"Larry. I'm sorry, I just don't understand."
"Angie, It's really simple. I am moving out. By the time you get home from work tomorrow I will have my things."
"But where are you going?" I asked it, even though I wasn't sure I wanted to know.
"You can reach me through my mother," the voice of my soon to be estranged husband came through my cell phone...
The phone went dead before I could understand exactly what it all meant. I fought to maintain control of my emotions. I had to hold on, since I was riding on the interstate highway in the back of an ambulance. It was true that the woman on the stretcher wasn't going to know what a wreck I was. She wasn't dead, She was just in a semiconscious state. A lot of our weekday runs were what we called 'granny totes'. Someone had to carry the nursing home patients to the hospital. If they were too out of it to sit in the facility's van we usually got the call.
The private ambulance and rescue service, which employed me, was 25% cheaper than the County EMS service, so we were the carrier of choice for Medicaid and Medicare. Every third day I carried somebody's granny to the doctor or hospital during the day. On the overnight part of my 24 hour shift we assisted the County EMS guys. Most evenings until 11PM, we watched TV or played cards between the few calls which came in. Some night we worked the whole shift but most shifts didn't get busy until 11PM. Then we often stayed busy until 3AM. During those hours we uduslly rolled on several minor injury calls. Usually those were drunks, who convinced themselves that they were dying, or some drunk who beat up on some other drunk over a drunk chick. The worst of all was when a drunk driver who ran into a sober person. Some poor smuck on the way home from work. Generally the smuck got the worst of it.
If it sounds as though I had very little empathy for my clients, it was from the two years of experiences which I had already endured. High ideals and the desire to be of service didn't last long in the real world of an EMS worker, even the privately employed ones.
"What's going on Angie?" my partner asked. She had heard me talking to Larry. All of us were nosy as hell. It came with the job, I think.
"I'm not sure Lois. That was Larry on the phone and I think he is moving out," I admitted through the small sliding window which connected the front and back workers. Lois had to drive, since she had the lesser degree. I had to attend to the patient, it was protocol.
"Oh honey, I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do?"
"I don't have any idea why he is leaving or what I did. I thought everything was fine." I didn't expect her to have an answer, since I was just mumbling out loud. They say a baby puts stress on a marriage, but I can't see that Lucy changed anything at all. There might be a few less dollars around for toys, otherwise she didn't make much difference to Larry. I was the one who did most of the work. I had never supposed the one night in three that he had to care for her could be a problem.
I was deep in shock, so trying to figure out the why of it at that moment was a waste of my time. Still I couldn't help trying to get a handle on it. I have always been one of those take charge people, so leaving it be was impossible.
"You two seemed so perfect for each other. At least from what little I know." What she didn't say thankfully was that Larry and I were exactly alike. Larry is an accountant and a bit of a nerd. Everyone who ever knew me, used the same terms to describe me as well. Probably why Lois thought we were a perfect match. Most of the time I felt that Lois would rather have had a different partner. One a little less straight, but she had been assigned to me in lieu of being fired. Lois was a leather lesbian, at least that is what I had been told, when Julie paired her with me. Since I was stable and hardly her type, she was put with me as a last resort. All the other female EMS workers were afraid of her. Julie insinuated that some of the men were as well. Everyone said Lois had a bad temper. I had personally never seen it.
"Julie told me that, if I go off on you, I am fired. I will honestly try to put up with your freaky personality, if you will do the same for me." She suggested on our first day. The deal had worked for almost a year. She had been offered a permanent change of partners while I was on maternity leave the month before, but she decided to wait for me to return. I guess we got along better than I thought. Even so, I was surprised at her level of concern about Larry leaving.
I was shaky all afternoon, but I managed to keep the old folks alive until they reached the hospital. It wasn't nearly as hard as it sounds. Most of them needed nothing more than monitoring while their oxygen tanks forced gas into their lungs. After five when things slowed down I called my mom.
"Hello mom," I said when she answered her phone.
"Hello Angie, is everything alright?"
"Why do you ask?"
"What do you mean, I always ask. Is something wrong?"
"Has Larry called you?"
"No, Angie is something wrong?"
"Mom can Lucy sleep over with you tonight?"
"Well I was planning an orgy, but I can postpone it. Of course she can sleep over, I never do anything since your dad died." What she said was true enough mom didn't have a life since Dad had an early heart attack two years earlier. At least that is what I have though when I asked her to sit with Lucy while Larry worked. "Now what is going on?"
"Larry called, he dropped a bomb on me. He said he would be moved out by morning. I assume that means he won't be coming for Angie after work."
There was a long silence then Mom said, "If that son of bitch does try to take her, he will get an ass full of bird shot. I haven't sold your dad's guns yet and I knew how to use them."
"Easy there Dirty Harriet. I don't think he wants Angie. Hell that might be what this is all about. I have no idea why he is leaving me."
"Because he is an idiot asshole, that's why," Mom said. "We are going to need a new plan. I'll give it some thought tonight. We will talk in the morning."
"Well, I'm sure we can count on Larry doing the right thing," I said trying to calm her down. She was speaking in a louder, and higher pitched voice than usual.
"Oh, you bet your ass he is going to do the right thing. Your Uncle John will see to that."
Uncle John was arguably the best criminal lawyer in the state. He was part of the Adams Mafia, as my mom referred to her family. She had three brothers, each meaner than the other, in his own way, she was fond of telling people.
"Your Uncle John will see to it that Larry never has enough money to buy a pizza for another woman." I laughed and a second later she joined me. "That does sound a little spiteful doesn't it." she added.
"Just a little. I needed the laugh though so don't worry about how it sounds. I have to run, I'll see you in the morning."
"Okay and don't you worry about Lucy, we will work something out."
"Thanks mom, I appreciate all you have done for me so far. I know I'm going to be even more of a pain now."
"Don't worry honey, this will all work out. You have a great family and lots of friends behind you." With those words the phone went dead. I could just imagine her making phone calls and scheming the rest of the evening. There might not be a gathering of the Adam's Mafia, but there would be plenty of telephone consultations. After all I was the only female child in my generation. The Uncles would fall all over themselves to help me, that I could count on. Their father, Jonathan Adams, had preached to all his children, that it was family first, then the weak, who were the ones worth helping. But it was always family first.
That evening at work was pretty much the same as every other one Well they are never exactly the same, but there were the lulls and the spurts of activity at more or less the normal intervals. I cried a lot during the lulls and cursed some during the spurts of activity. It was a roller coaster ride that night for sure.
When I hit the bed at 3:30AM, I was totally exhausted. I shed a few tears, but only a few before I drifted off to sleep. We had a 6AM call the next morning. One of the patients at a nursing facility was almost finished. Lois and I loaded her into the Ambulance. I barely kept her alive long enough to make it to the hospital, but I managed to deliver her still breathing, even if it was shallow and labored. I didn't want the lady to die in my ambulance, any more than the facility wanted her to die in their care.
After the delivery, Lois and I stopped for breakfast. We often did that if the shift ended within an hour of clearing the hospital.
"So are you alright?" Lois asked over her runny eggs.
"Define alright," I said with as much of a smile as I could manage. "If you consider not suicidal as alright, then yeah I'm alright."
"Good, then I won't worry about you."
"You can always worry, it can't hurt," I said with a real smile.
Just like most days, when we went out to breakfast on the clock, we managed to finish the meal then check out without anything else happening. I drove to my mom's small frame ranch style house. I was planning to pick up Lucy, then drive to my rented townhouse style apartment.
"Come on in, and tell me how you are," Mom suggested.
"I'm fine and I should take Lucy and go. You have been busy with her long enough."
"Lucy is a joy. She is much better behaved than you were." It was meant to needle me, then she realized it wasn't the right time for it. "She is better behaved but you were more animated so more fun. That wasn't right either," she said.
.... There is more of this story ...