Apparently, muscle is heavier than fat.
This was a lesson I was rapidly learning as I groaned under Aaron's weight. Even with the help of the Filipino man, whose name I learned was Lauro, we were still struggling to carry Aaron to Lauro's fishing boat. We both supported Aaron's limp body between ours by each throwing one of his arms across our shoulders. It was in this way that we walked, as quickly as our position would allow and with Aaron's feet dragging behind us, towards the bright blue hull of the ship that Lauro had pointed out to me as his. Lauro's son followed along slightly behind.
With my heart in my throat, I kept expecting to see some local just around the corner who would shout out to ask just exactly "what were we doing, dragging an unconscious, bleeding, American?" But to my utmost relief, except for a couple of arguing fishermen who were a ways off and paid no attention to us, the wharf was blissfully quiet.
At last we reached the boat, and Lauro and I shuffled down the deck, Aaron in tow, till we reached a small cabin where we laid Aaron down on a small cot inside. After rapidly spouting off a series of words in Tagalog that I did not understand, Lauro took his son by the hand and began to lead him out of the cabin.
An idea occurred to me. Hurriedly, I reached over and carefully slipped off of Aaron's wrist the gold watch that he had stolen from the security guard back at the lab.
"Wait!" I called when they were halfway out the door, and they did, stopping and turning around. "Thank you," I said simply, letting my eyes show all the gratitude I felt and offering the gold watch to Lauro.
For a second, he just looked at it in my hand, before stepping forward and taking it, giving me a slight nod. He then proceeded to explain to me, by use of sign language and very broken English, that we were going to push off. I nodded to signify that I understood, and, pushing his son out before him, Lauro walked out, closing the door to the cabin softly behind him.
As soon as the door was shut, I turned my attention upon Aaron.
With as light a touch as possible, I examined his wounds. The graze on his shoulder would need to be stitched up, but it was the wound on his thigh that made me nervous. I am no expert on gunshot wounds, but I know enough that the bullet needed to be removed—and that scared me. True, I am a doctor, but the term is applied loosely; as I said before, I am no expert on gunshot wounds.
Sliding the backpack off my shoulders where it had remained since Aaron had ordered me to put it there, I dumped its contents onto the bed and sifted through it till I found a small med kit. Ripping it open I found a scalpel, tweezers, a small flask of iodine, a needle, biodegradable suture thread, and a multitude of bandages. There were no anesthetics or painkillers, which made me even more nervous, as I would have to do it the old fashioned way. I could only hope that pain was dimmed when one is unconscious.
I decided to start on the wound to his thigh first, as it was the more serious of the two, so ripping the scalpel out of its packaging, I carefully cut out a neat square in the fabric of Aaron's jeans around the area of the wound.
Poised over him, tweezers and scalpel in hand, I hesitated. I looked over at his face, my eyes taking in every detail: the stubble on his jaw, the slightly parted lips, the relaxed eyelids that hid brilliant blue eyes made even sharper in color by how keenly he viewed everything, missing nothing. He wasn't overly handsome, with his messy sandy brown hair, lined face, and sharp jaw line, but his features were markedly masculine and seemed so to me as I viewed him.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered, before beginning to probe through his flesh, looking for the bullet. I tried to be as gentle as possible, but even though unconscious, he still hissed and groaned in pain, unable to hold still while his fists clenching the bedspread so hard I worried they would tear. I wondered vaguely if, were he conscious, he would try to bite back the pain he felt on my account. I thought that he would.
After what seemed to me like hours, I finally fished out the bullet and was rewarded with the satisfying clink it made as I dropped it into an empty water glass that was on a table by the bed.
I wished I had something to properly clean the wound, as I remembered that iodine should not be used in deep wounds, but seeing as my resources were limited I settled with simply wetting a bandage with it and cleaning the area around the wound.
Stitching it up was the next step, so I threaded the needle and began with as neat stitches as I could. I winced every time I threaded the needle through Aaron's skin, and every time he drew in a sharp breath.
When I had sewn his wound shut, I tied it off, using my teeth to cut the excess thread.
Comparatively, treating the graze on his shoulder was child's play.
Carefully sliding off Aaron's leather jacket and removing the stained grey shirt underneath, I poured a very small amount of iodine into the graze. He hissed between clenched teeth and stirred his shoulder, but as quickly as quickly as the pain started, it began to ebb and soon the liquid, and Aaron, were still. Using a bandage, I mopped up the drops that had trickled down his bare chest and dried the area around the wound. I then, once again, prepared the needle and suture thread, and stitched him up.
Leaning back I surveyed my work.
With my limited resources, I thought that I had done a pretty decent job, and any fault that there might have been in my work or for lack of proper medical equipment, I knew that Aaron's enhanced cellular repair would more than make up for it.
I suddenly heard the spluttering of an engine and felt the boat lurch under me. The boat was pulling away from the wharf and heading out to sea.
We were leaving Manila, and I felt instant relief.
My job was done.
I had gotten us to a relatively safe place, Aaron was treated (now resting quietly on the bed, his back propped up by pillows, still passed out), and we were on the move, which is what Aaron would have wanted.
I had made good of my promise, and now all I wanted to do was sleep.
off my shoes, and pulling out the rubber band in my hair so that it fell about
my shoulders, I curled up on the bed beside Aaron. My back to him but not
touching him, I closed my eyes and instantly fell asleep to the sound of his