“Halfway down the stairs, a burning in his left arm pulls him to a stop. There a wave of nausea overwhelms, and the burning becomes a stabbing pain cutting deep into his chest.
“The paramedics find him later that afternoon at the bottom of the stairs, someone at work having called 911 when he didn’t show up.”
Gordon shakes his head. “Okay, okay, Doc, you’ve made your point. Probably the third time.”
“Gordon, I’m just trying to impress some urgency here. You smoke. Your blood pressure is too high. Your cholesterol is 320. You’re 50 pounds overweight. And you’re 67 years old working a high stress job. If I Googled your name, I’d get a picture of a time bomb.”
“I know, I know. Look...just 2 ½ more years and I can retire. My divorce bled me dry, I have to work a little more to get my retirement back in shape.”
“But you may not have—“
Gordon raises a hand. “I have a meeting in 20 minutes. You can beat me up at our next appointment.”
With that, he tosses on his jacket and is out the door. In the car, he lights a cigarette, puffing his frustration. Their district came in second in sales again this quarter, and that new guy – Brian? – continues to show up late. He decides that once he’s back at the office, he’ll be firing that incompetent waste of space to set an example.
His return delayed by construction and heavy traffic, he roars into his parking space and hops from the car, catching his shin on a post. A stream of profanity vents from his mouth, but only for a moment, as a warm throbbing spreads down his left arm, stealing away his breath. He tries to call out, but the pain drops him to his knees, and everything goes black.
* * *
“Can you hear me, Mr. Maxwell?”
He opens foggy eyes to see a nurse standing over him, a beeping sound coming from behind.
“What happened?” he asks.
“You’ve had a heart attack. You were lucky, one of your employees, Brian McGee, was running late and saw you go down. He gave you CPR until the paramedics arrived.”
Gordon shakes his head. “He’s always late.”
The nurse bristles at his tone, but finds a smile. “His son’s here with brain cancer, so he stops by in the mornings when he’s having a treatment. While he’s waiting, Brian teaches First Aid to seniors. Which includes CPR. Had he been on time, you would have been the one who was late. Too late...”