Close this Window
Book Summary | Author's Bio | Read an Excerpt | Read/Post Comments
Blasted Again: Read an Excerpt
For just a fleeting second,
the line on the heart monitor went flat. Then Jack Britton gasped for air, took
a harsh, rasping breath and kept on sucking in the hot, dry air with a labored,
hurried irregular rhythm to take in enough oxygen to help his old heart pump another
supply of fresh red blood out into his bone-tired, aching body again and make
his leathery lungs crackle just a bit from the fluid that was staying in him.
He felt tired, more tired than he had for years. And he had felt that way since
he first woke a little before midnight and knew something was wrong. He had had
difficulty breathing and drifted in and out of sleep the rest of the night. His
eyes opened now, narrow slits against the light of the early morning March sun
that filtered into his little house through an east-side window, and locked in
on an old photo at the foot of his bed. He couldn't quite make out what was there
through his blurry eyes. He could see only a hazy image of the three young Marines
indelibly burned in his mind, all squinting out happily and confidently from a
fading print in a long ago photo of them in dungaree jackets and trousers, hands
on each other's shoulders, brash smiles on their faces. That would be Bake and
Roc and him, he knew. Good buddies. They didn’t come any better. Anywhere.
Ever. A couple of men moved slowly beside him and kept talking to him in low voices.
What they were saying wasn't always registering, although the old man could hear
exactly what they were saying.
Here, Mr. Britton,” the chunky one with the close-cropped hair and thick arms and shoulders said as he closed the Velcro cuff over the old man's arm and slowly pumped it tight, “now let me get your blood pressure … 240/120, pulse 110 …” and then put his stethoscope on the old man’s back, “okay, let me listen to you breathe now; take a deep breath … again … a little crackling in the lungs. Let's get that oxygen on him and get him out of here before ... “
“… he croaks,” the old man mumbled under his breath. “Incoming … watch out, Bake.”
The tall, thin black man looked at him, licked his moustache and the end of a yellow lead pencil and wrote something down in a notebook. Together then, the two men gently lifted the pad they had slid under the 6' 1” body and the not quite 200 pounds of dead weight to the waiting gurney in one swift, sweeping motion. Outside, they rolled the gurney and the old man through the ambulance door and began to secure them for the ride to the emergency room. Jack closed his eyes and felt the poncho relax around him and overwhelm him with anxiety. He couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on and where the Negro fit in the picture. Wasn’t any of them in the company for sure. They had their own outfits in Pioneer battalions and motor transport companies as far as he knew. Even had a separate set of serial numbers. Something’s not right here, he thought. What’s going on? He tried to look at his bloody right hand where the sniper's first round had hit, leaving the flesh hanging and fingers pointed every which way. But the shot of morphine was setting in and blurring his vision and sending him floating above the poncho in which he was lying.
Somewhere close by he heard
a voice that sounded vaguely familiar say, “We'll be right with you. Try
Close this Window