A Year In Seattle
Thursday, July 27th, 2056 – What ifs
Today I nearly spilled on the way to work. I should have taken that as a warning, but as always, there was too much happening and way too many people needing our services. Then came the big spill, where I did go down. All I can tell you is the fact that I don’t remember much of what happened, but it’s coming back.
It was raining, big surprise there, and I was responding to another cardiac call. I was heading towards an intersection, full code 3 response– lights, sirens… the works. Next thing I know I’m in the middle of the intersection, flat on my back, looking up at officer Smiley.
He told me my first reaction was to ask him how bad the others were. The rest is hazy, but he tells me that I talked him through everything I needed, from calling dispatch to immobilizing me.
I do remember the chopper and being winched into the air. The flight itself was a blur, but I know it was bad. I could hear it in the medic’s voice as he tried to tell me everything was fine.
I ended up in Harbor View and I’m glad I did. Harbor View is known for its emergency care, but they aren’t known for magical healing. That’s where my last few days worth of adventuring came in.
Seems word of my arrival and condition reached the ears of the Walker family. I don’t know how they knew, or how they managed to get through security, but one of them came to me and …
One minute I was in pain, and very scared- the next I was floating peacefully. I swear it was one of the most wonderful feelings I’ve ever had. When I woke up, Ray and Officer Smiley were playing poker waiting for me to wake up.
I’ve never been healed magically before, but let me tell you- it’s the only way to fly!
I came back down to earth when Officer Smiley told me what had happened. He had pulled somebody over for speeding and was writing them up when he heard me approaching. He turned as he heard squealing tires and saw a limo pull out as I passed. Guess he thought I was through– wrong.
I swerved goosing the throttle, but there was no missing him. He clipped my rear wheel, and that’s all he wrote. All things considered, I got off really lucky. The bike’s going to be in the shop for a while. I don’t think I mind riding in the truck for now.
There’s a whole series of ‘what ifs’ that have been running through my head all night and let me tell you- its enough to give anybody pause.
What if I’d been a fraction of a second slower? What if the Limo had been a tad faster? What if Officer Smiley hadn’t been there? What if I’d ended up at General instead of Harbor View? What if I’d never met the Walkers?
Ah well, a world of what ifs can drive you crazy and I still have a job to do. Thanks to Mrs. Walker, I’m here to do it.
Friday, July 28th, 2056 – Changes
Its still kinda hard to believe I’m still on the job after yesterday. Hard to believe I’m still breathing if you think about it.
Believe me, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it.
I don’t know; it’s almost enough to make you believe in something beyond the rat race. I’ve never been one for religion, but there have been too many coincidences lately. Yeah, I’ve been playing the ‘if’ game again. Have to watch it or I won’t know which end is up.
I do know I got up early and spent a few hours at the clinic before heading to work though. I am a firm believer in ‘what comes around goes around.’
Matt called it Karma, Alan called it ‘cosmic balance’, Andy just called it luck. Whatever, I’m not taking chances, well, any more than usual.
The shift was comparatively quiet for most of the evening. Only two accidents and one shooting, not bad for a Friday night. Kinda makes me worry about what they have in store for us tomorrow.
I was about halfway through the shift when I realized what else was missing: the motorcycle tail. Guess he had to take it in for repairs. Of course, it’s not like I’m going out on any calls on the bike, not until she checks out. I stopped by central on the way in to check on her… I’m lucky to be alive. One look at my helmet and I knew that the protective gear had kept me together long enough that there was something for the Walkers to bring back.
The helmet took the abuse that would have probably splattered the grey matter all over the pavement. There was no reviving it, but I was alive because of it. Kinda heavy.
I didn’t use to dwell on mortality, really. It’s something new to go with everything else. I still don’t know what’s going on, and if I don’t hear from Fin soon… I may have to do something to change that.
At least that was my line of thinking until I looked at Ray. I swear for a fraction of a second I thought I saw a red dot on his forehead. This is so uncool that I have to do something. I don’t like threats to my friends, real or imagined and something tells me, it’s going to get a lot worse. You’d think after two and a half weeks they’d have packed it in by now- or have they and they’re only in my imagination now?
I looked at my bike and the devices someone had oh so carefully planted. It was not my imagination. The only question is then- what do I do about it?
One other change though. This morning I rented a safety deposit box. I’m leaving a copy of my notes, so that if anything does happen to me- whoever comes looking for me… they’ll have a better idea of what was going on. Once this thing with the tails and the men I didn’t see is over- I’ll include a copy of my journal.
Just in case- I don’t want to leave somebody with the sort of mess the boys left… I just want some normalcy in my life.
Saturday, July 29th, 2056 – Life goes on.
Let me get this out of the way now. Birth is messy. Okay, life is messy, and for most of the people I see, leaving it is just as messy, but coming into this world has got to be one of the messiest things I’ve ever seen.
There- I feel better now. Yes, today’s calls included a pregnant woman who gave birth on the way to the hospital. And trying to do anything on a moving ambulance can get pretty hairy. When it became obvious we weren’t going to get to the hospital in time, I had Ray pull over.
Between the two of us, the woman and her husband, and the baby for that matter, it’s amazing we got anything done. She was in pain, and we couldn’t give her anything, so she had to rely on the breathing exercises as the little one made her grand entrance.
Once she was out, Ray began suctioning while I clamped the umbilical cord. After drying her off and suctioning again, she was wrapped up in a blanket. We placed her on her mother’s stomach and got rolling again. I checked on the mother and made sure she and the baby were fine and stayed that way.
We got them to the hospital without further incident. The father smiled at us and told us it was a miracle. The pride and joy in his eyes was worth it.
I guess it was a miracle, but how come all the miracles in the bible are nice and clean and beautiful and this is so messy? Just the way it is, I guess. Still, it’s nice to see that life goes on.– messy though it may be.
Sunday, July 30th, 2056 – Confrontation
The motorcycle is back, and they did fix the misfire. I think they’re trying to get noticed now. No, there’s no thinking about it, they are trying to get noticed. The car pulled up next to me at a stop light and the passenger just looked at me from behind mirrored shades.
He had one of those practiced ‘don’t mess with me,’ expressions that I swear they teach cops to make. It happened at three more lights, so I did the only thing I could do really.
I went to the local Lone Star substation and told an officer there that there were these two men following me. I don’t think they were too happy with me, but they’re the ones who started this game.
They were back on me by mid-shift so when I finished my shift, instead of going home, I went to the central precinct house and filed a complaint of two men following me. As I filed the complaint, they walked up to the officer I was working with and asked him to allow them to take over.
I feigned ignorance, demanding to know what was going on. I told the officer that these were the same men who were following me. The first one brought out his badge and held it out for me to see. Daniels, I’m going to remember that name.
“Then why were you following me?” I demanded.
“We have our reasons,” he told me as he took over the officer’s chair and his partner sat way too close to me, straddling the chair so that its back was between us.
I shook my head. “Not good enough,” I told them, looking from one to the other. “And I know I’ve seen your car around, so either tell me what’s going on or leave me alone.”
The indignation was real, even if the ignorance wasn’t. I had really had enough.
“Why were you poking around the morgue?”
“I have my reasons,” I told him in the same tone of voice he’d used.
“And that would be?”
I gave him an exasperated look. “Finally, someone in this town who doesn’t know my business.”
That earned an extra special glare from Daniels’ partner, who never once showed me his badge. “You can co-operate or we can make this very unpleasant.”
“You’ve already made this very unpleasant,” I told him. “Do you know what its like to think … just to think you’re being followed, after being stalked by an ex-boyfriend? Do you know what its like to go from thinking, and telling yourself its all in your imagination, only to find out it isn’t? And when you complain, you find out that your ‘stalker’ is a cop? You want to know what I do at the morgue- ask Dr. Chen, ask the desk Sargent, ask Sargent Andrews, or Saunders down in records- read the freakin’ paper, or try asking me, but this harassment bit of following me and intercepting my complaint is a bit much and completely unnecessary.”
“Ms. Miller,” Daniels said, trying to sound soothing.
“And if you know my name, you shouldn’t have to ask. Why do I go to the morgue? Why does anybody go to the morgue? To look at dead people. If you want I’ll be back there tomorrow and you can watch me look at dead people.”
“Ms. Miller,” he tried again. “There is no need to be hostile… we’re here to help you.”
“Here to help me,” I repeated a little sarcastically. “And how is following me around, scaring me half to death going to help me?”
I couldn’t help myself, I was on a roll.
“All right,” Daniels said in a nice calm soothing, very faked I might add, voice. “Tell us…”
I looked at him, surprise and exasperation showing on my face. “I’m Jess Miller…” I started, sounding like he was being very slow, which he was.
“We know that much,” his partner growled.
I shook my head and sighed. “My brothers Matt, Alan, and Andy are missing.” I kept my eyes wide and nodded at them like I was expecting them to catch on.
The rest of it went something like this:
Good Cop: “I see… so you were looking for them.”
Me: “Actually, when I’m at the morgue, I’m trying not to find them.”
Bad Cop: “I don’t like your attitude.”
Me: “And I don’t like being followed. If you’d like I could file an itinerary.”
Good Cop: ” That won’t be necessary.”
Bad Cop: (sulk)
Me: “How long have you been following me anyway?”
Good Cop: “Not long…”
Me: “But if you know I’ve been going to the morgue, that means… you’ve been following me… a week, two weeks?”
Bad Cop: (smug) : “Three.”
Me: “Three weeks!? And you couldn’t ask? Half the precinct knows my business and you’re wasting time following me?”
Good Cop: “We have our reasons.”
Me: “So you keep telling me…”
Good Cop: “I’m sorry we scared you…”
Me: “So…did you at least get the number of the limo that hit me?”
Bad cop decided to take a new approach. “What did you find at the morgue?”
I shrugged. “Dead people,” I answered shaking my head. “Last week I found a girl who’d been killed by organ leggers, because the drugs they used to subdue her had no effect, so they bludgeoned her to death. Before that, a couple of John Does, including a burn victim that was found in my brother’s car. Fortunately, it wasn’t any of my brothers. The week before that, 3 guys we pulled from an accident scene.. DOAs.. The week before that, two mutilation homicides and a wino… before that…more of the same.”
“We have to ask these questions because you seem to know your way around the morgue all too well…” Daniels again.
I bowed my head in exasperation. “I’m a medic. We have to do post mortums once every six months to keep our ‘skills sharp.’ It’s regulation. You either get used to it, or you leave the profession.”
Daniels nodded. “I think we’re done here,” he announced.
I shook my head. “That depends,” I told him. “Are you going to keep following me?”
Bad cop scowled at me. He scowls well.
Daniels gave me a slight, and again very faked, laugh. “No… we’re sorry about this misunderstanding…”
I nodded innocently, but I think we all knew that it wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.
Monday, July 31st, 2056 – Tapped.
It was after noon by the time I got home from Sunday’s shift and my jaunt to the station. I took a long hot shower, called Trina to tell her that I was going to bed and that I’d stop by the clinic in the morning and went to bed.
At about four a phone call woke me up. When I picked it up, the line was very quiet and then a chilling voice said, “I’m watching you…” Then he hung up.
It wasn’t enough to recognize the voice, but after dealing with Aaron, I knew the procedures for dealing with threatening phone calls. I called the phone company and told them to send the number on to the police, reported what had been said and then settled back to bed. Two hours later the process was repeated.
The third time, I got to meet more of the ‘Star’s finest’. They came over and tapped the phone. Oddly enough I didn’t get any calls after that. Cute way to get my permission to tap the line, I’ve got to give them credit for that.
After the ‘excitement’ died down, I went to the diner. The one good thing about yesterday: it was payday. I treated myself to a steak dinner and went for a walk. Daniels and his friend were still there, but back to hiding. I’m beginning to wonder if those two ever sleep.
Actually, I should probably feel safer knowing that there are people out there so dedicated to duty. Too bad they’re dirty.
Tuesday, August 1st, 2056 – Looking at dead people.
I checked in with Trina at the clinic around eight and stayed until about eleven-thirty. After everything that happened this week, I was glad for the change of pace. No immediate emergencies, a few cuts, and scrapes.
I recognized one of the patients as one of the gangers. He looked as if he’d gone through a ringer. He remained calm and stoic as I checked his injuries. They were mostly superficial, a lot better than they looked. I started to say something and he shook his head and handed me a note.
I took the note and nodded slightly, then pretended to check the clipboard. “Let me get you some ice for that,” I told him and headed back to the nurse’s station.
My hand shook slightly as I opened the note, but I shouldn’t have worried. It was from Fin:
Good job confusing them. Things still hairy. Don’t give up. Play it close to the vest. Beware ValenzBioChem. Toast, eggs over easy.
I memorized the name, and smiled at the ‘toast, eggs over easy.’ It was a private little tag. I always had toast and eggs over easy before a big exam. Fin knew this. So, the real test was still to come.
I trashed the note and came back with the ice, but the ganger was long gone. He’d done what he’d come to do. One look from Trina and I knew that somehow she knew, at least some of it. I realized something I hadn’t done since the hospital had pronounced me ‘safe and sound.’
I hadn’t had my blood work-up redone. I wrote this down on the chart and Trina nodded. Not only did she know something was up, she knew I had to keep quiet about it. She handled it quietly and efficiently, using the ganger’s chart as the contact name, she drew blood and did the work up herself. I should have the results tomorrow.
I was about to leave when she gave me a warning look. “Be careful.” She mouthed. I nodded. It seems to be the watchword these days.
When I left the clinic, Daniels and his friend were out and visible, so I went over to them.
“I’m going to the morgue to look at dead people,” I told them. “Care to join me?”
Daniels shook his head. His partner simply scowled.
“Okay,” I told them. “Just thought I’d ask.”
Someday, I think I may regret doing that, but it felt so good at the time.
Andrews was waiting for me at the morgue. He looked kinda sheepish as he handed me an updated disk with the information on the missing person’s cases that were currently being worked. You’d think they’d have networked the hospitals and the police departments together by now, but still, half of what I found last week was because of intuition and knowing how injuries can change a person’s appearance.
Dr. Chen was in rare form as he started ‘introducing me’ to his clientele. Andrews lasted about ten minutes before he realized that he had an important meeting to go to. As he left the room, Dr. Chen looked at me with a slight pout.
“Was it something I said?” he asked, feigning a hurt expression.
That made me chuckle, as did how quickly his expression shifted back to his usual jovial, but morbid self. After he’d finished showing me all but the last of his charges he paused and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“This one… isn’t pretty,” he warned me. Coming from him, I know that meant it was pretty bad. I took a deep breath and nodded.
I clenched my fist as he pulled out the tray and revealed a young man, about Andy’s build. His face had been chewed off, probably by devil-rats. I swallowed hard as I tried to ID him. Between decomposition and teeth marks it was hard. Somebody had really not wanted this man identified. I moved forward and moved his hair aside slightly.
I let out a sigh of relief and looked up at Chen. There was no datajack.
It wasn’t Andy, but what had been done to the man was chilling. I looked at Dr. Chen and nodded. “If you can, can you give me your findings on this one?
He looked at me for a minute and nodded. Some people react by not reacting, some by running away. People like me deal with things like this, by trying to do something about it.
“Watch it, Jess,” he warned. “You keep this up, you’re going to either have Andrews’ job or you’re going to end up a ghoul like me.”
“Doc,” I told him. “It’s my job to keep cases away from you two.”
He grinned. “And yet… here we are.”
I smiled back. “Yeah, but I’m only one kid…”
He nodded solemnly. “Remember that Jess, you can’t do everything.”
Maybe I can’t do everything, but I sure as hell can try.
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2056 – A visit
The morning started out quietly enough. I woke up at about 9:30 and headed over to the clinic, skipping breakfast, which was a big mistake.
When I got there things were already hopping. Seems a cold was making its rounds and everybody had the sniffles. I think summer colds are the worst. I mean, if you’re sick and it’s cold and miserable out well, that’s fine, but when it’s nice out..
Scratch that, I forgot where I was. It’s damp and miserable here so why worry about it. It took till about 11:30 before we’d gotten the crowd down to two cases. When Trina finished with them, she called me in for a conference on Mickey Hernandez.
It took me a minute to realize that that was the name the ganger had given when he came in and gave me the note. I scanned ‘his’ chart as I looked at the results of my blood test.
The white blood cell count was up, triglycerides and cholesterol were within normal standards. But there were some abnormalities. The chemical composition was slightly off, almost as if there were still trace amounts of the chemical still in my system.
If that is the case, then I’m a walking talking sample of this chemical. The name ValenzBioChem floated through my mind as I thought of Fin’s warning. Maybe it wasn’t what I’d seen, but what I had that they wanted.
After I finished reading the chart, Trina told me that she wanted to see about getting him back in here and running a few more tests. It took me a minuted before I realized what she meant.
“I’ll try and get a hold of him,” I said with a slight nod.
Needless to say, I didn’t feel much like eating at lunchtime. I was having a staring contest with a tuna sandwich when the phone rang.
“Lynwood clinic,” I answered.
“Jess, I was hoping I’d find you there.” The voice was way too cheerful- Andrews again.
“Am I that predictable?”
“Well, I got your report on the John Does and the matches, you weren’t home and you aren’t on duty.”
“I’m that predictable,” I sighed. “What’s up.”
His voice grew serious. “It’s the Walker boy, he’s taking what happened pretty hard.”
I suppressed my first response which would have been a bit caustic and took a deep breath. “So where do I fit in?”
“Jonathan thought that maybe you could talk to him.”
A lot of thoughts went through my head at that point. The fact that the kid needs either a priest or a shrink, not a medic that’s got her own problems, but I realized that that was exactly why they wanted me. I was facing something similar and knew where the kid was coming from.
“He’s back home by now right?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Andrews answered. “Jonathan’ll meet you on the west bridge.”
Just like that. They knew that if they found me, I’d accept and I did.
The security check outside the Island seemed a bit tense when I approached. I guess there are still some places where a motorcycle means trouble, I just thought they’d all caught on by now.
Jonathan walked me through security and I began to suspect that there was a lot more to him than Andrews had told me. I could tell by the reaction of the people around us that there was something up there.
He seemed to be oblivious to it, so I didn’t say anything. Besides, I wasn’t there to see him. I was there to see Mike Walker.
His folks were waiting for me, that much was obvious. I tried to thank Mrs. Walker for healing me, but she just waved it off.
We pretty much dispensed with the pleasantries, and I went in to see Mike. He tried to be gracious, but I could see the hurt and the guilt in his eyes.
I asked him if he wanted to talk about it, but he just shook his head. I kinda knew how he felt. Finally, he let out a sigh and focused on me.
“They asked you to come, didn’t they?”
I nodded. I’m not going to lie to the kid.
“It was my fault,” he finally said. “I was the one who wanted to see the city, wanted to… ”
I let out an exasperated sigh and shook my head. “It wasn’t your fault. You two ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was no reason, no divine plan, just circumstance.”
He shot me a hard look at that one.
I let my breath out slowly and then told him why I was in Seattle. Why I happened to find his sister, and him.
“Just… circumstance…” he finally whispered.
I nodded. “It would be so easy if there was a reason or at least an answer to all the questions, but there never will be, and that’s what makes it hard.”
I don’t know if I was talking about me or about him at that point, it didn’t really matter. There was no resolution, no answer to all the questions. Just one of those things that you have to pick yourself up afterwards and move on.
I think we both had a good cry, but the problem with tearing open wounds like that is the fact that they seem to take forever to heal. I gave Mike my pager number, told him if he needed to talk, just to give me a call.
He nodded, and I made my exit, at least I would have if my blood sugar hadn’t dropped as low as it had. I passed out.
Great impression, great way of demonstrating how to take care of yourself. I woke up once again under Mrs. Walker’s watchful eye. She scolded me gently and made me eat something before I was allowed to talk. It was like dealing with Mario.
Great, now I’ve got two ‘mothers’ watching out for me. I keep this up, I’ll have adopted an entire family of my own. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do.
Dammit, I miss the boys.
Copyright 1999 – M.T. Decker