Never Judge a Book – Part Four
The next morning I awoke in a cold room. The electricity was out, probably because of down wires from down tree limbs. That meant no TV, no internet, no nothing unless Charlie got the generator going. I checked my phone sitting on the bedside table. Luckily it had been plugged in long enough to recharge. I quickly turned it off. It was going to be a day, or maybe two, of conserving energy. But at least I could call out if necessary and maybe check emails.
There was a soft tap at the door. “Coming,” I said as I pulled a blanket around my shoulders. I’d worn socks to bed but the cold still seeped up from the floor to my feet. I opened the door to Em standing in the hallway. “The electricity’s off for now. Charlie and I thought since you two are our only guests, it might be best if you just bunk downstairs in front of the fireplace today. We have sleeping bags you can use tonight.”
I looked at the frost on the inside of the bedroom window and decided it was a super idea.
“What about you and Charlie?” I asked.
“We have a little apartment with our own fireplace. It’s nice and cozy. Come down for breakfast when you get your stuff together. Charlie’s firing up the generator. If it works, we may have a bit of electricity. I’ve got muffins and coffee on the counter.”
Yes, there was coffee and muffins on the counter. The muffins were store-bought but I didn’t care. I hoped Charlie and Em were conserving food. It was still snowing and I wondered how long it would be until it covered the two story lodge. I looked out the large, iced up window next to the fireplace and saw that it would have been impossible to get in or out of the small cabins in the back. The snow had drifted more than half-way up the cabin doors.
I took a cup of coffee, a muffin and my notebook to one of the winged-back chairs next to the fireplace. I needed to jot down some notes about Killing Time. I was still hoping for an interview with the elusive Damon Franklin. If not this trip, then maybe another time.
I settled into the comfy chair. The fire’s warmth was inviting and the smell of the burning logs comforting. This could be a pleasant adventure, I thought.
“Gooooood morning, Amanda!” The booming voice came from the top of the stairs. In a few moments Dave was downstairs pouring a cup of coffee and devouring a muffin. The pleasant adventure I’d imagined suddenly disappeared. “Good morning,” I muttered looking down at my notebook.
“So, no electricity until ole Charlie gets the generator going, huh?” he said through a mouth full of muffin. He was dressed in a thick flannel shirt, lined jeans with deep cuffs and heavy boots. He carried a denim jacket and the deer-stalker hat. He looked like a deranged lumberjack.
He stood by my chair looking down at the notebook on my lap. “Working?” he said through another mouthful of muffin.
“Trying to,” I said, not looking up.
“Okay, then. I think I’ll go see if I can help Charlie. He looks too old to be out in this mess.”
Well, I had to admit that was a good idea and a nice one.
“Be careful,” I said. Now just where had that come from?
“Yes, ma’am,” he said plopping the hat over his dark curls. I watched him walk outside. Actually (and I do say ‘actually’ a lot), I watched his butt in his tight jeans walk outside. I found myself smiling. Then I shook my head and went back to my notes. But not for long.
Suddenly I felt a rush of cold air. Dave was holding the front door open and yelling. “Mandy, come here, quick.”
I could tell by his face that something was very wrong.
“Do you have your phone?” he asked.
“Call 911. See if they can get someone here somehow. Charlie’s arresting.”
Even without a medical background I knew what that meant.
Em must have heard the commotion and came from the back of the lodge. “What’s wrong?” she asked her voice shaking.
I was already pressing my phone on, blessing the fact I’d conserved the charge. “Charlie. Possible heart attack,” I said. Before I could get it all out, Em was running to the front door.
“Damn fool man. I told him not to do anything. I told him to wait. I told him–”
I followed her, dialing 9-1-1 as I went. “It’s going to be alright, Em. Dave’s with him.” I think I was saying it as much for me as for her.
By the time someone from 911 came on the line I was outside by the generator shed. The snow seemed to be letting up. Charlie was on the ground on a shoveled-out area and Dave was kneeling over him, pressing on his chest. I explained the problem into the phone. The operator asked, “Is anyone doing CPR?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Good. Tell him to keep it up. I’ll try to get someone out there. I may have a snowplow available nearby. Stay on the line.”
“Yes,” I said to the emergency operator. And then to Dave, “She said to keep up the CPR.”
Dave’s hands were together in ball pounding rhythmically on Charlie’s chest. He just nodded.
I thought something was missing. “Don’t you have to, like, blow into his mouth?”
“No,” Dave said, getting a bit short of breath himself. “New guidelines–just chest percussion. And to the beat of the song, ‘Staying Alive’ by the BeeGees.”
I had to smile at that. Good idea. Everyone knew that song. Just pound someone’s chest to a good beat.
I looked up at Em, standing over the two men, her face pale and drawn. She was wringing her hands and her lips were moving. I hoped she was praying. I was silently praying for a snowplow with an emergency medical team. I moved over to her and put my arm around her shoulders. “He’s going to be okay,” I said. “Dave knows what he’s doing.” I really believed that, too.
She nodded. But I could feel her shaking. “We’ve been together for almost fifty years,” she said. “I can’t lose him. Fool man. I told him to use the snowblower.”
“Em, let me walk out the road to wave in the snowplow. Okay?”
She nodded and I trudged out to the edge of the shoveled sidewalk. Was that what had caused Charlie’s sudden attack? Shoveling? Shoveling for guests that wouldn’t be coming?
From where I stood I could see down the exit and onto the highway. I might have been seeing things but it looked as if traffic was moving. Was the pile-up cleared out? Had the plows gotten through during the night? Was there a chance to get Charlie to the hospital?
I heard it before I saw it. From around a large pile of snow came the snowplow, blade down, clearing the exit, the road and then the motel driveway. Behind the plow was an EMT unit; its red lights flashing.
I felt as if I were watching a movie as the EMTs relieved Dave, started intravenous fluids and oxygen on Charlie and placed little pads on his chest.
Dave was now standing beside me. “They’re running an EKG that’s probably going right to the emergency room doctor,” he said to me and Em. There was a crackle of a radio, voices saying strange names, medications the EMT gave Charlie, orders from the unseen doctor.
It seemed like hours but it was only a few minutes until one of the EMTs said, “He’s stable and we can transport.” One of the men turned to Dave. “Good job,” he said. Dave just nodded.
In a few more minutes Charlie was on the stretcher and inside the unit. Em was hesitating to get in with him. “The motel,” she said. I ran inside and jotted my cell phone number down for Em. Then I told her to let us know how Charlie was doing.
“Don’t worry about the motel,” Dave said. “Mandy and I can handle it. Can’t we, Man? You go with Charlie.”
I nodded wondering what I’d gotten myself into. But how much would I have to do? It was just me and Dave.
And as I watched the emergency unit drive away with Charlie and Em, I realized it was just me and Dave.