Edge of the Heat (Westwood Harbor Corruption)

Edge of the Heat 1
 
By Lisa Ladew

 

 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons
or organizations, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright ©
2014 Lisa Ladew

PROLOGUE

 

May 7th, 1983

Westwood Harbor

 

What the hell was he thinking? He was a stupid idiot sometimes, and this was certainly one of those times. What was he going to do with her?

Hide her for now.

She was 15, lovely, and just beginning to show. He had done the math and she could be anywhere from 4 months to 6 months along. She swore it was 4 months. He didn't trust her to know. She wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Knives. Again he asked himself did he have the guts to kill her? He had to do something. If anyone found out about this it would ruin his career. Damnit! Once he fi
gured a way out of this mess he was done with the teenagers and little girls forever. 19 year olds were legal and could still look and act pretty young.

No, he didn't have the guts to kill her, especially not with a knife. Until he could find someone to do
it for him or figure out another way, she would have to stay here.

He gave her the news. She was visibly relieved. Does your mom know? No, I ran away. Does anybody know? No, I was too scared. Good. What did she need? Books, lots of books. And food. He cou
ld do books and food. But he wasn't touching her again. She was ruined now.

What about a doctor? He would find her a good doctor once it was time for the baby to be born. Until then, he would get her a multivitamin and she would be fine. She was young and
healthy. She didn't argue. She felt fine.

 

September 13th, 1983

Westwood Harbor

 

The baby is coming.

He rushed home, frantically trying to finalize his plan. This baby could not be born. Maybe she was wrong. Her stomach was huge, and he didn't understand how she could stand it, but by her estimation she was still a month early. By his, she had to be at least 2 or 3 months early.

Maybe the baby was so early it would die.

But then he'd still have to take care of her.

The only plan he had right now was not m
uch of a plan at all.

Home. She was right. The baby was coming. She wanted to go to the hospital. He told her he had a doctor coming.

In the kitchen, he mixed up a cocktail of Heparin, Warfarin, and some aspirin thrown in for good measure. Way more than anyone should take at one time. All anticoagulants, in the hope that she would bleed to death, and the baby would bleed to death. What would he do with the bodies? He didn't know yet, but that wasn't important right now.

He coaxed her into taking the pills. They would relax her and help with the labor. The doctor told him to give them to her. Where is the doctor? He is almost here.

She took them, trust and relief in her eyes.

2 hours later, he couldn't take it anymore and left the small house. She was yelling, over and over for a doctor. He had the music turned up, hoping the neighbors wouldn't hear.

When he returned, 3 hours after that, hoping to find bodies, he found nothing. Not even a blood trail. The front door stood open.

He sat down, and waited for the ax to fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1.

 

As Emma fell off the roof, her body braced for impact. Her mind tried to turn her around so her feet
were the first to hit, but there was no time for that.

She felt the impact on her upper back. It was monstrous. It created a massive, slamming shock wave that swallowed her whole. Agony ripped through her for a split second.

And then she knew no more.

***

4 days of my life gone - 1 for each story I fell.

Even now, sitting in this uncomfortable Westwood Harbor General Hospital bed, listening to the
beep, beep, beep
of her own heart on the monitor, it felt hard to imagine that the 4 days before yesterday didn't exist in her memories.

Not paralyzed - the doctors said. You need to rest - the doctors said. No visitors - the doctors said.

She knew she wasn't paralyzed because in the vision

(The Vision of Her Future Husband)

she was standing.

That's how she
thought of the vision - it should be capitalized in writing and spoken in reverential tones if said aloud. Like The Queen or My God. It seemed that important to her. This fall she had just taken off of a roof outside a brick tenement seemed ... inconsequential, except that it had given her this vision.

She would recover, she would heal, she would go back to work. And at some point in her future this event would happen and she would have finally found her soul-mate. The man that would give her children and
be her family, and love her forever and never, ever leave. The man that would make up for a dead mother, a non-existent father, a missing sister, and a stolen childhood.

Her brain kept pulling back to the fall, wanting to relive it over and over again. She
knew that wasn't important though - the vision was. So she lay her head back against the pillow and recalled the vision again in every detail:

 

It was night-time. Orange light filled the sky, barely enough to see by. Something burning. Candles? A man stood in front of her. He was taller than her by at least a few inches. He looked down into her face, his eyes threatening to spill tears. His hair and skin were dark, his jaw strong. His features were mostly hidden in the darkness.

His strong hands were gras
ping her upper arms almost hard enough to hurt. His voice, husky and strained, broke and cracked as he said:

"I thought you were gone.

I thought I had lost you.

With God as my witness I swear I will never let you go again."

He fell forward onto her chest and slid down her body. He grabbed her around the waist and squeezed her in a bear hug. Now his sobs did come.

In the vision, tingles danced up and down her spine, radiated outward along her back, and wrapped around her body.

She felt ready to explode with love and happiness and ... relief? Her own tears slipped down her face and she hugged his head to her middle, with the same amount of force he was using.

Here the vision ended. If she tried hard she could recreate the tingles, although not as strong as the
y had felt as she opened her eyes for the first time in 4 days. If she concentrated enough, she could regain some of the emotions of happiness and love for a few minutes before they faded.

I want to live in that vision forever
, she thought.

I wonder if
... - her thoughts were interrupted by movement at the doorway.

Stupid nurses, they can't leave me be for 10 minutes ...

But it wasn't a nurse. It was Jerry, her partner. Her face broke into a smile immediately. The smile hurt, but she didn't care. There was no one else in the world she wanted to see right now except her partner.

"Jerry," she whispered. It hurt her throat and her back to talk.

"Shhhh, don't speak," he said, as he walked to her bedside. "I can't stay long. The doctors don't know I am here, but my pretty little nurse got me in. I just had to see you and make sure it was true - that you are going to be OK."

He raised his hand but it faltered in mid-air, like he wasn't sure if he should touch her. He settled for lightly caressing the back of her l
eft hand.

"Jerry, what happened, was anyone else hurt?" She could barely get out the words, but she had to ask. The only thing she could think of when she wasn't reliving the vision was the "accident" and the doctors wouldn't tell her a thing. They didn't
want to "get her excited." They probably just didn't know anything and didn't want to admit it.

"Nah, Frankie picked that asshole up by the scruff of his neck and one of his legs and heaved him in the window head-first. Screw his c-spine." Jerry chuckled
a little bit at this memory, but as his eyes lit back on Emma, looking impossibly small and fragile in the hospital bed, the smile withered quickly.

He leaned in a bit and said "One of the crew, a new guy - Craig something, actually climbed down the drainp
ipe to get to you."

"What?" Emma felt the pull of every muscle in her face as her eyes widened in surprise.

"Yeah, good thing too, because it took the rest of us clowns way too long to find the door that led out to that alley. By the time we got down there he had your airway open and was screaming for a board."

"Did I ... stop breathing?" Emma forced the air and the words out.

Jerry broke eye contact and looked at the TV high up on the wall.

He doesn't want to tell me. Holy crap, I could have died.

Emma twisted her hand around and grabbed Jerry's. She couldn't totally feel his hand in hers, but she could see with her eyes that she had it. She tried to squeeze and show some strength.

"Jerry, I can take it. I need to know."

"Yeah, he said you did. He said when he got down there you weren't breathing at all. He said he was scared to move you, because we all saw you fall on your head. But he had to risk it to get you breathing again. And he did a great job. I tracked him down two days ago at Firehouse 18 and asked him to show me what he did. You were crumpled up with your head tucked forward, laying mostly on your stomach. He put an arm under your armpit, then up your chest so he could hold the front of your face and then his other arm went on your back, holding the back of your head, and he turned you slowly around as a unit till you were totally on your back. He used his legs to move your lower body at the same time. He showed me on a CPR dummy. It was primo. They should teach it in school."

Emma lapsed
into thought. She could see it in her mind's eye. They hadn't brought a board up for the druggie because even thought it was reported as a fall from a building, they didn't see anyone splattered on the sidewalk as they pulled up in the ambulance. They were motioned inside and up the stairs by people who didn't really know what was going on. How were they supposed to know that the man fell out of a window and landed on a roof-overhang that was four stories up?

             
That assumption had almost gotten her killed!

If they had just brought a board with them, the first thing they would have done would have been put his sky-high ass onto the board and strap him down, and then he never would have had the chance to struggle and she never would have gotten knocked off th
e roof.

One look at Jerry told her he was probably thinking the same thing. His lips were pressed tightly together in a pained little line. He was the one who had said "nah, we don't need the board," when she had wondered aloud if they did. She shoved that
thought away - she was just as responsible as him. She could have brought a board anyway. No use blaming anyone but herself and that never went well.

Instead, when they saw the naked druggie on the roof and figured out that he had come from a window above
them, they had sent one of the engine crew to the ambulance to get the board, and by the time he got back, she was the one who needed it.

She didn't know what happened to the druggie they went there to help, but her guess was he had to wait for a second am
bulance.

What a trip to think that she had been carried on a board in full c-spine. She had probably used the board and collar 1000 times in her 8 years on the job - no probably more like 3000 times. Fell off your toilet? On the board. Hit in the head with
a baseball? On the board. Car accident at 9 miles an hour - not even enough to trigger your airbags? You too - on the board. That way you can't sue us every time you get a twinge in your neck and think you are on your way to being paralyzed.

She could see
it in her mind's eye: first a hard cervical collar would have been put around her neck, then three or four of them would have kneeled on one side of her and grabbed her clothes and body. 1, 2, 3 - and they all would have turned her as a unit. No doubt Jerry had been at her head, not trusting that job to any cop or engine crew. Someone else would have slid the board underneath her and then they would have rolled her back. The orange foam head blocks would have been velcroed down on the board to keep her head still, and all the straps would have been fastened. Then they would have picked her up and carried her out to the ambulance.

Her, Emma Hill, former Army Medic, Westwood Harbor's E.M.S Employee of the month 17 times, never taken a sick day, never been hu
rt on the job, never even been poked with a needle, recipient of the 2009 National EMS Award of Excellence where she got to shake President Obama's hand, had been knocked off a roof and almost killed in the line of duty, all because she hadn't brought up a long spine board to a call when she should have.

Half her mind was ashamed, and the other half kept clamoring about something important. She closed her eyes and laid her head back so Jerry wouldn't talk for a couple of seconds and give her time to think.

What was important about this?

The VISION!

If I had not almost died, I would not have had my vision. This IS important. I can't let my shame cloud this. I was meant to fall off that roof. I was meant to see those things. I know what it means. It means ...

But here, her mind betrayed her, and turned inward on itself so she heard no more of that thought.

Jerry must have thought she was asleep, because she felt him slowly pull his hand from hers and heard him try to tiptoe away from the bed. She let him go. She wanted to catch the rest of that thought. She wanted to re-play the vision in her mind again. She wanted to dream about what it meant and how her life would be different

(so much better)

when she met that man.

Again, her mind started tugging at her. Sh
e felt sluggish, like her brain was filled with sand, and she supposed that was an after-effect of falling four stories and landing on your head. Her brain wouldn't stop though. Something danced just out of her reach. The harder she tried the less of it she could grasp.

Damnit!

She slammed her fist into her thigh. Wait, her hand was still exactly where Jerry had left it. She had told it to slam into her thigh. She slowly curled her fingers into a fist. There, see, she could move; she just had to move slowly and deliberately. But she would heal, she knew she would. Hopefully quickly. She wasn't going to meet the man from her vision in this hospital.

Wait, what if he is in this hospital? What if he's one of my doctors or nurses and I haven't even noticed him?
What if I'm so busy dreaming about the vision I fail to live it?

On some level, Emma knew this was silly. The future is the future, and if her vision foretold the future, which she was sure it did, then she was on her way to the future right now, and every
thing she was doing was right and taking her to that future.

But on another level - the level in which Emma usually operated - she was certain that she was already on the wrong path. She should be up and rehabilitating, or examining everyone who came into
the room, or writing down every detail of the man in the vision so she would know him when she saw him. Something!

Emma felt herself slipping into sleep. Her fool body was betraying her again! There was work to be done, but she was going to sleep. Her bro
ws knit together. Her lips clamped down on each other. She willed herself to stay awake, but she was exhausted. Her mind slipped into a troubled sleep where her dream-self chastised her over and over again for her weaknesses.

 

 

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