Afraid to go to sleep. Afraid of what I might see. What my night time terrors may reveal.
Weeks of sleepless nights haunted by my failures.
I donít want to see smoky ghosts of the unsaved swirling around my turnouts begging, know there is no hope; that their tomorrows have ceased.
My dreams tainted by flash backs of burnt flesh mingling with the sweet sweat of life. Hearing screams fade and the breath seep from those lost to the flaming beast.
Afraid of what I might see will blind me. Blind me of my purpose, life.
Stripped to his undershirt, Roy DeSoto stood at the sink. He reached for the faucets to turn on the water, but froze, staring down at his hands. Roy was a strong man. He had a strong back and strong arms, strong hands to pull people from the brink of death and strong shoulders to bear the weight of the world. A strong and gentle heart that ached within him.
The little girl's screams still rang in his ears. She had been so young and so tiny -- no more than five at best. Finding her alive in the twisted wreckage had been nothing short of a miracle. The two adults in the front seat never stood a chance, but against all odds the little girl lived.
She lived. But her back was broken. She was in excruciating pain and there was nothing Roy could do to relieve it. It was a situation he had dealt with before. In the case of a serious spinal injury the doctors needed the victim brought in with their senses undulled by painkillers. It helped with their assessment and could make the difference between complete paralysis and a full recovery.
Every time he found himself in a situation like that, it tore Roy to pieces. Pain and suffering were the enemy. When his victims hurt he hurt along with them. But never before had he found himself looking down into such a small face, knowing that she was in agony. She hurt and he could not stop it. And even if he tried to explain the reasons, he knew that she was far too young to understand.
Footsteps echoed in the brick and tile room. Roy raised his head and met his own haunted gaze in the mirror. His best friend and partner stood beside him now, back to the mirror, leaning on the sinks with his arms crossed over his chest.
"That was a rough one," Johnny said, his voice deep and solemn.
"Yeah. Yeah, it was."
"I just got off the phone with Rampart."
"It didn't sever her spinal cord. They've got her immobilized now and she still has feeling in all extremities. And they've given her something for the pain. She's not hurting anymore."
"Good. Good." Roy's own voice was rough with emotion. Kind blue eyes swam with unshed tears.
"She's gonna walk again, Pally. And run and skip and jump rope and everything. I know it was rough, but it all worked out. She might not have understood today why you couldn't make the hurt stop, but she will when she dances at her senior prom, or walks down the aisle on her wedding day."
"I know. Too bad her folks couldn't be there too."
"Oh, I didn't tell you! It wasn't her parents in the car with her. It was the babysitter and her boyfriend. Her parents are fine. They're with her now."
Johnny was watching his friend. For the first time Roy turned slightly and met his eyes. "Good. I mean, it's good for the little girl, having her parents."
"Yeah. Listen, I'm gonna go see if there's any coffee. You coming?"
"Sure. I'll be there in a minute."
Johnny slapped Roy on the shoulder and left. Alone again, Roy turned back to the sink, turned on the faucets and splashed water on his face. He dried off and shrugged into a clean blue shirt, carefully pinning his badge and paramedic pin in place. Then he headed out to the kitchen and back to work.
He was a strong man, with a strong back and strong arms, strong hands to pull people from the brink of death. Strong shoulders to bear the weight of the world and a strong and gentle heart.
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