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Small Dude, a fictional short story, Part 4
Every time he drove down that particular road, Route 60 West, the dogs would wake up simutaneously about a quarter of a mile before Virgil got to the dirt road on which he would make a right turn. He never knew what made them do that but it worked every time. He had tried to drive further down the road in order to trick the animals, but nothing ever worked, they always woke up at the very same spot. Some canine mysteries may have to remain unsolved !
Virgil engaged the truck through the unpaved sandy road, as the dogs started to jump with excitement again. Another half a mile or so and they would reach their destination on the edge of the lake. Anthony, Virgil's father, had purchased the six acres for a song some twenty years before. A number of times, father and son had discussed the possibility of building a small cabin right by the lake. Sadly, this project only came to life after Anthony's passing. After his final return from Irak, and in order to retain whatever sanity was left in him, Virgil threw himself into the project with a vengeance, and built the three bedrooms cabin under the trees in less than four months. The best feature of the place was the large covered screened front porch overlooking the lake, where Virgil and his canine friends would have barbecues and take naps on the swing whenever they would spend time here. Once the animals were loose, they started running in all directions, making all kinds of happy noises. For the next three days, the cabin would be home and the dogs would be free to roam around in the woods and swim as they pleased. Virgil unloaded his mountain bike from the back of the truck and the heavy cooler from inside the boat.Once everything had been brought inside the house, he put the boat in the water and attached it to the small dock built right across the front porch.
After being hit in the chest, Virgil was only conscious for short periods of time, and would pass out on and off. During one of his rare moments of lucidity, he realized being carried on the stretcher, and then loaded onto a helicopter. Later on, he seemed to overhear the concerned voice of Vinny Jones, from Valdosta, Georgia :
- "Hey, Lieutenant Boss, you OK ?"
He tried to mumble a positive answer, but no word would come out of his mouth. Then, he passed out again. The next time he regained consciousness, the first thing that struck him was the silence. No soud of distant firearm or explosion. No truck or helicopter noise ! No guys cracking morbid or gross jokes ! No farting or burping contest ! No stupid fights ! A complete, serene, almost scary silence. So Virgil thought he may have died, an impression reinforced by the light cream colored shiny walls and the open window through which a cool and pleasant breeze was entering the room, a feeling certainly unknown in Baghdad. In the reflection of the open window pane, he could see there were mature trees outside. All that was missing was singing birds.! And suddenly, he heard one, singing from the outsdide window sill. "This is it, I'm a goner" he thought. His terrifying thoughts were interrupted by the door opening, and the apparition of a female nurse pushing a cart loaded with medical supplies :
- "Well, well, look who's back! How do you feel, Lieutenant, I'm nurse Curtiss".
- "I'm not sure yet, where am I?"
- "You're in Fieldenburg Military Hospital, in Germany".
It took Virgil some time to digest the news :
- "How long have I been here ?"
- "Boy, you don't remember anything, do you ? You,ve been here three days now !"
- "Last thing I remember was being loaded onto a helicopter". He became visibly agitated at that thought.
- "Stay calm, now, you're safe here, and we're gonna fix you in no time, OK ? I'm going to change the dressing on your wounds, and you'll go back to sleep for a while, all right ?" As she was talking, she started working on her patient.
- "What kind of wound?" Virgil asked sheepishly, fearing to hear the answer.
- "Well, you got a bullet through the chest that passed half way between your left lung and your heart, and another one that went through your right thigh. Both projectiles exited, so you lost a lot of blood. Your chest bullet missed the vital organs by about one inch, and the leg one missed the artery by the same distance, so the surgeons who worked on you have nicknamed you "one inch". But please, act surprised when they tell you, these guys have massive egos, and I'm not supposed to tell you all that stuff, so I could get in trouble".
- "Don't worry, I'll be quiet. Did they cut off my leg ?"
The nurse couldn't help but smile :
- "No, you're still in one piece, and not a bad looking one from where I stand !"
Suddenly, Virgil started to shake, and huge tears rolled down his cheeks.
- "It's OK, the nurse said, suddenly serious, have a good cry, it's the morphine, you're loaded with it !" But the morphine had little to do with it, Virgil had just remembered Carmen. And this being said, she prepared a shot that she injected in Virgil's butt. Within thirty seconds, he was out again...
After unloading the truck, Virgil ran out of things to do, so now would be a great time to go for a boat ride on the lake. The morning was absolutely ideal for that. He whistled loudly and within seconds, the two dogs appeared, racing each other at a scary pace, but managed to stop inches from Virgil's feet, both looking up at him as if to say :"What now ?". Two little taps of the hand on the hull of the Boston-Whaler, and they knew ! They jumped over the side of the boat, and again started their crazy dance, overly happy for no specific reason...
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns