An exclusive extra from MERCURY FALLING!
Kerry wasn't supposed to be riding that motorcycle. Lucky for him, one of the first people on the scene was an E.R. nurse named Lucy. What did she think when she 'met' him? I'll let you tell you in her own words...
I hit the brakes when I saw the maroon Buick pulled over at the side of the road. A little old lady stood beside it, wringing her hands, her mouth agape, staring at a motorcycle in the road.
The motorcycle looked bad. Front fender smashed in, twisted chrome glinting in the falling light.
The man who’d been riding it didn’t look a whole lot better; he was sprawled in the middle of the street. No cops or ambulance yet; it must have just happened. As an E.R. nurse, I couldn’t just drive by. I pulled over behind the Buick, already dialing 9-1-1 on my cell phone.
When I saw one of the riders go to help the guy up, I nearly dropped the phone. “Don’t!” I shouted. Three heads turned toward me. These were big guys. Bad-ass looking, with tattoos and bandanas, leather vests with chains. I should have been afraid, but my focus was on the guy in the street.
He wore a leather vest, too, his arms bare except for a tattoo on his left arm. A blue bandana circled his temples, but it didn’t cover his head like the others’ did. Instead, his dark hair was tousled and the front was up-ended by the wind. A short beard covered the lower part of his face.
One of the guys stepped into my path and growled at me: “We take care of our own.”
How stupid is that? His buddy could be bleeding out in the street, and he wanted to pull that macho crap? Those three biker dudes and I squared off right there (I have no idea where I got the courage to do that) —
And then the guy on the pavement moaned.
It was a sound I’d heard many times in the E.R.
I forgot about those bikers as I knelt beside him and did a quick assessment. He didn’t like me touching him, but how else could I see if he had any broken bones?
I pried his wallet out of his back pocket. Kerry Dawson.
“Kerry, I think you hit your head,” I said.
His eyes were blue, like the bandana on his head, and they glinted almost as much as the busted chrome when he told me in no uncertain terms that his name was not Kerry. It was Mercury. “Like Mercury Rising,” he said.
A gang name? (I didn’t know about his childhood then.) Whatever. I just had to keep him conscious, at least until the paramedics arrived. That meant getting him to talk.
“Tell me something about your life,” I said.
He didn’t respond. He’d already turned inward, toward the pain. His eyes were unfocussed but in the falling darkness I couldn’t tell if his pupils were dilated.
“Mercury,” I said. “Stay awake.”
He grumbled something incoherent, and my stomach clenched. I’d seen my share of head injuries in the E.R. Was there bleeding in the brain? Would he end up a vegetable?
“Stay with me, Merc,” I said.
“Lucy.” The sound rumbled up from his chest. “You’re giving me a headache.”
That’s when I knew.
I had to be the one to take care of him in the E.R.