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Published by dandude505

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Published by: dandude505 on May 02, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007
 Summer, 2000
The man's face is waxy and pale. His cheeks and eyes are sunken, the lips drawn in a wrinkled circle outlining his gums. His dentures sit in a glass on the night stand. I takemy time attaching monitor electrodes while Pardner attaches a bag-mask device to theoxygen cylinder. If I thought there was any hope at all, I'd have started off with thehands-free defibrillation electrodes. Pardner would have been doing CPR.I knew he was dead when I walked in the room. Attaching the monitor and watching theflat line march across the screen merely confirmed it. I check his hands and his back.The fingers and wrists are stiff, and his back is mottled with lividity. Pardner and I tradea look.I straighten and turn to the woman standing behind me in the doorway, supportingherself on a walker with tennis balls on the legs."Is there anything that can be done?" the woman asks, her voice every bit as frail as therest of her."I'm afraid not," I tell her gently. "Nothing we'd try would work. He died sometimeduring the night, in his sleep."She nods silently as she looks at the body in the bed, her husband of fifty years. Behindher stands the staffer of the assisted living home who called us. She looks moreemotional than the old woman.The old woman lets out a ragged sigh and turns back to the living room, pausing to givethe aide a gentle, sympathetic pat on the arm as she goes. She putters around the smallkitchenette, arranging mail, placing her breakfast dishes in the sink, emptying coffeegrounds and her husband's uneaten breakfast into the trash.I watch her as she moves about the kitchen as if no one else is there, as if her husband weren't lying dead in the next room. She pours a cup of coffee, turns around and offers itto me."I suppose I need to call the funeral home," she muses, speaking to no one in particular.I take the cup from her and pass it to Pardner, and steer the woman to the couch."I need to tidy this place up before the funeral home boys get here," she mutters. "Somuch to do..."
"Ma'am." I lay my hand gently on her arm. "Why don't you let us do that for you? Youshouldn't have to worry with all this," I tell her softly, gesturing to the nearly immaculate apartment behind me."If not me, then who?" she asks hollowly, looking me in the eyes. Pardner clears histhroat."Ain't there somebody we can call, hon?" he asks. "Family, maybe? A preacher?""No, there was nobody but us. He was all I had left." And then the tears come. We sit there with her and wait for the coroner to arrive, me next to her on the couch andPardner sitting in a chair, for the better part of an hour.Not a word is spoken. But we stay anyway.
 Late Spring, 2005 
Her face is misshapen, the blonde hair plastered to her skull, still wet with blood. Her tongue is bloated, her face purplish. She had run straight through the stop sign, striking a pine tree head-on. She lay slumped over the steering wheel, pinned between it and the seat, her blood poolingon the deflated air bag. Her shoulder restraint is still in place.
I play my flashlight around the wreckage of the car while Part-Time Partner rants and bangs on the roof of the car behind me. There is a formal dress still in its cellophane wrapper lying in the floorboard behind the front seats, and a garter hanging on the rear view mirror mount, still stuck to the shattered windshield.This is how PTP deals with the senselessness of it all - he gets angry. He has daughtersthis age, and I know what he is thinking. There is no one here but me and the deputy tosee him vent his fear and frustration. PTP keeps it in and seethes silently when we havean audience."Goddamned prom parties!" he shouts, gesturing to the pinkening sky behind us. "Why the fuck else would she be out at this time of the morning?"I say nothing, walking around the wreckage, playing my flashlight over the ground."Probably drunk off her ass," he continues, veins bulging in his neck, "seventeenGoddamn years old and now her life is
before it even
"No alcohol evident in the vehicle," the deputy points out quietly. "You smell anything?"
"No," I answer.Did you know you can smell the alcohol in someone's blood? You can."No skid marks, either," the deputy sighs, pointing his flashlight back up the road. "Shenever even hit the brakes. Besides, she was a responsible kid. I'm thinking she fell asleepat the wheel."
"You knew her? I asked.
"Yeah," he says sadly, his shoulders sagging. "My daughter's the same age. We go tochurch with her family." He clicks off his flashlight and places it back in the holder onhis duty belt, looks absently back up the road. "Wrecker oughta be here in a few minutes, then I'm gonna have to go tell her Daddy. Damn."PTP looks at him for a moment, hands still clenching and unclenching, veins still bulging in his neck. Then he marches purposefully to the ambulance, opens the reardoors and climbs in. A moment later, he emerges carrying a folded sheet and carries itover to the wrecked Honda Accord. He unfolds the sheet and carefully, gently covers her body with it."Sun's coming up," he grunts in explanation and I nod my understanding. "I don't wantpeople driving by and gawking at her." As if on cue, a pair of headlights appears over the crest of a hill and grows steadily closer. The deputy removes the flashlight from his belt and signals the truck to goaround us. As the pickup pulls abreast of the scene, passing just feet from the deputy, hefreezes. The truck continues on for a few feet, and then skids to a stop with a screech of  brakes. A man and a woman bail out of the truck and run back toward the wreck. The deputy intercepts the man, and PTP and I are left to deal with the woman. I step in front of herand catch her before she reaches the car.
"That's my baby!" 
she screams frantically as I try, and fail, to wrap my arms aroundhers.
"Let me GO! Let me see my baby!" 
she screams as she flails at me impotently.There is nothing I can say to her, so I lower my head and let the blows rain down. Noneof them do any damage anyway. She's not trying to hurt anyone. PTP moves behind herand tries to grab her hands.I look over her shoulder and see the deputy with his hands on the father's shoulders,forehead to forehead, saying something I can't hear.PTP and I manage to walk the mother over to the front of our rig, and she collapses in aheap, still crying and screaming "
my baby!
" hysterically. PTP's eyes are moist and his jaw muscles bunch as he kneels next to her, one hand laid gently on her shoulder as she wraps her arms around her chest, trembling violently.

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