Ann knew for sure that her leg was broken as soon as she quit rolling on the ground – she’d heard it. But as she grabbed the rail to bring herself standing, she realized that something else was wrong. She lowered herself gently back to the ground and waited for the ambulance she could hear coming. The minutes it took the ambulance to arrive from it’s permanent parking space by the track kitchen gave Ann time to take in the horrible scene in front of her.
Both horses lay dead at her feet. The beautiful brown filly, so full of promise twitched from nose to tail. Ann knew by the open mouth and glazed eyes that it was only the continued firing of nerves and neurons that created the movement, she was dead. The other horse lay perfectly still. He was an older horse and by the draw reins attached to his bridle, by the saddle towel on his back, Ann knew he was that crazy horse from the barn that had just arrived from Canada.
“God damn. Damn it all.”
The ambulance crew of two were eager to help and she waited silently, fighting nausea as they pulled the gurney out of the back. Neither looked more than 16 years old. Ann leaned back on the rail, took off her helmet, shook the synthetic dirt out from her hair and unzipped the kevlar reinforced safety vest. Scanning her body, head to toe she assessed her own injuries. Head; fine except for a split and bleeding lower lip. Her vision was dusty, but that was probably going to clean up okay. Neck; good. Chest, arms, fingers, shoulders, ribs; everything works, moves, flexes. Left leg; broken for sure but not displaced. Right knee; thankfully unharmed. The ambulance guys picked their way around the dead horses.
Hopefully his rider isn’t hurt wherever that rider might be on this papery goddamn track this morning. She pieced the scene together as her wits and her vision returned.
“This leg’s broken, so go easy.” she told them. She noticed that the one guy still had acne. Jeez, she thought, they’re really young. But they were careful and kind. A shadow appeared over her and she looked up and and saw Norm, the outrider, his tanned and jolly face now pinched and greyish.
“How ya doin’ kid?” He asked while his wizened bay horse pranced and pawed nervously around the two equine corpses in the glare of the ambulance lights. Norman was reaching for his radio as the clocker’s voice came over “Is she okay? Jeezus-Gawd that was an ugly wreck” the radio crackled.
“She’s up. She’s conscious. She’s tough. Over.” Norm answered back. “You boys make sure she stays in that van of yours all the way to the hospital. Otherwise, she’ll jump out and walk back to the track.” He laughed but nervously.
It was when the boys placed Ann on the gurney there was a distinct crunching as her hips touched the thin sheet. The pain intensified. A new layer of sweat broke out over her body. She turned her head and retched on the track.
“Shit” was her only thought.
Ann wiped her mouth with the back of her sleeve. She choked and spat realizing her arm was covered in the strange papery stuff that was recently added to the track as footing. “How did that crazy bastard get loose and hit us Norm?” Ann asked the old cowboy who was trying to look away from the two dead horses and the broken woman he’d known for 20 years. The older of the two attendants tried to wipe her face with a towel from the ambulance. Ann glared at him and took it from his hand and proceeded to wipe her own mouth, face and neck while she waited for Norm to answer.
“Horse bolted after he reared up and over on the Irish guy Clahain. The guy’s like a cat and landed on his feet. Now get in that van and head to the hospital and stop puking on Mr. Ullswater’s brand new track.” Norm nodded to the ambulance crew, winked at Ann, grabbed his radio and announced “clear the track for ambulance exit off the gap. Bring the back up horse wagon, we got two down over here.” He galloped away.
Ann leaned back on her elbows and eased herself back down on the gurney. The boys loaded her as gently as they could into the ambulance, but each jolt sent rocky pain through her loins. She breathed through gritted teeth and felt the sweat bead on her upper lip. “Shit. Shit. Shit.”
The last thing she heard was the sirens on the ambulance before she passed out.