The flow of patients into the emergency room had slowed to a stop just like the breeze outside. The heat and humidity clung to the air like the drenched material at a wet T-shirt contest. It was stifling and difficult to breathe. Danni pondered the conditions and mentally considered the change in the patients that would soon be coming into the E.R. The stories would shift from trauma to the elderly that were unable to afford air conditioning and therefore suffered with the weather. Yes, this would be the time for asthmatics and those afflicted with heart conditions. It was almost the end of shift and the young blonde thought about what she would do on her time away from work.
"Hey, Danni, youre coming to the picnic on Saturday, right?" Rosie asked as she looked up from the list she was making.
Her train of thoughts interrupted, she blinked and slowly offered, "Yeah, Im coming. What do you need?"
"I need a good softball player for my team. You game?"
"When did I ever pass on the annual E.R. Softball challenge with the doctors?" The young nurse sprang into a softball pose. "Those docs wont know what hit them," she chuckled as she completed her follow through.
"Great!" Rosie cautiously inquired, "So you bringing anyone, my friend?"
Danni wiggled her nose and looked shyly to the floor, "You mean as a date? No " her head shook slightly from side to side. "But I did ask Garrett, I mean, Dr. Trivoli. I thought it would be nice for her to get to know us outside of the E.R. and have a little fun. She is new in town and all."
Rosie made a face and moaned. "Isnt it enough that we have to put up with her at work?" She eyed Danni. "Well at least she wont be on my team for the softball game."
Karen looked at the young blonde nurse, "Add one amazon to that list of strays." and shook her head slowly, smiling like a proud mother.
Danni blushed at the attention. Then, as if to change the subject, her eyes narrowed and she nudged the charge nurse saying, "Rosie and I should be furious with you. You played us both by not telling us about Garrett before we acted like idiots."
Startled, Rosie vigorously agreed, "Yeah, why didnt you warn us?"
Mom just chuckled. "You know, some lessons are better learned by experience than by being told. Besides, I couldnt help but enjoy the faces that you two were giving back and forth. It was worth every minute."
"Yeah, well, thanks a lot for letting me make a smelly fool of myself."
"Gee, I wonder how Trivoli saw it?" Karen mused. "Guess Ill have to ask her when I see her on Saturday. She is coming with you isnt she?"
Danni realized that they had not finished making plans before the last trauma patient arrived. "Ah I think so. Ill have to check with her before I leave."
The charge nurse pushed the phone in her direction, "No time like the present, the shift is just about over."
The small blonde glanced at the nightly on-call schedule that hung on the counter. Finding the notation "Trauma Fellow," Danni reached for the phone and punched in the appropriate numeric sequence to reach the paging operator. She waited for the computer generated recording and slowly punched in 1048, Garretts personal pager, committing it to her memory. She hung up the phone, turned to the older nurse and smiled sweetly. "Satisfied, Mom?"
"You bet!" Mom reached over and fluffed the young blondes short hair with a gentle touch, watching as Danni became flushed with embarrassment.
"Thats my girl."
The phone rang a minute or two later causing all three of the nurses to just stare at it for a moment. Danni answered it with as much professionalism as she could muster. "E.R., Nurse Bossard speaking, may I help you?" Rosies eyes bugged out and she quickly clamped her hand over her mouth to muffle the escaping laughter. Danni, shot a cold eye toward Rosie as a warning, trying hard to keep a straight face.
The voice on the other end was hesitant but strong; "This is Dr. Trivoli. Danni is that you?"
"Yeah, I just wanted to confirm our plans for the picnic on Saturday before I left for home."
"Ill be done here in a few minutes. How about we talk over breakfast in the cafeteria?"
"Ill meet you there as soon as Im off shift. Im a little hungry anyway."
"O.K. You can help me learn whats edible and whats not. See you soon."
It was a small exchange, but a friendly one. Danni replaced the receiver back into its cradle as a warm feeling ran through her very soul.
Garrett was at the nurses desk watching the group making its rounds as she answered her page. She was surprised to hear the talkative nurse on the other end of the phone. The surgeon made eye contact with McMurray as she spoke into the receiver, setting up the breakfast meeting with the nurse. Her voice was pleasant and her speech was articulate for being up all night. She was surprising even herself now. It was a long time since her last night on call during her residency. The Navy in some ways had almost been too easy for her.
With the conversation over, she replaced the receiver to its cradle and returned to the rear of the group doing the rounding.
"Was that a date you were confirming on my time, Dr. Trivoli?" The voice was directly behind her as she turned to reference her inquisitor.
"Dr. McMurray, sir," she had to stop herself from saluting. "I was just doing what you told me to."
He looked at her with intense brown eyes. "I take it, then, it has something to do with the E.R. nursing staff?"
Garrett nodded, "Yes, Ive been invited to attend the picnic this Saturday. Thats what you wanted, isnt it?"
"Hmmm! Seems you can do two jobs at one time. There may be hope for you after all." He turned to leave, then paused saying, "Just remember what job youre trying to accomplish. Oh, and Trivoli, get yourself a cell phone if you intend on living in a hotel. I dont like talking to desk clerks." With that he was off and on his way down the hall.
Her face remained a picture of stoicism. The surgeon could not believe that she was in that direct line of shit rolling down hill again. What was she, the poster child for I need a friend or was she just not used to this manner of teaching? Only 364 more days to go. She sighed and caught up with the group rounding on the last few patients admitted during the night.
The hallway outside of the cafeteria was busy with the traffic of staff and visitor alike. It was a mutual meeting ground where succulence for the body was available without being too pricey. The atmosphere was an attempt at being cheerful but also business-like at the same time. The line for the hot food was already forming at the door when Danni reached the banking machine in the hall. A quick stop for some money and Ill be good for the weekend. She looked around for the tall familiar form of the surgeon. Guess Im here first. The young nurse stepped up to the machine and submitted her card, punching in a few numbers and patiently waited for the crisp bills to be discharged into her possession. She withdrew her card and quickly counted the new bills.
"Oh, there you are," Garrett said. "I thought I may have missed you."
She had just gotten off the elevator and was walking across the hall, hoping that she had.
"I needed to get some money for the weekend, you know, with the holiday and all." Danni stuffed the money into her lab jacket pocket. "So, hot or cold?"
The raven-haired woman looked at her perplexed, thinking about the nerve of McMurray to want her to become friends with this non-stop talking machine. "Huh oh, I dont know whats the best choice?"
"Well, if you are really hungry, hot is always the best." Danni motioned toward the line that started at the door. It was long but she knew that it would moved quickly.
They stood in line, in silence. Garrett thought about the events of the night, letting her mind slowly wind down to the more relaxed atmosphere. Her first night here in a new hospital, not to mention new city, was over and all in all she was feeling pretty good about it. It just might be what she had needed all along and for the first time in a number of years, she felt good about her life and the direction it was taking. What she had worked for all those long lonely years was finally coming to be a realization of her dream, even if she had to do it under McMurray.
Within a few minutes the line had slowly moved to where the available food was displayed behind the glass shields. Steam was coming off of the counter as empty pans were exchanged for freshly made full ones. The aromas mingled together so that no selection could be singled out to tempt the taste buds. The food smelled similar but yet different than Garrett had been used to in the Navy. Danni picked up a tray and some utensils handing them to Garrett, then repeating the procedure for herself.
"Thanks," an embarrassed grin coming to alight on the surgeons face and quickly turning into a scowl. "Any suggestions?"
Danni surveyed the selection of hot foods and coming to a decision stated, "Your best bet for flavor is to stay away from the scrambled eggs. The French toast or pancakes are always tasty. The sausage patties are better than the bacon."
Garrett was amazed; the small woman was filling her plate as she commented on the food with the expertise of a food critic. This young woman was definitely more than she appeared. The surgeon was finding this new acquaintance to be quite intriguing if not entertaining. She had never met anyone like this in her life. She followed the young nurse cautiously choosing the French Toast and several patties of sausage from the hot food line. The girl now walked over to the chilled food buffet area and began commentary on the different offerings of seasonal fruit. The surgeon listened intently and watched with awe as Danni placed several choices on her tray. Not being one to enjoy fruit, Garrett just followed along. Next the nurse turned and walked over to the beverage area. "Coffee or Tea?"
"Ah, Tea will be fine."
"I like the herbal teas the best," the young nurse picked up several packets of different teas and shuffled through them rather quickly finally deciding upon a lemon flavored one. Then offered the remainder to the taller woman. "They are all quite good, it just depends on your mood."
The surgeon choose a cinnamon flavored tea and poured hot water into her cup. The nurse slowly walked over to the pastry area and with eyes as big as saucers, considered which one would end her breakfast appropriately. Having acquired her necessary quantity of food she waited patiently for the surgeon to make her choice. The surgeon placed a small nut filled roll on her plate and turned to see the petite nurse carrying what appeared to be enough food to feed a small army. Garrett shook her head and considered her own tray of food. It was nothing compared to the nurses. Where does she put it all? She cant possibly eat that entire tray of food.
They passed through to the cashier line and were looking for a quiet place to eat and share some conversation. They soon found a small table at the rear of the main dining room and made themselves comfortable. The young blonde systematically ate starting with the hot dishes, pressing onto the chilled fruit choices and lastly the sweet roll which was filled with fruit and dripping with icing. The entire time Garrett just watched. The blonde was still talking about the culinary efforts of the kitchen staff and the numerous selections to definitely choose and those to absolutely bypass. The surgeon was sipping her tea and finishing the last few bites of nut roll when Danni finally swallowed her last mouthful.
"Well, what do you think?"
Garrett looked blankly at the small nurse, Where did she put it all? I cant believe that she ate every morsel of food. "Ah about what?"
"About Saturday, you know, the picnic." Danni was looking intently across the table at the surgeon. "You are going to come? It will be fun to get to know some of the E.R. staff, that way theyll get to know you too."
"I said that I would come." Her tone had an air of misgiving in it, then as if to cover it up she added. "It will give me something to do."
"So, what time and where do you want me to pick you up?"
"What time do you want to go? I mean, after all, youre the one driving. Mind you now, I do still have to make rounds on my patients."
Danni thought for a moment and offered, "How about 11:30, that way we can be there before the start of the softball game."
"O.K., you can pick me up here at the hospital, outside the front door at 1130 hours sharp." Her voice was good at giving out orders, especially with military time involved. "That way, I will be able to check in on my patients."
"That sounds good to me. Do you play softball?"
"Well, I played in college. Why?"
"Its just that we have this annual game between the doctors and the E.R. staff every year and I thought that maybe you might enjoy playing."
Garrett raised an eyebrow slightly saying, "Its been a long time since I played on a team. Im afraid Id be a little rusty."
"Thats alright. Its strictly for fun and nothing else." Danni tilted her head to the side and squinted. "We do use it to gloat for the rest of the year. Well, that is if we win."
The two women chuckled softly as friends often do when sharing good times. This was definitely a different feeling from the many shared breakfasts onboard ship for the surgeon. There, friendship was just telling each other about loved ones and that most definitely left Garrett out of the picture. She could not share because she had none. No, all she had to share was pain, suffering, and yes, guilt. Not what anyone would willingly want to share or even listen to. This is why Garrett was so used to her own forced solitude. But this nurse somehow was getting past all of her defenses. Slowly she was worming her way into that lonely world of isolation that Garrett had known for the last nineteen years. A world made up of nothing but her intense focus on caring for the traumatized patient who was entrusted into her care. There, she made little time for herself so as not to allow the torture of her past to haunt her day to day life.
The young blonde watched the surgeon as she became distanced in thought. Her heart ached in the worst way to reach out and comfort her newfound friend. It was always so hard to judge what response would kindle the growth of a relationship and which would send it dashing hopelessly to the realms of seclusion. Deciding that it was too soon for Garrett to let her get close, Danni thought that it was best for her to take her leave.
"Ive had a good time. Perhaps we can do this again." She was sincere and rose from her seat.
"Yeah, I think Id like that. Well, if it fits in with my schedule." She caught herself before it could go any further. "Front door of the hospital at 1130 sharp on Saturday. Ill be ready." Garrett confirmed the arrangements. "Should I bring anything?"
"Dont worry. Ill take care of everything." Danni let her hand rest on Garretts shoulder then leaned in towards her ear, "Its been a real pleasure to make your acquaintance, Garrett. Ill see you on Saturday."
"Ah Danni, its Dr. Trivoli, please. At least inside the hospital."
The young womans eyes bugged out for a brief second at the recognition of the condescending tone that had just been used toward her. Now that hurt! I cant believe after all that Ive tried to help "Alright then, see you on Saturday, Doctor Trivoli," she drew out the title. Danni nodded in agreement and walked away from the table.
"Thanks for the company and the invitation." She gave the nurse a lopsided grin and admitted, "Im actually looking forward to this outing." She called out to the retreating figure. Anything that will get McMurray off my back.
Garrett watched as the petite form withdrew. The chipper nurse now seemed upset with something or other. The surgeon shrugged and began to leave the table with her tray in hand. What had changed in just a minute or two? Nurses, who could understand them? She quickly and analytically ran over the last few verbal exchanges between them and tried to find a reason. A little voice deep inside of her kept saying you know why she changed. Then she admonished herself by reasoning out that nurses were used to calling physicians "Doctor" all the time. After all, it was a sign of respect. The scientific mind of the surgeon tried using logic to come to an answer. Her mind ran down a list of things that were logical of a nurse. They were craving to give aid and comfort to those in need, working long hours and taking verbal abuse from those who were in their care. Basically it all boils down to the ability to care deeply and feel the pain Garrett halted her forward motion abruptly. Nah, she wouldnt be upset with that, would she? Her eyes darted from one face to another as she watched the people around her, carefully sorting out those of the nursing staff. There was one over there who was laughing at something that had just been said. Then off to the side was another with a look of concern, her arm now encompassed the woman next to her. Wherever she looked, the surgeon saw the emotions of human frailty and strengths etched into the beings of the nurses.
The more she looked into the nameless faces, her words came racing back through her mind. Its Dr. Trivoli, to you. Garrett exhaled out of her mouth, cursing at the same time. What that must have sounded like to that congenial nurse? "It must have felt like a slap in the face." Feeling the need to say something, anything, to the nurse to try to soften the blow the surgeon searched the crowded dinning room for Danni. Unable to find her, the depressed woman allowed her shoulders to gently slump in defeat.
Danni had made her way hastily away from the source of her hurt placing her tray on the conveyor belt area, she turned to look back at the table with the raven-haired surgeon. There was so much she could see that was hiding just under the surface of this woman and it made her want to cry. She would have to find a way to break through that tough exterior. There is an alive and viable person, a real person locked up deep inside. I know that there is. With that thought, the young nurse mustered up a weak smile focusing on the positive as always. Somehow the night had turned out to be good and breakfast wasnt that bad either. The nurse sighed, letting a smile slowly come across her face. Yep, adding one amazon to that menagerie of mine.
Cool crisp air was gently blowing over the tense white knuckles wrapped securely around the steering wheel as Danni was caught in the snarled traffic of the busy Saturday morning shopping area. Why did I have to volunteer to get those watermelons in the Strip District? She shook her head and glanced at her wristwatch. It was a little after 11 A.M. and a growing concern at the stalled traffic in front of her made her contemplate the option of an alternate route to the hospital. Her eyes could barely make out the street sign down the block through the wavy lines of heat rising up from the asphalt of the road surface. The cars in front of her began to slowly inch forward. The young woman thought for a moment and as her car came closer to the cross street, she gently tugged at the steering wheel, cautiously maneuvering her small vehicle through the gap of pedestrians. She was now only a short block away from all this time-consuming congestion of both automobiles and humanity. Waiting for the traffic light to change, she again noted the time. Ill just make it, if nothing else comes up.
She looked around at the gathering crowd on the corner and thought about the snippet of a dream she had that morning. It was cryptic as usual. It played again through her mind. There, in slow motion, was the sensation of being pushed from behind that ended in a whirling motion and a view of a rough stick against the outline of clouds. It was, of course, like the rest, making no sense whatsoever. Maybe someday Ill understand, she thought, sighing to herself.
The light changed to green allowing movement again to her lane of traffic. The smile on her face began to widen as she anticipated her next destination. For some reason her mind had conjured up the idea of her new friend dressed as a sailor looking out on the horizon waiting for her ship to come into port. The young blonde blinked her eyes and quickly dismissed the idea of Garrett Trivoli in dress whites. An officer, yes, but a gentleman? Danni chuckled to herself and thought of Garretts womanly attributes. No, no gentleman there! She carefully drove on to the hospital.
With the preciseness of a military operation, Dr. Trivoli emerged from the doorway of the hospital at exactly 1130 military time. She carried a small duffel bag filled with: her clothes from rounding on her patients, a large towel, and a bathing suit just in case the opportunity presented itself. She had forgotten to ask the young nurse if a pool was available near the picnic area. She looked down at the bag, Well, at least I wont have to skinny dip if there is a pool.
The sun felt good out here on the driveway. It reminded Garrett of the warm tropical weather in Hawaii. After three years in the South Pacific, she was accustomed to the intense rays of the sun. It brought back memories of lush green foliage and wonderfully colored exotic flowers. She smiled as she remembered her favorite spot. It was on private property, tucked away from the view of the tourist population. She had found it by accident while horseback riding. When she closed her eyes, she could see the waterfall running into the secluded pool. If she concentrated hard enough, she could hear the sounds of the water gently lapping on to the shore. This was a place that made her feel at peace with herself. It was a place that was special to her and she held it dearly in her heart. No words of love were spoken to her there, but if ever there was the possibility, that would be the perfect place to express ones commitment to a life together. The bronzed skin woman sighed, Whom am I kidding? Love? Me? I cant even let anyone get close.
Annoyed at the direction her thoughts were now turning, the surgeon looked up and down the driveway in search of the friendly nurse. Whats taking her so long? She glanced at her watch; it was 1133 and still no sign of the bubbly young woman. Garrett was in the habit of punctuality; waiting had never been her strong point. It was another one of her perfectionistic qualities, one that she wished everyone had. She tried hard to keep her mind from drifting and decided to make a quick check of what she needed to address when she came on shift tomorrow morning. The rest of the day was going to be for enjoyment and socializing with her new work mates, as it was decreed from McMurray. It would feel good to relax and maybe even have a little fun. Ah, the thought of competition, she had liked sports in her younger days. At least there would be something to look forward to.
"Hey, Garrett! Over here." The small blonde was standing outside of the green Geo Metro with the door open. She waved trying to get her new friends attention. Oh! I forgot, hospital property. "Dr. Trivoli," she called even louder hoping that the surgeon had not heard her first name called earlier.
The sound of her name made her look around. There, off to the side, she could see the wild antics of the young nurse trying to get her attention. Garrett allowed the corners of her mouth to slowly turn upward as she waved and made her way across the driveway. "Thought you forgot about me. You did say 1130, right?"
"Sorry, I had a little problem with traffic. Here let me put that into the trunk." Danni accepted the duffel bag from the tall woman and opened the rear compartment, revealing several large watermelons. "Our offering to the picnic. I hope I got enough." She laughed, placing the bag into the little space that was left and closed the trunk lid. "Your door is open."
Garrett looked at the small size of the Geo Metro and thought about her almost 6 foot tall body. I guess it will be like getting into that damn submarine. One eyebrow slowly raised. "How far to the park, Danni?"
"Oh, it will only take ten or fifteen minutes, why?" The small blonde was settling back into the drivers seat.
"Nothing, just wondered." The tall surgeon thought about the cramped quarters, gulped, and gingerly tried to fit her long legs into the passenger compartment.
"I moved the seat back to give you more room."
"Thanks, I think." Garrett was in the seat, her legs more like an accordion with the knees rising just slightly higher than the dashboard. "Airbags?"
"No, the next model year has them. Sorry."
"No, just wanted to be prepared, thats all." The surgeon was contemplating adding a few more joints to her body. "Okay, Im in and buckled up."
"Door closed?" Danni looked over at her companion.
Garrett nodded her head; she could feel her hair rubbing against the padded ceiling of the passenger compartment. The car jerked into motion and they were on their way. Headlines began to run through the surgeons head. Promising Surgeon Cut Short by Fender Bender. The woman shuddered at the thought. Seatbelt, hell, I couldnt move if I wanted to. The surgeon tried to relax but it wasnt easy.
The young nurse sensed her friends uneasiness and began to ramble on about the passing landmarks and history of that area of the city. "Most people think of Pittsburgh as a Steel Mill Town but thats not what the citys like anymore. All of the Steel Plants have been pretty much torn down and replaced with newly developed business parks that are being used by the high tech industries. One of the local colleges, Carnegie Mellon University, is a leader in the developments of the computer industry, especially with their new Robotics Department."
Danni casually looked over to see how the surgeon was doing. It was an attempt to get Garretts mind off of the incommodious conditions. It was working as the tall woman allowed herself to become absorbed into the interesting stories that were being conveyed.
"The city used to be known as the dirtiest city in world with all of its mills sending large, thick clouds of coal dust billowing out of their smoke stacks. The old timers even tell stories of not being able to see the sun at high noon for all of the airborne coal dust. But thats not the way it is now, as you can see."
Glancing over at Garrett, the blonde noticed that the surgeons eyes were riveted on the building up ahead. It was a large old style massive building in foreboding black stone. She quickly jumped on the fact that it held the womans interest. "Andrew Carnegie was a coal baron in the rising days of the steel industry. His fortunes have been used to establish the Carnegie Library, thats the big building over there." Danni pointed to it. "He also founded the museum of natural history, too. Thats the bigger building in front of it facing out onto the main street."
Garretts eyed it longingly. "I like history."
"Maybe we can go together and make a day of it sometime. Im kind of partial to the Egyptian rooms, myself." Danni carefully turned down the street at the next corner where a completely different style of architecture was located. It was a dome-roofed building that was almost completely made out of glass with ornate iron work painted white, giving it an almost gazebo appearance. Immediately Dannis tour guide mode started in about it. "That, on your right, is Phipps Conservatory." She smiled at her fond memory of times spent there with her mother. "Its a botanical garden that changes with the seasons. They have everything from lush tropical rooms to rooms that take you around the world. I was always been intrigued by the rooms representing the orient when I was growing up. Their sense of serenity is so peaceful." She laughed at her lack of words. Then continued on. The young woman loved to talk, it was obvious. Her stories were filled with personal insight and observations that held Garretts attention. So mesmerized was she by the young womans fluid speech, that she hadnt noticed pulling into the parking space.
"Well, were here. You going to get out or are you comfortable like that?" The green eyes flashed as a warm smile was revealed.
Quickly looking around, "Ah no I mean yeah, Im getting out." The surgeon fumbled for the seatbelt. "Damn this!" She took a small beeper- size digital phone off of her belt. "There!" She placed it onto the dashboard.
Danni looked at the phone. "You arent on call, are you?"
"No!" She struggled with the seatbelt latch. "McMurray insisted that I had to have a phone. Seems the one at the hotel isnt good enough for him."
Danni reached over laying her hand on top of Garretts. "Here, let me." The smaller woman deftly released the belt. "Okay, youre free now." She chuckled as she got out of the car.
The young woman had briskly walked to the passenger side of the car and opened the door for the contorted surgeon. She offered her hand saying, "Need some help?"
Blue eyes looked up and locked onto the shimmering green that seemed to dance in delight. If the eyes were indeed the windows to the soul, then Garrett felt as though she had been privileged with a rare glimpse of this womans essence. It obviously made her shiver to think about it.
"I guess the air-conditioning is colder than I thought," Garrett offered. She grabbed the small hand saying, "Now get me out of here, huh?"
The small woman grasped the hand firmly and positioned herself to help in the extrication of the larger woman from the small enclosure. Slowly, limb by limb emerged until the surgeons entire body was standing outside of the car and extended to its full height. "I should practice my yoga more often."
Garrett looked down at her friend, the lopsided grin showing as she tried to make light of an awkward situation.
"Hey, dont forget your phone." Danni picked it up and offered it to the surgeon. "Small isnt it?"
"Yeah, I figured Id have to have it with me all the time." Garrett took the phone and placed it back on her belt.
"Hey, Danni, hurry up. Were about to start the game." Rosie was yelling at the top of her lungs. "Whats taking you so long?"
The small blonde turned, held up one finger and yelled back, "Be there in just a minute." She look at Garrett and asked, "Well, Doc, are you going to play or just watch?" There was a bit of sarcasm in her voice, as if to challenge her friend into the competition.
"If theyll have me, youre on." The competitive side was beginning to show as the surgeon accepted the challenge. "What say we make it more interesting. Loser buys breakfast. Deal?"
"Youre on! You know, some people say that I eat a lot," she reminded the doctor. "Lets add to it. Winner picks where to eat."
"Alright, that only seems fair."
The two women made their way over to the softball field. Danni gave commentary as well as greetings to everyone they passed on their way. It amazed Garrett how her brief synopsis of each person was always in the positive light. It was as though she only saw the good in people and totally disregarded the bad.
"Hi, Danni, whos your friend? I hope youre not bringing in a ringer, are you?" There was a gentle teasing in the voice coming from the bespectacled young woman.
"Oh, hi! No, in fact, this is actually someone for your team, Dr. Porter. Let me introduce you to Dr. Garrett Trivoli, one of the new Trauma Fellows. Garrett, this is Jamie Porter, one of the E.R. Attending Physicians."
"Danni!" Rosie yelled across the field, "Danni, are you going to play or be master of ceremonies?"
The nurse shook her head allowing the short blonde hair to be tossed from side to side, "Jamie, I trust that youll do the rest of the introductions." She motioned to the group of the physicians assembled together. "Ive got to get over there before Rosie strokes out."
She started across the field for several steps then stopped and turned back towards Garrett, "Hey, good luck!" She swiftly resumed her path and was soon welcomed into the rowdy bunch of her coworkers with the rhythmic chanting of "Danni, Danni, Danni!"
Garrett let a smile come across her face. "Is she that good or does she do wonders for the team spirit?"
Dr. Porter pushed her glasses up and said, "She is the best short stop the nurses have ever had, one heck of an all around player and a great moral booster at that. Have you played before, Garrett?"
The surgeon smiled as she thought of the wager, So, you think youre gonna win huh? "Ah, when I was in college I played some."
"Any position in particular?"
The raven-haired woman let her face go into a feral smile. "No, I was always used as a utility player, so anywhere you need me will be fine."
"Come on, let me introduce you to the rest of the team before we get started." Jamie proceeded to go down the bench full of physicians introducing Garrett along the way.
It was exactly noon when an official looking pair of men strode out on to the field, one walking to the first base area while the other claimed home plate. The tall red haired man brushed off the plate. He stood looking at one team then the other. "Play ball!" He shouted and stood behind the plate with both hands resting on his hips. He waited patiently for the home team to take the field. The nursing staff huddled quickly and within a few seconds the circle of players and coaches let a mighty roar into the air, "Nurses Call the Shots!" It was as if the huddled bodies had exploded on to the field, each member running at top speed to get to the designated position. Determination was evident in the way they moved the ball around the infield to warm up. They were confident that they would win the game. After all, they had won last year giving them the home team advantage for this year.
"Batter Up!" The umpire yelled.
The first member of the Doctors team picked up a bat and settled into the batters box. It was Dr. Porter. Her stance wide, bat raised high as she waited for the first pitch. Nan, the manager of the nursing staff had the honors of delivering the ball high and inside.
"Come on, Nan, let her hit it. Shell never get it out of the infield." Danni teased from the short stop position. Her body ready for action as her right hand balled into a fist and hit into her glove.
Nan concentrated. She released the ball. The arc was perfect in height. Jamie gripped the bat sucking in a breath and timed her swing to meet the ball as it crossed the plate. Crack! The sound was solid as the ball ricocheted back on to the playing field. It was low and fast dropping to the ground a few feet in front of Danni. Reacting to the ball, the short stop charged into it and caught it on the first bounce. With lightening speed, the young woman had retrieved the ball from the pocket of her glove and fired it at the first baseman that caught it with ease. Rosie stepped on the bag with ball in glove. "OUT!" cried the umpire. The nursing staff on the sideline went crazy, chanting "Danni, Danni, Danni!"
Danni dusted off her hand and settled back into her position on the field. "One down, two more to go, Nan." She held her finger up in the air to remind the team of where the play would go. Satisfied that everyone knew, she readied herself for the next batter.
The tall surgeon sat watching from the bench. She was impressed with the small nurses athletic ability. She marveled at the level of intensity that the young blonde had for whatever she was doing. Garrett could tell already that this woman put her best effort into everything that she did. No matter how insignificant the activity, she gave it her all. She has every right to be confident. Too bad she thinks she is going to win. The woman thought about her own ability as a slow smile began to take shape on her face.
Their turn at bat was over before Garrett had realized it. She was caught in the middle of daydreaming by someone shaking her shoulder.
"Garrett! Dr. Trivoli!" Jamie shook a little harder.
"Huh oh yeah. Sorry, I was thinking about something." The surgeon was obviously startled.
"Heres a glove for you to use. You okay with playing Center field?" The doctor pushed her glasses up.
"Sure, no problem." Garrett accepted the glove and slid her left hand into it.
"Thanks, its a good fit." She looked at Jamie and grinned. Her body reacted to the familiar feel of the glove. The familiarity of the game was all coming back to her as she stood and began trotting out to her position. It had been a long time, but it was like riding a bicycle past abilities learned always came back.
A tall blonde male strode to the plate. John stood adjusting his batting glove and surveying the field. He stepped into the batters box and dug his left foot into the dirt. His hands wrapped tightly around the wooden bat as he raised it onto his right shoulder. Slowly and deliberately he took several practice swings into thin air as his eyes looked over the possible targets that would allow him to get on base. Satisfied that he had found the weak link in the Doctors team, he brought his focus onto the pitcher and waited for the ball.
Ian McCormick looked around the playing field. His team was ready and so was he. The E.R. Physician started into his routine of concentration that ended with a deep expiration. His fingers gripped the softball that was nestled in his glove. The slow motion of the wind up began as he brought the ball out of the glove. The forward momentum of his left foot was in complete opposite of the backward movement of his right hand. His weight now shifted forward as he delivered the ball, stepping forward with his right foot. The tips of his fingers allowed the ball to roll off with a gentle backspin. The arc was high and perfectly gauged in distance to come slicing right through the middle of the strike zone on the tall nurse.
John swung the bat with a slight up swing on his follow through. The ball was literally screaming for the outfield. It was a good solid base hit, if not more. John took off running, letting the bat drop to the ground. The nurse was fast and he knew it. His head turned toward center field as he rounded first base. The ball was in its descent heading into the gap between left field and center.
Karen stood in the coachs box watching the movement of the outfielders in reaction to the descending ball. Her arms frantically were waving the base runner on for additional bases. The nurses on the sideline were cheering for their coworker while watching the ball soar into the outfield. The first ball to the first batter and already they had the possibility of being on the scoreboard. They watched as John rounded second base and headed for third.
The left fielder was now calling for the ball as he stood waiting patiently for it to drop. The young physician had made a small miscalculation and trying to readjust attempted to catch the ball with his gloved hand extended over his head. The ball struck the tip of the glove and veered off towards center field.
The speedy nurse was now stepping on the bag at third base. Mom screamed, "GO HOME!" Her arms waved wildly as her face grew beet red from yelling. John put his head down in a determined run for the plate. The nursing staff was going crazy with excitement, jumping and shouting words of encouragement.
Garrett saw what was happening, her long legs moved swiftly to cover the ground between her and the deflected ball. She was no longer thinking, just letting her natural ability take the reins. Seeing that she would not be able to reach it before it struck the ground, she positioned herself to catch it off of the bounce. The glove took the abuse of the hard hit as the ball slammed into it. In a smooth motion, the surgeon had excised the orb and cocked back her arm to throw it into the infield. Her mind had quickly calculated the speed of the runner. He would be at the plate before the standard relay from the outfield to the second baseman could turnover to the catcher. With that in mind, Dr. Trivoli took aim and let her arm fire the ball into the catcher. It would be a long shot, but she had done it before. Just like riding that bike. Garretts follow-through carried her into a forward momentum, her face strained with determination.
Dr. Porter threw off her facemask. Her peripheral vision allowed her to follow the base runner as he drove with abandon towards her at home plate.
Jamies focus was on the play being made from the outfield. She concentrated on the ball and realized it was coming directly into home. Her feet went into a readied stance as she braced herself for the impact of the runner. She held her glove in position to catch the ball as it got closer. Her eyes grew bigger as she sucked in a large gulp of air. It was going to be close.
The catcher felt the impact of the ball into her glove and swiftly brought the arm in a sweeping motion across the baseline in front of the plate. She caught John as he was sliding between her feet. The kinetic energy that was transferred from the forward charge of the nurse to the stationary doctor sent the young woman into the air and rolling backwards. Glasses flew and red hair was wild as it tumbled out of the cap that was thrown off in the collision. Both teams went suddenly silent, fearing injury to one or possibly both players.
The umpire stood waiting for the dust to clear. He quickly surveyed the scene seeing John an inch away form the plate and Jamie sprawled out with the ball still tightly held in her glove. "YOURE OUT!" His hand motion was strong and animated for all to see.
The team of nurses stood in shock. Karen just kept blinking and shaking her head in disbelief. Danni couldnt believe her eyes and slowly turned to stare out at the tall woman in centerfield. Rosie suddenly was without words.
"She said she played a little in college," muttered Danni under her breath, " as a utility player. I never expected this."
"Well, thanks a lot, Danni. It appears that you gave them a ringer." Rosie was finally able to vocalize.
"I wonder if she can bat?" Steve weakly voiced, not really wanting to know the answer.
Nan thought about the skill and strength that the throw had needed, "I dont think I want to know. Figures that shed be perfect."
The once over confident team was now lost in the beginnings of despair. Danni quickly took stock of the teams shattered confidence and stepped in to put a stop to the defeatist attitude that was taking it over. "Ok, she just got lucky. Thats all! We still have two more outs before they get up to bat again. We can still score. Its only the first inning, guys, we can do it."
Rosie began to help out, "Yeah, come on! We can beat them. We did it last year, didnt we?"
The rest of the team chimed in with words of encouragement as John slowly came over to the sideline. "What happened?" he asked.
"You tried for one too many, thats all." Marianne the E.R. aid answered.
"Who threw that ball?" John demanded.
Rosie and Danni looked at each other and spoke at the same time in an accusing tone.
"YOUR Dr. Trivoli!" "YOUR Amazon!"
Karen heard the exchange and busted out in laughter. It was contagious; soon the whole team was caught up in it. The two nurses looked at the rest of the team in amazement, then at each other, immediately exploding into a giant belly laugh themselves.
Dr. Porter was painstakingly taking stock of her body parts, making sure that no injury was apparent before trying to get up. Assured that she was neurologically intact and uninjured otherwise, the catcher slowly pulled herself to her feet searching for her glasses. Ian had rushed in, securing the glasses and started to walk towards his shaken colleague.
"Jamie, you okay?" He grabbed her hand and placed the glasses into it. "Here, put these on."
"Thanks, Im fine. Honest, nothing is damaged." She looked over to the sound of hysterical laughter coming from the nurses sideline. "They laughing at me?" she asked puzzled.
"I dont think so. Must be something they said." Ian offered as he dusted the catcher off. "That was some play. Great catch for a woman!" he teased. His head turned to the tall woman in centerfield; "Great throw from one, too!"
Seeing that no player had been hurt in the collision, the umpire pulled a small whiskbroom from his rear pants pocket and began to sweep off the plate. Satisfied in its cleanliness, he stood back and yelled, "BATTER UP!"
The sun, now gravitating toward the western horizon, followed its path as the game waged on. The competitors each determined not to accept defeat, as they took turns to advance their sides odds of winning, but to no avail. It was the top of the fourth inning with no score for either side. The nurses had taken up their positions and awaited the first batter.
John adjusted his facemask as the approaching figure made her way to the batters box. It was the center fielder, Dr. Garrett Trivoli. Standing outside of the box, she swung several bats together in a looping arc around her head as an attempt to loosen her shoulder muscles. After choosing one bat and discarding the rest, the surgeon squared her shoulders as she stepped into the lines of the batters box. John looked up at the tall figure saying, "Well, Trivoli, lets see what you can do with a bat." His tone was one of scorn.
The surgeon let one eyebrow arch high as she cast a downward glare at him. She took in a large breath and cleared her throat. Her attention now turned to the woman on the mound. She settled into a comfortable stance and waited for the first pitch. The arc of the ball was high as she watched it go by.
"Ball one!" The umpire noted.
John threw the ball back to Nan. He turned toward Garrett and spit the tobacco juices from the chew placed in his mouth attempting to intimidate the physician. It didnt work. The surgeon remained aloft to any attempts to unnerve her concentration. The catcher resumed his position. He waited until the pitcher released the next ball before asking, "So, what college did you play for, anyway?"
Garrett was undistracted, her eye steady on the approaching ball. The subtle cocking of the bat in anticipation of the impending swing was evident. The powerful arms tugging at the bat as it was whipped in a thrusting arc, colliding over the plate with the sphere. Her body twisted with the momentum of the swing. The bat was dropped one handed to the ground as her long legs began the forward driving motion toward first base. She watched as the ball sailed over the right field hedges. The base umpire signaled a home run and Garrett slowed to a trot, making sure to touch all the bases on her way back to home plate. The doctors were jumping, cheering, and several were waiting at the edge of the home plate area to shake the trauma surgeons hand in congratulations.
John positioned himself in the front of the line reaching for Garretts hand as she stepped onto the plate. His eyes searched hers, "Honestly, where did you play?"
The surgeon looked the nurse straight in the eye, "U.S.C. 82 through 85." A smirk remained on her face as she withdrew her hand and continued into the throng of well-wishing physicians.
John was annoyed by the smile and began to wonder why it would be important for him to know exactly what years she played at U.S.C., absent mindedly he continued to walk in a daze toward the pitching mound.
The young woman at short stop watched as John neared the mound. Thinking that a conference was necessary to calm the jittery pitcher down, Danni ventured over to the mound. Time for damage control.
"Whats wrong, John?" Nan saw his puzzled look.
"Im not quite sure, but I think I should remember something."
"Hey, guys, come on. Its only one run. We can get it back." The young nurse was as positive as ever. "Whats up with John?" she addressed Nan directly the closer she got.
"I dont know," Nan shrugged her shoulders. "He keeps trying to remember something."
Suddenly, Johns head snapped upright, his eyes bugging out as his color drained to a pasty white. "Oh, my God! Do you know who that is?"
The two women nodded in unison. "Dr. Garrett Trivoli, John," Danni answered, "she told me herself."
John shook his head vigorously, "No! That is Garrett Trivoli, four time NCAA Most Valuable Player for the championship U.S.C. womens softball team 1982 through 1985."
Their eyes grew large and their mouths fell agape as Rosie and Karen now joined the huddle of players at the mound.
"Hey, whats wrong with you guys?" Rosie asked. "You trying to catch flies out here?" she chuckled.
Nan looked at Rosie and Karen; "Our own short stop gave the doctors a real ringer!"
All eyes slowly turned to Danni. Feeling the intense stares, the young nurse wrinkled her nose, "How was I supposed to know? I just meet her two days ago. She didnt tell me. We all thought that she was a man until yesterday morning. How was I to know that she was an NCAA M.V.P. during her college years?"
Mom just closed her eyes and shook her head.
Rosies face grew red with anger as she spat out, "YOUR AMAZON!" She turned and stomped back to first base.
"Jeez, Danni!" John was obviously upset.
"Well, youre the walking book of sports trivia, why didnt you know it sooner?" The young blonde was trying to defend herself. "Awe, lets just play ball. Shes only one person, for crying out loud, not the whole team."
The short stop took in a deep breath and exhaling loudly turned to walk back to her position. She readjusted the glove on her left hand and began to smack her balled right fist repeatedly into the pocket of the well-used glove. How was I supposed to know? The nurse kicked the dust as she took her cap off and wiped her forehead with the back of her arm. She attempted to rid her hair of its excess moisture by tossing her head from side to side. Reaching her position, she looked over to the sideline and searched the crowd of physicians. There, at the end of the bench sat her Amazon. So, what other talents are you hiding, Dr. Trivoli? Danni slapped her cap against her leg and shook her head. She threw her cap onto her head and adjusted it as she stole another look at her Amazon. I wonder just how long will it take me to find out.
The little softball game was drawing the attention of other people in the public park. It started as just a few passers-by stopped to watch the friendly rivalry and increased into small gatherings of rooting and cheering fans as favored sides were chosen. Each spectacular play or hit only added to the enthusiasm of the spectators as the game progressed on. The teams were definitely unknowns to the applauding fans, but the caliber of play was far above that of a pick-up game at an annual picnic.
Softball may not have been their profession of choice, but the ability to act as a team was part of the daily routine of every player on the field. It was their teamwork at the hospital that made them a strong cohesive unit on the playing field. Each one giving their strengths to obtain the common goal. This game was an extension of their work camaraderie. They all seemed to pitch in to get the job done, whether it was making the play at a base, catching a fly ball, or advancing one base at a time to score a run. Whatever it took, they would pull together as one to do it.
It was the bottom of the sixth inning with the score tied at one run each. The nurses were at bat with the intent to score at least one run. Karen had pulled out all of the tricks that her 50 years of playing experience had taught her. If they could not score the long ball hits into the outfield then they would find another way to advance the runner around the bases. The first batter for this innings was Rosie, the first baseman. Karen motioned for the tall nurse to come over to her before stepping into the batters box.
"Rosie, I want you to watch those balls carefully. No reaching for anything, got it? I want Ian to have to throw as many balls as we can let him," the coach instructed. "I want to tire out that arm of his. Remember what I said in the huddle?"
Rosie nodded, "Yeah! Everything gets hit on the ground, just like you said."
"Right! Now lets get you on base."
The nurse shook her head and proceeded over to the batters box.
"Play Ball!" the umpire bellowed.
With bat at the ready, Rosie stood there looking as the first two pitches were high and inside. The next pitch was a perfect one, right through the strike zone, as was the one after it. The count was 2 balls and 2 strikes on the batter. The nurse readied herself mentally. The pitch came over the plate just as she liked it, low and inside. Without warning the bat was slicing through the air in a slightly downward swing as it impacted the cowhide cover of the ball. The sphere took off in a lurch, diving into the ground several feet up the third base line. The nurse ran for first base as if she had been shot out of a cannon, making it there just before the throw from the third baseman. The leading run was now on base.
Danni was the next in line to advance the lead runner. She waited as she was instructed until her count was 3 and 2. The pitch was perfect, right down the middle. Mentally she chastised herself for wanting to really swing at this one. She knew what was expected of her and resigned herself to following Karens wish. Her hand slid up the rear of the bat as she leveled it into the bunting position. She held it there across the plate and waited for the ball to strike the wood. "Thunk!" The sound was not the usual one for her at bat, but she would do what was planned to get the runner around the bases. The ball dropped lifelessly and rolled slowly, staying in the playing field. Danni hesitated to start her run to first base in a delaying tactic for the catcher to get to the ball. It was only a second or two, but that was all her tall teammate needed to get to second base. The small nurse dropped the bat and quickly sprinted to first base. The ball was still rolling in the dirt as her foot touched the bag. The team now had two runners on base with nobody out.
The next batter was Marianne. She stood at the plate with all the determination of a major leaguer waiting for her pitch to cross the plate. Seeing the ball come into her sweet zone, the batter flexed what little muscle there was on her slender frame and brought the bat around. It was not a hard hit by any means, as the ball lazily bounced back to the pitcher. Ian looked nervously over at third base before catching the ball. Rosie was already a step away form the base. Knowing the speed that the nurses shortstop was capable of, the only possible play would be to first base. The throw was uneventful, arriving ahead of the runner. The batter had done her job, that being to advance the runners on base even though she was sacrificed as the first out.
Karen grabbed the next batter as she stepped on deck. "Nan, we need a base hit down the right field line. Do you think you can do it?" The coachs eyes narrowed, "Shes a left hander out there, it will give Rosie enough time to take home."
Nan looked nonchalantly across the playing field; "You got it, Mom!" Her voice was full of determination. She turned and proceeded up to the plate.
The infield began to move a little closer as Nan stepped into the box. Her bat was held tightly, her knuckles turning white. She waited until she found what she was looking for, a high and inside pitch. Her arms kept the bat close to her body as she swung it into the ball. Contact being made, the ball ricocheted over the head of the first baseman and dropped into a gap in right field. Rosie was anticipating the hit. She immediately bolted toward home plate at the sound of it. The ball bounced and was caught by the right fielder that immediately threw it in to the pitcher. With the ball in hand, Ian called for a time out. They were now down by one, with runners on first and third, and only one out.
The nurses were jumping and celebrating on the sidelines. They had put their faith in Karen to lead them to victory and it was paying off. Danni stood on third base clapping wildly. She winked at Mom as they celebrated with a high five hand slap. Karen tried to calm herself, knowing full well that the game was not over yet. Anything could happen, especially with another inning to go. Lets see what you got now, Docs, the older nurse mused. Mom leaned into Danni saying, "The top of the order is up, so be on your toes. YOU are going to be the insurance run for our win."
The young nurse nodded her head in agreement; her green eyes twinkled at the thought. "You bet, Mom!" I can taste that breakfast already and I know just where I want to eat it, too. Danni noticed that the color was draining out of Karens face, "Mom, whats wrong?"
The coachs mouth dropped open and she pointed towards the mound. "No they wouldnt!" She was finally able to stammer out.
The young nurse quickly turned to see what was bothering Karen. There, walking on to the mound was Garrett Trivoli. Ian was flicking the ball in her direction. Jamie patted Dr. McCormick on the shoulder as they walked off of the mound together. Ian headed to the bench as a young emergency medicine resident ran out to center field. Jamie adjusted her facemask into place and stooped down into the catchers position. Garrett was mentally preparing for her new role as a pitcher.
Danni turned to look at Karen, her eyes as big as saucers. "I I " she started to apologize.
Karen just gritted her teeth saying, "Your Amazon!"
The young nurse balled her hands into fists, bringing them down onto her hips. Taking a deep breath she tried to calm herself. Ill get to know you better than I know myself before this year is done. You just wait, Garrett, just wait and see. Her eyes were locked on to the tall dark haired surgeon.
"Batter up!" The umpire cried.
John sauntered into the batters box. He looked directly at the surgeon as if to challenge her. He positioned himself and waited for her to make the next move.
Karen yelled at Danni, "If you hear the sound of a hit, you just put that head of yours down and run like hell for home."
The petite woman standing on third base nodded her head in acknowledgement. Determined more than ever, she positioned herself to charge at home plate at the first sound of a hit.
John watched the first pitch as it crossed the plate. It was high and inside, ball one. The next pitch was coming right through the strike zone. John quickly swung the bat in a powerful arc, impacting the ball with a loud noise. "Wham-boing." John hurriedly took off running for first base.
The young blonde nurse charged off of third base determined to capture home plate, her gaze locked onto her goal.
Garrett watched as the ball veered off from the impact where it had caused the bat to break into pieces. The momentum of her body kept her moving toward the advancing base runner in an attempt to divert a disaster. The young nurse was unaware of the danger about to descend upon her. After several long swift strides the surgeon thrust her body into the air reaching out with her long arms to grab the small nurse from behind, twisting to pull her effectively out of the path of the rampant odd shaped wooden fragments of the bat.
"Hey, what the " the shortstop was confused. One minute she had been running toward home plate and the next she was being pushed and pulled through the air. Her vision turned skyward with a strange silhouette passing quickly in front of the clouds. Was that a bird with no wings or what? Why was it so close? First Garrett landed on the ground then the bewildered body of Danni followed; the surgeon was cushioning the impact. Both women lay on the ground in a heap, dazed for a few seconds as the ballgame continued around them.
The line drive had gone straight up the middle and was easily caught by the second baseman. With Nan staying on first base, the infielder diverted his attention to third base. He knew that Danni had taken off from the base as soon as the hit was made, she had not waited to tag up after the ball was caught. The ball was thrown to the third baseman that stepped onto the bag. All eyes turned to the Umpire in anticipation of the call.
"Youre out!" He yelled as his body animated the call.
Karen ran over to check on her small blonde coworker who was lying with her head on the larger womans midsection. Rosie was a step behind in reaching the human heap on the ground. The two nurses stopped simultaneously as they overshadowed the reposed figures. Each stole a glare at the other and slowly started to chuckle. It was so cute. The two looked as though they were children who had simply gotten tired out while playing and fell asleep.
"Yep, one Amazon added to that collection." Mom was saying under her breath.
"Danni! Garrett! Are you alright?" Rosie was kneeling down next to the entwined bodies.
Danni was starting to mumble as she squinted up into the sunlight, "Did somebody get the license of that truck?"
"No truck, just me." Garrett offered. "Sorry, but I didnt want that bat to get you in the head." The surgeon was now slowly starting to release herself from the young nurse. "You hurt at all?"
The blonde rolled her head and shoulders as she sat upright. "No, Im fine, everything feels good." Realizing that she had landed on top of the tall surgeon, "You make a pretty soft cushion, Doc."
The raven-haired surgeon raised her eyebrow at Danni as she dusted herself off. "Youre welcome."
Garrett grasped the outstretched hand offered by the shortstop, "Thanks!"
"Same here, thanks!"
They each began to smile as one helped the other to their feet. Blue eyes meeting green in a gaze of appreciation for the friendship that was both offered and accepted.
"I ought to tar and feather you both for scaring the living daylights out of me." Karen snapped trying hard not to smile. Inside she was a big softy but for appearances sake she was a stern faced ogre. After all, wasnt that the way all charge nurses were thought of?
Acting like two pouting children the dust covered figures lowered their heads saying, "Sorry, Mom."
The coach just rolled her eyes and turned to walk away. "Glad Im not doing your laundry."
Rosie lost it. She could not hold back the laughter as she moved in to help dust off her coworkers. "Dont let her get to you. She was called Mudball in her younger days. Shes just mad cause you didnt score, thats all." With that, all three burst into laughter.
The revelry was disturbed by the sound of electronic chirping. The cellphone clipped onto the surgeons shorts had come to life. She retrieved it from its holder and flipped open the cover as she brought it up to her ear.
"Hello, Trivoli here." The gentle laughter still clung to her voice.
"Having a good time, I see. I hope you are throwing yourself into this, Dr. Trivoli. Id hate to see us not having any ties to the E.R." McMurray was always thinking of how his department interacted with the rest of the hospital.
"Well, actually I seem to be doing just that, throwing myself into the game here." She chuckled as her hand brushed more dirt away from her clothing. "You might say that Im getting down and dirty with some of the nursing staff." Her eyes began to look around, making sure that no one was listening to her conversation.
"Good then, I like when my surgeons become part of the team." There was a smug sound to his voice.
Garretts attention was drawn by noises coming from the crowd. She began to search for the source of the raised voices and harsh words that were coming from the group of spectators at the right of home plate. Her gaze came to rest on two men who were visibly in disagreement over something. Each one in a defensive stance, angers now turning to rage. Shoves were exchanged as the crowd around them backed away. One of the combatants turned to leave but was abruptly spun around and a fist thrown into his neck. The man staggered slowly, dropping to his knees as he clenched at his throat and gasped for breath. Shrill, high-pitched wheezing now evident with each intake for air. The attacker slowly stepped back. Once over the momentary shock of his actions, the man darted into the crowd to get away as the injured man slumped onto the ground. The altercation had lasted only a minute but would evidently take more time than that to recover from the damage that had been inflicted to the limp figure sprawled on the grass.
"Sorry, Sir, weve got a problem here. Ive got to go now." The surgeons voice trailed off as her eyes stared into the crowd. She ended her conversation and automatically closed her cellphone and replaced it into the holder. Her body was starting to go into motion, making her way toward the site of the altercation.
Rosie was still trying to dust off her small friend when she felt the body under her hand tensing up. Danni noticed that the surgeon had gone silent and looked over at her. She followed the direction of Garretts eyes into the crowd of spectators. The nurse saw the injured man slumping onto the grass.
"Rosie, get the medical bag." Danni yelled as she broke into a run following Garretts lead in the direction of the injured man.
The nurse quickly pivoted towards Dannis fading voice. Seeing the crumpled body on the ground, Rosie realized the urgency and reacted. Dashing over to the bench, she grabbed the carry strap on the bright orange over stuffed bag and shouldered it. "Mom, we got a man down! Were gonna need some help."
The coach turned in Rosies direction, throwing the line-up rooster that she had been studying in the air. "Where . Who ?" her words were sharp. The not-so-in-shape Karen followed after the tall nurse heading into the spectators. There she could see Danni and Garrett kneeling next to a man lying on the ground. She knew by the actions what was taking place, the man was having a difficult time breathing. Awww, shit! We cant even get away from work at the annual picnic. She thought to herself as she continued onward, the sound of the mans stridor growing louder with each step.
"Heres the bag. What do you need?" Rosie set the bag on the ground, unzipping it quickly.
"Do you have a trach tube?" The surgeon was removing any clothing around the upper chest area of the downed man.
"Yeah, we do!" Danni assured her. "Give her a scalpel and some Betadine, too." The blonde nurse directed Rosie as she rummaged through the bag.
Within seconds, a small bottle of Betadine was handed to Danni. She quickly opened it and poured it onto the base of the mans neck. Garrett had grabbed the offered 4x4s and wiped the disinfectant off the front of the neck. Rosie offered the surgeon a pair of sterile gloves, which she easily donned. Danni had the tracheostomy tube unpacked and was testing the cuff for leaks with a 10cc syringe as the trauma surgeon made the first incision with the disposable scalpel.
"Karen, could you move a little to the left? Youre in my light." The surgeon looked up towards the sun.
"Oh, yeah! Sorry, not used to being out of the trauma rooms, Doc." The charge nurse answered a little short of breath as she sidestepped allowing the sunlight to illuminate the mans neck. She grabbed a piece of the discarded 4x4-gauze wrapper and the pencil from behind her ear, settling into the job of charting the aid given to the downed man. She glanced at her watch, making a note of the time on the scrap paper.
"Lets get an IV going, Ringers Lactate please." The surgeons eyes flicked to Rosie.
"Sure thing, Doc." The nurse laid the trach tube tie down on the patients chest.
The surgeon handed the used scalpel to Danni in exchange for the tracheostomy tube. She paused to wipe the trickle of blood from the incision with a piece of gauze before inserting the life saving apparatus into the new hole in the base of the patients neck. The blonde nurse connected the syringe to the tubing and inflated the small cuff with air to secure it from dislodging. Garrett held the tube in place as small skilled hands hastened to attach the tie-down to the tube and around the mans neck. The man was breathing on his own with no sounds of stridor now. The color of the mans skin was pinking up again attesting to the fact that the airway was secure.
"IVs in!" Rosie proclaimed, "18 gauge in the left forearm with Ringers Lactate running at a KVO rate."
"Good, now lets get a set of vital signs." The surgeon continued on with the secondary survey, searching for any other possible injuries to the downed man.
As Garrett reached to examine the torso of the man, Danni took the small cell phone from the surgeons belt and flipped it up to Karen. "Hey, Mom! Wanna get us an ride to the hospital?"
Karen caught the phone with ease, "Yeah, guess he cant wait until the next inning is over, huh?" She fumbled slightly trying to open the small phone. Dialing the number 911 she waited for the dispatch operator to answer. She gave the nature of the emergency, the location and added that the site was that of the ER picnic. She assured the operator that highly trained personnel were taking care of the victim but that they needed an ambulance to get the patient to the hospital. She ended the call, flipping the phone shut. "Theyll be here soon."
"BP is 146 over 92." Danni was taking the stethoscope out of her ears.
"Pulse is 112 and strong, respiration 24 and regular." Rosie looked up at Dr. Trivoli.
"No other injuries found, all bones intact and abdomen soft." Garrett looked up at her makeshift team, "Good work, everyone."
Ian McCormick had ventured over to the group to lend a hand. Seeing that all was taken care of, he stood back and watched the nearly silent exchange of glances between the Trauma Surgeon and the small blonde nurse. Each one knowing what was on the mind of the other with only a word or two being spoken. It was something that he had not seen very often, especially within a few days of meeting someone. The ER attending pondered that thought and placed it into a file deep within the recesses of his mind for future reference.
The sound of the ambulance entering the picnic area was heard in the background, with its short blasts of the siren to clear a pathway up to the ballfield. Rosie replaced the equipment into the orange bag, zipping it shut.
She stood up and shouldered it once more. Karen finished her charting and walked over to the paramedic exiting the drivers door. Exchanging a few words with the medics and giving up the makeshift chart in her hand, she waved at Rosie to come join her.
"Thanks for inviting me, Danni." The surgeon looked over at her friend. "You know that Im going to have to go to the hospital with him, right?"
"Well, dont think that Im handing off to a medic, Doc." Her green eyes twinkling at the thought. "Im going with him, too."
The surgeon nodded slightly and allowed the faint hint of a smile to come to her face. She was beginning to like this spunky little blonde nurse; maybe she should give this friendship thing a try.
The patient was loaded into the back of the ambulance with the one paramedic stepping around to the drivers door. The other turned and looked at the two women. "Ladies, if you please." He offered his hand to Garrett.
The Surgeon raised an eyebrow towards her hairline and met the green eyes of the nurse. Each of them letting one corner of their individual mouths curling up into a smirk. Garrett turned to the paramedic, her eyes became steely blue in color and she began to open her mouth to speak. The nurse, choosing to be a diplomat, spoke up drawing the paramedics attention to herself. " Thanks for the offer, but I think we can handle this ourselves," a forced smile on her face as her nose wrinkled slightly.
The paramedic shrugged his shoulders, "Have it your way then." He stepped into the back of the ambulance. Then seating himself in the chair at the head of the stretcher, he began turning on the communication radio.
Danni scrambled up into the ambulance, her short legs stretching to reach the top step. She quickly sat down on the long crew bench opposite the patient and slide down its length, stopping at the area of the patients chest. The surgeon was a step behind her, easily accessing the inside of the ambulance with her tall frame. She obviously had no trouble in closing the double doors at the rear of the ambulance, making sure that they were locked before she slid further up the bench. The nurse began to attach the patient to the electronic monitoring devices onboard in preparation for the ride to the hospital. Seeing that both women were seated, the paramedic signaled the driver to start the journey to the Trauma Center. "Lets make it a nice and easy ride, Pat."
The driver looked up into the rearview mirror and gave a short two fingered half salute to her partner. "Nice and easy, gottcha!" She paused momentarily to look in the mirror, giving a quick wink and subtle nod. She was going to give the hospital people a ride that they wouldnt forget any time soon. She watched as her fellow paramedic stepped out of her line of vision and back into his seat. Putting the gear selector into drive, she slowly eased out of the grassy area of the park. A devilish grin appeared on her face as her hand slipped over several of the master control buttons on the panel to her right.
Garrett looked over to the monitoring devices, taking in all the information that they offered her about the patient. In this age of technology, these high tech luxuries were standards of care in the larger cities, thereby giving the paramedics the time and free hands to deliver more advanced life saving care to the patient. It made her think of the times she had served on the community ambulance during her college years. Less than fifteen years ago, but it seemed like centuries. Back then, everything was done by hand to obtain the patients vital signs; except for the cardiac monitor, those big and bulky LifePaks that it took one person alone to carry.
"Little bump," was heard as the driver cautioned the rear passengers. The rig was going over the curb into the parking area for the ballfield. Slowly it crawled forward. The drivers front tire being the first to descend to the asphalt lot. Each tire individually and with no steady rhythm dropped to the level of the parking lot. The constant shifting of the ambulance made for a continuing sway in the back of the rig long after the curb was gone.
The Ex-Flight Surgeon smiled as she remembered the feel of the ship under her body. It brought to mind her days in the Navy. Funny how your mind could be stimulated by something as simple as a gentle rocking motion, she mused, as she thought about her first day onboard ship. The crew had warned her that it would take a few days for her to get her sea legs. Boy, were they right! She chuckled now to herself as she remembered looking like a drunken sailor, staggering from side to side just trying to walk across the deck that first day.
The touch of the small hand grabbing her leg interrupted Garretts thoughts. She looked over to see Danni using all of her extremities to try to stop the swaying motion of her petite body. The nurses head was bobbing back and forth, a pensive look coming across her face. Small droplets of perspiration were surfacing on her upper lip and forehead. The surgeon placed her hand on to her friends back in an attempt to steady her, "Are you alright?"
The blonde nurse mustered a slight smile and looked at the doctor, "Yeah, I just forgot how bouncy these rigs are." She swallowed several times, her eyes darting between the paramedic and the surgeon. Her hand left its position on Garretts leg, slowly bringing it up to wipe the moisture on her upper lip. Nervously she asked "Is it getting warm in here?"
"Hey, Pat, you got the air on?" The medic looked forward into the drivers compartment.
"Yeah, on high, too. It must be cutting out again." She tapped the panel and toggled the switch on and off. "Ill have to let maintenance know about that, sorry," the driver offered. She turned her attention back to the road as a smirk came across her face.
The paramedic looked over at the women shrugging his shoulders; "Not much we can do, sorry. It wont be long til we are at the hospital."
The surgeon looked over at Danni, the concern showing on her face. She had to get her mind off the ride. "Could you check for bleeding around the cricothyrotomy site for me and give a listen to his lungs, too. Youre a little closer than I."
The nurse welcomed the tasks, anything not to think of how sick she was becoming. She looked over to the paramedic, pointing to the stethoscope around his neck; "Do you mind?"
"No, here, youre in a better position than me," taking the stethoscope from around his neck and handing it to her. He busied himself with the notion of working on his report, while stealing glances at the young nurse as she stood leaning over the patient assessing his lung sounds. He smiled in appreciation of the loose fitting tank top that revealed breasts incased by a sports bra. As if on cue, the ambulance took a series of left and right turns causing Danni to be jostled from side to side. The medics smile got bigger seeing the mounds of flesh bounce around disclosing the raised nipples.
Garrett reached out to steady the nurse, an eyebrow raising as her blue eyes pinned a warning stare in the medics direction, realizing what he was enjoying. It was hard to get a grip on the young nurse; her hands slid on Dannis skin trying to brace her sweaty body. The doctor also was beginning to perspire as she grasped onto the nurses cloth-covered hips tugging gently to bring her down into the seat again.
"Hang on!" The driver yelled as she slammed on the brakes avoiding a near collision.
The ambulance lurched forward to a stop as the momentum of the human cargo continued on. Danni landed face down in the lap of the startled paramedic, with Garrett lying across the bench seat still grasping onto her elastic waist shorts.
Letting go with a string of expletives under her breath, Pat looked into the rearview mirror to check on her passengers. "You guys okay back there?" She watched as the surgeon slowly raised her head, a stunned look coming across her face.
Garrett opened her eyes to see the exposed buttocks of the nurse delicately outlined by the iridescent thong panties only inches away from her face. Her mouth was agape. The surgeons mind quickly began to assess the body in front of her, size, color, shape, and asymmetry all being analyzed at the same time. Blinking rapidly, she realized what had happened as she fumbled to push the shorts back over Dannis hips. This only resulted in the young nurses head being buried deeper into the medics lap. Finally with no further room to go, the shorts slid into place.
The small nurse brought her head upward giving a faint smile to the medic. His eyes were bulging out, a surprised look on his face. She began to push herself up off of him saying, "Sorry about that." Her nose wrinkling up as she offered the stethoscope back to him, "You have some really sensitive balls I mean bells there." She cringed getting up to her feet. "Sprague-Rapport, they have the best diaphragms, you never have to worry about them getting holes or wearing thin. Its the only one I ever use," she rambled on as the blush grew to a deeper shade of red by the second. "Stethoscopes, that is!"
The surgeon tapped the embarrassed nurse on the shoulder, "How did his lungs sound, Danni?" She was trying to help both her friend and the medic who was starting to hyperventilate, his gaze dropping down to his pants. "The patient, how did the lungs sound?"
"Ah " she thought for a second, "clear bilaterally with good and equal inspirations." The nurses color was returning to a more normal shade. She randomly surveyed the electronic monitoring, "Looks like the vitals are all within normal." The patient looked no worse for wear; after all, he had been belted in on the stretcher.
The driver had parked the ambulance and climbed into the back of the rig to examine the condition of her human cargo. There in the captains chair at the head of the stretcher was her co-worker. She could tell that the man was going to lose it at any moment. She let her gaze drop to where he was staring. His pants where stretched to an expanding point, the zipper threatening to burst apart at any minute.
The hackles on her neck rose as she thought of the mountains of paperwork and endless explaining she was going to have to do to her superiors if this situation suddenly exploded into something even more embarrassing. Thinking quickly, she shook the paramedics shoulder, "Hey, buddy, can you drive? I think Im a little too shaken up to get us the last couple of blocks to the hospital." She paused. "Tim, go ahead up front and drive the rest of the way. Ill stay back here."
Slowly pulling himself up, he exited the back of the ambulance through the side door and proceeded to the driver seat. Taking in a deep breath, he released the parking brake and pulled out into the street.
The woman medic did a quick look around at the others. Seeing no injuries, she breathed a sigh of relief. Pat checked the latest vitals on the patient and lifted the phone for radio communication to the awaiting hospital, her attention no longer on her surroundings.
The two women were again resting on the bench seat. Danni nudged the surgeon with her shoulder, "Thanks for helping me out."
"No problem. It was the least that I could do." Making a silly face the surgeon deadpanned, "Silk, huh? Nice color."
Her eyes quickly cast to the ground. The nurses voice like that of a small childs, "Yeah."
It was only a few blocks to go but it was getting harder by the minute for Tim to concentrate on the road. His throbbing anatomy was causing his mind to battle for control of his actions. How easy it would be to just let his mind go where his body so desperately wanted to. The drivers body subconsciously rocking back and forth in time with his pounding heart. Soon the vehicle was exaggerating his pelvic thrusting as his foot pushed and released on the gas pedal. Sweat pouring from his brow, trying to just get them to the damn hospital. There it was just a block away; he could see the driveway to the emergency room. Now, if he could just hold out a little longer, relief would not be far away. "Please, God, I know that Im always asking for this, but just let me keep it up five more minutes. Please!" He implored under his breath as he pulled the ambulance to a stop. He hastily threw open the drivers door and sprinted to the rear of the ambulance.
The heat inside of the patient compartment was getting to be unbearable, sweat just running down the three women. Pat was thankful for the long pants and shirt to help catch the moisture. She looked over to the two women in shorts and sleeveless shirts; they appeared to be a cross between wet T-shirt night and mud wrestling as rivers of sweat mixed with the dirt of the softball field on their skin.
The back doors swung open, allowing fresh air into the now rank-smelling compartment. The woman medic sprang out of the ambulance with clipboard in hand. The play in the springs of the ambulance continued the swaying and bouncing motion as the patient was removed on the stretcher into the outside air. The doctor and nurse made their way to the back door following the path of the stretcher. Danni hesitated at the doorway holding her stomach and swallowing hard. Taking a slow deep breath, she followed the group of ill-fated caregivers into the emergency room door.
Dr. Trivoli was meet at the door by the Chief Resident, Dr. Maxine Webster, relief written all over her face when she saw that the injured patient was not one of their own.
"It appears to be a crushed and edematous larynx. We had no choice but to do a cricothyrotomy in the field. Vitals are good. Airway is now clear and patent, the patient is able to breathe on his own."
"We were able to put an 18 gauge angiocath into his left forearm area and established a KVO line of Ringers," the drenched blonde nurse added to the report.
As they entered the Trauma Room, Tim kept the stretcher in front of himself. Moving the patient to the hospital stretcher, the paramedic appeared to be straining, his neck veins standing out pulsating obviously. The Chief Resident leaned over saying, "You keep that up and youre going to hurt yourself."
The medic looked up to heaven and whispered back, "If only you knew." Everyones attention now stayed with the patient as the medic backed out of the room with his ambulance stretcher. Hastily he eyed the open door of the rest room down the hallway. "Ill be right back," he mumbled to Pat.
She grabbed the clipboard, shoving it into his hands and placing it to hide the prominent mound in his pants, "Why dont you go take care of this?"
Tim nodded eagerly at her. "And dont come out until your done."
With that, Tim made a beeline for the restroom glancing at his watch. Not five minutes yet and he looked up to the heavens in thanks for time to spare. Immediately his head dropped, bringing into view the growing wet spot on his uniform trousers. Well, at least he was at the doorway of the restroom when the relief came, instead of the room full of hospital personnel. Thankful for that small favor, he looked over his shoulder at Pat. He could already hear the Viagra jokes that would be circulating at the station house, all with his name associated. He continued into the room and closed the door.
Another medic team was coming down the hall. Stopping, they acknowledged the female medic, sweat dripping off her hair as she made up the stretcher. "Say, whats up with the rookie, Pat?" He motioned toward the restroom door. "Something he couldnt handle?"
She paused looking at the closed door. Placing her hands on her hips she rolled her tongue around the inside of her mouth, "Lets just say that he got something he wasnt expecting by surprise and ah hes having a hard time containing himself." Her voice began to chuckle with the last few words.
The two medics looked at the seasoned veteran then gave a tiny shrug to each other. "Guess you had to be there," one said to the other as they walked out of the door.
Having relayed all of the necessary information about the patient and the care that was administered until their arrival at the hospital, Danni and Garrett exited the room then leaned up against the wall in the hallway. The nurse closed her eyes trying to keep the room from spinning. Her face started to lose its color, turning a ghastly shade of pale green. She drew in several long deep breaths.
"Are you okay, Danni?" The voice was soft and concerned. The smartly dressed Social Worker reached out placing her hand on the nurses arm. Her skin felt cold and clammy. "Hey, Doc, she dont look so good."
Dr. Trivoli looked over to the young blonde nurse. Suddenly Danni gulped hard, eyes bugging out, her hand reaching for her mouth as she ran down the hall towards the restroom. Garrett followed after her. With the perfect timing that only God could create, the restroom door opened just as the nurse reached for the doorknob. Before she knew it, the contents of her stomach were projected over the uniformed man trapped in the small room. Stunned, Tim looked at the petite blonde who was now being held by the tall, raven-haired doctor. Raising his eyes, he looked past the two women only to see Pat sliding to a stop in the hallway. She looked in disbelief, shaking her head and trying to stifle the laughter, "Jeez, Tim, you get it both ways, coming and going." With that out she could no longer contain the laughter. It was several minutes before she could catch her breath to speak. "Id offer to ride you two back to the park, but I think I had better take Tim back to the station to get cleaned up."
The surgeon pulled at her shirt, wrinkling her nose at the smell. Looking at the medic she nodded her head in agreement, "I think we could use a little clean up too." Her eyebrow raised into her hair.
Feeling better with each second that passed the nurse kept offering her apologies to the young medic, "Im really, really sorry. Honest!"
"Lets just pretend that this never happened." He muttered under his breath, "Please, God, dont ever let it happen to me, again." The medic was mortified as he exited the restroom. Silently he pledged to never have lustful thoughts again, well, at least while on the job. He thought of his sexual experiences in his adult life and vowed that this had to be the worst. It would take some doing to get over this. Somehow he just knew that it would haunt him every time he tried to get it on with a women. Maybe he would be lucky and die tomorrow he contemplated, knowing that he wasnt that lucky.
"Well, at least we wont have to explain the wet spot on your pants," the woman medic chuckled, "no one will be able to see it through all that emesis." She grabbed his sleeve being careful not to get any on her, "I know where there is a nice cold shower and some clean clothes waiting for you, back at the base." Pat turned to the women, "Its been real, guys!" She ushered the young medic down the hallway, pushing the stretcher ahead of them. All the time wondering why she had picked up the extra overtime shift in the first place.
Danni turned from washing her mouth out with the water from the sink. Her eyes roved over her tall friend and then her own pathetic looking body. "Do you think we could get a shower and some scrubs before we head back to the picnic?"
"Yeah, it sounds like a plan to me." Garrett was surprised that after all they had been through today, the nurse was still willing to spend more time with her, even after the embarrassing situations that had happened. Maybe this was what friendship was about. Being able to bare oneself to others and realizing the acceptance in even the worst of conditions by a true friend.
"Do you think the game is over by now? I wonder if well get back in time for dinner, Im famished," the young blonde wore a look of concern across her face. "I wonder who won." It was a non-stop barrage of dialogue coming from the petite woman. "Say, are you up for some fireworks later tonight? I sure am."
The tall surgeon raised an eyebrow and looked in her direction, then just shook her head as they ambled together down the hall towards their respective showers.
Startled eyes opened wide, trying to acquaint themselves to the darkened room, hands fumbled with the bedding to find a path to her body. The womans mind raced with jumbled thoughts causing her breath to quicken. The adrenaline rush surged through her body with every beat of her racing heart. "Where, what, who?" Desperately her mind tried to make some order out of her surroundings. The hand finally made its way to her body, finding her midsection. The woman now focused on the hand as it slowly brushed up and down her torso, fingertips deliberately being raked over the curves of the sculptured body. She let the hand sweep a larger area searching for the distinguishing textures that would tell her what she needed to know. The soft feel of skin followed around the generous curve where puckering flesh stood firmly into a nub. Gliding down across taunt, flat muscles the coarse texture of hair was now at her fingertips. She let out a sigh as her mind told her where she was. Her body now settled into a calming rhythm, as her mind became oriented to both self and place. Her eyelids lowered as a feeling of warmth reached over her being, touching her very soul. She allowed herself the comfort of relaxing down into the plump pillows underneath her head. She was safely floating back into the comfortable sleep that her body needed.
It seemed that sleep had been the only comfort that her mind could accept. It had been used as her refuge from the world of emotions and the few people that tried to lay claim to her body. She was safe and secure in her knowledge that she was alone. After all, it was infrequent that she awoke in the company of someone. Her college days of experiments at finding her sexual stability never brought more than a raised eyebrow to her face. She could never see what all the excitement was about. Then again, you only get out what you invest into it and her fear of hurt never allowed her to invest anymore than her body. The story always ended the same way in any of her attempted relationships. The emotionless giving of her body to another in a sexual way was never enough for them. As soon as the fascination wore out, they were gone. There was nothing in her personal life that remained constant but the feeling of desolation. Her soul was left wondering in that barren world that she had built for it. Preserving it for some unknown reason while never really understanding why. She had long ago given up on love of the personal kind. It just wasnt in the hand of cards that the fates had dealt to her. Work was the only thing that gave her any fulfillment in that lonely world. Sleep was something that was best enjoyed alone and therefore, was looked forward to at the end of a days work, especially one that did not demand her to be on-call.
It was a technique that she had developed early on during her internship days. Not only did it allow her luxury of a good nights sleep but kept her mind in balance. The time spent acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to be a surgeon was endless. Nights were often spent absorbing every written word from the standard textbooks and additional reading material that it soon became oblivious as to whether or not one was on-call. She had rationalized if her time were indeed her own that she would be unconfined by structure, as she had known it. Thus became the ritual of sleeping in the buff. It definitely was something that one would only find appealing in the privacy of ones own bed. The simple method had worked for her except for her time in the Navy. Being the only surgeon onboard ship meant that you were always on-call, no matter what. That was, unless you were lucky enough to get shore leave in an exotic port.
Through barely opened eyes, she could see that the golden rays of the mornings first light were creeping into the room. The golden hue stirred memories that her mind associated with the warm glow that she felt. In her state of limbo between deep sleep and the real world, images of the last few months floated around her mind. Never before had she dreamt of a person that was not related to her with such regularity. Her dreams or nightmares as she often referred to them had always been filled with daily goals and turmoil in her struggle to achieve her career. Her lust for perfection would never allow her time to have friends or even to be friendly with any of her colleagues. She saw them only as people she had to be around to attain her self-driven goals. Her work involved human beings, but that didnt mean she had to socialize with them in order to do it and be the best. Her coldness toward them had always kept them at bay.
The dreams now were like a breath of fresh air. Air that softly swirled causing the short blonde hair to quiver and carry the fresh scent of a beautiful summer day on it. They had been playing softball when someone in the gathered crowd had been assaulted. Images of the scene blurred as in a fast forward motion coming to an abrupt stop as the paramedics placed the man who was now trached on the ambulance stretcher. Her eyes cast about at the odd collection of people that had worked right along with her, never being asked or directed to do so. Each face that she looked at shown a confident approach to the situation at hand, not letting anyone in the crowd know the severity of the mans injury. They were professionals whether they were dressed for the part or not. It was like some surreal event before her eyes, the spirit of camaraderie wisping freely between them as it soared amongst the crowd of caregivers until it approached her and outstretched its arms to engulf her with its embrace. She looked it coldly in the eye and for the first time noticed that it had taken on the face of a human framed by shimmering flaxen hair.
Then in a rush of fast-forward the events whirled by until they stopped and continued at a normal pace again.
Like the return of the prodigal daughters that they were, Karen met the two lost but not forgotten picnickers with a mothers welcome. "What took you so long? Did you have to rush him into surgery? We were worried about you." Her voice was a mixture of concern and scolding both. "Hey, now give. Why the scrubs?" Her look was stern and skeptical.
Danni dropped her eyes and started to blush. Garrett was quick to come to her rescue. "We got a little dirty and thought that it would be best to clean-up before we came back, Mom. The patient was doing well when we left him." Then changing the subject she attempted to take the heat further off of her blonde companion. "I hope we got back in time to eat, did we?"
"Well, youre close but I guess we can find you two some burgers and corn. You know, Danni, we were just wondering where you hid that load of watermelons that you were supposed to bring."
The small blonde breathed a sigh of relief at the direction of the conversation. She winked at Karen and nudged the tall woman next to her. "Come on, Garrett, give me a hand getting them out of the car." She walked over to where her keys had been placed before the start of the softball game.
The surgeon shrugged her shoulders and followed the blonde toward the car. "Yeah, sure."
Once out of earshot of the group of assembled picnickers, the soft and gentle voice of the nurse drew Garretts attention. "Thanks, Doc. I wasnt quite sure how I was going to answer that. I "
"What are you thanking me for? I didnt cover anything up, I just choose to be discreet with the information that I shared. I didnt see the need for going into details. Did you?"
"Hmmm I guess youre right. Thanks, any way." She smiled and opened up the trunk of the metro. "One for you and one for me." She offered the watermelon to the surgeon, closed the trunk and side by side they headed back to the gathering.
The muscular body became accentuated as limbs stretched and retracted causing the woman to roll up on to her side. She positioned herself away from the light that was straining to enter the room through the drawn blinds covering the windows. Settling into a comfortable position, sleep again beckoned the surgeon to retreat into her dreams once more.
"Now let me handle the salesman," the young blonde was drilling the idea into Garretts head. "Say nothing and be very indifferent to the color and model options. Are you sure this is the vehicle that you want, because once I get the deal ironed out, there will be no going back."
The surgeon looked over at her petite friend as they pulled into the dealership lot. She marveled at the all business approach that Danni was taking in her behalf. She would have just gone in and asked how much for that one and paid the price. The young woman at her side would hear none of it when Garrett brought up the subject of purchasing a vehicle. She obviously prided herself in the fine art of haggling for a better price. What could it hurt to let her help? "Yes, I am sure."
The nurse put the gear selector into park and pulled on the hand brake, "Whatever you do, Garrett, dont let them know that you are a Physician. Theyll never bargain if they know you have the money to spend." She exited the door and walked over to the passenger side of the small Geo Metro to assist the tall surgeon in climbing out of her seat. Coming up to the now opened door Danni offered her hand, "Remember to listen to me, if I say we go, then be ready to walk right out of there with me. We are going to have to present a unified front. If you so much as hesitate, they will know that you want the car and never come down in price."
The raven-haired women stretched to workout the kinks of being confined in such a small space, listening intently to her friend. "Alright, I trust you completely with this. Lets see what we can do."
They began walking over to the showroom door when Danni stopped suddenly grabbing the surgeons arm, "You did say that you wanted to pay cash right?"
"Yes, I got the checkbook right here," she patted the back pocket of her jeans. "Ill follow your lead, my friend."
They entered the showroom and began walking around the display of vehicles. Within moments, a well-dressed young salesman approached the women, his eye taken obviously by the petite blonde. "Is there anything that I could help you with, Ladies?" He turned to the young woman, studying her intently, "Hmm, I can see you driving that bright red Corvette convertible over there. Would you like me to get the keys and well take it for a test drive?"
She gave a coy smile and let go with a nervous laugh. "No, I really dont think that is my style," she said with her nose wrinkling up slightly. "I figure myself more of a sunset on the beach at Malibu." She turned to look at Garrett, "While my friend there is more of the dark, sleek trailblazing kind."
The salesmans eyes grew in size as his mind grasped the metaphor.
The surgeon leaned up against a car and watched as the young nurse played with the salesmans ego. She was ruthless in her negotiating tactics, using anything she could to make this poor man offer her the world just to be able to be close to her. The exchange of information between the two was something to be seen. Each one playing the seducer in this dance of dissent. The advantage swaying between the two with each round of banter. The tall woman was completely amazed by her younger friends ability to steadily gain the advantage in this unorthodox sales negotiation.
Danni stepped over to her silent friend as the young man retreated into an office cubicle. "So Garrett, I guess youre going to have to get some insurance before we pick up our new cars tomorrow," she said nonchalantly.
"Yeah, I guess Ill have " the tall womans mouth was suddenly agape, as her brain had finally registered what her young friend had implied. The surgeons eyes widened as she gulped, "you mean, its a done deal? Ive got the Black Chevy Blazer with 4-wheel drive. Hey, you said our new cars plural. I thought "
The young woman rubbed her fingernails in a mock polishing effort against her blouse saying, "I was able to work out a better deal if I traded in the Geo and we bought two vehicles at once."
"What did when did " Garrett was confused. She thought she had been following the conversation, obviously she had not picked up on something. Shaking her head, she queried "I didnt know that you were looking to buy a new car. Did I miss something here?"
"Shh! He is coming back, just play along. Okay?"
The surgeon slowly nodded her head, totally amazed at her petite friend. She was definitely going to find out what she had missed in the negotiations.
Again, she did what she was told and remained silent as the salesman joined them.
"Its all set. If we could get some financial information from the two of you, your vehicles will be ready to be picked up tomorrow at 5 P.M." He looked first at the tall dark haired woman then to the perky little blonde. "If thats alright with you?" He hesitated shifting his gaze from woman to woman, a look of apprehension on his face.
Danni smiled at the salesman, "Yes, that will be just fine."
The salesman nodded, "Now, if you follow me over to my office." He was grinning from ear to ear, proud of the deal that he had struck up with the beautiful blonde. "Well get all the paper work out of the way."
A half-hour later, the women were walking out of the dealership headed for Dannis Geo Metro. They were brimming with enthusiasm over the deal that had just been made for the new vehicles but knew that they had to wait to discuss what had just happened until they were in the car.
Garrett was getting good at folding herself into the small car of her friend. She waited for the younger woman to settle herself into the driver's seat before asking, "So, Danni, what car did you purchase? If you dont mind me asking." She gave her friend a sidelong glance.
"A gold Chevy Malibu," she stated. "Sorry, but it will be bigger than youre used to in this one." She let out a laugh, her eyes quickly taking in the accordion like form of her tall companion.
The surgeon started to chuckle and nodded her head carefully as it abutted the interior of the roof. "I think I could get used to that."
"What do you say we celebrate our good fortune. Milkshakes?" she asked.
The older woman suddenly turned very serious. "Danni, can I ask you something?" She looked at her friend and asked, "You didnt agree to go out with him or anything, did you?" There was a look of real concern on her face as she awaited her friends answer.
The small blonde shot a glance over to her passenger; her eyes registered her friends concern. "No, maybe Rosie would do something like that, but not me. I just let him flirt with me. While his mind was preoccupied with his thoughts I just out haggled him. Honest."
"Mom told me that you were good at bargaining, but I never thought " the surgeon trailed off. She looked over at her friend, "Thanks for doing that for me, Danni." A lop sided grin showing on her face.
"Youre welcome, Garrett. Im just glad that I could help." The nurse pulled into the parking lot of the ice cream shop, "Now, are we going to celebrate or what?"
The sound of birds chirping floated lightly on the gentle breeze that was coming in through the open window. The nights were not as hot or humid anymore and the thought of sleeping in the fresh air was so stimulating to the surgeon. She had forgotten about the noise of the birds in the early morning, after all, you didnt get that close to land on a ship or in air-conditioned hotels. Garrett made a mental note about the morning noise and open windows for the next time she had the luxury of sleeping in. But for now, she gathered her pillow and pulled it over her head to drown out the energetic noise, determined to enjoy more time in the land of Morpheus.
Blue haze from the cigarette smoke was creeping out of the doorway to the bar and gliding along the ceiling. The room appeared to be clean and orderly but somewhat aged for the faded posters that covered the walls. The light was focused low from the hanging fixtures that advertised locally brewed alcoholic beverages. Each one strategically placed above a small round table. It was definitely not an upper class establishment but the nurses had assured her that it served some of the best ethnic food in the "Burgh". She followed the group of nurses as they ventured into the backroom of what they had called a typical corner bar. Soon they were seated around one of the tables, their eyes intent on finding a waitress.
"I got one!" Danni exclaimed as she motioned with her hand for the waitress in the far corner to come over to their table. Pleased with herself she settled into her chair and waited. "So, Garrett, what do you think of the place?"
The surgeon looked startled as she was called upon to make a judgement of the atmosphere already. "Ah, I think Ill defer any comments until after the meal," her eyes wandered around the room and to each of her companions.
"Ah, come on Doc, we know that its not the number one pick of the Yuppies across the country, but the food is really the best around." Rosie looked to her co-workers for support.
"I hate to say it, but shes right." Karen shook her head in approval. "Do you think well see anybody that we know tonight?" she joked.
Rosie smiled, "Gee, Mom, why do you always have to bring up work when we go out?"
"Now, ladies, lets just have a nice time with good food and pleasant companionship." Danni tried to mediate the conversation, "Lets just forget about work and have some fun, shall we?"
Mom looked over at the small blonde nurse and let out a laugh, "And how do you propose that I forget work when I look at the motley crew that Im with? Jeez, Danni, we just spent the last twelve hours together at work."
"Can I take your order?" The waitress impatiently tapped her foot as she looked from patron to patron at the table. Looking for someone in authority, she picked on Garrett, "So, what can I bring you?"
The tall woman was startled. "Ah, ah," and she looked over to Danni pleading with her eyes for help.
"Why dont we get a sampler platter of pierogies for the table to start off with? The blonde nurse quickly did a visual poll of her friends, "Yes, a sampler platter of pierogies then for the table. Ill have an IC Lite, too."
"Yeah, IC Lite for me, too," Rosie shook head in agreement.
Karen thought for a moment then slowly shaking her head, "Same for me."
Not wanting to be an odd ball in the group of her new friends, Garrett nonchalantly looked up at the waitress saying, "Make that IC Lite all the way around."
Rosie reached out to grab at the waitress arm. "Hey, you have that on draft, right? Then how about a pitcher of IC Lite for the table."
"Okay, lets make that four glasses with one pitcher of IC Lite and one pierogies sampler." The impatient waitress hastily looked around the table. Hearing no more orders she moved away in the direction of the bar.
"Garrett, were glad that you could join us tonight. Maybe you would like to come along when we have our next ladies night out?" The older nurse was trying to help the surgeon adjust to her new city.
"Yeah, Doc, we could go down to the strip district that night and you could get to see the Primanti Brothers up close and personal." Rosie offered enthusiastically as she winked at Danni.
The doctors eyebrow steadily rose up into her hairline as she stared at Rosie then at her young friend. She wondered what kind of signals she had been giving for Rosie to suggest that she would enjoy strip clubs and local Chippendales-type shows.
Seeing the look on her new friends face, Danni quickly offered, "They have the best sandwiches there at Primantes. They have everything except the kitchen sink on them. You remember me getting the watermelons for the picnic in the strip district, dont you, Garrett?"
The surgeon thought a moment then slowly smiled as she began to understand the true meaning of Rosies statement. "Yeah, I think that would be fun." She stole a quick look at the blonde and thanked any god that would listen to her for such a compassionate and caring friend. The surgeon thought for a moment and realized that the word was creeping more often into her thoughts and vocabulary since she had arrived in town. It felt good to be able to call someone friend. She marveled at her circumstance and for the first time believed that it was fate that brought her to this place in time and with these people, no co-workers. No, they were more than that to her for she was slowly being accepted into their extended families. That was a funny sensation for her, she hadnt had a feeling of family for many years. It was something that she never thought she would feel again. She was beginning to see that they had accepted her for herself without needing to pry into her past life. That feeling of acceptance was not lost on the raven-haired woman.
"So, have you ever eaten pierogies before?" Danni offered the first choice to Garrett. "These are potato and onion, sauerkraut, and potato and cheese," she pointed to each group in the assortment on the platter. "Help yourself."
The lopsided smile spread quickly across her face as she came out of her thoughts into the presence of her companions, "Thanks, they look and smell good." She chose one of each and began tasting as the others helped themselves to the pierogies. "Hey, these are really good." Her eyes were looking from one member to the other of the group and back to the stuffed dough pockets on her plate.
The friendly chuckling of the group at her comment was only emphasized by the young blondes toast. "Heres to Garrett," she raised her glass filled with the white-headed foamed beverage. "May she find Pittsburgh and all that it holds, to be to her liking."
The group followed suit each raising their glass in acknowledgement to the tall surgeon in their midst and saying, "To Garrett!"
Her golden complexion was now showing signs of blush as she accepted the toast. She nodded and raised her glass touching each of theirs lightly and then the group sipped their drinks. Garrett raised her glass again, "To Pittsburgh, May I come to know all that it holds with the help of my friends." The glasses were raised and clinked. The drinking of the golden liquid ended the toast and brought about the conversation that was so much a part of human nature among the small group of friends.
She could feel her facial muscles being stretched into a smile as the haze of sleep slowly eroded from her mind. The calming memory of joyous camaraderie was the last thing that she could remember about her dream.
Blue eyes slowly opened and began to focus on her surroundings. She allowed herself to fill her mind with the atmosphere that was present in the room. The soft rays of sunlight filtered in through the edges of the blinds, straining to give the room a golden glow. It brought a rich appearance to the sparse furnishings. A bed, dresser, and nightstand with a lamp on it was the contents of the room in its entirety. It wasnt much, but she could call it home. It had been several years since she had thought of any place as home. She pondered about the last three years that she had lived from one assigned bunk to another and her clothing that was stored in metal lockers on board ship or the duffel bag that carried them between duty stations. The womans time spent in the Navy was just a way to pay off her debts from medical school. She had realized that it was a temporary life, a means to the end of getting herself through the necessary schooling to become the doctor that she was today.
She rolled over, staring at the ceiling. Her senses were awakening and she could vaguely make out the aroma of bacon and coffee in the air. For the first time in many years she could actually smell food being made as she climbed the stairs out of Morpheus realm. It was a pleasant sensation that stirred her memory with thoughts of home, family and belonging. Her mind went off on a tangent as she thought about the events that had led her to this place.
"So, I guess that you havent be able to find anything yet."
She turned in recognition of the soft voice that seemed to come from behind her. "No," shaking her head in disappointment. "Im going to have to do something soon, Ive only got a week to find someplace."
The small blonde stood next to her balancing a tray of breakfast foods in her hands. "Mind if I join you?" She motioned to the empty seat across form the surgeon.
"Ah no," she was clearing the table for her friend. "Id enjoy the company." Garrett looked up at the woman who was slowly creeping into her life. "You just getting done for the night?"
"Yeah, I thought that Id grab a quick bite to eat before I head home. It always seems more relaxing to me to have other people around than to be by myself." Danni looked around at the other people then settled her eyes on to her friend. "You know, Garrett, any place good has already been taken before September at the latest by the college students."
Nodding in agreement, "Im beginning to realize that now. McMurray is going to flip when I tell him that Im going to have to live out of the call room or my car until I find a place."
There was silence between the two as each sat quietly with their own thoughts. The young nurse was slowing down her rhythmic chewing as she began to contemplate her friends plight.
The surgeon raised her cup for more of the soothing mixture.
Swallowing, she drew in a breath and offered, "I have a spare bedroom in my house." She looked up into the clear blue eyes across from her. "You could move in with me." There she had said it.
The surgeon shifted in her seat, her eyes wondering off into the crowded cafeteria. "No, Danni, I dont want to impose on you."
"Aw, come on, Garrett, it would be an answer to both of our problems." She searched for some emotion on the surgeons face. "You need a place to stay for the rest of your Fellowship and it would be less lonely for me around the house when Im not working. Besides, it would be safer for the both of us." She was smug with herself for thinking of this point to help win over her friend. "It would be like a buddy system for safetys sake. My sister has been on my case to get a roommate for some time now. What do you say?" The eager look of acceptance displayed on her face. "If it doesnt work out, it will have at least given you more time to find a decent place."
The surgeon raised her eyebrow. "Okay, Ill stop by after clinic today and take a look at the place. But if I take it, I will be paying you rent." She held up her hand to prevent any further discussion from the petite woman. "I expect that you will be able to come up with a fair price and any house rules that I will have to follow."
Digging into her food with a renewed zeal, Danni smiled. "Great! Ill be expecting you about 5 or so."
Garrett gave her friend a lopsided grin and nodded her head. "This just might work out. After all, who knows where Ill be working after June when this fellowship is through? Ill see you then." She stole a look at her watch and gathered her things together. "Hey, Ive got to go. Ill just make it if I leave now."
"See you later." The blonde nurse called out to her. "Have a good morning!"
"Huh " One eyelid opened, the crystal blue iris trying to get a fix on the sound that seemed to be echoing in her head. There it was again, that knocking sound. The raven-haired surgeon turned her head in the direction of the sound. She could barely raise both eyelids open when the cheerful sound came again.
"Good morning, Garrett!" The door opened slightly and a partial head slid into the opening. "Hey, you awake for your special breakfast yet? You dont want to let it get cold, do you?"
The surgeon drank in the aroma of the breakfast as her mind stumbled its way into the present. "Oh, yeah, I forgot about that." She raised her hand to wave a lone finger at the door signaling that she would be there in a minute.
"Just let me get some clothes on," her voice was husky from sleep. "Ill be right out." Covers were being thrown off in disarray.
The petite blonde caught a glimpse of muscled arms and the broad expanse of shoulders connecting into a well defined back as the covers began to reveal the emerging body of the slumbering surgeon. She hastily closed the door to assure her new roommate her privacy. She smiled to herself and raised an eyebrow at the idea that her friend felt comfortable enough to sleep in the nude.
It was the first morning since Garrett had moved into Dannis extra room that they were both off. Several months had gone by since the softball game but a bet was a bet and the surgeon was ready to collect her prize.
"Yeah, breakfast in bed," she muttered. "Thats the only way to enjoy it." She sat on the edge of the bed sluggishly pulling on a T-shirt and gym shorts. Boy, Danni, Im so glad that you made the addition of the winner picks the place to have the breakfast to that bet. Come to think of it, I believe you really thought that you were going to win. Her senses were being teased with the inviting smells of a homemade breakfast that wafted in even stronger when the door had been opened. I wonder, she thought to herself, where you would have picked to have the breakfast had your team won? After a brief trip to the bathroom she opened her door and called out, "Im ready for my victory breakfast now."
"Okay, Im coming with it," the younger woman answered, picking up the tray that she had just finished arranging. Her lips curled up at the corners of her mouth as she made her way to Garretts bedroom. "I never thought that I would be serving my amazon breakfast in bed," she muttered to herself. Heck, I never thought that we would lose that softball game to the Physicians. Well, not until I saw her play ball, she mused. Who would have guessed that she had so many skills?
The physician plumped her pillows aligning them against the headboard of the bed. She gracefully slipped under the covers and smoothed them around her long legs, waiting for her reward.
The sound of footsteps approaching caused the raven-haired woman to look over at the door as it opened into the mutely lit room. Soft rays of sunlight fell gently on the form carrying the tray giving it a warm golden glow. A friendly smile accompanied the hopeful look in the radiant green eyes as she entered the room. "I hope you like scrambled eggs and sausage."
"I do if they are real," the surgeon joked. Her blues eyes looked into the green veil of the small womans soul and immediately knew that she was blessed with a glimpse of the true spirit of this heaven-sent being. She gazed for as long as she dared before letting the lopsided grin come to her face in acknowledgement of the shared moment.
Danni sat the tray down across the surgeons lap. Beautifully arranged were the scrambled eggs with sausage links garnished with a sprig of parsley and a thinly sliced orange round that was cut and twisted. A glass of orange juice and toast positioned on the tray with the utensils. Off to one corner was a small bud vase with the most delicate pink rose and bud in it. Garrett looked over the array of food and nodded to Danni her approval. Picking up the napkin to place on her lap the surgeon stopped and looked over at the woman watching her intently.
"What?" Garrett was puzzled by the look of her friend.
"I brought home the quarterly news bulletin for the hospital last night. Want to read it?" She smiled coyly as she rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet in anticipation.
"Something tells me that you want me to see it. Right?" The surgeon was picking up her utensils, reading to eat. She sighed knowing that she couldnt enjoy her food with those green eyes watching every bite. "Say, did you eat yet?
The eyebrows raised on the blonde with that remark. "Why, no. Ive been making your breakfast." She looked so cute as she turned her head slightly as if she were shy about what she was about to reveal. "But I did make enough for me. I left mine out in the kitchen."
"Well, go bring it in here and eat with me. Theres no sense in us eating by ourselves when we are both here together." Her face turned into a scowl. "Im sure not joining you in the kitchen. No way! The bet was breakfast were ever I wanted it. And here in bed is where I intend to eat it."
It was a decree straight from Garretts mouth and there was no way that the blonde nurse was going to refuse a chance like this. After all, wasnt that what I was going to request if I had won the game? Danni quickly assembled her food on another tray and briskly walked down to Garretts room. Save for the flowers, the trays were laid out almost identical. She rounded the corner of the bed and sat down on the far side. Nestling into the soft pillows she made herself comfortable before she handed the small hospital news bulletin over to the woman beside her. "You may want to start out reading the story on page three. I think you might know some of the people."
Garrett took the paper and opened it to page three. There on the bottom of the page was an article about the annual E.R. Physician/Staff softball challenge. Off to the right of it was a photograph of Danni and Garrett sprawled on top of each other in the dirt with a caption that read, "Nurse and Physician get down and get dirty to save lives."
Garretts face turned red. "I dont remember any pictures being taken, do you?"
The petite nurse shook her head. "No, I dont but obviously there was. We have the proof of that right there."
"You know, its not really a bad picture of either one of us. Maybe we could get a bigger one that we could frame and put on the wall. What do you think?" Garrett kept cocking her head for side to side to look at it better.
Danni nodded in agreement. "Ill see what I can do. Now lets eat."
With that said, both women started eating the food before them. Each one contemplating the situation in there own minds.
I may have lost that game, but I still came out a winner. Danni thought that it could get no better as to be eating breakfast in bed with her raven-haired friend. Stealing glances at the person next to her kept a smile stretched across her face as she devoured the food on her tray.
Garrett had won a lot of softball games in her athletic years but this one was the sweetest of them all. No trophy had been awarded or records broken, but the feeling of accomplishment and teamwork overwhelmed her. Maybe that was because she felt a growing bond with the motley crew from the hospital emergency room who had opened their arms and taken her into their world, especially one small, blonde nurse in particular. Her eyes glance over casually at the photograph in the bulletin. Besides, we kind of look like we belong together.
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