Sunday, May 15, 2011

Murder in Chatsworth

Murder in Chatsworth
A Satan's Angels Tale
Chapter One

As they sat patiently waiting for the light to change Kim snuggled closer to the biker in front of her. Shay was everything she’d ever wanted and then some. He was handsome well built and always made her laugh. She loved his Louisiana accent and the soft side that was reserved exclusively for the people closest to him. Naturally her family was more than a little upset when she brought the tall Satan’s Angel home to Sunday dinner. Her father raged for hours after Shay left their house. He forbade her from ever seeing this thug as he referred to him over and over again yet Kim remained unfazed.

His words fell on deaf ears Kim loved Shay and visa versa. Unlikely as it may seem they were a good match. Like many of his brothers Shay had a job and it was a good one. He was an iron worker making big money even in these hard times. The truth was Shay actually made more money than Kim’s father but was too polite to tell him so even after the man called him a bum. He knew nothing about Shay. He was staunchly narrow minded and his tiny mind was already made up. It wasn’t really a big thing Kim was over eighteen and they decided if her father continued she would simply move in with Shay.

The pair sat at the light each smiling happily. They were young and in love. Today they were headed to the beach for a nice summer ride and lunch. You couldn’t ask for better weather it was eighty with a slight breeze. The sky was a beautiful shade of pale blue, not a cloud in sight. Shay planned to ask Kim to marry him when they reached Neptune’s Net their favorite coastal lunch spot. He picked out the ring with the help of Jody his club presidents wife known for her good taste and discretion. As he sat waiting for the light to change he felt it burning a hole in his pocket. He could hardly wait to give it to her.

It was nearly ten in the morning that Saturday. When without any warning a black Tahoe appeared traveling at sixty miles an hour while it’s angry driver texted feverishly to his girlfriend. He instinctively looked up from the twentieth message on his IPhone and tragically understood there was not enough time. There was no time at all the distractions had eliminated that possibility. The fifty-seven hundred pound vehicle slammed full force into the back of the 2004, Harley Davidson Softail. The driver did not manage to slam on the brakes until well after the impact with the stopped motorcycle. The mayhem was instant and deadly.

The bike flew forward uncontrollably. The impact with the asphalt ruptured the Fatbob tanks as the bike now on its side scrapped along twisting and turning. It became an instant flame ball. Due to the force of the impact Shay was thrust over the handle bars. Then in midair struck by the bike cast off to the side seconds before it exploded. Kim was not that lucky. On impact the three hundred series rear tire burst due to the impact of the Tahoe’s bumper. She was momentarily pinned to the bike and the force broke her back. Like a rag doll she rode the bike all the way to the ground sliding along with it as it burst into flames unable to help her self. Meanwhile Shay’s body careened out of control finally landing with a horrific cracking sound near the edge of the curb. His head struck the curb violently thankfully rendering him unconscious. Shay did not have to witness the horror of watching the woman he loved die an agonizing death. He did not hear her tortured screams as the flames snuffed out her young life.

The angry man sat idle for a moment too stunned to move or help either victim. When the reality of the event finally reached his brain he threw the still idling SUV into reverse quickly driving away leaving the flaming carnage behind him. In his panic he had not even been aware of the other people who witnessed the accident. Each of those people would give the police a very accurate description of the dark man who fled the scene. Several had carefully written down the license plate number believing he’d killed both people on the motorcycle.

Shay was rushed to Northridge Hospital his breathing was raspy and shallow. The paramedics described his injuries as life threatening as the radioed his vitals to the ER doctor. His blood pressure was seventy-eight over forty-nine. It was thought that he had a number of broken ribs one of which had punctured his lungs. If his breathing worsened they would need to put a chest tube in before they reach the hospital. The paramedic reported the patient had a possible skull fracture to the forehead. “Yes he was wearing a helmet.” The EMT replied further explaining the patient’s forehead struck the curb. He has lacerations all over and his left ankle is broken. Their ETA was six minutes. “No” the paramedic replied, “The passenger was DOA. The wagon is coming for her.” He said unemotionally keying off the radio.

In the ER it became an instant sea of arms reaching in taking vitals, putting in lines, accessing the vast damage done to this twenty-six year old man. The doctors and nurses were aware that this was a hit and run accident. It wouldn’t have affected his treatment one way or another. In the assessment it was decided that his badly broken ankle would require surgery by an orthopedic surgeon but that would have to wait that injury was the very least of his problems. He was still unconscious. The hematoma on his forehead required they do an immediate CT scan. This would let them better access what damage had been done internally. An x-ray had shown that six of his ribs were broken and both lungs were in fact punctured. In the first few minutes in the ER his lungs were quickly re-inflated. In the mean time he was intubated. His belly attracted the attention of the head of the ER. He was concerned about internal bleeding. Later after more testing the doctors concerns were well founded. The patients spleen was ruptured it would need to come out. He was bleeding into his belly which was never a good thing.

Shay was rushed into surgery where three different surgeons would take turns operating trying to save this young mans life. Downstairs the head ER nurse went through Shay’s personal items trying to find someone to call. She had seen bikers in her ER before some had been from the same club as this man. She knew that they were a close knit bunch understanding they needed to be informed. She also knew they would know how to reach his family. As she began going through his contact list in his cellular phone she found an entry that read “clubhouse”. She pressed the send button and waited. The voice on the other end said “Clubhouse”. “Hi yes I am a nurse Lynn Archer at Northridge Hospital’s emergency room. We have one of your members here a Mr. Shay Ralston. I’m sorry to say this but he’s in bad shape. We are looking for his family.” Nurse Archer paused expectantly but the connection abruptly ended.

Behind the bar the prospect a man everyone called Coop an abbreviation for his last name which is Cooperman sounded the alarm. There were a handful of members at the clubhouse. Two were working on their bikes. One was shacked up in one of the bedrooms with some little honey he’d picked up the night before. Sam was passed out cold on the leather sofa snoring his head off while Coop cleaned up behind the bar restocking what had been pillaged from last nights party. He woke Sam up first then ran outside to tell Joe and Mike. In less than five minutes the group, less the prospect, was on their way to the hospital. The prospect would remain behind with instructions to call every member to let them know what was going on.

The head ER nurse heard them well before they came through the large glass doors. She even recognized the large man with the hint of gray at his temples. She had met him before under similar circumstances. At the counter he gave Shay’s name explaining that he was the next of kin. Whether it was true or not mattered little to the experienced nurse she simply felt the young man needed to have people there that cared for him. “I’m afraid your friend is in critical condition. The accident was fatal for his passenger. She wasn’t brought here she went directly to the city morgue.” Nurse Archers said taking a breath. “Your friend has a very serious head injury. There is severe swelling to the frontal lobe of his brain. The surgeon is making a hole to allow the brain to swell without putting pressure on it. This is very serious and it is the type of injury that only time can heal.” She paused again looking at the serious expressions of concern on the faces of the four large men in front of her.

“In addition to that his spleen was ruptured as well and it is bleeding into his belly. A surgeon is going to remove his spleen and drain the blood. Both of his lungs were punctured and were successfully re-inflated. He has a total of six broken ribs which if all goes well will heal all on there own unless the doctors feel they need to wire them back together while they are in there. Lastly he has a broken left ankle that also requires surgery. The orthopedic surgeon is in the operating room along with the other surgeons. They will decide if your friend can handle the additional surgery depending on his vitals which were dangerously low when he arrived.” She paused once again assessing the men before her then shouldered on. “Your brother is young and strong both things are in his favor. If he survives the surgery that’s the first hurtle. Then it becomes a waiting game. We wait to see what and how he progresses. We wait to see if there is any permanent damage from the head injury. Right now you need to pray he makes it through the surgery.”

“Thank you” Joe replied in a barely audible voice. “Where can we wait for him to come out of surgery?” He asked looking around then thanked her again. Joe took the hospital bag which he knew contained Shay’s colors, wallet, belt, cellphone and whatever was left of the clothes that he was wearing. He didn’t want to look inside. The four men rode the elevator to the third floor in silence each man understanding the severity of the situation. They found the waiting room easily and settled in for a long wait. The nurse explained that he’d only been in surgery roughly twenty minutes and this could last a very long time. Joe took out his celphone and called Jody giving her the bad news. Jody in turn called the other wives and girlfriends suggesting they start cooking taking stuff up to the clubhouse because it looked like this was going to take a while.

Jody drove carefully to the hospital finding the surgical waiting room from memory. She’d been here more times than she cared to count. Her husbands face told her what she had not asked on the phone. In that instant she knew that Kim was dead. She spotted the bag on the floor beside her husband. She kissed him giving him a warm hug then hugged each of the other grim faced men. She opened the bag and began feeling around inside not needing to look she’d know it by touch. In the small pocket of his jeans the one some people call the lighter pocket she found what she was looking for. When her hand came out of the bag she was holding a one carat, Tiffany set, brilliant cut, diamond engagement ring. The ring that she knew now Kim would never get to see. Tears slide silently down her face the sadness too great to contain. Joe looked at her lovingly “He told you huh? Of course he did. Who else would he tell?” Joe said hugging his wife trying to quell the lump in his throat. He knew that Shay was serious about Kim. Hell why wouldn’t he be? Joe thought. She was pretty and fun and smart and nice and everyone liked her. She was real nothing fake there. “Oh shit” He thought suddenly realizing he would be the one required to break the sad news to Shay. Being the club president had a lot of down sides he reminded himself for the millionth time this year.

In the OR the anesthesiologist was fighting to keep the kid under while the gastroenterologist sucked out the last of the blood lying in the cavity. The surgeons didn’t want him to have too much juice because his vitals hadn’t improved as much as they would have liked. The brain surgeon after reviewing the lasted film decided that removing a section of skull was in his patient’s best intrest. Later they could reattach it if it remained viable or put in a metal plate if he survived. Looking down he couldn’t help but notice how grossly disfigured the poor guys face had become. He was a swollen mess. His face almost three times its normal size. His eyes were swollen shut. His face was turning every shade of black and purple even to the experienced surgeons he looked like a monster. Most surprisingly they discovered his teeth had stayed intact. It was shocking since he’d struck the curb head first with such force. It was certain his nose was broken but the x-ray of his face showed the orbital bones and his cheek bones were intact.

After seven and a half hours the surgeon closed the incision on his ankle and they were finished. Now he would be taken to the intensive care unit where the waiting game would begin. The brain surgeon understood the odds were not in his favor. Yet in his twenty-two years working with head trauma he had also seen what many call miracles. There were patients that he had all but written off and they had made full and complete recoveries but they were few and far between. The truth was he felt certain that this young man would remain a vegetable unless his family had the insight to pull the plug. He didn’t know where these biker types stood on that issue but he guessed correctly that he was about to find out.

The three surgeons entered the small surgical waiting room never dreaming that many people could fit inside the tiny space. Only one man moved as they entered making his way across the sea of bodies sitting on the floor. Sitting everywhere actually in chairs on the coffee table on the coffee counter. It was crazy. He guessed there must be thirty people in there. They stepped outside into the hall. Joe introduced himself as Shay’s brother. The orthopedic surgeon went first explaining that the surgery had gone well and with a little physical therapy he would walk as good as ever. He also told him that all six broken ribs that had needed to be wired back into place which would help them to heal much better. The pain from the ribs will be difficult to deal with especially if he coughs or sneezes but with the brain injury he may luckily miss all that the doctor said. Joe thanked him and the balding man quickly walked away.

The gastroenterologist told Joe carefully and concisely that Shay’s spleen had been ruptured causing it to bleed into his belly. He went on to say the spleen had been successfully removed and the bleeding stopped. All of the blood in the cavity has been sucked out. He is on a very potent antibiotic and will continue to be on them for at least another two weeks. His prognosis is for a full and complete recovery. Joe reached out shaking the thin surgeon’s hand thanking him before he too hurriedly walked away.

Dr. Hoffman smiled understanding why his colleague’s had opted to leave. He wouldn’t have such good news for the large man standing in front of him. He took a deep breath before starting the familiar speech. “Your brother has suffered a severe blow to his forehead which affects the frontal lobe of the brain. It is mostly the left side that is affected. Joe looked questionably at the surgeon as the doctor trudged on. “The left frontal lobe controls a number of very important functions such as emotional control, our personality, motor function, memory, language, judgment, impulse control, facial expression and social and sexual behavior. A lot can go wrong with this type of injury. He could loose one, some or all of the things I mentioned. Right now he is in a medically induced coma where we will keep him until his brain stops swelling and or the swelling begins to subside.”

“We will continuously monitor his condition making changes to medications as required. Generally in cases as severe as this one and I must be honest trying to prepare you that the outcome is usually not good. He may never regain consciousness. He may remain in a vegetative state indefinitely. Now that is the worst case scenario. Did he have any wishes that you are aware of if a circumstance like that should arise?” The doctor asked calmly as his eyes remained trained on Joe’s bearded face. “Ah, I don’t know. I don’t think he would want to be kept alive if there was no chance of him ever recovering. Hell Doc he’s young no one that age talks about shit like that. You remember how it was to be his age?” Joe asked his eyes not leaving the doctors.

“I do” He answered. “We are quite a way from needing to make that decision. Right now he is on a breathing machine and will remain there for some time. As we observe his progression or lack of it we meaning you and I will make decisions accordingly. I want this to have a good outcome however I must give you all the facts as I know them. I will always be straight with you. You can count on that.” He said extending his hand to Joe.

“Thanks for your time Doc and for taking care of my brother. I really appreciate it. Now I have one small request.” Joe said still holding the surgeons hand. “I want to have a club brother in the room with him twenty-four seven. I promise you they will not get in the way or interfere with your staff. They will come and go quietly to pass on any relevant information about Shay’s condition”. Joe was looking directly into the doctors eyes as he made his request. “That won’t be a problem, will it Doc?” Joe asked politely. “No, no problem at all. I will get the clearance.” Then he let go of Joe’s hand then he too walked away.

Back inside the small waiting room Joe replayed the information the doctors had given him to the anxious crowd. You could have heard a pin drop. Tears glistened in most of the eyes as they listened to their brothers list of injuries and possible fate. Then he went on to explain that he’d been given permission to have someone in Shay’s room day and night. He asked everyone to go back to the clubhouse get a roster together of who will be at the hospital for each six hour shift. He hugged his wife asking Jody to stay with Shay telling her someone will come to relieve her once they had it figured out.

By Six Shooter Sally
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