Apartment Life (Part Four)

Apartment Life (Part Four)

(see Part Three here)

Susan and Ronnie stood and followed the paramedics, stopping at the bottom of the stairs to give them room. The landing was only four steps up, so they still had a good view of everything.

Helping the woman with dirty blond hair was a man at least 10 years her senior. He stood about six-four and looked like he would have no trouble throwing a patient over each shoulder, if the situation called for it.

Mother and son watched as they performed a quick check of Trena’s vitals. Susan almost chimed in that her pulse seemed fine, but figured they were professionals and that interrupting them served no purpose. After all, they had “EMT” stitched on their shirts, not her.

“Mom already checked her pulse,” Ronnie said.

That’s my boy. He always had been one of the few who believed in her, supported her. She patted his shoulder to get his attention, then put her index finger against her pursed lips. Ronnie furrowed his brow, but acquiesced with a shake of his head.

“Ma’am, what’s the patient’s name?” the female EMT asked.

“Trena, but that’s all I know. Where will you take her?”

“County, unless we hear different from her parents. I guess that’s not you. Do you know where they are?”

“We were just going to get them,” she said.

Susan motioned toward the living room and nudged Ronnie that direction.

“I want to see,” he said.

“We need to let them work, son. They might have to take some of her clothes off, and we need to spare her dignity. And we need to let her parents know what’s happening.”

They walked to the kitchen, a small workspace open to the living room. As she opened the sliding glass door onto the gated patio, she closed her eyes for a moment, then looked at him. “Son, I know this is a hard time for you, but I need to know now what you two were doing in there. Questions are going to come up, and you need to have your thoughts together.”

“I stopped, Mom.” He slid the door shut behind them.

Susan’s eyes got wide as she reached for the gate. “Stopped what?”

“Not that. Damn, Mom, I’m not completely stupid.”

She exhaled, then opened the gate and stepped onto the sidewalk. Ronnie followed and let it slam shut behind him.

“Well, that’s the best thing I’ve heard in the past 10 minutes.”

Ronnie stopped walking.

“Keep moving, son, this is important.”

“But… we kind of…”

She resisted stopping to brace herself. “Kind of what?” They were half way to Trena’s building now, and she needed information before she faced the girl’s parents.

Ronnie stared across the parking lot. “We were making out a little.” Then, to her. “But we totally had all our clothes on.”

“So, just a little dry humping, then?” Her voice was on edge.

“Mom! You’re the one always asking ‘did you get you some?'”

She smacked the back of his head. “Not from a little girl! Is this her apartment?”


Susan knocked on the door. In an effort to look composed, she primped her hair and drew a few calming breaths.

“Hey, Mom, they have a doorbell right there.”

She jabbed the doorbell button. Within a couple minutes, Susan saw a light somewhere inside the apartment. Then, the light over the front door temporarily blinded her. I’ll look great through the peephole with my face in a squint. She noticed Ronnie shielding his eyes.

“Who is it?” said a muffled voice.

“Susan Batson from across the way. My son is Ronnie.”

“Ronnie?” The deadbolt scraped and the door opened.

“Hi, Mr. Outhouse,” Ronnie said.

Outhouse? Despite the serious circumstance, Susan barely kept from cracking a smile. Peering inside, she saw a four-foot Elvis doll standing at the end of the living room couch. It was lounge-lizard Elvis.

“Ronnie. What are you doing over here so late?” Outhouse asked.

A frantic woman’s voice called from inside the apartment, “Larry, Trena’s not in her room, and I can’t find her.”

“Is that why you’re here, Ronnie?” Outhouse asked. His disapproving tone made Ronnie shrink closer to and with one shoulder behind his mother.

“Well, we were…” Ronnie’s voice shook.

“Trena’s been hurt, sir,” Susan said. “The paramedics are taking her to County Hospital, and we wanted you to know as soon as possible.”

Outhouse lunged for Ronnie. “Why, you little sack of shit!”


Trena saw bright lights on lots of white. She glanced down, almost crossing her eyes, at a clear plastic nose cup covering her nose and mouth. She had seen doctors on “ER” use them when someone had trouble breathing, and when Debbie Jamison’s dad punched Stephanie Moore’s dad at the league soccer championship game. I’m having trouble breathing?

She heard voices, one very close, one somewhere behind her head. Something about somebody’s legs and back being in pretty bad shape. She darted her eyes to the right and saw a large man with neatly-trimmed brown hair. With a shaky hand, she reached up to remove the nose cup.

“Whoa, whoa, no ma’am. We’ll have none of that,” the man said. He pressed it back against her face.

She shook her head.

“You trying to tell me something?”

She nodded.

He lifted the nose cup away from her face far enough for her to speak.

“Where?” She barely recognized her hoarse voice. “Where am I?”

“Partner. She’s awake.

“You’re in an ambulance. We’re taking you to the hospital after that nasty fall.”

She remembered being in the apartment with Ronnie, and being in pain at the bottom of the stairs. Now, however, she felt a lot better. Her body knew where the pain should be, but it didn’t hurt anymore.

“We’ve given you pain relievers. A quick trip down a flight of stairs pretty much guarantees you lots of those.”

(go on to Part Five)

10 Replies to “Apartment Life (Part Four)”

  1. Interesting interaction between Mom and Ronnie here. Seems like a fairly together single mother trying to fill the dad role to a degree, with comments like that.

  2. I don’t know how you can maintain a continuity of thought. That would drive me insane. I could probably write a paragraph a day for that reason. I would have to go back and reread constantly. (Too much short term memory loss.)

    *cowering* mayIpleasesaysomething? *barely audible as a result of intense fear of daring to critique the writing of Mark for fear of no, not retribution, not hurt feelings, but of overstepping invisible and imagined boundaries*… PLease let me preface this by saying that I have very little writing experience or education but I do read a lot…

    Every now and then a little of your dialog sounds a teeny bit forced. I’m not yet familiar with your personal style of writing so don’t know if that is normal for you. Writing dialogue is very hard for me for that very reason. Probably a lot of writers don’t consider that a priority but it can ruin a scene or a character for me if it’s not worded just right.


    I’ve never done this before and I feel a little panicky and my throat feels tight. This is way-too-assertive behavior for me. If you yell at me I’ll cry and run.

  3. Don’t worry Linda, he won’t yell at you; he’ll just ignore you for a couple months and never respond to anything you say. Happened to me once — he’s kind of a jerk that way.

    (But seriously, feedback is key, and Mark’s a big boy and likes it when pretty gals point things out. I intentionally look for spelling mistakes to throw in his face but he’s just as much a pedant as I am.)

  4. Simon – Yep, she’s a single mom. I haven’t stated that, but it’s a fact.

    Linda – Don’t cower. Come out and say it. But, please be specific about which passages hit you wrong. All of this is first draft stuff, so I expect it to need revision, and to bounce it off of people. Consider yourself a bounce-ee.

  5. Simon – If I did that, then I’m either truly sorry, or you can kiss my ass. Whichever you’re in the mood for.

    Looks like our comments applied in the same minute. Weird.

  6. Just off the top of my head, mostly when Ronnie is talking to his mother. Maybe lose the “Mom”.. I find that teenagers don’t say that when talking to a parent. Unless you’re (the Mom) wanted on the phone and then they scream it. I realize it helps the reader know who’s talking, just don’t know a way around that… Guess I’m really not much help here.
    But I do do do love to eavesdrop you your and Simon’s conversations. One of my favorite things.

  7. Linda – I definitely can see that. Thanks for that point about Ronnie starting sentences with “Mom.” It wouldn’t be natural unless there were more people in the scene and he needed to make clear the addressee.

    See? No crying or kicking. No wales.