Thursday, April 30, 2020

Irons in the fire

A lot of the crazy-busy stuff I've got going on would take ages to properly describe and even then would likely only make sense to me.

So let me just say, "crazy-busy."

Snapshots of the morning.
Parts came early! 

Nona wants her hair cut. Too hot already!

What's better than cackleberries?

Morning sun on straw and spring grass

Cackleberry production crew

Looks better in spring sunshine than in a winter snowstorm!

Buying a new bed today

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sunday comms check

"Salt, Streetcar. Romeo."

"Lumpy chicken. Mike?"



I just caught the Adventure Express. Didn't see it coming.

The ride is extremely dynamic. It's blown me completely out of my old guy rut. I'm still an old guy but the ride is so kinetic it feels a lot like green ink ops. It feels very alive, and that's been missing for a long time.


"It ain't dyin' I'm talkin' about. It's livin!"

Agustus McCrae


I'm in the middle of a big fencing project. The point of the initial phase is to rebuild a cross fence dividing a square mile pasture in twain. The fence was in place years ago but is in serious disrepair. When rebuilt it will allow grazing to be more properly managed, including keeping cattle out of a larkspur infested draw until the toxic plant is finished flowering and becomes much less of a hazard.

It's a lot of work. A major complication is the nerve impingement I'm dealing with. All non-extinction medicine being presently outlawed, who knows when I'll get it fixed. So I simply keep going. It hurts, but so what? My pain burden sucks but is so much less than so many people deal with that I'm a slacker if I don't charge ahead to the best of my ability.


Yesterday someone asked me, in essence, why I'm happy and not whining all the time. They believe my burden is too great and feeling sorry for myself is the proper path.

Part of the answer is this. Once upon a time I held a young sailor's heart in my hands when it beat its last. Who am I to cry and whine about a life I have when David Wayne Cornell -- and so many others -- gave up everything they had and could ever have to support and defend the Constitution of the United States?

It's so very simple really.


I am blessed beyond measure, and that's a fact.


Assorted images.




Middle of the Road

These panels

On this trailer

kids, prairie

Don't know, but I'm researching

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Oh for firetruck's sake!

He said, having somehow inadvertently published an incomplete very rough post beginning...

When wally world is deserted, it's a great time to be shopping. If you must, you know, actually shop.


It's been an extremely busy week. While the recent storm slowed outside ranch work, pop up tasking provided a great deal of vital inside work.

A couple of weeks ago the Big Aircrew Chief presented me with an "opportunity to excel." That's what was often said in the navy bitd when one was presented with what looked like a tough and complex job. In the navy I learned over time that whining about the impact such tasking had on my poor, persecuted self didn't help with task execution and didn't really even make me feel better. I also discovered that doing caused the tasks to be done, eventually, and that the doing of hard tasks was the reward. What a concept, what a lesson.

Now I have on my plate a tough and complex job. None of the other things on my plate have magically vanished. This is become the time for suck it up and drive on. The doing will see the tasks done, eventually, and the rewards will be, as usual satisfying and fundamentally right.

It's a grand and fulfilling thing to be alive and presented with opportunities to excel.


The slow moving weather system took its time clearing the AO. It was a very cold system, when placed in perspective of April. Wednesday night the mercury tumbled down to 6 degrees, Thursday night all the way down to 4 degrees.

The snow drifts have impeded initial initial operations in the 2020 fencing campaign. Stage zero, a bit of unanticipated chicken enclosure work, needs to be completed first. It's a response to chicken scratching damage at various locations; the intent is to properly confine the birds. My rules of engagement are restrictive, so no feather clipping is allowed. Therefore the fence must go higher. I think it'll work, but I won't be surprised to find myself eventually installing an overhead containment system with additional chicken wire. However, first things first, and don't place the cart before the pig.

While waiting and confined (heh-heh) inside by weather and pop up tasking, I was able to execute a surprising but effective maneuver as I got stuck into tough and complex.

The very thing!

Tough and complex doesn't mean you can ignore routine maintenance.

Or chicken chores!

We seem to have discovered that at our place and with our chickens, oatmeal is the key to egg production.

They love their oatmeal!

They're keeping an eye on me!

As usual, increased tasking has resulted in decreased blogging. Sigh. There's lots of room to increase efficiency, but it's a tricky balance just now. It's life.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Friday, April 17, 2020

After the storm

We had a declared winter storm yesterday. It was what I would have called normal April snow, but hey, I'm old and busted.

It did get very cold overnite, down to 4 degrees for about an hour.

We had a couple of nice-ish days following the Easter snow. Not warm but above freezing, lots of sun, lots of wind. The chickens seemed to be down with it. This was Wednesday.

Here is yesterday morning.

And afternoon.

The Big Aircrew Chief recently revealed a new and previously hidden pathway. His message was clear -- walk it or not, the choice is yours, but it's probably a good idea.

Therefore I am embarked on a challenging and thus far very rewarding journey, and it will be henceforth part of my big adventure.

Pushing me right the hell out of my comfort zone, which is great!

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Corpsman Chronicles XXXIV: Super RBOC, I think I love you (part iii)

What's the difference between a fairy tale and a sea-story? A fairy tale begins, "Once upon a time..." A sea story begins, "This is no shit!"

I try to be careful to change names, but to the best of my recollection the events and locations are substantially correct. Of course I can only describe events from my perspective, so there's that. Readers who were present will doubtless have different recollections of any particular event. This is what it was like to serve in my tiny slice of the U.S. Navy between the late 1970's and early 1990's. It really was an adventure.

Here's part three of the Super RBOC saga.


This is no shit!


"Do you want to drive?"

My EMT/driver -- who I'd met only an hour or so before -- and I were approaching our ambulance, parked near the north entrance of the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. We'd just dropped off our patient, a three year old girl who had choked on a vitamin, and it was time for us to head back to the clinic at Oceana.

Oceana was 22 miles to the east in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Naval Hospital, officially a Naval Regional Medical Center (NRMC) was, perhaps unsurprisingly, located in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Oceana was officially Naval Air Station Oceana (NAS Oceana or NASO) and was one of two east coast navy Master Jet Bases. All the F-14 Tomcats and A-6 Intruders that deployed aboard east coast aircraft carriers were based at Oceana. The clinic where Rebecca and I worked provided direct medical care for all the active duty sailors at Oceana and their family members. Although it served the Air Station, the clinic itself was a part of NRMC Portsmouth, and was therefore officially Branch Medical Clinic Oceana. Confused yet? Don't worry, you will be.

Anyway, the clinic was 22 miles away via I-264. It was getting on toward 1600 (4 p.m.) and it was a weekday. Which meant the traffic was gonna suck. Even back in those halcyon days of the early 1980's.

I was just slightly confused by Rebecca's question, which was par for the course on a day which featured oddities, puzzles, surprises, strangeness, and confusion. Rebecca, who was a Hospitalman Third Class (HM3/E4) and was both a certified ambulance driver and an intermediate level EMT (EMT-I), had been at the wheel when we transported our patient to the hospital. In that sense, she was the driver of record for the transport. I was the paramedic of record for the trip. While I was also certified to drive the ambulance, it wasn't in my experience customary or common to swap places.

"Not particularly," I said. "Why?"

"I don't know," she said, "some guys are a little squirrelly about female drivers."

I knew that was true. It was true about me, except that I was usually "a little squirrelly" about having anyone who was not me at the controls when I was traveling in a motor vehicle. It wasn't a male-female thing though. I just knew for a fact that no other human being was as skilled and competent behind the wheel as I.

"Shit Rebecca, you signed the yellow sheet, it's your aircraft. Don't do anything squirrelly and I'll be fine."

We had arrived at our ambulance and paused to look at each other across the stubby hood of the vehicle, she on the driver side and I on the passenger side. We'd hardly talked at all and I hadn't taken time to really look at her. I'd recognized the fact that she was attractive and well put together, but as I finally took a good look I realized that she was quite beautiful. She had dark hair and dark eyes sparking with good humor. She had a pixie grin and her face was clearly made for smiling. There was something elfin in the way she carried herself but she was neither petite or diminutive. I realized with a bit of a start that if you looked up "hot chick" in the dictionary you'd certainly see her likeness illustrating the entry.
1982 Dodge ambulance, nearly identical to the rig we were operating.

We jumped in and fired up. I eschewed the seat belt in a misguided attempt to demonstrate confidence in her driving abilities.

She glanced at me and paused for a moment. "Seat belt."

I really liked that and couldn't help but smile. It seemed like Rebecca wasn't going to bring a lot of bullshit to the party. I buckled up while she shifted and began to back out.

"What's a yellow sheet?"

A horn blared suddenly and Rebecca slammed on the brakes, then shifted to drive and pulled back into the parking slot. The day shift exodus had begun and the parking lot was a swirling madhouse of Brownian vehicular motion. She shifted to park and put her head down on the steering wheel.

"Speaking of squirrels," I said.

She looked at me out of the corner of an eye. "Sure you don't want to drive?"

"Are you in a hurry to get back to to the clinic?"

"Not really."

I reached down and grabbed the radio handset. "Oceana Medical, two-one-four."

"Go ahead 214."

"We're gonna delta RTB 60 mikes for traffic if that's okay."

There was a pause while the youngster on the radio got a translation and instructions.

"That's approved 214. Monitor handheld and report when enroute."

"Two-one-four wilco and thanks."

I hung up the handset, grabbed the brick, and said, "let's get some chow."

"I didn't bring my wallet," said Rebecca.

"Don't worry, they'll feed us."


At that time when you entered the hospital from the north you could choose the Emergency entrance -- clearly marked with big red and white signs and featuring automatical sliding doors -- or opt for what the enlisted swine some people called the "servant's entrance," a nondescript and somewhat battered metal door about 75 feet to the east (left as you face the building) of the more garish and inviting ER entrance.
This is the north side of Building 3, which was "The" hospital during the time I'm writing about. You can see ambulances reverse parked near the ER entrance, which is the covered area to the left of the ambulances. It's hard to see, but the "servant's entrance" is farther to the left, with a little, tiny ledge overhanging a door. IIRC, we had parked between the ER and servant's entrance. At the time there were straight-in parking stalls along much of this side of the building, backed by two lane roadway, which was itself backed by a rather expansive park-like area with lots of grass and trees. This image was made during construction of the "New" hospital, which is going in where the park-like area, parking, and roadway once lived.

Here's a representation of what the place looks like now.
I led Rebecca to the servant's entrance. Although it had been several years in the past, I had once been assigned to the hospital while waiting for my first aviation Class C school. In that sense, Portsmouth Naval Hospital was my old stomping grounds.
The south or front side of Building 3. Go in the front doors, take a right into the "Admiral's Passageway," and the OOD Office is the first door on the left. Note the two-star flag on the yardarm. Apparently the Admiral is in the house, no doubt yelling at a bunch of doctors playing dress up.

Just for fun, this is the back gate of the NRMC complex. I broke my arm climbing over that gate while trying to navigate my way to my Leckie Street apartment after closing down the club one night.

The metal door opened into the middle of a long corridor running east and west, or left and right. To the right was the Emergency Department; to the left was pharmacy. We went left toward pharmacy and then hard right into another corridor that went all the way to the front or south side of the building. My intent was to visit the OOD (Officer of the Day) office just off the grand entrance lobby up front. As we were passing the main bank of elevators, however, one of them dinged, opened, and disgorged a shitload of day-check corpsmen frantic to leave the building before quittin' time. It's a naval hospital tradition. Was back then anyway.

It was the only time of the day when there wasn't a crowd waiting for an up elevator. As a former 11th floor worker who'd nearly always had to take the stairs (not having the luxury of waiting 45 minutes for an elevator) I almost instinctively darted into the empty elevator, dragging Rebecca with me. The OOD Office could wait. She'd mentioned guys being squirrelly, so I wanted to show her something about the famous squirrels of Portsmouth Naval Hospital.

I stabbed 11 and the doors closed. The smell and sound and lighting and movement of the elevator was exactly as I remembered from years ago. It might have been the first time I felt a visceral connection with the past.

"Did I ever tell you about the squirrel I murdered up on 11?"

"I'm pretty sure you didn't," she said with a captivating grin.

The elevator lurched to a halt on two. A khaki-clad Ensign boarded. On the collar opposite his "brown bar" he wore the gold oak leaf and branch or "twig" of a Medical Service Corps officer. In his middle thirties, he was older than most Ensigns. He pressed a button, and turned his back to us to face the doors, as you do on an elevator.

"If I didn't know better," I said to Rebecca, nodding toward the Ensign, "I'd say some HM1 got busted to Ensign."

The Ensign spun around and looked at me, face frozen between a glare and curiosity. Then he recognized me.


We shook and I introduced Rebecca.

"You're looking good," he said, "I'll never forget the 'Death to Yankee Imperialist Pigs' thing. You're the only guy I ever met who put himself on report!"

The elevator stopped and the doors opened and the Ensign got off. "Good to see you again Evertson. You want to watch this guy Rebecca. Take care!"

The doors closed and the elevator lurched back into motion. Rebecca glanced at me with a raised eyebrow. "Yankee Imperialist Pigs?"

"Yeah. I was pissed about something one day when I worked up in the GI Clinic. I was sitting at a desk with a typewriter on it, and there was a supply chit in the typewriter. In the top margin of the chit in bold caps I typed DEATH TO YANKEE IMPERIALIST PIGS. Have no idea why. Then another guy, Penrose, typed up the supply chit and submitted it without seeing what I'd typed. Somebody else did and freaked out. I think it went all the way up to the Admiral before anybody even asked the GI Clinic about it. All of the sudden Penrose was on the hot seat. I couldn't let him swing for something I'd done so, not knowing what to do -- I mean I could have just gone to the Chief and fessed up -- I wrote myself up and presented myself and the report chit to the LPO, who was the Ensign you just met."

The elevator opened on the 11th floor and we got off. I stepped over to the east facing windows and looked down at the Elisabeth River. Such a pretty view, and one I'd always taken for granted when I worked up here.

"What happened?"

"They pretty much said, 'Oh, okay, just don't do it again. And that was a very courageous thing, putting yourself on report!' I thought they were gonna give me a medal or something."

Rebecca laughed out loud. It was a nice sound, and went well with the sparkle in her eyes.
"Anyway," I said, "speaking of squirrels..."

We turned away from the river view and walked to where the broad corridor branched left and right. To the left was Ward A, and judging by the colorful artwork on the doors it was still a pediatrics ward. To the right was Ward C; Gastroenterology (GI Clinic) up front and Nephrology/Dialysis in the back. Behind us was Ward B, and as I write this I can't remember what was there. The hospital was t-shaped, with the Ward B stack being the upright and A-C the crossbar. The B stack was 15 floors and contained the elevators. The A-C stack was 11 floors, so we were at the top of that.

We turned right and went through the double doors to Ward C. The corridor had offices and closets on each side, then opened onto a nursing station to the left and beyond that a ward area with a dozen or so gurneys made up with crisp white sheets. Big windows on the north and south suffused the area with plenty of natural light. The place was deserted, which was to be expected for a clinic at 1600 on a weekday. I walked over to the fourth or fifth gurney on the right or south wall.

"I was starting an IV on a little old lady," I said, indicating the gurney. "Her veins were awful, but I got lucky on the first try. I was taping a heparin lock in place when she looked up and saw a squirrel standing on that window ledge, looking inside."

"All the way up here?"

"Yeah, it was crazy," I said. I walked over to the window and pointed down. To the north of the hospital was a big grassy park-like area choked with deciduous trees. Typical for this part of the world. "This place is loaded with squirrels, and I suppose it wasn't unusual for them to climb up on the building, but that was the only one I ever saw up this high. Anyway, the lady was all happy to see the squirrel and I thought it was pretty neat too. I walked over and tapped the glass and the damned thing jumped off. The lady asked if it was a flying squirrel. It wasn't. Didn't even clear the driveway. Splat."

Rebecca laughed again and shook her head.

"I went from being a hero for a painless IV stick to an evil squirrel murderer in five seconds," I said.

Rebecca's eyes widened and I sensed someone behind me. I turned around and was face to face with navy Captain in whites. He was short and trim and wore glasses. His shoulder boards had the four gold stripes of an O-6 as well as the gold oak leaf and silver acorn of a Medical Corps officer.

"Captain Barzini," I said, "It's good to see you again, Sir." He'd been a Commander then, but Barzini was one of the gastroenterologists I worked for in the GI Clinic. Apparently he was happy in Portsmouth.

"Mike!", he said. "I wondered who I heard talking out here. You're looking well, How have you been?"

I introduced Rebecca and explained what we were doing at the hospital. We chatted for a few minutes, then it was time to get going.

"You watch out for this guy, Rebecca."

I led Rebecca down the stairway, explaining that it had been my usual pathway up and down those many years ago. "It was a pain in the ass," I said. "I could go down 22 half-flights in about a minute, but it took a lot longer going up."

Emerging once again on the first floor we turned right and went all the way to the front of the building. The OOD office was the first door on the left in an alcove passageway off the east side of the main entrance lobby, which was to our left as we entered from the north. Beyond the OOD office was Admiral's Country, where the Commanding Officer of the joint had his offices and indoor putting green. For anyone entering the front doors -- from the south -- the OOD office would be to the right.

Rebecca and I breezed into the OOD office. There was a Chief sitting at the desk on the left, and another semi-elderly Ensign I knew sitting at the desk on the right. As usual my mouth ran away with me. "Jesus Christ, did every HM1 in the building get busted to Ensign?"

Ensign Brower jumped up with a smile on his face and stuck out his big paw. "I got busted from Chief, Asshole!"

I introduced Rebecca and the Ensign and I did the thirty-second old home week thing. While we chatted the Chief practiced his glower on me.

"We're here on a transport from Oceana," I said, "Any chance you can rustle us up a couple of chow passes?"

"Sure, no problem," said Ensign Brower, pointing to the Chief.

The Chief wasn't happy and started to say something, then shut his yap and pulled out a couple of yellow chits. He scribbled his signature on each and grudgingly handed them over. He was technically correct to be stingy with the temporary chow passes, because enlisted folks receiving BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) were supposed to pay for their meals at the chow hall. If we had chow passes we wouldn't be trying to finagle meal chits, we'd just use our chow passes. Therefore we were both receiving BAS and should pay the seventy-five cents. But hell, sometimes it just feels right to make the system cough up a freebie.

"These are only good for one meal," he grumbled petulantly.

"Sure Chief, thanks," I said. Ensign Brower rolled his eyes a bit.

"You watch out for this guy Rebecca," said the Ensign as we left.

Up on two we handed our chow passes over to the ticket taker, who was still the same guy I remembered.

"Thanks Mr. Chester," I said, "It's good to see you again. How's your brother doing?"

Mr. Chester had to be pushing 80. He'd been taking tickets at the dining hall since WWII. His brother had been cutting hair in the barber shop for just as long. They'd been navy stewards in the war and had found post-war careers in navy medicine, so to speak.

"Mike Evertson," he said as we shook hands, "You're all grown up!" I was unsurprised that he remembered me. He was kind of a legend with names and faces. I introduced Rebecca and he shook her hand with a warm smile and a little bow. "You watch out for this one Missy!"

"Do you know everyone in this place?", Rebecca asked. I looked around. In truth I knew hardly anyone, but here and there I recognized faces.

"Well, I said, "I don't know that guy with the radar antennas." I pointed to a young man in hospital pajamas and a halo fixture, clearly a sailor-patient recovering from a c-spine injury.

Rebecca looked and laughed out loud. Then she covered her mouth and hid her face against my shoulder for moment. Her laugh was delightful and the brief touch of her face on my arm was nice. Really nice.

As we ate we did the usual "who are you, where've you been, and what've you done" pleasantries. Rebecca was from the northeast. We were almost exactly the same age, having been born less than two months apart. Unlike me, she'd joined the navy at 21, so I had three years of service on her. She'd been assigned to Naval Hospital Naples out of corps school, worked on the wards there, and earned EMT-I, EVOC, and ACLS ratings. She was a hard charger. She'd recently reenlisted and had drawn orders to Oceana.

"Why did all your friends tell me to watch out for you?"

"Ah, I guess I've got a reputation. I can be a real asshole."

Rebecca raised an eyebrow.

I shrugged. "It's probably good advice."

After chow we returned to our ambulance and I ostentatiously marshaled Rebecca out of the parking stall with navy flight deck director signals, which are most certainly not EVOC guiding signals. I hopped in, buckled up, and we embarked on the return journey to Oceana. There was still plenty of traffic, but it wasn't the early 'beat the traffic' madhouse. It was slow getting through the Downtown Tunnel beneath the Elizabeth, but pretty clear sailing on 264.

"What," asked Rebecca, "is a yellow sheet?"

"It's the form you sign when you accept an aircraft from maintenance to go flying," I said. It's been white since the end of WWII but it used to be yellow. You look over the up gripes and if you're okay with them you sign the yellow sheet and go aviating. It's the same thing you do when you sign the check out sheet for an ambulance, except you actually read the yellow sheet before you sign it."

Rebecca laughed. No one ever read the ambulance check out sheet. They just grabbed the clipboard, transcribed the previous ending odometer reading into the next line's beginning odometer slot on the form, and boogied.

"How did you know," she asked, "that little girl was choking?"

"It seemed pretty clear to me."

"But, how, I mean, I was standing right there and, I don't know, she looked unconscious to me. I was thinking 'oh-no' and you grabbed her and cleared her airway in two seconds! What did you see that I didn't?"

"Well, she was almost unresponsive but not quite. You could see she was squirming and trying to cough but about to go out. She was really red in the face but it was, you know, dark. Dusky. Her lips were turning blue. Man, she was hardly moving any air at all." I shook my head. "Mom was panicked enough to let her car drive away."

"Yeah," said Rebecca, "That was crazy. But how did you, um, how did you see all that and move so fast?"

"I just, ah..."

My mind stumbled a bit. How did I do that? It had been almost instinctive.

"Shit, Rebecca," I said, "that's a hard question. It's just training and experience, but that's not, that's not very helpful is it?"

"A little," she said. "I guess I, um, I'm pissed that I froze up like that."

"I didn't notice that you froze," I said, "you were right there ready to help. Sometimes it takes a second to get up to speed when something like that walks in out of the blue."

"You didn't freeze," she said quietly.

"Sure I did," I said. "I saw them get out of the car and I could see it was an emergency, but I didn't do anything until they'd walked through the door and right up to me. I froze up solid for a second or two."


"Yeah," I said. "How can you not? It's such a huge thing. It's life or death and you know it. That's, um, you can get overwhelmed by that. Especially with kids. Shit, when I saw that little girl choking I was terrified."


"Oh fuck yeah, Rebecca, I'm terrified every time."

"But you just, um, I didn't see that at all. You told Fish to get the car, then you said, 'give her here,' turned her over your arm and whack, vitamin came out. You said 'that's better,' listened to her lungs, and said, 'sound's good.' It was almost like you were bored! And why do you call him Fish?"

I laughed out loud. "You know, the movie Splash. Shit, I don't remember saying anything. I was, jeez, I was, yeah, I was absolutely terrified that that little girl was going to choke to death right there."

"You sure didn't show it!"

"Ah, you know," I said, "that's just game face. If you freak out then everybody freaks out and you're in the middle of a rat-fuck."

"I still don't see how you could do all that in two seconds," she said. "I don't see any way I could do that."

"Sure you can," I said. "It's just 'take your own pulse first' and 'stack the blocks.'"

"Mikey," she exclaimed with a quick glare, "what the hell does that even mean?"

Ruh-roh. I wasn't doing an adequate job explaining and she was frustrated. Pissed off even. But she called me Mikey! The day kept spinning up surprises. I realized that Rebecca was asking a question that I hadn't been hearing, or at least asking it from a perspective I wasn't appreciating. She carried herself like a pretty seasoned E-4 corpsman, but I sensed that she hadn't been hands-on during very many real and immediate emergencies. I'd been in her shoes but I'd forgotten what it was like. She wanted to know how to fight through panic, and me spouting my own cryptic mnemonics wasn't exactly useful.

"Okay," I said, "when I was in corps school doing CPR the Chief said 'at a cardiac arrest always take your own pulse first.' The point wasn't really to take your own pulse, although he said go ahead and do that if it helps you focus. The real point is to take a couple of seconds to look hard and assess what's going on, then drive in on the ABC's."

"All right," said Rebecca, "I remember hearing that too. so 'stack the blocks' is just the ABC's, right?"

I felt an unexpected flush of pride. Rebecca had nailed it.

"Yep," I said, "it's just that simple. It's always complicated, every emergency is different, but you just work through the ABC's and do what's needed."

Rebecca sighed heavily. "I hope I can do this."

Again the surprising flush of pride. I was really starting to dig this chick.

"You'll be fine," I said, "I'll show you a few tricks I learned in the army."

"You were in the Army?"

"Nah," I chuckled, "that's just something Jimmy Ritter used to say. He taught me a lot of good stuff."

Rebecca pulled off 264 and within a few minutes had us parked in the ambulance stall at the clinic. We strolled into the ER chatting quietly. A careful observer would imagine that we were very good and familiar friends rather than newly won acquaintances.

Fish was standing at my favorite place at the counter, scribbling on a chart.

"How's the duty?", I asked.

"So far so good," he replied with a grin. "How's the little girl?"

Good lad. Patients are people and continue to exist after they leave the ER. A lot of people didn't really get that. One of the tough things about practicing emergency medicine is doing the work dispassionately while recognizing the complete humanity of the patient.

"She's gonna be okay, I think. Probably gonna keep her over night. She and Mom and Dad had one hell of a day. Good job with the car, man. That really helped settle Mom down."

Fish grinned and colored a bit, seemingly happy with the praise, then turned back to his chart.

Rebecca headed for the Chief of the Day's office to check in the ambulance. I glanced into the physician's office and saw that my Airwing Flight Surgeon, LCDR Jamie, was on duty. It was closing in on 1800.

The Doc and I chatted for a few minutes. I recounted the choking incident and we discussed some of the potential complications April might face. I was a bit distracted though. I kept an eye out for Rebecca, wanting to talk with her some more before we called it a day and made our separate ways home. She came out of the COD office and quickly caught my eye. Her face lit up and I felt a strange but pleasant lurch in my chest. She breezed into the office and stood close.

"Dr. Chin," said Jamie, "wants to see you two here before morning quarters. Zero Six Forty-Five."

"Roger that," I said. "We'll be here."

Rebecca nodded. "See you in the morning, Doc."

We strolled outside and and into the lovely springtime evening, then slowly made our way across the driveway toward the staff parking area. In an interesting coincidence her maroon Lynx was parked next to my blue Mustang. She opened her door and sat on the drivers' seat with her feet on the ground. I leaned against the side of my car, strangely unconcerned about scratching the paint.

"So six forty-five," she said.


"What do you think he wants?"

"It's hard to say," I said. "Knowing Chin it'll involve career enhancing additional duties."

We chatted about a lot of little nothings, and before long an hour had passed. It was getting on toward sunset. One of the duty crew bustled out and headed for her car with a list in hand. Already time for the chow run.

"They posted the PFT schedule while we were gone," said Rebecca. "It's only three weeks away. I hate that test."

This would be the annual Physical Fitness Test for the clinic. Everyone on active duty was tested each year, usually in the spring. Sit ups, push ups, and a mile-and-a-half timed run. It was always easy for me, because I had to be fit for my aviating job. I worked out most days and ran five miles almost every morning. I usually ended up doing two tests; one at the squadron and one at the clinic. No one really liked having to do the test, but corpsmen seemed to hate it more than most. But then, a lot of corpsmen were chubby shading to corpulent. Rebecca was very much not.

"Yeah," I said, "it kind of sucks. It's not too bad if you work up to it though. I run every morning and that helps a lot. Want to join me?"

Strangely, I felt a bit nervous, like I was asking her out on a date. Interesting.

"Ahh," she groaned, shaking her head ruefully. "I suppose I should. "When and where?"

"Right here at zero-five," I said. "I keep my running stuff and some uniforms in the lockers, shower and shave before quarters. It's a good way to start the day."

"Yeah, right," she grumbled. She shook her head, let out a sigh, and gave me a weak but fetching grin. "Okay, I suppose I should. See you at five then."

She drove away, a pretty girl in a pretty red car. I fired up the mustang and snapped a cassette into the stereo while I waited for the motor to warm up. Zero-five then. Chrissie Hynde chimed in to accompany the throaty rumble of the V-8 motor.