Fortuitous Tide

Reminder: Free short story – see below ‘A Pearl for Your Enjoyment’

     The Darling Downs trip was a hoot. Discovered an amazing bookshop/coffee shop/wine bar in Ipswich named “CHAPTERS”. Well worth a visit.

Current Weather and Tides

More of the Australian Light Horsemen research going on and not enough story writing, I’m afraid.  My Master Plan for the 6th novel may have to be reorganized.

Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.

Elizabeth Rimmington

A Pearl for your Enjoyment

This story evolved from a homework writing prompt. “Unusual connection between characters.”

An Unusual Connection

A hushed hustle and bustle swam all around him. Doctor Jerry Thomas’s heart thumped inside his chest as it had every day this week. Following years of study, he was now a registered cardiologist just marking time to complete the last week of his contract before his new status would be recognized. As the scrub nurse handed him a sterile towel to dry his hands before donning his gown and gloves, he glanced through the glass window in the door at his mentor, Doctor Poole, still in the process of his three-minute scrub.

“Ready when you are, Jerry,” the senior anaesthetist gave him the nod to begin the skin preparation and draping of the patient. A multitude of beeps and muted buzzers emanated from the top of the table where tubes and wires hung from drip stands and machines. They wound their way to the patient’s body like great lengths of colourful cooked spaghetti. Having been called into this case as a last-minute assistant, Jerry had not spoken to the patient. He only had time to scan the notes of this Sam Duggan, a 52-year-old mechanic. There had not been time to apply his mind to ask himself what was so familiar about the name. And now, as he painted the antiseptic solution onto the exposed chest, he could not help but notice the well-tanned and muscled body of the sleeping man on the table. Not the usual condition of the many patients he had seen lined up to receive cardiac surgery.

Silence fell upon the room as the chest was exposed and microsurgical repairs began. For the senior surgeon, Doctor Poole, a relatively routine procedure until his curse cut across the room.

“Damn – we have a bleeder here somewhere. Packs, nurse, and keep them coming and have a soft clamp in your hand too. Jerry, keep that suction going, I can’t see a bloody thing.”

“Blood pressure’s dropping,” the voice at the patient’s head called.

Everyone in the room focused their attention on the drama happening inside the wound. Nobody was prepared for the hollow grunt and sigh as Dr. Poole slid unceremoniously to the floor almost dragging the sterile drapes along with him.

“Christ on a bike,” the specialist anaesthetist wasted no time staring at the phenomenon. He called his offsider. “Get Poole away from the table and look after him. Will you be alright, Jerry?”
“Yes, thanks, we have the bleeder – I’ll just tie it now.” Without turning his head from the task at hand he directed his next words to the instrument nurse, “Meg, hand your instrument trolley over to someone else and move around to assist me.”

Later in the day, when back in his civilian clothes, Jerry felt his shoulders sag after having cancelled Doctor Poole’s operating list and visiting the still unconscious man himself. Was this what awaited all work-driven surgeons – an ignominious death at the operating table? Jerry Thomas dragged his hands down his face. He really must take more time out to exercise. At the Intensive Care Unit, he stood at the end of the bed of their one patient from this morning. Sam Duggan sat propped up on a swathe of pillows. It washed over Jerry again – this feeling he should know this man. He cast his eyes down the man’s personal information. A mechanic, activities included motocross riding. Jerry’s eyes swung up to the patient. A bit old for that surely? He thought. Is that where the suntan comes from – unlikely with all the gear they wear? He turned his attention back to the patient details – an avid surfer.

The instant flash of his own surfing experience back when he was a boy of fourteen years, on his first visit to see the ocean, thirty years ago, almost blinded Jerry. Like a kick of a horse, his heart belted his rib cage. A cold wave of fear rushed through his body.

He stood frozen – not seeing the notes in front of his eyes. His vision was of the pounding waves, high above his head. Of his struggle to gasp for breath in between the water washing over him. Of his regret at sneaking out against his parent’s wishes to swim in the early morning surf. Of the sun’s blinding reflection off the surface of the sea.

Of the tall black shadow and the voice, “Here, young ‘un, grab my board.”

The pain as his arm knocked the surfboard. The strong grip of the young man as he lifted him onto the narrow lifesaver. The proficient manipulation of the awkward means of rescue transportation back to the shore with the surfer and an almost drowned lad.

“How is Doctor Poole? I hope he’ll be alright?”

Jerry didn’t hear the man speak at first, caught up in his active memories.

“Sorry, what was that?”

“The nurses said I was a lucky man in the Operating Room. They say it was lucky you were there. You saved my life.”

“I think, Sam Duggan, we may be even. Do you remember dragging a half-drowned kid into shore on your surfboard one morning about thirty years ago?”

“You’re joking – not you?”

“Yes, that was me.”

“Who says there’s no such thing as coincidence.”