SURVIVING THE FALL
James Goodal jarred the oversized revolver from a dying man’s hand and then tossed the weapon across his living room. Even in the after-midnight darkness, he could see blood, soaking red the beige carpet near his feet. The man no longer stirred so James averted his gaze to the top of the staircase and to his surprise, he couldn’t see or hear her.
“Ashley,” he called.
“ASHLEY!” he yelled as loud as his voice would allow.
Still no answer.
Fear held James in place; fear of what he would find if he ascended to the second floor of his home. He thought he heard a faint, weak whisper calling to him. A shiver went through him, and he knew he had to move.
He stepped over the body and charged up the stairs for the second floor, and after an instant, he found her a few feet from her bedroom.
“Oh god, Ashley, no!” The teenager had both of her hands clutching her left thigh a few inches below her crotch. Blood was seeping between her fingers. James knew that if the bullet had cut the main artery in the leg she could bleed out.
His mind was adrift in panic, searching for what he should do. Then it slammed into his brain. “I’ll call an ambulance.” He jogged for the phone next to his bed and quickly dialed 911.
“Ambulance!” he blurted when the operator asked for his emergency.
“My roommate was shot in the leg. It’s bleeding badly!”
While sprinting back to where Ashley lay, he pulled off his pajama top and placed it on Ashley’s leg.
“Apply pressure!” the operator said.
“I am!” He kneeled next to Ashley with one hand on his portable phone and the other holding the shirt to the wound.
“Is she breathing?”
“Yeah, she’s looking right at me.” The horror in Ashley’s eyes sunk into him and panged his heart. He had never in his life felt so worried for another human and so utterly useless to help.
“The ambulance is just a few minutes away, sir,” the operator said.
Then the operator began asking about how Ashley was shot, about the kind of firearm, and who fired it.
“Is the shooter still in the house, Mr. Goodal?”
“Yes, I think he’s dead.”
“Yes, I killed him.”
James set the phone aside and took Ashley’s hand in his. “It’s okay, Ashley. They’re coming. Just hold on, sweetie. Hold on.”
“I love—you—James,” Ashley said almost silently, and then her body wilted and her eyes rolled back and closed.