Strange Brew, Chapter 4

  • Posted on December 30, 2022 at 3:58 pm

by Rachael Yukey

A siren howled. Pine forest on either side of the narrow gravel road embraced the ambulance as it decelerated hard before taking the sharp curve. Shadows cast by the headlights on this moonless night gave the woods an eerie, haunted quality.

In the passenger seat, I was lacing up my boots. Terry and I had been asleep in his bed when the pager sounded just after two AM. Accelerating out of the curve, Terry swore under his breath as the tires skated a bit on the soft macadam.

“I don’t miss much about LA, but goddamn it, I do miss all of the friggin’ roads being paved,” he said, pushing the rig up to around 45 MPH — as fast as he dared on this murderous stretch.

I could think of nothing to say. My boots securely laced, I popped open the laptop and began creating a new incident.

“What are the odds?” Terry was saying. “What are the fucking odds? A second call for a teenage kid in less than forty-eight hours? Jesus Christ.”

The dispatch had given us little to go on. Seventeen-year-old female, behaving abnormally, possible overdose. Officers were en route.

The radio squawked. “Franklin County to Bronning Ambulance.Speaking of dispatch

I plucked the mic from its clip. “Go for Bronning.”

“County deputies are on scene; they report a female semi-responsive and having convulsions. No signs of drug paraphernalia on scene, patient’s mother states that the patient came home acting strangely. Officers would like to know your ETA.

I glanced out the window and considered. Our destination was on the outside edge of the Bronning Ambulance service area, in a little town called Roers.

“About five minutes,” I replied.

Terry made a right turn onto a recently repaved stretch of blacktop. The smooth whine of the turbo kicking in made for an almost harmonious counterpoint with the siren as he rapidly accelerated. He pegged the speedometer at just over eighty.

“You thinking meth?” he asked.

“Could be. Could be a bunch of other stuff, too.”

The rig crested a slight rise, and a dim glow appeared in the distance. Roers, a wide spot in the road masquerading as a town, boasted a grand total of three streetlamps. As we pulled into town, braking hard, I caught a glimpse of flashing lights down a side street.

“Take the next right,” I told Terry, shutting down the GPS and stuffing my phone into a sweatshirt pocket. Rounding the corner, we pulled up in front of a white house with two County Sheriff’s Department cruisers parked out front. Roers isn’t big enough to rate its own police force.

“Bronning Ambulance to Franklin,” I said into the mic. “On scene.”

As we hustled across the front lawn, I sized the place up with the automatic ease of long practice. A very old house, possibly a century or more, but with recent siding, a good roof, and a well-kept yard. Not your typical overdose scene. A sheriff’s deputy awaited us on the front porch. Cindy Koep.

“She’s in the living room,” Cindy informed us. “She’ll get all animated and start convulsing and chattering a lot of nonsense, then she’ll go almost unconscious. It’s happened twice since I got here.”

The living room was organized, clean, and full of relatively modern furniture. The only people present were a second sheriff’s deputy, and a woman in her late thirties with puffy eyes who was wearing a bathrobe. What it lacked was a teenage girl.

“She ran into the bathroom and locked it about a minute ago,” the deputy in the room informed us, jerking his thumb toward a closed door. “When I knock or call to her, she just laughs at me. We might have to break it down.”

Terry crossed the room, dropped the red bag he was carrying, and examined the doorknob. Shaking his head, he plunged a hand into the pocket of his chinos, coming up with a quarter, which he inserted into the groove at the center of the knob. The deputy who’d suggested smashing the door had the good grace to look embarrassed.

“What’s her name?” Terry asked the woman in the bathrobe.

“Samantha. We call her Sam.” The voice was high-pitched and shaky.

“Sam,” Terry called through the door. “I’m with the ambulance, and we want to make sure you’re okay. We’re going to open this door and come in now. Is that all right?”

The only response was a muted giggle. Terry twisted the quarter in the groove, and the male deputy stepped up alongside of him. Terry pushed the door open.

The girl was sprawled out on the floor, naked from head to toe, her clothing tossed carelessly in all directions. Pretty girl; athlete’s body. I recognized her as a student at the Bronning K-12.

She raised her head from the throw rug in front of the toilet, and a huge grin split her face, revealing perfect white teeth.

“Are we having a party?” she said, her voice exuberant. Then her head snapped back, and her limbs began to convulse. There was a strangled gurgling sound. Terry was alongside of the girl in an instant, squeezing himself into the narrow space and rolling her onto her side. White foam dripped from the mouth. Terry’s a great EMT partner on a critical call; he instinctively understands what his role is and doesn’t need his hand held.

I had the narcotics box in one hand. Snatching up the first-in bag with the other, I followed him into the bathroom. I perched myself on the edge of the tub, prying open the narc box as I did so. Terry was already unzipping the first-in bag with one hand, using the other to prevent the young woman from smashing her head against the toilet.

“Her airway’s clear,” he said. “I’m going to grab a blood sugar and some vitals, unless you want me to do something else first,”

“Perfect,” I replied.

As I drew a sedative into my syringe, I called out to the two cops in the living room. “Can you guys get our cot out of the rig and… do you know what a scoop stretcher is?”

“I’ll get the scoop stretcher,” said a familiar voice.

Terry and I both looked up in surprise. George Fronse was standing in the bathroom doorway, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. It wasn’t unusual for the small-town cops in the area to slip a little out of their jurisdictions to assist sheriff’s deputies, but I’d never seen George come this far afield before.

George headed outside with the two deputies, and I plunged a needle into the girl’s upper arm. Observing with satisfaction that Terry was getting a blood sugar reading and had the portable pulse oximeter clipped to a finger, I glanced up at the doorway. Sam’s distraught mother stood there, hands on the doorframe as if on the verge of collapse.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “your name is…?”


“Does Sam take any medications on a regular basis, June?”


“Allergies that you know of?”

“N… no.”

“Anything like this ever happen before?”


“Do you know where she was before she came home?”

June shook her head. “No idea. I didn’t know she was still out until I heard her come in and fall down. She went out to meet up with some friends in Bronning, but she was supposed to be home hours ago.” The woman’s voice was edging upwards in pitch, and she was starting to seem a little unhinged.

Give her a job to do. “Can you get us a blanket or something to throw over her?”

The convulsions died away as the sedative kicked in. Terry rolled the girl onto her back, peering into her mouth as he did so. Sam groaned and tried to twist her head away, but her strength seemed to have deserted her. Her eyelids fluttered. I wrapped a rubber tourniquet around the upper arm and poked around for an IV site.

“She’s tachy,” said Terry. “Pulse around 140. Everything else I’ve checked is pretty normal except that her pupils are pinpoint. She’s protecting her own pipes for the moment, but I have a nasal airway ready.”

I taped the IV and saline lock to the arm as Terry covered the girl with a blanket supplied by her mother, then took a moment to consider my options. The pinpoint pupils screamed opioid overdose, but that didn’t quite gel with the rest of what I was seeing. Terry was taking a blood pressure. Might as well see what he gets before we go nuts here.

I became aware of people in the doorway. George was holding the scoop stretcher, the two deputies hovering right behind him.

“Pressure is 78 over 40,” Terry said, his voice pensive. “Some kind of distributive shock, maybe? I move that we load.”

“Motion carried,” I said.

The scoop stretcher is a nifty contraption that splits in the middle so you can slip it under the patient from either side; ideal for narrow spaces like this bathroom. Sam seemed almost comatose as we lifted her with the device, carried her to the cot, and strapped her down. While Terry and George were securing the straps, I started a bag of fluids and hung it on the cot’s collapsible pole. As the cot was shoved into the back of the ambulance, Sam’s head lifted off the pillow.

“What the FUCK?” she howled. “What the hell kind of party is this? Why am I tied to the bed, you sick bastards?”

I hauled myself into the rig through the back door, switching the monitor on while still in motion. Sam’s mother, still in her bathrobe, tried to climb in behind me. Terry gently took her by the shoulders.

“Sorry, ma’am,” he said. “We’ll need you to wait out here. We’ll be a few minutes getting her on the monitor, and then we’ll be on our way.”

“You mean I c-can’t ride with her?” The woman’s voice was jagged, her eyes deranged. She was visibly trembling.

“You can, but it would have to be in the front. If you can drive yourself, that’d be better. Then you’d have a way to get home.”

She opened her mouth to speak, closed it, then turned on her heel and stormed into the house. Terry climbed in, slamming the door behind him. I drew meds up into three syringes, labeling them as I went. Terry got Sam, who was still raving, hooked up to the monitor.

“Sam,” I said, “can you tell me what happened tonight?”

“Nothing. Nothing is what happened… oh my God!”

I looked up. Terry was adhering ECG electrodes just below Sam’s left breast.

“Is this guy grabbing my tits?” the girl yelled. “Is that what’s happening right now?”

She began to convulse again, but this time I was ready. Selecting one of the preloaded syringes, I attached it to the line and pushed the med. The convulsions slowed a few seconds later, and the girl’s head dropped to the pillow.

“To hell with this… any reason I shouldn’t put a nasal in?” said Terry.

“Go for it. I’m going to try and maintain roughly this level of sedation, since every time she comes around she starts seizing. It’s going to be a balancing act; I don’t want to push her so far under that I have to intubate. I’m toying with the idea of throwing some Narcan at her.”

Terry’s eyes narrowed as he slid a rubber tube into the girl’s right nostril. “Do you actually think it’s opioids?”

“Not really, but I also don’t know what the hell it is, and her pupils are pinpoint. It won’t hurt, and it might help.”

Terry sat back in the jump seat, shaking his head. “She’s tripping balls, but the symptoms are all mixed up. What the fuck?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, even with mixed narcotics. Let’s get moving. Run hot to Melville.”

“All right,” he said. “Give me a yell if you need anything.” Stripping off his gloves, Terry exited the box through the side door.

The front door slammed, the siren sounded, and I turned my attention back to the semi-comatose young woman before me. As the ambulance eased into motion — glad Terry knows better than to floor it — I studied the monitor. The fluid bolus wasn’t helping; the blood pressure had gone down, not up. Despite the sedative, the girl’s heart was racing.

I pulled my sweatshirt over my head and tossed it into the jump seat, wishing for a moment that I was at work, where I have more meds at my disposal. On the Bronning truck, anything I’ve got for a fast blood pressure boost would also accelerate the already racing heart. The fluid bag ran out; I replaced it with another. The next blood pressure I took was even lower than before. Damn it; no choice.

Moving quickly, I selected two more vials from the med box. The ambulance hit a pothole, and one of them flew from the bench seat and onto the floor, lodging itself beneath the cot. Oh. Shit. Icy fingers gripped my heart. Of course it’s the goddamn Adenosine that hit the deck; it’s the only thing I don’t have another vial of. Cursing the depleted supply budget, I scrabbled around blindly, giving silent thanks when my fingers closed around the tiny bottle.

Returning to my seat, I drew up both meds, putting one aside. That’s to fix what the first one might do to you. Sorry, sweetheart.

I diluted the Epinephrine in some saline, then pushed a small amount of the mixture, keeping one eye on the monitor. My heart sank. I’d seen Epi increase the heart rate before, but never to this extent. The cardiac rhythm on the monitor was changing from a fast version of normal to something a bit more terrifying.

I hit the button on the monitor to take another blood pressure. While waiting for it, I attached my second syringe to the medication port on the drip set, wrapping my other hand firmly around the fluid bag. The trouble with Adenosine is you have to push it fast, and chase it with something else to get it to the heart before it loses its potency.

The new blood pressure reading came up. It was lower than I would have liked, but out of the danger zone. The heart rate, on the other hand, was spiking as high as 200 beats per minute. Fuck my life.

I slammed the plunger on the syringe as hard as I could with my right-hand thumb, squeezing the fluid bag with my left hand to push the med in faster. My eyes were glued to the monitor. The ECG waveform scrambled itself for a second, then realigned – to exactly what it had been before.

“Fuck,” I murmured. Protocols suggest trying a second dose of Adenosine, but thanks to the broke-ass supply budget, I didn’t have any more. Even as the thought flashed through my mind, I was reaching across Sam’s semi-comatose body, yanking down the saddlebag zipper on the right side of the monitor and pulling out the defibrillator patches.

I fumbled with the adhesive backing, cursing my lack of fingernails, and stuck them onto the girl’s chest. Sam groaned, muttered something unintelligible, and tried to lift her head. I switched the monitor to defibrillate and hit the sync button, then snatched up one of the syringes that I’d preloaded before we took off. Here’s a little more sedation, hon… believe me, you don’t want to feel any part of what I’m about to hit you with.

As the monitor charged, I cast my eyes around the ambulance, running a fast mental checklist. Any gods out there, if you feel like throwing me a bone so I don’t have to do this, now’s the time.

I turned my eyes back to the monitor, let out a heavy sigh, and hit the big red shock button. Sam’s body convulsed, and despite the sedation a wail escaped her lips. Almost immediately the heart rhythm on the monitor transformed itself into something more sane, with a rate much closer to normal.

I sat back, my body coated in sweat. Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I registered that the ambulance was slowing, pinpricks of light visible through the tiny windows. Melville… thank the gods.

Mopping my brow with a hand towel, I shifted myself to the captain’s chair at the head of the cot, plucked the radio mic from its clip, and called the hospital.


“What did the doc say?” asked Terry as he eased the ambulance into a broad curve. Getting back to Bronning from Melville is a thirty minute straight shot down a decent stretch of state highway; a far cry from the crappy country roads we’d taken to get to Roers.

I took a sip of the orange juice Terry had bought for me on the way out of town.

“Not much,” I said. “He wasn’t sure what it was, either. He’s going to fax a copy of the labs and tox screen to the station when he gets them – maybe that’ll shed some light.”

“You had the defib patches on her chest,” he said. “Did you girls have a fun game of truth or dare, or did shit get real in the back?”

“I cardioverted her.”

“Holy shit.”

I took another sip of my juice, chewing the inside of my cheek as I studied the ECG rhythm strip in my hand.

“I know, right? I’ve never had to do it to anyone that young before. Not even close. But I had to push epi to fix her blood pressure, and that sped her heart up and pushed her into SVT. I hit her with some Adenosine, it didn’t work, so I zapped her.”


We rode in silence for awhile. My fingers beat a furious rhythm on the laptop, polishing off the narrative section of my report. Terry munched on one of the cookies he’d picked up at the 24-hour Holiday station in Melville, taking slugs of coffee in between.

Finally, he said what both of us had been thinking. “Have you ever seen Fronse drive that far to assist the county mounties?”

I held up a finger, typed two more sentences, then closed the laptop and looked at him across the console.

“I’ve been a volunteer in this town for seven years,” I said, “and George has been police chief the entire time. I’ve never seen him go more than three or four miles outside the township on an assist before. This was more like eight, and it was just a teenage girl tripping out. Yeah, I was surprised.”

Terry restlessly tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. The ambulance rounded another bend, and the lights of our hometown could be seen a few miles in the distance.

Terry picked up the mic. “Bronning Ambulance to Franklin — we’re back in service.” He glanced over at me.

“Maybe,” he said, “because it was a suspected OD, and everyone knows this little stretch of Nowheresville is a motherfucking hotbed of gang activity, our boy George figured the delicate flowers comprising the Sheriff’s Department needed their hands held by a big strong man like himself. You know, so they didn’t go crying to their mommies when they got chased out of the yard by mutant zombie chickens packing shivs and wearing juvie colors?”

I had chosen to take a sip at exactly the wrong moment, and when I snorted laughter, orange juice shot painfully into my nasal cavities and began dribbling from my nose. When Terry says things like this, it isn’t so much what he says. It’s the way he says it.

“Jesus,” I said, pawing around on the console for the box of tissues. “you did that on purpose.”

“I wish I’d done it on purpose.”

Suddenly we were both laughing.


Terry was already asleep. Pressed close to him in the dark, wearing one of his T-shirts and an old yellow pair of his sweatpants, I hoped that I would be able to drop off quickly. It was a little after four. Terry had left a note for Halee on the counter: find anything for breakfast (and no, that doesn’t mean you can raid the bar), keep an eye on your sisters, do not wake us up for anything less than the discovery of an island made of chocolate pizza. Do try to not light the house on fire; it’s old and dry. Love, The Master of All He Surveys.

I felt myself drifting, and welcomed it. Darkness overtook me.

I sat straight up, a strangled cry escaping my lips. Terry started, rolled onto his back, but didn’t wake. I was trembling all over, bathed in a fine sheen of sweat. Oh Christ no — it really wasn’t a fluke. The dreams are coming back. 

I’d been lucky the last two times; I’d awakened before the worst of it. Not this time. I was already crying.

I looked over at Terry, watching his chest rise and fall as I tried to steady myself. I thanked the gods my scream had not disturbed him. But the next one will, or the one after that.

Tears oozed from beneath my eyelids as the dream replayed itself, and the memory attached to it forced its way to the surface despite my best efforts to keep it at bay. For one insane moment I wanted him to wake up; wanted him to hold me in his arms until the trembling subsided and my heart stopped racing. None of that, girl. Don’t be a fucking sissy.

I slipped from between the sheets and stood, putting weight on the creaky old hardwood as quietly as possible. I can’t let him see me like this. Nobody can see me like this.

Working as quietly as I could in the dark, I gathered my clothes, then shoved my pager and phone into the pockets of Terry’s sweats. I’ll return his stuff tomorrow; right now I just need to get the fuck out of here.

I paused for a moment, peering down at him through a haze of tears. I’m not exactly in love with Terry, but for the first time I realized that aside from being a fantastic lay, he’s far and away the best friend I’ve got. More than that, his house is the only place I feel like I’m at home. Ask yourself this, honey: how many times can you flake on him before he’s finally had enough? But then… maybe it’s better that way. Maybe you need to distance yourself from Halee before you do something irrevocable.

And then I was really crying. Silent tears poured down my cheeks as I reached down and brushed a lock of hair from his sleeping face. I stifled a sob, and that somehow made it worse. Turning on my heel, I slipped out the door, pulling it gently shut behind me.

The river of tears continued to flow as I made my way down the wide front staircase with its hand-carved rails, and I didn’t bother to wipe them away. Remembering that my laptop was in the living room, I altered course. So intent I was on grabbing the damn thing and making my escape that I didn’t notice the dark shape on the couch, or the soft glow of a laptop screen. When the shape looked up and said, “Hey,” I dropped the pile of clothing to the floor, barely stifling a scream.

“Whoa — sorry,” said Halee. “I didn’t mean to scare you. What’s going on?”

“You didn’t see me,” I said. I was surprised and dismayed when the words came out as a choked sob. You’re pathetic, you know that?

Halee sat up straight, swinging her legs off of the couch. “Hey — are you all right?”

Humiliated beyond measure, I squatted down and began hastily gathering up the pile of clothing I’d dropped.

“Fine,” I said, trying with only partial success to steady my voice, “but you didn’t see any of this, okay? What are you doing out here at this hour anyway?”

“I heard you guys come in,” the girl replied, “and I couldn’t get back to sleep after that. It happens sometimes. I come down here because the Wi-Fi in my room sucks. Seriously, what’s wrong? And where are you going?”

“It doesn’t matter. Just forget you saw me, okay?” My voice was still unsteady, but the waterworks had stopped for the moment. Progress, sort of.

“Not likely,” she said. “I kind of feel like we need to talk.”

No, honey, I thought, it’s better if we don’t. The clothing gathered once more in my arms, I rose to my feet.

“In case you missed it, I’m not in a great place right this minute,” I said.

“I can see that. What’s going on, anyway? Did you fight with my dad?”

“Halee — no. He doesn’t know I’m leaving. It’s not about him, or us. Hell, what am I saying? There isn’t any us.”

Halee put her laptop aside and rose in a single smooth motion. Coming around the coffee table, she scooped the armload of clothing from my grasp, dropping it into her dad’s recliner. Then she faced me directly, looking up into my eyes in the moonlit room, her body bare inches from mine. She grasped my hands.

“Do you want there to be?” she demanded. “I mean, with my dad?”


Do you?” her voice remained low, but with an urgency that was almost a hiss.

“Halee, I don’t know what you’re…”

She dropped my hands and turned away, tilting her head back to gaze up at the ceiling. “The hell you don’t,” she said in a low, savage tone. “Don’t you think I know what’s going on here? I realized it when you went with us to the Melville pool… what was that, six months ago? We shared a changing room, and I saw the way you were watching me. I still see it, every time you think I’m not looking.”

So there it was. No hiding from my shameful secret any more, at least not with Halee. My mind was in overdrive, trying desperately to sort out how to get out of this with minimum damage done. I stepped past her, rounded the coffee table, and plopped down on the opposite end of the couch from where she’d been sitting. She followed me cautiously, almost hesitantly, then chose to sit next to me on the middle cushion instead of returning to her original spot. She perched on the edge of the couch, looking as if she might take flight at any second. She was eyeing me intently.

“What do you want me to say?” I got out at last. It came out as little more than a whisper. “I’m not a good person, Halee. I’ve been carrying this around for… God, for a long time. I shouldn’t be attracted to girls your age. But I am. If anyone found out, I’d get locked away, and rightly so.”

“Is that the real reason you come here?” she wanted to know. “Because I’m totally confused about what there is with you and Dad, or what you want from him.”

“No,” I told her, “that isn’t why. Hell, sometimes it’s why I stay away. With me and your dad… It’s complicated, Halee. He’s a great guy and I love him to death, but there’s always something standing between us. We don’t work as a couple, and we both know it. So it’s just… casual, you know? That works for us. But then I come over here, and I see you and…” My voice caught in my throat.

Halee smiled mirthlessly. “And Naomi?” she said.

I covered my face with my hands, fighting tears. Finally I found the strength to push on. “Sometimes it gets away from me,” I said. “I dwell on it, and I look at you… well, inappropriately. But Halee… I swear to you, I never intended to act on it. What happened when we were playing cards, that’s the most I’ve ever done, and I’m just sorry I didn’t stop it before I did. I had no right to do that to you, and I promise, I’ll stay away from now on…”

I was crying again. Softly this time, tears tracking slowly down my face. I bent my head low, my long hair falling forward and obscuring my vision.

Then Halee’s palm cupped my chin, lifting my head to face her. None too gently, either. She looked furious.

“You don’t fucking get it, do you?” she snapped. “You’re treating me like a little girl who can’t make up her mind about anything. Do you really not get that I let that happen because I wanted something to happen?”

That brought me up short. Of course, it had been in the back of my mind, but I’d been too entrenched in self-loathing over the whole incident to give it much headspace. But I realized after a moment that it didn’t change anything.

I drew in a steadying breath. “Look,” I said, stubbornly refusing to allow any more tears to fall, “that doesn’t make it right. It isn’t right. I need to stop. And I will, I swear.”

Halee seemed to mull this over. “This is dumb,” she said at last. “It’s like… like taking something little, and making it big. I can go to dinner with you. I can have a Coke with you, or we can go swimming together. Nobody says you’re taking advantage of me if we do that stuff. But if we… we play footsie under the table, I didn’t really want to, because I’m too young and dumb to know what I want, right?”

I met her eyes. “You don’t really think we’re just talking about playing footsie, Halee.” It wasn’t a question.

“Oh, for…” I watched as she visibly got a grip on her anger. “Of course I know that! Didn’t you hear anything I said while we were playing cards?”

She met my eyes, and the anger seemed to melt away. There was something dreamy in her gaze. “You asked me a question that I didn’t get to answer,” she said in a husky whisper. “The answer is yes; I have orgasms. I have one every time I hear the things you do with Dad. And when I… I touch myself, I listen to the sounds you’re making, and pretend I’m the one making you feel that way.”

I was frozen in place. Just who was seducing who here? Despite my emotional turmoil, my body was responding to this little vixen in all the right ways. It didn’t matter; I couldn’t allow it to go on. But Halee was still talking.

“Why is it okay,” she said, anger creeping into her voice once more, “for me to make myself feel that way, but not okay for you to do it for me, or the other way around… just because you’re older? But it’s okay if it’s anyone under eighteen? That doesn’t even make sense.”

I opened my mouth to speak, belatedly realizing I had nothing to say. I was sure there were a hundred good reasons right on the tip of my tongue, but goddamn if I could remember a single one of them.

“I don’t know,” I told her. “I do know that I hate myself every day for feeling this way, and it’d be worse if I acted on it.”

“Would it make a difference if I wanted you to act on it?”

“Do you?” It was a dangerous question, but I seemed powerless to extricate myself from this conversation.

Yes,” she said. She shifted subtly on the couch, so our knees were touching. I wondered if she had any idea of the effect this was having on me.

“I think I’m like you,” she went on. “I’m not sure if I’m bisexual or just plain gay, but I know I like girls. I want to learn about being with girls, and I want to learn from you. Is that so wrong, when we both know you want the same thing?”

Her hands were on my thighs, and I knew this had gone far enough. Summoning the last shreds of resolve I possessed, I took her hands and moved them to her own lap.

“I’m sorry, Halee,” I said. I could feel the tears welling behind my eyelids.

She glared at me reproachfully. “Fine,” she said. “Whatever. Are you at least going to tell me why you’re running out of here in the middle of the night crying your eyes out? Maybe I can help.”

“I can’t,” I said. “That’s why I’m leaving, because I can’t talk about it, and I didn’t want anyone to see me like this. Can you please just keep this whole thing between us?”

She stared at me incredulously. “I guess, if that’s what you want. Don’t you think it’d be better to let someone help you?”

I stood up. “I have to go.”

Halee said nothing, just sat there on the edge of the couch, staring up at me. And suddenly the tears were flowing again. Not just flowing, gushing. Gathering up my things, I stumbled to the entryway, shoved my feet savagely into my boots, and fled into the night.

On to Chapter Five!


32 Comments on Strange Brew, Chapter 4

  1. Captain Midnight says:

    Somebody must be slipping these kids something. I think it must be malicious, targeting them for a cruel revenge. My. God.

    I thought at first that the narrator was having nightmareshe strain of her job and those two calls, which certainly seems plausible. But she is seeing herself making love to Halee, which society sees as absolutely barbaric and terribly cruel? That would do it too.

    I don’t remember her telling much about her love life before moving out and taking this job. It reads like she is running away from a past relationship.

    I was sorry that she and Terry weren’t meant for each other. I wasn’t sure if she could have been a good adult-female caregiver (I guess not mother figure) to the younger girls. Guess she and Terry couldn’t have continued to work together if they had been married.

    I wonder how Halee saw her as a person to be sexually desired? I don’t know the laws of attraction.

    You are such a good writer!

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Ah, Captain… so many questions! Only with time will you learn the answers. If it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t sure what all the answers were yet at this stage of the game.

      One point: Terry and Nettie don’t work together, per se. Nettie is a professional paramedic, but the town she lives in has a volunteer service only, which she serves on when she isn’t working. Terry is volunteer EMT. So it’s not exactly a full-on professional situation. Even if it was, from what I’m told (I’m close to a former medic) the rules of the business world don’t always apply in prehospital care. She knew couples that would work a truck together. Obviously if it’s an a medic/EMT situation (which is the case with Nettie and Terry) a certain amount of professionalism has to be involved, because the medic is of course in charge. You’ll note in the above scene that Terry, who is nobody’s shrinking violet, does everything Nettie asks of him without question or argument, and clears his own ideas with her before implementing them.

      That aside, thank you for the lovely compliment!

      • Captain Midnight says:

        Rachael, you are always welcome and I intend to tell you every time this story tugs at my heartstrings, which should be at least once a chapter or more.

        Pages From a Diary was a story about a young girl maturing, growing into responsibility, taking care of people. Now I am starting to see that dynamic a second time in Halee’s conversations with Nettie.Nettie is respected by everyone, that’s immediately evident, but she is a person who needs to be cared for herself. Terry, bless him, does everything he can on a professional level and as a man who truly cares for Nettie, perhaps out of respect for her. But she’s not the woman he could love.

        I sure as heck respect you!

        • ClitLicker says:

          Another brilliantly written, realistic and moving chapter. Well done, Rachael, and thank you. I didn’t mind the lack of sex as I’m all sexed out at the moment (I come here for the quality of the writing as well) but I hope we get some soon.

          Keep up the wonderful work. And happy New Year.

          • Rachael Yukey says:

            Thanks! When it comes to sex, all I can say is good things come to those who wait. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

        • Rachael Yukey says:


  2. Levon Tostig says:

    I stand by my previous assessment that Strange Brew is a masterpiece and Rachael is in a class by herself as an author. I’m every bit invested in the mysterious drug overdose storyline — George Fronse is going to be a key figure in future chapters, of that I’m certain — as I am in Nettie’s and Halee’s mutual sexual attraction, which is saying something. After the game of footsie in Chapter Three and the question to which Nettie did not receive an answer until now, I was literally on the edge of my seat to see what direction Rachael would take. Having Halee pivot from being pursued to being the one pursuing was a genius move, because it make the “taboo” factor, already at the boiling point, scalding hot.

    My only complaint is the wait between chapters being posted is unbearable. Completely understandable and unavoidable to be sure, but bearable all the same.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Oh, you’re too kind. Before you accuse me of genius, I have a confession: it wasn’t a conscious choice! I just let the characters take me in the direction they want to go, and more often than not I have no idea how it’s going to turn out.

  3. Kim & Sue says:

    YES! We go along with other comments. Wonderful mystery story. Wondering if George is involved either criminally or if he has an idea whats happening and trying to catch that person.

    Yeah and the forbidden romance factor. Great chapter that has us hankering for the next. Strange Brew has now become one of our favorite story here. We find it right up there with A Young Desert Rose and Knuckle Ridge.

    Thanks, Rachel, we’re loving it.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Thanks, ladies! I’m thinking the answers to your questions, when they arrive, will surprise you. Meanwhile, glad you’re enjoying the journey!

  4. Carol Anne says:

    I really love this story, how it details the ambulance calls. Adding teasers, like the mother in a robe and the daughter naked on the floor of the bathroom, but stays with the medical end. Keeping us wondering for the next sex scene. I see Nettie’s hesitation to show,her lover’s daughter, how she really feels and what she wants to do with her. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

  5. Bryan says:

    Even lack of sex this story is intriguing, looking forward to the next chapter

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      That’s the best compliment I could get! I like writing about sex, but first and foremost I want to write a kick-ass story.

  6. Eloquent delinquent says:

    Great chapter, you continue to stoke the heat on both of your major plotlines, and introduce new wrinkles that make things even more intriguing. I’m consistently impressed by your sure-footed pacing, authentic detail, and natural dialogue throughout.

    This is an amazing story on many levels, and I can’t wait for more pages so I can keep turning them. Keep those plates spinning!

  7. Lakeisha says:

    Strange Brew is without a doubt a kick-ass story Rachael. Though I had reservations with the introduction of heterosexual play at the beginning, I was put at ease when I realized that it was a garnish and not a primary feature. The storyline keeps me on the edge of my seat. Can’t wait for the next installment.

  8. Erocritique says:

    Definitely a challenging and difficult read on many levels. And definitely not your typical JS fare so far. I will be very interested to see how all the intertwining conflicts are ultimately resolved. I’m obviously still totally hooked. Next chapter please!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  9. Jack says:

    This story is spellbinding in every one of its storyline! Can’t wait for more! Thank you, Rachael!

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      I love words like spellbinding… keep it up, and my already substantial ego is going to explode. Thanks!

  10. Mo says:

    Great story Rachael. I love the developing plot, especially George popping up after the scene! This really is a “page turner” and can’t wait for next chapter.

  11. Kylie says:

    Great story Rachel.
    Looking forward to more Pages From a Diary as well.
    To Eloquent Delinquent … any new chapters of Scouting for Girls on tap?

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Glad you’re enjoying it. As for Pages, it proceeds, although right now I’m in the middle of a fairly large work thing and it’s slowing me down a bit. But no worries; Jetboy, in his last email to me, stated that he would ride me like a rented mule until I complete it. He shouldn’t threaten me with a good time! 😉

  12. admatt says:

    A bit obscure, here and there, but interesting. Keep going. I’ll keep reading.

  13. Keiko says:

    So. Much. Talent.

    So. Much. Awesomeness.

    So admire you Rachel!!!!

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