"You've been shot" the doctor said,
Dave grinned somewhat sourly, "Congratulations doc"
She returned his grin but I detected a hint of respect,
"You have a spinal oedema"
"Yes" he said, "I've noticed"
"So why did you call me?"
"I didn't, she did" he inclined his head in my direction,
"Because one minute he was standing at the window and the next he was on the floor, crying, have you ever seen a man cry doctor, a strong man?"
"Many times" she said and stood up, "But you obviously haven't, so let me tell you this Jackie, I've known this bloody idiot for a long time, he's a fool, albeit a nice fool, even a sexy fool, but one day that leg will give way completely and for ever, when that happens, I recommend that you shoot the bugger, because putting him in a wheelchair would be like keeping a tiger in a cage"
She stood up and kissed him on his cheek then took my arm as we went to the door,
"I take it you love him?"
I wasn't sure what I saw in her eyes, but it was more than professional interest,
"We're getting married next month"
"Tell me doctor please" I begged, "I honestly don't know much about him, other than that he's the nicest bloke I've ever met"
"I can't Jackie" she said, "Patient confidentiality and all that"
"Give me a clue, a hint, anything"
She went back into the living room and told him that she was off duty,
"I'm taking this lovely young lady for a drink and I'm going to tell her your problem, all right?"
"Yeah no problem, don't worry about me, I'll be all right, if I happen to fall over and break my neck, don't worry, or if I die here on the sofa, no problem"
She giggled, "Ok"
I was in a bit of a daze, I knew Dave had been shot in Belfast, but I found her casual attitude hard to swallow, he walked with a slight limp, but compared to his grin, his eyes and his ready Irish wit, it was hardly noticeable,
In the pub, she explained to me that as well as the burns when the bullet went in, he'd suffered severe trauma, he'd lain in the street for more than an hour until the army had been sure that his body (that's what they thought he was, a body) hadn't been booby trapped.
"He's done most of the damage himself Jackie" she said, "By his bloody stupid insistence on walking again, if he'd have just settled back and accepted that he was a cripple, he'd be fine now"
"But he can bloody walk!" I almost shouted at her, until I saw she was smiling,
"He really is a remarkable man Jackie, but" she held my hand, "Just get ready to be married to him in a wheelchair darling, I love that bloody fool like anything and I only wish I was twenty years younger, I'd have given you a run for your money"
I believed her.
It happened at a road block, what they called a V.C.P. a vehicle check point in West Belfast, the unit he commanded had been given information that a certain car was heading into the city from the South.