Friday, February 01, 2008

Small Town Excitement

Living, as we do, in a pretty small town with a total population of less than 7,500 counting our town and the town physically abutting ours, things are usually very quiet. On occasion, however, something out of the ordinary happens to cause a rumpus. Whether the fates save a lot of stuff up to dump on us all at once, or things just snowball into something of an 'incident' is open to debate. A few short days ago we had one of those days where events seemed tied to the 'domino theory' of continuing action. Thankfully, everyone involved will recover with no lasting damage and property loss wasn't too terribly high. These events started at about six in the evening in the apartment building we own and reside on the top floor of. Add a bunch of twenty-something tenants, a good dose of bravado, some youthful carelessness, and winter conditions and it can make for a strange series of events. It all started with a visit to our cellar apartment tenant by his brother. The purpose of the visit was to show his older, at age twenty-two, brother what he'd just won in a poker game. It began the way these things always seem to start off, with a minor accident. This consisted of the younger brother entering our side street, which goes slightly downhill and is very icy on the best of winter nights, at his usual 'summer' rate of speed. This caused his pick-up truck, four wheel drive though it is, to slide past the back parking spaces and deep into a huge snowbank. Having missed all the cars parked there and my fence, he was nonetheless well stuck in the bank, probably due at least in part to the sudden four foot vertical drop at the edge of the parking lot which lay beneath the aforementioned huge snowbank. As it was a weekend night, cold, and not expected to snow, he and his brother, our tenant, decided in their youthful wisdom to wait until the morning to get me to call for our wrecker to remove the truck from the snowbank. This was okay. They then retreated, along with another tenant and a couple friends, into the little apartment that occupies about a third of our cellar. Although only two rooms and a half-bath, it's still a rather roomy eight hundred plus square feet inside. I mention this so you won't picture five young men packed in like sardines. Of course there was the usual cold beer involved, along with what I'm told was lively and friendly conversation over fairly loud music. What a surprise! This is where the injuries started piling up. It seems the 'prize' won in the card game was a nine millimeter automatic that the younger brother was going to give their dad for a birthday present as a hunting sidearm. All well and good, until you figure in that one of their friends was a 'city boy' attending the University just north of us who was totally unfamiliar with firearms. Not a good person to hand a loaded pistol. From what I was told, while we awaited the ambulance, I gathered that he had taken the weapon and done what he'd seen done in countless movies: pulled back the slide and let it go home. This wasn't terrible, other than the fact that the previously empty chamber now held a live round. Seeing what he'd done, one of the other guys immediately placed his hand on the gun and forced it down so it was no longer aiming at anyone, sort of. Reflexively, so I was told, the fellow holding the thing tightened his grip, including his trigger finger which was on the trigger, and you can see where this is headed already. The first I knew of it was when I heard what I thought was our neighbor firing up his Harley to circulate the oil as he does occasionally, always with at least one good loud report from his illegal 'shotgun' exhaust pipes. It was shortly after this that I became really in-twined in events. Almost as soon as the noise abated the phone rang, the caller ID on the TV screen showing the cellar tenant's cell phone as the caller. I answered to the frantic sound of the older brother saying that his cell wouldn't connect with the county 911 center and somebody had been shot and was really bleeding badly and would I call for help on our land line. I left this for SWMBO to do, after quickly explaining all I knew of the situation, and headed for the cellar as fast as the old disabled legs would go. What I met there was mass chaos and somewhat of a panicky group of young men trying to help their friend, who had managed to shoot himself in the left leg and hitting the femoral artery in the process. Needless to say, blood was definitely involved and amassing with alarming rapidity. Seeing what the problem was, I got a belt from the nearest guy and had the plunger from the bathroom brought to me and applied a tourniquet which slowed the blood loss to a mere trickle. So far, so good. Soon we heard the ambulance approaching up our hill and I sent one guy around front to keep them from turning onto the side street and joining the pick-up in the snowbank. Ahhh! A minor accident avoided, almost. It seems that one of the EMTs was a new arrival from California who was totally unfamiliar with Maine winter weather and had only been in the state a grand total of four days. This was also his first day on his new job and his first actual run after having spent the day reading all the procedural stuff. Apparently , nowhere in all that reading or familiarity talks, was there any mention of the need for different footwear than what he normally wore, low top western boots with smooth rubber soles. Not good! The first we knew of this problem was when he slid, screaming loudly, down the side street & into the back of the pick-up stuck in the snow. I will note that, from what I'm told, he has terrific style when sliding at fairly high speed. He didn't have much style landing though, hitting the trailer hitch on the step bumper mid thigh with a crack the other attendant and the guy who'd met them heard clearly. Then to top it off, in his rush to assist him, the guy who'd met the ambulance slipped and fell, landing on his right side with another audible snap. Then things got worse. Our county dispatch is about 15 miles away and, even with loads of repeater towers, we still live in a 'semi-dead' radio zone due to the steep rocky hillside adjacent to our place and between us and the dispatch center at the Sheriff's Office. Thus, when the call went out from the second EMT's portable radio, the only part that even SWMBO heard on our scanner was 'two men down' and 'gunshot injury'. Well, this seems to have caused the responding officers to have a bit of an adrenaline surge, thinking there was a gunfight of some sort in progress, an almost unheard of thing here. It appears the dispatcher was under the same impression as he sent an additional 'all available units' call to our address for an 'officer down, gunshots heard' situation. Not good. The lucky part was that SWMBO, upon hearing this, quickly called down to the cell phone in the cellar and told me what was going on. This allowed me time to get to the front of the house before the officers arrived and to get them calmed down before things spiraled out of control. The rest of the story is pretty routine, as routine as these things go. Excepting, that is, the part about two cruisers getting stuck in the snowbank at the bottom of the hill approaching our side street from the other direction, a big no-no in winter as there's a ninety-degree left turn at the base of the hill. Luckily, the second cruiser managed to avoid hitting the first and nobody got hurt. Everyone got removed to the hospital by the two responding ambulances called in and there were no further problems. Well, except for the over-eager Town Officer who parked out front on the hill and forgot to ensure his cruiser was in 'park' and the parking brake set. Oops. It kind of settled back into and over the small snow hump it was stuck on as the engine heat melted the snow, at least that's what we figured happened. It's okay though, the cruiser missed any cars or other vehicles as it crossed the main highway that's our Main Street and the insurance fully covered the damage to the little Mom & Pop store at the foot of the hill. They were even open the next afternoon. I guess it goes to show that, even in sleepy little burgs, some nights make for a whole year's worth of exciting events. I hear that the injured pride and subsequent teasing of the injured parties was nearly as bad as the injuries themselves. Until next time, take care and be careful.

12 comments:

Mies said...

A comedy of errors is what you had there. With all that happened it was so lucky no one was seriously injured, though the gun shot wound sounded like it was good you acted so promptly.
Thank you for the entertaining story and it's good to see you back...

Hahn at Home said...

OMG, Mike, and you say nothing much happens up there! Glad the kid will be okay.

Bet they are awfully glad you two live so close. It could have turned out completely differently.

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mike, after six posts about food this is quite the adventure. Nice to see you've returned. How are you doing?

tshsmom said...

OK, as a resident of a town that sounds eerily like yours, I just have to ask: Did you and the wife go out for breakfast the next morning to listen to how the story got totally distorted? ;)

Mike S said...

Mies...thanks...good to be back!

Lori...every 6 months or so something seems to liven the place up for a few hours.

Guy, I kinda feel like an old Chevy on cold days. Sometimes they crank right up and other times they won't start no matter what you do to them.

tshsmom...we find it's far more amusing to wait a week or two until the story has time to ferment properly.

Mr Mies said...

Sounds like a normal night in some necks of the woods. One of the guys I work with's son-in-law thought he could put a rag over the end of his .54 cal. muzzle loader & fire it in his basement. We call him 3 Fingers now. Good story I'll bet you were glad when that evening was over though.

Patricia said...

Hehehehehe, Mike. It's terrible to laugh, but now that we know nobody got killed or hurt badly, we are allowed.
I would have loved to have seen all that. Pretty wild. Great story, too, keep doing them.

tshsmom said...

Heehee. I'm sure that this story will "ferment" quite nicely. ;)

Cecily said...

Oh Mike... I didn't know whether to gasp or laugh. In the end I think I did both. The gasp was particularly for the two ambulance officers who crunched bones (being an old ortho nurse and all!). Wow, so much excitement... just glad you were mostly an observer to the whole deal!

John said...

Seems like a good plot for a movie.
Like something from Lake Woebegone.
Guns are always loaded !
Every country boy knows that.
Take care.
We have had no snow yet.

Jim said...

Well thank providence I don't live in that 'boring' old town -- I don't think my heart could take that kind of boredom :)

Great story Mike! You held me from start to finish.

Tell that young kid what all us army guys know... the empty gun is the most dangerous one.

Great to see you in good form Mike.

Dixon Ailesi said...

Mike...that was amazing. Really. It just kept getting worse and worse! Thankfully no one was hurt too terribly bad. And thankfully you were there to witness the whole thing...so you could write about it of course!