Congratulations to John Romano (above),
The winner of the Collab's Essay Contest
The sun had just risen and Robert Goodrich already received an urgent request for his expertise at work. It was a muggy Sunday morning, and Robert was driving down narrow back roads, avoiding morning traffic, in a hurry to get to work. There was a heavy fog on the winding roads and his car sliced through it. As he was driving, he noticed a car pulled over on the side of the road. A man is leaning on his car, with his hands over his face; a pure expression of depravity. Robert contemplates pulling over to ask if anything is wrong even though he is late for work. He absolutely can't deny this man in need, so he stops the car, leaves the key in the ignition, and asks if he needs help. As Robert approaches him, the man quickly turns around and punches Robert in the face. Robert goes down on the side of the road, knocked unconscious. The man sees that he has knocked out Robert and wasting no time gets into Robert's luxurious car. He jumps into the driver's seat and is gone in seconds.
Greg was driving to get his car fixed early Sunday morning because he needed to drive to several people's houses to fix their plumbing. Being a plumber isn't a glorious job, but it pays the bills. He was still four miles away from the repair shop when he heard a strange noise coming from his car. He felts jerks from his vehicle as it lost speed. Smoke emanated from the space between the front hood and the side panels of the car. Greg pulled over, infuriated that his car broke down before he could get it fixed. Greg slams his fists against his steering wheel, sending a firm shock through his forearms. He throws his door open and gets out of his car to make a phone call to the auto mechanic.
He flips open his phone to make the call, but as his fingers hover over the first digit of the mechanic's number, his phone buzzes. It's a phone call from a number he doesn't recognize. He picks up the phone.
"Mr. Sherman? Is this Greg Sherman?" a voice asks urgently.
"Yes, who is this?" replies Greg.
"Amanda, I'm a nurse at Nebraska Medical Center," she replies.
"Whatís going on?"
"Your daughter was involved in serious car crash, she is in critical condition and she needs you here now."
"Oh my god, is she going to be okay?" Greg is in shock.
"We don't know yet. We have our best surgeon coming in to help her; it all rests in his hands."
"I can't believe this is happening! I'll be there as soon as I can."
Greg hangs up his phone only to remember that his car is broken down. He realizes this and collapses on the side of his car. He is desperate, his daughter needs him. He hears a car pull over and stop behind him. The click of a door opening tells Greg that maybe help has arrived, or maybe not. Greg turns around. A man is approaching him, but he wouldn't help. He looks wealthy: he drives a Mercedes with all the extra trimmings. Greg has encountered the wealthy type before on plumbing jobs, and he isn't going to risk his daughter's well-being trying to beg for help.
Before he couldn't even contemplate what he was doing, he punches the man in the face. Greg's hand shake as he realizes what he has done, but thereís no time for guilt now, he has to get to the hospital. Greg jumps into this man's car and shoots toward the hospital with a complete disregard for speed limits.
Greg rips through the narrow back streets of Omaha as he draws nearer and nearer to the hospital. He finally reaches the parking lot of the hospital. Greg parks his car in a handicapped spot next to the entrance and leaves it running as he sprints inside to see his daughter.
"Where is she?" Greg yells as he runs inside.
Amanda recognizes his voice, "Mr. Sherman, follow me."
Amanda leads him down a few hallways to where his daughter lies in bed, surrounded by doctors, barely hanging on to life.
"Oh my god!" he says, as he sees his daughter. He walks up to her bed slowly. "Hey sweetie, I'm here. Everything is going to be okay, I promise."
She can't hear him.
Another nurse calls for Amanda outside of the room. They speak briefly and she reenters.
"Mr. Sherman, there is something I must tell you."
"Oh no, what is it?" he replies.
"Our orthopedic surgeon, Mr. Goodrich, was carjacked on his way here. Unfortunately, he is the only surgeon within 20 miles, so we're going to have to call another hospital and have your daughter transferred, but weíre not sure if she is going to hang on for long enough."
Greg felt dizzy from hearing those words. He knew it was completely his fault.
More doctors quickly rushed toward his daughter, he had no idea what was going on. But seconds later, he knew. Greg passed out as he heard the beeps from his daughter's heart rate monitor quicken, and then hold a high piercing note.