seems he has a reputation of goofing off. I think he just hasn’t found his niche.
Turns out, he’d found the CEO’s daughter– and a whole lot of trouble. Its going to be interesting trying to get him onboard.
I made my rounds at the hospitals doing the missing person’s check. I found two of Saunders’ cases– but nothing on the boys. I tried thinking about the scenarios Case and I had gone over but it didn’t help.
The boys didn’t want to be found– and with AZT on their trail I can see why. They were playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse, and from what I’ve seen, the jaguar’s claws are sharp, and his reach is long.
And don’t even get me started on feathered snakes and blood mages.. I’ve been spending too much time on Shadowland. There’s a lot of scary stuff out there and I’ve been in the middle of it. Sometimes I wish PC hadn’t showed me how to get there. Still I guess, I’m thankful he did.
It’s given me a lot to think about, maybe to much, but that’s the risk you take I guess. I stopped by the morgue. I’d forgotten what a trip Dr. Chen can be.
We ended up having tea up in his office. It was amusing to watch him heat the pot over a Bunsen burner.
He smiled as he poured me a cup and then took his and sat down. It was the first time we’d really talked. No joking around, no ‘quest’-- just two friends conversing over tea.
As I sat there inhaling the steam from my cup, he sighed contentedly.
“You know the world would be such a wonderful place if people took time out from their day to just sit and ... drink tea.”
I looked at him for a moment before I realized he was being serious. I guess he’s right though. There’s something soothing about boiling the water... steeping the tea and then holding it, watching the steam curl away from it.
“Unfortunately,” I sighed. “I think its just too Zen for most people to understand...”
“Zen or Tao?” he asked me.
“Either really,” I finally answered. “The tea is.”
He smiled for a moment and took another sip from his cup. He smiled as he looked down at his empty cup and then sighed. “Ah, it would seem that the tea is not...”
With a grin I reached over and poured him another cup.
“Jess,” he asked. “What does tea mean to you?”
I thought for a moment and then reflected on our conversation. “Matt,” I finally answered. “He’s the one who seeks harmony. He was always there, warm, supportive... constant.”
I didn’t tell him but Matt was also the one that taught me that there was more to tea than hot water and leaves... and more to life than breathing and having a pulse.
I didn’t have to. He gave me a brief hug as I left and told me not to forget the tea.
I stopped by the church on the way home and lit two candles, one for the boys and one for the ganger who haunts me. Maybe the light will guide us all home.
When I woke up this morning Case was snoring on the couch. It took a while for me to wake him up. When I asked him why he hadn’t come to bed, he said he didn’t want to wake me up.
It was sweet, but I knew there was more to it– I could see it in his eyes. He’d been through something pretty bad. I could tell he didn’t want to talk about– that maybe he couldn’t, so I just started giving him a back rub.
The tension was written all over his muscles. Its amazing what the human body can do. It can bend, flex, protect itself from damage by becoming almost like jello on impact, and it can rip itself apart when you try to keep all your tension and anger contained.
I could feel that in Case’s muscles as I worked on his shoulders and neck. He was literally tearing himself up over whatever had happened.
“If you can talk about it,” I finally told him. “I can listen...”
He looked at me and smiled. “I wish I could Jess...”
I could see in his eyes that he wasn’t kidding, but I couldn’t tell if it was something he couldn’t talk about, or didn’t want to talk about.
“If you’re trying to protect me,” I told him as I started applying some shiatsu techniques I’d learned. “Don’t.”
He winced as the pressure continued and then sighed as I let up and moved a little to the left and repeated the process. “Jess...” There was something in his voice that told me he didn’t want to tell me.
“Hon,” I told him as I again moved the pressure to the left. “I can see its bad... and you’ve got to let it out somehow... either tell me... or we can go down to the gym and you can go play with a heavy bag... but you gotta do something... “
He turned and looked at me a sheepish smile crossing his face. “Yes, mom.”
“Get your shoes on,” I told him. That was pretty much our decision.
It took him almost three hours of intense workout to get him to even crack a smile, and by then, I practically had to pour him into the sauna.
Still, the heat and excursion seemed to have worked out most of it. We went to the diner and then adjourned to his place. I think he needed some familiar surroundings and the condo doesn’t really feel like home to him. There’s too much of my brothers there.
I figure I’ll make it up to the cats in the morning.
Case seemed to be doing a lot better in the morning, almost too good. Most of the stress was gone, but the haunted look was still there in his eyes. I’ve seen it before, sometimes in the mirror after a particularly bad call– once you’ve seen that look, there’s no mistaking it.
And for everybody its different. The only constant is the fact that you’ve got to find a way of dealing with it, or it will eat you up inside. Sometimes– some cases– Its almost like they take a piece of your soul with them... take it or mark it, it doesn’t really matter.
Some times talking about it helps, but I can tell that he either can’t or won’t talk about this one. I suggested maybe we visit the Walkers, but he shook his head, said something about ‘maybe later.’
That’s when I knew it was bad. I can see him not wanting to talk to me about it– not all that uncommon a thing, but Jonathan, he knows Case, knows the job better than anybody, and he’s still not willing to talk.
I finally stopped trying to help him work it out, sometimes that’s worse than the actual problem. But I did warn him that he had to do something with it before it really got to him.
He gave me a worried look and I could almost read the thoughts behind it. “As if this isn’t enough by itself.”
I did my best to take his mind off of it. I think it helped a little, but only a little. As I was getting ready to go to work, he warned me that he might not be around for a few weeks. I looked at him and could tell he wasn’t too happy about it, and that it was related to the whole mass of stress he’d been dealing with.
I gave him a kiss and told him I’d be waiting. I will too, he knows that. Maybe that’s part of it too– he’s afraid of losing me because of whatever it is and the hours he’ll be working on it. Sometimes it helps: knowing someone is waiting for you; someone who’ll be there for you.
Sometimes it makes all the difference in the world. I remembered how bleak everything felt when I thought I’d lost him. I’m not about to let go now and I told him as much.
Last night’s briefing was short simple and very familiar: nothing to report. I did my exercises and I took Terry through the obstacle course with the bike. We’re both doing a lot better.
This morning was more of the same. We actually did get a cat in the tree call. The ladder truck crew were so happy they actually took it. I was tempted to come along and see if the cat needed CPR.
One thing I can say is that this assignment is really making me appreciate the chaos I’m used to. I honestly miss it. Around 1500 two more medics arrived.
I was surprised that they were sending them out this soon, but I guess they decided to go with it while everybody was still in agreement.
Terry was about to go back to waxing the truck when the Captain handed him his orders. The second wave of trainees were officially on assignment.
It’s amazing how much the shift changed after that. At about 1730 a flatbed arrived with two bikes. I recognized them right away, mine and Rays. I felt a brief pang of uncertainty as I noticed the body work on both of them.
I took my helmet and noticed that Ray’s now bore the winged bike symbol. We’d both been lucky and here I was getting right back into it. Worse I was leading three more medics to the uncertain world of extreme rescue.
I told it to them straight– it’s a dangerous job, more dangerous than normal. I mean, yeah, trucks get hit all the time by people running lights, trying to get through, or ‘not seeing’ us. It’s a whole ‘nother world on the bike: People don’t see you a lot more often, people think they can beat a bike even more than they can the truck, and worse, there’s no big metal bus surrounding you if and when they hit you.
I could tell that they had already thought of that. That they’d already read the proposal, and my reports on what the job entails. Still, in spite of my best efforts, they were here and ready to give it a go.
And I was right, Ft. Lewis was the right place to begin.
Now it doesn’t matter that we don’t get calls, I’m actually appreciating it. Its giving my trainees the time they need to get acclimated.
Terry’s no problem, he’s been wanting this since he first heard about it, and he’s already gone through several of the obstacle courses. The other two, Tristan and Smythe are a little unsure, but they’re getting the hang of it.
We’ve got simulator time scheduled for Wed night down at the arcade. That should really give them something to think about. Maybe I should wait, but PC told me that the calibrations had to be set and that we can start them off easy.
We alternated who was in the truck and who was on the bikes so that everybody had a chance. After a call, we all would go over the bike and then adjourn to the conference room for a post game analysis.
It feels good to be back in the game. Hope Ray feels the same.
This morning we got a surprise– one more trainee. His appearance all but shocked me. It was none other than Officer Smiley, the cop that had tried to arrest me for failure to yield to a police officer when I had first stated the program out here.
He handed me his papers. Turns out he’d been spending his nights becoming a paramedic. I checked his jacket and his marks were perfect.
“Officer Smiley,” I greeted him with a grin.
“Miller,” he answered in kind. “See you’re teaching a new band of miscreants.”
I chuckled. “And you’re one of ‘em.”
After that we settled down and I began covering the hazards and particulars of the job. We had three calls in the morning and then in the evening, after shift change, we went down to the arcade. PushCiti had cleared one of the rooms for us and a bank of simulators had been prepped. It took him about 15 minutes to get everyone settled in.
Then, since this was for training, not for play, he proceeded to tweak everyone’s setting until he had the perfect setup for all four of our trainees.
We spend the next few hours working out on the simulator. We started them off slowly, but Officer Smiley was definitely bored at that setting. We upped him to the highest game level to see how he did.
I guess with his police training, he’d pretty much seen and done everything I have. We kicked him into my routine and blew through it without any problems.
Smythe made the mistake of watching Officer Smiley go through his paces and nearly quit then and there.
We talked about it over drinks afterwards. Terry’s excited about the whole thing, Tristan is very calm about the whole thing, but Smythe seems to be one ball of tension bouncing from scene to scene. Smiley is a shoe in.
After we split up, I went back to the arcade and went through my paces. I’m still a little shaky on the more intense scenarios.
As I finished, I noticed that PC and Smiley were watching me. I could tell they’d seen it too. Some of the edge was missing. Its bad enough realizing it yourself, and quite another when the people around you notice.
It was Smiley who talked to me. He told me he was surprised I had gotten back on after that first accident, that if I really want it– I’ll work it out.
It was kinda funny, getting a pep talk from one of my trainees, but lets face it, Smiley’s been through this before.
After thinking about it, after that first accident, I was right back out on the bike. Here, I’ve had to take my time– ease back into it, wait for my body to co-operate, and in the meantime, I’ve had too much time to think about it.
We made a tentative ‘date’ to go dirt biking Friday, provided my therapist clears me for it.