The dispatcher was right. By the time they got to Ames, the roads were wet but cleared.
The snowplow driver lifted his blade and got up to highway speed with Caleb hitting the gas right behind him.
The deputy pulled along side them and took off, Caleb got the message and followed
right behind him. The last 40 miles to Des Moines went by quickly. Bryan was watching the time and it was about 25 minutes for the last 40 miles. The only alarming thing was how quickly Caleb’s truck was going through gas. The big 4×4 was a work truck, not a highway cruiser, and keeping up a steady 80-90 mph to keep up with the deputy
was doing a number on the truck.
Caleb wouldn’t say anything about it until later but the maximum speed for the 4×4 with
the lift kit was only 70mph. Caleb was determined to get to Iowa Methodist as fast as he could, truck be damned. The truck was replaceable. Shawn, and the resulting hole in Bryan’s heart, would not be replaceable.
They saw the glow of the lights of Des Moines growing brighter in the clouds and Bryan
finally allowed himself a little hope. Shawn hadn’t said anything or even moved in the last hour which had him worried sick. Their thoughts were interrupted when the taillights of the squad car flashed ahead of them followed by the right turn signal. As Caleb tapped the brakes to slow down, a loud metal clang followed by the sound of something spinning out of control filled the air. Caleb hit the clutch and shifted down a gear and was relieved that it wasn’t the clutch that they had heard. It wasn’t until they tried to take off from the bottom of the ramp that the source of the noise became apparent.
Caleb slammed the 4×4 into 2×4 and the truck took off with a jump.
“FUCK!” Caleb screamed.
Bryan reached forward and put his hand on Caleb’s shoulder.
“Tell me how much it costs. Get it fixed and get it done right. I’m paying for it.”
“Fuck if you are Bryan. We are damn near there and she decided to break something.
Why not in the parking lot?”
Bryan let out a laugh, “Caleb…” he started but a moan escaped from Shawn’s
mouth quickly followed by a lurch forward and Shawn started throwing
“Aw shit.” was the combined exclamation.
Caleb grabbed one of the blankets tried to fashion a basket/bucket of some sort while
Bryan was trying to keep Shawn somewhat upright.
I’ll take care of Shawn as best I can from here.
Caleb focused on driving and narrowly avoided the squad car which had stopped when
they were no longer following. They took off again with the snow plow behind them. It was going to be a parade pulling into the hospital. The squad went into the ambulance entrance and they followed him in.
What happened next was like watching choreographed chaos. Hospital staff appeared from seemingly everywhere. Shawn was quickly gotten out of the truck and onto a gurney. He was wheeled in the trauma unit as quickly as they could. In spite of all the action and chaos around him, Shawn’s eyes briefly opened for a moment and a pleading “Wowdy?”
Caleb wasn’t behind Bryan this time. Bryan paused for a moment and stood frozen. One of the nurses quickly whisked him away towards registration where they got all of Shawn’s information from Bryan.
Caleb came back in to find Bryan sitting in the waiting room with a blank stare.
Caleb sat down next to Bryan and put his hand on his knee, “Bryan, what’s going on?”
“Well, they’ve wheeled him into the trauma unit. As they were about to bring him
back there, his eyes opened for a moment and he asked, “Wowdy?”
“Oh wow. Have you heard anything more yet?”
“No, it’s been 10 minutes and I’m sure there’s going to be a battery of tests done.
They know I’m engaged to him but there’s no power of attorney or advanced directive on record for him. I know what I need to do.”
Caleb squeezed his leg, “You have to contact his parents don’t you?”
“Yeah, if I can find them. I’ve met them a couple of times and they seemed to like
me but this is going to be an awful call to have to make. I can tell them that Shawn’s in the trauma unit after a fall and hitting his head. That’s all we know. I’m just praying that we didn’t wait to long to get him here.”
Caleb looked Bryan in the eyes, “We couldn’t have known how bad it was. He hit his
head and a bit later told us that he had a headache. He took some ibuprofen and laid down to rest. We couldn’t know.”
“I know Caleb but…”
“I’ll be here for as long as you are here. I’ll be here for you, like you were there
for me. We are family…”
“Caleb, I need to see if Shawn has his cell phone on him. His parents need to know
Bryan walked up to the registration window to see if he could see Shawn.
The registration clerk typed for a moment, “I’m sorry, he’s marked as unable to have
visitors at this time.”
“Why? I’m his fiancé Bryan. What’s going
The clerk typed again, muttering an expletive about their computer system, “Well, he’s being prepped for emergency surgery. It looks like they’re going to have to remove part of his skull to reduce the swelling. He’s in CT right now.”
Bryan felt himself get light headed and grabbed on to the counter. Caleb
saw Bryan get weak in the knees and bounded across the waiting room
to catch him if necessary. Bryan was startled by Caleb’s sudden appearance behind him but was also comforted by it.
Other Wednesday Briefs authors posting free flash fiction this week: