Authors: J. D. Glass
Who rescues the rescuer when there is no 911 for the soul? Blood is…“Never let rescuer number one become victim number two” is one of the very first lessons Victoria Scotts, “Tori” to her friends and family, learns as an EMT. Blood is…Caught between family legend and her cousin, Nina, ten years her senior, a musician and a legend in her own right. Tori may be the oldest of her siblings, but never first … not with her family, not with the woman she lives with. Blood is...Despite the censure of the mother she supports emotionally and financially, Tori forges her own path as an EMT in the New York City 911 system. In the process she discovers a true calling for what she does, a deep and abiding love for the city and people she serves, and perhaps for the first time in her life, after a series of dangerously charged erotic encounters, a real connection to someone who cares for her because of who she is, and not only for what she can do. Blood.When a good faith attempt to render aid, comfort, and compassion goes horribly wrong, leaving Tori sick and scarred, she must question the validity of her relationships, the ties of flesh and those that transcend it, her faith in the innate goodness of people. Hardest of all, she must face for herself the natural, inevitable…why.
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© 2007 By JD Glass. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-465-2
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First Edition: June 2007
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Editors: Shelley Thrasher and Stacia Seaman
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Punk Like Me
Punk and Zen
Beta readers: Lieutenant Christine Mazzola, EMT-P FDNY (medical control); Dr. Cait Cody, MD; Eva; Paula Tighe, Esquire; Ruth Sternglantz. You guys rock—and thanks for being with me every step of the way.
Thanks always to Willie Wright, EMT-P FDNY; Joanne Wright, EMT EDT; Linda Doering, EMT, Physical Therapist, Masters; Kathy Finkelstein, EMT RN; Dr. Pamela Carlton, PhD, EMT-P: for teaching so many to save even more.
Thank you, Cate Culpepper, for incalculably valuable advice.
Thanks always to Radclyffe, Shelley Thrasher, and Stacia Seaman for patience, for guidance, for support and confidence.
To my sisters and brothers who ride the rig and answer the call, every time: “
We be of one blood, thou and I.
” (Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book)
“I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession; My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;
I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.”
Declaration of Geneva 2006
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
I don’t drive around in a fancy car, though the rig I’m in cost a couple of good pennies. I don’t carry a gun, because my weapon of choice in this battlefield is what I carry in my brain and what my hands can remember to do between the spurts of adrenaline that are causing microtears in my blood vessels. I’ve got an O
cylinder and a valve, some funky plastic parts, and a mattress on wheels.
I don’t have any super powers. I’ve run into fires and back out again, looked down the barrel of more than one gun, had knives in my face and bullets over my head, panicked, checked and double-checked to make sure I haven’t been stuck with a syringe that’s fallen out of a pocket during a call.
I’m no fuckin’ superhero—it’s just my job, and I’m glad to do it, because I’m paying my dues, penance, like everyone else here.
Been calm while picking brains off a windshield and went for a long walk in the freezing wind to get the why out of my head. Held the hand of a little girl whose mom sold her for crack—and her mom laughed at her tears. Comforted the dying. Brought the dead back to life twice, and helped witness it start out wet and bloody—but I’m not the only one.
I’m part of a caste, born of Vietnam vets who wanted to do something good for the world when they got back, paramedical and paramilitary. Funny, they say the street is a never-ending war—and it took men and women who’d fought one in a jungle to figure that out.
We hear what people say: EMT, “Empty Mental Troll,” “Extra Man on Truck,” and maybe, just maybe, a few, but not the ones that belong, might fit those descriptions. We joke amongst ourselves: “Every Menial Task,” “Eggcrate Mattress Technician,” and even, for the lucky few, “Earn Money Sleeping.”
We joke because we have to, because we live by a creed. We are bound beyond the Geneva Oath to protect, to heal, to serve; and we are sworn, sworn to each other, sworn to our city and to our people; and even if we don’t get the respect that others who are similarly sworn get, we do just that. Heal. Help. Protect.
We serve the one true religion, follow the one true call: to save life, any life, every life, every time.
Yeah, and if you’re one of us reading this, you know who you are, who we are: part of the brotherhood, the Brotherhood of Blood.
We be of one blood, Thou and I
If you’re not? Don’t worry. I’m around the block, just come back from someone’s first day, worst day, or last day, and I’m having a butt while I sit in my rig, waiting for your call. Don’t think you will? Most don’t think so either, but…everyone does sooner or later; even we have to, whether we want to or not. No one ever wants to.
They say the members of the police department are New York’s finest, and the fire department are the bravest. Know what they call the emergency medical services?
New York City’s best.
Will the airway stay open on its own? Does anything endanger it?
“God damn, I’m hungry and I am
going to remember all of this shit!” Roy groaned as we sat together in the students’ lounge during a meal break.
“Chill, man. We got through Orson’s class, we’ll get through this, c’mon. Do it again: trace the path of a drop of blood from a toe and back,” I urged him, his anxiety reflecting mine. I just hid it for the moment because we had to know this, inside out and backward, and I couldn’t focus if I let him freak out. The only thing that betrayed my nerves was my hand running through the thick brown hair that I kept just shy of shoulder length—a family trait, both the hair and the gesture.
“Yeah, and she says men are evolutionarily inferior because of that whole excretion/reproduction thing,” he reminded me, a worried frown creasing his almost coal-colored forehead.
“Dude.” I laughed, because it was true, she had said that, and so had Baumel and Finkelstein and even the lab assistant in our first year. “I don’t think she meant your brain.”
“Don’t be so sure about that, Scotty,” he shot back, using my nickname instead of calling me Tori like he usually did.
“Okay, from the top, uh, toe.” He grinned and closed his eyes to concentrate. “From the capillaries to the venules, to the veins, dumping into the inferior vena cava…” He went through the drill and got it right.
My turn was all about flow in the heart itself, from right atrium through to the tri-flapped valve, down to ventricle, up through pulmonary valve…yeah, the works. From there, we reviewed the tricky part of the basics: the pulmonary artery is the only one with deoxygenated blood (artery—away!), while the pulmonary vein is the only one that carries oxygenated blood (from the Latin—
, “come, return”).
There was more, and I was just pulling out another text with a diagram when Kerry announced her arrival by straddling my legs and swooping down for a kiss that was all fuck.
“Hey, baby,” I murmured when she let me up for air.
“You hard?” she asked softly into my ear, her dark blond hair brushing against my lips.
“Mm-hmm,” I answered, “and I’ve got an exam to study for.”
Her light green eyes looked into mine. “Smile, baby,” she said, smoothing my forehead with her fingertips, “you’re scaring Roy.”
Had I sat up straight, I could have peered over her head because, at just over five foot, Kerry was charmingly petite to my 5’9”, somewhat lanky frame, but that would have forced me to change positions—and I was enjoying this too much. Instead, I put the smile she requested on my face and peered around her arm to see Roy for myself. He was studiously ignoring us by reading my notes.
“Are we scaring you, Roy?” I asked.
“Hey, Kerry,” he said, glancing up for a moment, only to frown back down at my handwriting.