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Chapter 16
Amazing Grace

        "Amazing," Amanda commented through a mouthful of pancake.  "Amazing!  You know, every relationship that I've ever been involved in has been with someone who isn't really available for me in a permanent way.  He's always either already got a girlfriend or a wife or he just isn't interested in a real commitment.  There have even been times that my partner had some issues that definitely wouldn't work out for me, like he's gay or something.  It's funny that I seem to find the same kinds of  guys every time.  I mean, they all seem different at first, at least to me, but some part of me must be able to see through the disguise and find the same traits in each one."  She squirmed slightly.

        Logan and Elizabeth stared at the introspective woman with stunned looks on their faces.  "You know what I find amazing, sis?" Elizabeth asked in return.  "That you just said that.  You usually blame the guys for everything, from leading you on, to total rejection of who you are.  I think I've just seen a miracle!"

        "Oh, come on.  Give me a little credit.  At least I'll admit when I've made a mistake.  I reserve the right to change my mind any time I want.  Even if I change it just for fun!"  Amanda took another large bite of pancake, dripping with syrup.
"Jeez, these pancakes are good.  Great idea, Logan."

        "Hey, the pancakes were my idea, Elizabeth countered.  "I just let Logan finish them."  Logan didn't bother explaining the situation to Amanda.

        "Yeah, and what I find amazing is that you're eating them, wild water and all!" Logan commented wryly to Elizabeth.  "And doing that very well."

        Amanda looked between them with a questioning expression.  "What?" she asked, still chewing her bite.

        "Nothing, it's not important," Elizabeth answered, glowering at the fireman.

        "Anyway, as I was saying, I seemed to have formulated an opinion at some point in time that being physical with a man was the only way to get his attention.  I mean, looking back through my life, I seem to have aligned with the notion that daddy didn't like me anymore when he didn't spend much time with me any more after mom died.  You know I was always a daddy's girl, I'll admit it!  But, he all the sudden distanced himself from us, for what ever reason, and I took it personally.  Since we never had a physical relationship, as in intimately physical, and I saw all my girlfriends around me having sexual relations with their boyfriends, I formulated an idea that it was the only way to show your affections to a man."  The young woman took a sip from her glass of water and continued, shaking her fork at Liz like a pointer.  "Get it?  No physical touch, no daddy; be physical, get guy!  Problem was, all I seemed to get were guys who wanted to be physical!  No one wanted to invest their emotional intimacies on me!  Pretty wild, huh?"  Amanda speared another square of pancake with her fork, shoveling it into her mouth.

        Elizabeth stared at her sister in amazement and compassion.  "Wow, sis, did the real you leave and now someone else is using that body of yours?  I can't believe. . . I mean, I'm really happy that you found that realization.  I guess all those Psychology courses have gotten through a little, huh?" Elizabeth exclaimed a little tenuously.  "But really, you know I always want you to be happy and have the best of everything!  And daddy really does love us and is doing the best he knows how.  I think we just remind him so much of mom that his heart breaks again every time he is around us for very long."

        "I know, at least now I do, and I plan to spend some time seeing if we can repair some of the rift that has opened between him and us.  I really do love him, too.  Even if I have said some pretty rotten things about him in the past."  Amanda's eyes lowered sadly to her plate as the three sat in the stillness for several moments.  "Logan, I really do apologize again for last night," the struggling girl continued without lifting her eyes.  "I guess, I could really sense the love you feel for your girlfriend and just wanted to share a little of it.  That's the way I want someone to feel for me.  Now I know that it really is possible to first create the love and respect I want from someone and then allow the physical expression of that love to come into being.  Thank you."

        Logan blushed brightly, "I really do care for you Amanda.  I hope we are friends for a very long time.  I know you will find just the right man to share your life with, just as I've found Morgan.  Who knows, maybe I'll introduce you to him!"

        Amanda smiled warmly, looking the Irishman in the eyes.  "I'm your friend forever.  If you know anyone else like you I'd love to meet him!  And I really want to meet Morgan, too.  She sounds like a wonderful woman."

        "She is, " the smiling lad answered, Morgan is wonderful and I love her very much.  I just can't wait to get back home and see her!"  Logan slid his chair from under the table, rising to take his dishes to the sink.  "It looks like the rain has stopped, so I'm going to try getting the raft down to the water's edge and inflate it.  I'm ready to get off of this island now.  Not many shopping days left until Christmas and I can think of better places to celebrate."  The excited captive turned eagerly toward the exit door.

        A chilled gust of air greeted him, stepping out of the squeaky door.  Logan pulled the rickety slab of wood closed and peeked around the veranda roof to catch a glimpse of the clearing sky through the dense foliage.  "Damn, it's still brisk out here!" he commented with a shiver, starting down the steps toward the waiting raft.

        The howling wind ripped through the trees with a vengeance, shaking their limbs in a wild fury.  The noise almost deafened the sensitive young man after being used to relative silence for so long.  Logan stopped halfway down the flight of stairs to look across the brightening swamp.  He marveled at the chaos of movement.  Everywhere, everything was in motion.  The trees bowed, the water rippled maddeningly, even the thinning clouds above billowed through the arbor.  Standing and watching the fray, he could almost feel the motion within his own body.  His sensual awareness became so keen he could feel the swaying of the limbs as if he, himself, were growing out the side of a tree.  The rustling leaves felt as if his own fingers were being tossed to and fro.  The rippling water even felt like his own skin, rippling across fluid muscles.  A tiny voice eased into his head, "I am this, a part of all creation!" it whispered.  "Know this and find the joy of living life completely!  Nothing is beyond your power when connected to the enormity of the Universe!  Trust yourself Logan, creation comes from no one but you!"

        Stunned at the prospective just offered, Logan reluctantly returned his senses to his own body. The astonished fireman found himself sitting precariously on the rough, cabin steps. Although he could now feel all of his normal sensual awarenesses, the same sensation of movement in the world around him, remained, only slightly diminished.  Suddenly, an unusual movement caught his attention.  Peering intently through the trees into the dim light, Logan could just make out the figure of a person pushing a small boat through the murky swamp.  Shading his eyes and squinting against the gathering light, the startled young man allowed his senses to permeate the darkness until becoming quite sure of what he saw.  Just as he thought, a man wearing blue jeans and a red jacket, was slowly pushing a small boat through the thick growth.

        Logan was stunned.  He didn't know whether to get up, wave his arms and scream for help or run for cover.  A million scenarios scrambled through his mind at once.  Were the kidnappers finally returning or could the fellow be an errant resident of the swamp who could save them?  Perhaps it was one of the neighbors who would shoot on sight!  Remaining frozen to his seat, the struggling fireman watched the specter slip from view through the tangled trees and moss, like a ghost through the curtain of night.

        Slowly, he stood up, cautiously proceeding to the little boat.  Different possibilities still seared his mind, burning through the hardcore reality of the aloneness of unrequested island life.  Now, Logan was really motivated to get this contraption inflated and on the water.  Visions of home and family began playing in his memory, bringing a tear to his eye.  The cold wind blew with a lonely moan, stinging his eyes and whipping tufts of rusty hair into his face.  Unexpectedly, a thin sunbeam shone through the thick, green ceiling and cloud cover to fall directly into the center of the boat.  The desperate lad took it as a sign to seriously begin his pursuit of launching the craft.

        Slowly, re-examining the exterior of the raft, Logan poked and prodded at various locations to test their strength.  After several minutes, he took up a position to the side of the boat, reached down and securely grasped the rope running around the perimeter, then hefted it upside down to drain the trapped rain water.  The feat was a bit of a struggle, even for the strength of Logan.  He could feel the raspy groan that emitted involuntarily from deep within his throat.  When the boat was completely overturned, the exhausted bodybuilder stopped, taking a deep breath before re-uprighting it.  A strange feeling of not being alone suddenly lifted the hairs on the back of his neck.

        Logan snapped around in place to look eye to eye with Amanda, who never flinched so much as an eyelash.  "Jesus Christ, you scared the shit out of me!" he exclaimed with a sigh of relief.

        "Were you expecting, uh, an alligator perhaps," the coy young woman responded with a wry grin.

        "No, I just saw someone out there earlier."  Logan pointed out into the swamp, still shaken.

        "What?" she asked a little more seriously.  "Where?  Who was it?"

        "How should I know?  He was way out there in the swamp, I couldn't make out many details of the figure through the trees.  I really don't think he was one of my buddies, though."

        "Could it have been the kidnappers?" she asked seriously, her eyes narrowing with an intent gaze into the gloomy swamp.

        "I really don't think so.  The fellow didn't seem to have any attention this way.  He was probably just one of the locals around here passing through, which really doesn't comfort me either.  I've heard these swamp people can be a little rugged whenever they care to be."

        "Come on, let's get this thing fixed and in the water.  I'm ready to find a way out of here," Amanda responded emphatically, reaching for one end of the little raft.  She glanced over her shoulder, looking toward the place they had earlier chosen as a landing spot.  "We're not going to find any more surprises this time are we?" the worried girl asked with a sheepish look on her face.   "I think alligators hibernate in the cold.  After all, they are cold-blooded reptiles."  Logan, himself, glanced toward the water's edge, still a little apprehensive.  He looked up at Amanda, standing in front of him dressed like a rag-a-muffin.  The woman wore any loose article of clothing  that would fit onto her thin frame, trying to keep warm.  The lad had to snicker at the sight of the wind whipping through the layers of material and hair, billowing them both behind her like some spectral image that haunted the swamp.

        "What are you laughing about?" she asked, looking a bit embarrassed.  "I just don't want to be eaten by anything, man or reptile.  You can laugh if you want to. . . ."

        "No, I'm not laughing at you.  Well, sort of.  It's just that, you just look like a Banshee standing there in the wind."  Suddenly, a stray sunbeam burst through the parting clouds and overgrowth, shining directly onto her face, increasing the effect of the vision.  Logan snickered again.

        She smiled, turning bright red and reached for the boat.  "Come on, we've got work to do.  We don't have time for this foolishness," she responded, overcoming her embarrassment.

        Reaching the side of the boat, Logan took another hold of the rope and instructed Amanda to do the same.  "Let's turn this thing upright and get it to the water."  Pulling the raft onto its bottom was much easier with the water drained out and another person helping.  "We've got to get the path cleared again, too.  The wind has blown all kinds of shit back in our way."

        The two captives gathered themselves, slowly ambling to the water's edge, picking up debris and tossing it out of their way.  "Hey, we made it this time!" Amanda stated excitedly, staring out at the brightening swamp.  "Let's get the boat down here!"

        Logan could feel her enthusiasm, a residual effect of his earlier experience, he supposed.  "Let's do it!"  He was feeling his own excitement as well.  They spun simultaneously and almost ran back to the craft.  Reaching down, each took a two handed hold of the perimeter rope, roughly dragging the contraption behind them.  It was a bit of a struggle, plodding through the wet muck of the morning's rain.  They found themselves huffing and puffing by the time they reached the water with the boat in tow.

        "Yes!" Amanda shouted through her ragged breathing.  "Get this thing blown up and let's see if it floats."  She was so excited that Logan had to laugh.

        "Where is that sister of yours?  Don't you think she should be here to witness the big event?"

        "Yeah, I'll go get her!" Amanda answered, bolting toward the stairs.

        "Elizabeth!" Amanda called, bursting through the cabin doorway, slamming it behind her.  Logan continued his final probe of the boat, shaking the cylinders once more to verify the contents for their propellant.  Satisfied, the investigative fireman ended his testing and peered out through the trees.

        The pleased lad was actually beginning to find some appreciation for the beauty that surrounded him.  The green, sighing trees, skittering birds and sounds of unseen life, all seemed to fit into place, forming some sort of cosmic reverence for a place forgotten by time as he knew it.  In some ways, this swamp reminded him of his beloved Ireland.  Maybe it was the wild, ancient feel or the lush greenery that captivated his attention.  Immediately, Logan could again feel the entire swamp as one intricate, living being.  Primarily, however, the similarity must be the peacefulness, he thought as a memory of a still, secluded mountain lake on the top of Conor Pass slipped through his memory.  "I want to be there, soon," the Irishman responded aloud, to his own surprise.

        "Okay, hit it," Amanda exclaimed, returning at a trot.  Her eyes were wide and bright, her movement, quick and sure.  Logan felt a compassion and liking for the two young women that really surprised him, watching their excited return.  Elizabeth followed her sister, looking calm and cool.  Logan found the two girls an amazing contrast, exact opposites of whom he had expected them to be earlier.

        Returning his attention to the task at hand, the fireman knelt beside the raft with his hand resting on the first of the two inflation cylinders.  "Amanda, you want to get the other cylinder?" he asked excitedly.  She skipped excitedly to the opposite side of the boat.

        "Yeah," the girl responded, her face lighting up even more with the opportunity.  "What should I do?"

        "Just pull the pin on top of the cylinder.  We'll go on three.  Ready?  One, two, three, pull!"  Both captives pulled their pins simultaneously, stepping back to watch the craft begin to respond.

        At first, a hissing sound was the only evidence of anything working.  The fabric then began to spring to life, slowly growing, gaining speed as the boat inflated.  The small life raft began taking shape before their eyes.  Amanda began to jump up and down, prancing around it, clapping her hands.  Elizabeth just watched, holding her breath.  Logan shouted, "Yeah!  Alright!" hopping around the vessel along with Amanda.  "Hey guys, we're going home!" the fireman continued excitedly.

        The hissing subsided as the raft tightened, reaching full size.  It was larger than they had expected.  Logan judged it to be an eight man raft, maybe a bit larger.  Anyway, it was very much large enough for their escape.

        "Push it in!" Amanda requested excitedly.  "Get it into the water!"  She skipped to the rear of the vessel and began shoving it toward the direction of the swamp water.

        "Wait!  Wait!" cried Elizabeth.  "This is too unceremonious!  Wait for me, I have an idea."  She turned and bounded toward the house with the grace of a gazelle.  Up the stairs and through the door the lithe girl disappeared, returning after a few seconds, carrying a bottle of cheap white wine in her right hand.

        "Champagne," the younger sister announced jokingly, approaching the two awaiting participants.  "Or at least as close as we have!  We'll give her a royal send-off."

        "Yeah," Amanda agreed heartily, "But we need a name.  Any suggestions?"

        All three pondered for a moment before Logan spoke up.  "Banbha," he answered with a smile.

        "What?" the girls asked simultaneously.

        "Banbha!" the Irishman repeated.

        "What the hell is that?" Elizabeth asked with a puzzled expression.

        "Banbha was an ancient Irish goddess of protection.  She protected the island from invaders.  Maybe she'll protect us by showing us the way out of here," he answered coolly.  "After all, we're going to need all the help we can get!"

        The girls looked at each other and shrugged.  "Banbha," Amanda repeated with an affirmative nod.  "Sounds good to me."

        Elizabeth agreed with a small smile, then quizzically looked at the rear of the craft.  "There's no place to break the bottle," the baffled girl announced, seriously.  "How can we christen our ship without breaking the bottle?"

        "Here," Logan replied, "We just need to be innovative."  He took the bottle from Elizabeth, unscrewing the metal cap.  The smiling lad poured the smelly, cheap liquid all over the rear of the little boat.  "I christen you Banbha!" the Irishman shouted, liquid flowing across her stern.

        "Banbha!" Amanda and Elizabeth chorused, dancing around the craft.  "Let's float her!"

        The three captives grasped the raft, shoving it onto the cold, cloudy water.  It floated on top of the mire, hardly making a wave or sound.  Stopping at the edge of the murky swamp, Logan held the raft, instructing one of the girls to get a length of rope from the storeroom to secure it.  Amanda trotted off wordlessly on the errand while Logan and Elizabeth stayed behind to hold the craft in place.

        "You know, it may sound silly, but I've kind of grown used this place," Elizabeth commented unexpectedly.  "It's so quiet and peaceful here.  I've never been anywhere like it.  Everywhere I've gone before has either been city or touristy, with lots of people around.  I really thought I'd hate it, but the quiet kind of grows on you.  I mean, you can really find out who you are and what you want out here!"

        "I know what you mean.  Some of the things I thought very necessary, can easily be done without.  Funny, but somehow, I think that'll just help me to use everything more appreciatively,  to their full advantage," Logan answered contemplatively.  "Now I've got to completely rethink what I want for the rest of my life!"

        "Yeah, me too.  But first, I'm going to have to readjust to plain ole' everyday modern life."  Elizabeth seemed very somber with the last statement.  The contemplative young man knew exactly how she felt.  He was ready for a change himself.  This peacefulness had seriously infected his consciousness.  A modern city felt more like a disease than a way of life at that moment.

        Amanda returned with a long spool of heavy rope draped over her left shoulder.  "Aye, aye, captain," she mocked with a salute.  "I'll be your first mate and we'll let Elizabeth swab the deck!"

        Elizabeth gave her sister a scowl and grasped the raft a little tighter while Logan tied the end of the rope to it.  "Are we going to try to get out of here today?" she asked quizzically.

        "I'm willing if both of you are," Logan answered with an air of anticipation.  "It's only about ten a.m.  now and, if I remember right, it only took us an hour or so to get here from the road."

        "Yeah, but the kidnapper knew exactly where he was going," Amanda reminded them.  "It's pretty dark out here at night and gets that way pretty early."

        "Well, if we are going, I'm as ready as I'll ever be to get out of this place and get started with my life again," Elizabeth chimed in.  "If we can find our way through the swamps before nightfall, I'm ready to go."

        "Boy, I never expected to see a need to even discuss being rescued," Amanda responded.  "I'm ready to get out of here, but I don't care to spend the night with all of the toothy and wiggly things in the middle of the swamp, either.  Do you think we can get out before dark?"

        "I think so,"  Logan expressed seriously.  "We'll just choose a direction that feels right and remember the landmarks we pass.  That way, if we find nothing in that direction, we can come back here to the cabin and choose another way."  His mind, prompted by the thought of returning home, flashed to Morgan, God I miss you, honey.  I'll be seeing you very soon!

        The mood grew quiet as the three captives peered into the swamp, watching the thin, brief rays of sunlight dance across the rippling water.  The gusty wind was beginning to calm and the temperature was quickly climbing to a comfortable level.  The movement of the trees pulled them all, like a lullaby, into a sedate trance, dreaming of life past and life to come, each in their own individual way, coursing their next steps, creating a new dream out of their new found importances.

        Peacefulness overshadowed Logan's thoughts until a vision of Morgan inched into his awareness.  The lonely young Irishman felt the desire to hold her once again, but somehow, in a different way.

        A softness surrounded the vision, his fingers running through long, thick flaming hair, moving to touch the soft, rosy cheeks of his lover.  Logan noticed the absence of any feelings of loneliness or grief, feeling instead, a cushiony warmth and calm anticipation for his return to her arms.

        "So, what are we standing around here for?  Let's get some stuff together real quick and get this show in the road!" Logan blurted out, prompting the small group to action.

        "I'll grab a couple of cans of food," Amanda volunteered brightly.

        "And I'll find something to carry some water in," Elizabeth continued, heading toward the house.

        "I want to get the raft out of the water and back onto solid ground until everything is together.  I just want to make sure that this sucker doesn't go anywhere," Logan responded.

        Amanda looked between Elizabeth, who proceeded toward the house, and Logan.  "Here, I'll help you," she relinquished, grasping a handful of the rope.  Together, the two pulled the craft out of the water, tying it securely between two trees that grew at the water's edge.

        "There, that should do it," Logan confirmed with a grunt, pulling on the final knot.  "She'll be ready for us when everything else is together.  Now we just need to find a push pole or something to move this baby."  Amanda and Logan set off to find a means of propulsion.  "There are cane poles tied between the rafters in front of the store room," he informed Amanda.  "Give me a hand to reach them and I'll hand them down to you.  One or two poles are surely strong enough to push a raft.  It shouldn't take much."

        Making their way under the little house, Logan pointed upwards, toward the bundle of poles tied together between the dark rafters.  He searched until finding a bucket to stand on.  The stretching fireman's tenuous step put him just within reach of the poles.  Carefully, with his fingertips, he slid the bundle to an open area where they could be wedged out between the two by six joists.  He stepped off the bucket and moved it a short distance where they could be pulled from one end.  "Jeez, if I was just another four inches taller," the reaching fireman commented, more to himself than anyone else.  Logan strained to reach the poles again.  Amanda watched with anticipation, moving and twisting her own body in an unconscious attempt to aid him in his plight.

        His new step was a couple of inches shorter, putting the lad just out of reach of the cluster of poles.  Poising himself precariously on his tip toes Logan made a leaping lunge at the elusive cane.  With his right hand grasping the poles, his feet landed on the edge of the large pail which promptly tipped over, spilling the bungling bodybuilder in a pile of flailing arms, legs and cane poles, directly into the now up righted can.

        Amanda burst out into hysterical laughter at the sight of  his butt landing precisely and indelicately into the bucket.  The cane poles, unbound by their forceful removal, lay scattered across and all around him.  The surprise written across Logan's face told the whole story.

        Such an undignified position to be in, especially for a fireman that is athletically coordinated and whose body was in top shape.  After the initial shock of the fall, all the embarrassed firefighter could do was break out laughing right along with Amanda, even though his rear was beginning to feel the effects of the sudden compression into a too tight space.

        The two surprised captives laughed together for several seconds before Amanda could speak.  "Oh, that was grand!" were her first words.  "God, I would have given a thousand bucks to have had a camera to get a picture of your face, and your butt stuck square into a bucket. What a trip!"  The taunting young woman burst into another fit of laughter.

        Logan calmed enough to request Amanda's aid out of the predicament, "Okay, now that the fun is over, how about helping me up.  I'm in a bit of a bind here.  To say nothing of my wounded pride!"

        Amanda stepped in front of the fireman and took his outstretched hands.  With all of her strength and weight she pulled until the lad was in a standing position in front of her.  "Owww," the young man howled, the bucket slipping off his backside, "I think I'm going to have a permanent ring around my butt.  Mmm, it really hurts now."  Logan, suddenly serious, took a step forward and felt a streak of excruciating pain begin in his left hip and shoot through his whole left side, from ankle to chest.  "Something's wrong," he stated, shifting all of his weight to his right leg.

        A sudden look of concern crossed Amanda's face, stepping to his side to help.  "Are you alright?" the concerned lass asked with genuine concern in her voice and eyes.  "Can I help somehow?"

        "I need to sit down," Logan instructed.  "There's a lawn chair in the storage room.  Will you get it for me?  Quickly!"

        Amanda rushed into the dimly lit room, suddenly in somewhat of a panic, to find a chair for him to sit on.  Quickly, the girl rummaged through and behind several places, unable to locate what she was searching for.  Poking into both of the near corners, the rushing young woman fumbled in the duskiness with no success.

        "Logan, I can't find it!" she called out to him, becoming even more panicked.  "I've looked everywhere.  Tell me where you saw it before."

        "There were a couple of chairs just inside the door.  You probably walked right past them," the hurting young man answered through clenched teeth.  "Hurry, I'm about to fall down!  I need it now!"  Logan took one hop toward the storeroom door and had to muffle the scream that welled up in his throat.  The pain was becoming excruciating and constant.  Tears formed involuntarily in his eyes as Logan fought the urge to just fall onto the ground in agony.

        Amanda ceased her search momentarily, took a deep breath and looked toward the entrance.  Sure enough, several chairs sat against the wall in plain sight.  She had almost tripped over them coming into the room.  Her next actions were almost instinctual, the lass grabbed a chair and set it up for Logan so quickly that she almost didn't remember doing it.  Grasping the struggling fireman by his right arm, Amanda helped him ease onto the nylon webbing with a grimace.

        "Oh, Jeez, that hurts!"  The aching lad was in misery.  "I hope I didn't break something," he replied, a bit of worry in his voice.

        "Me too," Amanda agreed.  "Tell me what to do.  I have no idea."

        Logan shifted slightly in his chair and winced, stifling a yell.  "I think it's starting to swell.  Help me get these pants down so I can at least see what the problem is."  The fireman unbuckled his belt and lifted himself with his right leg.  Amanda grabbed the sides of the tight trousers and pulled.  He had to cry aloud.  "Please! Not so hard.  Pull them slowly!"

        The tentative girl took another grip on the pants and slowly began pulling them off his hips.  "Wait!" Logan cried again, "A little at a time!"

        Elizabeth turned the corner just as he spoke.  "What the. . . ." the surprised younger sister asked puzzledly.  "I thought we were. . . . "

        "Oh, be quiet and give me a hand," Amanda scolded breathlessly.  "Logan fell and has hurt himself pretty badly.  We've got to get his trousers down so he can see what's wrong."

        "Yeah, right!" Elizabeth smirked, stepping toward them.

        "I'm not kidding!  I need some help!"  The sheepish look on her sister's face immediately convinced Elizabeth that it was the truth.  Like a shot, she was at Amanda's side.

        "Tell me what to do," Liz replied, looking between Logan and her sister.  Seeing the pain on his face made the queezy young girl turn away and look only at Amanda.  "What, sis?"

        "You take the right side and I'll get the left.  We need to pull down slowly and easily.  On three.  One.  Two.  Three."  Together the struggling girls inched the material over his hips and down to his knees.

        Logan forced himself to turn and look at the wound.  There was a nasty circular scrape overlapping a large red patch of swollen skin on his left hip.  The worst part, however, was the grating feeling that came with any movement of his left leg.  The implications of that gritty feeling, the fireman knew, weren't good.  He tried several times to straighten the leg smoothly, with no success.  Each time, the searing pain announced its definite disapproval.  The agonizing lad eased gingerly into a more reclining position in the webbed chair, carefully extending his left leg in front of him.

        "What can I do?" Amanda asked sincerely, "What do you need?"

        "I need some ice," Logan responded with a groan.  "But I don't know where we'll get it."

        "The water is pretty cold, what if I get a towel with cold water on it?" Elizabeth suggested.

        "I guess it'll have to do," the pained young man acquiesced with a scowl.

        "I'll get it!" Amanda announced, shooting off  toward the stairway.  "Be back in a flash!"

        Amanda returned in a rush with a dripping wet towel, cold from wetness and the ambient chill of the air.  "You're going to have to turn over somehow," she ordered.  "This sucker covers your whole left side.  Wait, I think I saw a lounger in the storeroom.  I'll be right back!"  The young woman rushed into the storeroom once more, returning immediately with a larger chair for him to lay down on.

        Elizabeth, seeing the extent of Logan's injury, turned squeamishly away, wandering slowly out of sight upon her sister's return.  Logan looked after her, wondering what the girl was feeling at that moment, trying to keep his mind off of the pain.  "Is Liz okay?" the fireman asked Amanda quietly, getting no answer in return.

        With Amanda's assistance, Logan painfully struggled out of his chair and lay face down onto the recliner.  She gently slid the underwear over his left hip, stopping just below his cheek.  This could be an embarrassing position, he thought, chuckling under his breath to keep his mind of the wound.  "What?" Amanda responded to his unexpected humor.

        "Oh, nothing, just thinking what an odd situation this is.  Here I am lying with my bare butt up in the air and two young women running around.  Not a very endearing position, know what I mean?"  Logan attempted another laugh, but the movement caused a grimace instead.  "This is kind of like a bad dream, stuck in public with no clothes on!"

        Amanda, herself,  had to chuckle at the situation, thinking of the situation in that light.  Logan felt the tender woman gingerly clean the scrape with the wet towel, then place the cold cloth gently over the wound.  The sudden chill almost took his breath, making him gasp.  "Jeez, that's cold!" the chilled young man snapped, gasping again.  "I'm going to have frozen buns!"  Amanda chuckled once more.

        Elizabeth slipped around the corner, still hesitant to be in personal contact with the injury.  "How is he?" she asked sheepishly.

        "I don't think it's terminal," Amanda responded, lifting the towel for her.

        "My God, that's got to hurt," the younger girl commented, turning away quickly.  "I'm sorry, I'm just not very good at these things."

        "Would you do me a favor and bring me another wet towel?" Amanda asked gently.  "I want to keep this chilled to reduce the swelling.  Then we can see what has happened."

        Elizabeth gathered herself and swept off on the errand.  "Poor Liz," Amanda sighed,  "never was much of one to be around any kind of injury.  I don't know what she'll do if she ever has kids.  Make them call Auntie Amanda, I guess."

        Logan attempted to shift position.  The bolt of pain stopped him in mid- movement.  An involuntary moan issued hoarsely from the young man's throat, prompting another worried look on Amanda's face.  "I really hope you haven't broken something," she responded.  "I have no idea what to do to help that.  Way out here in the middle of nowhere, I don't think we're going to find a doctor or anything.  You did say you are a Paramedic, didn't you?"

        "No, just an EMT, and I've never had to work on myself before," the firefighter answered truthfully.  "You know, I've only been injured once to a point of being incapacitated.  That was the accident I told you about.  I had no chance to work on myself in that situation!  Other than that, a few nicks and scrapes here and there, otherwise, no major injuries.  Pretty amazing, huh, in my profession?"  He was still trying any means possible to keep his mind off the pain.

        Elizabeth returned promptly with another dripping towel.  She held it out to her sister while looking in the other direction.  Logan peeked up at the girl wondering if she was looking away solely out of fear of seeing the injury or if maybe a little shyness was there, too, being ashamed to look at his bare backside.  Amazingly, he wasn't feeling his normal timidity.  Maybe the pain was just dulling his senses or something.

        "Here, now re-wet this one, if you will," Amanda requested confidently.  "The swelling is already decreasing.  See?"

        Elizabeth just nodded affirmatively without looking at him.  She took the towel and slipped off once more.  The sudden shock of the fresh, cold towel took his breath again.  "Man, I don't know what's worse, the pain or the damned cold water you're putting on my butt," Logan responded breathlessly.  Amanda smiled again.  "How is it looking?" he asked seriously.

        "You got it pretty good," the willing nurse answered honestly.  "But, I don't know how to tell if the hip's broken or anything."

        "Just do as I tell you," the fireman ordered gently.  "I'll show you how to check for a break.  Start at my waist and feel down both sides of my hips at the same time.  Press gently and feel for any deformities or anything that doesn't match from one side to the other.  If anything is broken it's probably my hip, so look at my symmetry, too, see if one side of my waist looks higher than the other.  Ow, shit!  Press gently!" Logan begged as Amanda began her survey.

        "I feel some kind of a lump in your left side," she responded.  "It's just so swollen that I can't feel anything much but the puffiness."

        "Whenever I move and it hurts like hell," the young man reported.  "Just keep the cold water on the swollen area for a while and we'll see what happens.  My main problem right now is that my butt is frozen.  It's so cold it hurts almost as much as the injury!"

        "What if we try to get you upstairs?" Amanda asked as Elizabeth rounded the corner with another wet towel.

        "Yeah, let's give it a try," he agreed tenuously.  "Just go slowly."

        Amanda slipped the band of his undershorts back up to the young man's waist, looking at the trousers that were still pulled down around his knees.  "Your pants are either going to have to come off or go back on.  They're not going to work around your knees like that."

        "Pull them off," Logan requested.  "Carefully!"

        Amanda directed Elizabeth to his right side, instructing her to pull one leg of the pants while she pulled off the other.  Liz still avoided looking at Logan, and Amanda scolded her for pulling out of sync, hurting him.  Reluctantly, Elizabeth returned her attention and gaze onto the task until it was completed, immediately turning away.  With further instruction from the older sister, Elizabeth moved to Logan's side, helping roll him over onto his back.  Slowly the aching lad moved, grimacing and moaning all the way.  He uttered a deep sigh of relief, relaxing onto his back.  "We need to immobilize my leg somehow before I try to move very far.  Someone go upstairs and get a couple of bed sheets," the fireman directed, laying back with his eyes closed.  "Jeez, my legs are cold."

        Elizabeth stood up and started off.  "I'll get them," she announced, quickly turning away.  The spry girl bolted up the stairs, shaking the whole building with her steps.

        "What's with her?" Logan asked, still trying to keep his mind off the pain.  "She won't even look towards me.  The scrape isn't that bad, is it?"

        Amanda chuckled, "I don't think it's just the scrape she's avoiding seeing.  Liz talks a good game but she's never played.  And she's pretty shy about it.  She's not much like me."

        "Yeah, I kind of gathered that," the young man agreed, answering for several different meanings at once.  The pain in his hip was beginning to reach a critical point again as Elizabeth returned with two folded bed sheets that had been stored in one of the trunks.  His leg was beginning to throb with every heartbeat.  "Just cover me up with the sheets for a while and give me a few minutes alone," he requested earnestly.

        The two girls obeyed with Elizabeth leaving immediately.  Amanda hesitated, not wanting to leave the injured man alone.  "I think we should go ahead and get you upstairs," she suggested sincerely.

        "Just give me a few minutes.  I want to try and let the pain subside first.  I just need a little quiet right now.  I'll call you when I'm ready."  Reluctantly, the worried nurse turned and walked away.

        Logan heard Amanda walk around the corner and sit down on one of the steps of the stairway.  He chuckled a little through the pain, Mother hen! the honored lad thought.  Then, putting his attention into his own body, Logan first focused on relaxing himself all over.  It wasn't an easy task under the circumstances, but the determined lad began to feel a modicum of result.

        Logan reached for the affected area, gently prodding the skin with his fingertips.  He could feel the heat of wounded flesh on his hind.  "Oh, Brigid, don't let this happen." he moaned mentally to the ancient feminine deity.  "We've come this far, please help us off this island and back to our homes.  Morgan is waiting for me, I know it!  Please let me get back to her."

        Pain once again began to distract the fireman's attention.  A voice trickled through his sullen awareness, reminding him of his infinite capacity.  "You are much more than you can even imagine, Logan, remember that.  Your time was not yet come to join fully with the infinite.  All you need do is call upon the power waiting within your grasp, do not be afraid to be limitless in your endeavors.  As it harms no other, Logan Keohane, the power of Heaven and Earth awaits your command, for you are not separate!    Fear not, for all things are possible for he who believes!  You are the creator and the created, the seeker and the finder, the beginning and the end, you are all that is and all that is, is you!"

        Silence and reverence flooded Logan as his consciousness expanded beyond the portals of time and space, connecting with a life force so bright and profound that he felt as if he touched the very soul of God!  I'm going home, he thought, fully expecting to arrive in some place determined to be Heaven.  Gradually, Logan returned to present consciousness.  He could feel Amanda peek around the corner, turn and again disappear, shaking her head in disgust.

        Suddenly, the lad felt overwhelmingly exhausted.  It was all he could do to mentally check once again on his dully aching wound.  Logan lightly touched his left hip with his hand, drifting immediately off into a deep slumber.  Thank you, Brigid! was his last recollection, leaving consciousness.

        "Hey, Logan, wake up!" the groggy fireman heard a voice call softly, a hand jostling him gently.  "Are you all right?  It's getting dark out here and we need to get you upstairs somehow before night sets in."

        Logan groggily looked up to see Amanda's worried face staring down at him.  Suddenly, springing to wakefulness, the fireman looked surprisingly around the deepening twilight.  He quickly sat up on the side of the recliner.  Several thin blankets that the girls had obviously covered him with, slipped onto the dark ground.  "What time is it?" the puzzled lad asked, quickly standing to face the concerned woman.

        Amanda's jaw dropped, an expression of complete amazement engulfing her.  "Log. . . I, uh. . . what happened?  Your hip, is it okay?" the startled lass could hardly speak with surprise.

        Logan reached down, touching his hip and realized that his pants weren't on.  A quick flash of memory reminded him of the accident, prompting a more thorough inspection of the previously injured area.  The surprised firefighter found his muscle pretty stiff and sore, but no acute pain anywhere.  A feeling of bewilderment flushed through him, draining all of the color from Logan's face and strength from his knees.  "Oh, my God!" the astonished young man whispered. "I had the strangest dream.  Or maybe it wasn't a dream!"  He sat heavily back onto the webbed chair.  "I don't know quite what happened, but now I feel fine.  Maybe I just bruised myself a little and now it's gone away," he surmised, trying to make sense of the occurance.  "Anything else is too strange!"  A chill suddenly jolted him.  "Come on, let's get upstairs!"

        Logan took Amanda's hand, wrapped one of the blankets around his waist and started toward the stairway.  All that she could do is stare at him as if looking at a ghost.  "Elizabeth's not going to believe this!" the unbelieving girl finally uttered, shaking her head and taking the first step up to the cabin.

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