Revealing Annie - Freya Barker



A heart attack, a broken hip, two car crashes with minor injuries, a line cook burned in a kitchen fire at a local restaurant, an accidental toe amputation, and—to round out my shift—a fifteen-year-old stabbing victim, who was barely clinging to life when we got him to Mercy Hospital.

I’m still cleaning the kid’s blood from the inside of the ambulance when Cap sticks his head in.

“Heading out shortly?”

“Almost done.”

“You coming for breakfast?”

It’s something we try to do with our crew at least once a week after one of our shifts, but I’ve bailed the last few times. Mostly because it’s just not the same without Blue. Ava Navarro is my partner on this ambulance, but she’s been off on family leave. She and her husband, Tony—one of our boys in blue with the Durango PD—adopted a baby girl a month or so ago, and although I’m happy for her, I wish her ass was back on the rig with me.

Instead I’ve been stuck with Billy Bapcock, a goddamn rookie, fresh out of college. Cocky kid almost lost his damn cookies when he saw the damage the knife did to our last patient, which is why I’m cleaning the damn rig alone. He’s going to have to get used to it or he’ll never make it.

To top it off, I just moved from my apartment to a house I bought not too far from the station, and my living room is still full of boxes I haven’t gotten around to unpacking. Add to that the sorry state of my fridge and I really don’t have time to sit around the diner, shooting the shit with the boys. I need groceries, to get some work down around the house, and then hit my bed to catch up on my sleep.

“Not today, Cap,” I tell Scott Beacham, captain of our crew. “Got lots of stuff to do at home.”

“Happy to lend a hand, Sumo.”

“Appreciate it, but it’s just stuff I’ve been putting off.”

The guys started calling me Sumo when I joined the crew years ago. Nothing to do with the fact I’m part Asian—my father is Japanese—but because my last name is Matsumoto. The nickname is kind of ironic, since I’m far from the size of a sumo wrestler. In fact, other than Blue, I’m the shortest on the team at five foot eleven.

“If you’re sure,” he says with an inquisitive glance.

“Yup. It’s all good. Thanks, though.”

He nods, rapping his knuckles on the door of the ambulance before disappearing from sight.

Cap is the only one I’ll occasionally have an actual conversation with. I’m known as the crew’s joker, and for the longest time that’s how I viewed life, as one big laugh. That changed quite suddenly around the time Blue and Tony hooked up. If Blue hadn’t been up to her eyeballs in her own shit at the time, I’d probably have turned to her. As it happened, Cap caught me in a low moment and I laid it all out for him. He’s been checking in on me since.

I gather up the dirty wipes, drop them in a garbage bag, and lock up the rig. I toss the bag in the garbage bin on the side of the station house and head over to my truck. Instead of going straight home, I’m hitting up the grocery store first. I’ll be home for the next three days, so I need to stock up.

The parking lot at the City Market is relatively empty this time of the morning. I grab a cart and hit up the produce department first.

I like cooking. Love it, actually. I do a lot of the cooking back at the station house, with Cheddar—Evan Biel, one of my crewmates—coming in a close second. We’re supposed to take turns but most of the guys just cook the basic stuff and Blue, the only woman on our team, isn’t even allowed near the stove. She’d burn water.

Both my parents are great cooks and would often share the duty, which made the kitchen the center of the house growing up. It also made for a lot of Asian-American recipe creations, many of which I still make to this day. I save the more elaborate dishes for the station house, since it’s much more gratifying cooking for the guys. At home I keep it fairly simple, unless I have someone over, but that doesn’t happen that often. It’s rare you’ll find me calling in for pizza or picking up fast food.

The only thing I don’t