Title: What Were You Thinking?
What were you thinking?
I just want a chance to ask him, you know to clarify it in my mind, because there certainly aren't any winners here. Not by a long shot. And me, I'm the lucky one that gets to fill out all the forms, file all the dotzipslashstroke things required and replay over and over in mind just what happened. And then there are the IA guys. I've got to deal with them too. But that's not going to hurt half as much as facing Franny or my own face in the mirror. And guilt, well...let's not even go there...there's sure plenty of that to pass around.
And the worst of it is...I know it's my fault; even Dief, the four footed donut thief sitting next to me knows, it's my fault. This comes under one of those `if only situations' and if he opens his eyes and looks at me...right now or in the next 24 hours and says, "Ray, I'm sorry.", I'll pop him one the minute he's back on his feet.
I keep playing the whole thing back in my mind; over and over again. I know just when it started...and I know just how I got here, right here in another damned white hospital ICU waiting room chair. What I don't know is why the hell it happened?
Another nurse scurries into his ICU cubicle and I slide down further into my chair. Twenty-four hours. I've been sitting here that long and I don't even think my body knows it yet.
It started out to be one of those fun Saturdays. You know the kind, the ones where you wake up and grin because the sun's already shinning in through the bedroom curtains and you have plans for the day. You wake up and nearly jump out of bed because you just can't wait to get out in the sun.
I looked at my alarm, which hadn't gone off yet, and grinned. I jumped out of bed and gave a loud, `Yes!' to the empty room as I gathered up some fresh duds and headed for the shower. Twenty minutes and one coffee later I'm heading out the door to pick up my two best friends, Constable Benton Fraser and his pal, Dief.
They were waiting for me, both of them grinning with wide toothy grins. Fraser had on his 2nd best pair of jeans (I know this because there's a small worn spot on his right pocket) and his favorite, long-sleeved blue shirt along with his Stetson securely set on his head. Now Dief, the four-footed furry friend, was sitting with his open mouth grinning first at the basket next to Fraser's feet and then towards my approaching car. By the looks of that animal's grin, I knew there had to be something really good in that basket. I also noted as I pulled my GTO up next to them that Fraser had securely sealed the basket shut. Poor Dief.
The two of them got in my car and Fraser set the basket on his lap before shutting the car door. Right away I could smell it, the smell of fresh fried chicken. No wonder the slobbering sounds were so loud in the back seat.
We drove off and Fraser set that Stetson of his on the dashboard. He had a huge grin plastered on his face when we left the city limits and began heading north. I got off the toll way as soon as I could. Yes, you make better time on that road, but I wanted to share some actual real roads; roads with people/houses/life on them. Don't think I'll want to travel those kinds of roads for awhile...
By the time we were nearly an hour out of town but still within the more lived in areas, we were on a four laner...and still enjoying the ride. Then this jerk showed up on the road. Now Fraser, he was all for giving the guy some leeway. But, about the fifth time this guy, who was driving with his wife as a passenger, shot past some other poor slob who was observing the rules, I started to get mad.
Then, we were merging off into an area where the rode split off in several directions...one of those stop lights with about 8 lanes everywhere you looked. And the Jerk...pulled in front of the goat and swerved neatly into the left hand turning lane next to one of those pedestrian cement midway thingies where walkers can wait before finishing their walk from one side to the other.
"That tears it!" I said it quickly and threw my car door open. I could hear Fraser still sitting quietly in the car holding that damn picnic basket in his lap.
I can remember how I ran around the back of the man's low riding SUV and started walking up to the driver's door, hauling my badge out as I walked. I could see the guy's wife moving about, but I couldn't hear anything she was saying.
About the time I realize Fraser has opened his car door and is heading around the back of me...I see this driver turned oddly in his car and putting his window down.
Just as I'm about to announce myself as a police officer, I see the small bore of the gun in the guy's hand and I can feel the small hairs on the back of my neck rising as I realize Fraser is about to walk right up next to me. I turn sideways thinking I can shove Fraser out of the way. But, it's too late. The sound of the report and the smell of the gun going off surround me. I hear the woman beginning to scream and the jerk is moving back and forth in his seat like he's the one that has been shot. I reach back and grab the weapon out of the guy's hand bye the barrel and leave him sitting there with tears running down his eyes.
I can tell this guy isn't about to run off, his wife has her arms around him and is holding on tight. I whirl back around and check on Fraser. He's lying there on that piece of median cement and that beautiful shirt of his has a dark red stain on the left shoulder. I kneel down and quickly check his pulse...it's there...strong and steady.
By then I realize somebody in a car near has called in the shooting on a cell phone because I can hear sirens heading our way. People are sitting in their cars gapping and I hardly have time to make the decision to cuff the shooter when I hear a squad pulling up.
I turn back to Fraser and say, "Hold on buddy. Help is on the way... Hold on Fraser."
And that's what keeps playing over and over in my head. Welsh has been in to check on how Fraser's doing, but I know darn well that he's checking on me.
I've been slumped in this chair so long I think my legs have petrified. I know there's about a half dozen empty paper cups of coffee in the trash next to me...and they all have my name on them.
But all I want, all I pray for, is a chance to go in and stand next to that bed and see those eyes open up and look at me.
But, if he opens that mouth and says, "Sorry Ray.", so help me I'm gonna ask him, "What were you thinking?"
Right now though, I have to deal with my own guilt. I saw the man being cuffed and his wife crying as they put Fraser in the back of the emergency vehicle. That guy didn't look so hot, so I guess he feels guilty too. I don't know if I'm happy about that or not because it just makes me want to ask him the same question I want to ask Fraser and myself...What were you thinking?
And you know...I think the fried chicken smell in the goat is going to be there for awhile.