What is Rabies of a Marriage? Ch. 03byPultoy©
Need waits with longing for the familiar entrance of dear ones who pad barefoot through the soul on ordinary days.
Desperately, the man pressed on the breastbone of the prostrate body of the pretty young girl: One – two – three – four, breath; one – two – three – four, breath... He repeated the cycle of cardio pulmonary resuscitation, that life restoring action that so few actually know how to do.
The sixteen year old girl threw up, straight into the air, just as the man was about to put his mouth back on hers to fill her lungs with another breath of life. He rolled her to the side to let the vile bile trickle out of her body, and forced open her mouth, to prohibit her from aspirating, breathing her own vomit back into her lungs.
She belched again and more vomit erupted from her belly, then she gasped a huge lungful of air, and her blue lips and fingertips began to return to fleshly color.
The man wiped her mouth with his sleeve, preparing to blow another breath into her if needed. Her eyes fluttered a bit and she breathed again, on her own. He put his ear to her breast and her heart was beating, though irregularly.
He knew that he'd probably broken some of her ribs, maybe even her breastbone while doing the compressions, but he also knew that to actually save her, a certain amount of pressure had to be applied to force the blood through the heart, pumping oxygen throughout her vascular system, feeding her brain cells and keeping them alive.
Bill Wilson had seen the one-car rollover occur just ¼ mile in front of him, as he was returning to his home in Sterling from spending Sunday in Denver, and meeting the street preacher, Bill Wilkerson.
When he pulled up to the scene, he saw the teenaged girl laying just off the edge of the road, her car on its top, the wheels still spinning, steam hissing from broken lines and hoses spewing fluids onto a hot manifold, in the barrow pit beside the interstate highway. It was cold and snowing, there was a foot of snow on the unplowed sides of the road, where the girl lay. The roads were icy and slick; the night, dark.
He knew that they were somewhere near Fort Morgan on Interstate 76. As he was leaving his car and running to the girl he had dialed 9-1-1. While performing the CPR, between breaths, pumping on her chest he described to the operator what was happening and his best guess at his location, then he set his phone down, on speaker mode, and continued administering the lifesaving action to Brittnay Hughes.
The dispatcher's question, "are there others in or around the car?" haunted Bill. He just didn't know and couldn't leave the girl to check for the moment.
"I don't know, I'll look as soon as I am sure she isn't going to aspirate on her own vomit," he shouted.
After a minute of her breathing on her own, he left her to look around, with only the lights of his own high beams shining into the night for him to see what he could. There didn't appear to be anyone else in or around the car, but he couldn't be for sure and yelled into his phone that information.
"I have an ambulance on the way, sir. According to our GPS coordinates, you are close to mile marker 78, does that sound about correct?" the dispatcher asked.
"Probably, I'm in the eastbound lane." Bill replied. "I can see Fort Morgan's lights, so wherever that is," he added.
He heard the wail of sirens and soon saw the flashing lights headed his way. Passersby began stopping. Bill directed one man with a flashlight to check for others in the car and around it that might have been thrown out or trapped.
Firetrucks were the first to respond, but minutes later the ambulance arrived. They tended to the girl and finally transported her to Colorado Plains Medical Center in Fort Morgan.
The highways were slick and the Colorado State Patrol was very busy with wrecks on many roads in their district. Their entire on-duty contingent was tied up miles away and would be too far off to respond in a timely manner, so they called a Supervisor out to respond to this accident scene, Lieutenant Darrel Martinez.
Lt. Martinez copied accident information, took measurements, noted skid marks, took photos, wrote down Bill's statement and contact information, finally releasing him to travel on to his home in Sterling, forty five minutes from the scene at regular speeds, but on these icy roads, maybe 90 minutes.
But, Bill decided to stop by the hospital to see how the teenage girl was doing before going on.
When Bill arrived at CPMC, Brittnay was still being tended to in the Emergency Room and her parents and siblings were huddled in the waiting room. He walked into the area from outside, shaking the snow off his coat and asked the desk clerk about the girl brought in from the wreck on I-76.
Derrick Hughes, Brittnay's dad heard Bill ask and stood to listen to the conversation. The desk clerk asked Bill who he was, and Bill identified himself as the man who came up on the wreck and called it in. Derrick swiftly walked to Bill and introduced himself.
"I...I'm Brittnay's dad I'm Derrick Hughes. Thank you so much for saving my little girl," he said with emotion, tears forming in his eyes.
"Bill Wilson, Mr. Hughes. Nice to meet you, is she going to be ok?" He asked.
"We don't know yet. They're still working on her. The ambulance crew and firefighters that brought her in said you 'saved her life, no doubt about it; that she wasn't breathing' when you came up on the accident, is that right?" He begged.
Speaking to Bill, "Mr. Hughes, are you this girl's father?" The ER doctor, dressed in green operating gown, asked, walking up to the two men.
"I'm Derrick Hughes, her dad, Doctor, how is she?" her dad interjected, stepping forward.
"She's stable Mr. Hughes. It's a good thing she laid in the cold snow, which slowed her bleeding, she's got a nasty cut on her head and right upper back; and her sternum has been cracked along with two ribs, probably because of the CPR, but I'm cautiously optimistic at this time. We are going to do an MRI and some other tests to see if she has other injuries, so it'll be a while before we know much, but she is stable for the moment. There doesn't appear to be swelling in the brain stem and that is the biggest issue we don't have to face right now."
The doctor and the Hughes's stood and talked for a few minutes. Bill stepped away, affording them their privacy.
After the doctor left, "Mr. Hughes, I'd be interested to hear how your daughter is doing, here is my card, I'd be grateful for a call." Bill said, offering the dad his card.
Annette Hughes, Brittany's mom took the card, crying and stepped toward Bill Wilson with her arms out. "Thank God for you Mr. Wilson; thank God that you were there for our baby. He made a way and you were His tool, thank you so much," She cried.
Bill opened his arms and Annette stepped into them sobbing her "thank you's." Derrick made it a threesome and their two smaller children sat with open mouths watching something they'd never seen their dad do, cry like a baby.
Bill did not join them in their tears. He was pondering the woman's words. He had done what he could, what anyone should do if they could but he was in a world of his own, thinking about the man he'd killed, though it was at the hands of Pete Stone, his ex-partner, thinking about his ex-wife's boyfriend infected with syphilis; Infected because of his actions, his plotting and planning.
Pete's patient was innocent. But, Pete had lost his license and would suffer for the rest of his life. Pete had cause Bill untold suffering, that is true. But, it was a wrongful death to be sure.
The boyfriend would never have gotten syphilis if he'd been faithful to his girlfriend, he wasn't going to die, probably, but there was some suffering ahead for both he and Bill's ex-wife, Melody. Turnabout for Melody was fitting, in Bill's mind.
That was something Bill took glee about, making Melody suffer. "After all, she caused me plenty of suffering," he mused.
"What a paradox; what kind of man am I, a murderer or a life saver? Humph, both I guess." He pondered as the girl's parents stood there hugging him and crying, idolizing their daughter's savior.
Bill made his way slowly home that night. He slept fitfully, rolling over and over wrestling with his conscious for the evil he'd committed; against the good works he'd done saving Brittnay Hughes, and lots of other things he did for people.
He'd always donated dental work to certain folks. He did it quietly. Only he and those individual patients knew. Even his bookkeeper and receptionist didn't know that he skirted charges on some people that he knew were unable to pay for his services.
Bill also gave generously to individuals who had need. He'd often spend Thanksgiving and Christmas delivering foods, dental hygiene products and special treats for kids to needy families, single mothers, homeless and often derelict people. He'd always done stuff like that.
Bill had a tough day at work on Monday, after his encounter with Bill Wilkerson on the streets of downtown Denver, then his lifesaving experience on the icy highways Sunday night and then the distraught parents of the girl. His restless and sleepless night that followed left him moody and pensive all day.
His assistant, Constance Stickner, was wary of him all day. She'd only worked for the dentist for a year and didn't feel that she really knew him well at all. But, he'd never, ever been this way - like today and she was puzzled.
At the noon break, she stepped into his private office as he was sipping on a cup of hot tea and reading a dental journal. "Excuse me, doctor-is everything ok with you today, sir?"
"Come in Connie. Well, to tell you the truth, I'm kind of on the horns of a dilemma today and find myself wrestling." But, he did not volunteer the cause. Bill knew that if your closest associates or friends notice changes in behavior, they resent being lied to, and he felt that he'd do best with Connie if he was honest, yet not revealing. He didn't have to tell her anything substantive, just acknowledge his foul mood, that'd have to suffice.
"Ok, doctor; um, if I can do anything for you, I'll be glad to. My husband thinks the world of you, too and I know he'd be happy to do anything for you, just ask." She said.
Connie knew better than to push. She felt that she just needed to leave the door open; it was all she could do until she got a handle on what was eating at him.
Brittnay recovered well and by late spring she was pretty much back to normal. Her family only had minimal contact with Bill, but Brittnay had talked with him four or five times. Brittnay was a very popular junior at her High School. All the kids seemed to love her and were very happy that she'd survived her tragic accident.
Brittnay talked all the time about the Dentist from Sterling who saved her life. She told and retold her story, what she could recollect about it, to all her classmates and teachers. She even was asked by Lieutenant Martinez, of the Colorado State Patrol to work together with him and put on a safe driving program for the schools in the area. There are five high schools in the county and the Lt. and Brittnay went to every one of them, admonishing the kids to drive with care, speaking on safety issues, showing films and recalling her story.
Sterling, though not in her county is but forty five minutes away. Brittnay asked the CSP Lieutenant if they could give Dr. Wilson some kind of award for his lifesaving efforts that cold December night. It seemed to be a good thing to him and he agreed to set something up.
Brittnay's entire junior class, sixteen Colorado State Patrol cars, including the Chief of the CSP from Denver and those hospital staff, doctors, ambulance crew and firemen that had responded that night all quietly gathered at the dentist's office on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, just five and a half months after Bill had saved Brittnay's life. Reporters from the Denver Post, the Fort Morgan Times and the Sterling Journal Advocate were there, taking pictures and reporting on the story of this surprise award announcement, all angling for the perfect picture, the right approach to a great story, the 'scoop'.
It was a beautiful late May Day, the sun was shining, the trees and flowers were blooming.
The patrol cars were parked in a circle, surrounding the one thousand square foot dental clinic, all pointing their noses at the building. The firemen, medical people, the school kids and teachers, the Patrol officers ringed the building.
Blaring from the Chief's Patrol car loudspeaker, the chief said, "Doctor Bill Wilson, your building is surrounded. Drop what you're doing and come outside to receive recognition for what you've done."
At that, all the patrol cars hit a five second blast on their sirens. The sound was deafening, threatening even.
There was no response from inside the dental offices. They waited for a minute, then two. The two dental assistants finally appeared and led three patients out with their hands in the air, fear on their faces.
They were greeted with warmth and smiles from the crowds, being told of the special recognition ceremony that was about to take place for Dr. Wilson's quick thinking actions during the winter just past.
But, there was still no Dr. Wilson after three minutes.
Finally, Bill Wilson appeared. He was gaunt, dark circles and bags ringed his red, weary, watery eyes. He looked worried and afraid. The crowd applauded and cheered; to his surprise.
Brittnay Hughes ran to him and hugged him; the Chief of the State Patrol offered his hand, and his congratulations along with a wood and brass plaque commemorating his brave deed those months before.
"Speech – Speech – Speech," the crowd cried.
Very quietly, very humbly with head lowered, "Oh, I really don't deserve this, I, I, I've done so much in my life that would take this away." Bill said.
"Nonsense," said the Chief gregariously, "You saved this girl's life by your quick thinking and decisive action. You, sir, are a hero and we are proud to recognize you today as a model for others to look up to." He finished.
Brittnay and her parents hugged Dr. Wilson and everyone clapped and cheered again.
Bill's facial expression changed little. His eyes remained haunted, his posture was stooped, his gaunt profile, once chunky, now very thin, stood meekly.
He took a piece of folded paper from his pocket. He found his glasses and read from the paper.
"My soul hath long dwelt with him that hated peace, but, now, I am peace."
Bill folded the paper and put it back into his pocket. He thanked everyone for coming and looked Brittnay and her folks in the eyes, nodded politely and then he walked back into his clinic, unceremoniously.
Brittnay followed him into the door of his office, "Dr. Wilson, what did that mean? What you just said out there?"
"It's from the 120th Psalm Brittnay. It's just something I remind myself about often. That's all.
Brittnay turned seventeen that first week of June, right after her surprise visit with her class and all the Patrolmen to my office.
She drove to Sterling often, just to see me. She was still suffering some of the effects of her broken ribs and cracked sternum, which I had caused when I performed CPR on her back in December. During the summer, she made trips to Sterling three or four times per month, stopping to visit, going to lunch or, even to dinner one evening.
She said she felt attached to me, and didn't want me to 'get away', whatever that meant. When I was headed to Denver, I'd often be invited to eat at their house on my way through Fort Morgan. Her folks and I became friends, and Brittnay and I drew close.
She talked to me about things in her life, tough subjects in school, cheerleading and sports, cars and driving, and of course - boys.
She was also very interested in me, asking me about my life as a high school boy, my friendship with Pete and married life with Melody.
She wanted to know all about me becoming a dentist, about dentistry, almost nothing was off the table and she boldly asked me, sometimes, personal questions. I tried to answer them honestly.
One thing I never admitted to was the murder of Pete's patient and the venereal disease dispatched to Melody and her boyfriend. But, I told her about Melody's menstrual arousal, Pete's treachery and Bradley turning out not to be my son. Brittnay was very physical with me, she touched me, hugged me, kissed my cheeks. She had a habit of wrapping her arm around my arm and rubbing herself on my bicep, when standing talking with someone else, or walking along somewhere. She'd grab my hand in both hers and hold it near her crotch, sometimes touching it to herself slightly.
I had some discomfort with this, she being but seventeen and me forty four. Her folks seemed to see it as true affection for me for saving her life, and they treated me like family just as well.
When school started in the fall, Brittnay was in her senior year. She was excited, bubbly and was constantly inviting me to come to her competitions, see her in the school play, attend whatever she had interest in. We had long phone calls when she didn't have time to come have lunch, and I found myself travelling the forty five minutes to Fort Morgan often that school year to respond to her, or her folks' invitation of one sort or another.
At prom time, late in the school year, there were a few days when I did not hear from her, or her folks. I later found out that she wanted to ask me as her date to prom, but neither her folks nor the school thought that was a good idea, and she was on the warpath with both over it. Her parents had shut her down and forbade her to talk to me about the subject; apparently, she was beside herself with angst over it.
She refused two invitations from young men out of her Senior class and went unescorted rather than be 'disloyal' to me, as she had put it later when we discussed it.
I'd known nothing about her struggle and told her she should have been with her own classmates, partying and enjoying their camaraderie at that important time.
I attended her high school graduation ceremony. My gift to her was a complete set of luggage from J.C. Penney's. I also gave free dental exams to her and her entire family; including x-rays, cleaning and full diagnosis of any problems they may have.
Her dad had some serious dental problems and I recommended an oral surgeon to him. The others only had minor, easily repaired issues.
Something had been going on with Brittnay. She turned eighteen in June after her senior year. She said that she was going to put that luggage I'd given her to use, that she had a four week trip that she needed to make. She said she'd be back in Late July or August. Brittnay refused to answer any questions, just reaffirmed her thanks and affection for me.
Then, in mid-June, she was gone.
I took three weeks off in July, around my birthday and flew to Costa Rica, where I toured a volcano, the rain forest, a butterfly museum, an orchid garden, played on the beaches and enjoyed the night life in San Jose.
When I returned to work the first of August, Brittnay still wasn't home and her folks wouldn't talk about where she was. There seemed to be a strain with them, but I couldn't figure why so I just left it alone.
My own outlook on life had improved the past year so much. Brittnay, almost single handedly, brought me out of my funk. This young senior in high school was so effervescent and bright and full of life and love, she had such a positive effect on me. Her family's affection to me was healthy for me and I thrived on their caring.
They all remarked at how much better I looked, how I'd toned, tanned and trained myself to live more healthily. I felt so much better.