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Old 05-14-2017, 01:57 PM   #147
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
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Working with swift assurance and sure-handed expertise, Dr. Anderson stops Taylor’s bleeding, cleans his wounds and applies bandages. Then he helps Taylor finish the can of Coca Cola and to eat a bar of Snickers. As he swallows the last bite of his candy bar, Taylor manages to speak.

Taylor: “I’ma real sorry, doc. I… I jes’ didn’t realise…”
Dr. Anderson: “Oh, stop it, boy. You cannot possibly mean to apologise for bleeding. As a doctor, I know a damn sight more about it than you. It is a natural process when you get hurt, one you have no control over. And you did not tell me about it because you were light-headed and consequently confused.”
Taylor: “I sure feel a lot better now, doc. Reckon I were jes’ hungry.”
Anderson: “Low blood sugar certainly did not help, but you need more than soda and a candy bar. You need an IV, a couple of units of blood and a week or two in bed.”
Taylor: “Aww, doc, I’ve done spent the last five years in a cell. I ain’t gonna spend more time lying around doing nothin’. An’ I figure you done fixed me up good enough, anyhow. You’re a real fine doc.”
Anderson: “No matter how you flatter me, you will still require bed rest. Hell, a couple of minutes ago, you looked like you were going into shock.”
Taylor [low voice]: “Shush! There’s folks comin’!”

Walking through the night are five men. Four of them are wearing blue guard shirts under ballistic vests and one is wearing camouflage clothing under a similar vest. All of them have individual caps, various weapons, ammunition and two of them are wearing several other pieces of tacticool flair. As they get closer, one of them addresses Anderson and Taylor.

Guard Cardillo: “Hey, there! Who are you and what is going on?”
Taylor: “Homeland Security. Y’all from them towers?”
Cardillo: “Yeah! We got called back, told to stand down, and they say the boats and helicopters circling here are Coast Guard!”
Taylor: “They ain’t foolin’ ya. Turn in all y’all’s weapons in the barracks an’ Agent O’Toole and Mr. Townsend up in the main buildings is gonna explain everything. Y’all five, is that ever’body that were up there?”
Cardillo: “Yeah, yeah.”

Taylor looks over the other four, who confirm Cardillo’s claim that only five men remained in the observation towers and they all obeyed the command to stand down. Dr. Anderson smiles and pats Taylor’s shoulder gently as the five men walk off for the barracks.

Anderson: “And that is that, my boy. Now all we have to do is wait here for rescue.”
Taylor: “I’ma real sorry, doc, but it ain’t change nothin’. If’n some holdout don’t wanna stand down an’ figures on takin’ some shots at a chopper or a boat, we cain’t jes’ take his buddy’s word that there ain’t nobody up there.”
Anderson: “If anyone is that determined to commit suicide by Coast Guard, why should we risk our lives for them?”
Taylor: “It ain’t like they chose to have their minds all torn to pieces an’ filled with nonsense that’s got them shootin’ at shadows. Please, doc? We kin jes’stroll up the stairs in one o’ them towers an’ then I kin see into the other. We call the Coasties now an’ tell them ‘bout these five an’ that we’s gonna check if’n that’s all.”
Anderson: “And if I say no, am I going to have to restrain you to prevent you from subduing me and going off on your own?”
Taylor: “Well, I ain’t gonna attack ya or nothin’, but if’n you don’t help, I figure I’ma gonna try to make it anyhow.”

Dr. Anderson sighs deeply. Then he hands Taylor a radio and while Taylor talks to the Coast Guard, Anderson does his best to ready Taylor for movement. He secures the bandages so that walking won’t jar them and after the radio call, helps Taylor get to his feet. Anderson then instructs Taylor how to move with minimal stress on his bandages and injuries, placing most of his weight on Anderson. Then they start walking, with Dr. Anderson lecturing all the way.

Anderson: “I will have you know that this is against my strict recommendations. I am only doing this because the walk will probably do less damage than trying to restrain you. If you were my patient, I would make you sign a liability waiver stating that you rejected all sensible medical advice and were determined to be stupid and reckless. Actually, no, I would quit whatever job forced me to deal with such stubborn, unreasonable patients.”
Taylor: “Thank you, doc. For saving me, for helping me an’ for caring ‘bout me at all.”
Anderson: “Damn it, Taylor! There is no need to rub it in.”

As they get closer to the higher observation tower, they stop for a while until Taylor is satisfied that there is no movement in it. Then they approach it and start climbing the stairs inside. Dr. Anderson is surprised at how steady Taylor is on his feet, but still forces him to stop twice and regain his breath going up the 80’ of stairs.

There is a bad moment as they are about to come up to the observation level and Taylor calls out to ask if anybody is up there, as Dr. Anderson wonders what would prevent a sufficiently crazy stubborn holdout from just killing them before settling back in to wait for the Coast Guard to get within range. No one comes down to murder them, however, and as they climb up, they can see that no one remains on the observation platform. Just a massive machine gun of some sort, a huge sniper rifle and a smaller machine gun.

Taylor scans the area and then goes for a contraption of some sort mounted on a pintle next to the machine gun. He explains that it’s a thermal spotting scope and points it at the other observation tower. After a while, he suggests that Dr. Anderson try it out, as Taylor can see well enough without it. While they watch for movement from the lower observation tower, Dr. Anderson glances over at Taylor.

Anderson: “Now that we have done all we can to prevent further bloodshed, perhaps you can oblige me by telling me why you were so eager for self-sacrifice in the tunnels? And why you cannot rest easy after all you have been through and let somebody else handle the heroics?”
Taylor: “I ain’t no hero, doc. An’ I never wanted to be, least o’ all now. It’s jes’, I cain’t help feelin’ that if’n I do my best to see that nobody else dies tonight, it’d go some way to… I dunno, makin’ up for what I done.”
Anderson: “Oh, Taylor. I suppose you refer to your shooting of Dr. Bruce Cotton? The man responsible for all the violence and death of tonight?”
Taylor: “An’ the man I done murdered, doc.”
Anderson: “You killed him, yes. But if a killing is justified, it is not murder. Most people would say that Dr. Cotton deserved to die. He had certainly done enough to make a pretty good case for it. That aside, he was some kind of unique hypnotist, possessed of a wonderful and terrible power of which he could not be disarmed. He really was a mind-controller who could twist people into insanity and murder with his abilities. When you killed him, he was speaking some post-hypnotic suggestion into the intercom and radio net.”
Taylor: “Naw, doc. He done stopped talkin’ when I shot him. It weren’t self-defence an’ it weren’t combat. It were a sin, doc. The kind o’ terrible sin there ain’t no comin’ back from. I... I had hate in my heart when I kilt him.”
Anderson: “Taylor, I was there when Ms. Bell talked about Dr. Cotton. I saw her terror of him, just as you did. I rather think hatred may be been a natural response on your part.”
Taylor: “It don’t make it right.”
Anderson: “Maybe not. But there are other ways of making up for it than suicide.”
Taylor: “I never meant to die, doc. I jes’, maybe didn’t feel like my life was worth as much as that of other folks. You know, given what I done.”
Anderson: “Is that what you were taught in church? That sinners are worth less? That forgiveness and redemption are impossible?”
Taylor: “…No, doc, ‘course not! You a churchgoing man?”
Anderson: “Not any more. I was raised Episcopalian, however.”
Taylor: “Is that the one like Catholics, without the Pope, more or less?”
Anderson: “My parents were high church, so rather more than less.”
Taylor: “The priest, he kin give y'all absolution, right? If'n you asks for it? Must be nice, bein' told you forgiven. It don't matter, though. Baptist, Catholic or Episcopalian. What I done, it… there ain’t no redemption.”
Anderson: “Is that not arrogance? Even blasphemy? Denying God’s grace? His forgiveness? You think you, Chase Taylor of Luverne, Alabama, can be the one human capable of committing a sin beyond God’s forgiveness?”
Taylor: “I... ah… …It’s no good, doc. I know I ain’t smart enough to talk Bible study with you. Heck, I never could talk it with my sisters, neither, an’ none of them gots half your schooling. You’ll twist my meanin’ all up an’ make me look even dumber than I am.”

Taylor shakes his head ruefully and his voice breaks when he starts talking again.

Taylor: “I jes’… I know what I know. There ain’t no redemption nor forgiveness without you gots sincere repentance. An’ so help me God, I jes’ cain’t regret killing that low-down copperhead snake. The onliest regret I got is that I done kilt him too quick. Now he’s beyond all pain an’ fear, but Sherilyn, she still tore up ‘cause o’ him an’… an’ I still got all that hate in my heart.”
Anderson: “I cannot speak for God, but if you can forgive yourself, it would be a good start. Find whatever justification works for you. And something to live for. Such as people who need you. I seem to recall you promising Ms. Bell to take care of her. I do not need to tell you how much she stands in need of friends for the foreseeable future.”
Taylor: “You’re right, doc. I cain’t be worrying ‘bout my sins when I oughta be doin’ right by her. Oh my Lord, how must she be feelin’? All them things that happened, losing parts o’ her memory an’ havin’ to kill somebody! Who didya leave her with?”
Anderson: “I? She was with you, Taylor. Where did you leave her?”
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Last edited by Icelander; 05-14-2017 at 04:32 PM.
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