Traumatized by what I was witnessing, my throat collapsed as fear coursed through my veins. Reaching down, I gathered up her body and pulled it into mine. With a shaky hand, I tried to locate the gunshot wound.
I shook my head viciously. This could not be happening. This had to be another nightmare. I’m not going to lose you. Come on, wake up. Come on, wake up! My eyes blurred with tears, and I blinked them away as I brought that face against my chest. “Come on, baby . . . Come on, you need to get up.” With bloody hands, I caressed her soft, perfect skin. I tried to wipe the blood off, but it continued to smear along her perfect cheek bones.
I wanted to scream from the top of my lungs as I rocked back and forth, trying to keep myself from breaking down. I wanted so badly to be strong. There wasn’t much I could do, but I needed to do something as I pressed my fingers along her soft eyelids. “Come on, baby, open your eyes. Just wake up for me.” AHHH! I needed to do something. I was useless! The love of my life was motionless and helpless, and there was nothing I could do about it.
I felt a hand press firmly against my shoulder, pulling me away, telling me that help was close by.
But help wasn’t there at that moment. Something needed to be done now! “No, I have to do something. I have to at least try.” Still rocking, I pressed my lips against the frigid lips that I had kissed a thousand times before, those perfect lips that used to make all my worry and stress disappear once they touched mine.
In between small gentle kisses, I began CPR. “Come on, baby, don’t leave me. I need you.”
“Sir, we need you to step aside.” A paramedic shoved at my shoulder as he and his partner hurried to Mia.
With hefty breathing, I stayed kneeling beside Mia as I watched them quickly work on her. They both lifted her body onto a stretcher. One held a hand at the wound while the other placed an oxygen tube against her face. Everything was happening fast as they rushed out of the building. I quickly followed behind as I heard them discussing medical terminology that I couldn’t understand. “Hemothorax” and “chest tubes” were mentioned. What the fuck was going on?
In the ambulance, the female paramedic quickly lifted Mia’s shirt and swiped a cloth along her rib to clean the blood. Then she cut small incisions along the fourth and fifth ribs. The male paramedic handed his partner a couple of tubes. He placed the first tube in one incision and the other tube in the second. Blood drained quickly from one of the tubes. “W-what are you doing?”
The female nodded at her partner, who hopped into the driver’s seat. “Sir, I need you to come in or stay back. We have to get to the ER now.”
I quickly jumped in and took a seat along the bench. The sirens went on and the ambulance moved at a rapid speed. Mia gasped for air as her chest expanded. My chest expanded along with hers in a sigh of relief. “Is she going to be okay?”
“I don’t know, sir. It’s hard to determine how severe the injury is at the moment. She’s lost a lot of blood. The gunshot appears to have pierced her lung. The tubes right now are helping her breathe. They are removing the blood that filled her lungs as well as pumping in air that she cannot breathe on her own.”
“B-but she’ll be okay, right?” I couldn’t help the desperation in my tone. I just needed to know she’d be okay. I needed to know that she’d wake up in a few hours and I could hold her again. I needed to know that I was not losing her.
I just needed . . . her.
Before I knew it, the ambulance came to a complete stop, the back doors opened wide, and they pulled the stretcher out, rushing her into the hospital. I hurried behind them, but I didn’t have a chance to look at her one last time. They were too quick for me as they hurried out the doors. I stood there, breathless, as my entire world came crumbling down.
As the minutes ticked by, my desperation increased. My clothes were splattered in blood, and I wasn’t sure whose it was anymore. I sat in the waiting room with other families surrounding me, waiting to hear the news about someone they loved as well. Despite all of the hustle and bustle, the only sound I heard was the clock ticking, second by second, minute by minute.
My legs bounced in place. I ripped my nails apart as I chewed at them savagely. The waiting game was excruciating, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I was going fucking insane. I plopped my head back against the wall and let out another groan in frustration. It had only been ten minutes since I last asked for an update, but it felt like hours ago. When I thought to ask again, the doors burst open. Glancing over, I saw my mother and Jimmie rush through them.
I stood in place and waited as my mother with teary eyes ran over to me. She threw her arms around me. As she trembled in my arms and sobbed, I tried to keep myself from breaking down. I exhaled deeply and held tightly on to her. I needed to comfort her, to keep myself from joining her in her meltdown. “It’s going to be okay, Mom,” I whispered.
She pulled back with wide green eyes and sniffed. “She’s going to be okay? You’ve heard from the doctors?” I shut my eyes and breathed slowly and steadily as I shook my head.
“Oh, Marcus . . .” She leaned in and wrapped her arms around me again.
Jimmie approached us. “Any news?” After I shook my head again, he gently nodded to express his understanding, and sat down in one of chairs.
“You must be hungry, baby.” My mother pulled away and reached into her purse. After she pulled out a tissue from her bag, she swiped it along her cheekbones. “I’ll grab you guys something to eat.” She went to turn.
“Mom, please, food is the last thing on my mind. I’m not hungry.”
Her eyes saddened. “Marcus, I need to do something. Let me feed my boys.” That was her way of keeping her mind occupied, a way to try and soothe the wrong. I nodded, and just like that, she quickly dashed through the doors.
“Vinnie is pissed the hell off.” Jimmie said in a harsh whisper as he looked around the room. I sat beside him and ran a frustrating hand down my face.
“The last thing I give two fucks about right now is Vinnie and his fuckin’ crew.”
“Yeah, well, how are they going to explain a dead fuckin’ Lou in the hidden street behind the club? When the surveillance video shows you running after him out of the building and then coming back minutes later with blood all over you?”
I shut my eyes, and through clenched teeth, I spat, “Well, if I recall, brother, you were the one that insisted I fuckin’ go after him. What did you expect? For us to come back holding hands singing ‘Kumbaya’?”