“Scalpel. Suction. Quickly please, I can’t see what I’m doing. Thank you nurse. Clamps. OK, we’re on bypass in three, two, one… good. One final incision and… perfect.”
With a wet slap the damaged heart was deposited into the tray. Mr Franks looked around the operating theatre. “Well?” The surgical team looked uncomfortable, trying to avoid eye contact. “Nurse?” The lead nurse coughed nervously into her mask, and looked away. Franks laid the scalpel down and stood back from the operating table. The patient lay prone on the table, chest open, tubes leading to and from the bypass machine.
“Where the hell is my replacement heart?” No answer. “Please tell me I haven’t just removed this man’s heart and nobody thought to have a replacement on standby?”
“Umm, see, there should be…” The voice trailed off. Coombs was assisting Franks, his first heart replacement. And it had been Coombs who had taken the call. Franks glared at Coombs, his green eyes the only part of his face visible. “Mr Coombs, you seem to have some answers for me.”
Coombs cleared his throat. “There’s uh, been a delay. With the organ. The courier had it, and now, they sort of… got.. delayed.”
Franks stared at him, and Coombs wished that the patient would have some kind of crash, anything to distract Franks. Franks tore off his gloves, threw them on the ground, and stormed over to the phone. He picked up the receiver and barked into it “Get me the damn courier.”
A muffled voice responded, then silence. The members of the surgical team held their breaths, unsure if Mr Franks would take things out on them. “This is Franks at Mercy General. Yes, I’ve just been told about your delay. Well, not really, the patient is on bypass. I mean I took his fucking heart out because I had been told you had one ready for me. Well when’s the soonest you can get it to me? I’ve got to have it as soon as possible or my patient is going to die. I don’t care. I’ll make it your problem. Just get me the damn heart.” He slammed the phone down, and yanked off his scrubs. “Well, ladies and gents. Keep Mr Procter there comfortable. Page me when that heart arrives.”
The phone vibrated in Stephen’s pocket. He lightly touched the ear piece, answering the call. “Stephen here.”
“Stephen, where the hell are you? I’ve just had a call from Mercy General, seems we promised them a heart and it hasn’t shown up yet – they’ve got a patient open and waiting.”
Stephen shut his eyes and exhaled. The delivery had taken longer than expected. This was an exceptional event. But he was five minutes from collecting the heart, and 10 minutes from the hospital. He opened his eyes again. “I’m fifteen minutes away. Traffic has been snarled up. I can’t get through any quicker, I’m sorry. Tell them I’m on my way.”
The tinny voice in his ear snarled. “You’d better be, you ass.” The call ended and he took the ear piece out, slipping it into his pocket. Five minutes. In and out. Time to collect the organ.
He grabbed the organ transportation container, and walked up to the door of the house. A quick glance around, before ringing the bell. After a moment, the door swung open, an athletic man in his mid-thirties standing there. “Can I help you?”
Stephen smiled, and pressed the tazer straight into the man’s stomach, doubling him over and causing him to fall backwards. He stepped over the threshold, closed the door behind him, and pulled out a large knife. “Yes, yes I believe you can.” He glanced at his watch. “I need four minutes of your time.”
The doors of the ER burst open, as Stephen sprinted in, accompanied by paramedics. “Where’s Mr Franks, we’ve got an organ for him?” They were pointed in the direction of the operating theatres, and sprinted over to be met half-way by members from the transplant team. They grabbed the organ transportation box, and rushed into theatre. Franks was stood at the swing doors, pointing at Stephen.
“You were lucky today. You almost killed someone with your delay.” He put his mask back on, and stormed into the theatre. Stephen smiled, and patted the knife in the holster inside his jacket. “Yeah, almost…”