Monday, March 5, 2018

Lost Stories: Andrea Carter and Trouble at the Lineshack 9

Go HERE to begin this Lost Story.

The next couple of scenes will feel familiar, with the important exception that Andi is all on her own. Once Mitch loses consciousness, it's hard to have a conversation with yourself. Too much narration bogs a story down, so again, that is the reason I added Cory and Jenny to the final, finished book.

Also, note the difference between this bullet and the one from the published edition of Trouble with Treasure. How is this version different?






ANDREA CARTER AND TROUBLE AT THE LINESHACK

Lost Scene #9




What?” Andi’s voice came out as a screech. “What bullet? Didn’t it go clean through?”
Mitch shook his head. “It’s there still.”
You’re . . . you’re . . . crazy,” Andi whispered. “I can’t take a bullet out. I’ll”—she swallowed, horrified at the thought—“I’ll ride home and get help.” She started to rise.
A tight grasp on her arm yanked her back. “It’s too far.” Mitch shut his eyes, and a shudder went through his body. “It will take too long. I’ll bleed to death before you get back.” He sucked in a breath. “Just dig around for the bullet and sew me up when you get done.”
Oh, just like that? He’s delirious. Out of his head.” Andi glanced down at her brother’s blood-soaked jeans and shook her head. “I can’t.”
“You have to.” Mitch’s voice was growing weaker. “There’s nothing to it. Mother’s done it before.”
“I’m not Mother.” I wish she was here!
“You can do this, Andi.” He took a deep breath. “First, get the fire going nice and hot and boil some water—lots of it. While the water’s boiling get the horses and put them in the corral. Can you do that?”
That was something she could do. She relaxed. “Yes.”
“Bring in the saddlebags off Chase. Inside you’ll find a small leather-wrapped kit. It should contain all of the things you need.” He closed his eyes and took another deep breath. “Boil everything you find. Then, if you can find some whiskey, pour it in a basin and dump all the tools in there. Got it?”
            “Yes,” Andi replied weakly.

“When everything ready, shake me awake.”
Andi started a fire and swung a pot of water over the heat to boil. Then she fled, grateful for the chance to be away from the nearly hopeless task awaiting her. She knew nothing about digging into her brother’s leg, but Mitch acted like taking out a bullet was something she did every day.
She reached the horses and yanked them toward the corral. She’d worry about feeding them later. Reaching around Mitch’s saddle, she loosened the saddlebags and carried them into the shack.  
Dusk was coming, so she lit every kerosene lamp she could find. The light did little to make the cabin inviting. It was a gloomy, dirty shack, made more so by its recent occupants.
Unwashed tin plates and cups sat on a counter near a grimy wash pan. A stone fireplace took up one whole wall. Luckily, a pile of wood lay near the gaping opening. It was easy to keep the fire going.
She searched high and low until she found two whiskey bottles half full of the amber liquid. She emptied one of the bottles into a fairly clean basin and set it on a crude table.
Unwrapping the leather pouch, she dumped the shiny instruments into the basin of alcohol. Then she dragged the table close to the bunk and stood over Mitch. She was loathe to wake him. He looked so peaceful.
A shiver went through her. The peace of death went through her mind. Frightened, she shook him hard. “Mitch, I’m back. Now what?”
Mitch’s eyes opened a crack. They looked haunted. He’s  afraid, Andi realized. Afraid as she had never seen him before.     
“You need a doctor,” she whispered. “Not a scared ninny who doesn’t know the first thing about taking out bullets. It’s not the same as removing a splinter.”
“Same idea. Just bigger and deeper.” Mitch took Andi’s hand and squeezed. “You’re better to me than any doctor, Sis, because you’re all I’ve got. This thing’s been in my leg too long.” He let go, and his hand fell to his side. “Now, position my leg up on a chair near the lamp so you can see what you’re doing.”
Andi scooted a long bench next to the bunk and lifted his leg. Mitch clenched his teeth and groaned. She slid it over.
“Good. Cut the fabric away. Use my knife.”
Andi found Mitch’s knife and plunged the point into the heavy denim material. It sliced easily, and she soon had it off. She stared at the bloody heap of fabric rather than the pasty-looking leg.
Mitch didn’t look, either.
“Get some of that water you boiled. Make sure it’s cooled down some,” he said. “Clean up the leg the best you can.”
Andi felt sick and dizzy by the time she’d cleaned it up. And I haven’t even started the hard part yet. Her heart pounded like a hammer, making her gasp for breath.
It was swollen, with a round, bloody hole off to the side of his left thigh. Thank God it had missed the bone! The hole oozed a steady stream of red.
“The hole is so small. How will I ever find a bullet in there?”
“You dig for it.” Mitch closed his eyes.
Dig for it? She’d have to tear the opening wider if she expected to get a pair of tongs inside!
“You dig for it until you find it. You can repair the damage later. Use plenty of whiskey. Dump it everywhere. Don’t worry about making a mess. It can be cleaned up later.”
He caught her gaze. “Use the knife to enlarge the opening as much as you need. Use the probe to feel for the bullet. Use the tongs to grasp it. Pull it out. Sew it up. Douse it in lots of whiskey. Just like that.”
Just like that? Andi felt her throat tighten up.
Mitch gripped her arm. “You can do it, sis. It’s easy. And luck could be with us. It might not close to the surface.”
Oh, please, God! Let it be so!
Andi looked at the instruments sitting in the whiskey. She looked at the damaged leg. She looked at her brother’s white face. “How long do I try?”
“There is no try. You stay in that leg until you find it. Period.”
Andi swallowed. “I—I think I’m going to throw up.”
“You can be sick later.” He motioned to the bottle of whiskey. “Give that to me. I’m going to drink plenty of it.”
None of Andi’s brothers ever drank whiskey. They fired any cowhand who came to work even hinting at not being able to control their Saturday nights in town. But now?
I hope it’s good for something, Andi decided as she handed him the bottle.
Mitch upended the bottle and let the liquid flow down his throat. He coughed and gagged, but kept going until a good portion had left the bottle. He wiped his mouth and coughed. “That tastes awful.” He shuddered. “Once you start in on my leg, I’m going to black out. You won’t be able to ask me anything, so ask what you want now.”
Andi shook her head. She didn’t have any questions. She plunged her hands into the whiskey and scrubbed them furiously. When she removed her hands from the basin, she was holding a sharp little scalpel. “You keep the craziest things in your saddlebags, big brother.”
Mitch didn’t answer. His lips were moving. Andi knew he was praying.
“Pray for both of us,” Andi whispered. “Here goes.”
Her hand was surprisingly steady. She touched the point to the bleeding hole.
Mitch’s leg trembled. “Get to it.” He clenched his fists.
Andi swallowed, sent up a prayer, and made her first cut. Her stomach turned over at the fresh spurt of blood. What if he bleeds to death? No, if I go quickly, I can patch him up before he loses much more. Maybe.
Mitch writhed, but he kept his leg still as a stone. “You’re doing great,” he told Andi.
Yeah, one little cut . . . the size of a splinter.
“I’m feeling woozy,” Mitch said. He gave her a crooked smile. “It won’t be long now, and you’ll be on . . . your . . .” His eyes rolled back and he slumped.
The whiskey had done its work.
Now it was up to Andi. She would either save her brother’s life or send him to eternity before this night was out.
So began an evening Andi would never forget—not for as long as she lived. It was a night she thought would never end. She tried to imagine the leg as a hunk of beef. Blood flowed freely. She sliced at the opening until it was large enough to carefully guide the metal prop inside.
Clunk. Right away the probe hit the bullet. Just like Mitch said, it was close to the surface and nowhere near the center of his leg. Thank you, God!
Andi removed the probed and picked up the small tongs. She guided them to where she believed the bullet had hit the probe. Three times she thought she had the bullet, three times it slipped away before she could extract it.
Tears of frustration ran down her face, blurring her vision. But vision didn’t matter. Only touch mattered. She fished around for the piece of lead once more, and suddenly it came out. She stared it, shocked at what she was looking at.
Then she dropped it in the basin and slumped. It’s over. I did it.
Another glance at the bloody leg told Andi she wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot. Now she must put everything back together. The thread from Mitch’s small kit was soon sticky with whiskey and blood. The needle too.
With the first stitch, her brother’s leg quivered. At least he was unconscious. That whiskey had certainly done the trick! Bet he has a terrific headache when he wakes up, Andi thought. If he wakes up.
Andi’s hands shook with fatigue by the time she sewed together the last layers of skin. She left the bullet hole exposed. She remembered some snippet about leaving holes to drain out any infection.
The last step was to pour the rest of the whiskey all over the wound. Then she lifted the lamp and held it close.
What a terrible job! At best, Mitch would have a jagged scar for life. At worst . . . well, Andi didn’t want to think about the worst.
She stared at the amount of blood that had pooled on the rough wooden floor. Most of it had seeped through the cracks. Could anyone live with so much blood gone? Mitch’s face was drained of all color. His breathing was shallow and his chest barely moved up and down.  
Andi looked at her hands. They were covered with blood. She washed them the best she could in a basin of clean water. Then she found strips of clean cloth in the kit. She wrapped them firmly around the leg. The white cloth turned red so quickly, but she kept wrapping. Eventually, the bleeding stopped.
Andi finished the job, tied the bandage securely, and began to clean up the instruments.
Suddenly, as though recognizing the affair was ended, her mind, body, and emotions gave into the horror. She felt so sick and faint she could barely stand. For sure her meager lunch was going to come up. She barely made it out of the door before it happened.
Andi doubled over and let everything to come up. In some way, she was for the release from the tension she had just been through.
Later, exhausted, she outside on the porch, breathing in huge draughts of fresh, cold air. She tried to forget the smell of kerosene, blood, and whiskey all mixed together in a foul odor. The tears she had held back for the last hour leaked out and fell down her cheeks. Then she looked up.
It was late, for the sky was ablaze with stars. The Milky Way stretched across the sky in a band of white. “Please, God,” she whispered between sobs, “I did what I had to do. The rest is up to you. Let him be okay. Please.”
Andi struggled to rise. Dizziness overwhelmed her, but she shuffled into the cabin to clean up the horrible mess.
 It can wait, she suddenly decided. She threw herself wearily across the foot of the bunk.
Andi was asleep before her head touched the coverings.

13 comments:

  1. wow! Great story!!

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  2. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
    The bullet was still in his leg, while in the original edition it'd gone right out. My goodness! This story is terrific, although unbearably suspenseful! Thanks, Mrs. Marlow! LOVE it!

    ~Ellen

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    1. Yes, my sister is a doctor and I used to bring the rest little bits and fly to Kansas and stay a few weeks, and we homeschooled together. In the evenings I would share my latest story, and she said keeping the bullet in the leg was not too believeable, so I changed things. But I always kept the original just because I liked it. Lol

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    2. Oops. Autocorrect. Blah. I took my two littlest boys to Kansas.

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    3. Soooo suspenseful! Another thing was Mitch drank the whiskey, where he didn't in Trouble With Treasure. I really think that would happen in real life if someone got shot and they didn't have pain meds.

      ~Leah

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  3. Oh my goodness! I think I might love parts of this unpublished edition even more then the published one, definitely equally at least. I love that Andi's alone(though I feel really bad for her), but it makes the story even more suspenseful! And the bullet still being in his leg was definitely a twist! :)

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Mrs. Marlow!

    -Sadie S.

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  4. great job!!! but very suspenseful, its hard to wait!

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    1. That's right! Are you the one that hasn't read Trouble with Treasure yet?

      ~Leah

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  5. Wow! Love it! Great job, Mrs. M!

    How many stories are there in this Lost Story?

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    1. Great!!!!! Chapter 10 was SO good, Mrs. M!!! Thanks so much for sharing these with us!

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Let Andi know what you think!