He turns off the TV, fiddles with the remote control to his easy chair, and slowly raises his chair up. â€œLook, she dropped a glass and picked it up and . . . Geez, I donâ€™t know.â€ He shrugs and frowns then shakes his head. â€œAll I could hear was her talking about her pieces.â€
Mrs. Townsend screams from the bathroom. â€œAll right,” I say. “Weâ€™ll come back to that.â€ I hold up my hand. I know I need to get back to Mrs. Townsend. â€œGive me a minute.â€
I make my way back into the bathroom. Mrs. Townsend is beginning to hyperventilate again.
â€œHelp me,â€ she says. She pries her hands apart, holds them up to her face, and studies them. â€œWhat happened to my pieces?â€ She turns to me. â€œWhy are they hurting me?â€
â€œMrs. Townsend, those arenâ€™t your pieces, honey.â€ I kneel beside the tub and pat her on the back. â€œThatâ€™s glass.â€
She frowns. â€œI donâ€™t understand.â€ She begins to cry.
I keep rubbing her back. Geez. Whatâ€™s taking the EMTs so long? I wonder. She needs to get to a hospital.
The Corral Reef Operator always dispatches an ambulance for community calls, and the EMTs usually take about 10 minutes after the call has been placed. I check my watch. Itâ€™s been 15 minutes already. I lower my head and make eye contact with Mrs. Townsend. “Honey, Iâ€™m gonna need your cooperation.â€
â€œWhat do you want?â€ She rocks back and forth, her hands still cupped.
â€œI just need you to open your hands so I can see your cuts. We need to stop the bleeding.â€ I put the black towel on her lap and reach to pull her hands apart.
She shrugs me off. â€œIâ€™ve got to keep my pieces.â€
â€œThe pieces will be fine. Weâ€™ve got to stop the bleeding, honey.â€ I reach for her wrist.
â€œStop.â€ She pulls away again. Sheâ€™s surprisingly strong. I use a little more force. â€œNooo,â€ she screams. Then, I hear the EMTs in the other room, talking to Mr. Stevens. â€œGuys, weâ€™re in here,â€ I scream. Two male EMTs quickly rush in.
A squat, young man smiles. â€œDid somebody call?â€
â€œO.K., gents.â€ I pull them aside and take them into the hallway to discuss Mrs. Townsendâ€™s condition without alarming her. â€œSheâ€™s got abrasions on her feet and hands and is resisting aid. Sheâ€™s delusional and is exhibiting signs of shock. I think we need to give her an injection of Nembutal. Sheâ€™s not gonna go anywhere unless we can get her sedated.â€
â€œO.K., Bob, itâ€™s your turn,â€ the squat EMT says. â€œRun and get the stuff.â€
Bob looks at the squat EMT with some animosity. Bob puts his hands on his hips.
â€œItâ€™s your turn, man,” the squat EMT says again. “You know it is. Go on, get going.â€
Bob rushes off in a huff.
Then, I remember Jack Stevens. â€œCan you attend to her while I talk to her husband?â€ I ask the squat EMT.
â€œSure,â€ he shrugs. â€œNo problem. I can handle her.â€ He snaps on his latex gloves.
As I turn to leave, Ruthâ€™s eyebrows furrow; she frowns and begins to sob again.
I come back to her side. â€œRuth, Iâ€™ve got somebody whoâ€™s going to help you. This is . . . â€œ I turn to look at the EMT.
â€œDan,â€ he says.
â€œThis is Dan. Heâ€™ll take care of you.â€
â€œO.K.,â€ Ruth sniffles.
I walk into the living room to talk to Jack. Heâ€™s turned the TV back on. â€œWhatâ€™s going on Jack? Why isnâ€™t your wife cooperating?â€
â€œI donâ€™t like your tone.â€ Jack puffs up his chest up in defiance. â€œWhat? Do you think Iâ€™ve done something?â€