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Pet Samatary, Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 12 (1)

Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 12 (1)

TWELVE

The first thing he noticed turning into the University grounds was how suddenly and spectacularly the traffic swelled. There was car traffic, bike traffic, joggers in gym shorts. He had to stop quickly to avoid two of the joggers coming from the direction of Dunn Hall toward the athletic grounds beyond the field-house. Louis braked hard enough to lock his shoulder-belt and honked. He was always annoyed at the way joggers (bicyclers had the same irritating habit) seemed to automatically assume that their responsibility lapsed completely the moment they began to run. They were, after all, exercising. One of them gave Louis the finger without even looking around. Louis sighed and drove on.

The second thing he noticed was that the ambulance was gone from its slot in the small infirmary parking lot, and that gave him a nasty start. The infirmary was equipped to treat almost any illness or accident on a short-term basis; there were three well-equipped examination-and-treatment rooms opening off the big foyer, and beyond this were two wards with fifteen beds each. But there was no operating theater, nor anything even resembling one. In case of serious accidents, there was the ambulance, which would rush an injured or seriously ill person to the Eastern Maine Medical Center. Steve Masterton, the physician's assistant who had given Louis his first tour of the facility, had shown Louis the log from the previous two academic years with justifiable pride; there had only been thirty-eight ambulance runs in that time, not bad when you considered that the student population here was over ten thousand and the total University population was almost seventeen thousand.

And here he was, on his first real day of work, with the ambulance gone.

He parked in the slot headed with a freshly-painted sign reading RESERVED FOR DR CREED, and hurried in.

He found Charlton, a graying little woman of about fifty, in the first examining room, taking the temperature of a girl who was wearing jeans and a halter top. The girl had gotten a bad sunburn not too long ago, Louis observed; the peeling was well advanced.

‘Good morning, Joan,' he said. ‘Where's the ambulance?'

‘Oh, we had a real tragedy, all right,' Charlton said, taking the thermometer out of the student's mouth and reading it. ‘Steve Masterton came in this morning at seven and saw a great big puddle under the engine and the front wheels. Radiator let go. They hauled it away.'

‘Great,' Louis said, but he felt relieved nonetheless. At least it wasn't out on a run, which was what he had first feared. ‘When do we get it back?'

Joan Charlton laughed. ‘Knowing the University Motor Pool,' she said, ‘it'll come back around December 15th wrapped in Christmas ribbon.' She glanced at the student.

‘You've got half a degree of fever,' she said. ‘Take two aspirins and stay out of bars and dark alleys.'

The girl got down. She gave Louis a quick appraising glance and then went out.

‘Our first customer of the new semester,' Charlton said sourly. She began to shake the thermometer down with brisk snaps.

‘You don't seem too pleased about it.'

‘I know the type,' she said. ‘Oh, we get the other type too – athletes who go on playing with bone chips and tendonitis and everything else because they don't want to be benched, they got to be macho men, not let the team down, even if they're jeopardizing pro careers later on. Then you've got little Miss Half-Degree of Fever—' She jerked her head toward the window, where Louis could see the girl with the peeling sunburn walking in the direction of the Gannett-Cumberland-Androscoggin complex of dorms. In the examining room the girl had given the impression of someone who did not feel well at all but was trying not to let on. Now she was walking briskly, her hips swinging prettily, noticing and being noticed.

‘Your basic college hypochondriac.' Charlton dropped the thermometer into a sterilizer. ‘We'll see her two dozen times this year. Her visits will be more frequent before each round of prelims. A week or so before finals she'll be convinced she has either mono or pneumonia. Bronchitis is the fall-back position. She'll get out of four or five tests – the ones where the instructors are wimps, to use the word they use – and get easier makeups. They always get sicker if they know the prelim or final is going to be an objective test rather than an essay exam.'

‘My, aren't we cynical this morning,' Louis said. He was, in fact, a little nonplussed.

She tipped him a wink that made him grin. ‘I don't take it to heart, doctor. Neither should you.'

‘Where's Stephen now?'

‘In your office, answering mail and trying to figure out the latest ton of updates from Blue Cross-Blue Shield,' she said.

Louis went in. Charlton's cynicism not withstanding, he felt comfortably in harness.

Looking back on it, Louis would think – when he could bear to think about it at all – that the nightmare really began when they brought the dying boy, Victor Pascow, into the infirmary around ten that morning.

Until then, things were very quiet. At nine, half an hour after he arrived, the two candy-stripers who would be working the nine-to-three shift came in. Louis gave them each a doughnut and cup of coffee and talked to them for about fifteen minutes, outlining their duties and, what was perhaps more important, what was beyond the scope of their duties. Then Charlton took over. As she led them out of Louis's office, Louis heard her ask: ‘Either of you allergic to shit or puke? You'll see a lot of both here.'

‘Oh God,' Louis murmured, and covered his eyes. But he was smiling. A tough old babe like Charlton was not always a liability.

Louis began filling out the long Blue Cross-Blue Shield forms, which amounted to a complete inventory of drug-stock and medical equipment (‘Every year,' Steve Masterton said in an aggrieved voice. ‘Every goddam year the same thing. Why don't you write down COMPLETE HEART TRANSPLANT FACILITY, APPROX. VALUE 8 MILLION DOLLARS, Louis? That'll foozle 'em!'), and he was totally engrossed, thinking only marginally that a cup of coffee would go down well, when Masterton screamed from the direction of the foyer-waiting room: ‘Louis! Hey, Louis get out here! We got a mess!'

The near-panic in Masterton's voice got Louis going in a hurry. He bolted out of his chair almost as though he had, in some subconscious way, been expecting this. A shriek, as thin and sharp as a shard of broken glass, arose from the direction of Masterton's shout. It was followed by a sharp slap and Charlton saying, ‘Stop that or get the hell out of here! Stop it right now!'

Louis burst into the waiting room and was first only conscious of the blood – there was a lot of blood. One of the candy-stripers was sobbing. The other, pale as cream, had put her fisted hands to the corners of her mouth, pulling her lips into a big revolted grin. Masterton was kneeling down, trying to hold the head of the boy sprawled on the floor.

Steve looked up at Louis, eyes grim and wide and frightened. He tried to speak. Nothing came out.

People were congregating at the Student Medical Center's big glass doors, peering in, their hands cupped around their faces to butt out the glare. Louis's mind conjured up an insanely appropriate image: sitting in the living room as a boy of no more than six with his mother in the morning before she went to work, watching the television. Watching the old Today show, with Dave Garroway. People were outside, gaping in at Dave and Frank Blair and good old J. Fred Muggs. He looked around and saw other people standing at the windows. He couldn't do anything about the doors, but—

‘Shut the drapes,' he snapped at the candy-striper who had screamed.

When she didn't move immediately, Charlton slapped her can. ‘Do it, girl!'

The candy-striper got in gear. A moment later green drapes were jerked across the windows. Charlton and Steve Masterton moved instinctively between the boy on the floor and the doors, cutting off the view as best they could.

‘Hard stretcher, Doctor?' Charlton asked.

‘If we need it, get it.' Louis said, squatting beside Masterton. ‘I haven't even had a chance to look at him.'

‘Come on,' Charlton said to the girl who had closed the drapes. She was pulling the corners of her mouth with her fists again, making that humorless, screaming grin. She looked at Charlton and moaned, ‘Oh, ag.'

‘Yeah, oh, ag is right. Come on.' She gave the girl a hard yank and got her moving, her red-and-white-pinstriped skirt swishing against her legs.

Louis bent over his first patient at the University of Maine in Orono.

He was a young man, age approximately twenty, and it took Louis less than three seconds to make the only diagnosis that mattered: the young man was going to die. Half of his head was crushed. His neck had been broken. One collarbone jutted from his swelled and twisted right shoulder. From his head, blood and a yellow, pussy fluid seeped sluggishly into the carpet. Louis could see the man's brain, whitish-gray and pulsing through a shattered section of skull. It was like looking through a broken window. The incursion was perhaps five centimeters wide; if he had had a baby in his skull, he could almost have birthed it, like Zeus delivering from his forehead. That he was still alive at all was incredible. In his mind suddenly he heard Jud Crandall saying sometimes you could feel it bite your ass. And his mother: dead is dead. He felt a crazy urge to laugh. Dead was dead, all right. That's affirmative, good buddy.

‘Holler for the ambulance,' he snapped at Masterton. ‘We—'

‘Louis, the ambulance is—'

‘Oh Christ,' Louis said, slapping his own forehead. He shifted his gaze to Charlton. ‘Joan, what do you do in a case like this? Call Campus Security or the EMMC?'

Joan looked flustered and upset, an extreme rarity with her, Louis guessed. But her voice was composed enough as she replied. ‘Doctor, I don't know. We've never had a situation like this before in my time at the Medical Center.'

Louis thought as fast as he could. ‘Call the campus police. We can't wait for EMMC to send out their own ambulance. If they have to, they can take him up to Bangor in one of the fire engines. At least it has a siren, flashers. Go do it, Joan.'

She went, but not before he caught her deeply sympathetic glance and interpreted it. This young man, who was deeply tanned and well-muscled – perhaps from a summer working on a roadcrew somewhere, or painting houses, or giving tennis lessons – and dressed now only in red gym shorts with white piping, was going to die no matter what they did. He would be just as dead even if their ambulance had been parked out front with the motor idling when the patient was brought in.

Incredibly, the dying man was moving. His eyes fluttered and opened. Blue eyes, the irises ringed with blood. They stared vacantly around, seeing nothing. He tried to move his head and Louis exerted pressure to keep him from doing so, mindful of the broken neck. The terrible cranial trauma did not preclude the possibility of pain.

The hole in his head, oh Christ, the hole in his head.

‘What happened to him?' he asked Steve, aware that it was, under the circumstances, a stupid and pointless question. The question of a bystander. But the hole in the man's head confirmed his status; a bystander was all he was. ‘Did the police bring him?'


Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 12 (1)

TWELVE DOCE

The first thing he noticed turning into the University grounds was how suddenly and spectacularly the traffic swelled. Lo primero que notó al entrar en los terrenos de la Universidad fue cuán repentina y espectacularmente aumentó el tráfico. There was car traffic, bike traffic, joggers in gym shorts. Había tráfico de coches, tráfico de bicicletas, corredores en pantalones cortos de gimnasia. He had to stop quickly to avoid two of the joggers coming from the direction of Dunn Hall toward the athletic grounds beyond the field-house. Tuvo que detenerse rápidamente para esquivar a dos de los corredores que venían desde Dunn Hall hacia los terrenos de atletismo más allá de la casa de campo. Louis braked hard enough to lock his shoulder-belt and honked. Louis frenó lo suficientemente fuerte como para trabar su cinturón y tocó la bocina. He was always annoyed at the way joggers (bicyclers had the same irritating habit) seemed to automatically assume that their responsibility lapsed completely the moment they began to run. Siempre le molestaba la forma en que los corredores (los ciclistas tenían el mismo hábito irritante) parecían asumir automáticamente que su responsabilidad caducaba por completo en el momento en que comenzaban a correr. They were, after all, exercising. Después de todo, estaban haciendo ejercicio. One of them gave Louis the finger without even looking around. Uno de ellos señaló a Louis con el dedo sin siquiera mirar alrededor. Louis sighed and drove on. Louis suspiró y siguió conduciendo.

The second thing he noticed was that the ambulance was gone from its slot in the small infirmary parking lot, and that gave him a nasty start. Lo segundo que notó fue que la ambulancia se había ido de su lugar en el pequeño estacionamiento de la enfermería, y eso le dio un mal comienzo. The infirmary was equipped to treat almost any illness or accident on a short-term basis; there were three well-equipped examination-and-treatment rooms opening off the big foyer, and beyond this were two wards with fifteen beds each. La enfermería estaba equipada para tratar casi cualquier enfermedad o accidente a corto plazo; había tres salas de examen y tratamiento bien equipadas que daban al gran vestíbulo, y más allá había dos pabellones con quince camas cada uno. But there was no operating theater, nor anything even resembling one. Pero no había quirófano, ni nada parecido. In case of serious accidents, there was the ambulance, which would rush an injured or seriously ill person to the Eastern Maine Medical Center. En caso de accidentes graves, estaba la ambulancia, que llevaría a una persona lesionada o gravemente enferma al Centro Médico del Este de Maine. Steve Masterton, the physician's assistant who had given Louis his first tour of the facility, had shown Louis the log from the previous two academic years with justifiable pride; there had only been thirty-eight ambulance runs in that time, not bad when you considered that the student population here was over ten thousand and the total University population was almost seventeen thousand. Steve Masterton, el asistente médico que le había dado a Louis su primer recorrido por las instalaciones, le había mostrado a Louis el registro de los dos años académicos anteriores con justificado orgullo; solo había habido treinta y ocho viajes de ambulancia en ese tiempo, no está mal si se considera que la población estudiantil aquí supera los diez mil y la población total de la Universidad es de casi diecisiete mil.

And here he was, on his first real day of work, with the ambulance gone. Y aquí estaba él, en su primer día real de trabajo, sin la ambulancia.

He parked in the slot headed with a freshly-painted sign reading RESERVED FOR DR CREED, and hurried in.

He found Charlton, a graying little woman of about fifty, in the first examining room, taking the temperature of a girl who was wearing jeans and a halter top. Encontró a Charlton, una mujercita canosa de unos cincuenta años, en la primera sala de reconocimiento, tomando la temperatura de una chica que vestía vaqueros y una camiseta sin mangas. The girl had gotten a bad sunburn not too long ago, Louis observed; the peeling was well advanced. La chica se había quemado gravemente con el sol no hacía mucho tiempo, observó Louis; el pelado estaba muy avanzado.

‘Good morning, Joan,' he said. —Buenos días, Joan —dijo—. ‘Where's the ambulance?' ¿Dónde está la ambulancia?

‘Oh, we had a real tragedy, all right,' Charlton said, taking the thermometer out of the student's mouth and reading it. 'Oh, tuvimos una verdadera tragedia, de acuerdo', dijo Charlton, quitándole el termómetro de la boca al estudiante y leyéndolo. ‘Steve Masterton came in this morning at seven and saw a great big puddle under the engine and the front wheels. Steve Masterton llegó esta mañana a las siete y vio un gran charco debajo del motor y las ruedas delanteras. Radiator let go. Radiador soltado. They hauled it away.' Se lo llevaron.

‘Great,' Louis said, but he felt relieved nonetheless. 'Genial', dijo Louis, pero se sintió aliviado de todos modos. At least it wasn't out on a run, which was what he had first feared. Al menos no había salido corriendo, que era lo primero que temía. ‘When do we get it back?' ¿Cuándo lo recuperaremos?

Joan Charlton laughed. Joan Charlton se rió. ‘Knowing the University Motor Pool,' she said, ‘it'll come back around December 15th wrapped in Christmas ribbon.' She glanced at the student. 'Conociendo el Motor Pool de la Universidad', dijo, 'regresará alrededor del 15 de diciembre envuelto en una cinta navideña'. Miró al estudiante.

‘You've got half a degree of fever,' she said. —Tienes medio grado de fiebre —dijo—. ‘Take two aspirins and stay out of bars and dark alleys.' Tómate dos aspirinas y aléjate de bares y callejones oscuros.

The girl got down. La niña se bajó. She gave Louis a quick appraising glance and then went out. Le dirigió a Louis una rápida mirada evaluadora y luego salió.

‘Our first customer of the new semester,' Charlton said sourly. —Nuestro primer cliente del nuevo semestre —dijo Charlton con amargura. She began to shake the thermometer down with brisk snaps. Empezó a sacudir el termómetro hacia abajo con rápidos chasquidos.

‘You don't seem too pleased about it.' —No pareces muy complacido con eso.

‘I know the type,' she said. —Conozco el tipo —dijo—. ‘Oh, we get the other type too – athletes who go on playing with bone chips and tendonitis and everything else because they don't want to be benched, they got to be macho men, not let the team down, even if they're jeopardizing pro careers later on. 'Oh, también tenemos el otro tipo: atletas que siguen jugando con astillas de hueso y tendinitis y todo lo demás porque no quieren ser enviados a la banca, tienen que ser hombres machos, no defraudar al equipo, incluso si ellos' volver a poner en peligro carreras profesionales más adelante. Then you've got little Miss Half-Degree of Fever—' She jerked her head toward the window, where Louis could see the girl with the peeling sunburn walking in the direction of the Gannett-Cumberland-Androscoggin complex of dorms. Entonces tienes a la pequeña señorita Medio Grado de Fiebre... —Sacudió la cabeza hacia la ventana, donde Louis podía ver a la chica con las quemaduras solares que se pelaban caminando en dirección al complejo de dormitorios Gannett-Cumberland-Androscoggin—. In the examining room the girl had given the impression of someone who did not feel well at all but was trying not to let on. En la sala de reconocimiento, la niña había dado la impresión de alguien que no se sentía nada bien pero que trataba de no dejarlo notar. Now she was walking briskly, her hips swinging prettily, noticing and being noticed. Ahora caminaba rápidamente, sus caderas se balanceaban con gracia, notando y siendo notada.

‘Your basic college hypochondriac.' Charlton dropped the thermometer into a sterilizer. Tu hipocondríaco universitario básico. Charlton dejó caer el termómetro en un esterilizador. ‘We'll see her two dozen times this year. La veremos dos docenas de veces este año. Her visits will be more frequent before each round of prelims. Sus visitas serán más frecuentes antes de cada ronda de preliminares. A week or so before finals she'll be convinced she has either mono or pneumonia. Aproximadamente una semana antes de los exámenes finales, estará convencida de que tiene mononucleosis o neumonía. Bronchitis is the fall-back position. La bronquitis es la posición de reserva. She'll get out of four or five tests – the ones where the instructors are wimps, to use the word they use – and get easier makeups. Saldrá de cuatro o cinco exámenes, aquellos en los que los instructores son débiles, para usar la palabra que usan, y obtendrá maquillajes más fáciles. They always get sicker if they know the prelim or final is going to be an objective test rather than an essay exam.' Siempre se enferman más si saben que el examen preliminar o final será una prueba objetiva en lugar de un examen de ensayo.

‘My, aren't we cynical this morning,' Louis said. 'Vaya, no somos cínicos esta mañana', dijo Louis. He was, in fact, a little nonplussed. Estaba, de hecho, un poco desconcertado.

She tipped him a wink that made him grin. Ella le guiñó un ojo que lo hizo sonreír. ‘I don't take it to heart, doctor. —No me lo tomo a pecho, doctor. Neither should you.' Tú tampoco deberías.

‘Where's Stephen now?' ¿Dónde está Stephen ahora?

‘In your office, answering mail and trying to figure out the latest ton of updates from Blue Cross-Blue Shield,' she said. "En su oficina, contestando el correo y tratando de averiguar la última tonelada de actualizaciones de Blue Cross-Blue Shield", dijo.

Louis went in. Luis entró. Charlton's cynicism not withstanding, he felt comfortably in harness. A pesar del cinismo de Charlton, se sentía cómodo en el arnés.

Looking back on it, Louis would think – when he could bear to think about it at all – that the nightmare really began when they brought the dying boy, Victor Pascow, into the infirmary around ten that morning. Mirando hacia atrás, Louis pensaría, cuando podía soportar pensar en ello, que la pesadilla realmente comenzó cuando llevaron al niño moribundo, Victor Pascow, a la enfermería alrededor de las diez de la mañana.

Until then, things were very quiet. Hasta entonces, las cosas estaban muy tranquilas. At nine, half an hour after he arrived, the two candy-stripers who would be working the nine-to-three shift came in. A las nueve, media hora después de su llegada, entraron los dos candy-stripers que trabajarían en el turno de nueve a tres. Louis gave them each a doughnut and cup of coffee and talked to them for about fifteen minutes, outlining their duties and, what was perhaps more important, what was beyond the scope of their duties. Louis les dio a cada uno una dona y una taza de café y habló con ellos durante unos quince minutos, describiendo sus deberes y, lo que quizás era más importante, lo que estaba más allá del alcance de sus deberes. Then Charlton took over. Entonces Charlton se hizo cargo. As she led them out of Louis's office, Louis heard her ask: ‘Either of you allergic to shit or puke? Mientras los conducía fuera de la oficina de Louis, Louis la escuchó preguntar: '¿Alguno de ustedes es alérgico a la mierda o al vómito? You'll see a lot of both here.' Verás mucho de ambos aquí.

‘Oh God,' Louis murmured, and covered his eyes. 'Oh Dios,' Louis murmuró, y cubrió sus ojos. But he was smiling. Pero estaba sonriendo. A tough old babe like Charlton was not always a liability. Un viejo duro como Charlton no siempre era un lastre.

Louis began filling out the long Blue Cross-Blue Shield forms, which amounted to a complete inventory of drug-stock and medical equipment (‘Every year,' Steve Masterton said in an aggrieved voice. Louis comenzó a llenar los largos formularios Blue Cross-Blue Shield, que equivalían a un inventario completo de medicamentos y equipo médico ('Todos los años', dijo Steve Masterton con voz ofendida. ‘Every goddam year the same thing. Todos los malditos años lo mismo. Why don't you write down COMPLETE HEART TRANSPLANT FACILITY, APPROX. ¿Por qué no escribe CENTRO DE TRASPLANTE DE CORAZÓN COMPLETO, APROX. VALUE 8 MILLION DOLLARS, Louis? VALOR 8 MILLONES DE DÓLARES, Louis? That'll foozle 'em!'), and he was totally engrossed, thinking only marginally that a cup of coffee would go down well, when Masterton screamed from the direction of the foyer-waiting room: ‘Louis! ¡Eso los va a engañar!'), y estaba totalmente absorto, pensando solo marginalmente que una taza de café sentaría bien, cuando Masterton gritó desde la dirección de la sala de espera del vestíbulo: '¡Louis! Hey, Louis get out here! ¡Oye, Louis, sal aquí! We got a mess!' ¡Tenemos un lío!

The near-panic in Masterton's voice got Louis going in a hurry. El casi pánico en la voz de Masterton hizo que Louis se apresurara. He bolted out of his chair almost as though he had, in some subconscious way, been expecting this. Saltó de su silla casi como si, de alguna manera subconsciente, hubiera estado esperando esto. A shriek, as thin and sharp as a shard of broken glass, arose from the direction of Masterton's shout. Un chillido, tan delgado y agudo como un fragmento de vidrio roto, se elevó desde la dirección del grito de Masterton. It was followed by a sharp slap and Charlton saying, ‘Stop that or get the hell out of here! Fue seguido por una fuerte bofetada y Charlton dijo: '¡Deja de hacer eso o lárgate de aquí! Stop it right now!' ¡Detente ahora mismo!

Louis burst into the waiting room and was first only conscious of the blood – there was a lot of blood. Louis irrumpió en la sala de espera y primero solo fue consciente de la sangre: había mucha sangre. One of the candy-stripers was sobbing. Uno de los candy-stripers estaba sollozando. The other, pale as cream, had put her fisted hands to the corners of her mouth, pulling her lips into a big revolted grin. La otra, pálida como la crema, se había llevado las manos en puños a las comisuras de los labios, tirando de sus labios en una gran sonrisa de asco. Masterton was kneeling down, trying to hold the head of the boy sprawled on the floor. Masterton estaba arrodillado, tratando de sostener la cabeza del niño tirado en el suelo.

Steve looked up at Louis, eyes grim and wide and frightened. Steve miró a Louis, ojos sombríos, muy abiertos y asustados. He tried to speak. Intentó hablar. Nothing came out. No salió nada.

People were congregating at the Student Medical Center's big glass doors, peering in, their hands cupped around their faces to butt out the glare. La gente se congregaba en las grandes puertas de vidrio del Student Medical Center, mirando hacia adentro, con las manos en forma de cuenco alrededor de la cara para tapar el resplandor. Louis's mind conjured up an insanely appropriate image: sitting in the living room as a boy of no more than six with his mother in the morning before she went to work, watching the television. La mente de Louis evocó una imagen increíblemente apropiada: sentado en la sala de estar como un niño de no más de seis años con su madre en la mañana antes de que ella se fuera a trabajar, viendo la televisión. Watching the old Today show, with Dave Garroway. Viendo el antiguo programa Today, con Dave Garroway. People were outside, gaping in at Dave and Frank Blair and good old J. Fred Muggs. La gente estaba afuera, mirando boquiabiertos a Dave y Frank Blair y al bueno de J. Fred Muggs. He looked around and saw other people standing at the windows. Miró a su alrededor y vio a otras personas de pie junto a las ventanas. He couldn't do anything about the doors, but— No podía hacer nada con las puertas, pero...

‘Shut the drapes,' he snapped at the candy-striper who had screamed. 'Cierra las cortinas', le espetó a la golosina que había gritado.

When she didn't move immediately, Charlton slapped her can. Cuando no se movió de inmediato, Charlton golpeó su lata. ‘Do it, girl!' '¡Hazlo, niña!'

The candy-striper got in gear. El candy-striper se puso en marcha. A moment later green drapes were jerked across the windows. Un momento después se corrieron las cortinas verdes de las ventanas. Charlton and Steve Masterton moved instinctively between the boy on the floor and the doors, cutting off the view as best they could. Charlton y Steve Masterton se movieron instintivamente entre el chico en el suelo y las puertas, cortando la vista lo mejor que pudieron.

‘Hard stretcher, Doctor?' Charlton asked. —¿Camilla dura, doctor? preguntó Charlton.

‘If we need it, get it.' Louis said, squatting beside Masterton. Si lo necesitamos, consíguelo. dijo Louis, poniéndose en cuclillas al lado de Masterton. ‘I haven't even had a chance to look at him.' Ni siquiera he tenido la oportunidad de mirarlo.

‘Come on,' Charlton said to the girl who had closed the drapes. —Vamos —le dijo Charlton a la chica que había cerrado las cortinas. She was pulling the corners of her mouth with her fists again, making that humorless, screaming grin. Se estaba jalando las comisuras de la boca con los puños de nuevo, haciendo esa sonrisa de grito sin humor. She looked at Charlton and moaned, ‘Oh, ag.' Miró a Charlton y gimió: 'Oh, ag'.

‘Yeah, oh, ag is right. 'Sí, oh, ag tiene razón. Come on.' She gave the girl a hard yank and got her moving, her red-and-white-pinstriped skirt swishing against her legs. Vamos.' Le dio a la chica un fuerte tirón y la hizo moverse, su falda a rayas rojas y blancas silbando contra sus piernas.

Louis bent over his first patient at the University of Maine in Orono. Louis se inclinó sobre su primer paciente en la Universidad de Maine en Orono.

He was a young man, age approximately twenty, and it took Louis less than three seconds to make the only diagnosis that mattered: the young man was going to die. Era un hombre joven, de unos veinte años, y Louis tardó menos de tres segundos en hacer el único diagnóstico que importaba: el joven iba a morir. Half of his head was crushed. La mitad de su cabeza estaba aplastada. His neck had been broken. Su cuello había sido roto. One collarbone jutted from his swelled and twisted right shoulder. Una clavícula sobresalía de su hombro derecho hinchado y torcido. From his head, blood and a yellow, pussy fluid seeped sluggishly into the carpet. De su cabeza, sangre y un fluido vaginal amarillo se filtraron lentamente en la alfombra. Louis could see the man's brain, whitish-gray and pulsing through a shattered section of skull. Louis pudo ver el cerebro del hombre, gris blanquecino y palpitante a través de una sección destrozada del cráneo. It was like looking through a broken window. Era como mirar a través de una ventana rota. The incursion was perhaps five centimeters wide; if he had had a baby in his skull, he could almost have birthed it, like Zeus delivering from his forehead. La incursión tenía quizás cinco centímetros de ancho; si hubiera tenido un bebé en su cráneo, casi podría haberlo dado a luz, como Zeus dando a luz desde su frente. That he was still alive at all was incredible. Que todavía estuviera vivo era increíble. In his mind suddenly he heard Jud Crandall saying sometimes you could feel it bite your ass. En su mente de repente escuchó a Jud Crandall decir que a veces puedes sentir que te muerde el trasero. And his mother: dead is dead. Y su madre: muerto está muerto. He felt a crazy urge to laugh. Sintió unas ganas locas de reír. Dead was dead, all right. Muerto estaba muerto, de acuerdo. That's affirmative, good buddy. Eso es afirmativo, buen amigo.

‘Holler for the ambulance,' he snapped at Masterton. —Llame a gritos a la ambulancia —le espetó a Masterton. ‘We—' 'Nosotros-'

‘Louis, the ambulance is—' 'Louis, la ambulancia está...'

‘Oh Christ,' Louis said, slapping his own forehead. —Oh, Cristo —dijo Louis, golpeándose la frente—. He shifted his gaze to Charlton. Desvió la mirada hacia Charlton. ‘Joan, what do you do in a case like this? 'Joan, ¿qué haces en un caso como este? Call Campus Security or the EMMC?' ¿Llamar a Seguridad del Campus o al EMMC?

Joan looked flustered and upset, an extreme rarity with her, Louis guessed. Joan parecía nerviosa y molesta, una rareza extrema en ella, supuso Louis. But her voice was composed enough as she replied. Pero su voz estaba lo suficientemente compuesta cuando respondió. ‘Doctor, I don't know. 'Doctora, no lo sé. We've never had a situation like this before in my time at the Medical Center.' Nunca antes habíamos tenido una situación como esta en mi tiempo en el Centro Médico.'

Louis thought as fast as he could. Louis pensó lo más rápido que pudo. ‘Call the campus police. Llama a la policía del campus. We can't wait for EMMC to send out their own ambulance. No podemos esperar a que EMMC envíe su propia ambulancia. If they have to, they can take him up to Bangor in one of the fire engines. Si es necesario, pueden llevarlo a Bangor en uno de los camiones de bomberos. At least it has a siren, flashers. Al menos tiene sirena, intermitentes. Go do it, Joan.' Ve a hacerlo, Joan.

She went, but not before he caught her deeply sympathetic glance and interpreted it. Ella fue, pero no antes de que él captara su mirada profundamente comprensiva y la interpretara. This young man, who was deeply tanned and well-muscled – perhaps from a summer working on a roadcrew somewhere, or painting houses, or giving tennis lessons – and dressed now only in red gym shorts with white piping, was going to die no matter what they did. Este joven, que estaba profundamente bronceado y musculoso, tal vez de un verano trabajando en una cuadrilla en alguna parte, pintando casas o dando lecciones de tenis, y ahora vestido solo con pantalones cortos rojos de gimnasia con ribetes blancos, iba a morir sin importar. que hicieron. He would be just as dead even if their ambulance had been parked out front with the motor idling when the patient was brought in. Estaría igual de muerto incluso si su ambulancia hubiera estado estacionada en el frente con el motor al ralentí cuando trajeron al paciente.

Incredibly, the dying man was moving. Increíblemente, el moribundo se movía. His eyes fluttered and opened. Sus ojos revolotearon y se abrieron. Blue eyes, the irises ringed with blood. Ojos azules, los iris rodeados de sangre. They stared vacantly around, seeing nothing. Miraron distraídamente a su alrededor, sin ver nada. He tried to move his head and Louis exerted pressure to keep him from doing so, mindful of the broken neck. Trató de mover la cabeza y Louis ejerció presión para evitar que lo hiciera, consciente del cuello roto. The terrible cranial trauma did not preclude the possibility of pain. El terrible trauma craneal no excluyó la posibilidad de dolor.

The hole in his head, oh Christ, the hole in his head. El agujero en su cabeza, oh Cristo, el agujero en su cabeza.

‘What happened to him?' he asked Steve, aware that it was, under the circumstances, a stupid and pointless question. '¿Lo que le sucedió?' le preguntó a Steve, consciente de que era, dadas las circunstancias, una pregunta estúpida y sin sentido. The question of a bystander. La pregunta de un espectador. But the hole in the man's head confirmed his status; a bystander was all he was. Pero el agujero en la cabeza del hombre confirmó su estado; un espectador era todo lo que era. ‘Did the police bring him?' ¿Lo trajo la policía?