Light of Day
Parallel to the Blacklynn River was the old two-storey cider mill in
the midst of restoration. An overgrown wood lot blinded Jacob’s
view as he approached along Riverside Drive. An intense dread
flashed through him as he neared the building. An unmarked
cruiser and an ambulance sat by the front doors, with another
cruiser blocking the second entrance farther down. Police tape
covered the main entrance guarded by two young officers whose
imposing figures provided an added deterrence. People from the
area and drivers-by alike were gathering and murmuring as the
usual morbid curiosity developed.
In seconds the scene had Jacob shaking uncontrollably, his
abdomen squeezed tight and his knees felt weak. The contents in his
stomach curdled and immediately wanted out. What in God’s name
happened? he asked himself, as several horrifying scenarios played out
in his mind. He jumped out of his truck and raced for the entrance
when the two officers stopped him in his tracks. He began shouting
beyond them to a detective by the front doors; his queries for the
moment ignored. Just then the cruiser blocking the second entrance
backed up to allow the coroner’s car in. Jacob’s body went limp, an
agonizing fear weakening him completely.
Standing on his third-floor balcony, Jacob took in the panoramic view
of the north shore of Lake Ontario, the water a combination of greys
and blues with small whitecaps. The sound of those waves slowly
slapping up against the posts of the old wooden dock, grey with age,
quickly became a welcomed pacifier. He drew a deep breath of warm
air into his lungs — in the nose, out the mouth, recalling his training
in judo. That was his mother’s compromise on the less violent of the
martial arts. Just like so many kids who grew up in the early seventies,
Jacob had wanted to emulate Bruce Lee.
He had grown into a solid young man. At twenty-one, his sixfoot,
one-hundred-ninety-pound frame helped with his chosen
career in construction. He was one of the lucky few who loved his job
and was eager about going to work every day. Being a part of a
working-class family of five siblings from the small city of Saint John
instilled in him a fine work ethic. On this promising day it was
unseasonably warm for early May, and he thanked the day as a gift. It
was a matter of seconds standing on the balcony, barefoot and in
boxers, that provided confidence to wear a cotton button-up and
leave the windbreaker behind. There were only a few brilliantly white,
puffy clouds following a slow stream to the east — dots in the vast sky
of tropical blue. The sun had a direct line with no interference for its
skin-piercing UV rays to try and do their worst.
For so early in the morning, on the start to an otherwise average
Monday, he was surprised at the heat penetrating his forearm hanging
out the window driving to work. The current project he was working
on, a condo-conversion in an old warehouse district, was a thirtyminute
drive away. Behind the wheel with a heavy foot, to get what he
referred to as his “a.m. nectar,” he approached the same turn he took
every morning. He could feel the piercing eyes of an elderly woman on
the corner across the street locked in on him as he completed his turn.
Oddly, her expression seemed almost happy, for the most part.
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However, a circle of cold formed on the centre of Jacob’s chest,
penetrating inward. In that moment, he was overwhelmed by the feeling
that she knew who he was, or she knew something personal about him.
He looked over his shoulder, completing the turn, and squinting in an
effort to focus in on her through the rear-view. A chill enveloped him,
and for a second he experienced a pressing and almost uncontrollable
desire to crawl out of his own skin. He drove some distance, his chest
rose, and a pronounced sigh accompanied his exhale. He gently shook
his head and looked to his destination of dark roast and normalcy. Not
easily forgotten, the effects of the look were still resonating.
Sam Ellison came out from the back of his bright, clean, and newly
expanded bakery added onto the rear of his café. Sweat had glued
patches of flour to his face, neck, and arms. Jacob met his gaze and
they nodded to each other warmly.
Good crowd, Jacob thought. Looks like all the work paid off. They
exchanged smiles and asked after each other’s weekends.
“It’s a nice-looking start for a Monday out there.”
“It is at that. Are you finally able to keep your head out of those
ovens for more than five minutes at a time?”
“I would’ve been done an hour ago if I didn’t have to bake so
much banana bread. You know it’s inhuman to eat that much banana
Jacob pointed his finger at Sam, and with a wink said, “It is
mighty fine banana bread. I must admit. With the coffee, it’s my
sustenance, or life blood, or however you say it. And, it’s almost as
good as my mom’s.”
Looking down and rubbing his foot back and forth across a
cracked floor tile, Jacob frowned, the vertical lines between his eyes
becoming more pronounced as they squeezed together. The notebook
came out from his back pocket and his pencil from behind his ear like
a doctor pulling out a stethoscope.
“Almost as good as mom’s, eh? Hey, Jacob. Relax buddy; put the
pad away. It’s not even seven o’clock. And on a Monday at that?!”
“Hey, this isn’t the first time I called these guys about this.”
“Jacob, it’s not the end of the world.” But then Sam relented,
“Well, I suppose you’re right. That is where everyone stands, in front
of the till. I guess it doesn’t look so good, does it?” He shifted gears.
“So, am I gonna see you at the shop Wednesday night? I bought a set
of Marples, the chisel guide, and an oilstone from Lee Valley. We can
try them out.”
Jacob grabbed his usual, a large Colombian dark roast and two
one-inch-thick slices of banana bread. Just before reaching the door,
he spun around to see Sam waiting with his hands on his hips.
“Absolutely,” he exclaimed. “I’m looking forward to it. See you
tomorrow morning, Sam. Keep that banana bread coming.”
And Sam, shaking his head and smiling, raised his hand in
farewell. He was Jacob’s senior by almost seventeen years, but he saw
Jacob as mature beyond his years; most did.
The coffee was safely stowed away, and a smile resurfaced when he
looked at his watch; making the building department by opening was
in sight. He pulled out of the parking lot of Sam’s café and was easily
flowing into traffic before the congestion began. He hit the power
button and was surfing for something to listen to when he came
across “Sweet City Woman” by The Stampeders. The song, the smell
of banana bread, and there he was — five years old and back home
with his mom. She was wearing The Best Mom apron standing in the
kitchen baking a list of favourites, with the radio on as always. Of
course, banana bread was at the top. He put away the sweet memory
as quickly as it was found and changed the station. Aware that it was
an odd preference at his age, he sought out jazz.
The warm air blew in through his rolled-up, long-sleeve shirt and
tickled the hairs of his underarm and chest. Within seconds, he had
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undone his buttons. It wasn’t that long ago I was digging snow out
from the job sites. Rubbing his fingers together, he recalled the pain
from split and often bleeding fingertips from throwing salt around
the entrances and walkways. He took one more look at his watch as
he arrived at the office.
Henderson Construction & Design’s office was on the first floor
of a thirty-storey building by the lake downtown. As he came in the
entrance, Jacob saw elaborate furnishings, artwork, and plants
wherever he turned his eyes. He always stopped to admire how
everything flowed together — something new to him.
“Hi, Annie. Can’t help but notice you’re always the first one here
in the mornings.”
“That’s right,” she quickly replied, moving her stacks of papers
around like an orchestrated dance. “But I also get to leave between
three and four everyday. So, coming in early isn’t so bad. Anyway,
how are you coming along, Jacob? You’re into your second year and
still here; that’s a good sign,” she giggled.
“I’m doing okay. I love it, actually. The more I learn, the better it
is,” Jacob said, reaching across the desk to get the file and a cheque
for the building permit.
“Well, it’s not lost on the guys here how quick you’re progressing.
So, keep up the good work. Oh, speaking of work,” she slapped the
back of Jacob’s hand, “you have a couple of new files here.”
“This usually stays here. Don’t I have to review it with Donny?”
“Like I said Jacob, it’s not lost on them how well you’re
progressing. So apparently, Donny feels you’re ready to take the file
and get started on your own.”
“Thanks, Annie. Take care,” he said, unable to contain his
With exuberance, he hurried back to his vehicle, but it was an
awkward-looking sprint across the parking lot in heavy steel-toed
work boots. His heels hit first, and his toes loudly slammed down on
the pavement like the clop of a horse. Prior to his second stop at the
building department, he had a quick scan through the file. It was like
a gift he couldn’t wait to open. Before he pulled out of the lot, he
looked to the building across the street and he saw the same elderly
woman locked in another stare. Impossible. She wore a paisley
summer dress in multiple shades of brown. A beige scarf adorned her
silver and white hair with the balance of it wrapped around her neck.
Jacob’s eyes nervously darted back and forth a few times, while
pulling on the steering wheel to make the turn, but then letting it
swing back. He did this a few times. Looking down he paused with a
deep breath, then he looked behind him, to his left, then right. Finally,
he threw the gearshift into park. Once he’d summoned his courage,
he turned his eyes toward this strange-looking woman but was met
with an empty sidewalk and the grey stucco building behind it.
He swallowed a lump of air, felt the hair rise on his forearms and
neck, and shook himself from side to side to rid the ebb and flow of
goosebumps and cold tingling skin. He put the truck back in gear and
slowly drove away to continue his day. He forced his eyes wide open
to refocus and looked in the mirror several times. “What — the —
hell — was — that?!?” he said aloud. “She looked like a gypsy woman
or fortune teller, or … something. And where the hell did she go?
Jesus, Jacob, you’re losing it,” he said, as his voice dropped several
decibels. The last swallow of his dark roast painfully pushed another
dry ball of air down his throat, followed by yet another glance to his
watch. He swore at how much the ball of air hurt his throat. Then
another look in the rear-view and another glance to his watch…
Arriving at the building department, Jacob’s knees started to feel a
little shaky as he approached the tall maple and glass doors inside the
vestibule. On the other side worked a lovely co-op student, Sara
Millen. Marching in like on a mission, he lost his footing
momentarily, slipping over a freshly washed terrazzo, and almost
completed the splits. After an ugly recovery, he scowled at the floor
MARK J. CANNON
behind him where he just slipped. Well, can’t blame the floor for my
looking like an idiot, he thought. It would’ve been better if I tripped
over the caution sign that’s RIGHT THERE! He quietly chuckled.
Wondering if Sara had seen this, it didn’t take too long before beads
of perspiration started forming on his forehead, and his throat was
getting dryer by the second. Damn. I should’ve got another coffee. He
searched through his empty pockets for a candy or stick of gum, but
that only resulted in quietly cursing himself for not restocking. He
was grateful to see Sara wasn’t at the counter yet to witness his
ungraceful entrance. He was, however, surprised someone was
already at the counter being served. Did this guy sleep outside all night
to be first in line? he thought, looking at his watch: 8:36 a.m. Hmm, five
minutes after opening. Not bad. Taking a seat, he couldn’t help but
snicker at a sign posting the department’s hours straight across from
his seat. The sign, which was covered in clear plexiglass, provided a
reflection. He looked up to the counter, then quickly to his image to
pull a tuft of hair away from his sweaty forehead. No one had seen
anything, so a couple more times would suffice. He started shaking his
legs and tapping his hands on his thighs; at the same time, he surveyed
the place like he was watching a tennis match. He rubbed the sweat off
his hands onto his jeans, and with his fingernail, he tapped the glass of
his Timex. His classic timepiece, straps barely hanging on, with a
scratched and cracked faux crystal covering a barely visible face. It was
his eighteenth birthday present from his father.
“Isn’t Sara working today?” Jacob blurted out.
The building inspector, Jonathon Vargas, mumbled in a barely
audible yet patronizing tone.
“Just take a number and have a seat, Mr. O’Connell. Someone will
be along to help you.”
Jacob said nothing and kept his thoughts to himself. There were
all sorts of design problems for his employer, with this particular
building department. There were more inspection failures here than
in any other municipality in a thirty-mile radius. Failures where there
should be none.
This guy really is a dick. I can see why everybody gets so pissed off at
him. Damn it, I wish Sara was here. I got things to do. Jacob rolled his
eyes. Yeah, right. The shaking in his legs began to subside, then he slid
his back down, pushing his bum forward on his chair, crossed his leg and
began to drift. He closed his eyes and a smile returned thinking back to
an encounter with Sara on site only a couple of months after he met her
at the bar. He tried to ignore Vargas during his daydream. He was
becoming an intrusive factor in this part of his life. The few times he was
able to see Sara were exciting for him, providing Vargas didn’t ruin them.
That day was etched into his memory. It was like a movie he could
play over and over. Her fire-red hair, including the hair on her arms
and eyebrows, all caught his attention. He was amazed how it all
encompassed her; even the freckles crossing her cheeks and nose were
the same colour. His attempt to stay cool was failing, having great
difficulty hiding his bashful smile from her.
“Do you have the engineered drawings for the floor and truss
systems?” she asked. Vargas was furiously writing in his inspection
form, making furtive glances toward the pair. Jacob fumbled through
his file, dropping and picking up papers. He used the back of his
forearm to wipe the dripping sweat from his forehead. When he
finally gathered his papers, he stood up with a helpless look and
handed Sara a stack of drawings.
“Sorry, these aren’t the right ones, Jacob.” She held them out to
be put back in his file. “It is hot in here,” she whispered, looking at
him, and gently tapping her index finger to her cheek.
“Yeah, it is.” He used the side of his thumb to clear the little beads
of perspiration from under his eyes. “Thanks,” he said. His eyes
softened and his smile accented his crow’s feet and one dimple on his
left cheek. Sara couldn’t help but notice. When he handed the proper
drawings over, their hands touched, yet neither of them flinched or
pulled back. In his peripheral, Jacob could see Vargas quickly looking
back down at his own report and shaking his head. It wasn’t
accompanied with an observational smile, it was something else —
unclear, but definitely disconcerting.
MARK J. CANNON
As the inspection continued, Jacob held his hand out, indicating
she go first up the stairs. When they returned, he purposely went first
in front of her, which caught her attention. He remained quiet while
she went through her checklist. He acted as a guide more than a
nervous contractor waiting for the inspection to pass. There were the
occasional questions back and forth, but no straying off topic. After a
year into his job, Jacob had come to learn it was a common practice
in the business to distract inspectors in hope they would overlook
some of the incomplete items or minor infractions.
Finally, the inspection came to an end with Vargas dramatically
tearing the top copy of the triplicate inspection form. Jacob held his
hand out, and Vargas, completely lacking in affect, didn’t even
acknowledge him. He pulled a stapler from his back pocket and
affixed the inspection failure to the wall by the entrance of the
building. This was policy, but only when the contractor, or a
representative wasn’t present. He turned to Sara, inappropriately
eyeing her up and down and pointed to his code book.
“This is what steers you, Miss Millen, not some attractive site
superintendent, or assistant.” He accentuated the word in a teenagelike
insult. “From now on, make sure these guys have the work on the
checklist ready for the next phase before we head out for an
inspection. You’re wasting valuable time and resources just because
you think…” He stopped himself there, looking at Sara’s face. Jacob
ripped the inspection report off the wall.
“Take that outside, will ya?” Jacob said, feeling horrible for Sara.
“For Christ’s sake,” he added, spinning around, and walked to the
other side of the building so Sara wouldn’t feel any more
embarrassment than she was already experiencing. “Fucking prick!”
Jacob said to himself.
Out the building Vargas went, his long legs tight together as he
walked with odd short strides toward the municipal vehicle.
“Let’s go, Millen,” he barked out to Sara. “And get those
violations cleaned up. Don’t call for another inspection until you’re
ready next time,” he snarled.
Sara was not only embarrassed, she was furious with Vargas. She
felt that for now, being a co-op student, she had to take the insults.
But she indicated to Jacob how she really felt. Jacob turned to see
Vargas walk out, and Sara taking a moment to shuffle some papers
and compose herself. He walked back over and looked at her with
raised eyebrows and a small smile.
“Does he always walk like he’s gotta take a shit?” Jacob said,
expanding his smile. He hoped to ease her discomfort a little before
She smiled back. “Yeah. Pretty much,” she said, holding her hand
at hip level, forming a fist, squeezing it as tight as she could. “Ooh!”
And she walked out the door. Message delivered to a comrade in arms.
But when she turned back around, her long red hair, brightened
by the sun, caught his eye. An overwhelming feeling of familiarity
about her gnawed at him.
Jacob now recalled more awkward moments interacting with
Sara when Vargas was present. And one in particular rarely left his
thoughts. Everything is under a microscope when working for the
government. The mid-eighties hadn’t exactly experienced a profound
revolution of enlightenment in the workplace. But Vargas’s
behaviour was more than growing inappropriate, it was beyond the
pale when it came to Sara, especially when Jacob was there.
He ran up the stairs of another job site to catch up with Sara.
While arriving, he slowed down his breathing with a couple of barely
“Sara, you forgot to take the engineer’s report for the steel
columns and beams.”
“So, what exactly did they teach you in that school?” Vargas
quipped. Jacob had become familiar with his condescending tone and
look. “You’re supposed to know these procedures by the end of your
second year in school. What were you doing there? Or rather, who
were you doing there that made you miss so much?” Jacob looked at
him disgusted. Vargas continued, “Well? Did you spend all your time
partying and whatever else?” Jacob was about to call him on the carpet
MARK J. CANNON
for that one, but he didn’t get a chance. Sara walked over to a
workbench near Vargas and dropped the file folder down. Her eyes
were a squint, but they still bore a hole straight through him.
Considering the level of anger she was experiencing, she acted with
poise and professionalism, and spoke calmly.
“Jonathon, I’ll be waiting outside in the truck while you finish up
here.” She started walking away, but only a few steps in Vargas’s voice
“Where are you going? We’re not done here. I’ll let you know
when we’re finished. Just because you make mistakes doesn’t mean
you get to run away.”
Sara didn’t respond verbally. She walked until she thought she
was out of earshot from Jacob, the client. After stopping, she slowly
turned around and subtly motioned for him to come join her.
Begrudgingly, he shuffled toward her, a clear look of anger quickly
became apprehension seeing the look in her eyes. The look on her
face was visceral as she stood her ground, and even though Jacob was
slightly taken aback, he was also pleased to see it. He could sense her
anger like it was a scent in the air to breath in.
“We are done here, Jonathon,” she said, with her hands on her
hips and leaning into him on her tiptoes within inches of his face.
“You can finish this inspection yourself,” still speaking quietly, but
with a fire behind her words. Vargas attempted to interrupt, but she
wasn’t done yet.
“Don’t you ever talk to me like that, let alone in front of a client.
You may have gotten away with that kind of crap with other people,
but it ain’t gonna fly with me, mister. I’ll report your ass so fast your
head will spin. Are we clear!?! And I don’t care if you’re the boss or
not. And if you want me to help you here, this stops now.”
At this point, Vargas was diverting his eyes everywhere but at her.
He only stopped long enough to focus on his words that were weakly
whispered out like a scolded child.
“I apologize. It won’t happen again,” he said flatly, waving his free
hand like an umpire calling safe.
Before the two of them turned around, Jacob struggled to constrain
his smile. Watching and hearing bits of Sara taking a strip off Vargas
like that earned her his respect and admiration. Jacob quickly looked
back down at the blueprints like he hadn’t seen or heard anything.
However, when they returned, he couldn’t resist giving Sara a shy smile
of recognition. Witnessing Sara’s character in her rebuttal of her boss’s
behaviour, he found it difficult not to stare at her.
Wow, that’s my kind of woman, he thought. No fear that one.
Wow. Wow, and another wow.
He lowered his head a bit; bringing his attention to study the
blueprints. It wasn’t working very well. His eyes were looking
everywhere but at the details of the drawings in front of him. And his
thoughts were even further away. If it’s true that everyone has a perfect
match, I think I just found mine.
The floor cleaner smell in the building department reminded Jacob of
grade school. He thought of the shrill of the principal’s secretary
paging kids to the office amplified by the intercom, its pitch creating
a piercing feedback that felt like an ice pick being driven into his ears.
He remembered it well. He would push his shoulders up as far as they
would go, trying to squeeze off the sound, and it always made him
shiver. But currently, it wasn’t feedback that broke the solace of his
daydream. It was the sound of screeching tires and some kind of
impact from the other side of the doors he’d just come through. His
head cocked to the side for a split second, discerning a sound that
seemed familiar. His abdomen pulled in tight and a dreadful cold
wave encompassed his body. Please don’t let it be…
It shocked him out of his daydream, and with eyes wide and his
entire body tense, he was in motion. He burst out through the doors,
cleared the stairs and landed on the sidewalk. It reminded him of
running hurdles. When the closer broke and the door slammed
MARK J. CANNON
against the grey stone exterior of the heritage town hall, it had
sounded like a gunshot. The street was four lanes wide, divided by a
huge grass boulevard, but traffic on his side had stopped. His hand
went up to block the brightness of the sun, then his eyes quickly
adjusted. Jacob’s stomach dropped, and his knees wobbled at what he
saw in front of him — Sara lay on the ground. An unexplained
memory from a similar event flashed through, but it was pushed away
faster than it arrived. His focus centred in on Sara’s body, lying on the
asphalt, contorted and covered in blood and dirt from the street. He
was ready to act, and at the same time, the look of shock and
trepidation on his face was undeniable.
A quick study of her body revealed an obvious broken leg and a
compound fracture to her arm. The more pressing issue was the
injury to her head. He could see the blood coming out a large gash on
the side of her head and from her ear. A courier quickly dismounted
his bicycle, stepped off the sidewalk and looked to Jacob.
“I seen the whole thing. I know her — Sara from the building
department. I deliver to them all the time. What can I do?” His words
a rapid stream.
Kneeling beside Sara, Jacob reached up with his arms wide open
and waved his hands in to receive the toss. “Give me your bag.”
“What?” The courier had been wearing his light-blue canvas
shoulder bag like a prized possession.
“Give me the bag. Now!” Jacob yelled.
The courier stripped his satchel off and reached it out. “Yeah …
sure man. Here ya go.” He passed it off to Jacob. Jacob tore off his
white sleeveless undershirt and ripped it in two. One piece was
used to try to get the bleeding to her head under control; the other
was rolled around her fractured arm. Then he folded the
messenger bag and placed it under her head. The sirens in the
distance were a welcome sound. He began checking for vital signs
after clearing her throat; her breathing and heartbeat were absent.
He wasted no time — between counting compressions, he was
breathing into her lungs.
“Sara! Wake up, Sara!” His own breathing was becoming
pronounced and perspiration began to form on his forehead. “Come
on now, Sara, wake up.”
Tears started to drip down his cheeks. More people were
gathering around. The usual questions came from throughout the
crowd and morbid onlookers.
“What happened? Is that the guy who hit her? Is she dead?”
Jacob yelled at them to shut up and get away, and all the while, the
compressions continued. The courier stepped in and did his best. “Back
up, please. Let him do what he needs to. Please, step back.” The crowd
was barely shifting. “Back up, for Christ’s sake.” His voice rising to a
near scream got some results. Jacob was yelling out Sara’s name now,
begging her to come around. He turned his head and put his ear to
her chest, then to her mouth. He frantically continued making
compressions and emptying his air into her. He could hear an
ambulance or police car closing in now. He thought he’d make one last
effort before the paramedics forced him out of the way and took over.
“Come on, Sara! Do it for me. Come on now, sweetheart, breathe,
breathe, please, just breathe for me.” His voice was getting weaker by
the second, but he wasn’t stopping; he wasn’t giving up.
Jacob quickly glanced through a hole in the expanding crowd and
saw the same woman from earlier. His eyes opened as wide as they
could to make sure it was her. He was sure of. It was the same woman
standing on the sidewalk. This time, however, Sara was next to her.
He quickly looked back down at Sara and then back to the sidewalk.
He squeezed his eyes shut, refusing to look back up when they
reopened. “She’s not there. She’s not there,” he kept repeating to
himself. “Jesus, Jacob. Just don’t look back up.” He focused on the
compressions. His face had grown red, his cheeks wet with tears. He
did not deviate from his task.
Only minutes had passed since he had burst through the doors of
the building department. He felt that time was running out and he could
feel his energy leaving. Her broken and bloodied body lay below him,
and because he was completely exhausted, he was unable to avoid
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looking up. “No, Jacob. Don’t look. Ah, Jesus Christ!” It was
incomprehensible to him, but there she was. “You’re not seeing that.
She’s not there. Come on, Sara. You’re not there, you’re here — so wake
up.” Looking back up again, this mysterious woman next to Sara looked
directly into his eyes. He couldn’t turn away. The chills returned, with
his body hair standing upright. He could hear her speaking to him, but
her mouth wasn’t moving; and she was too far away to hear anyway.
Nonetheless, her words arrived directly inside his head.
“You will save her, Jacob.” In that moment, what he was hearing
in her voice was somehow familiar, calming, reassuring. “She will live.
It’s all right, Jacob. Everything is going to be okay. You’ve done this
before, and you will do it again.” She spoke with a soft voice, as if
making a gentle introduction.
In those few seconds, he paused compressions, and again closed
his eyes tightly. His chest heaved with a breath, and he brought his
hands up to cover his face and eyes. Weary and with his head
pounding, he slowly pulled his hands away. A yellowish orange light
glowing about them, forcing him to squint. He thought it was the sun
shining onto his hands. He tried — but failed — to ignore looking
back at his hands out of the corner of his eye. His body was vibrating,
his arms felt weak, and his hands started shaking uncontrollably. He
resigned to giving up the compressions, his head lowered, bent over
on his knees. Without reason or intent, he placed his hands on both
sides of Sara’s head, looking as if he was about to kiss her goodbye.
A completely surprising surge of warm energy rushed through his
entire body. It went from his chest, through his arms, and out of his
hands as he held Sara’s head. He closed his eyes and mind to what he
was seeing and experiencing. “This has to end. It has to. Please, let it
end.” When he looked back up to the sidewalk, Sara was gone, and to
her side, with equal relief, the older woman was gone too. His head
dropped, then he shook his head and belted out an awful sounding cry.
What in God’s name just happened? What’s happening to me? He
couldn’t understand why he had failed to save her. The paramedics
finally arrived on foot and were within steps of them, when suddenly
Sara took a gasping draw of air and began to cough. Jacob’s burst was
a combined laugh and cry. His tears were still flowing, fluids came
from his nose, and his undershirt was soaked in sweat. He was a mess,
but it couldn’t stop his growing smile. He put his hands over his face
again. His large frame was bent over, nearly collapsed from his spent
energy. More short gasps of laughter escaped as his cries began to
subside. His adrenaline waning, he was still shaking and weak,
watching over her as she kept fighting to keep her eyes open between
breathing and sputtering coughs. He looked at her, and not caring
what he looked like, he pulled the bottom of his shirt up and wiped
his face. “Hey, what’s say you never do that again, all right? The
paramedics are here; they’re going to help you. You’re going to be
okay, Sara. You’re going to be okay.” He saw a look in her that said
she somehow knew everything that just happened. It was an affable
look of gratitude, of recognition undeniable.
The paramedics gently pulled Jacob away and started their
procedure of securing Sara’s vitals. Once stabile, they placed her on
the backboard and onto the gurney ready for transport. Jacob stood
as close to her as he could throughout, and although he was happy,
he was spent. In the time that passed on what he thought was a perfect
day, Jacob stood up with an expression of an amazing epiphany. He
was taking in a near three-hundred-and-sixty-degree survey of the
surrounding area. He was elated, giddy. Sara was alive; she was going
to be okay. All else was secondary.
The supervisor, and most experienced paramedic, recognized
Jacob’s gaze floating in every direction. He managed to get his
attention and focus. Standing in front of him, he pulled his shoulders
together and looked into his eyes. Jacob was almost limp, giving the
medic full control.
“Sir, how are you feeling?” Jacob looked up at him, clearly shaken.
“I’m fine; I was just looking for someone. Ah, here he comes.” He
was still hanging onto the courier’s bag. “Hey man, thanks so much for
your help. I’m sorry, there’s blood on your bag.” The courier looked
like he was ready for the Californian surf. He had on a bright tie-dyed
MARK J. CANNON
T-shirt with a yellow background. His long blonde hair was tied in a
ponytail and he wore camouflage shorts with Dash running shoes. He
extended one hand for his bag and the other to shake Jacob’s hand.
“I’m Gary by the way, and the blood doesn’t matter, buddy. And
I didn’t do anything; it was all you brother. You did a fine job today.”
Jacob responded with his name, but barely acknowledged the
compliment by the courier. He turned his gaze back to the sidewalk
where the mystery woman had stood next to Sara. He looked lost, in
need of direction.
The paramedic came back over to Jacob. “You did absolutely
everything right for that young lady today. She’s alive because of you.
Where’d you learn first aid?”
“Oh, uh, through work … St. John’s course at the Y.”
“Uh, that explains it. Well, it was a hell of a job. You sure
Jacob’s words were coming out as a tired soul ready for slumber.
“I’m good. Hey … thanks, all right.” Jacob could barely raise his arm,
weak and worn from the compressions and expended adrenaline, but
he managed to shake the paramedic’s hand.
The medic was about to leave when he turned around to Jacob
once more. “Oh, by the way, she’ll be at South Central. In case you
want to see her.” With those words, he hopped into the supervisor’s
Suburban and was gone. Jacob pulled in the longest breath and
exhaled like it was the sweetest air he ever tasted. He paused for a
minute, standing still trying to get his bearings.
My God, Jacob. What happened back there? He held his palm
against his temple. Before he made it back to his truck, he tried to
replay everything. I was giving her CPR, but it seemed too late. She
seemed already… But then she started breathing again! How? A
massive piercing pain in his temple overtook him, and, leaning over,
he vomited himself empty. He slowly stood up, still dizzy and
spinning. When he finally got his bearings, he looked down at his
hands, palms turned up and, with a blank look on his face, he thought,
Maybe I just need some rest before I can think straight and remember.