Busted Axle Road
Chapter 42

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Sarah Archer could put up with Danny Evachevski, but wondered at the wisdom of that. She did wonder at times about what influence Danny had on Josh; it couldn't be good, but, he seemed to be a pretty good kid on the surface. There were a lot worse kids that Josh could hang out with.

But there were limits. She wasn't sure that he liked the idea of Josh going out with Danny and a couple of girls from out there. That could lead to no end of problems. Over the years, she hadrejected any suggestions that Josh be allowed to accompany the Evachevskis out to the club for a weekend, or whatever, though Walt didn't care, either way.

But Walt was a little soft-headed about his kids, anyway. She had been thoroughly bent out of shape when Jackie ran off with Mark, years before, without a word of by your leave to anyone -- and Jackie hadn't even been her daughter. Johnny had still been little then, and Josh not even born, and she had never really gotten close to Jackie. When Jackie finally called home, after weeks, Walt's attitude was mostly one of "Well, what's done is done. You kids have fun." It incensed Sarah, though there had been nothing she could do about it. It all worked out for the best; Mark and Jackie had been happily married for many years, now, and were as successful as anyone could have hoped for, but she'd resolved then and there that she wasn't going to let Walt be as casual with Johnny, and later, Josh.

It wasn't a totally unexpected complication to the plans for the date, but it meant that Josh had to endure at least half a dozen lectures before the afternoon was over with, and by the time evening came, he began to wonder if any girl were worth it, even one as pretty as Amy.

He was still getting lectures when, that evening, Danny pulled up at his door, with Amy and Marsha with him. So it was with relief, rather than anticipation, that Josh got behind the wheel, while Danny got into the back seat of the little car with Marsha.

It was good to see Amy again, sitting in the seat beside him, now. She had on the same short shorts he remembered from the week before, and a blouse, one that tended to obscure the chest that had caught his attention the week before, but her long legs were enough to engage his imagination. "God, I hope this works out, somehow," he thought.

Josh hadn't met Marsha before, but soon found that Danny's description of her was everything it had been cracked up to be, except that he thought that Brandy was nicer, on balance. Marsha's voice had an unpleasant note to it, and he could see why Danny hadn't seemed too thrilled about the arrangement.

He turned south, toward Albany River. He was no big fan of roller skating, either, but maybe sometime he and Amy would be able to skate double tonight, and he'd have a chance to put an arm around that pretty waist. It was several miles before he was able to work in to the conversation, "Do you girls like roller skating?"

"I'm not very good at it, I'm afraid," Amy said. "I've only been a couple of times."

Well, so much for doubles, Josh thought.

He was still working on his disappointment when an oncoming car cut across the road in front of them. Josh stood on the brakes, cut to the left, and was still hoping for a miss as the brown car flashed by on their right. In the rear-view mirror, he could see the car go into the ditch and roll over.

"Holy shit," Danny said from the back seat, turning around to see.

"What the hell?" Josh said, his heart pounding as he stood on the brakes. He popped the car into reverse, and quickly backed up to where the wrecked car lay in the ditch, upside down, wheels still spinning.

Being in the front seat, Josh and Amy were out first, but Danny and Marsha weren't very far behind.

Josh and Amy wound up on the driver's side. Inside the wrecked car, they could see an older man and a woman, both unconscious. "Get the woman, other side," Josh yelled to Danny, who was running up.

"Yeah, let's get 'em out of there," Danny yelled back. "This thing could blow."

Josh wormed his way into the car a little, where he could reach the seat belt release. With the man hanging upside down, he knew he had to let him down carefully, but work quickly, too. He reached up, popped the seat belt latch, and tried to let him down easy. From across the car, he could hear Danny say, "She's bleeding like a stuck pig," but Josh was giving more attention to the man in front of him. With Amy's help, he managed to snake him out of the window.

"It's Mr. Sloat," Josh yelled.

"Don't know him," Danny said, as he and Marsha pulled the woman out the other side.

"Works with my dad," Josh replied, trying to get a pulse. Sloat didn't look good; gray and ashen.

"He's not breathing," Amy said. "He might have had a heart attack."

"I can't get any pulse," Josh said, rolling Sloat over onto his back for what he knew had to come next.

"I know CPR," Amy said.

"I do, too," Josh said. "I'll do chest pressure." That first aid class in school might have been boring, and so was the CPR course he'd had through SADD, but all of a sudden, Josh was glad he'd aced the class. He watched Amy bend over to give mouth-to-mouth, as he started pushing on Sloat's chest.

Over on the other side of the car, Danny and Marsha had been able to determine that the woman -- Mrs. Sloat, he guessed, though he didn't know for sure -- was bleeding from the forehead and from her shoulder. Danny ripped off his shirt, and with his football player hands, ripped it in half in one pull. Taking half of the shirt in each hand, he applied pressure to the wounds. "Get in the car," he told Marsha. "There's a house about a mile back toward town. Call 911, and tell 'em we're just past the corner of the State Road and 337."

"But..."

"I can hold on. Do it."

"State Road and 337." Marsha got up and ran toward the Chevette, still idling alongside the road. In an instant, she was off, as hard as the little Chevy could go.

"How you guys doing over there?" Danny called.

"CPR," Josh said, not giving much attention to Danny.

"You'll have to keep it up till Marsha gets back," Danny yelled. "I can't let go here."

"We'll hang in there," Josh said, and gave his attention to what he was doing.

It could only have been a couple of minutes before Danny heard the sweet sound of the fire siren going in town. Say, five minutes to respond, another six or seven to get out here...

Josh didn't hear the siren; he was too concentrated on chest pressure, relax, chest pressure, relax. The next thing outside of that he was aware of was Danny's yell, "Here comes Marsha. Do you need relief?"

"We can hold out a while," Josh replied, hoping the same was true for Amy. The girl didn't speak, but nodded a little between breaths, and Josh kept up the chest pressure, arms starting to ache.

"Marsha, get down here," he heard Danny yell a few seconds later. "I just noticed she's bleeding from her leg, and I'm out of hands."

Chest pressure, relax, chest pressure, relax. Time ceased to have meaning. Chest pressure, relax. Chest pressure, relax.

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