It was a late August night in 1973 and the moon was hanging in the thick
sky like the blade of an axe. It was Michael’s twelfth day in a row on the night shift with the ambulance service, and his patience for the job was wearing thin. The late shift always threw in an extra dose of irritation because of the stupid and the crazy he would have to deal with when the sun went down. On this night it was Charlie’s turn to drive, which left Michael in the back of the new white and blue ambulance tending to the emergency cases. Kentucky
After a relatively uneventful night (for once), Michael was sitting up front with Charlie and eating some fries at the local drive in. Charlie, as usual, was complaining about his relationship problems, but Michael had heard it all before. He nodded and pretended to listen while he sat there eating his fries, barely paying attention to the chatter from the driver’s seat. Michael fell into his own mind.
He was 24. Sure, he had a good job where he did something important, but wasn’t there more? He had been in some serious relationships and some not so serious ones, but he just never found any reason to stick around. What did the designs of fate have in store? Just then the scanner in the ambulance sounded to life. There was a wreck not to far from them. Single car. Injury. Sounded like another drunk to Michael.
Charlie whipped the ambulance out of the drive thru and flicked the blue lights on. It was 3 in the morning – he was going to try to avoid using the sirens. The last thing the ambulance service needed right now was more bad press due to waking the quiet residential neighborhood.
As they approached the site of the wreck, they saw what Michael estimated to be a 1972 black Chevy Monte Carlo wrapped around a telephone pole. Charlie guided the ambulance to a stop, and both men jumped out and with practiced efficiency and skill, they removed the driver from the car and loaded him on the stretcher. They could smell the bad bourbon coating the man and saw a half empty bottle settled in the floor board. The man was injured, but nothing life threatening. The local hospital was only nine blocks away and the pair of EMTs knew this man would have to be taken in.
After they loaded the stretcher into the back, Michael hopped in and began his work checking the man’s vitals. He knew he wouldn’t have time to do much in nine blocks, but he had to have these on record and he figured he could at least try to stop the bleeding on the drunk’s head – it was a brand new ambulance after all.
Charlie jumped into the driver’s seat just as the police pulled up. He rolled down his window and told the officer the situation and then they were off. It wasn’t a long drive and nothing critical, so Charlie wasn’t using the sirens or the lights this time. He reached over and grabbed a French fry from Michael’s bag and glanced into his rearview mirror. Where the hell was Michael? He then caught a glimpse of arms and legs flailing in the back.
Michael had just begun to apply pressure to the drunk’s head wound and get him cleaned up a bit when the man began to rouse. His grays eyes flicked open and went wide. The drunk began to mumble and struggle against the EMT. Michael calmly explained to the man that he was drunk and that he had been involved in a car accident and they were on the way to the hospital. At this statement, the man exploded into action. The struggle intensified and it was everything Michael could do to restrain the man. Then, from underneath his tattered suit jacket the drunk pulled a .38 revolver and pointed it straight at Michael and demanded to be released.
The fight was on.
Michael had been a High School football player and a damned good one at that. Michael had size. He had been in the army and had served a tour in
. Michael had skill. He had realized that his life had so much more for him in store if he could make it through this ambulance ride. There was no way some drunk in the back of this ambulance was going to seal his fate. The tired EMT was jolted with adrenaline and grabbed the gun in his left hand and proceeded to use his right to beat the drunk. The drunk was attempting to fight back, but he was at a severe disadvantage. Arms and legs were flailing and he was losing badly. This kid could hit! Vietnam
The tangle of the two men fighting slammed against the wall in the ambulance and Charlie hit the breaks. Michael knew he had some back up coming, but he had already wrestled the gun away from the man. Charlie swung open the backdoor and saw the drunk much worse for the wear. Michael let loose one final haymaker that knocked the man out. Medical equipment was scattered and Michael’s hair and clothes were disheveled. The EMT’s strapped the drunk tightly to the stretcher, assuring that they would not have a repeat. As Charlie was tightening a strap he noticed an indention above the drunk’s left eye. It appeared to say “Class of 1968”. He glanced at Michael’s right hand and there sat an emerald class ring with “Class of 1968”. Holy shit! That kid can hit.
Michael glanced down at the floor to see the mess their scuffle had created and saw, lying on top on some bandages, an ATF badge. He pointed it out to Charlie whose eyes widened. Time to go. They quickly drove to the hospital, making sure to use the lights this time and they were sure they were gone before the drunk regained consciousness.