This is an ER/Early Edition story. If you have never watched it, Early Edition is a show about a regular guy who gets tomorrow's paper today. He uses the information in it to help people and prevent bad things from happening.
I don't own any of the characters in this story. Gary Hobson, Chuck Fishman and Marissa Clark are owned by CBS productions and Sony/Tristar pictures. Doug Ross, Carol Hathaway, Mark Greene, and Jerry are owned by Warner Bros. Television.
Rated PG for some violence and mild profanity
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Damn! He's crashing." Dr. Doug Ross swore as he grabbed a laryngoscope out of the second drawer of the crash cart and quickly ducked under oxygen tubing and sidestepped IV poles as he made his way to the head of the gurney.
The patient was a fourteen-year-old boy. He should have been anywhere but lying on a cart in the emergency room. He should have been home studying, teasing a sibling, or maybe at football or basketball practice. Anywhere but here. Here with his life flowing out of his veins onto the cold linoleum floor.
"I'll need a size seven ET tube!" Ross barked, holding his right hand out as his left held the handle to the laryngoscope steady. He could see the vocal cords. Thank God for small miracles, he thought wryly. The tube was placed into his hand, and he deftly inserted it.
"It's in. I need a syringe." He held onto the end of the tube while a respiratory therapist connected the Ambu bag. He inflated the cuff with air, and let a nurse take over the tube so it could be taped in place.
"Okay, we'll need a CBC and a type and cross match. Get a chest x-ray and ABG's." Ross wiped his forehead with the back of his forearm. How many times recently had this scene replayed itself in the ER? Too many times he thought. One was starting to run into the other. The faces of the victims to blur, becoming one endless procession of young, wasted lives. They were just kids. Kids playing at war. Children not even old enough to shave.
Glancing at the heart monitor, Doug swore softly. The kid was having arrhythmias. His blood pressure looked like shit, and Doug could just imagine all the damage caused by the bullet. Damage hidden inside a boy sized chest. Suddenly, the heart monitor alarmed; the line was flat.
"Begin compressions!" Doug ordered. A med student eagerly stepped forward and started doing compressions. Counting off one and two and three....Doug shook his head with a slight smile. It seemed like a long time ago that he had been that eager. Now he was just tired.
Maybe he was getting burned out. All he knew was that no matter what he did, it didn't seem to make a difference. The carnage would continue in a never-ending stream.
Asking the med student to hold compressions, Doug felt for a femoral pulse. Nothing. Nodding at the student to continue, Doug stood back. He ordered various meds, checked x-ray and blood gas results. Glancing at the clock on the wall, Doug sighed. It had been thirty-five minutes since they had begun coding this kid.
"Okay, let's call it. The time is sixteen thirty two." Doug said wearily, grabbing the chart from a counter and taking it out to the desk area. He tossed the chart on the desktop, and plopped down in a chair. He wrote his summary down and signed it, glancing towards Jerry the ward clerk.
"Do we have a name for the kid in two yet?"
"Ah, yeah, Dr.Ross. A couple of his friends gave us the information. I tried calling, but the phone has been disconnected."
"Wonderful." Doug muttered. Another typical day in the ER, just another
seven hours to go, he thought grimly.
Gary Hobson opened the door to the kitchen of McGinty's. He was beginning to become accustomed, and even enjoyed the hustle and bustle atmosphere of the mid-morning activities of the thriving restaurant. Of course, he thought, smiling, if you listened to Chuck, the place was one bad meal away from bankruptcy. Gary nodded and said hello to the workers who passed him, grabbing a cup of coffee as he made his way through the kitchen to the dining area. This time of day, the area was quiet. Only the staff was around, setting tables and straightening the chairs. Chuck and Marissa were already seated, engaged in a heated discussion about cutting costs.
"I mean, do we really need to wash the napkins every day?" Chuck whined. "Why can't we just fold them inside out. Who would know?"
"Chuck!" Marissa admonished, shaking her head.
Gary ignored the discussion as he sat and started flipping through the newspaper. Sipping his coffee, he scanned the headlines. Nothing on the front page warranted his attention. It mostly contained stories about City Council abuses. Nothing that Gary could do anything about.
"So..." Marissa began, "anything interesting today, Gary?"
"No, just the usual political scandals." Gary replied as he turned the page.
"Wait a minute..." He sat up straighter, reading the headline out loud. "Doctor slain in County General Emergency Room." Moving on to the accompanying story, he continued. "Violence erupted in the emergency room yesterday when a man shot and killed a pediatrician..."
Marissa and Chuck listened. After a year and a half, they knew what Gary would do with the information in the paper.
Gary read the few details given. The time of the shooting was four-fifty
PM. That gave him plenty of time to warn the doctor, he thought. Meanwhile,
he would do some bookwork in the office.
"Any luck locating the kid's family, Doug?" Mark Green asked.
"No, not really. The kid lived with his uncle but nobody has tracked him down yet. The police are supposed to go to his neighborhood and search for him." Doug shook his head sadly.
"I hate to say this Doug, but we're getting swamped and we could use the bed. How about sending the body down to the morgue?"
"Yeah, you're right." Doug rubbed the back of his neck, looking away. "I just hate for the families to see them like that. At least now the boy looks sort of natural. Once he's all wrapped in a sheet it's...I don't know."
"I know Doug, but we really could use the bed. Have security bring him down to the morgue." Dr. Greene walked away without a backward glance. Doug looked after him, wondering where Mark's compassion had gone. Sighing, he turned to Jerry. "Could you call security, and have them take the body downstairs please?"
"Sure Dr.Ross, no problem."
Doug studied the patient board. Most of his patient's were waiting for various tests to be done. Checking the x-ray box, he found the chest x-rays that he had ordered on a two-year-old. Jamming them onto the view box, he carefully scanned them, detecting a small pneumonia in the right lower lobe. Grabbing a prescription pad he headed towards the room. Doug could hear the loud wailing of the child as he approached the room. The lab techs must be in there, he thought, smiling t himself.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of a slap, and rushed into the room just as the young mother brought her hand back to smack the child again.
"I told you to hush up! They ain't no reason to be cryin!" The mother yelled angrily.
The lab technician was standing in slack jawed surprise, syringe still in hand, too shocked to react to the mother's violence towards her child.
Doug grabbed the mother's hand just inches before it connected with the toddler's cheek.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he thundered.
"Hey! Let go a me! You touch me again, an' I'm gonna sue you, an' this whole hospital!" The young woman threatened.
"Yeah, well you do that!" Doug retorted. "Your child happens to have a pneumonia, that, not to mention getting stuck a few times would make any child cry."
To her credit, the teen-aged mother looked somewhat ashamed of the way she had behaved.
"I know. Usually he's a real good baby, but he's been crying non-stop for two days. I just can't take it anymore." The mom looked on the verge of tears herself.
Doug heaved a sigh. She was just one more over-whelmed under-aged parent. "Listen, I'm going to give you a prescription for your son. Do you have a drug card?"
The woman nodded, swiping some tears away.
"Good. I'm also going to have social services come down and talk to you."
The woman looked up in alarm. "Are they gonna take my baby?"
"No. They are just going to tell you what kind of help is available to you. There are a lot of services for young mothers. They are just going to see that you can get some help. You have to promise me that you won't hit your child again though."
The mom nodded, her eyes welling up again.
"Okay. Good." Doug handed her the prescription, advising her what symptoms to watch for in case the pneumonia got worse.
Turning to leave, he found Carol standing the doorway, an amused, tender expression on her face.
"What?" he asked, smiling.
"You." She said simply, falling in step beside him as they walked back nurses station.
"What about me?"
"Well, I couldn't help but see how you handled that mom back there. A few years ago you probably would have slapped her, and made sure that her child was taken away."
Doug looked down, "Yeah, well, the kid didn't look like he had been abused before. His shots were up-to-date, and the mother did bring him in before the pneumonia had gotten too bad. I think she was just at the end of her rope and snapped for a moment. I'm hoping social services will be able to help her."
"Well, I prefer t think that maybe you're mellowing a little bit." Carol said grinning.
"Some people might call it mellowing. Others might call it giving up."
Doug looked away, missing the bewildered expression that came over Carol's
face. Doug entered the lounge, leaving Carol alone in the hall.
Gary's day wasn't going as smoothly as he had hoped. A more thorough check of the paper had turned up several minor incidents that Gary thought needed his attention. Consequently, he was running behind. He looked at his watch. Four-forty PM. He drummed his fingers impatiently on the on the seat of the cab. They were hopelessly stuck in rush hour traffic.
Leaning forward, Gary asked "Hey, how about taking Madison Avenue? I think it will be quicker."
The cabby shrugged, and attempted to maneuver the cab over to the right lane. Angry honking from the cars behind them accompanied the tactic. Once in the right lane, the cab became stuck behind a CTA bus. Forcing the cab to stop at every corner while waiting for the bus to pick up it's passengers.
"Forget it! I'm getting out." Gary threw some money in the front seat, and quickly exited the cab. He started sprinting down the street, hoping he could keep up the pace the seven blocks west to County General.
Panting and wheezing, Gary bent over in an attempt to catch his breath. He had made it to the hospital with only three minutes to spare, but he still had to find Dr.Ross before the shooting occurred.
Straightening, he staggered through the emergency entrance. He looked around for someone he could ask directions of, but nobody was available. There were at least a dozen people waiting in chairs, and a half dozen more people were walking around or leaning against the walls while waiting their turn to be seen. A harried looking nurse was attempting to help an older man who didn't seem to speak English.
Spotting doors marked "Emergency Department", Gary ran towards them, ignoring the nurse's shout for him to wait. Inside, the scene was even more hectic, with doctors, nurses and technicians running around everywhere. Somewhere, a baby screamed.
Spotting the nurses station, Gary ran to it, and directing his question to a heavyset man behind the desk, he gasped out, "Dr.Ross..I ...need...to find...Dr.Ross."
Jerry looked up at the question, ready to send the man back to the waiting room, but the wild look in his eyes made him hesitate. Shrugging, he pointed. "He's right over there."
Gary turned and spied a dark-haired man in a blue scrub top talking to a woman in pink scrubs. Another man stood behind Dr.Ross, his hand tucked into his coat. Gary watched in horror as the man tapped Ross on the shoulder.
Gary shot into action, racing across the room, launching himself the last eight feet as he saw a flash of blue steel in the gunman's hand.
Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Gary heard himself shouting a warning, while Dr.Ross turned around with a questioning look on his face. The gunman leveled his weapon at Ross's chest, and was squeezing the trigger.
"Noooo!" Gary shouted, as he crashed into the gunman. He brought his arm down on the gun hand, knocking the barrel of the gun towards the floor. There was a loud gunshot, and Gary felt a white-hot pain across the top of his right thigh. He and the gunman both crashed to the floor and skidded another three feet, slamming into the wall. The gunman jumped up, and searched for his gun that had been knocked out of his hand. Not finding it, he ran at Dr.Ross.
Doug stood motionless for a moment in utter confusion. What the hell was going on? All he knew was that he had turned when someone tapped his shoulder, and was confronted with a man shouting incoherently about some nephew. Before it could register what he was talking about, Doug saw a gun pointing at his chest. He froze, his eyes riveted on the gun. There was a shout, and a blur to his left, and suddenly the man with the gun was sent flying across the room as another man tackled him, the sharp report of a gun sounding in the confusion. It had all happened so quickly, that before Doug had time to think, the gunman was back on his feet, and coming at him.
Doug was knocked to his back as the man leaped on him. The crazed man was still raving about his nephew; how Doug had killed him.
Doug wrestled with the man, trying to stave off blows. The man's hands clamped around Doug's throat, as Doug arched his back trying to throw the man off him. By this time, half the ER staff was attempting to pull the man off Doug. It felt like his lungs were bursting. His hands clawed desperately at the other man's fingers, trying to peel them away. His vision was dimming, and arms fell to his sides. Just before he passed out completely, the death grip the man had on Doug's throat loosened, as the man was finally dragged off.
Doug dimly heard a panicky voice say; "He's not breathing!" He tried to draw in a breath, and winced. His throat felt raw and bruised. On the third try, he was finally able to suck in some air. Though it hurt, nothing had ever felt so good. His vision cleared as his oxygen-starved brain finally got what it was craving.
"What the hell was all that about?" Doug rasped, as he tried to sit up. Mark was kneeling next to him, and tried to make him stay down.
"Whoa, take it easy, Doug. Let me take a look at your throat."
Doug waved him off, and struggled to his feet. Looking around, he asked, "Where's the other guy?"
"The guy that attacked you?" Mark questioned. "Security took him away. Don't worry."
"No, no, not him. The guy that pushed him down. The one that saved me."
Carol nodded, "Yeah, there was a guy that came running. He plowed right
into the crazy man." They looked around, and spotted a trail of blood leading
off into an adjacent hallway. They followed it out of the emergency room,
losing it on the street.
Gary limped up the stairs to his room. His leg hurt, but it was only a graze. Opening the door, he looked longingly at his bed, but headed to the bathroom instead to treat his wound. Thirty minutes later, he emerged, showered and feeling slightly better. He had swallowed a few ibuprofen for the pain. He picked up the paper from the sofa where he had tossed it, and turned to the page where the story about the ER doctor had first appeared. It had been replaced with a story about budget cuts at County General.
Gary smiled, and flopped onto bed, wincing slightly. In minutes he was
"Did you ever find out who the guy was that saved you?" Carol asked Doug as they snuggled into bed that night.
"No. The police questioned everybody. Jerry remembers the guy asking specifically for me just seconds before the incident happened. Oh, and Lydia recalls a man matching the description running through the waiting room, but he never stopped to give anyone his name." Doug absently rubbed his hand gently up and down Carol's back, lost in thought.
"You know, the weird thing is, this detective showed up. He asked some questions like 'Did the guy have brown hair? Was he about six feet tall?', that sort of thing. When I asked him who he thought it was, he just shook his head and smiled."
"That's strange." Carol murmured, half asleep. "Well, I don't know who he is, but I sure do owe him big time." She added, snuggling even closer.
"Yeah, so do I." Doug said, as he softly kissed the top of Carol's head.
"So do I."
Email the author: Maryilee