••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Dreamscapes Fiction
The continuation of A New York Story
Norah & Noel - Chapter Four
Victor Castleton (the final chapter of a work in progress)
Chapter One - here
Chapter Two - here
Chapter Three - here
© Photo: Peruvian Lillies V. Castleton
“Clever thinking” - Jim said - but all you have to do is look on the internet, and then ask.”
Noel slightly turned his head and winked to Norah in complicity, not to answer Jim’s rant.
“This is unreal what they say about you…” Jim mused looking at his screen.
Both sniped at each other over the rear-view mirror admitting to their folly with a silly smile; Norah got lost in the interaction, and she became the target, when the three of them laughed.
“This is so funny!” Jim interjected sarcastically, “Hunter Norah was hunted in a ruse? C’mon give me a smile little girl”.
“Suck it to you little boy! It only goes to show the hidden powers a woman possesses just by poking her lips,” Norah said giggling devilishly.
“I was looking for the ten best places to live in Rhode Island and Voila! It is sponsored by the Real Estate interests.” Jim said.
“How did Aunt Jo settle in Little Compton anyway?” Jim enquired.
“She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps during Vietnam, and at war’s end 'The Touch of an Angel' -Vietnam Nurses facilitated the acquisition of housing for a selected group of nurses." Noel said.
“How so?” Jim asked, not expecting a detailed answer.
“There was no consensus during the war, but it was decided as a retribution for services rendered by a couple of philanthropists. There you have it Jim, linked to the dialysis international enterprise. Jim are you listening or playing games on your phone?” Noel said, snapping his head back at him.
“Yes, I heard everything you said Noel" –without taking his eyes from the phone- "but while we are skirting the coast line; there are cute and posh places along the way,” Jim answered.
“Sure, might as well stop. We are making good time anyway.” Noel agreed in an ambivalent tone, knowing that Jim undergoes half of his life in his own realm.
“I am not a mindreader Noel, but by the oxymoron of your language’s semantics I can hear where you’re going; I am not checking us in the Stone House, so we can be chaperoned to the beach in a golf cart at $295 at night; we are going to Aunt Josephine for Pete’s sakes, and I love it!”
“She’s got books everywhere, although she’s not a book worm,” Norah interjected, "her house it’s been inducted as historic to preserved its original attributes."
“You have to meet me half way Noel, one could cut right through the state and completely miss out the real Rhode Island life style, scattered along 400 miles of exquisite sea shores – Roode Eylant in Dutch, or Red Island,” Jim remarked flaunting his knowledge, making not exiting I-95 in his view, a poor choice.
“I am above all this futile projections; this is not what we want to accomplish today; I for one know the little evils about Little Compton, it is an unassuming town, so is the Hamptons if you don’t know the ins and outs, of its uniqueness and the glowing sunsets, but don’t let that fool you, there is an ‘inteligencia’ behind all this. The beach clubs and golf clubs are private. You must have friends. Understand? Without further ado Jim, now you can look up where the next exit is coming in your phone. Would you do us the honor, Sir?” Noel editorialized.
“I love when you get a bit touchy and pompous” Jim said, still not peeling off from his phone “Speak of the devil, there is an exit coming not listed on maps…” Jim announced while the MUTT Jeep started rattling not from running on the road plugs. This roaring and shaking grew by the second until something big and loud flew passed over them.
“It was a chopper! What’s a police helicopter doing flying this low?” Jim exclaimed.
“Correction! That was a two-blade military Chinook, widely used in Vietnam. A troop transporter, my father flew them in South Carolina when I was a little boy. We are not even near a military base.” Noel assured them. He leant towards Norah passing his arm over her shoulder. “This is going to be the time of our lives sweetheart, just like I said”
Norah turned to him alarmed.
“Watch out Noel there's a man in uniform flagging us to stop right ahead.”
“Yes, I see him, stay calm,” Noel said as he slowed to a stop. “How can I help you sir? Are you lost?”
“What are you civilians doing driving an army vehicle? How did you get here? Turn a quick right at the end of this narrow road and wait by the gate; “I’ll be right there in a minute,” the ‘stranger’ said while requesting back-up on his radio. They drove the short distance in overwhelming silence. Norah spotted a sign above this trailer-like makeshift building -EMERGENCY WARD - from where a nurse wearing medical scrubs came out running towards them.
“She is! Sh…She is Aunt Josephine!" Noel struggled to say. "Oh my gosh, how can this be possible?”
As she approached the vehicle everyone babbled over each other. “She’s a young woman in her twenties! Is she? Wait until she comes near!
At a few steps from the vehicle she raised her arms as Norah stepped out.
“Welcome my children. Yes, I am Josephine for you all, but when I said come early I never meant this early.” She laughed with a youthful laughter, making everything seem real, natural. Noel was the only one to understand that they were here for a short time and to fulfill a purpose.
“Didn’t I make myself clear enough when I said ‘wait at the gate’?
“Excuse me Sargent these people are the transfers that I requested from Qui Nhon, the headquarters of II Corps; they will be part of the staff for a short while.” The Sargent saluted and left.
“I must tell you first that you are here under your own will, but it will not add or subtract neither from the past nor the future. I am also included temporarily as well; I don’t know everything. You and I have already lived this time of our lives. The three of you have qualified to be here. I also know in part that I live in Little Compton, Rhode Island, from there on, your guess is as good as mine. You were made for what it’s coming to you at this time. Fear not, may I call you one more time, my children?”
They all walked to the Emergency Ward and were introduced without any pomp to the doctors, technicians, corps and the rest of the crew. No sooner after they put on the scrubs, and were debriefed by the charge nurse, a pilot from an oncoming rescue flight called over the radio: “Seven five 0, seven five 0. Rig two -Rig two, do you read me?”
“Loud and clear, Cliff, what’s in your duty sheet?”
“I am flying six expectants (the hardest and low expectation for surviving) stand by emergency room and procedures in triage area (life-saving actions) for operating room. Have technicians ready for seventeen body-bags. Estimating arrival time twenty-five minutes. Seven five 0, clear and out”
Noel was assigned a corpsman, one for each expectant (severely wounded) so they wouldn’t be by themselves. That was a task that all nurses performed willingly in all their routines.
Jim came to serve as an ambulance driver from the helicopter pad to the ER.
Norah took the position of nurse assistant in the same ward, for which she have had some training. Norah tagged along Josephine as her request.
Noel was assigned to this young man named Jay that was in and out of a comatose state, he was holding both his hands as the chaplain made his way to him.
“You will be alright Jay,” Noel said holding his back his emotions.
Suddenly the GI regained consciousness and he said, “Yes I’ll be alright; I am a Christian I believe in God. Hey you are a New Yorker, Noel. Aren’t you?” and Jay close his eyes into eternity with a smile, while the chaplain just made it through in time to hear Jay last words, “…I believe in God”
Noel ‘knew’ in his heart that this experience was for his own education, whether done physically or in the spirit; it did not matter.
Jim was an excellent driver, but he was not selected to serve as such, but for what you may consider as a handicap rather than strength: His impulsiveness.
Jim was called to serve and he made up his mind to follow through without prejudice or how menial a position be, even far from his aptitude. He was selected for a reason; one of his abilities was going to be put to the test, to help a fellow human being pull through.
During the same operation rescue involving Norah and also Noel, the opportunity came when securing the stretcher to the ambulance he found himself alone when his assignee having suffered tremendous blood loss, went into cardiac arrest. He was able to jumpstart his heart long enough until IV lines were in place and blood transfusion was performed. Contrarywise for what you’ve heard of him, he did not take the credit for saving this man’s life, but it was already written to his account.
And last but not least are Norah and Aunt Josephine’s contribution. Those who died in the field only God knows the last moments of their lives; the only access left would be read from the dog-tags on them.
This baby face, blonde blue eyed young GI was brought in from the field as an ‘expectant’ (low expectancy for recovering) astonishingly he was fully conscious. His injuries were severe; the para-medics did work on him to help him get to the ward. Josephine and Norah got some of his enthusiasm and greeted him no less than cheerfully “We are here to help you I am Nurse Josephine and this is my assistant Norah”
“My name is McCune, I am sorry to come looking like this…” He said effortlessly. You could have heard a pin drop after some laughter from the presents in the ER near him; they did not sound disrespectful or out of place. The subsequent silence brought everyone together above the fray.
Then he spoke again “Stay with me and hold my hand, I believe I don’t have much to go,” he said. Josephine and Norah gathered around him holding both of his hands.
“I spoke to my mother two days ago, my letter is on the way, and I ordered her favorite flowers for her birthdays,” and in the same spirit he came in he said “I wouldn’t want to disappoint her; would you follow through with it for me please?”
“What kinds of flowers are these McCune, do you know?
“Yes, of course,” he said.
“They are not very common. They are called Peruvian Lilies”
These were cutting moments everyone had to endure every day.
“Consider it done McCune,” Nurse Josephine and Norah promised, and the GI was wheeled to the operating room.
“Wait here Norah, I’ll be back in a minute,” Josephine came back with Noel and Jim, and said
“Your time here is coming to an end. Follow me, very important, take everything you came with and exit through that door. I am not leaving with you; my time will be over soon after you are departed from this realm. You’ll be able to tell the time you spent here when you get to where you started. I will see you soon. I love you all”
Josephine threw a kiss and walk away.
“Let’s do it then; don’t forget what she said: Don’t leave behind any of the belongings you came with.” Norah and Noel were the first to be ready; Jim came back holding his phone and the visor of his hat to the side of his head.
“What do we do with him honey? Shall we leave him behind? Noel said purposely expressionless.
“Very funny - Jim quipped- now you two jump first while I watch”
“See you later dude, don’t be late” Said Noel. Jim gave him thumbs up with a smirk.
They closed the door behind them, and nothing materialized; they were still by the ER in South East Asia, although they could hear the sound of traffic very near. He grabbed her hand and stepped forward, and in a blink of an eye, they were on “terra firma” to the side of I-95 were his black Porsche was parked safely. Norah threw herself into his arms and said.
“Your prophetic words came true Noel; this was not only ‘the time of our lives’ but it changed it forever.” Before Noel could express his emotions wholeheartedly, Jim popped in out of thin-air trotting and still holding his phone on his right hand, and the visor to the side of his head.
The three of them hugged laughing jumping up and down until they heard:
“What’s going on here?”
A police cruiser pulled over by them.
“Hello officer we don’t have words to express our happiness – Jim said - all we wanted was to find the next service exit, with luscious American Junk Food and even stewed coffee. That’s all.”
The officer literally scratched his head and said.
“The exit is coming on the next seven miles. I am not sure they would have what you’re looking for. Have a good day."
The three of them got in the car and Noel remember Aunt Jo’s words when he said “this whole experience happened in fifteen minutes our time, but we are resuming at the same time we were transported in time."
Noel’s phone rang -
“Aunt Jo is this you?”
“Who else could it be my favorite nephew; where are you guys?”
“Hmm about 25 minutes away according to Jim…”
“Nobody’s here yet. You have enough time. Remember, I hope you follow through, I don’t want any presents. Except for the Peruvian Lilies I asked Norah to bring. I don’t know why I love them so much.”
© Victor Castleton June 2019
bravejames07 at gmail.com
More fiction in Dreamscapes
Chapter One - here
Chapter Two - here
Chapter Three - here