Guest post by Gerry Goldshine
You all know that ethereal place between consciousness and sleep? That’s where I thought I was when I heard the sirens. Getting louder. Growing closer. Jeez, can’t a guy get some sleep?
“Gerry, hang in there buddy! They’re going to get you out of there.”
I recognize that slow Southern drawl. It was Jim Wesson, my Sergeant. While I liked working for Jim, dreaming about him, well that was just odd. Odder still was what he had said and that didn’t makes any sense. And why did he sound so worried?
“You’re gonna be okay, Gerry We’re gonna get you out of there real soon.”
Wait, now that was Phil Sutsos, a Petaluma Fire Paramedic. I’d know that voice anywhere. Why wouldn’t I be okay? Get me out? Why wasn’t anyone making any sense? Why does everything look all blurry? Crap, where are my glasses? How can I go to work without them? Why does the windshield look all cracked? Windshield? Well, that’s strange. I know I’m asleep but if I don’t wake up, I’m going to be late for work. Wait, now what’s that noise? I think I recognize that sound, but what is it? It’s like a go-kart engine, revving up then slowing down, repeatedly. There was another noise, similar but at a constant level. What were they? I hear someone else shouting but I can’t make out what they’re saying. What is going on? What did I eat before going to bed to cause a dream this bizarre?
“Petaluma, Medic 91. We’ll be enroute Santa Rosa Memorial, Code three with one patient.”
Code Three to Memorial Hospital? Boy, someone must really be a mess if they’re taking to Memorial Hospital instead of Petaluma Valley Hospital and Code Three to boot. I wonder what happened. Whatever, it just means more paperwork for me. I can hear another siren…but this one is very muted. Who keeps asking me these silly questions? I think I answer but then I forget the question. Okay, what am I doing inside an ambulance?
“Gerry, can you hear me?”
Of course I can hear you. Stop yelling! Why wouldn’t I be able to hear you? Who the hell are you anyways? How come my bladder feels so full? Hey, why can’t I move?
“Hey, I need to pee!”
I am surprised at the sound of my own voice.
“Gerry, you’ve been in a bad car accident. You’re on a back board. We can’t let you move.”
An accident? I don’t understand. What accident? Why won’t they let me pee? I really need to pee. If they don’t let me go pee, it’s going to be unpleasant. I don’t particularly want to wet my uniform pants. Wait, where are my pants?
“Gerry, your wife is here. Try not to talk. You have a broken jaw.”
Broken jaw? What was she talking about? For that matter, who was she? Then, into my line of sight stepped my wife, Linda. Out of the corner of my eye, I see what appears to be my closest friend, Officer Tim Aboudara, but for some reason, I can’t turn my head to look at him. Something was holding my head in place, keeping me from moving. I sense that they both are worried. Very worried. Hold on, Tim’s in civilian clothes? Shouldn’t he be in uniform?
“Would somebody please tell me what happened?”
I’m starting to get frustrated and I’m not sure who answered; I think it was Tim who replied, “You’ve been in a car accident. Someone crashed into your patrol car. You’re at Memorial Hospital.”
An accident? Didn’t someone tell me something about an accident? Patrol car? That makes sense; I’m a police officer. But something’s not right. Why am I having so much trouble talking? Why can’t I move? Why don’t I understand any of this? I can’t figure this out and I don’t like that.
“Gerry? Linda is here.”
Here? Where am I? This is not making any sense.
“Where am I? What happened?”
“You’ve been in a car accident. You were at work and someone hit your patrol car head-on. You’re hurt and you’re at Memorial Hospital.”
Was that Tim? Yeah, that was Tim. What’s he doing here? Wait, didn’t he say something about a car accident. Crap; that was a brand new patrol car. Who is hurt? No, I’m fine. Right? Okay let me see if I got this straight.
“You’re saying someone ran into me, in my patrol car? My new patrol car?”
Well, doesn’t that just suck! I was in a car accident and in a brand new patrol car. Shit! The brass isn’t gonna be happy with me. Dammit, why was I so confused? Wait a second! A car accident? Right, that’s my job. I investigate them. Insurance. What? Yeah, what about insurance? Oh no, no. Don’t let this happen to me.
“Please. Tell me I wasn’t hit by an unlicensed, uninsured driver on their way to the Petaluma Mushroom farm.”
I heard several people chuckle but I certainly wasn’t trying to be funny. Mushrooms? Why did I just mention the mushroom farm? Oh yeah, I think I had just investigated an accident where the guy who caused it was unlicensed, uninsured and on his way to the mushroom farm just outside of town. What did that matter to me?
“No. They had a license and they have insurance.”
“Well, that’s good isn’t it?”
“How bad is my new car?”
“Looks like I’ll be able to buy a new house now, right?”
More laughter. Buy a house? What was I thinking about? Ow! Never mind that, why does my face suddenly feel like someone hit me with a baseball bat? My head hurts too. Hold on; so do my knees. And my shoulders. You know, there is pain everywhere; my whole body hurts! It hurts a lot. Okay this is getting very scary now and I’m not laughing. I am getting really afraid.
“Hey, um…somebody. Hello? I’m starting to feel a whole lot of pain here…”
“I’m sorry but we can’t give you anything for pain until you have a CAT Scan. You’ve had a pretty bad head injury.”
Who said that? No. No. No. You don’t understand; this REALLY hurts a lot! It hurts real bad! Wait, did I say that out loud or just think it? Why does it hurt so much? What happened to me? I don’t understand. I can feel tears welling up in my eyes but I don’t care.
Be sure to check back in for Part 2 which will be posted mid-week. It’s worth the wait!
Born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Southern California.
Upon graduating California State University, Los Angeles, Gerry
enlisted in the Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
After leaving active duty in 1979, he worked for the Sonoma County
Sheriff’s Office. From 1980 until his retirement in 1996, he was a patrol
officer, traffic officer and at Petaluma Police Department.
He’s married, has a daughter and lives in Sonoma County, California.