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  1. Ursy
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    Ursy Member

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    The Thin Green Line

    Discussion in 'Strong Character Contest' started by Ursy, Oct 2, 2007.

    Some people called it a freak accident. Others called it fate. Samuel Warren called it plain ass luck that he was still alive. He could still hear the truck crashing into the wall. So soon, in the blink of an eye, everything around him changed forever. As he sat beside Ellen Woodman, he couldn't even get himself to talk to her. No matter how or what he tried to say, all that would come out of his mouth were desperate sighs. He remembered the medics yelling that Johnny Woodman's left leg was completely gone. He had seen dangling flesh. How could he possibly look at Ellen and tell her everything was going to be alright? He couldn't. Nothing was alright. Johnny Woodman was not going to be alright.

    Samuel shook his head and decided he couldn't sit there any longer. As he stood up, Ellen looked at him and asked where he was going. "Just around. Don’t want to be here no more Ellie. I just... I'll shake it off and come back. Just need some fresh air." Samuel replied without even looking at her.

    "Sam...the doctor said you might still be in shock... and..."

    "I don’t want nobody tellin me nothin! You hear me? Give a guy a break!" Samuel hissed. Ellen cowered in her chair and began to sob. Sam immediately regretted taking his frustration out on her and gently knelt beside her. "Listen Ellie, I can't think straight right now. Ok. Maybe I am in shock, but this feeling I got ain't goin away soon. No matter how long I sit here in this God forsaken place. It ain’t never goin away. Those poor bastards... Ellie, I wont be far off. Just outside. I'll have a coffee and some fresh air and get back. Okay?"

    His voice was filled with emotion and Ellen Woodman knew very well that these guys never dared to show anyone how they felt unless it was absolutely necessary. Her husband was the same, and now kneeling beside her, Sam was giving her all he could, and she knew she couldn't ask for more. She nodded and whispered "Okay..."

    As Ellen watched Sam walk away, she realized it wasn't only the concern she had for him that made her ask him not to leave, but the fear of facing whatever she had coming alone. Johnny had been her foundation for so long, and just the thought of him being in a hospital bed made her tremble. Johnny was never the one to waver. Even from the moment they met 21 years ago, through their marriage, he was everything she knew. No matter what trouble they had, what hardships he underwent for their sake, he would not make a single complaint. That’s how Alaskans were, her father had said. Tough young men, ready to die. The war these fishermen fought was so different from what politics could bring, yet losing lives meant the same thing here, just like anywhere else in the world.

    The whole town was known for its King Crab bounty, and that was the only thing the town knew how to do. Their son Eddie's college fees had been painfully collected by Ellen and Johnny and he had left about four months back to start a new life. King Crab season was over, and Ellen had looked forward to spend some quality time with her husband. She couldn't believe how many dangerous journeys he's taken on the treacherous Bering Sea and yet she always knew he'd be home. That was what bothered her today. That feeling, that comfort was gone, and in its place was loneliness. she felt so hollow she thought her heartbeat might be reverberating through the hospital.

    Samuel made his way out of the hospital and bought himself a hot coffee. Sitting outside the cafe, he shivered and then pulled his jacket tightly around himself. Was it just yesterday that he had been with Johnny, Darren and Pete at the docks? Was it just yesterday that they called him a wuss for not letting Pam know his true feelings? Was it just yesterday that Johnny tearfully read a letter from his boy Eddie telling him how much he missed his dad's crabby stench? Was it just yesterday that Darren had announced Marcy was pregnant with their third child? Was it just yesterday that Pete said he's done paying Old Willy his loan? Sam couldn't even begin to comprehend what this would do to the families let alone their small village community. Was it just yesterday that they were sitting at Bill's Beer pub outside? Just yesterday. And today they were inside that appalling place and one by one, they were leaving him all alone.

    "Just went right through it did." Bill animatedly related the story to a local reporter. "Me boys were sitting over there, and Johnny was ordering the beer. The rest of em were having a merry conversation and then yells Johnny to Sam sayin 'Oi Sam, get that beer and fries will ya? I can’t carry every goddamn thing around here! I ain’t your mother!' and goes and sits at the table. I'm tellin you young man, that Johnny's a lifesaver. If he hadn't done what he had done... well then, young Sam would be six feet under by now. The boy gets up and comes over and in no less than 2 seconds the wall right there blasts into pieces and the truck just runs over all three boys over there at full speed. They ended up yonder over that road there and the truck just went rollin over. The driver was found dead, suspectin the bastard fell asleep or somethin. You shoulda seen the look on young Sam's face... People say he's lucky to be livin, but those fellas were his whole life... and his whole life is now almost gone..."

    As Sam finished his coffee he felt another tear fall and didn’t even bother to wipe it off this time. The scenes from the night before still ran through his head like a movie.

    Stop. Rewind. Play. Pause. Johnny looking up at him as the medics take him away. Play. Pause. Darren's head hanging loosely at a weird angle and his blue eyes staring up at the sky. Play. Pause. Pete missing. Play. Pause. Seeing Pete sprawled a few feet below. The search lights making strange shadows in the night. Play. Pause. Medics announcing Pete dead at the scene. Stop. Rewind. Play.

    The tears flowed easily now. Sam had no idea why he was saved from such a horrible death, or why his three friends had to face it. Neither one of them had ever done anything wrong and now two of them were gone, and Johnny was holding on to his life. Doctors were trying to make him stable, and many surgeons and medics kept walking in and out of the ER Unit. Marcy and Sandra had been in and just like they were supposed to, wept silently for their dead husbands, and comforted Ellen. The whole town had been walking in and out of the hospital from dawn till then. He had seen Pam walk in when he ordered his coffee, and that made him realize how short life really was. He couldn't think of any reason why he was saved from that tragedy except for Pam.

    Her husband had died just two years after their marriage when he was crab fishing and she had moved in from the neighboring town over to Sam's rented out top floor apartment, six months pregnant. She had told him that she wanted to forget her previous life and move on, and give her child a new beginning. For a little boy who didn't get to see his father, Fred had turned out well and was now a strong ten-year-old boy. Pam had made her feelings for Sam clear later on, but Sam's fear of putting her through the same pain her husband did, and putting Fred through such a horrible experience had kept him at bay. Fred was more like a son to him now and he knew Pam understood. But it never took away the sadness in Sam's eyes. Happiness was just a step away, and he could never take it, for the fear of losing two people he held very dear to him.

    Suddenly he saw Pam running out of the hospital. Immediately he knew something was wrong and he sprang up from his seat and ran towards her. Pam yelled as he came near "Its Johnny. Hurry!"

    Sam never remembered how he got to the room. He didn’t even see Ellie weeping inside. He walked towards the figure that lay in bed, eyes closed, only a continuous beep on the monitor could be heard. A thin green line. He knew what it meant. Gently, he held Johnny's hand in his and bowed his head. "I'm sorry son, we did the best we could. There was just too much internal bleeding." The doctor said. Ellen stood up and walked over to Sam. "Its for the best. He would have never been himself.. if he... but now he's safe." she said assuredly. Sam looked around and saw how transformed Ellie was. No matter how much strength the men had, it was the women who held themselves together at the times that mattered the most. He let out a heart-rending cry and held onto Ellie. "It's Okay Sam... Everything will be okay. We'll all need some time, but everything will be okay."

    The funerals were held together in a Monday afternoon. Eddie had managed to make it, and as Sam looked at him now, standing next to his mother, he could see he was already becoming the man his father bred him to be. Even though everyone had tears to shed, the town had come together, and that was what mattered the most. During the preparations for the funeral, and even throughout the service, Sam had been haunted by that single word, luck. Why he had been there, why he was called away, what made him survive a sudden death, and all the questions had pointed him in Pam's direction. As he walked towards her, she smiled, and he felt his heart skip a beat.

    "How are you holding up?" she asked him. "Mmm... well... I guess there won't be an answer to that question for some time... I... er... Pam..." Sam was stuttering and Pam wasn't helping him as she looked up at him with her baby blue eyes. Suddenly Fred came and jumped up at Sam and he grabbed him and threw him in the air. "Getting a little too heavy there for this here thing little fella! I think I heard my back crack!" Sam said smiling. "But I ain't fat Uncle Sam! I ain't fat! and besides, mommy can still do it!"

    Fred was insistent. Pam smiled. "Maybe you are not fat. Maybe Sam is growing a little old..." she said. As the three of them laughed, Sam found the strength he was looking for. "Dear God... I can't believe I'ma sayin this... Pam... I've been thinking... after the accident... I was saved for some reason and I think I know who that reason is..."

    Sam was looking at the ground and Pam could feel his strain. She told Fred to get down and held Sam's hand tightly. "I know... Sam... I feel the same..."

    Some people called it fate. Others called it a bad idea. Samuel Warren called it plain ass luck that he was still alive on that Sunday morning as he watched his bride walking towards him. Fred winked at Sam as he walked his mother down the isle. He saw Ellen Woodman, Sandra Glen and a heavily pregnant Marcy smiling at him. For whatever reason Johnny Woodman saved his life that night, he knew today, he finally realized his dream.
     

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