I doze off a couple times as the excitement and impetus from the evening, as well as the enormity of the day, wanes, but I am awoken by The Ranger one last time for a debriefing regarding the location of the truck.
He provides me with the Forest Service map and I share what I know, the approximate location, pointing out where I drove and what I encountered.
“Do you know the names of the campers at the Reservoir?”
“No, but they told me they were camping through today at the Ranger Campground and they are from the Gillette area.”
“Any indications from the kid in which direction he headed?”
“No, I didn’t ask.”
“Any footprints headed away from the truck?”
“It was too dark to really see much.” In fairness, I didn’t look. “You know, between stumbling and finding the kid, I didn’t really look around. Oh, but wait…”
I suddenly remember I have the truck keys.
“I secured the vehicle, after a simple search. The keys are in my truck on the center console.”
“You searched his vehicle?”
“Just for signs of identification. I didn’t see a wallet anywhere, but I did look under the front seats in case he tucked it in there.”
“Find anything else?”
“An empty sheath for a handgun under the front seat.”
“How about in the glove box? Did you check the vehicle registration or anything?”
“No, the kid was in my vehicle and I wanted to get back to somewhere where I had radio access. I tried while I was up there, but I couldn’t get a response.”
“He didn’t take the keys with him?”
“Jacob told me he left them with him so he could start the engine and get some heat going, but I get the impression he never turned the truck on.”
“Did he tell you that?”
“He said he used his Dad’s camo gear to bundle up overnight.” Now that I think about it, it probably means he didn’t have any extra layers with him.
“Not that I recall, but in fairness, I am a bit groggy. If I think of anything overnight, I’ll give you a call first thing in the morning.”
“Thanks,” the SO leaves the small space and I expect he still has more work ahead of him, plus an early morning tomorrow. Or maybe today? I don’t even know what time it is.
The Ranger picks up my purse and hands it to me. “I’ll give him those keys if you don’t mind.”
I don’t mind. I hand mine over and he follows the officer out of the facility. I leave the purse on the bed next to me and doze off as I think about all the sights I remember from earlier in the evening. I really cannot think of much more, but every time I start to nod off, I wake myself with an uneasy internal alert.
The Ranger brings my keys back and sticks around for a few extra minutes. “How are you feeling?”
“Tired. And like I could have been more helpful.”
“I think you’ve done a lot tonight. Are they going to keep you overnight?”
“I wouldn’t think so, but it depends on what they do with my foot. If you find the nurse, maybe you can send her in here so I can find out what’s going on.”
I suddenly realize, he’s probably tired and wants to get home, too, so I reverse course.
“You know what? Don’t worry about it. Someone will wander in here eventually and I’ll just wing it. Aaron already texted me and told me to take tomorrow off, so I will figure everything out then when I am a little more rested.”
“You sure you’re good?”
“Yeah. Go home. Thanks for all your help tonight. I appreciate it.”
“Well, we appreciate what you’ve done. Take care of yourself.”
“Thanks. Good night.”
I don’t recall seeing the nurse before I fall asleep for the night. I never ask who is on which shifts, not that it matters. Before long, my brain and my body succumb to the exhaustion from the night’s chaos and I sleep soundly, waking up just once in the night reminding me of where I am.
“Good morning,” a new nurse greets me, but politely, not in a rise-and-shine tone. Thankfully, I am already a little awake due to the noise and activity on the other side of the curtain
“Hi,” I respond, trying to sit up in the flat gurney.
“Here, let me help you with that.” She adjusts my head and I can at least not be staring into the overhead florescent lights.
“We’re going to get you processed on your way shortly, but do you want something to eat?”
I’m glad to be heading out, but I still have unanswered questions, and maybe even a few answers I need repeated.
“So do I definitely have a broken ankle?” I don’t think I ever got that answer definitively.
“You sure do. Did they not give you an update last night?”
“No, I think we made it as far as x-rays and then I fell asleep somewhere after that.”
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t even a doctor in the clinic by that time last night.
“Yep, it’s broken, but just a simple hairline. You probably won’t need surgery or any additional procedures, but you should still see an orthopedic surgeon to be certain.”
Great, one more task I need to coordinate.
“We can get you set up with a referral in Cody.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it, but I live in Sheridan, so it might be better for me to take care of it after I get back home.”
“Okay, but try to get in over the next thirty-six to forty-eight hours if possible.”
I want to get going, knowing my to-do list for today keeps growing, but I still have more questions.
“What do you know about Jacob? The little boy I came here with. Is he still here?”
“No, his mother and his aunt arrived during the night. I think I heard someone say they are staying in town. Did you want me to find out?”
Given that they are probably still waiting on information about Kenny, I can’t imagine there is much I can do to be of help at this point. I shake my head.
I reach into my purse and pull out my phone. It’s just a few minutes after six. The sun’s not even up yet, so the search and rescue won’t be underway just yet. As I hold my phone in my hand, I realize I never bothered to write to Daniel. I wonder if I have time now. I’m not sure it’s worth trying to tell him about this, or even have him worry about me, while he is still out of the country.
“How soon do you think it will be before I get discharged?”
“We should be able to get you out of here within the next hour. Unless, of course, you want to take a shower first, before we place the temporary brace on your leg.”
While it sounds fabulous, I don’t have a change of clothes, my shampoo or body wash, and I’d probably just shower again when I get to the cabin.
“Can I take it off myself?”
“It’s removable, but repositioning it correctly might be a bigger concern. If you want to shower on your own, just be sure not to get it wet.”
This sounds like standard medical advice. It will be challenging, but I will manage. I envision tying a draw-string trash bag around my leg.
“Do you want a crutch?” That sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.
“No, I’ll manage without one.”
“We’ll give you a prescription for pain meds, which you can have filled later today at your own pharmacy.”
“Can I just get some ibuprofen?” In truth, I already considered this prospect last night when I was offered pain medication. I’ve been down this road before and I know both my pain threshold and that I am going to have to care for myself, drive a vehicle, and get a lot of work done on my own. It’s only Tuesday and still five days until Daniel is home.
“Sure, but we’ll give it to you anyway. You might want it later, or at bedtime.”
My ankle gets temporarily set, I have the script, paperwork (not just medical but for workman’s comp), I pass on the breakfast knowing there are still snacks in the truck, and I do get back outside shortly after the sun peeks over the mountains.
NEXT: Heavy Duty – Part 37