First Contact

Image by Carina Hofmeister from Pixabay

He came to and looked around. He could make out a canopy of trees to either side, clear sky above and his ears were beginning to process the sounds around him. He heard rushing water and then some birds debating something that birds debate about. He realized where he was, at the middle of a rock slide, laying on his back, staring at the sky.

He was afraid to try and move…what if he couldn’t? What if he had broken a limb or worse? He wiggled everything. Check. Didn’t seem to be any blood. Check. He gingerly rolled his neck. Check. This was stupid he was either broken or he wasn’t. He jumped to his feet, and besides a sense of disorientation, he was fine. Then he looked around.

The slide had been massive; trees were down all around him in a swath that looked about 150 yards wide. He could see the rubble pile a long way down and that’s when his brain kicked in. In a panic he looked uphill. It was mostly clear to the top but there were a few trees and rocks above him that looked unstable. He seemed to be on a good spot but he couldn’t stay there as one of those trees or rocks could come down at anytime. So he started navigating carefully to his left facing uphill, keeping an eye on things. The footing was tricky…he had been extremely lucky to land where he had for he was learning just how unstable the slide zone was. But, after slipping along for about 15 minutes he was sitting on the uphill side of a large tree and felt sufficiently safe to fish a bottle of water from his pack. That’s when he heard her.

Crap. He’d been so wrapped up in getting himself to a safe spot that it hadn’t occurred to him that other hikers could be caught up as well. It was an out and back trail up to the top of the Mesa and he’d not seen more than a couple of other hikers. They’d been on the way down and unless they’d gone really slow they were surely clear of the zone. Whoever this was must have been on the way up. He yelled out “where are you?”. It seemed like forever before a voice came back “I’m trapped”. Definitely a woman. But where was she? Up? Down? On a positive note, since he was off to the side he only had to find her elevation and then he knew she’d be straight ahead. He needed to think. Duh. His cell phone. He fished it out and amazingly there was a signal, just one bar, but enough for texting. “He yelled again “are you hurt bad?”. “No, but I can’t walk.”

He had to move fast, hurt bad or not she could go into shock and it wasn’t that long until sunset when the temperature would plummet. He had a jacket but did she? Normally he would have her keep calling and he’d use his ears to triangulate her position, but wandering around playing hot/cold in the middle of a rock slide wasn’t going to happen. “Does your phone work?” A minute or so later “yes”. Thank god, “okay, I’m gonna yell out my number one digit at a time and then you text me. I have a plan”.

It took forever and now the sky was starting to darken. He was so tense that he busted out laughing when he got her confirmation text “I used a squirrel for your contact pic”. Well, at least she wasn’t panicking. She was sharp too, she’d figured out his plan, and before he could reply her next message came with a pin drop of her location. He entered the coordinates and now he had her “looks like ur downhill. On my way but I have 2 b careful. B dark, when I get close I’ll flip on flashlight, u yell when u see it”. Her message came back “Kk, I’ll just chill here and think about Aquaman, do u look like him”? Geez she was salty “save ur battery”.

There was a moon that night and the slide actually worked in their favor clearing a lighted path down the hardest part of the climb. He’d at first thought they should just wait until it got light, then he’d call 911 as soon as they got down far enough for a good signal. However he wasn’t a doctor and her leg looked pretty bad so he told her he’d rather not wait. Luckily she was pretty small so he was able to handle her piggyback but after 30 minutes it was getting tough.

She was keeping his mind off it by peppering him with questions and telling him her life story all the way down the hill. At one point he thought she was taking a breather but then she asked “what did you use for my picture”? He was confused, “what”? “My contact picture, what did you use, it’s not like you had a picture of me handy”? “I didn’t create a conta…”. “You mean a gorgeous woman gives you her number and you don’t save it as a contact?” He sighed, ” I didn’t know if…” “oh I see you didn’t know if I was pretty enough”, she huffed. “No! I didn’t know if you were hurt, that was my main concern”. She snorted “makes perfect sense. Why take up room on your phone for a chick that could kick off. Probably got a couple other Amys in there anyway, why confuse things. What do they look like”? His head was spinning “what does who look like”? “Your other girlfriends named Amy, come on keep up.” He started to protest but she was on him again, “fine you can delete those later, if you did make a contact whose picture would you choose”? Damn she was relentless “Lois Lane”…”oh that makes sense, which one? Be careful here”. He thought for a minute, “Amy Adams”. She laughed “touché!, well I can live with that”. Satisfied, she went back to telling him about a drunk beach vacation with her best friends.

It took another 20 minutes to get down to where the EMTs were waiting. “She’s got a compound fracture in her leg it looks like” one of the EMTs told him quietly off to the side. “What did you give her?” “What do you mean?” “For the pain, she should be screaming in agony”. He shook his head. The EMT whistled “that’s one tough lady”. She was loaded in the ambulance now and he went over to say goodbye. “What do you mean?” she rasped out, the pain finally getting to her. “You’re not coming with me? Oh I get it, it’s Amy”. He laughed, “There is no Amy”. “Then ride with me.  And gimme your phone”

© Glenn R Keller 2020, All Rights Reserved

Heartbeats

He was young, 35 to be exact. He kept in good shape, all his vitals were at target and he’d just had a great yearly physical. And yet there it was right in front of him on this damned fitness gizmo he’d bought just for kicks.

His resting was off the chart low and his workouts were what you’d expect. But for the last week his heart rate had spiked briefly every day to nearly 100. He was worried. He went online and typed a message to his doctor. A few hours later his doctor answered, “Those things are pretty unreliable, still, keep an eye on it. You’re probably doing something. Let me know if it continues.”

He watched it over the weekend: nothing unusual, no spikes. He played golf on Sunday and it never went over 70. Well… must have been a fluke.

Monday was a great day, worked out, chill day at work, and met some old buddies for some beer. Right before he turned in he checked the numbers on his watch. Damn! There it was again. 98 bpm sometime in the morning. What the hell.

“I want you to come in. Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this.” His doctor was on it and he left the office with a more precise, robust monitor connected by WiFi with his doctor’s office. They watched it for a week and sure enough every morning around 10:15 there was the spike. And all he was ever doing was sitting at his desk.

They agreed to do a video visit while he sat in the normal office so his doctor could see him. They were chatting around 10:16 and there it went, right up again. “Wait! What are you looking at?” “I’m just looking out the window…uh oh”.

The next day he was back with his doctor turning in the monitor. “Can I give you a piece of advice?” He sighed, he’d been kind of embarrassed now over the whole thing “you’re the doctor”. “If she sets your heart racing like that, go out there and walk with her”.

© Glenn R Keller 2020, All Rights Reserved

Prince Charmin

Reluctantly he grabbed the last 12 pack of toilet paper in the store. He lived alone and didn’t need much but he was down to half a roll and even for a single guy that was cutting it close. He didn’t need 12 but there was nothing else to be had.

Then he noticed the pretty blonde staring forlornly at the empty shelf and knew he’d be giving up his treasure. “Are you out?” She nodded and he turned over the package, “here, I’ve got plenty” he lied, “ you take this”. She protested but he insisted and then she said “I’d hug you but social distance and all…”. He laughed “just my luck”. She smiled and thanked him again and he went to look for a slice of pizza.

He finished checking out and headed to the car working out in his head how he could make the half roll last, and then he saw her again. She’d been waiting for him, and was holding 3 rolls of toilet paper she’d broken out of the package. “Take these…I don’t need 12 of them”. Grateful, he thanked her, and headed home, he was a little upset with himself for not talking to her more but then he didn’t want to turn kind gestures into awkwardness.

He kept thinking about her…she was cute, and kind. Those were two pretty good starting points. A few days later he was getting ready to use one of the rolls and be noticed a dark smudge, he unrolled it a little and there it was, writing as clear as day: “here’s my number, call me and tell me where you are right this minute.” And so he did, and then he knew she was funny too, and that’s all he needed to know.

© Glenn R Keller 2020, All Rights Reserved