The Lieutenant

Something wasn’t right.

She was 4 months along into this pregnancy (her third). She knew her body by then — what felt right, what felt wrong.

She’d made the OB-GYN appointment just to be careful. She was certain everything would be fine.

Her husband, Ed, had driven Vanessa to P.S. 321. He’d dropped the baby off with Cliff and his wife — the next door neighbors — in their building on 3rd St. — down the block from the park.

Maria could shower and be ready by the time he got back to their apartment.

She stepped over the tub wall and into the water…it felt refreshing….

“We’re gonna be late!” she heard him yell.

The appointment at the doctor’s was in 20 minutes. It was usually he who was dragging his ass — taking his time because there would be doctors involved.

But this time it was his wife. She was showering. Leisurely.

“Babe? C’mon! We still gotta drive down to the Heights.” Damn…what could be taking so long?

He could hear the shower — see the steam coming out from under the bathroom door into the hallway.

He paced the hallway of the railroad flat. Knock…knock…knock on the bathroom door.

“Maria?” — no answer. “Maria? You almost ready?”

He opened the door….”Sweetie?”

Blood…so much blood…floor, bathtub, walls.

“Oh Jeeze.”

Maria was lying in the tub, the shower curtain ripped down and around her…

Not moving. Blood.

He lifted his wife up and out of the bathtub and carried her to the bed…wet and naked.

Into the kitchen and on to the phone…911

The fire house was around the corner and up the block. He heard sirens the moment he hung up the phone. He looked down from the 3rd floor and saw the FDNY truck pull up. They were there in about 5 seconds.

He went back in the bedroom, crying, wailing and lifted his wife up and out of the bathtub. He carried her to their bed…soaking wet, bloody and naked.

He laid her on her freshly washed sheets. She’d be upset about the blood.

She pulled him down by his collar to her lips so he could hear her.

He was bawling…she was dying…her last words to her husband.
 “Would you please put some fucking underwear on me before the firemen get here.”

He did. and backwards to boot.

Boom, boom, boom…the door…the Department was here. He let them in.


“Bedroom” and he pointed.

They started right in… mouth to mouth — oxygen.

He stood up against the wall in the narrow railroad flat hallway, still bawling. His wife…dying…miscarriage.

“You the husband?” Ed looked up and saw the name McMahon on a nameplate pinned to a FDNY uniform along with a Lieutenant’s bar on his collar.

“Yessir. Yessir.” He was slouched over. Sobbing….

Lt. McMahon stood about 5'7". He could have been his uncle, Tom Shaughnessy. He stared hard at Ed as if he was trying to read something in his face.

McMahon reached behind himself, twisted at the waist and open-hand slapped Ed across the face. He staggered and re-gained his balance.

“Get it together. She needs you now.”

There were more sirens.

An FDNY “bus” as they called them, pulled up on the street. Emergency Medical Services workers ran out of it and into the building.

The EMS folks also hustled into the Lilliputian apartment and added to the crowd.

They picked his wife up and laid her out on a stretcher.

They began to move her down the hallway and out of the apartment.

“Wrsfsure sjfshuefwhh?” McMahon asked.

It was impossible to understand him. He was chewing on a cigar butt.

The EMS guys froze.

Cigar extracted, he repeated himself, “Where are you taking her?”

“Long Island College Hospital,” one attendant answered unwisely.

McMahon stuck the stogie back between his teeth and said, “Take her to Methodist.”

“Our order is for Long Island College Hospital, Lou.” the poor sap said.

McMahon stopped and dragged the poor sap, 6 inches taller than he, by his collar to the corner window in the apartment where a Panavision view of Methodist Hospital could be seen a mere 2 blocks away.

“She’s going there,” McMahon said, pointing.

“Sir, our protocol is to take her…..”

McMahon brought him back to the window, pointed down the 3 stories to the street and pointed out the EMS bus to the driver.

“You see your vehicle?

(A nod)

“You see mine?”

A hook and ladder at least 50ft. long.

“How do you suppose you might get around that?” he asked.

The bus (EMS) driver capitulated.

Ed was still bawling thinking his wife was dying.

McMahon quietly walked up to him and smacked him again as hard as he could across his face.


….and the Lieutenant turned, walked out of the apartment and disappeared down the stairs.

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