I have told you that on night shift with EMS we all have to know each other well. We‑mix and match on many nights. If one person’s partner calls in sick or has a V-day, we easily match with someone else. We all do well, as long as none of us gets stuck with Deafendum. On this particular night, I was paired with Mick. I do not recall why, perhaps Boom called in. At any rate, I was used to working with Mick because when he came to Louisville, fresh from New York, we were partners. We worked together about six months. We were close friends and worked well together.
Unfortunately, on this hot summer night, we loaded up and were ready to go 10-8 when Hollywood (he does all the ambulance maintenance)‑told us to hold up. We waited to see what the problem was. Here came Deafendum, scurrying, his jump kit in his hand. He jumped into the back of our ambulance.‑ Lacking a partner that night, they stuck us with him. Mick and I gave collective groans and hoped that he would stay in the back of the ambulance whilst it was unoccupied, keep quiet, and stay out of the way at the scenes. It had been noted that he had taken to reading a Bible in-between runs. He kept it in his jump kit along with his deodorant, make up, brushes and combs. He was so odd, yet so ingratiating that most of the crews just shook their heads and ignored him. He had, as of late, decided to become a preacher, and we hoped that he would enter a seminary sooner than later.‑
“Med 33″… Tick was on the radio.‑ I picked up the mike and responded, “Med 33”.‑ Tick said in his even voice:‑ “Make 4216 W.‑ Muhammad Ali on a 1039.‑ Run number 2416. Be advised LPD en route”. Mick and I both whooped together as Mick hit the lights and siren.‑ The most coveted run in the service was a shooting. I responded evenly, “Med 33’s okay, radio”.‑ ALL RIGHT!‑ The first run out of the night. Shootings delivered all the drama that one could hope for.‑ Great excitement at the scene, police cars, lights, media, (yes, they monitored our radios and turned up at scenes) and crowds of spectators…it all blended together to give the greatest reward for adrenalin junkies… which would be us. Shootouts were even more dramatic and many times the assailants would still be at the scene, so we would hold back until LPD had cleared the scene for EMS to approach safely.‑ Everyone wanted to make the shootings. Shootings were very frequent during the hot summer nights, and you had to guard your territory, as other units would radio in that they were closer, trying to jump your run.‑ So there were always the rascals to look out for. They would radio in and give Tick a fake 10-20 to appear closer. If there was competition on the street, it was for the coveted 10-39’s.
But, this run did not deliver the excitement that most shootings do. This was a tragedy. The person who was shot was a suicide. It was evident as we carefully entered (always aware that we were in a crime scene and not stepping on evidence or through anything-like the blood). We saw a man laying on his back, and there was so much blood that we had to make a large arc around him so as not to disturb the scene. The back of his head was shot off and his partial skull lay on the floor close to the door. A receiver was dangling from a phone on the wall.‑ Our subject had called his girlfriend and told her this was her fault, and then she heard a shot. That was the end.‑It always made me wonder what had happened between the lines. I wanted the larger story, but of course, we only had the scene and the death. It wasn’t a fun run, like we had anticipated. It was tragic. Suicide is always tragic. We had little to do, and, in fact, did nothing except talk with LPD and start making our report. Mick and I were both affected the same and did not speak.‑ Deafendum stood outside the door, never having mustered the courage to enter. We had forgotten that we had him with us.
You know how, when you go out a screen door, you are looking forward at whatever is outside…and then, suddenly, something much closer catches your eye, and your eyes focus on the immediate thing in front of you? Well, this happened to Mick and I as we were about to press open the screen door.‑ It seemed to happen to both of us at once.‑ There, stabbed into the screen door, were about 20 to 25 short braids with rubber bands tied around the ends. They were all stuck in the mesh of the screen. They had been‑projected into the screen as the guy blew the back of his head off.
Mick and I stopped stone cold still.‑ We stared. Neither of us spoke. We carefully opened the screen door then‑walked to the ambulance and climbed into the back for whatever reason, I’m not sure. I do remember Deffendum was sitting up in the driver’s seat, and I thought to myself that he must have taken the drivers seat because he would have been expected to drive whilst Mick and I worked the patient in the back.‑ Mick and I sat across from each other, he on the stretcher and I on the jump seat.‑ I remember we were looking down. We were silent. Pretty soon, Deafendum said, “Mae-eeeee” (he had such a hillbilly accent that he‑could make the name Mae into two syllables). It startled me from my trance. Then I heard him say, “Micckkkk?????”‑ Mick almost moaned as he was broken from his thoughts. “What?”‑ He said,‑‑”I need to ask you’ns a question”.‑ Lord have mercy, what did this numbskull need to ask?‑ What WAS there to ask?‑ But, attempting tolerance, Mick said, “What?”‑‑ Deffendum said,‑ “Do y’all thank he kin go to heaven since he done shot himself?”‑
And so it went…someone had to get Deaffendum. That night he was ours.
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