Calm Before the Storm

by Hollie

There's always a calm before the storm. Joanie is comfortable with Brady, though she must be cooking for the entire state of Rhode Island. Robbie has enough to pay off his gambling debt, though he had quite a mess to clean up at O'Neill's. I suppose he won't be drinking vodka any time soon.

As for me, now I know what Mom warned me about.

"Syd, we really must get you a better class of men," Mom whispered to me, cigarette ashes dropping from her hand. I'd cautioned her about smoking when she was alive, but I'd become especially concerned ever since Lilly left a burning cigarette in the attic. Or, rather, left a burning attic.

"Mom...I'm a doctor, not a member of the 'boyfriend-of-the-month' club," I complained. "Why can't I just be happy without a man for once?"

"What about David?" Mom asked. "He seemed like such a nice man."

"Mother, he lied to me, he led me on, and he's just a plain creep! I hope I never see him again!"

Easier said than done.

The radio blared the day's weather forecast. "Looks like we're going to have a hard one. There are flurries around New York City, and they should be reaching New England by this evening."

I wrapped myself up in my wool gloves and scarf and grabbed a quick cup of hot chocolate before heading to the clinic for the day. Joanie interrupted me, her spatula over a hot griddle.

"Aren't you going to have some breakfast before you go out?"

"I can't, Joanie. I'm running late as it is, and it's going to be a long day today."

Joanie shoved a plate in my face. "But you've just got to try my jonnycakes!

"Give 'em to Robbie. Anybody who can eat cold pizza for breakfast will eat anything."

Dad and Robbie came upstairs just as I opened the door. Robbie shivered as Joanie shoved the same plate in his face. Hannah cried when she felt the blast of air, and Joanie calmed her with a little bit of the much-ballyhooed cakes.

"Anyone for jonnycakes?"

Robbie and Dad nodded, and so they sat down to another breakfast at the Hansen household.

The flurries reached Providence earlier than expected. I felt a few flakes along my coat sleeves when I walked into the clinic.

"Good morning, Syd," Lilly chirped. She had her nose buried into a pediatrics textbook while Helen was getting ready for her first patient of the day.

"What are you doing here so early?" I asked.

"Haven't you heard? Brown canceled classes early. There's a storm coming."

"I didn't hear about any storm. Are you sure you're not trying to fool me?"

Helen poked her head into the office door. "Nope. Lilly's telling the truth this time. Brown canceled out, RISD's closing at noon, the high schools are shutting down, and the governor wants everyone to stay put."

"Shouldn't we go to the hospital to see if they need any help?"

"I think we can manage things here," Helen assured. "Lilly, why don't you take care of the phones today? We'll have to reschedule appointments. If anyone calls, take their names and numbers and call one of us if it's an emergency."

"Sure, Dr. Reynolds," Lilly agreed.

As soon as she said that, Lilly placed a caller on hold and called me over. "A Dr. David Marcus wants to speak to you. Says it's urgent."

"Oh, wonderful."

Helen just smirked.

"Hello. This is Dr. Hansen. David, I thought it was over. We called it quits. "

"We need you over at the hospital," he squawked. "We're going to need extra hands when the storm comes."

"What about the trauma team? Can't they handle it?"

"They're on standby,"

"I'll be there as soon as I can. We'll have to secure the clinic first."

I hung up the phone and swore under my breath. Mixing business with pleasure was one thing, but this was something else entirely.

Meanwhile, Robbie and Heather were busy keeping the basement vet clinic warm. They secured the last of the boarding animals in their cages when Heather heard a high pitched squeal coming from the back room.

"Oh no!" Heather exclaimed.

"What happened?" Robbie asked. "That wasn't Mrs. Cooper's Siamese cat, was it?"

Heather shook her head. "No, it's Celeste Wilson's guinea pig. She's cold." Heather grabbed the little creature out of the box to try to warm her, but Minnie, the guinea pig, scurried away -- not before Heather tripped on the floor -- in front of Dad!

"Dr. Hansen, you've got to help me!"

Minnie squeaked.

"What is it this time?"

The helpless Heather held a towel in her hand. "I think we lost Celeste Wilson's guinea pig."

Robbie looked in corners and cabinets for about an hour before any of them found any clues to the missing Minnie. Dad heard several chirps and whistles before wrapping Minnie -- and 6 little piglets -- in a warm cozy corner.

"Minnie and her babies will be just fine," Dad smiled. "Just make sure they don't get near Mrs. Cooper's Siamese."

Robbie and Heather looked at each other sheepishly. "Right," they said in unison.

Seven inches of snow had fallen on Federal Hill in the last three hours. Though David said he needed me at the hospital, Helen thought it best for herself, Lilly and me to hunker down at the clinic. The phones rang off the hook, driving Lilly crazy. Fortunately, she reached for a stick of gum rather than a cigarette.

"Syd, it's Joanie. She says Hannah's really sick."

I grabbed the phone. "This had better be an emergency!"

Joanie started crying. "I don't know what to do. Hannah's burning up and she can't keep anything down."

"What's her temperature?"


"Get her to the hospital right away. I'll meet you there."

I was lucky I was able to get there. The state police had started to close down sections of interstates 95 and 195, but being a doctor has some privileges.

Joanie sat waiting in the ER as I ran in. She raced up to hug me.

"Oh, Syd, thank God you're here. I'm so scared."

"'ll be OK, Joanie. I paged Dr. Aquino from pediatrics. She's waiting for us."

Joanie handed the ailing Hannah to me and I carried her into the treatment area. "Thanks, Syd. I know I can count on you," she said, breathing a sigh of relief.

As soon as Dr. Yvonne Aquino and I had Hannah under control, David stormed out of a curtain area.

"We're gonna need you, Syd."

"Just let me tell Joanie that we have Hannah stabilized."

"The trauma team needs backup. We need you."

"Sure. I'll be right there."

Right. I didn't believe him at first. Was this some way for him to get back at me after I'd dumped him? I'd gone back to tell Joanie that Hannah would be all right, but she stood, dumbfounded, at the TV in the waiting area.

"I don't think he's kidding this time, Syd. There's been a big pileup on 195. They're airlifting people in."

David yelled, "Up to the roof! STAT!"

Never in my life, not even during the worst New England winters, had I been so cold. It wasn't that I wasn't wearing my coat, or that the chill had penetrated me all the way down to my scrubs, but I found it difficult to concentrate on saving the patients with David in the way.

The helicopter touched down on the roof, and the paramedics relayed the patient's vital signs to us. I looked at her medic alert bracelet and found her wallet. I was stunned. It was Willa.

"She blacked out in the car," her niece told me.

"But she wasn't supposed to black out," I said. "We just gave her a new pacemaker six months ago."

David sneered at me. "Let's get her down to OR. NOW!"

After six hours of surgery, we had replaced Willa's pacemaker with a stronger one. It had been touch-and-go for three of those hours, but David's quick (and stubborn!) thinking had her ticking in short order.

"We're going to have to watch her. She's had quite a bit of damage there. I'd say she'd be a good candidate for a transplant," David said.

"Should I tell her, or will you?"

"Let's let her rest, and let's get out of this storm. Coffee?"

"No, thanks. I gave up hospital coffee a long time ago."

"Some herbal tea, then?"

"No, David, but thank you just the same. I really should go downstairs and check on Joanie and Hannah."

David stood there, drained, as I walked to the elevator. Mom met me inside.

"See, what did I tell you? He really is a nice guy after all."

"Mom! For one thing, put that cigarette out! And for another, I learned a very tough lesson."

"What's that?"

"Never mix business with pleasure."

Joanie and Hannah stayed at the hospital overnight. Dr. Aquino had moved Hannah to the pediatrics unit and put her on IV fluids to rehydrate her and to bring her fever down. Joanie slept in an extra bed next to her.

I called the clinic. Helen and Lilly decided to spend the night there since they couldn't get home. As long as the universities were closed, Lilly couldn't go to class the next couple of days. She decided to spend the extra time catching up on homework. Being a pre-med student had its own pressures, but she decided she could handle it, and asked Helen when she had a really tough question. Lilly helped out by showing Helen some of her "survival skills" by raiding the fridge in the clinic lounge for dinner.

Dad and Robbie had everything under control at the vet clinic. Minnie and her babies were squeaking right along and Mrs. Cooper's cat behaved himself.

As for me, I'm glad I was able to weather the storm. I'll be taking a well-deserved rest in the "on call" area until the morning. That is, of course, unless someone decided I really am on call.

1999 Hollie Domiano
New Orleans, LA USA

DISCLAIMER: Characters mentioned in this story that have appeared in the NBC series "Providence" are the property of National Broadcasting Company. No copyright infringement is intended.