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Owen's Love (A Buzby Beach Novella) Chapter 08

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DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.

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Owen's schedule did not suffer any unexpected changes. His unit spent Monday prepping for a night jump. Owen hated night jumps.

It wasn't that Owen was afraid to jump at night. Anyone with a lick of common sense became apprehensive at the thought of jumping out of an airplane into the dark, hoping the pilot was over the right drop zone. What bothered Owen most about night jumps was the rate of casualties they generated.

On a good night, he only had to deal with sprains and strains. Monday night wasn't a good night. No sooner had Owen finished stowing his parachute than he heard someone shouting "DOC!"

After double-checking that he had all his gear, Owen ran to the call.

"Is that you, Doc?" one of the fireteam leaders - a buck sergeant named Kipner - asked urgently as Owen approached.

"Yeah," Owen responded. "You hurt?"

"It's not me, Doc. The LT is down. I think he might have busted his leg."

"Oh, shit," Owen hissed. "Where is he?"

"Follow me," Sergeant Kipner ordered before leading Owen to the tree line.

"Don't tell me he came down in the tree line," Owen said as they approached the wall of long-leaf pines bordering the drop zone.

Kipner shook his head. "Just short of it."

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Owen breathed a sigh of relief.

"Doc, is that you?" a voice Owen recognized as Second Lieutenant Abernathy asked in a hoarse whisper.

"It's me, LT," Owen replied. "How you are doing, sir?"

"Not too good, Doc," the lieutenant told him through clenched teeth. "I think my right leg is broken."

Owen knelt next to the officer and shined his red headlight on the indicated appendage. It was all he could do not to mutter a curse at the site of Abernathy's leg bent at an unnatural angle just above the top of his boot.

"Tell me what happened, sir," Owen instructed the officer.

Lieutenant Abernathy described how, as he was landing, his right leg struck something, "I think it was a stump. I heard a snap, and then I was dragged until I managed to spill my chute. When I tried to stand up, I realized I had a problem."

"Roger that, sir," Owen said. "I'm going to try and get a feel for how badly your leg is broken. This is going to hurt. Sorry, sir, but there's no other way."

Owen pulled on a pair of surgical gloves and carefully investigated the lieutenant's injury. There was some bleeding, but Owen didn't detect anything indicative of a major arterial break.

"You have a compound fracture, LT," Owen told the silently suffering officer. Then he turned to Sergeant Kipner. "Find the LT's RTO and have him call for a medivac. There's no way the lieutenant is walking out of here."

"This is FUBAR," Lieutenant Abernathy moaned. "My first night jump with the platoon, and I break my leg."

"I won't argue with you about that, sir," Owen told the injured man. "When the medivac gets here, they'll do their best to set and splint the leg before transporting you back to the hospital. I'll stay with you until they arrive. In the meantime, I'll check your vitals and put a pressure bandage on the wound to stem the bleeding."

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What Owen didn't tell the lieutenant was that he was going to be treating the man for shock under the guise of checking his vitals.

While it was cold comfort to the platoon leader, Owen was relieved that the lieutenant was the only injury suffered by Third Platoon on the drop. As soon as he turned Lieutenant Abernathy over to the medivac crew, Owen met up with the platoon at the rally point where they'd set up a defense perimeter before linking up with First and Second Platoons to continue the training mission. His first duty was to report to the platoon sergeant on the status of the platoon leader.

Sergeant First Class Ford took the news stoically. "I knew I should have retired last week." He turned to his RTO. "McPherson, round up the squad leaders."

After informing the squad leaders of the platoon leader's situation and confirming they each knew what their squads were supposed to do during the next phase of the training mission, the platoon sergeant sent them back to their men. Then he looked at Owen and said, "You're with me, Doc. Let's go."

© 2021 DW Davis