A loud crash shatters the relative silence in the cafe. A large man lays on his side under an overturned table. My mouth agape, I shuffle around my pockets for my cell phone. My stomach turns as I begin to shakily dial 9-1-1. I look on as a crowd starts to form around the man. I frantically tell the dispatcher my location and about the man who’s possibly unconscious. I get up closer towards the crowd.
“Call 9-1-1!”Jill barks at the barista, waking her from a trance.
Jill is kneeling next to the man performing CPR. Broken glass and coffee a few feet away, still steaming off the floor. Every compression she gives, makes his body shudder. Each breath, gives him needed oxygen. After the third round, the man stirs. The crowd starts clapping, drowning out what she says to the man as he wakes.
A few minutes later, paramedics come rushing in taking over for Jill. She wipes her brow and walks out the side exit of the cafe. I briefly look back at the man but follow her out the door. I find her standing at a metal railing looking over a small retention pond, lit cigarette in hand. The ambulance had parked out front, the lights flashing the familiar red and blue. I lean against the rail next to her, hearing the paint crackle off the warm metal.
“I don’t like large crowds,” she finally says between drags.
She’s visibly trembling but she was amazing. So why is she like this?
“You did what you could for him.”
Jill sighs, “Yeah, and probably lost my job.”
“They would really fire you over helping him?”
“If he sues because one of the employees did CPR, probably. I dunno,” She waves her hand in the air, “Shit happens, I react without thinking.”
I hadn’t thought about her losing her job or being sued. There are nasty people who would do exactly what she said for a quick buck. Our eyes meet and I see she’s crying. My chest tightens.
“That’s bullshit. If you didn’t help he could have died there. You did what no one else could. You’re a hero.”
“Heroes are only in fiction.”
“You are a hero. Who taught you how to do that anyway?”
She wipes her tears smudging her mascara. Watching her, I feel a little heat on my face I can’t explain. I try to calm myself, a lot has happened. Nerves no doubt.
I clasp her hand, surprise on her face, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”