The tall, handsome red-haired man ran into White Plains Medical Center’s Emergency Room, his face dead white and emerald green eyes wide with shock. His breath came in deep, rasping gasps.

“My wife…Trixie Frayne…gunshot victim.” His lungs burned with the effort it cost him to utter those bleak words to the admitting clerk. The brightly lit ER; colorful posters promoting hygiene and discreet reminders that payment was the responsibility of the patient; nothing registered except the panic that was threatening to overwhelm him.

The clerk gently touched Jim’s sleeve, and motioned for him to follow her. “Dr Hua is finishing up with a patient and is waiting to speak to you about your wife’s condition. You can wait in here.” She opened the door to a small Triage Room. “I’ll advise the doctor you’re here.”

It couldn’t be good. They wouldn’t put him in a room like this, alone, if they had good news to impart. Jim stared blindly at the examination table and the waxy paper that covered it, heart stuttering in his chest. His eyes closed in anguish as his body and mind braced for the doctor’s entrance. His large hands crept to the examining table of their own accord, crumpling the paper in tight fists as he ferociously bargained and threatened the higher powers. Pleasepleaseplease the never-ending refrain looped through his brain, his soul, ever since the phone call a mere half hour, but actually, in current Jim-time, a century ago.

She, who had faced countless hardened criminals, almost drowned thrice - once in a hotel swimming pool, in a sinkhole in a cave in the Ozarks, and then again in a powerful river; who was kidnapped and terrorized and lived to sparkle another day, was brought low by a 10 year-old boy standing in line with his mom at the coffee shop. A 10 year-old who found a gun under some bushes and decided to play with it; dropped it, discharging its lethal consignment into Trixie, while his mom was busy chatting on her cell phone.

A sharp rap at the door, and Dr. Hua pushed it open. “Mr. Frayne?”

Jim nodded, speechless. He couldn’t read the doctor’s expression. Brian looked that way sometimes. Sometimes when he had something bad to impart.

The smaller man, clad in blue scrubs with a hint of something dark red splashed across the front (Trixie’s blood?), stuck out his hand. “I’m Dr. Hua.”

“My…my wife. Trixie. How is she?” he got out hoarsely and prepared himself for the worst.

The man in front of him was almost swaying, his hand limp and ice cold. Dr. Hua shared the news as quickly as possible. “Your wife is a very lucky woman. The shot was a small caliber through and though in the meaty part of her left forearm. It missed the bone and any significant blood vessels. We gave her a local and cleaned up the wound – she had a couple of stitches on either side. Unfortunately they panicked at the scene of the shooting when they saw all the blood, and your wife fainted.”

“She’s…Trixie is ok?” Jim’s legs actually gave out and he sat with a hard plop on the little black stool that was always present in hospital emergency rooms and doctors’ offices.

“She had minimal blood loss compared to what she could have suffered if the bullet hit the ulnar or brachial artery. Mrs. Frayne will probably have some soreness after the local wears off. If she needs to, she can take a couple of Tylenol.” Dr. Hua noticed that color was returning to the man’s face, and his hands stopped shaking. It was a great outcome to what could have been a very tragic tale.

“I can take her home, then?” Home. Home with Trixie. The words never sounded so sweet.

“Yes, we were just waiting for the sign-off from the Women’s Pavilion.” Dr. Hua clapped Jim on the back. “She and the baby are doing just fine.”

Jim’s head snapped back and his emerald green eyes went wide with astonishment. “Baby?”

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