Sins of the Father
I’d always known I was gonna help people, that that was going to be what I did with my life. It’s why I went to med school to be a trauma nurse. It’s why I followed my brother Mike’s lead and joined the military. I served four years, a full tour, and realized an ER was more demanding, more impactful than waiting for deployment. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t hoping there’d be war, I just kinda thought I’d be a part of something bigger. So I came home after my tour and started working back in the ER. That’s when I realized there was a war going on, it just wasn’t in some foreign land—it was right here in my backyard the whole time.
I was working the graveyard shift at Northwestern Memorial when a man was brought in by ambulance. He had taken a beating, was in and out of consciousness and had about a dozen weird bite marks all over his arms, chest and neck. He was calm, but the doctors couldn’t get him to tell them his name. His wallet didn’t help either—he had 6 different driver’s licenses…all his picture…all with different names and states. The doctors said we’d have to report it to the police since it was so strange, I told them I’d take care of it. Doctors just assume when a nurse says they will, they will. But something about the look he gave me…so I didn’t report it. I took car e of him overnight, strangely feeling a bit protective of him. I never got his real name and the next night when I returned to work his bed was empty. The nurse on duty said he’d vanished sometime during the day. His paperwork just got forgotten, since I somehow “lost” the folder, and I hadn’t thought about him since…until I nearly got him killed.
Almost a year later I saw him again. I may not have known his name, but you don’t forget a face when you’ve had your thumb on someone’s artery. It was late after I’d been to a movie with some girlfriends, I had just hailed a cab when I saw his profile vanish behind the corner of the theatre and into the side street. I don’t know why I followed him, but I did. I watched as he pulled a machete and silently walked up behind a guy. Instinct had me shouting “what the fuck” and the other guy turned on him. Only it wasn’t a man, at the time I had no idea what it was…a movie extra, a joke…a monster.
I stood transfixed as they fought. It clawed and kicked and when It charged the ally to get away I just stared as It barreled towards me. Even the military training hadn’t prepared me for this. Then it pitched forward and slid along the pavement, a machete buried deep between its shoulder blades. The guy wretched the blade out, sheathed it, and walked to me. When he got close he realized who I was and we simply stared at each other for a minute.
“You’re hurt.” I broke the silence as I looked over the fresh claw marks down his chest.
“Yeah,” was all he offered back.
“You’ll need stitches.”
He looked down and back up to me, considering. “You offering?”
I waited in his beat up SUV as he took care of the body. When he pulled the can of gasoline out I didn’t object to not helping and just kinda sat there waiting for the candid cameraman to jump out. When he got back in the car the smell of blood snapped me into “go mode” and I made him let me drive to my apartment. I had an overly healthy first aid kit stocked and actually had enough supplies to do what I needed to. I could use the stuff so I’d bought it, I guess some girls are like that with heels. Even if you don’t think you’ll use’m you own them because you could if you wanted to. Only thing I didn’t have was topical, but he didn’t make a sound while I cleaned and stitched.
“I think having your blood on my hands twice means I get your name.”
He nodded, “Alex.”
“Thanks for stitching me up.”
“Figured it was fair since I caused it.”
Alex opened my eyes that night. As I stared at the now pink scars of those old bite wounds and sewed him back together he told me about his job as a Hunter and all the awful things in the world. I had enlisted with the military to help people who protected others and here was this man, telling me how I could do exactly that. I felt like it was fate that pulled me into that alley and I gave him my number. I told him to pass it on to others like him and that I’d help. The look on his face, gratitude and relief, solidified it. This was my purpose. Over the next couple months I stocked up on tons of supplies. I even took things from the hospital I couldn’t buy. I found myself busier and busier; often taking vacation to travel if someone was to hurt to come to me. I cut down on my hours at the hospital and had to get a smaller apartment, but my military pension along with the part time pay and odd job here and there at a clinic was enough to keep me afloat and for the first time I felt like I mattered. I felt like I knew the answer to “why do I exist”. I hadn’t asked for the war, but I was damn well gonna fight it.