The headset hit the desk with such a force it bounced. Adam’s last call, yet another inappropriate request for Ambulance attendance.
It was from a drunk with no idea of his whereabouts and nothing warranting trained Paramedics; that was for sure. The caller was aggressive at worst and unhelpful at best. The first two minutes of the call had been taken up trying to get a location. Adam had to revert to questions along the lines of “Where did you start walking from, in what direction and how long have you been going?”
He remembered a phone box near the wall and confirmed the caller has right by it. He’d asked him to ring from the phone box, as it would automatically locate him. It was out of order.
The caller was near one of the boundary walls of a pheasant shooting estate. Adam remembered an incident there that had hit the local rag’s headlines the previous year. Lord Spofforth’s gamekeeper had encountered a poacher early one morning. The net result was the intruder had two of his fingers shot off.
After locating the caller there was a long silence. Adam wondered if the caller had just wandered off, he came back on the line.
‘I’ve had a few.’
He waited for the continuation.
‘You still there?’
‘Yeah I’m still here. What is the nature of the medical emergency?’
‘Right. I got no money, and, I’m outside in the middle of friggin nowhere, and, I’m freezing to death. I want a lift home.’
‘But you had enough money to get drunk?’ He heard himself say. The question drew a ripple of applause from nearby colleagues equally fed up with inappropriate calls. The job was hard enough.
‘Hope that one doesn’t get audited Ads or you’re in the naughty room. Again.’ Someone called across the control room.
‘Eh what was that?’ the caller asked.
‘Never mind. Did you mean to call a taxi and dialled nine nine nine by mistake? ‘ Adam enquired making no attempt to hide the sarcasm in his tone. ‘Crikey he’s going for it tonight, you got a death wish going on over there Adam?’ another called across the Control room.
Adam sighed as he heard the caller say ‘Listen mate, I could freeze to death here, I’ve only got shorts and my Batman T-shirt on.’
Adam went through some questions and eliminated the need to send an Ambulance. He advised Batman, to “call a friend” terminated the call and in tired frustration did the headset no favours.
It had been a long shift, the last one of the run of three always seemed to last forever. It had its usual mix of genuine calls, the old dears not wanting to be a bother even though they were in pain and in genuine need of assistance. They were Adam’s favourite callers; he always stayed on the line with them until the crew arrived. He wasn’t always meant to, but he did.
And, the time wasters. “The cat licked my baby’s face.” “I’ve broken up with my girlfriend and going to kill myself.” not to mention the sad “lost all my money in the Casino and tried to drown myself in the sea” excuses for calling.
He’d started the shift with an infant resuscitation followed by an amputation and a first floor fall. It goes like that, you get nothing super serious for a while and then bang, that lot comes in. At 23:00 he had an eighteen year old in Cardiac Arrest. Adam guided the lad’s traumatised sister through CPR over the phone. The crew were on scene quickly, much to his relief, there had been no sign of life during resus.
Only a few more hours and he had five days annual leave beckoning.
06:30 came round. Relief at last. The Control room filled with a mass of green uniforms. The incoming team, armed with cups of coffee took over. Adam had a quick fag in the car park with his teammates before the journey home. The worry was falling asleep at the wheel. He put all the car windows down and turned the radio on. The one thing about finishing work at that time on a Sunday morning is there are very few cars on the road. After fifteen minutes driving he felt his head start to nod. There was a slip road ahead near the phone box where the drunk had called in. He pulled over, killed the engine and fell asleep. After a twenty-minute nap he continued his journey. He saw the Phone box the drunk called from earlier a few hundred yards away. He wondered what had happened to him. As he drew that much nearer he could see something bulky at the side of the box. A body lying on the ground.
He parked up and walked over to the body and turned it over. The saviour of Gotham City looked up at him. Head wound, congealed blood, vomit on the grass. A large stone post stood at the side of the Phone Box an old signpost from days gone by. Best guess? He looked as if he’d hit his head, gone unconscious and died of exposure. It was his caller from earlier that was certain.
Dead for sure. Beyond help. He started to question himself, should he have sent on it. But the crew would have queried it. No he was in the right.
A headline flashed across his mind “Man denied Ambulance found dead in call box”.
He wrestled with his conscience. Panic started to kick in. He could get the sack, or maybe worse, what if it went to court and some smart lawyer tried putting the blame on him.
Adam already had an unresolved complaint against him and his audit scores were down again. Jobs were hard to come by in his part of the world. He did not need this to add to his problems. More panic. He tried to think straight.
No cars had driven past, nobody had seen him. If he drove away now, nobody would be any the wiser. The autopsy would show significant alcohol in the system. It was obvious what happened, Batman had fallen out of the phone box and hit his head on the stone post. He started to talk to himself. If the phone box had been working the Police would check the outgoing phone calls. It wasn’t so they couldn’t. Right so that was OK. They would check his mobile and find a 999 call had been made. But if the phone wasn’t found? Where was the mobile? He frisked the body; nothing. He was straightening up and his eye caught the sun glinting on a phone case. He’d found it in the long grass a yard away from the body. He stuffed it in his pocket.
Adam’s brain was now incapable of rational thought.
He looked at the dead body again, then up and down the road. Not a soul.
As his hand grabbed the car door handle he heard a scrambling noise on the other side of the wall. Jimmy glanced over his shoulder; a hand with three fingers grasped the rough stonework.
On the fourth day of his annual leave there was a call from work. It was his Line Manager.
‘Adam, could you come in tomorrow, something we need to go through.’