Strange Brew, Chapter 6

  • Posted on February 5, 2023 at 4:37 pm

by Rachael Yukey

My fingers were working furiously between my legs. Once again I was in my favorite place, sprawled against the arm of my couch, wearing an open bathrobe and nothing else.

Bone-crunching riffs pounded forth from the speakers. “Hellbound and down!” Todd la Torre roared. That’s where I’m going at this rate, I thought, hating myself. I wasn’t even trying to purge the pedophilic imagery from my head.

I’d run into Chelsey Milne on the street not an hour before, just as dusk began to fall. It was the first I’d seen of her since the accident. Her aunt had been pushing her in a wheelchair, her left arm and leg both wrapped in heavy braces. Chelsey had thanked me for helping that day, then beckoned me closer. When I leaned in, she’d wrapped her good arm around my neck and kissed my cheek.

That simple kiss sent me into a tailspin. I forgot about the shopping I still had to do and rushed back to my apartment, feeling sick and ashamed. My cheek was on fire where Chelsey kissed me, as if she’d branded me there, and the remembered image of the girl’s bare vulva in the back of my ambulance was one I couldn’t excise from my brain. A stiff drink and a shower only seemed to make it worse, and now here I was.

The powerful sensations thrummed through my body, my fingers were dripping with juice, and I was just about to teeter over the edge when the goddamn phone went off.

Cursing under my breath, I twisted, scrabbling around on the end table behind me, succeeding in knocking both the phone and the empty whiskey glass to the floor. I snatched up the phone, realizing an instant too late that I’d used the still-slippery hand I’d been masturbating with.

Gritting my teeth at my own clumsiness, I took in the caller’s name. My eyebrows arched in surprise. I’d gone to medic school with Valeria Diaz, and we’d been an item both then and for quite a while afterwards. She worked for the hospital-based ambulance service in Melville, where Terry and I had taken that mysteriously tripping teenage girl the previous weekend. Swiping the accept button with the hand that hadn’t been mauling my twat, I lifted the phone to my ear.

“Hello, Val,” I said, trying to keep my voice even. My breathing wasn’t quite steady yet.

“Hi, Nettie,” said the light, musical, slightly accented voice. Valeria is first-generation Mexican, a rarity in an area where the vast majority of the population is still white. “How’ve you been, girl?”

“Doing okay,” I said, hoping she wasn’t going to spend too much time on small talk. A large chunk of my brain was mourning the loss of a good orgasm – throwing a screaming tantrum over it, in fact. “Hold on a sec.” I rose, crossed to the wall of stereo equipment and turned down the volume.

“Glad to hear it,” she said. “I’ve missed you. I haven’t even seen you in the ED lately.”

“That’s because I gave up slumming.” I returned to the couch and collapsed onto it. “What’s up?”

“Well… remember that girl you brought into Melville last weekend with Terry Wilder? The one who was high?”

I sat up straight. “Yeah… what about her?”

“I was just curious if you’d ever got a follow-up on that. Because I just brought in another one like it, a sixteen-year-old boy. Only mine’s in a coma, and the docs are worried about hypoxic brain damage.”

She had my full attention now. “Where’d you pick him up?”

“Funny you should ask. He was in Gregard, and that’s what… a little less than two miles northwest of Roers? Another mile south, and it would have been a Bronning call. But he’s probably alive because of you. I heard you give your radio report on that girl last weekend, and when I saw this kid and got his vitals I knew it was the same thing right away.”

“You’d have figured it out.”

“Sure, but how fast? This dude was decompensating hard. His systolic was below forty on my first pressure. I didn’t even bother with a bag; I went straight to Epi.”

I drew my knees up to my chest. “Did he go into SVT?”

“Yeah, but I got lucky. The Adenosine worked. I didn’t have to cardiovert like you did.”

I hesitated before speaking again, trying to collate all the disparate bits of information in my mind.

“Hey, Valeria?”


“I had another one like it… uh… Monday, it was. Two days ago. I was at work, and intercepted with Bronning. Big fat guy in his early twenties. That one was easier because I had my work stuff with me and was able to give him Levophed.”

“I didn’t know you had Levo at Thormleton,” she said with a laugh. “We’re still stuck with Dopamine or Epi.”

“So get out of that pit and come work for a real ambulance service.”

“What, Thormleton?” Valeria put on a mock-childish voice. “Oh, look at me, I have Levophed and a Hamilton vent, but I’m missing half of the tube sizes because the supply budget ran short last month!”

I snorted laughter; there was truth to her sarcasm. Thormleton has a forward-thinking medical director who gives us a lot of leeway and keeps us on the cutting edge, but working for a privately owned, profit-driven ambulance service comes with its own set of problems.

“Anyway, I was just wondering if you’d gotten any follow-up on yours,” Valeria continued. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and it seems to be kind of going around, huh?”

“My girl’s stuff got sent to the cities,” I said. “They found a substance they haven’t identified, at least they hadn’t last I heard. The docs in Johnstown were going to send out the bloodwork for that guy I transported Monday, but I haven’t heard back on that. Do you know what their plan is for your guy?”

“Not a clue, but I can find out. What do you think it is, Nettie?”

“I dunno, but I think tomorrow I’m gonna call some people I know at North and at Trinity and find out if they’ve seen anything similar. Are you still at work?”

“I,” she informed me in dignified tones, “am at home having a glass of wine and trying to decide which movie to watch.”

I idly wondered if she was still living in the same crummy apartment in Melville. Probably not… that was a long time ago. I hadn’t seen her outside of the Melville emergency department in over three years.

I let the memories wash over me for a moment. Val had been a decent enough girlfriend, and in bed she was all fire and passion. It had ultimately fizzled, but on good terms.

Thinking back on my relationship with Valeria, I realized I was still horny. Holy hell, lady, you’ve been like a loaded cannon lately. If we hadn’t both been drinking, I might’ve considered asking if she wanted to meet up. But there were other options, weren’t there? Valeria and I had lived thirty miles apart during our time as a couple, and had become expert at handling things at a distance when we couldn’t be together physically. And maybe this will help get those damn underage girls out of my head.

“Hey, Nettie,” Valeria was saying, “you still there?”

“Yeah,” I said. I threw one leg up onto the couch, letting the other flop languorously over the edge. My bathrobe hung wide open. I put the phone on speaker, then held it high, zooming the camera so it captured everything from my exposed pussy to the top of my head. My breathing was already getting a little ragged.

“I’m going to text you a picture,” I said, “and then I challenge you to give me one good reason we shouldn’t move this conversation to video chat.”


Minutes later I was sitting naked on my bed, laptop open in front of me. A digital camcorder I purchased years ago for a long-since-abandoned video blog stood me in good stead now; it was at the end of my bed on its tripod, the tilt and zoom controllable with a remote at my side. I was enjoying a long-shot panorama of Valeria’s living room with her in the middle, slowly and seductively lifting her t-shirt to reveal the bare belly beneath.

Like any experienced emergency provider, my situational awareness is sufficiently fine-tuned that I can take in peripheral details on autopilot, and I couldn’t help but notice that Val had moved up in the world. Her living room was high-ceilinged and well-lit, with tasteful furnishing and decoration. All was pastels and frilly, lacy things; Valeria is a lipstick lesbian through and through.

Val herself is a slender, delicate thing, standing all of about five foot two. I stared at the laptop screen, licking my lips as she lifted the shirt slowly over her head, briefly obscuring the seductive smile on her face. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Tossing the shirt aside, Val trailed both hands up her belly, letting them rest on her perky little tits. She gripped each nipple between thumb and forefinger and tweaked them, her lips parting. Through my headphones, I could hear her unsteady breathing as I zoomed in for the close-up.

“That is so fucking hot,” I said, my voice more than a little wobbly. I was completely ready and could probably have come in just a couple of minutes, but I knew it would be more fun if I gave Val time to catch up. My hand was playing across my chest, stroking each nipple in turn as my other hand worked the remote, focusing the camera in on my breasts.

“You like watching me play with my tits?” she was asking me. “Does it get you nice and juicy?”

“You know it does, you wicked bitch,” I said. “What do you think of these?” I focused in so my chest area would fill her entire screen. I then let go of the remote and began trailing my fingers across my boobs, kneading and caressing them. As my finger brushed a nipple, I groaned.

“Ooh, you dirty girl,” she said. “You’re about ready to go off, aren’t you?”

“You have no idea,” I moaned.

“Well, then… let me watch you play with yourself while I get these pants off.”

Her right hand dropped to the button of her jeans. My eyes still glued to the screen, I fumbled for the remote, then tilted the camera angle downward. Spreading my legs wide apart, I zoomed in on my aching cunt.

“Oh God,” she said in a ragged whisper. “Look how wet you are for me.”

Not just for you, I thought. Sorry, Val.

“All for you, baby,” is what I said out loud. I opened my cunt for her, using the fingertips of the other hand to caress first the outside, then the inside of my labia. Valeria was pushing the waist of her jeans down to her thighs, then allowing her fingers to glide across the front of her panties. Her hips swayed. She rotated slowly and bent over, smacking one ass cheek and then the other.

My breath was coming in ragged gasps. Still avoiding my clit, I slipped a finger inside of myself and moaned. Val straightened, her back still to me, and twisted her head around so she could see the screen.

“There you go,” she breathed. “Fuck yourself for me.”

Moving slowly and deliberately, I worked my finger in and out, squishy wet noises accompanying every stroke. I added another, and shuddered as a wave of pleasure rushed through me. Even without touching my clit, I was getting close to total meltdown.

Val pushed her panties down to her thighs, spreading her butt cheeks wide open for me. Little moans escaped my lips as I continued to fuck myself, but I carefully held back, not yet ready to come.

Finally she turned back to face me in a single, abrupt motion, and I knew that the striptease was over. Once Valeria reaches a certain point of arousal, all subtleties go off the table, and a howling demon emerges. She shoved her panties and jeans the rest of the way to the floor and shed them with a vicious kick. Hungry animal noises escaped her throat. This side of her never fails to drive me wild, and I had to pause my busy fingers to keep from going off right then.

Val parted her legs, thrusting a hand between them. As her fingers found her clit, she let out a shuddering wail.

“Oh, God,” I groaned. Two fingers still inside me, I cupped the upper part of my vulva in the palm of my hand, applying pressure but willing myself not to move. The slightest extra bit of stimulation, and I was going to explode.

Valeria brought her other hand into play, plunging two fingers into her pussy. Both hands moved furiously, the wet slapping providing a steady rhythmic accompaniment to her uninhibited shrieks and moans. Finally she went up on tiptoe, and I knew it was time to head for the finish line.

I began to violently drive my fingers in and out, palm slamming against my clit, crying out with every thrust. A few seconds later, we both went off like rockets. Valeria let out a high, keening wail and fell to her knees. I arched my body up from the bed as my orgasm slammed through me. I shuddered, cried out loud, then howled again as a second climax took me by surprise.

Finally it passed through me, and I collapsed back onto the bed. Valeria was still on her knees, fingers buried in her vagina, gasping for air.

After a few seconds, she looked up at me and grinned. I smiled back.

“Well, Nettie,” she said primly, “it was very nice catching up with you. We simply must do it again sometime,” then dissolved into a fit of giggles. It was infectious, and I found myself laughing with her. Ten minutes later we’d exchanged goodbyes, and I was out like a light.


The bike trails that run through the woods just outside of town are smooth and well-kept, maintained as they are with state money. It’s the perfect place to jog, and that’s where I found myself the next morning, dressed in gym shorts and a halter top. It was only a bit chilly, the first time this spring it had been mild enough to wear the shorts.

I do my damnedest to keep in shape. An unfortunate occupational hazard in my line of work is a tendency to go to flesh, and I’m determined to keep that from happening to me. For most of the long-ass Minnesota winter I’m stuck indoors with my elliptical, but I always prefer to run if the weather allows.

I was enjoying the exercise and the solitude until I rounded a bend, startled to see someone sitting on one of the park benches situated every couple of miles along the path. When I realized it was Halee, I came up short.

She said nothing, just fixed me with that sardonic little smile of hers as I walked the last twenty yards or so to where she sat.

“What are you doing out here?” I said, still a bit winded.

“I saw you take off where the bike trail goes into the woods on the other end of town,” she said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch up, so I just went straight to the other end of the trail so you’d come to me. I figured it’d take you a while, what with all the twists and turns.”

I let out a sigh and joined her on the bench, making it a point to sit far enough away that we weren’t touching.

“So… what’s up?” I said after a moment.

“Well, for starters, you promised we’d talk. It’s been a few days, if you haven’t noticed.”

I ran a hand over my face. Goddammit. I opened my mouth, realized that I couldn’t think of a single thing to say, and closed it again.

I decided to put the ball in her court. “I’m listening.”

“I like you,” she said simply, “and you like me. So… what do we do?”

Half a dozen ways to dodge that one came to the tip of my tongue, but I swallowed them all. Halee deserved better. The direct approach was the only way.

“And by liking, you mean attraction,” I said.

She cast her eyes downward. “Yeah.”

I registered that, in contrast to the goth clothing she’d been affecting of late, Halee was wearing an ordinary pair of blue jeans and sneakers. She was wearing the leather jacket, however. Her cheeks were a little flushed from the chill air. Jesus, she looked stunning.

“What do you think we should do about it?” I asked her before taking time to think about the implications of the question. Whoa, girl. Dangerous territory here.

“I think we should do exactly what we want to do,” she said, lifting her head and boldly meeting my eyes. My left hand was resting on the bench, and suddenly I was aware of Halee’s little finger touching it. Then a slight motion; a caress.

I should have stopped it right then; I really should have. It wasn’t too late to pull back from the brink.

Staring back into her eyes, I placed my hand on hers, stroking it. Looking back now, I think this was the moment of no return. I twined my fingers through hers, then gave her hand a squeeze. She gripped me back, tightly.

“I know what I want,” I said, my voice just above a whisper, “but I’ll need you to tell me what you want.”

She shifted closer to me on the bench, pressing her thigh against our clasped hands. “Everything,” she said in a husky tone. “I want to do everything, and I want to do it with you.”

My hand moved, almost of its own accord, trailing upward until it rested on her thigh. She wriggled in closer until our bodies were pressed together. I slid my hand inwards and down, my fingers continuing their delicate, back and forth motion, but now on the inside of her thigh. Halee’s breathing was becoming shallow.

“Are you ready for everything?” I breathed. “Have you even been kissed?”

Halee shook her head, then tilted her face up towards mine.

It would have been so easy to move that handful of inches and press my lips to hers, but there was still a shred of rationality left in me, coldly reminding me that this was not the place to swap tongues with a girl of twelve. By this time I was firmly cupping Halee’s inner thigh, only centimeters away from her center. Her breathing had gone from shallow to ragged.

“Not here,” I got out in an unsteady voice. “All it would take is someone come around that corner and see us.”

Closing her eyes, she let her head loll as far back as it would go. “You’re right,” she finally whispered.

I thought fast. “Can you find a way to come to my place tonight?”

She shook her head. “Not tonight,” she said. “Dad’s on call, so I have to be home with my sisters in case he gets paged out. I could do it tomorrow, easy. He never checks on where I tell him I’m going.”

“Then come,” I said. “I’m not going to make any promises as to what we’ll do, but we can see where it takes us. Okay?”

She smiled up at me. “It’s a deal.”

I gave her inner thigh one more caress, and was rewarded with a slight shudder. I pulled my hand away and stood. “I’d better get back to my run,” I said, “before I get fat.”

Not giving her a chance to reply, I took off. A few minutes later, the woods spilled me out near the assisted living facility on the edge of town, and I headed straight for my apartment building. After locking the door behind me with shaking hands, I got myself to the kitchen and poured a drink, then gulped it straight down. What the fuck did I just do?


Hours later I sat alone at my tiny kitchen table, the printout of a map in front of me. I’d been drinking steadily, but had done what I felt was a sterling job of keeping the rate under control. I was pleasantly buzzed, not hammered. The stereo blasted Megadeth; brutality was the order of the day.

After returning — some might call it retreating — to my apartment, I’d slammed two shots, stretched out on my couch for half an hour, and then made a few phone calls. I know people at every ambulance service in the area, and nobody turns down an opportunity to share their latest war story.

The information I’d obtained was very interesting indeed. Bronning sits at the center of a rough circle, with five towns sporting small hospitals around the periphery. Each of those towns has an ALS ambulance service, and four of them had seen similar cases. The patients ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-two.

The map before me encompassed Franklin county and the counties immediately surrounding it. Using a pencil, I marked upon it the locations at which the cases had been picked up. Two Bronning calls… three, if you counted Jason Bixley. One Melville call; Valeria’s unfortunate young man, who was not expected to wake up. John Cameron at Thormleton had picked up another just last night; score one for Johnstown. Trinity Ambulance in Jordan had seen two such cases, and yet another had been transported by North in Perry.

Eight cases, all in the past week. I wondered idly if anyone else had made the connection — and then I saw something that made me drop my pencil, rub my eyes, and look again.

Not a single case had occurred on the other side of the city it had been transported to. They were all on the Bronning side. More than that, of the ones that had not been Bronning calls, most of them had occurred within a few miles of the Bronning Ambulance service area.

Bronning is the center of the circle.


Terry opened the door, and I brushed past him into the foyer. Taking a moment to kick off my sneakers, I strode down the hall towards the dining nook. I stopped halfway, looking back at him expectantly.

“Come on in,” Terry said dryly, still standing there with the door hanging open. “Take your shoes off. Make yourself at home.”

I rolled my eyes. “Cute. Look… just close the door and come check this out, will you? I’ve got something you really need to see.”

Terry closed the door, and made his way up the hall. “You know, normally when a lady comes into my house with something she urgently wants to show me, it’s under her clothes, thus requiring their removal.”

“I can hear you,” a voice piped up from the living room.

I looked to my left, and saw Halee peering at us over the back of the couch. Terry fell in beside me and grinned at his daughter. “Hell,” he said, “I thought you went upstairs.”

“That was Naomi. You couldn’t tell from the stream of invective directed at bedtime?”

I smiled in spite of myself. “Jesus,” I said, turning to meet Terry’s eyes. “She’s starting to talk like you do.”

Terry shrugged. “She’s a young lady of exceptional taste and profound wisdom, and only chooses the very best role models for herself.”

I felt the tension draining out of me. The urgency that had driven me here with such haste seemed a little silly, now that I’d arrived. I looked towards Halee and rolled my eyes. “One of these days I’ll figure out how to shut him off.”

Terry wiggled his eyebrows at me. “You have to turn me on before you can shut me off.”

“Oh-kay,” said Halee, getting up from the couch. “I’m going to the bathroom so I can throw up everything I’ve eaten all day. Then I’m gonna go to my room and cry myself to sleep. You just ruined the rest of my childhood.”

Squaring her shoulders with great dignity, she marched into the bathroom and closed the door. Terry sank into a kitchen chair, a rueful grin on his face.

“Dammit,” he said. “I’m still not used to her being old enough to pick up on innuendo.”

“Is it just me,” I said in a low voice as I pulled up a chair, “or is she starting to develop a sense of humor?”

Terry’s tone was equally soft. “I’ve been seeing some exciting signs to that effect just lately.” Halee came out of the bathroom, tucked her dog under her arm, and made for the stairs.

“Hey, kiddo,” said Terry, “it’s early. You don’t have to go to bed yet.”

Checking her forward motion at the foot of the stairs, Halee peered over her shoulder at us. “Oh, I’m not going to,” she said, “but I’m sure not sticking around for this conversation. I’ll find something to do in my room. Like look into how you go about joining a convent.” Turning away, she closed the stairway door behind her.

Terry met my eyes. “What’s so damned important, anyway?”

I set the map that was clutched in my hand down on the table.

Terry picked it up and inspected it. “Hmmm,” he said. “It’s a map of the area that’s been scribbled on by a dyslexic rhesus monkey. So?”

I slapped his arm. My handwriting was, admittedly, a bit shakier than usual. Blame Johnny Walker, not li’l old me.

Taking the paper from him, I laid it on the table and indicated an X I’d drawn on County Road 70, labeled ‘MVA 4/9; Bronning’. “That’s where Jason Bixley bought it.” My finger moved up to Roers. Another X, another dated label. “That’s Samantha Jensen.”

Terry pulled the paper closer to him, and pointed to another mark a little south of town on 225. “That’s where I picked up –”


His eyes narrowed. “Wait a damn minute. Are these all cases of the same thing?”


“And all within the past week.” He rocked back in his chair.

I cocked my head. “Notice anything else?”

Terry picked up the paper again, tracing a finger from one labeled incident site to the next. Suddenly he blinked. “I’ll be goddamned.”

“It took me awhile to see it, too. Every single one of those calls is within fifteen miles of town. We’re right in the middle of a neat little circle of weird-ass OD cases.”

The look he gave me was one of frank admiration. “You put all this together yourself?”

I shrugged, trying not to look smug. “Valeria Diaz from Melville phoned me up last night.” I looked down at the table, suddenly finding it difficult to meet his gaze. “She… she brought one of these in, and wanted to know if I’d had follow-up on Sam Jenkins. Which I hadn’t, at that point, except for the lab results from the twin cities. So I got curious to know if anyone else had seen anything like it, and I made a few phone calls.”

Terry set the paper on the table. “When you say you hadn’t gotten a follow-up at that point, can I take that to mean you’ve obtained one since then?”

“So glad you asked,” I said. “I called both hospitals right after I talked to the EMS services. Neither one of our patients claimed to have any recollection of the last eighteen to twenty-four hours prior to the 911 call. Whatever else this is, it’s a retrograde amnestic, except I’ve never heard of one that impairs such a large time period.”

“Well, isn’t that convenient. What’d they do for testing on that second one we did?”

I could feel my face turning sour. “They were going to send his bloodwork out, but his insurance doesn’t cover it.”

“Figures.” Terry drummed his fingers on the table. “What about the others?”

“Nobody else I talked to has heard anything back, and they probably won’t. You know how it is; you only get follow-up if you ask for it. Val’s patient got flown out, so we won’t hear anything back on that. He was in a coma, and they don’t expect him to wake up.”

“Damn, that sucks. How old?”


“Jesus fuck. Are any of the others that bad off?”

I shook my head. “Not that I know of.”

Getting up and making his way to the kitchen, Terry popped open a high cupboard. “What’ll you have?”

“I thought you were on call.” I thought it best not to add that I’d heard that bit of news from Halee.

“I swapped shifts with Lori. What’ll it be?”

“Whatever you’re drinking is fine.”

Terry selected a bottle of bourbon. “Who else knows about this?” He got out two matching glasses and filled them with ice.

“I just now worked it out,” I said.

“So why tell me? Why not take it to George Fronse or somebody?” He poured the drinks as he spoke.

I stared at him, wounded. “Maybe because I wanted to run this by somebody first, and I thought we were still friends. My mistake.”

I started to rise. Terry set a drink on the table in front of me and placed a hand on my shoulder.

“For Christ’s sake,” he said, “don’t be so damn touchy. Have a drink.” Our eyes locked. I was overreacting and I knew it. Goddammit, I’m just so fucking tired and confused. I sank back into my chair.

“What we are and are not,” Terry said, his hand still on my shoulder, “isn’t a conversation I’m willing to have right at the moment. I’ve been your boyfriend, I’ve been your lover, and I’ve been your friend. You haven’t made any of it particularly easy. My door is still open to you… you might consider taking that as a good sign.”

I opened my mouth to speak, then closed it again. Tears threatened, and I was damned if I’d let them fall.

Terry sat down and held up his glass. “Cheers?”

I touched my glass to his, and Terry took a long swallow. I put my drink to my lips in anticipation; Terry always has the best liquor. I tried just a little, then followed it with some more. I closed my eyes, letting it roll around on my tongue.

“Holy crap,” I said, “I’m not even going to ask how expensive this is.”

A ghost of a smile played across his lips. “Probably better that way.” His finger roamed the map. “I think you’re onto something here,” he said. “I wonder if anyone else has made the connection.”

Grateful to put the personal exchange behind us, I considered that for a moment. “I doubt it. Not because I’m Sherlock Holmes, but because I don’t think anybody else has all of the pieces. I transported Jason Bixley. I saw two other cases. And I still don’t think I’d have put it all together if Valeria hadn’t called me last night.”

Terry looked doubtful. “A few of the docs have to be getting curious, though… don’t you think?”

I smiled a tight little smile. Terry is smart as hell, and pretty well tuned into the local wavelength for a man who has lived urban for most of his life, but his perspective on the region’s hospital system is still limited at best.

“What you have to realize,” I said, “is that the cases are divided up between four dinky little country hospitals with level three or four EDs. Most of what they see is geriatric problems; you know that. Anything serious gets transferred out. Each place has seen one or two cases, and it’s probably a different ED doc in every instance. The labs are fucked up, but the tox screen comes back negative. The patient can’t remember a damn thing. What do you think is actually going to happen?”

“Fair point. All of which cries out to me that this would be a really good time to spread the word. Cops, hospitals, and EMS medical directors.”

I nodded. “I’m working tomorrow. I’ll talk to our medical director, make some phone calls, and maybe see if the sheriff’s office will send a deputy over to talk to me.”

“We could call up George Fronse right now. He is, after all, the Grand Almighty Poobah of the indefatigable Bronning police department… and judging from your map, I’d say this just might be a Bronning problem.”

I tried to keep a straight face, and failed. Then I sobered somewhat as a sudden realization penetrated my mind. I don’t want to talk to George about this.

“It’s kind of funny to hear you, of all people, suggesting that we should go talk to George about anything,” I said.

Terry sipped his drink and smiled. “I have nothing against George, you know. The man is an epic square, but I respect the hell out of him. The entire police force here in town is him and a part-timer, and he makes it work on top of heading up the fire department and helping out on the ambulance. If by some happy miracle the stick were to fall out of his ass, I’d be delighted to sit down and have a drink with him. Except I doubt he drinks. Hell, eating is probably too vulgar for him. It might lead to pooping, and I don’t think his sense of propriety would stand for that.”

Our eyes met, and we both cracked up. I took another sip of the wonderful drink. Terry polished his off, and got up out of his chair with glass in hand. “One more?” he asked.

I handed him my glass. “I didn’t want to ask. I have to think whiskey that good comes in a decanter laced with flakes of gold.”

Terry poured the drinks with a smile. “Let’s just say that booze of this caliber requires a manager’s key at the liquor store.” He handed me the glass and sat back down. “George is the logical guy to start with, but you seem less than enthused about bringing this to him. Why?”

I looked at my hands. “I’m not sure,” I said. “He seemed… I don’t know… off somehow when he was interviewing me about the Bixley accident. Kept hesitating, seemed really uncomfortable. It was weird. And then —”

“Wait a second. You didn’t mention that to me at the time.”

“Because it was probably nothing,” I said, clamping down on my irritation. “And because I was annoyed at you for needling him, I guess. You guys just barely get along as it is, and you were pouring gas on the fire.”

“Did I mention that you don’t make anything easy, ever?”

I held my temper in both hands, wondering just who the hell I was angry with. I rubbed my eyes. “Fine. I’m sorry. But then there’s the way he just magically appeared at that call in Roers.”

Terry’s eyes widened. “Almost like he knew they were related.”

“Yeah.” Sipping my drink, I leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. “But that’s crazy. I mean… Jesus, I’ve known George my whole fucking life, Terry. I was a flower girl at his wedding when I was five. I helped with the potluck when he became Chief of Police. He’s… well… like you said, he’s a square. But he does more for this town in a month than most people do their whole lives. I can’t seriously believe he’s mixed up in anything hinky.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve only known him for four years, and I can’t either. But you’re right, it’s fucking bizarre.”

“Did he show up at that call on 225?’

Terry spread his hands. “Yes, but so what? That was an overdose call just a couple of miles from town. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t shown up.”

“Yeah…” Something was tickling at the back of my mind. It came to me all at once, and I pushed myself out of my chair. Tugging my phone from the pocket of my jeans, I leaned against the wall and opened my texts.

“It wasn’t an overdose call,” I said.

“Say what?”

“Well, it was… but if I remember right, that is not what you got paged out for. Give me a sec.”

I found the thread in which all Bronning calls were sent to my phone as voice texts, and scrolled back to Monday. Finding the right one, I hit play.

“Franklin County to Bronning Ambulance, please respond to 13242 State Highway 225 for a twenty-year-old male with an altered level of consciousness, your time is 1333.”

Terry got to his feet, and came to stand beside me. “I’m an idiot, and you’re Nancy fucking Drew.”

“You got paged for altered LOC, not an overdose,” I said. “George comes to help with those if they’re right in town and he’s not busy, but since when does he go out of town for them?”

“Punch me in the balls and call me stupid,” said Terry, “because it never even occurred to me. By the time he got there, I knew I had an OD patient in front of me, and I didn’t stop to think about the page he was actually responding to.”

I straightened, and our eyes met. “We still need to talk to him,” said Terry. “If you talk to the Sheriff’s department tomorrow, the first person they’re going to call is George, and then he’s going to want to know why you didn’t come straight to his office. Besides, we’re most likely jumping at shadows here.”

I chewed on the inside of my cheek. “Yeah… I guess you’re right.”

“Tell you what,” he said. You go to work tomorrow and talk to everyone you were planning to talk to. Once the kids are in school, I’ll go talk to George.”

“Is that a great idea? You guys aren’t exactly best friends.”

“Noooo… but, to be blunt, I’m much better at gauging people’s reactions than you are, and at choosing my words. If either one of us is likely to get an inkling of whether we’re onto something or not, it’s me. And if he is actually involved in something here, we have to be damned careful.”

I nodded. Much as I hated to admit it, I knew he was right. “I have to work in the morning,” I said. “I’d better go home and get some sleep.”

“Yeah, you’d probably better.”

He really isn’t going to invite me to stay. I’m not sure I’d have taken him up on it if he had; the situation with Halee had changed the dynamic quite a bit for me. All the same, by not making the offer, Terry was drawing a line that had never existed between us before, and oh dear God did it sting.

He walked with me to the foyer, standing in silence as I put on my shoes. When I straightened, he put a hand on my arm.

“I am still your friend,” he said.

I put my hand over his and squeezed, then let go. Not trusting myself to speak, I gave him the best smile I could manage, nodded once, and slipped out the door.

On to Chapter Seven!


34 Comments on Strange Brew, Chapter 6

  1. NYC Medic says:


  2. Levon Tostig says:

    Please tell me Halee comes to Nettie’s place in chapter 7…

  3. P.C. Nad says:

    Excellent writing.

  4. Keiko says:

    Wow is correct. Rachel, your writing is amazing. As is your brain. Marry me? 🥵🥵❤️❤️😂😂😂

  5. Kim & Sue says:

    Each chapter better than the last. Wonderfully written and edited. Excellent story with terrific sex.

    And WOW!

    So much happened. First we love Nettie. Her narrative is so honest it’s heart breaking. We can feel her pain, we even put on briefly what she was listening to and felt like we were there.

    The combination of sex and story in this chapter blended so perfectly.

    This is one great story, and we are not going to wait for the movie to come out, we’ll keep reading this.

    And can’t help but wonder about suspects. May have to reread from the start now to check for clues.

    • Kim & Sue says:

      And speaking of music we forgot to add about the title itself

      Strange Brew, it sure goes with whatever concoction is going around and also the Cream song,

      ‘Strange Brew

      Kill what’s inside of you.’

      • Rachael Yukey says:

        Yup… I was listening to Disraeli Gears while contemplating possible titles for this story, and the answer presented itself.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Ah, thanks ladies! Regarding what Nettie was listening to in this chapter, if you like heavy metal I would submit Todd la Torre’s solo album Rejoice in the Suffering as a strong candidate for best album of 2021…

  6. Mike A. says:

    My only complaint is the nearly unbearable pain of having to wait for the next chapter!

    You have me on the edge of my seat…

    • Levon Tostig says:

      When I get an email notification that something new has been posted, I immediately navigate to the site and I’m heartbroken if it’s not a new chapter of Strange Brew. That just means the excitement when it is a new chapter of Strange Brew gets turned up to 11.

      • Rachael Yukey says:

        Awww… you guys are too much 😘

        • Levon Tostig says:

          When I think about what’s going to happen when Nettie and Halee finally consummate their affair, I worry that the scene will be “too much” for me to handle.

          But that’s going to stop me from trying.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      That’s just about the best compliment I can get… thank you!

  7. Mo says:

    Another cracking chapter! The dual stories of halee and central mystery both moved slonb perfectly. I for one loved the park bench scene…temptation and lust winning over reason.
    Still why did Terry suggest he visit George?! I’m still v Terry suspicious!
    Rachael thank you!

  8. Eloquent delinquent says:

    Wow! This chapter took your story from “building up steam” to “steamy.” All the strands of Nettie’s rich character are snarling together, just barely within her control, the clues you’ve sprinkled throughout are resolving into the shape of our central mystery.

    The new surprise here was Val, in that I’m surprised you didn’t introduce her earlier, at least tangentially. To have her arrive mid-story for a sex cameo was unexpected, given how meticulous everything else was laid out. No shade on the scene, though, it was very hot and a much needed relief for Nettie.

    As ever, your pace is as steady as your scenes are vibrant. Great work!

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Haha I thought the Val scene would make for a fun surprise… hope I was right!

      • sue says:

        Fun surprise for sure. I hope that Hallee does not turn up as a victim, or even worse as an accomplice.

      • Levon Tostig says:

        There was a moment in the Val scene that I thought might lead to some anal play. Is that something that might be on the table for any of your characters later on?

  9. Jack says:

    This story continues to be stunning in its quality and heat! Thank you for this amazing gift of a story! (Including the Val surprise!) Can’t wait for the next chapter!

  10. Erocritique says:

    This story has incredible depth, detail, and drama. Truly 3-D. In my case it’s almost overwhelming, due to a career that involved attending to people who were actively / rapidly de-compensating mentally, and, sometimes simultaneously, physically, without a clear explanation why. Substance abuse was often involved, but often times it was a total non-factor. I’m still not convinced it’s a new designer drug at this point, because there are other possibilities that haven’t been ruled out. This story definitely won’t let go of its secrets without a fight. – And it apparently won’t let Nettie and Halee experience some joy without an appropriate amount of angst. Bring on Chapter Seven. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  11. Carol Anne says:

    I am upset at myself for getting behind in my reading and not one of the first to comment. Everything I wanted to say about the chapter has been said, but I will agree with everyone of them. Rachael you are a wonderful writer and I am loving this story so much! It is like a mystery novel with just the right amount of sex to keep you reading chapter after chapter and I will be waiting patiently for the next one to be posted. I have a big supply of Kleenex handy! I love you for your brain and your body!

  12. woody says:

    This is quite a powerful story. I started reading it during a lull in activities in a business trip and found it difficult to put it down. Very well done Rachel!

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