The door to the kitchen opens and two people hurry in. They are both so wiry and active they could have just blundered off-course in an orienteering race. The man has a bristle-top of grey black hair, the leathery skin of his face marked out in lines and folds that radiate direction; his wife, exactly the same except for a block of ice-white hair and discrete, rectangular glasses. They are both dressed in combat jerseys, olive green slacks and mountain-grade trainers. They split when they come in the door, Mr Cooper to his son on the floor, Mrs Cooper to secure the strategically higher ground of the kitchen table.
‘Hello,’ says Mr Cooper to us. ‘Lads,’ to the others. ‘What’s been happening?’
He kneels beside his son, putting a hand lightly on Justin’s shoulder. There is a directness to his touch and to the way that he leans in – the kind of super-sensate economy of movement you might see in a tracker.
‘Justin?’ he says to his son. Moves the hair from his face, then stands up and addresses Frank.
‘What’s the situation here?’ he says.
‘Justin had a bit too much to drink tonight. The guys did their best but called us because they were worried. We’ve checked Justin over and we’re not overly concerned. We’re more than happy to take him to hospital for observation if you’d prefer, but we’d also be happy if you decided to look after him yourself.’
‘I see. Thank you.’
One of the table two chips in.
‘It wasn’t our fault, Mr Cooper. We were just...’
Mrs Cooper holds out her hand.
‘Just a minute, James. We’re talking to the paramedic.’
She doesn’t raise her voice or even look at him particularly, but the effect is the same as if she had picked him up by the scruff of the neck and popped him in a cardboard box.
‘Sorry,’ he says, hiding behind his coffee cup.
‘Right,’ says Mr Cooper, addressing Frank again. ‘That’s good of you. Thank you.’
He turns to the guys on the sofa, who both blanch, trying to blend in with the cushions.
‘Richard. Anthony. Your role in all of this, please?’ he says to them.
‘Erm – seriously, Mr C. We didn’t make him drink all that stuff. He was fine. But then he wasn’t.’
‘He hardly drank anything at all. Honestly, Mr Cooper, it was like - so unusual. That’s why we got worried something might be wrong.’
‘But we took care of him. We lay him on his side like you’re supposed to. We helped him when he was sick. And we cleaned it up when he missed.’
‘I see. Thank you for that.’
Mrs Cooper addresses the second boy at the table.
‘Isaac. When are your parents due back?’
‘Erm – soon. I mean, quite soon. An hour or so? I think.’
‘And what do you think they’ll say when they hear what’s been going on?’
‘I don’t think they’ll be too pleased.’
‘No. I don’t think they’ll be too pleased at all. In fact I’d go as far as to say they’ll be jolly angry.’
‘I’m glad you agree.’
Mr Cooper stands in the centre of the kitchen and folds his arms.
‘Thank you so much for coming out to my son,’ he says to me and Frank. ‘It’s good of you.’
The boys in the room all contribute a muted thank you, but with an eye on Mr Cooper to see what he makes of it.
‘We’ll stay here with Justin and make sure he’s all right. We’ll have the place back to normal in no time.’
By the thin set to his mouth and the sudden, appalled silence, I’d put that at five minutes.
so happy you did a follow-up! Loved the first one! Mr. Cooper reminds me of my dad...lol.
Sheer genius...with 2 sons I aspire to be a parent like this. Legendary!
Just wanted to say I really felt you deserved to win the ems blog comp. Although the others were interesting and more technically detailed than yours (perhaps that was what they wanted?), none of them were even close to the quality of writing you consistently achieve.
Your writing takes me on scene and into the room with you as you work. Thank you for sharing that part of your world with the Innerwebs so I can join you on your rig and into the lives of your patients and their families.
I love a bunch of united parents. Sounds like all those boys are in a heap of trouble. Hopefully they learned their lesson.
When Mr Cooper 2 came up on blog roll, I was wondering what the hell the guy did to those boys!
It's all very tame compared to normal... but yet still so scary
The way Mr Cooper speaks reminds me so much of MY dad when he's mad at me! Except parents are never mad, they're 'disappointed' which is somehow worse.
Good to see that Justin was taken home rather than wasting NHS money going to A&E to sober up, it makes a nice change!
Nice! I'd be thrilled to have such sensible, effective people be the parents of my son's friends.
BB - Mr Cooper had had such a big build up, I was expecting The Terminator to come through the door. But it was striking that even though the guys were around twenty and properly grown up, they visibly seemed to morph back into kids when he arrived. The power of significant adult figures right through our lives, I suppose. :)
Hesperus - Thanks! I was happy just to have been short-listed, though. (Yeah, right). But as far as ambulance blogs go, I don't think you'd stick with this one long if you wanted technical details. For me that's the least interesting part of the job (and anyway, I get enough of it at work!).
Lynda - Thanks for reading - and for all your comments. Very much appreciated.
VMSP - So important to show a united front. In their case, it was stronger than that, even - more like a rock-solid formation. But v effective & terrifying.
Hannah - Normal? I'm not sure I know what normal is these days! Mwah-hah-hah-haar...
PH - It is quite crushing when your parents take on that disappointed look. I was glad they were so sensible about the whole thing, too. All in all, a capable family (in the face of drunk & incapable).
tpals - Yep. But looking around I'm glad to say that the friends of my girls have parents I know I can rely on in a crisis. It's a team effort, people! x
Cheers for all your comments!
Now there's calm and collected.Mr and Mrs Cooper obviously exude some serious vibes there.Jedi's do you think?
Despite the fact that I am in my mid-30's, have a fantastic relationship with my parents and hardly drink these days, these two posts made me feel really tense and quite frankly a bit terrified!
This is such a great description of the tension created by a certain type of upper-middle class inter-family relationship.
I've been in the role of Isaac, (although we just called the parents and not an ambulance) and I still vividly remember every second of it despite the fact that it was 20 years ago!
Great writing as always.
Jacks - Undoubtedly some form of mind control. Wish I had the knack.
Sarah - Similarly with me. Although I made it home alone, I flaked out downstairs, managed to put my head out of the window to be sick, but helpfully left it all for my parents to find in the morning. Still blush to think about that!
Oh I loved this story. I wonder what Mr and Mrs Cooper had to say to Justin when they got him home. I could imagine being thoroughly intimidated by them as a young person. Still might now to be fair.
It would have been interesting to hear that conversation. I'm guessing it would've been brisk and to the point! I wasn't as intimidated by them as I was expecting to be (the way the boys were shaking, I thought Darth Vader was coming through the door).
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