Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
Graydon gasped and clutched his left shoulder. The flash of sudden pain was unbearable. His knees weakened, buckled, and he spun to the floor.
Jim Brightman was first to race across the room to reach him. Graydon lay shaking, his body convulsing, his eyes rolled back and showing nothing but white. Jim grabbed Graydon’s cheeks, popping his jaw down to check that he wouldn’t swallow his tongue. Graydon’s head rose and fell, trying to thump against the carpet of the Brightman’s living room. His heels hammered on the floor.
“Mike, what’s happening to him?” Jim yelled.
“Vision! An empathic attack! Somebody real close to him is hurt, maybe life-threatening! We’ve got to move, fast. Let me take his head. I think I can pull him out of it,” Mike explained.
Jim pulled back and shifted around to hold Graydon’s thrashing legs. Mike leaned over, his face very close to Graydon’s contorted face. He barked guttural phrases in a tongue Jim had never heard. Graydon slowed his thrashing but his eyes remained unseeing, still in shock.
Again Mike barked the phrases, sharp and commanding. Graydon’s eyes rolled down. He gasped, his chest heaved. He stared up at Mike. Then his right hand shot across to clutch his left shoulder. He opened his mouth wide and he wailed in agony. Vi came running from the kitchen, her face ashen and frightened.
Mike lunged to grab his beaded medicine bag resting against the chair where he’d been sitting moments before. He pulled out a small pouch. Swinging back, he waited a moment until Graydon gasped for breath. He dropped a large pinch of greenish herbal powder into Graydon’s mouth and forced it closed while repeating his guttural commands again.
Graydon went limp.
“That poor boy!” Vi cried. “What happened?”
“He’s not a boy, Vi!” Jim barked. “He’s a man, and Mike said he’s having a vision. Somebody important to us is dying! We’ve got to move! Mike, can you bring him around?”
“Yes, in a minute. Jim, get your aid kit, the big one, and some blankets. Fast! Put them in Vi’s car. We’ll need to move out very soon now. Vi! Call Doc Jameson in Twisp. Tell him we’ll be bringing in a serious trauma case. Have him standing by. We hope to be there in a half-hour. He’ll want his nurse. Don’t take any excuses, Vi! Tell him it will be life or death and he’ll have to stabilize the patient for probable further transport. Ok?”
“Of course,” she replied. She scrambled back to the kitchen for the telephone.
“You’re sure about all that?” Jim asked, incredulous.
“Yes. I’m getting his vision. It’s bad. It’s a gunshot and the loss of blood and shock are very bad. We’ve got to go now!”
Mike pulled Graydon to his feet, grabbed their coats and wrapped Graydon in his, then began pushing him toward the door. Jim had raced ahead, grabbing up a military-grade first aid kit and a stack of blankets.
They raced the car down the switchback grade from the ranch, fish-tailing around the sharp curves. They burst out onto the Wolf Creek road and Jim accelerated sharply, struggling to keep the car under control on the rutted, washboard surface.
“There, ahead. That’s Patch’s truck!” Mike cried. Jim braked the big sedan hard, sliding to a stop. The damage was obvious; steam still rolled out from under the hood. Shattered glass lay scattered everywhere. Patch was leaning over Purdy, holding him upright, his big, bloody hand pressing a blood-soaked, wadded bandana against Purdy’s chest.
“Thank Gawd!” Patch called. “He’s about bled out. I tried ... I got nuthin’ to stop it good enough,” he cried.
“Jim,” Mike ordered, seeing the bloody gashes on Patch’s face and hands, “take Patch to the car. Get those lacerations cleaned and bandaged. Keep him there. I’ll take over with Purdy!”
“Right! Patch, you did good. You’re hurting. Come over here with me,” Jim ordered. Patch numbly released his old friend and stiffly eased down from the seat, leaving a bloody trail from his cuts.
“Graydon,” Mike called. “Grab Purdy’s legs and swing them out the door, carefully. Hold his ankles up on your shoulders. He’s going shocky; we need to elevate his legs.
Mike reached into his belt sheath and pulled out his knife. He tugged the shoulders of Purdy’s denim jacket and zipped the knife down each sleeve, laying them open and pulling it free. He peeled back the left side of his blood-soaked shirt and cut it free to expose Purdy’s bare chest and the wound. He ran his hand behind, feeling no exit wound. The slug is still in there!
He reached down to the floorboard where he’d set the aid kit, popped its lid and grabbed wound powder and a big bandage pack. That went on the bullet wound. He grabbed a rolled wrapping and laid it across Purdy’s chest, over his left arm, then underneath his back and across and up the other side, back to his arm. He got four good wraps that would hold the bandage pack in place and secure Purdy’s arm and shoulder from moving. He pinned the end down with a metal clasp.
“Graydon, we can move him to the back seat of the car. I’ve got him as secure as I can make it. You stay with his legs. Lay him out flat, then slide under his lower legs. I’ll sit at his head.”
“Right. Whenever you’re ready!”
“Jim, are you done with Patch?”
“Yes. He’s almost out, but he’s okay.”