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Chapter Thirty-one

Ralph Troulson relived the evening's Kingdom Hall meeting over
and over again in his dreams. But in the nightmare version Tommy
was placed on stage as an example during the talk on blood. And
Frank Sturgis emphasized every point by cracking a bullwhip in the
boy's direction. Finally, to conclude his talk, the elder summoned
Ralph to the platform, draped a robe over his shoulders, put a knife in
his hand, and introduced him to the audience as Abraham about to
slaughter Isaac his son. Tommy lay half-clad before him, sound
asleep. Raising the knife to plunge it into his son's naked chest in
obedience to brother Sturgis, Ralph hesitated and cried out, "Oh,
Jehovah God, please help my son!" The lights flickered and the whole
Kingdom Hall shook as the heavenly reply thundered, "You help him,

Ralph woke up instantly in a cold sweat. He knew it was a dream,
but jumped up nevertheless, feeling impelled to help his son. Hearing
Ruth ask groggily, "What is it?" as he left the room, he knew that the
sound of running water in the bathroom meant Tommy was in there.
Flinging open the door, he found the boy motionless, his bleeding arms
floating in bloody water. "Oh, God, let there be time!" he cried.
"Please, let there be time!"

Without stopping to check for life signs Ralph grabbed a roll of
adhesive tape from the medicine chest. He pressed a folded washcloth
hard against each bleeding wrist, wrapping them tight with several
turns of the tape. Carrying Tommy's pale wet body out of the
bathroom, he bumped into Ruth, who began screaming hysterically.

"Ralph, what's happening? Ralph, what's going on?"

"Call the hospital, Honey! Tell them I'm bringing Tommy in," he
yelled over his shoulder as he grabbed the car keys from the kitchen
counter and carried the boy out the door. Sliding into the driver's side
in his boxer shorts, Ralph laid Tommy's torso on the seat beside him,
holding the boy's skinny legs on his lap to elevate them. With a
squeal of tires Ralph was rocketing down the street toward Memorial
Hospital, praying all the while.

Ruth recovered sufficiently to call the hospital as instructed. But
all she could do was scream over the phone, "Tommy's coming in!
Tommy's coming in!" Then she hung up and sobbed hysterically.

Under any other circumstances such a phone call would have been
dismissed as meaningless. But Tommy Troulson had become Memorial
Hospital's best-known patient, and he was expected back for further
transfusion therapy. So emergency room personnel, while puzzling
over the nature of the call, sprang into action. They requisitioned the
blood bank on intercom for two units of Tommy's matching type,
called Pediatrics for someone familiar with his case, and, since there
was no notification coming in by radio from an ambulance, posted
nurses with a stretcher outside the emergency room entrance. When
the car screeched to a halt they had Tommy on the stretcher before
Ralph could get out of the car himself.

"Give him blood! Quick!" Ralph bellowed, following the stretcher
inside and brushing aside the hospital johnnie offered him by a male
nurse. "Give him blood! He needs blood!"

"A transfusion is already being administered, Mr. Troulson," Lucie
Gibbs of Pediatrics assured him, turning from Tommy's stretcher and
pointing to the blood bag suspended above the heads of the other
attending personnel. "And he has a pulse. Tommy's going to be all
right. But now you put on this johnnie, Mr. Troulson. And, here, sit

Ralph was trembling violently from the adrenaline still coursing
through his veins as he collapsed into the wheelchair nurse Gibbs
provided. "Be sure to give him plenty of blood," he called out over his
shoulder while she wheeled him over to the admitting desk.

"I probably shouldn't ask at a time like this, Mr. Troulson," Lucie
began as she parked him there, "but aren't you opposed to

"That was the Watchtower talking, nurse. That wasn't me. Give
Tommy as much blood as he needs! To hell with the Watchtower! God
wants my boy to live! Give him blood! God wants Tommy to live!"


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