Gabrielle, Bill and Duvan stood in the emergency room surrounded by strangers who were also suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually. Nearly everyone in the room had experienced trauma that night and Bill figured that the previous two hours of Gabriele’s life had been the most demanding she had ever endured. Now that any immediate danger to her had passed she likely found herself in more turmoil than she had experienced when attacked by the three men she had alluded.
The men had been an obvious threat to her and her necessary explosive physical response had surely saved her from great harm, perhaps even death. Now, with her husband in critical condition in the emergency room all she could do was wait and worry. In her place who would not want to scream, to cry, to strike out at the danger? But there was nothing to hit, no one to face, only the terror of the unknown to endure. Her obvious longing to be by Adriel’s side, to experience the tranquility of an optimistic doctor telling her that her husband would pull through, that he would be fine, was unrequited. What she had was a body that was fading fast after repeated adrenaline rushes: Longing for reassurance she instead faced a night of uncertain, prayerful vigil.
“Holy cow,” Gabrielle said with a deep exhale, “what time is it?”
“Just after four,” Bill said. “Duvan, we’ve got to get you home.”
“No, I am alright.”
“That’s crap, Duvan. I saw you nodding off as you drove us here. Gabrielle, do you want to sit down? Maybe get some air?”
“The gal at admissions said there’s a chapel. I think I’d like to go there but first you’re right. We need to get you home, Duvan. You’ve done all you can for me tonight,” she added, stroking his arm.
“You are probably right, but how? The subway does not run for another hour or so.”
“Bill? You’re sober enough to drive, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” he said with a judicious nod, “I am but I don’t want to leave you alone. Duvan? What about a cab? Can we get you a cab and send you home that way?”
Duvan froze, lips pursed and head down. “Well, I don’t think so. I, I cannot afford such luxury.”
“Oh, no. No, no. I’m sorry. I’ll pay. It’s the least I can do for everything you’ve done tonight. You saved Gabrielle, called 911, called me, apparently you got her back to her house, and drove me over here. Least I can do.”
“Oh, Mr. Finger-” he replied shaking his head.
“I thought we agreed on Bill? There’s no argument, I’m calling a cab.”
There was a small bench outside the ER entry where they waited for the cab. It would be dawn soon but the night air was still a hot and heavy blanket that seemed to weigh everything down. Gabrielle sat between her two friends and with great effort was able to stay awake. Duvan quickly fell asleep, his head hanging back in exhaustion. Bill counted out ten twenty dollar bills and had them ready when the cab arrived a short time later.
Bill looked around and said, “This place never really sleeps, does it?”
“Duvan?” he asked gently shaking his young friend. “Cab’s here. Come on,” he added as he gave Duvan the roll of twenties. “That should cover it. Hey, what’s your phone number?”
Duvan gave Bill his phone number and stood next to the cab with the door open. “I’ll text you mine later. Take care, buddy.”
Gabrielle embraced him once more, they said their goodbyes and watched as the taxi drove away. “I need the chapel,” she declared. “Are you coming?”
“Yeah. Chapel might be good.”