"And Then They Came..." (Chapter LXXVII)
Jeannie was brought out of the emergency treatment area some forty-five minutes after the nurse attending her took her there.
The large bruise on her left shoulder had been dressed, as well as a small cut on her left cheek.
Like the medic in the truck had initially determined, she had suffered no dislocated or broken bones, even though she had received a nasty contusion that—by the time she was examined—had mostly turned purple and black, and covered most of her shoulder.
She had been prescribed two weeks of antibiotics to counteract any foreign bacteria she had swallowed during her near drowning experience in the flooded canal, plus a heavy dose of ibuprofen to lessen the pain in her arm and shoulder. She was also administered an IV, since she was very dehydrated, but she refused to lay down in a bed, and instead was allowed to carry the IV hanging from a metal pole in her wheelchair.
She had insisted on walking, but her attending nurse would not have it, and in any event, the attached IV had settled the argument.
She allowed the nurse to wheel her to the operating rooms’ waiting area on the fourth floor, where she was surprised to find Michelle, Lucas’ injured sister, sitting in another wheelchair between Archie and Michael.
The two sisters-in-law embraced, both trying unsuccessfully not to cry.
“You’re out of your bed!” Jeannie said in an astonished voice.
For a moment, Michelle was at a loss for words, her emotions getting the better of her.
“Michael has been telling us what happened. I knew you were one hell of a woman. After all, you married my brother, and that by itself is a very brave thing to do,” she said, raising one eyebrow and smiling amusedly. “But the things you did today!”
“I’d say she would be a better candidate for sainthood,” said Michael, trying, like Michelle, to lighten the mood.
“You are so much more than that,” Michelle said, tears streaming from her eyes. “You are a hero. Thank you for saving Lucas’ life.”
“It was Michael who saved us,” Jeannie protested. “I just went along for the ride.”
“That’s not true,” Michael replied, “but I’ll take it. If you want to make a special news report in WKPA about me when things are better,” he said to Michelle, “I won’t charge you that much for it. Not cheap, mind you, but not excessively expensive.”
Michelle smiled at him.
“You are such a big jerk,” she said to him.
“So in one moment, I go from a hero to a jerk,” he remarked in a resigned tone, pretending to be insulted. He shrugged. “It’s good to get back to normal.”
“Not until we get Lucas back with us,” Jeannie responded with a sad smile, her eyes dampening despite her brave expression.
“Not until we get Lucas back with us,” Michael repeated soberly. “And Ojeda. Don’t forget Ojeda.”
“That will hopefully be soon,” Michelle interjected.
Jeannie extended her hand to hold Michelle’s, and they stayed that way for a long time, without uttering another word.
Outside, the storm raged on, its wind as well as sudden bands of rain making themselves felt on the metal shutters of the hall.
Periodically, loud crashes would be heard from the other side of the windows, or the shutters would rattle and shake, as if Fay was trying to get inside.
Finally, about two hours later, a man in rumpled, green scrubs walked into the waiting room.
In his fifties, wearing large, dark glasses, and with a brisk nasal voice, he looked quickly around the room, and said, “Alfaro. Anybody here from the Alfaro family?”
Jeannie, Michael, and Archie sprang to their feet, while Michelle leaned forward over her knees.
“We all are,” Michael said for the rest of them.
The doctor nodded, as if he had been expecting that answer.
“I am Dr. Agüero. I’m the doctor who did the surgery on Lucas. We just finished. I can tell you that he is doing very well, considering the injuries he sustained. He lost a lot of blood, and he’s in a very delicate state, but he’s stable. He had two bullet wounds in his left leg. One of the bullets got miraculously lodged in his left calf, between the tibia—the thicker bone—and the fibula, the thin front bone. But it didn’t hit either bone. I don’t understand how that happened, because the bullet should have torn right through the leg. It’s as if it had first lost part of its force, as if it had struck something first, and then hit the leg. There were some tiny splinters on the bullet, so it may have been that it hit wood before it struck his leg. We'll have to see.”
The doctor paused, to collect his thoughts.
“Whatever it was, the bullet was lodged there, in the fleshy area. His fibula got grazed by a second bullet, but the damage could have been a lot, lot worse. I mean, it’s still serious—his fibula is fractured—a hairline fracture—but…” he shook his head in amazement, “I’ve never seen a partial hairline fracture in the fibula, because it’s such a narrow bone. I’ve always seen it either completely broken or intact. In his case, it suffered a hairline fracture. Some ligaments and muscle tissue were torn, and he’ll have to undertake rehabilitative therapy, and will limp for a while, but I think he’ll fully recover.”
“Thank God!” Archie said, while Jeannie and Michelle embraced.
Michael beamed at Jeannie.
“I told you he would be okay,” he said to her, grinning with relief.
Then his expression sobered.
“How about Ojeda?” he inquired.
“Ojeda, the other wounded man who came in with Lucas,” Michael replied.
“I’ve been with Mr. Alfaro all this time. I’ll have to ask.”
The doctor walked out of the waiting room, while Lucas’ family continued to celebrate his survival.
He returned a couple of minutes later, looking concerned.
“I’m told by the head nurse that he’s still in the surgery room, and that he’s in critical condition. Apparently, he received some very serious stab wounds.”
He looked at Michael.
“We’ve alerted the police about the attack you suffered, by the way. But until the hurricane weakens, they won’t be able to come here to talk to you, or go to your house.”
“Her house,” Michael said to the doctor, tilting his head towards Jeannie.
“I’m sorry,” Agüero said to her. “I’m not very familiar with the facts. But like I said before, the police won’t be able to get to your home until some time after the hurricane leaves us.”
Jeannie nodded, not saying anything.
“That’s okay,” Michael muttered. “It’s not that we have anywhere to go right now. How long before we can see Lucas?”
“It will be a while before he wakes up from the anesthesia,” Dr. Agüero replied. “When he does wake up, we’ll take him to a room. I can find out where he’s going to be taken with the head nurse, and you can all wait for him there,” the doctor suggested.
“No,” Jeannie said. “At least as far as I’m concerned, I’ll wait here. I want to see him as soon as he’s awake.”
“I think we’ll all wait,” Michelle added, confirming by everyone else’s nod that she spoke for all of them.
(Chapter LXXVIII will be posted on Monday, January 18)