Butterfluff hanging out on Spindizzy, and a page from someone named Stephyn: "Do you know CPR?"
"Yes," I ventured cautiously. "Is it a current emergency?" I had visions of having to coach someone over the internet... please, no. Hang up and call 911, please?
The next page had a smiley in front, so it wasn't that, at least. "I'm supposed to ask you if the phrase 'Help me, mister samurai' means anything to you."
Oh my God.
"Wait. Bring up that picture again."
Steve shrugged, brought it up. Richard regarded the internet as useful, but not terribly engaging -- but something....
"Baltimore, Maryland, the big snow this winter." He recognized that mini-van, and those buildings, and that tree. And he shouldn't. "Whose site is that? Do they have contact information?"
"There's an email address, and the main page says Butterfluff hangs out on a muck named Spindizzy."
"See if you can contact her..."
"It. Butterfluff is an it."
News item -- I didn't catch the name, but I caught the words "actor", "late sixties", "overnight" and "hospital." I was afraid to go to cnn.com and find out...
"Here he is!" But no apparent breathing, no pulse... a sudden deep gasp...
Martin's heart restarted itself, not quite so literally.
Richard was breathing again on his own, no assistance, by the time the ambulance arrived. Didn't matter -- Martin insisted that they go to the hospital. No arguments.
The neighbor stood at the corner to wave the ambulance in behind our apartments. Siren, I looked up... I looked back down, and there was no one there on the ground.
Fortunately, the neighbor had seen him, so I didn't get into trouble for calling in a false alarm. And they offered me some oxygen -- I had pretty obviously been doing something strenuous, some kind of exertion.
We looked around, no sign. And no one recognized the description as any of the neighbors...
I was not about to offer my theory. No way, no how, no never. Be well, my friend, be well.
"I called 911. They're on the way."
"Thanks. Watch for the ambulance and send them back here, would you?" the neighbor nodded and left me alone with my "patient."
The "kiss of life" they call it -- rescue breathing, to go with the CPR. I was more than a little out of breath, my heart pounding... but it wasn't only from the first aid. It's a good idea to have two people doing the rescue-breathing -- otherwise, you have two candidates for the oxygen bottle when the ambulance arrives.
At least I had a dignified excuse for the heavy breathing. Less embarassing.
No one was ever going to believe this.
Not even me, once he was gone.
No breath. No pulse. Damn damn damn. Someone was walking by, I yelled for them to call 911, they ran, bless them. Check for obstruction in the airway, nothing, position for a clear flow to the lungs, deep breath, good seal around the mouth, breathe into his mouth, forcefully. Sit back, listen for a return. No go. Still no pulse.
No time to carefully unbutton, just tear the shirt open. Measure below the sternum, no, no pre-cardial thumps any more, just push! And again! Ten shoves, then another rescue breath. Check for pulse. No re-start. Where was the damned ambulance?
Ten more shoves, another rescue breath. And this time, he kept breathing on his own. I sat back, catching my own breath. The rules say if he's breathing, of course he has a pulse, dummy. I put my hand along the side of his neck anyway, checking.
His eyes opened. He looked familiar, but not a neighbor... I got a sudden nonsense image of Hugh Grant standing next to a poster of Julia Roberts. I shook it off.
I grinned down at him. "I never could resist a 'Help me, mister samurai' ploy."
"Wakarimasu. Domo arigato gozaimasu."
_What_? I can't have heard that. And the voice was familiar... no, not enough oxygen in your own brain. Breathe for a while, then try again.
He tried to sit up, I pushed him back onto the ground. "Iye! Kinjiru! Not until the ambulance gets here."
"Hai. Wakarimasu." Then, finally, English, " 'Here' doesn't look familiar. Where am I?"
I spared him the full litany. (Milky Way, Sol System, Earth, Western Hemisphere, United States of America...) "Maryland, Baltimore. Essex, to be more specific, outside the Beltway. Where do you think you should be?"
"That's a good question. I was sure I was near my house on O'ahu. But things got a little vague there for a while..."
His wristwatch was set for five hours off EDT, westward. Damn.
I was taking a box of cardboard out to the dumpster in back of the apartment. Nice weather to just hang out outside, as long as you stay out of the sun.
He was standing in the little woods behind our building, someone I didn't recognise from around here, Older than me, greying hair, not quite my father's age, Hawai'ian print shirt and casual trousers -- decent shape, not like the usual local beer belly.
He looked confused. A hand went out to hold onto a tree, but then his knees buckled -- he sat suddenly more than fell, but was stretched out on his back by the time I got to him.
Outside, on the hillside, looking over the Pacific.
Something was very wrong, but the cell phone was on his desk, he hadn't planned to be out of the house that long... Martin was going to kill him if something happened...
No pain, but he couldn't catch his breath... Couldn't call out for help... Help. Somewhere there was help...
And there was. Somewhere else.