A Strange Man and a Garden Shovel
The man with the full beard and garden gloves was making another circle around Westover. He had walked up from Cherry Street to the service road. No one was really paying attention to him. That is until he suddenly passed out on the pavement while Amber and James were at the stoplight.
“Oh Shit. Honey, call an ambulance!”
“Why? What happened?” James said while reading a news update flash on his phone.
“That man just fainted. We have to help him.”
“Wait, Amber. Where’re you going?”
Amber unlocked the door and rushed to the man’s aide. Blood seemed to be leaking out of every orifice. He was convulsing.
“Oh god. Oh god. You’re gonna be okay. Help is on the way.” She reassured the man. James put the car in park and turned on the hazard lights. Cars started to back up behind him, and their drivers were becoming impatient. They started pressing their horns in frustration.
“Amber, you don’t even know what you’re doing. You’re still in nursing school. This could be a liability issue. Please wait for the ambulance. I’m going to call.”
“So, call!” Amber demanded, sounding sure of herself.
Truth is, she didn’t really know what she was doing. Her class had only recently completed their first clinical but was nowhere near prepared to treat the man. She couldn’t leave him, though. There didn’t seem to be anyone else around on foot either.
“911. Please state your emergency.”
“Uh. Hi. Yes, we have a man here lying on the pavement off Route 50. I… I think he’s dying.” James said, trying not to assume the worst.
“Sir, we have your location as being on the intersection of Westover and Route 50. Is that correct?”
“Er. Yes. Yes. I believe so.” James hesitated.
“Sir, I’m going to need you to be absolutely sure.”
“Yes. I’m sure.”
“Alright. We have a unit being dispatched to your location right away. Please stay calm.”
“Okay.” James said. “I am calm.” He assured the dispatcher.
Amber was trying to make the man comfortable. His body was no longer shaking. And, his blood seemed to stop leaking. She tried to see how aware he might be, whether he was conscious. His heart was still beating. A normal pace to be sure. She checked. The worst appeared to be over.
“Sir, can you hear me?” The man just stared into space.
“Sir, can you tell me your name?” He closed his eyes. The man’s jaw dropped as if his spirit was released. Amber pressed her ear against his chest. He was wheezing. But, before she could perform any more checks on his vitals, the ambulance arrived with its sirens blaring. The medics ran to the scene.
“Ma’am. Thank you. We can take it from here.”
“It’s okay. I’m a nurse.” She lied. Well, half lied.
Amber rose to her feet. Parts of her summer dress were stained with the man’s blood. She looked for James and spotted him talking with a police officer who was taking notes about the incident. Everything around her began moving in slow motion.
One of the medics placed a blanket around Amber’s shoulders after noticing her shiver. “Are you okay, ma’am?” One of them asked. “Yes. I think so.” She said softly. Tears started to well up in her eyes, but she held them back. They loaded the man into the back of the ambulance and sped off, most likely headed to Methodist hospital because it was closest.
James returned to Amber’s side and wrapped his arm around her. “You did a good thing, Sweetheart.” She looked at him, attempting to smile but couldn’t resist the tears any longer. “It’s going to be okay.” James tried to comfort her. “They think he had an epileptic seizure. But, he should be fine.” He rubbed her back and walked with her clung to his side. Their car was still parked in the middle of Route 50. James helped her into the car, shut the door, and walked around to the other side. After putting on his seat belt, he turned off the hazards and put the car in drive. They rode in silence, uncertain of whether they should head for the mountains or turnaround and go home.
The ambulance was flying down Route 50. It was Malcolm’s first official day on the job, and he was trying to keep the man sedated. He paused between bumps before injecting any sedatives and nearly missed when his partner, Raymond, made a sharp turn onto the ramp — traveling inbound. The needle was inches from the man’s face when his eyes shot open. He moved his eyes swiftly as if trying to process the environment around him. Malcolm regained his balance, and the man rapidly raised his torso to an upright position — grabbing the needle from Malcolm’s hand.
“Easy now, Mister. We’re just trying to help you.”
“What’s goin’ on back there?” Raymond hollered.
“Nothing; we’re good. Right Mist…er?” Malcolm’s voice trailed off. The man stabbed him in the neck. He pulled out the needle, looked at the blood in astonishment, and leapt to the front of the ambulance. “Hey! You can’t…” Raymond crashed into a noise barrier after the man stabbed him in the eye. He swung open the back doors and jumped out of the ambulance.
Amber and James were now on I-495, following the path of the ambulance. They thought they would drop by the hospital to check on the man when they saw him walk into oncoming traffic. Drivers were forced to swiftly maneuver their vehicles so they won’t hit him.
“Isn’t that the man, Honey?” Amber screamed. She saw the ambulance on the shoulder, which was now on fire.
“Yes, Honey, it is! Turn back around. Turn back around. We have to go back!” She shrieked pounding on the dashboard.
“We can’t!” James shouted.
The man stopped in the middle of the highway. James tried pressing on the brakes, but the pedal was stuck.
“Stop the car!”
“It’s not working!” James finally pulled the emergency brake and the car came to a screeching halt, causing a multi-vehicle collision. Their Civic spun 360 degrees. When it stopped, James and Amber slowly lifted their heads. The man was encircled. He climbed on top of their hood, pulled out his blood-stained garden shovel, and ran off. But, he looked back at them a final time before jumping over the barrier.