Saturday, August 20, 2005

Homer Jones

We get sent for a premature baby difficulty breathing. Lights and sirens response.

No big deal, I think, it is usually nothing, although the last time I was dispatched to such a call it really was for a dead baby.


We get the update we want to hear, "Baby breathing normally."

We arrive to find a twenty-three-day-old baby sleeping comfortably on his mother's knee. She tells us he was born seven weeks prematurely. For about a minute his head turned purple and he stopped breathing. The same thing happened to him yesterday. The mother tells us which hospital she wants to go to. She hands me the baby then goes upstairs to get some shoes. I hold the tiny baby in my hands. It is the size of a small football. I am standing holding it now in the front yard. The two police officers and I are making goo-goo eyes at it.

The grass in the yard is lush. There is just the tiniest hint of September in the air. "Okay," I say to one of the officers. "You go down about ten yards and do a button hook." To the other I say, "Go deep."

They look at me like I am crazy.

"Ready on two," I say.

"You're nuts."

"Did you hear the famous story about Homer Jones?" I ask, "The legendary Alabama wide reciever?"

They shake their heads.

"There was a big fire in one of the dormitories -- you maybe heard about it on the news. There was a mother and her baby trapped on the roof -- too high for the ladder trucks to reach. They had no way to get her down. Then someone came up with the answer -- the great Homer Jones. He had over eighty receptions including twelve touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. He never dropped a pass. So Homer lines up. The mother calls "Hike!" and drops back. Homer takes off. The mother lets loose with the pass -- a perfect spiral. Homer is running and running and it looks like he might not get to the baby, when he puts on a last burst of speed, then leaps, flies through the air, and with outstretched hands and fingertips, catches the baby as he bellyflops across the grass. The crowd goes wild. Hollaring and cheering. Homer jumps up and spikes the baby."

The mother has her shoes now and is stepping out the front door to join us.

"You're going to hand the baby back to the mother now," one officer says.

"Of course," I say.

"Real slow," the other says.


Three calls so far: nursing home patient with a skin tear, the baby above, and a three year old who ate a couple children's tylenol.