The weight of her absence sat behind Reynard’s eyes.
“Any word on Kiki?” Trent asked.
A swift shake of Reynard’s head gave Trent his answer.
“I’ll check the list of patients on my next run. Make sure the Americans are keeping an eye open for her.”
Reynard blinked several times. “My Kiki is a strong woman. We’ll find her.”
Trent squeezed the man’s hand as he shook it. He’d make sure the doctors and nurses he’d flown into the zone had Kiki’s description and name. She’d turn up… the question was, in what condition?
The sun lay directly overhead. Its rays blistered the tarmac under Trent’s feet.
He needed his shoes, some decent food, and a couple hours’ sleep. He removed his sunglasses and rubbed his eyes.
“The next group will be here in four hours. Go home… rest”, Reynard told him.
“There’s too much to do.” And there was. Between transporting the relief help from the airport to the zone, Trent flew medical supplies from one clinic to another. Military helicopters and medevacs were busy transporting the most critical off the island altogether. More help was on the way, but they weren’t coming fast enough.
“At least put on some shoes, mon. Cutting your feet now isn’t wise. The hospital is lacking antibiotics. The dead are going to fester in this heat… disease—”
“Got it.” He knew he couldn’t add to the burden. “Make sure she’s fueled. I’ll be back in an hour for another run.”
Trent walked off the tarmac, dodging those who rushed in all directions. Most of the islanders were dressed like him. Two-day-old clothes, dirt covered much of their legs and arms. Some were scraped and bruised. But those he dodged on the way to his Jeep were nothing like those on sea level.
After fishing the keys from his pocket, Trent shoved the 4x4 in gear and turned his car toward home. Thank God help had come. His fleet of four helicopters, all designed to entertain tourists on sightseeing rides over the island, had instantly become the only way to move around after the quake. So much for a quiet existence on a tropical island.
He thought of calling in, to make sure his brothers knew he was safe. Landlines were down everywhere and he’d left his cell at home… not that cells were working when he’d left there. They would worry. Trent knew he would if the shoe were on the other foot. He glanced at his bare feet.
Natives walked along the side of the road without their normal wave and smile. Trent didn’t find a smile on his face either. For once, the frown wasn’t placed there by his own life, but because of the plight of others. He turned onto his private drive, drove around several boulders that had tumbled onto the road after the quake, and proceeded to his roundabout drive.
Ginger, his two-year-old Irish setter, bounded off the steps of his porch and greeted him with two paws mid-chest.
“Hey, girl.” He found his lips pulling into a grin. “It’s good to see you, too.”
Ginger wagged her tail and barked three times in response.
Trent pushed her off with a pet and encouraged her to follow him.
He stepped over a broken ceramic vase the earthquake shook to the ground. He should probably clean up anything that could cause damage to Ginger before he left again. Trent tried the light in the bathroom, it didn’t turn on. Power was probably the least of the island’s concerns… at least for where his home sat. He considered firing up the generator, but thought better of it. He wouldn’t be there long. No need to waste the gas.
He finished in the bathroom and washed his face and hands. “At least the water is still on,” he said to himself.
The kitchen was a minefield of broken glass. Ginger trotted in beside him.
Ginger sat on her hindquarters, her tongue lolling to one side. Ten minutes later the kitchen was safe enough for the dog to enter. Trent topped off Ginger’s food bowl with kibble and filled up a cooking pot with more dog food. Luckily Ginger ate when she was hungry and didn’t mow down the whole lot in one sitting.
After eating two raw hot dogs and an apple, he moved into his bedroom. His cell phone sat in its dock, the blinking red light letting him know he had a message. There were five missed calls from Jason and two from Glen.
Trent rang Jason’s cell phone. His brother would be at the office, but he knew the call would go through. Trent lay out on top of his covers. Damn it felt good to put his feet up.
The phone rang twice before Jason picked up the call. His brother’s words were rushed. “Trent? Jesus, Trent, is it you?” Worry laced the question, making Trent feel all kinds of sick for not trying to call sooner.
“It’s me, Jase. I’m fine.”
“Dammit. We thought… we heard…” Jason took a deep breath and started over. “You scared the fuck out of us, Trent.”
“You’ve been here. My house isn’t on sea level. She handled the quake. I’ve been flying supplies and people. I haven’t been home since it hit.”
Trent imagined his brother looking out over the city in his three-piece suit and running his hand through his hair.
“The media footage shows total carnage. Is it as bad as it looks?”
The memory of bodies floated in Trent’s mind. “Worse.”
“Thank God you’re OK. Can I do anything?”
Ginger jumped up on his bed and set her head in his lap. “Call Glen. My phone has a charge, but I’m not sure for how long. Power’s out over much of the island.”
“We can be there in a few hours.”
Trent smiled. “I know… but hold that thought. What we need is doctors, nurses, and search and rescue. Not suit-wearing businessmen.”
Jason huffed into the phone at Trent’s dig. “What about another pilot?”
Their father had made sure each of the brothers had his pilot’s license before a driver’s license. “The birds are on the ground at night. The military is bringing in more power.”
“I feel helpless.”
“If you came here you’d feel worse.”
There was a pause on the phone. “You shouldn’t be there.”
Trent shook his head. He wasn’t about to go into that argument again. “I’ve got to go.”
“Take care of yourself.”
“I will. Don’t worry.” Trent ended the call and tossed the phone next to his side. He leaned against the headboard and closed his eyes. His brother’s life… his old life, wasn’t anything like existing in Jamaica.
Existing. Make that living, he corrected himself.
Thirty minutes later, he shook himself awake and forced himself off the bed. He took five minutes to shower and change clothes. This time he grabbed a pair of shoes and filled a sack with food and energy drinks before he headed back out.
Monica ran the back of her hand over her forehead to keep the sweat from dripping in her eyes. She’d stepped off Barefoot’s chopper and straight into hell.
Her scrubs stuck to her skin, her blonde hair was pulled back into a crude bun. Patients were everywhere and on every possible surface. The hospital, which wouldn’t pass as a clinic back home, was only two stories. It withstood the earthquake, which apparently was offshore. The tsunami hit the island quickly. The locals told her the quake had been impossible to sleep through and when the wave came they ran.
Monica’s station was a second level of triage. The first wasn’t even manned by someone with a medical degree. A receptionist of the hospital had been elevated to triage nurse in one day. She separated those with lacerations that could wait outside. Broken bones, so long as they weren’t open fractures or cutting off circulation, were sent to the same holding area. There were thousands of them.
“Help… please. Someone?” The voice rose above the chaos of the room; moans and desperation filtered thick in the air.
Monica twisted toward the voice.
Two Jamaican men rushed in a twentysomething man on the back of what looked like a plank door. A woman stood over the man screaming for help.
Their desperation alone made Monica’s legs move. Behind the band of newcomers was the poor receptionist-made-nurse. “You said to let through cold feet.”
Monica shook her head. “Cold feet?” Her eyes moved over the man on his back. His head shook from side to side. His ebony skin was ashen.
“His leg. It’s cold.”
Monica moved closer.
“You a doctor?” the woman by the patient’s side asked.
“A nurse.” Monica was reaching for her trauma shears. “Do you speak English?” she asked the man on the door.
He nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“He needs a doctor!” the woman screamed.
Monica felt herself folding into the woman’s drama.