Weâ€™re working on a gunshot victim. Heâ€™s a young guy, smiling, likely an undocumented immigrant. As Iâ€™m cutting off his clothes I keep finding more holes.
â€œJeez Buddy, how many times have you been shot?â€
He smiles even more and says with a heavy accent:
â€œThis is my first time!â€
Weâ€™re in the back of the rig, cleaning up after running a code.
â€œPiss isnâ€™t bad.â€
â€œPuke is awful.â€
â€œShit is the worst.â€
â€œBlood is easy.â€
â€œYeah, but piss is still my favorite.â€
Whatâ€™s better than giving good advice to a new guy? Getting good advice when youâ€™re a new guy.
â€œAre you okay?â€
â€œBecause you just saw a dead lady.â€
â€œI think Iâ€™m going to see a lot more.â€
It was quiet for a moment.
â€œSo, you ok?â€
â€œDoes it always smell so bad.â€
â€œShe didnâ€™t look peaceful, do they always look like that?â€
â€œNah, sometimes they just look like theyâ€™re asleep.â€
A few more silent moments.
â€œHow long was she dead?â€
â€œCouple days, I guess. Youâ€™re going to see things other people canâ€™t imagine. It isnâ€™t easy. When it gets easy, it’s time to go.â€
â€œIâ€™ve seen dead people, but they were cleaned up and in a casket.â€
â€œTheyâ€™ll clean that lady up.â€
â€œItâ€™s weird, the way her mouth was wide open, like she was trying to scream.â€
â€œThat was probably rigor mortis. She died in her sleep. The body does weird things once the spirit leaves.â€
â€œYou think she had a spirit?â€
â€œOf course I do, canâ€™t figure why weâ€™d be here if thereâ€™s no spirit.â€
The silence between words is often more profound than the words themselves.
â€œYeah, probably gonna see a lot more dead people.â€
â€œItâ€™s never easy.â€
â€œWhen it gets easy it’s time to go?â€
â€œIt’s one of the signs. You have to know when enough is enough.â€
Itâ€™s the third time in two days that Michael has graced us with his presence. He drinks, calls 911 from the last remaining pay phone in Providence and waits for his ride to the ER.
â€œMichael, you have to stop getting drunk and calling 911.â€
â€œBecause there are real emergencies!â€
â€œLike the time you took me to Olneyville for the kid who got crushed by the TV?â€
â€œYeah, like that. Why donâ€™t you go to the shelter like the rest of the homeless people?â€
â€œYou ever been to the shelter?â€
â€œYes I have. To pick people like you up and take them to the hospital.â€
â€œAnd youâ€™ve been to the ER.â€
â€œIf the homeless broads looked as good as the nurses Iâ€™d stay there.â€
Weâ€™re leaving the childrenâ€™s hospital where we just dropped off a fifteen-year-old girl with a fever.
â€œShe was hot!â€ says the man-boy driver.
â€œSheâ€™s fifteen, you idiot!â€ replies the old man Lieutenant.
â€œNot her, her mom.â€
â€œOh, her. Yeah, she was kind of hot.â€
â€œSucks when the mom is old enough to be your daughter, huh?â€
Itâ€™s been a long, hard shift, the minions of Providence have been especially restless.
â€œI hate this city, and everybody in it.â€
â€œItâ€™s not just here, itâ€™s everywhere.â€
â€œYeah, but weâ€™re here.â€
â€œWe could be anywhere and we would still hate everybody.â€
â€œNot if we were in Hawaii.â€
â€œYou think thereâ€™s no assholes in Hawaii? Thereâ€™s plenty, trust me.â€
â€œHow do you know.â€
â€œBecause I dream about them.â€
â€œYou dream about assholes?â€
â€œNo, you idiot, I dream about Hawaii.â€
â€œYou just saidâ€¦â€
â€œDonâ€™t you know anything? Forget everything I say when weâ€™re in this truck!â€
Itâ€™s late, Saturday night, the city seems to be taking a break. On the way back to the station I turn on the radio, the local college station, WBRU is doing a throwback weekend. One of my favorites is on, I crank up the volume.
â€œWhat the fuck is that?â€
â€œThe Sex Pistols.â€
â€œYou call that music?â€
â€œIt isnâ€™t music dipshit. Itâ€™s Punk!â€
â€œThat isnâ€™t music, this is music,â€ and the man-boy driving the rescue changes the station to his favorite R&B station, where it seems to be â€œall rap, all the time.â€
â€œAt least the Sex Pistols knew they sucked,â€ as the man in charge puts the station back where it belongs.
We do have some colorful patients!
â€œI didnâ€™t know you were gay.â€
â€œYou know that guy was hitting on you, right?â€
â€œThe one we picked up in the gay bar?â€
â€œThat just sounds wrong. Yeah, him.â€
â€œYeah I know.â€
â€œCorrect me if Iâ€™m wrong, but you seemed to like the attention.â€
â€œWell, he was kind of handsome and weâ€™ve been stuck in this truck for days; youâ€™re even starting to look good.â€
â€œYouâ€™re an idiot.â€
â€œYes I am. Rescue 1 in service.â€
But nothing tops an open mic during a good old-fashioned supposedly private gripe session!
â€œIâ€™ll tell you what the problem is. The chief is an idiot, the fat bastards in the station donâ€™t know CPR from CPWHO, minorities are running city hall and the streets are full of crackheads.â€
â€œFire Alarm to Rescue 1.â€³
â€œAnd these assholes couldnâ€™t dispatch a dump truck to pick up a pile of shit!â€
â€œRescue 1 to Fire alarm, go ahead.â€
â€œRescue 1, you have an open mic.â€
â€œRoger. Disregard the last message.â€