It rained this morning when I got out of work and the smell of rain on the earth reminded me of JJ. Not much didn’t remind me of him. I thought of the word to describe his intoxicating fragrance: petrichor. The word so unusual but fitting in itself for such an intriguing person.
Intriguing and missed. I couldn’t help it. I missed him. The way he could make me laugh and the way I wasn’t so uptight around him like I could be with others. Like I was now with others. His leaving gave me the strength I needed to kick Charlie out of my life and finally start to build it back up. He gave me the will to strive for a better life with the ability to handle more than I ever could. Still working on it one baby step at a time, I tried to find a new way, a better way to release my pent-up frustrations.
Shortly after our last night together that theory was tested. I was working the night shift when a trauma came in. A thirty-six-year-old Hispanic gentleman arrived with trauma to the lower leg sustained after a car fell on him. Apparently, he worked late at the owner’s shop to catch up on repairs to the customer’s cars to help get them caught up. The defective jack positioned under the car broke and the car rim fell on his outstretched leg as he was laid underneath it, crushing it, and causing damage to muscle, tissue, nerves, and arteries as well.
After sedating the man, I alerted the surgeon on call. Dr. O’Malley tried to talk the family into amputation and I flew into a rage. The man was in the united states illegally and the workman’s compensation insurance was iffy at best so Edward had taken the easy route. The easy and least costly route actually knowing any reimbursement from the patient wouldn’t be an option. I just couldn’t let it happen. This man had a family. His small children littered the waiting room, and looking in their faces knowing he wouldn’t be getting any compensation for his injury much less decent healthcare for rehabilitation or prosthetics, led me to lose all reasoning.
Edward worked for ‘the man,’ whoever that was. I knew of the ‘good ole boy’ syndrome when I got to the hospital but it didn’t mean I had to like it. This patient needed the chance to save the leg and when faced with a two-hour surgery to cut it off, or a possible twelve plus hour surgery to save it, Edward, in the colorful words of JJ, pussied out.
Knowing if I were to bring it up to the ethics committee it would take precious time, time which we didn’t have, I took matters into my own hand. Calling Edward into the rarely used doctor’s sleep lounge I laid it out for him. I told him he would be going through with the surgery or I would personally tell his wife about the inappropriate proposition he gave me and my ass when I first came on board here. Begrudgingly he saw things my way.
Before the end of the night shift, Edward’s patient was prepped and heading for the long surgery ahead. It wasn’t until finishing my charting did Kelsey, one of the emergency department’s nurses, come into my room with tears in her eyes, and thank me for helping her uncle. Even if I would have been privy to their familial relationship, I would have fought for him but I appreciated her gratitude.
Before JJ, my struggles with the inner working of healthcare would be the type of shit to lead me to run to Charlie. To have her dish out the physical pain to remove the emotional pain but I realized I didn’t need it anymore. Oh, I wanted it but the want wasn’t as bad as before. I didn’t need pain. The pain to drive away my feelings of inadequacy and the pain to make me forget, albeit temporarily. I might have not needed the pain but there was always something missing in its place.
The next shift was a little better and after learning the man’s leg had been saved, at least for now, Kelsey invited me to go with her to her gym. She worked out not far from the hospital at a local gym franchise. I met the owner, Edgardo, and his sister Marisol. Edgardo taught self-defense and had areas for kickboxing and martial arts. I liked the idea of learning self-defense but I fell in love with weight lifting and sparring during boxing.
I loved the burn of my muscles as I worked them to their max. The way they would tremble as if I couldn’t complete another rep and the way I could push myself to thoroughly wear myself out. The next day’s soreness when I could barely lift my arms above my head to comb my hair. All of it, I loved the way it grounded me and it gave me an out. I could sleep better after. Not as well as when I was lying next to JJ but better than I had alone in years.
It increased my dopamine naturally and it let me work out my frustrations. There were benefits to my shape too as I became more muscular and firm. I found myself craving the workout but nothing compared to lifting weights. It was like coming home. I found my way out of the turmoil that haunted me. I still had my weaknesses, I didn’t think I would ever get rid of them, but the fact I had an acceptable outlet relieved me. Grateful I would never need to sink to the level of calling Charlie ever again, I knew she was out of my life for good.
Although I deleted her information from my phone, I could never seem to get around to deleting JJ’s info. Not only did I erase Charlie from my life but I changed my locks and alerted both building security and hospital security that she was not allowed on the premises. I was done with her and as much as it worried me in the beginning, it was now my saving grace.
After my third night shift in a row, I had just woken up from my lackluster sleep. Having another two days off before starting my three-day stint at the hospital over the weekend, my most hated shifts, I wanted to hit the gym and work off some steam. Making myself some tea, I turned on the television to wake up a little before my workout.
Even though I felt exhausted when I got home from work the night before, I rarely got more than three to four hours of sleep. Last night was more of the same and I found myself listening to the lunch hour news. It started out about the dregs of humanity. Killings, burglaries, rapes. This was why I never watched the news but as it came around to mid-March I decided to wait until the weatherman came on, curious to see the weather that stood on the horizon. There was a new hiking trail that Sean at work told me about and I hoped to hit a day it would be devoid of rain and high humidity.
After the weather ended, I left it on while I completed my morning stretching routine. The entertainment news came on and my breath caught when I heard the name of JJ’s old band.
“Quite the revelation last night at the Social Sector Club. The club owner is none other than Ryder Jurdaine of the band Social Offender, but he was not the one in question. Quade Sandusky, the band’s bassist, was questioned about reports that he was fed up with the band’s recent failure in attracting a younger crowd and will venture out on his own, but with an exclusive to our news station, we know that it is false.”
Grabbing the remote I increased the volume focusing on JJ’s bandmate. Quade being the acting father of JJ’s son, I wondered what brought him to the forefront of the news. The reporter went on:
“A reputable source has just confessed that the real breakup stems from a fight between the bassist and the guitarist JJ Harries.”
It made me nervous to think JJ was in the news. A fight? Did he have a fight with Quade?
“It seems that Quade’s son Jaeger is not his own but a product of a one-night stand on the tour bus between JJ and Quade’s soon to be divorced wife Mackenzie Sandusky. The change in parental rights was found out due to an accident the boy suffered a year ago when he was hit by an automobile and was rushed to the hospital. JJ needed to be contacted as the only relative that could save the boy...”
Save him? He had one kidney and from what he told me the kidney and Jaeger recovered just fine. It seemed they were making the story worse than it was but really, it was bad enough. JJ did sleep with Quade’s wife and the product was Jaeger.
Why were they bringing it up now? JJ told me Jaeger didn’t want a relationship or want anyone to know he was his father, and now the poor boy would have all his dirty laundry aired out for him on national television.
They first showed a picture of Quade and a woman by his side that seemed very pregnant. Was that Quade’s wife? No, they went on to describe a girlfriend by the name of Sydney Green so it couldn’t be the one who JJ slept with.
Next flashed up a picture of JJ. It wasn’t a recent picture. This one was of him on stage as he leaned into his guitar. His sweaty hair obscured his face and his shirt stood open displaying his trim abdominal muscles. He had on tight jeans and the glow of the lights amplified the arms reaching up from the crowd of fans. He looked like a rock god and it made me smile.
The smile faded when I thought of all he lost with this news segment. Who could have done this? Did JJ let it slide? No, I didn’t think he would but how did it get out and what did it mean for his friends in the band? He was already estranged from them. This certainly didn’t make things better.
Sighing, I turned off the news. I had enough of all the gossip and found myself in my own personal torment knowing he was out there but thinking of all I gave up.