No Right Thing
Crwth Press - YA & TeensAmazon Barnes and Noble Indigo Crwth Press
Sixteen-year-old Cate Sheridan always tries to do the right thing. So, when she sees a homeless man about to be hit by a truck, her instincts kick in. Cate, and her friend, Noah, pull the man to safety.
But one good deed can have unpredictable consequences.
The rescued man is famous musician Max Le Bould who disappeared years earlier. Cate and Noah become instant heroes. The media shows up. So does Cate’s mother – journalist Cynthia Patrice who left when Cate was two.
Dazzled by a mother she doesn’t know and determined to help a man she does, Cate is caught in the middle of a moral dilemma. And when she makes a decision that leads to betrayal, tragedy and heartache, she learns a hard lesson: sometimes people have all the right reasons for doing a very wrong thing.
It all seems to happen in slow motion. The screech of brakes. The swerving truck. The panicked shouts of bystanders. The thud of flesh meeting metal as we yank Max back.
His bike bounces and flips into the air. Bottles, cans, stale buns and litter take flight. Max crumples to the ground like a puppet whose strings are suddenly dropped. I bend over him, my body shaking uncontrollably as if I’m the one who has been hit.
If we hadn’t yanked him sideways . . . I fight back a wave of nausea. Don’t go there. “Max! Are you okay?”
His eyes are shut and his skin is the color of cement. His right leg is twisted in a weird way. I think I see bone. Gross. “Someone call an ambulance!” I yell. I can’t do it. I’m trembling too much.
“No ambulance,” Max mutters.
“He’s conscious,” Noah says. “That’s a good sign.” He undoes a button on Max’s shirt and checks his airways. When Max tries to get up, Noah gently but firmly holds him in place. “You need to stay still.”
“I need my bike,” Max moans. “I need to get outta here.”
“You need to see a doctor first,” I tell him. Didn’t you see that truck? The other cars? What were you thinking?
A crowd gathers. A man in a grey suit starts directing traffic. A few people take pictures with their phones – of the intersection, the truck that’s sideways across the road, Max’s rusty old bike folded like an accordion on the boulevard. One of the deli workers puts Max’s canvas bag down beside him. Someone else retrieves the empty bottles and lines them up on the curb. A few people collect the litter.
“Cover him up.” A woman passes us a brown sweater. “I know it’s warm but he’s probably in shock.”
Noah drapes the sweater across his chest. His calmness amazes me.
A barrel-shaped man in a t-shirt and jeans hurries over and drops down beside us. “He rode right in front of me like he wanted to get hit!” It’s the truck driver. His flushed face is beaded with sweat. “He came out of the blue.” He mops his forehead with the corner of his t-shirt. He stares at Max. “How is he?”
“I’m fine,” Max whispers. “I need to go.”
But Max’s voice is thready. My heart starts to thrum. And weaker than it was a minute ago.
“You need to wait, Max, okay? The ambulance will be here soon.” The hospital’s only eight blocks away and I already hear the faint whine of the siren.
A bottle of water appears. Noah sponges Max’s face with a tissue.
“I’ve radioed my company,” the driver says. “They’re sending a representative right away. They’ll want witness statements.”
“Don’t worry,” I tell him. Poor guy looks like he’s been hit by a truck too. “I’ll make a statement.”
“Me too,” Noah says. “We saw everything.”
“You didn’t just see everything, you saved his ass,” says a guy wearing a blue Mariners ball cap. “You pulled him away just in time. I got the whole thing on my cell.”
An elderly woman leaning on a cane adds, “If it wasn’t for you two, I’m sure he would have been killed.”
The sound of the siren grows stronger. Two police officers on bikes cycle up and dismount.
The female officer joins the man rerouting traffic. The dark-skinned male officer kneels down beside Max. “Took a spill did you?” He has a deep, reassuring voice and kind, brown eyes.
Max mumbles something in response.
“What day is it today?”
“May eighth. Or maybe the eleventh. Who knows?”
The officer chuckles. “Bingo. It’s the eleventh. Where do you live?”
I wait for Max to tell the guy it’s none of his business or to say the whole world is his home, but he surprises me by naming a street about six blocks away. He’s lying. When Tent City was disbanded last month, he and some of the other street people began staying at Rathtrevor Beach. It surprises me sometimes, the ease with which they’re able to travel back and forth between Parksville and Qualicum.
“What’s your name?” the officer asks.
“Max,” he mumbles. “Just Max.” He struggles to sit up but the officer holds him down. “Take it easy there, Max. Not so fast.”
Gently the officer rips the already torn fabric on Max’s sweatpants, exposing the wound. My stomach flips. That is bone. I avert my gaze. The ambulance shoots around the corner, lights flashing. Another ambulance follows quickly behind. The two vehicles emit a final blast from their sirens before silently coasting to a stop a few feet away.
After the ambulance doors open, two paramedics wearing bright yellow vests head for Max. A sleek blond with a chignon and a man wearing reflective aviator shades take me and Noah over to the grassy boulevard. They look into our eyes, ask us questions and take our vitals. “No physical damage,” says the blond, “but shock can come later.” She starts to talk about secondary victims and secondary shock. Noah asks her a question, but I’m more focused on Max. His agitation is growing now that a paramedic is unloading a stretcher from the ambulance.
“Get that thing away from me!” he yells.
“Calm down, sir,” one of the paramedics says. “We’re taking you in so the doctor can check you out.”
Max fists the air. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“What do we know about the victim?” the blond paramedic asks the police officer.
“He says he lives over on Thetis. No last name yet. He won’t tell me if he has next of kin.” The officer picks up Max’s canvas bag. “There might be something in here.”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Max hollers when he sees them rifling through it. “That’s private property. You have no right -”
“We’re not taking anything, Max. Just looking for next of kin.”
“Never mind!” Max shouts. “Give me that. I’m going home.” He catches sight of me. “Tell them, Catie. Help me!”
Oh Max. I move towards him but Noah touches my arm. “Don’t.” He gestures. “Let them do their jobs.”
I follow his gaze, see one of the paramedics holding a needle. My stomach flips. Max, what is happening to you?
The paramedic pulls a faded scrap of paper from a faded brown wallet. “It looks like his name is Max Le Bould,” he says.
“Jesus, Joseph and Mary!” Max’s bellow is quickly followed by an angry howl of pain as the needle meets its mark. With a snap of metal, the stretcher is lowered to the ground.
“That can’t be right.” The cop snatches the paper out of the paramedic’s hand and stares at it. “I can’t believe it.” He looks at Max and scratches his head. “That’s Max Le Bould.”
A moment of silence and then someone shouts, “Did you hear that? The guy on the ground is Max Le Bould.”
Behind me a dozen voices talk at once.
“Max Le Bould.”
“It can’t be.”
“. . . tragic what happened.”
The man in the blue Mariner’s cap elbows his way past us. “I gotta get a shot of this!” He snaps a picture as the paramedics gingerly transfer Max onto the stretcher.
“Who’s Max Le Bould?” I whisper to Noah as the guy turns and takes our picture next.
He shrugs. “No clue.”
The guy in the ball cap gapes at us. “You guys don’t know?”
We shake our heads.
“Max Le Bould! Only the most famous rock musician since John Lennon,” he says. “And he’s been missing and presumed dead for fifteen years.”