April 04 --- Just Another Day

Holiday: Hospital Admitting Clerks Day


Doesn't expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected? - Bob Dylan



Dina looked at the clock, wishing this last hour would magically slip away. It had been a long shift and tiring. There were only so many files one could update, especially when there were exactly five patients in the entire building. It took her all of forty minutes to finish the periodic visits to make sure no one was going south when they should be going north. She shook her head. Anybody who might come close to that situation was automatically shipped out to the city.

But wasn't that precisely why she moved here - to get away from the constant flood of dramas, the overdoses, broken bones, gunshot wounds, and people beaten to a pulp? A nice, quiet backwater town where the most excitement she'd seen was three months ago, when a high school kid took three friends on an off-road trek with his father's ancient Chevy. A couple sprains, three minor concussions, myriad bumps and bruises - followed by a reaming out first by the sheriff and then by their parents. And she'd actually had time to enjoy that last part.

Another look at the clock. Well, ten minutes had gone by.

She sighed, stuffing a file back in its place. Calm efficiency, able to eat lunch without interruption, time to actually interact with the patients - all the things she'd wished for. And now she was discovering that day after day of this could be just as tiring as racing from one life-or-death emergency to the next.

Oh, hell, face it. Dina was bored.

One more glance at the clock and she stood up, deciding to make one more check on her patients. She could take her time, and even if Vicki was late - again - she'd still be home before dark. She didn't like getting home after dark, remaining paranoia from city life. She shook her head and started around the desk toward the wards.

And then the door opened.

*****

"They secured?"

"You bet, Colonel, all tied up, nice and pretty-like."

"Good. Everybody okay?"

"You mean besides the cuts, bruises, and other assorted trophies these guys awarded us?"

Hannibal grinned, surveying said 'trophies'. BA just shook his head. Yeah, these scumbags had put up a pretty good fight, gave almost as good as they got. But it was that 'almost' that counted. Then he tilted his head, listening. "Sounds like Decker's right on schedule, Hannibal."

"Let's move it, guys!"

Even BA had to grin, imagining the shock on the faces of all those soldier boys as the team raced past them, heading the way the MPs had just come from. He grinned even wider when Hannibal looked at him in surprise. Like BA Baracus didn't know how to plan a getaway.

Well, kinda. If there'd been more than three cars, it would've worked better. Would've taken a lot longer for them to get turned around. They were closer than BA liked when he took the sharp turn-off onto the gravel road. He'd scoped that out as well - they'd follow the dust cloud but not until it cleared enough to see. And by that time...

The lucky shot came through his window, zipped across his arm and thudded into the dashboard. The double whammy of the pain and the anger at his baby being damaged made him hit the gas, spraying gravel as they sped away.

Damn Decker's ass.

*****

"And they call me crazy..."

The dust from the road was drifting in through BA's window. Murdock could've told him that would happen. Can't outrun the dust, not on roads like this. That broken window just sucked it in. So now they all were blinking away the grainy mist and trying not to cough. Murdock shook his head - BA's arm, still bleeding, was getting it full blast.

It seemed like hours before they finally turned onto a paved highway. The van swerved hard, jerking to straighten out. That wasn't good. BA did not drive like that. Hannibal noticed as well.

"BA, you better pull over, let me bind up that arm. BA - "

The van jerked again, headed for the shoulder, then down into the ditch, flipping on its side. Murdock dropped like a rock. He landed hard on top of Face, who yelled a lot louder than he should have. Murdock gasped at the searing pain across his ribs.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

*****

"Hannibal, you're bleeding."

"No, that's BA's blood."

"Oh. Okay." Face looked down at his arm, Hannibal's hands carefully wrapping gauze around the splints. It didn't hurt as much as it had. He also knew it was going to hurt like hell when they had to climb out the back. Maybe he could just wait here.

That would be nice. Let that shot of whatever it was do its thing...

"Okay, that's done. I'll get it in the sling after I finish with Murdock and then we'll get you out of here. Okay?"

Face sighed, but nodded. Hannibal's voice was getting kind of an echo to it.

"BA alright?"

"He will be. Lost more adrenaline than blood - probably why we crashed. Might have a concussion - hit the dash when he fell."

"Murdock?"

"I think he cracked a couple ribs."

Face looked at Hannibal, whose face was now a light-colored blur. "You?"

The colonel chuckled. "Got the air knocked out of me when BA rolled off the dash."

He straightened up. Face watched for all of three seconds before the motion made him dizzy.

"You just sit here, and don't move. I'll be back to get you in a few minutes. Okay?"

"Sure..."

*****

In their cross-country race from Decker they'd passed through several intersections, paved roads BA ignored. Hannibal hoped he'd known exactly where they were heading, wasn't just on auto-pilot. Since Decker would have miles of roads to check before coming anywhere near the crash site, Hannibal decided it was the former. At least it made their current situation a little more palatable.

Their phone was toast, and he'd had mixed feelings about that. He wouldn't have wanted a load of ambulances and law enforcement showing up. On the other hand, it would've been nice to have called someone - the client, or Amy, or... someone. A quick study of the road map told him there was a town not that far away. Of course, that was a driving "not that far", not stumbling along on foot with three banged-up men. BA was having spells of dizziness and nausea, and Hannibal was running out of dressings for his arm. Face was just putting one foot in front of the other, leaning more and more on Hannibal, who was having second thoughts about the amount of painkiller he'd given the man. Their rest stops were based on how far Murdock was bending over, holding his cracked or maybe broken ribs.

They'd been moving for over an hour, maybe traveled a couple miles, seeing nothing but cornfields and occasional trees in the distance. The three of them were sitting on the shoulder now, more or less leaning against each other. Hannibal hadn't joined them; he didn't dare. He hadn't been able to rest at any of their stops, too busy dealing with his men. And then trying to keep them all going in the same direction; at times it was like trying to herd cats. So instead of sitting down, he'd moved a little further down the road, trying to keep his sore muscles from stiffening up, hoping to see some sign of that damn town...

Discouraged, he'd turned back and was just a few feet from the others when he slipped on a rock and went down hard on the side of his foot. God-damn, that hurt! He sat for several minutes, sweating and swearing under his breath, before even attempting to move it.

Damn.

He slid on his butt until he was sitting next to Murdock, the only one who'd even noticed the fall.

"Hannibal?"

"Twisted my damn ankle, Captain. We're stuck here until someone comes along - and at this point, I'd even welcome Decker!"

*****

Murdock wasn't sure how long they'd been sitting there. Well, kinda sitting. More like... tilting. BA and Face were actually laying down. He wasn't sure if they were awake or not. He and Hannibal shifted around, trying to find some position that was semi-comfortable without irritating their injuries.

And then they heard it.

Murdock, being the only one who could actually get fully upright, stood by the side of the road, waving the arm that didn't pull on his ribs. Much. The pickup slowed to a stop beside him, and the driver climbed out. He glanced at the men on the ground, frowning, before looking at Murdock.

"I take it you fellas belong to that van back there in the ditch."

Murdock nodded, smiling with a bit of forced embarrassment. "Yeah, our driver dozed off." Close enough to the truth.

"Well, guess we'd best get your friends to the hospital." He looked closer at Murdock. "You hurt, too?"

"Ribs took a bit of a beating."

The farmer nodded, and headed over to the downed men. The guy wasn't exactly young, but he was sturdy. It took a bit of effort, but he soon had the three men in the back of the truck, resting as comfortably as possible on the feedbags he'd been hauling. Murdock sat in the cab with the farmer, who said his name was Donald. A mere ten minutes later they pulled up in front of a small but well-kept hospital. With Donald at his side, Murdock walked slowly through the door.

*****

Donald was no fool. He'd checked that van to make sure no one was still in it, and he knew bullet holes when he saw them. He also knew it didn't belong to anyone from around here. Couple that with the reports on the radio about those fellas further south, discovered tied up along with the proof they weren't exactly growing corn, and he figured he knew what was what. Finding those men by the side of the road confirmed it. His neighbor must have finally tracked down what he'd called his 'solution' for the drug dealers.

He'd tried to talk Dina out of calling the sheriff, but she was adamant about it. If that one guy didn't have an obvious bullet wound, she might've been able to let it slide, but no way she'd chance losing her license, or getting the hospital in trouble. He couldn't fault her for that, so Donald settled in to wait while the sheriff talked to the patients and staff. Surprisingly, it didn't take long.

The sheriff motioned for Donald to follow him outside, and the two men stood smoking silently for several minutes.

"Quite the bunch you brought in here, Don."

"Yeah, they're definitely not from around here."

"They musta crashed sometime after that ruckus down by Darby's place."

Donald didn't say anything.

"Nice to get that rabble hauled in. More'n enough to put them away for a long time."

"Yeah."

"Took a look at that van, too. Nice one." The sheriff dropped his cigarette and rubbed it out with his foot. "Shame to leave it in the ditch like that. The county could pull it out, but it'd have to go to impound. That'll cost the owner a bundle, too. Once we can verify who the owner actually is."

Donald frowned. "Think that'll be a problem?"

"Might be. 'Course, if they could arrange for a tow themselves..."

"Yeah. Hell, a couple tractors could haul it out, no problem."

The sheriff nodded. "Yeah, and maybe store it in a barn until these guys are out of the hospital. Doc said a couple days, no more than that." He looked back through the glass doors. "Yeah, maybe it'll just sort itself out and I won't have to deal with any of it."

"Uh, what about that bullet wound?"

The sheriff chuckled as he moved toward his squad car.

"What bullet wound?"