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SMALL TOWN BLUES



Nicole Adams sighed as she pulled into the parking lot at Pickford Memorial Hospital. The 19 year old nursing student was reporting for work on third shift at the hospital where she worked on the medical floor. It was a small hospital in a small rural town in Tennessee.

As Nicole clocked in on her time card, she accidentally bumped into her friend, Stacy.

"Hey Nicole, what's wrong with you?" Stacy couldn't help but notice Nicole's usual friendly smile waas replaced with a somber look.

"Oh, nothing really, just small town boredom blues." Nicole replied.

"Could you fill me in on it?" Stacy pressed for answers.

"It's just that nothing exciting ever happens in this hole of a town. I can't wait to graduate, I plan on leaving here and going to a big city like Nashville or Memphis." Nicole sighed.

Stacy shrugged her shoulders as she walked away. "See ya later, maybe we can meet at lunch break or something."

"Yep, sure, see ya." Nicole said as she pressed the button on the elevator to the fourth floor.

When Nicole went to the nurse's station on the floor, she was met by Agnes, the head nurse. She was an elderly nurse that most of the girls on the floor felt should have retired years ago. Nicole was the youngest nurse that worked there, the rest of the women were in their 40's and 50's.

"Nicole, I need you to fix up room 428, beds one and two. We are going to be receiving two high profile patients that are being transferred from Nashville Hospital." Agnes said as she made some notations on a chart.

"Wow, high profile? Do you know who they are?" Nicole was hoping it would be someone special, but deep down she felt that they were probably going to be some sort of specific cases or someone political.

"Two people from some band that played in Nashville tonight." The nurse stated. She handed the room charts to Nicole so that she would have the equipment in place in the room that was necessary.

Nicole took the charts from the nurse and walked down to room 428. She started itemizing the supplies in the room, making sure the medical equipment was stocked. She pulled fresh gowns and linens from the linen closet and made up both beds and put each of the gowns on the bed stands.

"Nicole, I need you to go to the fax machine from the admitting department. The emergency room from Nashville was going to fax the patient's records." Agnes ordered Nicole.

Nicole did as she was told and took the elevator to the main floor and went into the admitting department. The fax was just being transferred when she walked into the room. She waited paitently for the fax to send the information. Once it was finished, Nicole took the papers and took the elevator back to the fourth floor.

When she to to the nurse's station to set up the charts, it was then that she read the information. The first chart she made was for a male patient with the name of Nickolas Gene Carter, 19. Nicole chuckled when she read the name. "Yeah, as if my life would ever get that lucky. I bet this guy gets tormented about his name all of the time." Nicole thought to herself. She completely forgot that Agnes told her that these were high profile patients and that they were in a band. She forgot until she started putting together the second chart for a Brian Thomas Littrell, 24. Nicole looked at the name again, trying to make sure her eyes weren't playing tricks on her.

Nicole took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. She knew if she started to act excited about this, Agnes would make sure that she would not be able to go into that room once the patients had arrived.

"Oh, my god, I wonder why Nick and Brian would be in a hospital." Nicole thought to herself as she was finishing up the charts. She looked around to see if any of the other nurses were in the area before she flipped through the charts to find the medical reason that they were in a hospital to being with.

As she thumbed through Brian's chart, she came to the copy of the ambulance papers. She skimmed down the record and started reading the description of the accident: 24 year old male involved in a body collision while performing onstage at a concert.

Nicole thumbed through Nick's chart and looked up the description on the accident pertaining to him: 19 year old male involved in a body collision while performing onstage at a concert.

The final diagnosis was a severe concussion for both Brian and Nick. They were being admitted for overnight observation.

Just as Nicole finished up Brian's and Nick's charts, the elevator at the end of the hall opened and Nicole saw the ambulance personnel exit the elevator with a stretcher. Her heart was racing while she looked at the stretcher coming down the hall. Nicole managed to smile at the paramedics that stopped with the stretcher in front of her. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw Brian laying on the stretcher, asleep.

"He's in 428, bed one." Nicole said as she stood up. The paramedic followed Nicole to the room. Nicole felt her stomach tighten up in knots from being nervous. Once they got to the room, Nicole had to quietly wake Brian up so he could lay down in his bed.

"Brian? Brian?" Nicole spoke softly. The second time she spoke his name, Brian's eyes quickly opened and he looked around the room trying to access his surroundings.

"Where are we?" Brian asked sleepily.

"You are at Pickford Memorial Hospital in Carmel, Tennessee." Nicole said it quietly and evenly so that Brian could sort out his thoughts.

"Why? What happened that I'm in a hospital?" Brian asked, puzzled.

"Memory lapses." The paramedic stated to Nicole.

"Brian, you were hurt during the show tonight, you ran into Nick." The paramedic informed Brian.

As Brian slowly moved fromt he stretcher to his bed, Nicole got a good look at his eyes when he looked at her. His pupils were dialated, which was common with a head injury. Just as Brian was settling into his bed, another stretcher came into the room with Nick.

Nick was awake and Nicole noticed that he looked "out of it."

As Nicole approached the stretcher, the paramedic that accompanied Nick, read his case to her. He told Nicole that Nick was not oriented to time and place, which meant that he did not know where he was or what day or year it was.

"Hi, Nick, my name is Nicole. I need you to scooch off this stretcher and into this bed here." Nicole quietly ordered Nick.

Without saying a word, Nick obeyed her request and settled down into his bed. He looked over towards Brian, who had already fallen asleep again.

After Nicole had finished taking Nick's blood pressure and temperature, Nick fell asleep. She told both Nick and Brian while they were awake that she would be in every few hours during the night to wake them up, that it was something that they had to do because of the concussion.

When it was getting close to the end of Nicole's shift, she had to again go into Nick and Brian's room to wake them up. This was one part of her job that she dreaded. Nicole found out during the night that although Brian was good natured when he was woke up, Nick, on the other hand was ornery and hard to wake.

This last time she woke them up, Nick went back to sleep, but Brian decided to be a little talkative and asked Nicole to stay for a few minutes.

"So what city did you say we were in?" Brian asked.

Nicole laughed quietly. "It's not a city, it's more like a hole in the wall. It's called Carmel."

"Carmel? What state are we in?" Brian questioned Nicole.

"Tennessee. Do you remember what happened last night?" Nicole asked Brian.
Brian searched his mind. An image came to him. “I think so. We were towards the end of the concert and I was running towards the center of the stage from one side and I guess Nick was running from the opposite side towards the center. We both must have been looking everywhere but where we were going and smacked into each other. The next thing I remember was waking up in the emergency room at the hospital.”

“Wow, that must have scared some of the fans.” Nicole observed.

“Gosh, I didn’t think about that, I would guess so.” Brian said. “So how did we end
up in Carmel?”

”Well, I think you two cause too much panic and for the safety of yourselves and for the privacy of the other patients, they felt is was best to transfer you to a small rural hospital.” Nicole replied. “I have to say this, you two coming to this town is one of the best things that has ever happened or will ever happen in my life.”

”Come on, it can’t be that bad here!” Brian said with a smile.

Nicole sighed. ”You don’t have any idea how lonely and dull this town can be. When I graduate from nursing school, I plan on leaving here and going to a big city like Memphis or Nashville.”

”Do you think me and Nick will be discharged from here today?” Brian asked.

”Well, I know you appear to be doing better, Nick on the other hand, he is still a little confused. I could see you being discharged but I have a feeling they will keep Nick for another day.” Nicole said softly.

”If that’s true, would you mind doing me a favor?” Brian asked.

”Sure, for you, anything.” Nicole said quickly without thinking. She then realized that she must have sounded a little too excited and mentally repremanded herself.

”I would love to do something while I’m here, could you show me your boring little hole of a town as you call it?” Brian asked.

Nicole didn’t care about the fact that she would not have any sleep after working the third shift. She was excited to think that she would have the chance to be with Brian for a day.

”I would love to, but I’m not sure what you would find exciting about this place.” Nicole said.

”Anything would be fun, especially if I could just go out and do things and not be bothered, that would be cool.” Brian answered.

”Okay,” Nicole said as she looked at her watch. “I will be getting off my shift in ten minutes. I am thinking if you get discharged, that won’t happen until around 11 this morning. That will give me some time to go home, catch a few hours of sleep and be back here to pick you up then, sound okay to you?”

”I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking, you have been awake all night.” Brian apologized.

”Don’t apologise, I get by on that amount of sleep, it’s okay. So I guess we could plan on doing lunch or something like that then, okay?” Nicole asked.

”It’s a date, see you then.” Brian said as he settled back into his pillow.

Nicole smiled and turned and left the room. She was so excited she couldn’t wait for 11 to come.



~*~*~*~*~*~



Nicole came back to the hospital at 11:00 and was trying not to appear too anxious as she approached room 428. She softly knocked on the door and felt her heart skip a beat when she hear Nick’s voice say “come in.”

Upon entering the room, she found Nick sitting up in his bed watching Jerry Springer on TV. Brian was dressed and sitting on the edge of his bed. Her thoughts were confirmed and they were keeping Nick around for another day.

Brian glanced over towards Nick’s side of the room and then looked at Nicole and rolled his eyes, as if he were embarrassed that Nick was watching Jerry Springer.

”Brian, did you catch that? That was cool.” Nick said as he kept his eyes on the TV. “Hey, who’s the girl?”

”It’s Nicole, our night nurse, don’t you remember her coming in and waking you up last night?” Brian asked.

”Nope,” was all that Nick said. His eyes never left the television and Nicole thought that was kind of rude of Nick to be that way, but she just brushed it off, Nick was not really himself yet and so she just attributed it to his concussion.

”Are you feeling better, Brian?” Nicole asked.

”My head is a little sore, but other than that, I feel good.” Brian replied.

”Do you think your stomach can handle some food?” Nicole asked as she glanced towards Nick again.

”I kept my breakfast down, so I thing I can.” Brian laughed.

”Okay, then let’s go.” Nicole said.

The comment caught Nick’s attention and drew him away from the television. “Hey, that’s not fair. How come I have to stay here?” Nick protested.

Brian looked at Nicole and smiled. “Nick, what is today’s date?”

Nick thought for a second and then proudly responded. “January 28, 1980.”

”That’s why.” Brian said.

”Huh? Hey, come back, what did I say that’s wrong? It’s not the 28th?” Nick called out.

”See you in awhile Nick, get some rest, okay?” Brian said as he and Nicole were leaving the room.

"I hope you like Chinese food, it's about all we have here except for catfish restaurants, and to be honest with you, they gag me." Nicole said as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot.

"Chinese is fine with me." Brian said happliy.

Nicole and Brian were seated in a booth. The restaurant was crowded, but no one paid any attention to Nicole and Brian, which Brian enjoyed. They ate their lunch in peace without any interruptions.

After lunch Nicole took Brian to their small town outlet mall. They went to several stores and Brian had fun shopping. He told Nicole several times how much fun he was having just being out and being just a plain guy and not being stared at or hounded by fans.

"Don't get me wrong, though, it's not that I don't appreciate the attention, it just gets a little old, if you can understand what I'm saying." Brian said.

Nicole snickered. "Yeah, I understand you compeletly."

Nicole took Brian back to the hospital so he could see how Nick was doing and make arrangements to stay someplace until Nick was discharged from the hospital.

Brian and Nicole walked into Nick's room and found Nick asleep with Mtv blaring on the television. Brian smiled as he walked up to the tv and turned the volume down. He shook his head and softly whispered, "Nick constantly watches Mtv, I swear. I wonder if he is doing any better."

"I can go check at the nurses station, I'll be right back." Nicole said.

Brian sat down in a chair next to Nick's bed while he waited for Nicole to return. He was suprised when Mtv aired an old Backstreet video for "Everybody." Brian smiled when he recalled how wild Nick was on the set that day. He was running on pure energy and never tired although it took almost 20 hours to complete the video.

Nicole returned with a smile on her face. "Brian, Nick is doing much, much better. He could be released today if he has travel arrangements made."

Brian smiled. "That is great news. Let me try and see if I can contact someone to pick us up."

Once Brian confirmed to Nicole that he had made arrangements to leave, Nicole sadly told Brian that she had to go home and get some sleep to be ready for work that night.

"Well, Nicole, I really appreciate you showing me the sights of Carmel, it was a fun experience." Brian said.

Nicole almost fainted when Brian kissed her on the cheek. Her mouth was hanging open in shock and when Brian looked at her face, he quietly laughed.

"Nicole? Are you okay?" Brian looked at her concerned.

"Huh, what, oh, god, yes, I am okay." Nicole blushed, she was embarrassed when she realized she appeared to be in a daze. "I had fun showing you the place. If you ever come back here under better circumstances, look me up, okay?"

Brian smiled. "Deal."

Nicole reluctantly walked to her car in the parking lot. When she got into the car, she took in a deep breath. She could swear she still smelled Brian, his clothes, his cologne. She wanted to remember this day forever.

The End


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