Home > Surprise Delivery(12)

Surprise Delivery(12)
Author: R.R. Banks

“I don't know that we're going to be able to save the leg, Doctor Clyburne,” Sandra says.

“Watch me.”

I'm not one who backs down from a challenge, nor am I one who accepts defeat or failure. Yes, there are times when you just have to throw in the towel. There are times when nothing can be done to stave off the inevitable. But, until I explore and exhaust every single avenue open to me, I refuse to accept the inevitable.

As far as I'm concerned, a kid this age shouldn't have to gimp around on one leg simply because it's more expedient for me to give up and move on to the next patient, than it is to put in a little extra time to see if I can fix it.

“Doctor –”

I look up at Sandra. I haven't worked with her all that often yet, but I know she's a good nurse. Smart, efficient, and really knows her shit. I know she thinks we're wasting time – especially given the backlog of people who need help out there. But this is my operating theater and I'm the one in charge. I appreciate all she does and her professionalism, but my personal feeling is that she's sometimes too quick to cut her losses and move on.

“I've got this, Sandra,” I say.

“We have more patients waiting –”

“We've triaged everybody and those still waiting have been stabilized,” I tell her.

“I know, but –”

“Look,” I snap. “My operating theater, my rules. I'm not giving up just yet, so if you don't like it and want to tap out, just make sure you find somebody to replace you in here.”

“Of course,” she says. “I'm sorry, Doctor Clyburne, I didn't mean to –”

“It's fine,” I grumble. “Just clamp that off and be ready to give me what I call for without question or hesitation – this is going to get a little bit tricky.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Good. With the status quo restored, I get back to doing what I do – which is saving not just this kid's life, but his leg as well.

“I – I have to apologize, Doctor Clyburne.”

I look up as I'm pulling off my gown and tossing it into the receptacle to see Sandra walk into the locker room, the door swinging shut behind her. Stepping over to the sink, I start to wash up, my surgical shift done for the day. I still have some follow up with patients to do, but the rest of the night is mine to do with as I please.

Not that the nightlife around here is anything to write home about – not unless getting shot or blown up is your idea of a good time.

“It's fine, Sandra,” I say. “I understand why you felt like we should move on.”

“Well, I was wrong,” she says. “The work you did on that boy's leg – it was masterful. Amazing.”

“We don't know yet if it will hold,” I reply. “He could still very well lose it.”

“I'm pretty sure he doesn't have to worry about that,” she says. “You fixed it. I didn't think it was possible, but you did it.”

I shrug and dry off my hands. All I want is to go back to my quarters, have a drink, and relax. Maybe I'll read a book, or maybe I'll just sleep. I've been on my feet for the last twelve hours and need some downtime.

“I'm not one who gives up very easily,” I say.

“I can see that,” she replies. “Honestly, I'm sorry I questioned you in front of –”

I hold up my hand to stop her. “Don't worry about it,” I tell her. “No harm done. All that matters, is that our patient gets better. Have a good evening.”

Before she can reply, I walk out of the locker room and head down the corridor toward my room. We're being housed in a formerly abandoned apartment building that's been repurposed for us and is attached to the small medical compound. There's a large, thick wall that surrounds the whole campus meant to keep us safe, but kind of looks more like we're being kept in a prison. It's only two stories and doesn't have a lot of amenities, but I've got a bed to lay down on at night and a shower that has hot water – most of the time – so I'm making do. Although, I wouldn't mind a more comfortable mattress and some softer pillows.

Closing the door behind me, I immediately pour a stiff drink, then swallow half of it down, relishing the burn as the liquid slips down my throat. I may not have four hundred thread count sheets, but I sure as hell found a way to get some of the good scotch into this place – which kind of tells me where my priorities are at.

But, given the shit I see on a daily basis – the bodies that are torn and broken – I usually need something to take the edge off. Just a little something to dull the nerves and soften the horrors I see every single day. I'm not squeamish about blood – it would be a pretty bad phobia to have as a surgeon, after all – but seeing women and children either riddled with bullets or after being savaged by an explosive isn't ever the easiest thing to deal with.

So, I cope with it the best way I know how – sarcasm and good scotch. It's how I cope and make it through the day. Yeah, I know I signed up for this, but the idea of being in a warzone and the reality of it are two different things entirely. To be perfectly honest, the reality of it wasn't something I was prepared for. It's not like any TV show or movie I've ever seen – it's a whole shitload worse.

But I'm handling it – and, in the process, I'm doing some good.

I finish off my drink and pour another one, then drop down into the chair at the scarred and nicked up desk that came with the room. I lean back in the seat and put my feet up on the desk, sipping my drink slowly as I replay the day.

There had been two guys – maybe my age, maybe a little bit older – who'd come through my operating theater today covered in blood. Fighters, the both of them. Also, they had both taken several bullets and had lost a lot of blood out on the battlefield out there.

Neither one of them made it.

The kid, though – when I first saw his face, I didn't think we were going to be able to save his life, let alone his leg. He's just so young – too young to know the kind of hatred and pain he's enduring. The moment I saw him, I vowed to myself that I wasn't going to lose another one today. I vowed that I would do everything in my power to not only save his life, but his leg as well.

I understand why Sandra was freaking out on me a bit. What I was doing was probably a little unorthodox. It wasn't the usual way of doing things – not even for battlefield surgery. But I was bound and determined to save that kid and make him whole again.

And for that, I'm proud. He's got a long road to a full recovery ahead of him, there's no question. But I'm pretty sure I saved his leg. I'm pretty sure I gave him another shot at a normal life. As I sit back and take another long drink, I feel damn good about it. So good, it almost wipes away the frustration over losing the first two. It almost balances the scales in my head.

Almost.

As I silently bask in my victory over death, my eyes fall on a picture I have pinned to the wall just over the desk. It's from the charity gala where I first met Alexis. It's been a few weeks since that night and I haven't been able to stop thinking about her. Images of her constantly run through my mind – it's all I can do to shut that part of my brain down while I'm working. The last thing I need is to be elbow deep in somebody's guts and have Alexis' face dancing through my head.

I have to say, the effect she had on me is profound. I've never experienced something like that with a woman before. The connection that formed between us was as powerful as it was instant, and it left both of us pretty shook. Yet I can't deny that it felt good. It felt – right.

It's still unbelievable to me, even a few weeks removed from it, that I still feel this gravitational pull toward her. And it hasn't diminished one iota. It's something I've spent a lot of time thinking about, but something I don't feel I'm any closer to having an answer to.

It'd be easy to say that she's beautiful and the attraction is purely physical. Lust can often confuse things and make you think you're feeling something you're not. And Alexis is definitely beautiful. She's gorgeous, in fact.

But, it's not just that. It's not just her physical beauty that's drawing me. I know I only got to spend what amounts to a few hours with her, but I found her to be funny and charming as hell. She's tougher than nails, yet still has a big, compassionate heart. She's also incredibly intelligent, which, truth be told, is what I consider to be her best feature.

It's her brains that draw me like the proverbial moth to a flame. Intelligence has always been my biggest weakness – and the thing I've found most lacking in the women I've been out with. Alexis is smart as hell and she's not ashamed of it. Unlike some women, she doesn't feel the need to hide it or dumb herself down for the sake of anybody. It seems rare to find in somebody and I appreciate that about her.

I drain the last of my drink and set my glass down on the table. Standing up, I strip off my scrubs and head into the bathroom, needing a hot shower. Dropping my scrubs in the hamper for the laundry service, I walk in and turn on the water, giving it a minute to heat up. As it does, I step over to the mirror and stare at my reflection for a moment.

I'm just thirty-six years old, but I'm already seeing flecks of gray in my dark hair here and there. I'll probably be fully salt and peppered before too long. There are even a few gray whiskers in my stubble making me suddenly feel a little older than I actually am. My body is still lean and toned – it's something I work hard at. Staying active and physically fit is important to me and even though the gym we have here at our compound isn't great, it's better than nothing.

When the steam begins billowing out of the shower and starts to fill the bathroom, I step in and pull the curtain closed behind me. I lean forward and press my head to the cool tile of the shower stall, letting the heat in the water wash down over me, kneading at my muscles like a masseuse. Bit by bit, the tension in me starts to ease and I begin to grow a bit more relaxed – though I'm sure the scotch is helping in that department.

   
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