Thursday, May 17, 2007

Having It All (excerpt)

Dee over at DeeCee Talks has been giving out random exerpts of her work in progress (WIP) and I have decided that I will do the same. This story came to me around Christmas time, all neat and tied in a bow. That is until I gave it to my oldest daughter to read and she said something that made me go "OOOOOO--what a great idea!" and suddenly my nice neat little short story was a full-blown novel. Crap. Which means now I have to write it and it gets complicated, but I LOVE the premise and it is fun so here is a sneak peak:

PS--I hope you enjoy it. but leave a comment one way or the other. thanks!

The morning started out like every week day morning had for the past five years. Kari Douglas stared absently out her windshield as she sat once again in the middle of rush hour traffic. The only outward sign of impatience was the steady drumming of her finger tips on the steering wheel.

The fog this morning was thick and it was impossible to see more than five feet in any one direction. Yet despite the poor visibility, cars continued to fly past her in the diamond lane, their drivers oblivious to their own, and everyone around them, safety.

Kari flinched as yet another car, this time a large SUV, whizzed by her in the dense fog. “Idiot!” she muttered under her breath as she gripped the wheel with white-knuckled fingers and continued to creep cautiously through the deadly white mist swirling around her car.

As an RN at the local emergency room, Kari had seen her fair share of accident victims who were there on the gurney being wheeled through the front doors by no fault of their own. Usually it was the other person who died or was horribly injured. The idiot who caused the wreck often walked away with nary a scratch. It infuriated her, the casualness some people had about life and how precious it was.

Kari swiped an angry tear off her cheek with the back of her hand. She knew that her anger wasn't because of the fog, but it was easier to blame it than face the fact that she had gotten her period this morning while she was in the shower. She had been so sure that THIS time if had worked, that even now a tiny life was forming in her womb. But the bright red blood that streamed down her leg as she soaped her body told its own tale of failure, and she had sobbed uncontrollably until the water had run cold and she was forced out of the shower.

Mark had heard her but had given her time to come to grips with this latest in a series of failed attempts at invitro fertilization before he walked into the bathroom and reached for her. She had collapsed in his arms, comforted as always by just the feel of his arms around her, resting her head in that special place reserved just for her under his chin and over his heart. He had soothed her, rubbing his hands gently up and down her back as he assured her she wasn’t to blame and he loved her no matter what. When he had left for work an hour before her, she had managed a small smile and told him she was fine.

“Are you sure, Kari? Maybe you should just call off today. The fog is supposed to get really nasty by the time you head out.” Mark’s bright blue eyes held nothing but love and concern for her as he tipped her chin up so that she had to look at him.

Kari sighed. She was never able to keep anything from Mark. He could read her like a well-worn map, so she didn’t try to fool him into thinking she was all right.

“I’d rather go to work, Mark. It will give me something to do besides mope around and feel sorry for myself.” She reached up and touched his face gently. “I was just so sure this time, Mark. I just knew it was successful.” He pressed a kiss into her palm.

“I know, baby, I know. Lets give it some time and we can try again in a couple of months. I think you need to give yourself a break and just rest. We’ll talk more when I call you tonight. Love you!” Leaning down, he had kissed her gently then hurried out the door for his shift at the firehouse.

Kari peered out at the heavy fog and thought that maybe she should have listened to her husband and stayed home. Lord knew she was going to be late. She had been driving for over forty five minutes and work was only a half hour from her home.

Suddenly, the car in front of her, which had been merely a darker shade of gray from the mist that surrounded them, slammed on its brakes, the red of its tail lights going bright with panic as it attempted to stop. Kari buried her foot in her brake pedal, but it was no use. She knew they were going to collide, and as she glanced up in her mirror she realized that the car behind her was also not going to be able to stop and she braced herself for the inevitable.

The sound of rending metal screeching as it tore apart filled her ears as the airbag exploded in her face, burning her cheek as she catapulted forward from the force of the impact. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion and yet it was over in an instant.

Kari sat still for a moment, assessing her body and searching for injuries. Something warm dripped into her eye and she realize that she had cut her forehead. Feeling around on the front seat, she found a napkin and pressed it firmly to the cut over her eye, wincing a little at the sting of pain. Nothing seemed to be broken, so she unlatched her seat belt and crawled out the driver’s window of her car, which had shattered and spilled over her like hail. Shaking the glass out of her clothes and hair, Kari surveyed the damage to her car.

Front and rear were totally smashed in, and Kari sent a little prayer of thanks up for he husband’s insistence on purchasing the Volvo last year. “It is a safe car, Kari,” he had argued as she stubbornly leaned toward the cute little red convertible. “This car will save your life if you ever have a wreck, and I love you too much to allow you to drive that little death trap.” As she looked at what remained of her car, Keri realized with a shudder that she would have died if she had been in the smaller car she had wanted.

As she peered through the fog, she realized with growing horror that the wreck was more than just a couple of cars. Horns were blaring from up in front of her and she could hear cries and shouts as people tried to figure out what had happened. Behind her she heard a screeching of brakes then the solid “thump” as another car came upon the carnage and was unable to stop.

The deadly fog was beginning to lift and Kari stared at the freeway around her, stunned. It looked more like a wrecking yard than a highway. Cars lay crumpled and crushed everywhere she looked. Pickups and SUV’s lay on their sides or had climbed over the top of smaller cars, smashing them down like monster trucks at a rally. The resulting mess reminded her of a little boy playing destruction derby with his Hot Wheels. Only these weren’t toys.

As Kari stood there trying to grasp the enormity of the situation, she became aware of a large man approaching her from somewhere forward of her present location. He was clutching his head and her years of nursing training kicked in and she moved forward to offer him assistance.

She had opened her mouth to ask him if he was hurt and was taken aback when he shook his fist at her angrily and shouted “YOU! You rear-ended me, you stupid bitch! I want your license number and insurance information right now! That was a brand new car you just totaled, and I’m pretty sure I have whip lash also!”

Kari blinked. “Excuse me?! You want WHAT?’ She stared at him in disbelief as her own temper flared.

“I can’t freaking believe that you are worried about your car at a time like this!” She spread her arms out wide as she pointed to the wreckage all around them.

“Just look at this! There are people out there that have beenn seriously injured and/or probably killed, and you are worried about your blessed CAR?!!” Infuriated, Kari poked him hard enough in the chest to back him up a step.

“You are an asshole, you know that? People like you make me sick. Now get the hell out of my way or I will have the first police officer I find arrest you for interfering with medical personnel in the performance of their duties.”

Spinning away from him, Kari stormed over to her car. The trunk was smashed in and Kari realized that her keys would be useless to open it. Casting around for something she could use to pry it open, Kari noticed that the man, now somewhat subdued, had followed her and she had moment’s guilt for yelling at him. Everyone acted differently when faced with a crisis—some with anger, some with fear, others with denial—and it was unprofessional of her to not recognize this fact and show some compassion. Though her temper was quick to flare up, it was also just as quick to cool.

“I’m sorry, sir” Kari said as he stood quietly beside her. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that. It was truly unforgivable of me..."

He shook his head with a rueful smile. “No, you were right. I am just so shook up and my first reaction was to blame the first person I saw, which just happened to be you. So to make up for me being an ‘asshole’, as you so eloquently put it, is there something I can do to help?”

Kari flinched at ‘asshole’. “Yeah, sorry about the choice of words. Guess I’m a little shook up myself.” She pointed to her trunk.

“Think you can find something to pry that open? I am an RN/medic and I have supplies in my trunk that I am going to need.”

The man nodded and headed back up the twisted line of wreckage from where he had come from. “I think I have just what you need—be right back.”

He returned in a few minutes with a small crowbar. Placing it under the latch he popped her trunk open as if it was no more effort than opening a bottle of soda.

Gratefully, Kari shook his hand. “Thank you so much. Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked as she began digging around in the trunk for her equipment.
He shook his head. “No, I just got a knot on my head, but my mama always said I had a thick skull, so I’m sure I am fine. If you don’t need me for anything else I think I will walk out of here and send some real help back here to you.”

Kari turned back to him and offered her hand. “I would appreciate it. And again, I’m sorry about yelling at you. By the way, my name is Kari Douglas. I work at Mercy General, so when you get the estimate for the damage to your car you can find me there most days.”

He shook her hand. “Naw, no don’t worry about it. I have full coverage. Who’s to say who is at fault in a situation like this? And my name is Jim. Jim Taylor. It was good to meet you, Kari.” He held her hand for a moment longer. “Say, are you married?”

Kari had to laugh. Gently extricating her hand, she nodded. “Yep. Going on six years now. He’s a fireman here in town.”

Jim grinned and shook his head. “It never fails—all the great gals are married around here. Well, I’ll be sure to send anyone I find your way. Good luck.”

With that he turned and walked back towards town. Kari went back to her trunk. Locating her big Mag Light and switched it on. Relieved that it was still working, she shone the bright beam into the dark recesses of her trunk, quickly locating the two duffle bags full of emergency supplies.

As an ER nurse, Kari had opted for additional training and had recently qualified as a “swoop & scoop” medic with the mediflight team at Mercy. As such she was now licensed to keep and maintain an emergency kit that included such things as IV’s, pain meds, and other assorted medical apparatus that were essential for her to perform her duties as a medic.

Hoisting the two bags, she criss-crossed the straps over her shoulders and across her chest, balancing the bags on her hips. It was almost an afterthought when she turned back to the car and grabbed the flares that Mark always insisted she kept in the trunk in case of an emergency. Stuffing the flares into an outside pocket of the back pack, she headed over to the SUV which was now buried in her back seat to check on the driver.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Crazy People

I swear, I must attract crazy people. Seriously! They seem to flock to me like bees to honey or flies to sh**, whichever seems most appropriate.

There is this tweaker who lives out on my bus route and he rode my bus today. He was flying--not sure on what, but he was a happy boy! He kept laughing and mumbling to himself and twitching all over the place as we rolled down the road. All I could think was that I was glad that the voices in his head were telling him jokes or things could get nasty! Imagine if they were pissed off and told him to start slicing and dicing....!!

Then there's a former foster son that lived with us for about four years. His entire family is certifiable, but he does crazy better than most of them. Every time he gets out of prison he calls us and I put the house on lockdown. I'm not really afraid he will do something to us--he "loves" us in his own peculiar way--but I just don't think I want him around my girls if I'm not there. He's been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and I have had many phone calls at 2-3 AM where he is convinced that somebody is out to kill him at that very moment. He always has a laundry list of people I am supposed to contact in the local sheriff's department if he goes "missing". Paranoid doesn't even cover half. You know the whole Lacy Peterson thing? Yep, they were looking at him for murdering her. Russian mobsters dumped in the local reservoir? Yep, convinced that he had something to do with it. His last stint in prison he had a "vision" --ie, REALLY good drugs--and now he is convinced that he is the Son of God. He even changed his name! I haven't heard from him lately so I am assuming he has been locked up again.

Every day I see people wandering the streets that should be in homes for the insane, yet they are allowed to roam unchecked and uncared for. It is a sad state of affairs when people care more about animal welfare than the welfare of humans who are incapable of caring for themselves. My foster son should be kept locked up for his own good and the safety of the general public. The tweaker on the bus should be in a program to help him kick the habit. He's got a baby girl that was taken away from him and his equally screwed-up girlfriend because they were obviously unfit to care for her. How sad is that?

These are just a couple of the nutjobs that inhabit my life. There are plenty more of them were these came from, but these are the ones that I was thinking about today. Some of them actually seem fairly normal until you start talking to them and then you realize, suddenly, that something isn't quite right about them and you get that Twilight Zone feeling in the pit of your stomach. Yeah. Like that. Welcome to my world....