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THE CRADLE (standard:Flash, 626 words)
Author: RamonAdded: May 28 2004Views/Reads: 2198/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
An actual incident triggered this fictionalized Flash . . .

THE CRADLE -- Ramon Collins (591 words) 

Cold rain slanted in streaks as it sliced through the arc of the
streetlights. As Ron eased his car up the on-ramp onto Borealis Avenue 
the nighttime traffic was light. Only one car followed him up the long 
hill that led to the Borealis Bridge,  and it approached fast. He 
glanced at the rearview mirror and muttered,  “Probably a Californian . 
. . dumb bastards don't know how to drive in the rain.” 

He slowed and moved right to allow the overtaking car plenty of room to
pass in the left lane. As it passed, he noticed the driver held a 
cell-phone to his ear. “Californian, all right.” The passing car made a 
slight swerve toward his lane and a dark object flew over the hood of 
his car, knocking off the right windshield wiper.  Ron pumped his 
brakes, moved farther right to the emergency parking lane and stopped. 

Ron left the driver's door open and trotted back to a bundle on the side
of the highway. A young woman lay on her back with her arms and legs 
askew.  He knelt, cupped his hands on the sides of her head and 
steadied her neck. Blood trickled from her nose and ears. Warm fluid 
mixed with blood oozed over his left hand. “Damn!” he said 

The girl looked up at him with trapped-animal eyes as he bent over and
shielded her from the driving rain. She tried to say something out of a 
lop-sided mouth, then her eyes went out, as if somebody clicked a 
switch. He held her head steady. 

The California driver trotted back, his phone still glued to his ear. “I
- I wasn't speeding was I? I didn't see her . . . I got 9-1-1 on . . . 
where are we?” 

“Borealis ave . . . just south of the bridge.” 

The driver turned aside, talked into the phone, then looked back. “Can I

“Turn your car around and pull in behind us . . . aim your lights back
down the highway. Get a flashlight and flag traffic.”  Ron hadn't used 
his sergeant voice for years. 

“OK . . . but was I speeding?” 

“I don't know. Move!”  Ron moved his right  hand under the girl's head
and placed his left forefinger on the side of her neck. No pulse. 

“That doesn't mean anything,” he said to the ashen face. He cradled her
head in both hands, closed his eyes as salty rain ran down the sides of 
his nose. 

The rain lessened and held soggy exhaust fumes close the pavement. Tires
squished as traffic slowed in both directions and drivers gawked. 
Sirens wailed in the distance.  A small knot of people gathered in 
front of the Holiday Inn across the highway.   Ron glanced up and saw 
tall man push through the group and run across the four-lane highway in 
stocking feet. His shirt sleeves were rolled up and he carried a black 
bag with his right hand. A stethoscope dangled from the other. 

“That's right . . . hold her head still,” he shouted. 

The doctor dropped to his knees, unzipped the dark jacket, tore open her
blouse and placed the stethoscope just above the brassiere. He held it 
there for a long minute, then straightened up and placed the 
stethoscope around his neck,  looked down and shook his head. “She's 
gone.” He stood, looked away and his slumped shoulders shuddered. 

Ron looked desperate. “No pulse doesn't mean she's gone, doc.” 

The doctor turned back with moist eyes, “I'm afraid it does . . . put
her head down.” 

“I can't do that, sir.” 

“She's gone, son.” 

“I can't let her go --” 

“Please . . . she's gone.” 



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