Saturday, June 27, 2020

Part 3

Chapter 13

As the ambulance pulled into the bay at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Emergency receiving area, Katie mumbled into Nick’s chest as she kept her head down as if listening for his heart, begging God to not let it stop beating. One hand went up to his face as she began reminiscing about that date night, reminding him of some of the highlights in a quiet tone. The female EMT heard enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together. She assumed Katie to be Nick Thomas’s mysterious, notorious, and anonymous Princess Cindy to whom he wrote his liner notes in his Love’s Muses album two years prior. She kept staring at Katie through the rear-view mirror, smiling as she was in on the secret of the decade. Katie caught her looking at her with that, I-gotcha-look. She read the panic on Katie’s face and knew of Katie’s well-known compulsion to maintain as much privacy in her life as a viral author could. 
“Ma’am we’re not allowed to share anything that has been said with anyone. No one will know what you said in this ambulance except you, us, and God, and maybe your superstar. You do realize that sometimes the unconscious can hear us, right?”  
“I’ve heard that, but if he wakes and claims he heard it, I’m going to pass it of as ‘in his dreams only.” She gave a whimpering laugh. 
“Don’t worry Mrs. Moore, no one will ever find out from us, so feel free to let your love inspire him to fight.” Katie laid her head back down and continued to try and make her heart and spirit speak to his, hoping to remind him of that soul swapping they did that night when they kissed.  The female exited her driver’s seat and opened the door from outside, as she put her hand out for Katie to jump down. Her landing was less than perfect, causing Katie her second dizzy spell of the evening. The male EMT caught her as she swayed. 
“You okay, Mrs. Moore?” She nodded as she grabbed her forehead. 
“I didn’t stick the landing so well, now did I?” She cackled. Both seemed concerned and noticed her frail waif like thin body. 
“Ma’am, I don’t mean to pry, but you look like you need a month of Sunday dinners, at one sitting, even,” the female attendant said. Katie looked down at the unconscious Nick as they pulled him out and released the legs of the gurney. 
“Oh, I have a feeling his Gran could take care of that, couldn’t she, Nicky,” she said trying desperately to wake him even as to call him the name he loathed being called by anyone except his Gran and Gramps. 
One of the attendants handed the bag to Katie. She followed the gurney into the treatment room when Nick’s phone began to vibrate and ring. Katie stepped out of the treatment room and searched the bag for his phone. When she dug it out, she noted that the caller ID said Mom. She declined to answer. She did not know his mother and with the rivalry as fierce and malicious as it was, the last person with whom Katie would want to speak was Nick’s mother. 
An emergency room trauma clerk asked Katie about personal information regarding Nick’s address, insurance, and next of kin. Katie pulled his wallet out of the clear plastic bag, hoping that his license and insurance card were there, and to her relief, they were.
As she pulled out the necessary cards a worn folded piece of paper, fell out on the floor. She quickly picked it up, noticing the resemblance of her pink UK hat. She unfolded the paper, and it was the picture that floated around the Internet of Nick and Katie cuddling in the booth at the Circle City Bar and Grille. Someone who was at the Circle City at the time they were there, uploaded a picture of a woman in a pink hat quite cozy with Nick Thomas in that booth.
Tears formed in her eyes at the thought of Nick carrying this picture around with him at all times. It had been opened and folded many times, she could tell by how worn the creases were. The light at the pub was dimly lit, and the fuzziness of the blurred picture kept Katie’s face from being clearly defined, thus hiding her identity. Everyone in the media and Nick’s fans were putting pressure on Nick to reveal her identity, which he refused to do. 
The teachers at her school recognized the hat as similar to one of her favorites, but those who knew Katie were sworn to secrecy. Julianna likewise was duly warned not to let that hat out of the house, nor to let any of her girlfriends see it. One day, when Katie caught Julianna showing off the hat, she confiscated Julianna’s most treasured possession, never returning it, leaving a rift between her and Julianna.  
In the fast-paced world run by social media, news of Nick laying on the lap of his fiercest rival went viral instantly. Katie looked at that picture and remembered meeting Shawn. She contemplated calling him from Nick’s phone. While Katie was thinking about Shawn, Cathy was debriefing an oblivious Shawn who was in Jerry's vehicle heading back to Nashville, broken, and very discouraged.  He would soon end Katie’s indecisiveness by calling Nick’s phone after heard a sketchy story from his very curious and worried wife.   
The car ride back to Nashville was a somber ride. The three men were all saddened to lose their friend Nicolas Paul to the bottle and the whack job. Shawn was the one with the worst of the broken spirits. Nick was the brother Shawn never had, but always wanted. Likewise, Shawn was Nick’s wise counsel and best friend, closer than a brother. Shawn had drifted off to sleep for only a few moments, but then awoke to the ringtone on his phone. 
“Shawn, what the heck is going on?” His wife Cathy asked on the other end of the line. “What the heck is Nick doing punching out a State Trooper? Shawn, still drowsy from his short nap, rubbed his eyes then his hand through his hair. 
“I don’t know what you are talking about. Where did you hear this?” Shawn asked. Mike turned his head to face the back, curious as to what Shawn was talking about with his wife. “Cath’ we are not in Lexington any more. I didn’t have the heart to tell you. We all quit.” 
“You quit? Shawn, did you leave him there?  
“Nick’s gone too far. He chose to pick a fight with Katie Lynn Moore with the whack job. He was a bastard and told us that he could replace us tomorrow. We are in Jerry’s Suburban, headed home.
"Well, we will talk about that later, for crying out loud, do you ever check your Tweets? It’s all over the Internet, videos and Instagram. Nick was laying down on the ground with his bloodied head in Katie Lynn Moore’s lap. What the hell is going on there?”
“What are you talking about?” Shawn asked, pointing to the radio, letting Mike know he needed to turn it off.  This got Mike a little curious as the seriousness of this call. 
“Well, Nick doesn’t look good. Check out the Instagram pics. He looks bad. They put him in an ambulance. I think they are taking him to the University of Kentucky Hospital by the Tweets I can see.”  
Shawn made motion for Mike to get on Instagram or Twitter. "Get your phone out, Mike, something's happened to Nick."   Mike pulled up the Internet and studied it and then showed it to Jerry who was driving. He then handed the phone to Shawn whose eyes widened with worry when he saw the blood on the ground next to Katie’s leg.  “I’m going to call his phone. I’ll call you back,” he said to the love of his life of eighteen years.  
When Katie heard Nick’s phone ring again, she pulled it out of her back pocket and was relieved to see Shawn’s name appear. She started working toward the doorway, again to talk to him out in the open nurse’s desk area.  
“Hello, this is Shawn Everett, Nick Thomas’s friend, to whom may I ask am I speaking?”
“This is Katie Lynn Moore. I’m in the emergency room with Nick at UK hospital.”
“Katie, do you remember me? “
“Of course I do, Shawn. So you know who I am, then?” 
“Yes, I do. I have for about six months. Katie, what happened?”
“Scotty thought he was hurting me, and Nick’s head collided with a brick wall a couple of times. He’s in and out of consciousness, mostly out now. They are taking him for a CT scan. Where are you now?”
“We are headed back to Nashville. We all quit. We tried to stop him from picking a fight with you, but he was insistent on going over there with the whack job. He was so hateful. He told us to go to hell, that he’d replace us tomorrow. He’s been a jerk for far too long. I’ve tried everything to get him to take his head out of his ass. Katie he did not know that you were his Teach.”
“Shawn, I know all that, but he needs you, now. It’s a head injury. My sister-in-law is a trauma nurse. She said that he could be bleeding in his brain. I’m scared, Shawn. Please could you put your differences aside and come back? He needs you. I need you.” 
Shawn noted the panic in Katie’s voice, and became panicky himself.   “Guys, turn this thing around, Nick’s hurt bad. He’s in the ER at UK hospital; Katie Lynn Moore is the only one with him.”
“After the way he spoke with us, I don’t give a shit what happens to him,” Mike said. 
“Mike, it’s bad." Shawn said with real fear drawn all over his face.  "Katie said it’s a head injury and he could be bleeding in his brain.” He put his hand over the phone and whispered to Mike. “He could die. We have to go back.”  
There was a moment of silence in the vehicle. Mike and Jerry looked at each other, battling their hurt feelings. They had been together for a long time, even longer than Shawn and Nick. They nodded to each other, as concerned began to drive them to fear for their friend. 
“Mike, we should go back,” Jerry said. Mike nodded his head yes.
“Shawn, his mother keeps calling this phone. I don’t want to talk to her. I don’t know her. I’m sure his Mom is very worried. Will you call her? Katie asked. 
“I’ll call her. Katie, are you there alone?”
“Matthew, my brother-in-law, and Becca, his wife are on their way. It’s been a while though. I don’t know what would be keeping them so long.”
“I’ll bet they are having trouble getting into the treatment area, a lot of people will try anything to get in there for unscrupulous reasons.”
“Oh yeah, okay, I’m going to see if they are in the waiting room.” Katie headed for the ER exit door when Shawn stopped her. 
“Don’t go out there. You just don’t know who could be out there. I’m sure the press is in there, clamoring for a story and to get sight of you. God knows whoever else, if you know what I mean.” 
“You mean that twit he was with?” 
“Yep, I’m sure she probably is, trying to get in. Katie, She can’t know who you are. I know she doesn’t, and I know that Nicolas Paul  would not want her to find out. She’s not stable. Look, just have one of the attendants go out and call for them. We’ll be there in about an hour and a half, or so.” 
“Hurry, Shawn. I’ll stay until you get here, but hurry.” 
“We are turning back now. Call me if you hear anything, or if there’s any change, okay?” 
“Yes, I will. Thanks Shawn.” Katie hung up and asked someone to go searching for Matthew and Becca. 
Within a minute or two, they arrived in the treatment room, after an attendant found them. She ran into Matthew’s arms. 
“How is he, Kate?” Matthew asked as they walked arm and arm to stand next to the gurney.  
“There’s no change. His friend Shawn called and he is on his way back.” Matthew stood by the gurney with his hand on the railing and stared down at the unconscious Nick while nurses and other medical professionals attended to him. 
“That’s good. His friend can give next of kin and more personal information.” Katie sat in the chair, holding Nick’s hand through the railing, hoping her touch would stimulate him to awake. 
“Next of kin, Becca, that sounds so mortally fatalistic. You don’t think he’s really going to die, do you?” Katie looked up and across the gurney with her eyebrows pressed together and her voice shaking with worry.
“Kate, I have to be honest. With head injuries it’s anybody’s guess. This is the best place for him, though. I’ll go check and see what I can find out.” Becca left the treatment room, and Matthew stood behind Katie putting his hand on her shoulder. 
“He can’t die, Matthew.”  Katie dropped her head and wept from fear.
He whispered in her ear, and they both bowed their head and prayed. Becca identified herself as a trauma nurse and a good friend of Nick’s, but because of the HIPPA laws, they would not give her any medical updates on him without his permission. Katie and Matthew left the treatment room after the attendants asked for them to stand outside while they worked on him.  
“You better call the girls. If they see this on the Internet they’ll freak.” 
“There not supposed to be on the Internet when we are not home.” Both Katie and Becca’s eyes darted over to Matthew. They shook their heads. 
“Honestly, Becca, is he really that clueless?” Becca nodded. 
“Matthew even if they were obeying you, one of their friends would have texted them about this and they’d be either getting information from them, or getting on the Web to search for information,” Becca said.
“You’re right, and I’m clueless. I’ll be right back.” Right after Matthew left to call his girls, Katie felt her phone vibrate in her back pocket of her favorite low rider jeans. She pulled it from her pocket and saw that it was Jay Pennington, her manager and publisher and partner in the First World Foundation.   

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