The car came out of nowhere—burning rubber as it accelerated down the street. It hit Ally in the side, knocking her legs out from under her and flipping her end over end. Mina turned in terror, instinctively pulling Rachael against her, trying futilely to keep the little girl from witnessing what was happening. Ally’s purse and packages flew in all directions. Her head smashed into the car’s window, causing a spider web of fractures to spread out across the glass. Her body kept flipping, wind milling across the top of the vehicle to smack hard against the pavement with a sickening thud.
For a terrible moment, the world seemed to freeze around Mina. Ally lay on the ground broken and bleeding. Rachael stood beside her screaming almost as loudly as Mina was screaming herself. The car skidded to a halt, burning more rubber in its haste. The driver leapt out in slow motion and started back toward Ally. He had a low brow and dark Hispanic features. He took three steps toward Ally and froze. His eyes widened so that the whites of the orbs became exceedingly prominent. Then he sniffed a couple of times like he was fighting a runny nose, looked quickly from left to right, and hurried back to his car. He nearly hit three more people in his haste to escape down the road.
“Oh man d’ya see that Money? Daaammn!” Shouted a young white hip-hop wanna-be, to one of his more authentic black friends.
“Shut up and call 911 Joey,” his friend said, “that lady’s hurt bad, and I mean real bad!”
Mina stared after the car—her mind still in shock and not quite functioning. She could hear a stranger reciting the license plate over and over again. Rachael kept screaming about her mother and Mr. Bear. Laura ran up to them and threw her arms about Mina and Rachael. It all felt so surreal. Ally lay on the ground bleeding to death and Laura was comforting Mina.
A remarkably handsome man appeared out of the crowd and knelt down beside Mina’s sister. He had jet black hair and beautiful pale cheekbones. A trench coat covered his lithe body and he moved beneath it with the grace of an African gazelle. Without hesitation, he pressed a white silk handkerchief against a ghastly wound in Ally’s groin and frowned as his hand slipped easily inside the flesh.
“I am going to need some assistance!” he announced. His voice rang out loud and clear across the street, penetrating the noise of the crowd and riveting the attention of those closest to him. “This woman’s pelvis is broken and a bone shard has nicked and possibly severed her femoral artery. We have very little time before she bleeds to death. Does anyone have one of those little yellow emergency kits in the trunk of their car?”
No one moved.
The man did not appear to realize this. All of his attention, even when he had spoken to them, had been focused on the ragged hole in Ally’s groin and his efforts to clamp off the bleeding. Mina looked around and spotted a cabbie standing half in and half out of his taxi as he tried to figure out what was going on.
She left Rachael with Laura and ran the fifteen or so feet to the cab driver, grabbing him by the front of his jacket. “Your first aid kit!” she shouted. “Is it in your trunk?”
The driver looked at her—painful confusion evident in his gaze. “It’s not yellow,” he told her in a heavy West African accent, as if that made absolutely any difference.
“Move aside!” Mina ordered as she pulled him the rest of the way out of his car. She stepped into the space he had vacated and found the little levers on the floor that opened the gas tank and the trunk. She popped both to be certain she got the right one and ran to the back of the car to find a white plastic case with a red cross emblazoned upon it. Snatching up the kit, she ran back to the man trying to save her sister.
Ally’s wound was far worse than she had imagined. The man’s right hand had half disappeared inside her groin and he was using his left to try and add even more pressure. Blood drenched his white shirt sleeves where they peaked out from beneath his coat. She didn’t know how a person could have that much blood escape them and still be counted among the living.
“Open it!” the man instructed. His words were crisp and precise and Mina did as he said, immediately reaching for the gauze bandage.
“Not that!” he corrected her. “I need the roadside flare.”
“Hurry! This woman is dying!”
Puzzled, Mina followed his instructions, taking the red stick out of the plastic case. It was roughly six inches long and as thick around as a broom-handle.
“Take off the cap and light it!” the man ordered.
Mina fumbled with the cap, her fingers responding clumsily to her mental instructions. When it finally popped free it went spinning out of her hand and down the street. She looked at the flare helplessly, wondering how to make it flame.
“Strike it on the ground!” the man ordered.
Mina did as she was told, instantly bringing the flame to life.
“Now reach into my coat. There is a knife sheathed in the lining about the height where my thigh would be.”
More confused than ever, Mina reached inside the man’s coat. The motion was awkward because he couldn’t open his arms to make room for her. His hands remained pressed against her sister’s gaping wound.
The coat was very expensive with a smooth silk lining that would have been a pleasure to explore under other circumstances. It also had what must be a custom made sheath sewn into the fabric. Following the contours of the sheath with her hand, Mina found the handle of a knife and carefully pulled it free. The fourteen inch blade gleamed in the sunlight.
“Put the tip of the blade in the flame of the flare!” the man told her.
“We have to cauterize this wound,” the man explained. “And we don’t have a lot of time.”