Only 7:00pm and it was already pitch black out. Winter was just around the corner and it showed in more than just the limited daylight hours that came with the coldest of the seasons. Temperatures had already dropped below freezing several times in the last two weeks and tonight would be no different. Jordan could already feel the slick sheen beginning to form on the nearly desolate roads as she skillfully maneuvered their rig at high speeds with lights flashing, taking advantage of the clear path ahead. Thankfully, rush hour had subsided and it would be a while before the late night traffic kicked in.
She glanced over at Travis sitting in the passenger seat as she took a tight turn, just barely missing the stop sign as they flew by. Her crazy driving no longer fazed him as he stared down at his lap examining the contents of his bag and avoiding eye contact with the road all together.
They had barely been on duty when their first call of the night came in; domestic abuse. By all accounts, the perp was still in the house holding his victim, formerly known as his wife, hostage along with their three children. Jordan hated calls like these. Even in the best case scenario where everyone lived, those involved usually bore wounds neither she nor the doctors could ever heal.
Within moments, the ambulance pulled up in front of a tall apartment building. Finally, Travis lifted his gaze to take note of their surroundings. A second later he shook his head and dropped his bag down to the floor between his feet with a thud.
“Shit. Where are they?”
Jordan opened her door and got out to get a better look.
“I don’t know. They should have been here by now.”
The alley alongside the building was completely empty and the night was as silent as it was dark, a heavy layer of clouds denying even a glimmer of light from the moon to pass through. If their buddies in blue were on their way at all, they were nowhere near their destination. Jordan turned back toward Travis. He was still sitting strapped into his seat, his hands balled into frustrated fists at his knees.
“Are you going to get out, or what?” she demanded.
His head shot around as he scowled at her.
“You know damn well we can’t do a thing until they show up! Just get your skinny ass back into the rig and wait like a good little paramedic.”
Jordan slammed her door shut and moved around to the back of the van. When she pulled the back doors open she heard Travis lay into her once more.
“What do you think you’re doing? Armed and dangerous! That’s what they said! Remember that part? You can’t just go in there alone!”
Jordan grabbed her bag from the inside hook and shrugged, “So come with me.”
She slammed the doors shut before Travis could answer. It didn’t matter. Jordan had barely moved three steps across the sidewalk when she heard him get out and fall into step behind her.
“You’re insane,” he hissed.
“Call me whatever you want, but no one is going to say I stood by and did nothing while someone was being killed in the building next to me.”
Neither one of them said another word until they got inside. The building was old and worn, and the lobby left much to be desired in terms of a warm welcome. Between the scuffed up flooring, the flickering lights and the stained walls that showed the years of cigarette smoke and built up mildew from lack of proper ventilation and high humidity, the place would need more than a touch of paint and a little TLC to lessen its resemblance to a condemned warehouse.
However, neither Travis nor Jordan even took notice. Sad fact was, on this side of town, these standards of living were normal and not abhorrent. And, even sadder was the unfortunate truth that the stereotypes of overlapping crime and poverty were very much a reality.
The Paramedics were quickly approaching the stairs when the elevator doors slid open, revealing an older gentleman who was in a hurry to catch them before they disappeared up the trail of steps.
“Wait!” he called out.
Jordan stopped so abruptly, Travis nearly ran into her.
“Sir, are you alright?” she asked as she lowered her bag and began to approach him.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine. It’s Evaline in 409! She needs help!”
Travis came up around Jordan and said, “We know. That’s why we’re here.” His lack of patience was barely disguised by his tone.
“You don’t understand,” the man continued, “You can’t go in there. He’ll kill her!”
“Sir, we know what we’re doing,” Travis said trying to brush the man off, already making his way back up the stairs. Jordan however, hesitated.
“What do you mean? Do you know what’s happening inside the apartment?”
The old man nodded, a combination of fear and sadness flashing across his sunken in brown eyes.
“We’re neighbors, but my unit is in the bend…I can see straight into their living room. He’s got a gun. Evaline’s just lying on the floor. I haven’t seen her move since I first heard the shouting and called for help. The kids are there, too. All three of them, scared to death those poor children, circled around their Mama and unable to help her…he keeps yellin’ how he’ll kill them all. How they’ll always be his and that nobody can keep them apart.” The old man hung his head as the emotions came to a peak. “The divorce went through today. She was so happy…you should have seen her. I’ve never seen Evaline so happy.” He lifted his head again, a weak, tortured smile on his lips as he remembered.
Meanwhile, Travis had come to a standstill on the stairs once more. He looked to Jordan.
“So, what do you want to do?”
Jordan stood there silently for a moment. She was gnawing on her lower lip thoughtfully. Travis had been her partner long enough to know she wasn’t about to suggest they go back to the van and wait for the cops the way they were supposed to.
“Sir, do you know where the building’s electric board is?”
The old man’s expression turned to confusion as he slowly nodded in response to Jordan’s question.
“I need you to take my partner there right away!”
Jordan was already moving past Travis and up the stairs when she shouted back, “Give me five minutes before you kill the lights! I mean it Travis, I want a total black out for at least thirty seconds!”
“What are you going to do?”
Jordan had turned the corner and disappeared out of sight when he heard her say, “You’ll see.”
“Like hell I will. The lights will be out- I won’t see a damn thing!” Travis grumbled as he followed her orders and let the old man lead the way to the buildings single source of power.
Jordan checked her watch one more time as she approached apartment 409. She could hear children crying from inside and a man screaming at them to shut up. She took a deep breath before she lifted her right fist and pounded on the door.
“Paramedic! Open Up!”
Jordan heard the muffled sounds of feet moving across the floor, then a man’s voice as he came up on the inside of the door.
“We don’t need you. Go away!”
“Sir, I can’t do that. We got a call that someone has been injured. If you could just let me in so I can make sure that everyone’s alright, I’ll leave again.”
The man didn’t respond, but even from outside, Jordan could hear the creak in the door as the man leaned his weight into it to see through the peep hole. Just as she had suspected, he felt a jolt of excitement at the sight of her standing there all alone.
She listened as he undid the chain and opened the door, welcoming her inside.
“I told you we didn’t need you. I’m just having a nice evening with my family here, but if you want to see for yourself.”
Jordan heard the door shut behind her. She purposely ignored the sound of the chain being latched once more and instead focused her attention on the scene before her. Three children, ranging in ages between maybe three and no older than nine, stood lined up along the living room wall. The two oldest looked to her with desperation in their eyes, while the youngest stared straight ahead. Lying on the floor in front of them was their mother with her face down in the carpet. From where Jordan stood she was unable to determine the woman’s condition. She fought the urge to fly into action and cautiously waited for the man’s next move. He had come up behind her so closely she could smell his rank body odor mixed in with a fair share of booze; Hennessey and OJ if she had to venture a guess based on the sickeningly sweet stench that accompanied the strong scent of alcohol.
“As you can see, my wife is taking a little nap. I was just about to put the kids to sleep as well…maybe I should do that now and then it’ll be only you and me.”
“Sir, perhaps it would be best if we move your wife to the sofa,” Jordan suggested. She was stalling for time. Getting in had been easier than expected. Knowing it would likely set him off, she took a few steps toward the woman lying on the floor.
“Don’t you touch her!”
Jordan felt a cold jab in her ribcage as the man revealed his gun to her for the first time since entering his apartment. She didn’t bother looking back at the man or his weapon. Instead, she glanced down at her watch. It was nearly time. Still frozen in place with the gun in her side, Jordan was trying desperately to think of something to say or do, that would buy her the last few moments she needed. Just then, the faint sound of sirens jingled in her ears. She wasn’t the only one who had heard it. She felt a slight shift in the positioning of the gun in her back as the man holding it took a step out to better face his children.
“Hear that kids? That’s the sandman coming to get you. Time to say good night.”
Chills ran down Jordan’s spine and she wanted to jump out of her own skin to escape the crawling sensation the man’s voice had set in motion. It was now or never. She closed her eyes and counted back from ten. When she hit two, she felt the darkness set in around her, simultaneously taking note of the eerie quiet that came with the absence of electricity. The only remaining sounds were those of the rapidly approaching squad cars.
Startled by the sudden power outage, Jordan’s attacker temporarily lost his bearings in the dark, loosening the barrel of his gun in her side in the process. Jordan’s eye lids flew open in a flash. Her eyes already adjusted to the dark, she quickly reached into her bag and retrieved a syringe. Before the man had a chance to react, she jammed the needle into his thigh and pressed down until every last drop of the succinylcholine had been injected into his bloodstream.
By the time the lights came back on, he was lying on the floor just as immobile as his wife.
Jordan didn’t waste any time. She swiftly kicked the gun from his hand and listened as it slid loudly over the cracked linoleum flooring of the attached kitchen. She never saw where it landed because her attention was already on the children. Aside from the emotional trauma, they seemed to be fine physically. Jordan did her best to comfort them with kind words and a confident smile as she quickly began to examine their mother.
The moment Jordan rolled her over onto her side, she’d wished she had at least asked the children to turn their heads before she did so. The woman’s face had been beaten to a pulp and was completely unrecognizable. Immediately, Jordan reached for her bag and placed it in front of the woman to block out any innocent eyes; if they could even be referred to as such after what they had already seen.
It took Jordan longer than usual, but at last she was able to find a pulse. It was thready and weak. Jordan moved fast and efficiently to stabilize the woman’s condition. She was so focused on what she was doing, she barely registered when the front door came crashing down and the police came running in, followed by Travis close behind. He stopped briefly to check on the children just as Jordan had done, before dropping to his knees beside her. The two of them worked together well, so well that Jordan often caught herself glancing down at their four hands and wondering how it was possible that they functioned in such unison as though controlled by the same brain.
Minutes later, Evaline was strapped down in the back of the ambulance and being rushed to the hospital, while Travis continued to work on her as best he could, given the circumstances. Jordan was racing through the streets, sirens blaring this time around. Traffic had already started to pick up again and Jordan was busy weaving in and out of cars and doing her best to keep them out of any situations that would require them to need an ambulance themselves.
Completely in her element, Jordan zoomed past oncoming traffic, dodged construction cones and skillfully whipped through the intersections regardless of what the cars around her chose to do. It wasn’t long before the rig was pulling up in front of the ER and being greeted by several men and women dressed in scrubs and ready to take Evaline inside where she would receive the care she so desperately needed.