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First Aid

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Dean hadn’t realized there was a problem until the afternoon Ben wiped out on his bike.

Dean had been in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher—he figured he should be doing something to help out around the house since he hadn’t found a job yet. At least Lisa hadn’t laughed when he confessed that he’d never loaded a dishwasher before in his life, just patiently explained the best way to arrange everything for maximum efficiency, and Dean found himself gravitating to the chore in appreciation of the orderliness of it.

Ben limped in the back door, muttering “Ow, ow, ow,” with each step.

“What…” Dean didn’t need to finish the question as he saw that Ben’s leg looked like raw hamburger mixed with mud. He quickly pulled out a chair for the kid.

“Hella’ road rash there.”

“Mrs. Kelawitz’s dog got out and ran right in front of me and I didn’t want to hit him.” Ben sniffled. “Bike went down in the gravel. Got my arm, too.” Dean could see the bits of gravel mixed in with the dirt from wrist to elbow along his right arm.

He tactfully ignored Ben’s reddened eyes and the tear tracks on his face.

“Okay, we can fix this up.” Dean had fixed up a lot worse.

Wetting a washcloth with lukewarm water, Dean gently began wiping down Ben’s thigh and knee. If the kid had been wearing jeans…but he’d had on shorts. Gravel bits chinked on the tile floor as Ben hissed with each pass of the rag. When the mixed dirt and spots of blood soiled the rag completely, Dean grabbed another. With the dirt was mostly gone, he could see pinpricks of red dotting the vivid pink scrape.

With a third washcloth Dean repeated the process on Ben’s arm. “Sorry,” he offered as Ben winced and jerked his arm away. “I know it hurts. M’dad had to do this for me more’n once.” Though not from a fall off a bike. And he’d done it many times for…Dean paused, his hand faltering. He pulled himself back to here and now.

“Almost done, Ben. You’re gonna have some nasty marks…Need to make up a good story to go with ‘em, you know. How you threw yourself onto the gravel to save that little yapper’s life…impress the girls with your bravery…”

Most of the gravel had fallen off under the careful pressure, but there were still some shards embedded in Ben’s arm.

“Tweezers,” Dean said under his breath. He’d need some gauze and some antibiotic ointment as well. “Be right back,” he said and made a quick trip the bathroom medicine cabinet. But to his dismay, the only first aid item in it was a half-empty box of Band-Aids.

“Son of a bitch.”

Okay, he knew Lisa had a tweezers around somewhere—maybe on her dresser. But if there wasn’t any gauze in here…

The first aid kit in the Impala. Dean mentally smacked himself.

It was a few moments’ work to push the tarp covering the car to the side, open the trunk, and shuffle through the no-longer-needed weapons to grab the first aid box. Returning to the kitchen, he knelt next to Ben and opened it up.

“This is gonna sting a bit,” he warned as he poured rubbing alcohol on a square of gauze and gave the leg one more swipe.

“OW!” Ben half-jumped off the chair.

“’M sorry. So what happened to the dog, anyway? Mrs. Kelawitz come out and get him?” he asked as a distraction while he grabbed the three-quarters’ full tube of Neosporin and started spreading it over the scrape.

“She didn’t even know he got out, I don’t think. He came over to me while I was laying under my bike and started trying to lick my face, so I grabbed him and got up and carried him back to his yard and shut the gate. Then I walked home with the bike ‘cause it hurt too much to ride.”

“Well, the good news is you’ll live. Gonna be tender for a few days, but I don’t even think you’ll have a scar.” Dean smoothly rolled gauze around the leg and taped it in place. “Let’s see the arm now.”

With the tweezers from the first aid kit Dean removed the bits of gravel still stuck along the outside of Ben’s arm. Ben shuddered as Dean worked but only gasped once. “You’re doing good, almost done. ‘Fraid I have to give it a swipe with the alcohol, though.”

“Ow, ow, OW!” Dean flashed to the much stronger language he was used to hearing when doing first aid but didn’t think Lisa’d appreciate him giving Ben that vocabulary lesson.

He rooted through the box for the bottle of Tylenol and gave Ben a couple with a glass of water, returned the now nearly empty first aid kit to the Impala’s trunk, and then sat on the couch with the kid to watch Ben’s pick of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”


Dean hit up the drugstore the next day with a very specific shopping list. Gauze—rolls and squares; tape, rubbing alcohol, ibuprofen, tweezers, needle, thread, scissors, ace bandage—everything that should be on hand for the next emergency. He packed everything into the plastic box he’d bought and put it in the linen closet.

Dean was not going to be caught without supplies again.