Gill Eastwood

Cross roads

Henry felt sick.  He stared down at the kid. The boy didn’t appear to be dead but his leg was bent at a funny angle.  Sirens screeched faintly in the distance.

The crowd stood frozen in horror as Michael pushed his way through. He hitched up his cassock, knelt beside the boy and lifted his eyelids. No sign of consciousness but he felt a steady heartbeat.  As he looked around for someone to direct the ambulance he noticed a fat, balding man, sweating profusely, his colouring bad.  Damn, just what he needed.  Someone keeling over with a heart attack when this boy needed all his help. 

“What’s your name?”

“Henry.”

”Ok Henry, I want you to sit down on the pavement. Put your head between your legs.  Take long slow breaths.”

Henry collapsed onto the pavement.  He damn well wasn’t going to listen to some dress-wearing know-it-all Catholic priest, but he did need a little breather.  Try to slow his racing heartbeat.  Bloody Catholic priests – diddling little boys  He was probably diddling this one and now he comes swanning in like a superhero to save the day.  Henry undid his tie, loosened his top buttons.  Damn hot today, no wonder he couldn’t breathe properly.  He should be heading home in his air-conditioned car.  Not panting on the pavement like a rabid dog. 

Michael rested his hand on the boy’s forehead. “Please God, take care of your child.  Keep him safe, help him heal.  Amen.” 

Michael opened his eyes and saw the paramedics unfolding the stretcher.  One of them kneeled down next to the boy.  “How’s he doing father?”

“He seems stable, fairly steady pulse. I don’t think his back’s injured.” The paramedic nodded.

Michael searched the boy’s backpack looking for some kind of ID or contact telephone number “I think that witness over there may be headed for a heart attack. You might want to take a look at him once you get the boy sorted out.” 

Michael joined Henry on the pavement.  “Hell of a thing this.  Not quite how I pictured spending the afternoon.  How are you doing?”

Henry glared at him.  Michael sighed.  He wanted to reach out to this man in some way but he was just so tired.
 
“Don’t you analyse me.  You don’t know anything about me.  What the hell does a priest know about living in the real world anyway?”

“Hey, like can either of you, like, glue my heel back on my Jimmy Choo’s?” A slim blonde girl stood off-kilter, a broken shoe dangling at an awkward angle from her right hand.

“Hey, like what are you, a priest or something?”

Michael swallowed a hysterical giggle.  “Uhm, nope, I’m afraid I’m fresh out of glue – and yes – I am a priest.   This is Henry. I’m Michael.”

“I’m Cindi – with like two ii’s.  So the kid, is he going to be like, ok? Hey, kinda look’s like he’s having a heart attack.”

Henry pitched forward, clutching his chest.

“Over here!” Michael yelled to the paramedics.

 “Like on the count of five I want you to pinch nose closed and breathe into his mouth.” Cindi straddled Henry and began pounding his chest. with a regular two-handed rhythm.

“One, two, three, four, five – breathe.” 

She counted and Michael breathed into Henry’s mouth.  The paramedics came running.

“Well done ma’am, quick work.”

They wheeled Henry into an ambulance and drove off, sirens blaring.  Cindi sat on the pavement and started to cry. 

“Are you ok?”  Michael saw the vulnerability hidden under the perfectly applied make-up.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever been thanked for being me.  For doing something that comes naturally, you know.  People never believe me when I say I’m studying to be a doctor.”

Michael smiled.  Of course he knew.  God always did have a strange sense of humour and angels had a tendency to arrive in the most interesting guises.
 

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