A Year In Seattle
Thursday, January 4th, 2057 – Saved by bad luck.
This story was originally told in Long Dark Night and was my first trip inside Jess’s head.
One of these days you’d think I’d learn to ignore the milk in the fridge…
I followed Fin’s directions. They ended up taking me to a bar in Puyallup– Twenten’s. The atmosphere was calm enough. Turns out the meeting was with a fixer that Fin knew, and owed a favor or three. The man needed a few people to retrieve a ‘friend’ of his.
I knew it was bad when he told us the location. I knew it was even worse when he wouldn’t tell us any more than the basics. The ‘friend’ would be waiting for us– all we had to do was pick him up and get him back to the ‘nicer’ side of Puyallup.
Everything was wrong from the start. We were dropped off in what turned out to be the middle of a gang war. We never saw hide nor hair of this ‘friend.’ Turns out he was dead even before we agreed to get him out.
Dwight Heavy, the fixer claims he didn’t know that, but at least he paid us. It pretty much covered the expenses we incurred.
We almost ended up dead before we even got close to where we were supposed to be. We got surrounded by gangers, probably the luckiest thing that happened to us all night– as near as we can gather if we’d actually made it to the rendezvous point we’d have been dead along with the fixers ‘friend.’
He died of lead poisoning. We probably would have too if one of the gangers, a kid really, hadn’t gotten messed up by enemy gunfire.
One minute I was sure we were all dead and the next minute I didn’t care about anything but a kid with a bullet in him. Ray was on duty– he helped me get the kid taken care of. Seems rescue teams aren’t too crazy about this area and since Citywide doesn’t really get paid to take care it, its more of a no man’s land.
We got the kid taken care of, and in thanks, the gang let us go. The others seemed interested in what the fixer had to say, but I didn’t really care about it. I figured I’d read about it in the holofax in the morning.
The story didn’t even make the news– go figure.
I checked the fridge and found another note on the milk. I took the milk, dumped it down the sink and incinerated the carton– note and all.
I figure it was past its expiration date anyway.
Friday, January 5th, 2057 – I don’t make trouble.
Still no word from Case, so I was on my own for the visit to my physical therapist. After that, I trooped down to the Star station and checked in with Saunders.
PT was about what I’ve come to expect. But my clean living must be paying off, I’ve been cleared for riding again. I’m still not allowed to work on the bike, but at least I can transport myself– which is a lot better than depending on cabs and imposing on Case. – I really wish I knew where he was.
That’s probably what drove Therese up the wall never knowing if he was going to disappear while working on something. Still, I know the job and I know how it gets– he’ll probably have a few sleepless nights worrying about me.
Still, I’m mobile again.
That was pretty much the good news for the day. Saunders didn’t have anything for me, but when he returned my disk I realized he’d palmed it and handed me a different one. I gave him a wistful shrug as he groused at me about ‘bustin’ his chops’.
As I headed out I was stopped by Detective Young. He didn’t seem too happy to see me ‘lurking around.’
“I’m not lurking,” I told him as I pointed to my visitor pass. “I’m visiting.”
He didn’t seem too– amused by my clarification, and warned me that he would find out what was going on. He also implied that he would figure out my involvement in my brothers’ disappearance and that I would make a mistake and he would be there to get me.
I bit back my reply and just waved him off. “You know hon,” I told him. “I didn’t choose this life– I just live it. And right now– I want to find my brothers, so if you aren’t going to help me, at least stay out of my way.”
I left as he began a great tirade on everything that irritated him about civilians, medics, and troublemakers– I guess that’s his opinion of me.
I don’t make trouble– I just seem to be really good at finding it.
Saturday, January 6th, 2057 – Visits
I spent the better part of the morning amusing myself by keeping the cats happy. No mean feat mind you, Taco wanted to play and Maxwell wanted to sleep… in my lap. It gave me way too much time to think.
I stared at the cards that were now laid out on the dining room table. I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I somehow- shuffled them together, I’d get the whole story. After an hour or so of torturing myself with the order of things I packed them up and reviewed the chip Saunders had given me.
I guess it’s going back to fighting the battles you can win. Once I’d loaded everything into memory, I copied the disk and headed out. First stop was the safety deposit box where I left the cards and the copy of the disk.
It felt good to ride again, but I was also glad it wasn’t rush hour. I was rusty enough that I was glad I had more room to maneuver around in. I’m definitely not in any shape for more ‘strenuous riding.’
I stopped by Everett General and saw Mario. They were finally releasing him after garnering his promise to take better care of himself. I offered him a ride home, but one look at the helmet under my arm and he chuckled.
“They want me to live stress-free,” he teased. “I have seen the way you ride.”
I grinned. “I’ll catch you at home then,” I told him. I still had a few hospitals to visit.
I made the rounds, no matches on the missing person’s cases, no cases that sounded even remotely like my brothers. It was indeed as if they’d vanished off the face of the earth.
My last stop was Good Samaritan in Puyallup. I slipped in between visiting hours and checked the chart on the kid we brought in after the failed ‘run’. Dar Allen.
From the looks of things, he’s going to be all right, if he can keep from catching any more stray bullets. As I started to leave I was stopped by one of his friends.
“Why you here?” he asked. It wasn’t a demand, and there wasn’t any posturing with the question, he just wanted to know.
I looked at him for a minute. “I’m a medic,” I told him. “I tend to check up on my patients…”
He nodded. I could tell he had more questions, and yet he was content to leave them unasked.
I knew what they were just the same. “Why did you help him?” “Why do you care?” “What were you doing there in the first place?”
I looked at him for a few moments and then nodded back. Some things just don’t make sense when you try and explain them.
We went our separate ways and when I got home there was a note in the fridge. I almost threw it away until I noticed the handwriting. I read the note and smiled. It was from Case.
“I”m in the bedroom, I’ll see you when you get in.”
I peeked in and he was sound asleep, so I took a long bath and settled in next to him.
Sunday, January 7th, 2057 – Back to the grind.
It was nice getting to spend at least part of the day with Case. During the night we’d managed to curl up in each other’s arms. It was nice to wake up with him smiling down at me.
It was as if we both agreed not to talk about anything other than being together. I knew whatever he was working on was sensitive and I knew I really didn’t want to tell him about the ‘Fin escapade.’
I could tell he’d heard about some of it. It was kinda hard to hide my call to Ray and the fact that we got an ambulance to go down there at all was nothing short of a miracle. I ‘cooked’ breakfast for us: cereal in soyamilk. As Case read the paper I sprawled out on the couch and phased out in front of the trid. We stayed like that for almost an hour before either one of us spoke.
I told him I was cleared for riding, he told me that he probably wouldn’t be ‘home’ until next weekend. Neither of us really wanted to think about that much so we just cuddled on the couch until it was time for me to go to work.
Since Case wouldn’t be able to pick me up, I rode into work. It felt good to be on the bike again, but I can see that I still need to take it easy. I didn’t really realize how much work riding could be.
Monday, January 8th, 2057 – Real Work.
Three coats of wax and I’m putting pylons out in the parking lot so I can start working on fine tuning my control and reflexes on the bike.
Terry and I ended up taking turns on the bike. He’s got a good touch, a tad shaky, but I could see him taking them at full tilt within a week… especially with our busy schedule.
I am beginning to look forward to ANY call, even a cat in the tree call, but there has been nothing. No calls, or if there were. they were handled by the base medics.
I’d almost prefer dispatch to this– almost.
Amazing how much things can change in 12 hours. The base medics were called out to help with a plane crash, leaving us lowly Citywide employees to hold down the fort. And hold it we did, barely.
Three accidents, one choking victim.. a full call-out fire complete with smoke inhalation, burns and real work for all involved.
We almost had everything under control when the fire reached a stash of ammo and fireworks. That meant we all had to kick into overdrive. The team that was in the room were a mess. I found myself regretting wanting ‘real work.’ Especially when the work I had to do was was on people I knew.
I shuddered slightly, but again, I was doing what I love, the thing that makes me ‘me.’ Lives were in danger and I was where I needed to be to help. I was tired by the end of it, but I thought I felt a sigh of release pass through me.
All the second-guessing and guilt– I can’t hear it when I’m doing my job. It’s funny– I only seem to find peace with I’m in the center of total chaos and I only seem to come to life in the light of flashing red and white lights.
I’m pretty sure there’s something seriously messed up there but at least I know the way.
Tuesday, January 9th, 2057 – Trainees
I woke up around 0800. My muscles were killing me and it hurt to move, but as I tried to roll out of bed, Terry showed up with a cup of coffee for me. He didn’t look much better than I felt.
“Ouch,” I commented as I tried to reach for the up and discovered just how stiff I was.
He nodded and moved closer so I could take the cup without stretching.
“Thanks,” I managed to grumble into the cup.
He chuckled. “Still bored?”
If I’d had more energy, I’d have glowered at him. As it was I just shook my head.
He nodded understandingly. “Grab a shower. It’ll make you feel better,” he urged.
“Soon as I figure out how to get up,” I told him.
He chuckled and gave me a hand up.
A shower, a chance to walk it off some and I was feeling much better.
As we washed and waxed the rigs Terry asked me about the motor-medic program. I wasn’t sure at first, but it turns out he was seriously interested.
I think Citywide has its next candidate for the program– I just have to convince them of it.
The day was relatively calm so I started going over the requirements and basics with Terry. I think he has what it takes– if you can convince him to follow procedures and protocols.
Who am I kidding, I’m no good at following protocols, especially when they’re counterproductive.
Wednesday, January 10th, 2057 – Reputations
Terry and I worked out this morning, in the weight room and then on the bike. Talking to him I found out that the biggest problem with getting him into the program is going to be his rep. He’d gotten to Fort Lewis by ticking off some pretty important people in Citywide’s chain of command.
They’d labeled him a troublemaker and it pretty much seems to have stuck. One phone call to the main offices had confirmed that. Still, Fort Lewis was an ideal place to start. With few calls and a lot less traffic, it gives a rider a chance to test his wings before having to deal with everything at once.
After about four phone calls, it looked like they all agreed that Fort Lewis would make a good training ground. The jury was still out on Terry, but I know he’s got what it takes. The only problem was convincing them of that.
I didn’t tell them, but I figure if I’m training people again, it means I’m going to be getting the workouts I need to get back out on the road.
In the afternoon we were working with the pylons again. Terry’s almost up to speed on what he’s doing– And the program is back on track.
We got a call late in the afternoon from a very bored sounding Ray. That was when I came up with a plan. I didn’t want to stay at Lewis any longer than I had to– I need to be where the real work is. Ray doesn’t belong in dispatch, but he’s still on the mend and then there’s that whole– ‘safe job’ thing he’s got going with his girlfriend.
Fort Lewis isn’t entirely ‘safe’ but its close enough… and it means that we could kick-start things. Let Ray teach medics at Fort Lewis, and let me guide them through the transition from the ‘class’ to the full-blown job.
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk to Ray, and then, hopefully, the brass.
Copyright – 2000 M.T. Decker