part 3 by Poet

Four days had passed since Luka's visit with Viktor and Rozalija. he was
already longing to visit again, to look at the photo albums. He wanted to
look at each picture and recall all the good memories that it represented.
But he didn't want to intrude on their lives too often--they had their
family to raise. He could wait until they invited him back again.

It was being an unusually slow day in the ER which gave Luka plenty of time
to catch up on the charts--and keep an eye on the staff's boredom
activities. Being terrible at card games, he'd passed on Abby's invitation
of what--he feared in the heat--could easily turn into a game of strip

"Don't remove TOO much," Luka cautioned as he headed for the admit desk to
sit down and work. Since Randi was already on a break, he figured that he
could answer phones until needed.

The heat was making him drowsy and he was finding it difficult to
concentrate when the phone finally rang. He picked it up, saying, "ER."

"Luka, this is Roza. Did I call you at a bad time?" his friend asked.

"Oh, no. You didn't. The desk clerk went on her lunch break and I decided
to answer the phones. It's been too quiet here," Luka replied.

"Luka, I was wondering if you wanted to come over tonight and look at the
photo albums. since it's so hot, I'll fix a light supper. Nothing
chocolate--I promise," Roza said.

"Sounds good to me. I get off at 7:00 and I'll stop by my place to clean up
and feed Katica. She gets very unhappy if she has to wait for her supper,"
Luka told her.

"Just like the children--especially the twins," Roza said and laughed.
"I'll probably be at your place by 7:45 or so--depends on how soon I can
leave tonight. Slow days usually translate into busy nights," Luka

"Bye, Luka," Roza said and hung up the phone. Then she began to consider
what to fix for supper.

"Bye, Roza," Luka told her. He replaced the reciever and went back to work.

"Hey, Luka, how about a game of basketball?" Cleo asked as she leaned on the
desk. "Tall as you are, you just might beat me."

"Not today. I miss the basket more than it gets in. Now, if you'd said
soccer--I might have a better chance at beating you. Besides, it's too hot
to be outside," Luka replied.

"Okay. Just thought I'd ask," Cleo told him.

"Everyone is getting pretty bored, huh?" Luka asked.

"I guess so," Cleo replied.

Their conversation was interrupted by the beeping of the radio. Luka got to
his feet and watched as Haleh quickly answered it. She turned to the two
doctors and announced, "MVA--multiple victims--school bus hit head on!"

"Prepare both trauma rooms and round up everybody you can!" Luka instructed.
He headed for the lounge to warn the poker players that their game was
over. And he hoped that it hadn't progressed TOO far. To his relief he
discovered that Abby was minus her labcoat; Chuny had lost her hair ribbons;
Chen was barefooted. Maluchi was the only one shirtless.

"What's going on, Luka?" Abby asked as he stuck his head in the door.

"MVA--multiple victims--schol bus hit head on. Abby, you and maluchi are
in Trauma Two. Chen, you'll be with Cleo in Trauma One. I expect that the
most seriously injured will come first. Chuny, come with me," he told them
and turned to head for the ambulance bay.

Maluchi was already pulling on his shirt as he said, "At last some action."

Chen gave him a dirty look as she quickly got her shoes back on.

Haleh caught up to Luka in the hallwayand told him, "I already paged peter
and Elizabeth. They're on the way."

"Good. Goood," Luka replied. He headed on down the hallway, already
focusing his attention on the trauma at hand.

It didn't take long for the first of the ambulances to arrive. The first
victim to be unloaded was a six-year-old girl with a skull fracture. The
paramedics reported her vitals and the driver added, "It's a bad scene out
there. Several DOAs--kids weren't wearing seatbelts and the guy who hit
them was speeding. It wouldn't surprise me if he were drunk."

Luka nodded, his full attention on the girl as she was wheeled into the
nearest trauma room. He hoped to God that the driver that hit the bus
didn't wind up in his ER. Especially if it was determined if the man was
drunk. He might have a hard time keeping himself from confronting the man.

As soon as the girl got to the trauma room, she crashed. Chen immediately
began compressions while Luka readied the defibrilator paddles. "Give her
one amp of Epi," he ordered. The drug was quickly administered. "Clear!"

The others stood back while he applied the electrical shock with no
response. For ten minutes they worked unsuccessfully to save the girl.
Finally Luka relunctantly decided, "Okay, that's it. Time of death:
11:45." Pulling off his gloves, he left to work on the other victims.

By the time the last of the accident victims had either been treated,
admitted, or pronounced dead, Luka felt completely exhausted. He always
felt so helpless when the victims were innocent children. Despite
everybody's best efforts, two of the children had been almost DOA when they
arrived and they were unable to be saved.

He had retreated to the lounge to gather his thoughts together when Cleo
came in. She observed him for a minute while she opened her locker. Ever
since the case with Gloria and her baby, she always tried to keep an eye on
him whenever they worked together.

Luka looked up at her and sighed, "If you have something to say, Cleo, go on
and say it!"

"All I was going to say was that it's days like this that I almost wish that
I'd stayed with sports instead of going into medicine. IF you weren't a
doctor, Luka, what would you be?"

"I don't know. Maybe a fisherman or a train conducter like my father," he

At 6:00 Kerry arived to start her shift. She immediately noticed how tired
the other attending looked and asked, "Bad day, Luka?"
"You might say that. Bus full of kids got hit head on and there were
fatalities. I heard rumors that the driver was drunk but he didn't end up
here," he replied and ran a weary hand across his forehead.

"Why don't you take off now? I know you're not supposed to leave until Mark
shows up. But I think we can handle everything," Kerry suggested.

"All right. I'd better call Roza and let her know I'll be early. They
invited me over tonight to see the photographs they have of me and my
family," Luka told her.

"That sounds like a good way to spend the evening," Kerry commented as she
followed him over to the board.

As soon as Luka got home, he immediately called Viktor. When his friend
answered, he said, "I told Roza that I'd be over about 7:45 but I got off
earlier than I planned. I was wondering if you still wanted me to arrive at
7:45 or if I could come earlier."

"By all means, come on over as soon as you're ready," Viktor replied.

"Okay," Luka said.

"Luka, I was afraid the reason you called was to say that you weren't
coming," Viktor told him.

"No. I've been waiting too long to look at the photo albums. I'll see you
in a little while," Luka said and hung up the phone. He then went to feed
Katica before she started her complaining.

After a leisurely shower, Luka put on a comfortable T-shirt and faded jeans.
He slipped his keys in his pocket and went out to the car. It didn't take
him long to drive to Viktor's house. This time there was no hesitation as
he parked the car and went to ring the doorbell.

"Come in, come in," Viktor said as he opened the door. He quickly ushered
him inside.

Roza kissed him on the cheek and said, "Luka, you look tired."

"I'm okay. It just got busy at the hospital," Luka replied, waving off her
concern. He sank down on the couch and put his feet up.

"I'll get you some iced tea," Roza said and headed for the kitchen.

"We can lok at the photo albums after super," Viktor told him. He knew that
as soon as Luka got ahold of the albums he wouldn't want to put them down.

Roza returned with a tray containing several glasses of tea, sugar and lemon
wedges. "We eat in ten minutes," she said as she set down the tray.

Luka reached for a glass, stirred in a little sugar and squeezed in lemon
juice. "Viktor, you heard about the school bus accident today?" he asked
after a moment.

"I heard the news about it," Viktor answered.

"The victims were brought to Coumty and several of them didn't make it,"
Luka said quietly as he took a sip of tea.

"No wonder you look worn out--you had to deal with the kids," VIktor said,
suddenly realizing the reason for his friend's weariness. "When are you
working again?"

"Not until tomorrow night. It's Friday and we really start to get busy,"
Luka replied.

Roza returned to the living room and announced, "Come on. Supper's ready.
The children are already at the table."

Viktor got to his feet and said, "Come on."

"All right," Luka replied. He was finding it difficult to to leave the
comfortable couch. With some relunctance, he got to his feet and followed
Viktor into the dining room.

Roza had fixed a simple meal of pasta salad and ham sandwiches. She smiled
at their guest and indicated a chair next to Viktor. "You sit here," she
told him.

Luka glanced over at the two oldest children, recalling the last time he had
seen them. Little Viktor had been the same age as his own dear Marco and
Zelika was just a tiny baby whom he loved to play with.

Viktor noticed his expresion and said, "They've sure grown up, huh?"

"They have," Luka replied as he reached for the salad to fill his plate.

After dinner Roza brought out a banana cream pie and began serving slices.
"I promised you that there wouldn't be anything chocolate," she said to

"He tok a bite and replied, "It's a wonderful dinner, Roza."

"Thank you, Luka," she said and smiled at him.

When everyone was finished eating, the children were sent upstairs and the
adults returned to the living room. Viktor picked up a photo album and
handed it to Luka, saying, "This has pictures from both our weddings."

Luka eagerly opened it, his eyes lighting on his wedding picture. His eyes
grew misty but there was a smile on his face as he recalled that day. *He
had been slightly hungover because of Viktor and his other friends'
succesful atempts to get him drunk the night before. He'd been so nervous
as he waited for Mirjana to appear and when she came escorted by her
father--he thought she'd never looked lovlier. How he'd danced with her at
their reception. And on their wedding night, the suddenly shy couple had
made love for the very first time.*

Roza smiled at him and suggested, "VIktor told me that you don't have to be
at the hospital until tomorow night. So why don't you spend the night here?
The couch folds out into a bed. This way, you could take all the time you
want looking at the photo albums."

Luka relunctantly pulled his attention away from the photo to say, "If I'm
not puting you to any trouble."

"No trouble, Luka," Viktor told him.

"I'll get us some more iced tea," Roza said. "You know, Luka, I don't think
we've even looked at the albums since we've been in Chicago."

"How long have you been in the United states?" Luka asked them.

"Five years. We spent two years in St. Louis when we first came here,"
VIktor replied.

"I've traveled around a lot since I came here. But Chicago is the longest
I've stayed in one place. Maybe I'm tired of movig around and looking for a
place to belong. Otherwise I'd have left Chicago for warmer climate last
fall," Luka said.

"If you had--then we never would have met that day at the hospital," Viktor
pointed out. "Maybe that is the reason you were meant to stay in Chicago."

Luka went back to looking at the photos. When Viktor and Rozalija were
married, he'd been Viktor's best man, and Mirjana, five months pregnant, had
been Roza's matron-of-honor. He smiled with fond remembrance at a photo of
him trying to dance with Mirjana and finding her size difficult to hold her

Roza returned with the iced tea and handed Luka a glass. She loked at the
photo and said, "I can't believe how young we all were back then."

"Right. I didn't have any gray hairs and Viktor had ALL his hair," Luka

Viktor headed for the stairs, saying, "Well, I'd better make sure that the
twins get to bed."

"I'll get some pillows and a blanket for the couch," Roza said.

By the time Viktor returned, Luka was sprawled out on the couch, intently
looking at yet another album. The one contained pictures of the last time
the two families had gotten together before Vukovar. His eyes lingered on
what was obviously a family portrait. He was neatly dressed and held Marco
in one arm while his free hamd clasped Jasna's tiny one.Mirjana held Jasna's
other hand and she had an epression of love and pride on her face as she
looked at her husband.

"Luka, do you want the photographs?" Viktor asked quietly.

"No--they belong to you. But I'd be grateful if you'd let me make copies,"
Luka replied.

"Go ahead. Make what ever copies you need," Viktor told him.

"Thank you very much," Luka said.

"Viktor, why don't you show Luka where the bathroom is while I make up the
couch?" Roza suggested.

Luka carefully set the album aside and got to his feet. "Viktor--those
photos--I'd forgotten some of them existed," he said quietly.

"Now you'll have the copies," Viktor replied.

By the time they got back to the living room, Roza had the couch pulled out
and made up into a bed. "There's more iced tea in the refrigerator," she
told Luka.

"Thank you," he replied.

"Viktor and I are going upstairs for the night. We'll see you in the
morning," Roza said and kised him on the cheek. "Goodnight, Luka."

"Goodnight, Viktor, Roza," Luka said. As soon as he was alone, he undressed
down to his boxer shorts. He sprawled on the couch and was soon fast
asleep, the album with the family portrait close by.

Roza awakened in the middle of the night, and after seeing that her chilren
were all right, she went downstairs to check on Luka.

Luka was curled up on the bed, blanket kicked on the floor. He had
obviously been crying because his face was wet with tears.

She gazed at him for a moment, a gentle expresion on her face. Picking up
the blanket, she laid it over him and then turned to go back to bed.

The next morning Luka was still sound asleep when Viktor got ready to go to
the school. After telling the children not to disturb their visitor, he
left by way of the back door.

Luka awakened, for once feeling rested, but momentarily at a loss to recall
where he was. He sat up slowly and remembered falling asleep with the photo
albums. A glance at the clock told him that it was 10:00! He hadn't
planned to have slept that late so he hurriedly pulled on his jeans and

Roza heard him moving about and entered the living room. "So you're finally
up. How about some breakfast?" she asked.

"That sounds like a good idea," Luka replied as he began folding the couch
back up.

"I have orange juice, cereal and toast. Ever try Great Grains? It's a lot
better than the sugared stuff the kids eat," Roza told him.

"Sounds good," Luka said and followed her into the kitchen.

She set a bowl of cereal and a carton of milk on the table. "Help
yourself," she said as she began preparing the toast.

Luka poured milk on the cereal and took a bite, liking the slightly sweet
taste. "I think I'll have to start buying this," he said.

Roza handed him the orange juice, saying, "Viktor and I both like it."

"Roza, thank you for telling me about the photo albums--they brought back a
lot of good memories," he said and paused. "Having the photos will help me
when my memories start to fade."

"I'm glad," she replied.

As soon as he finished eating, Luka said, "I really need to leave. Katica
will be wanting to be fed again and I have things to do before tonight."

"Come back again soon," Roza told him.

"I will--I have the photo albums," Luka said and smiled. Albums in his
arms, he headed for the door.

Leaving Viktor's house, he headed for a copy center to get photocopies of
the pictures. He spread the pictures on the counter and asked, "Can you
make two of each picture?"

"Certainly, Sir," the girl replied.

"The wedding picture and the family portrait--I would also like an 8' X 10'
enlargement of each," he added.

"No problem. I'll do the enlargements first," she said. As soon as they
were finished, she laid them in front of Luka.

He studied the enlargements carefully, deciding to frame and hang them in
his living room.

The girl finished with the copying and told him the total. He paid the
amount and then gathered up the copies and the originals. "Thank you," he
said and headed out. His next stop was for frames and an album where he
found a beautiful wooden frame to display his wedding picture. After paying
for his purchases, he headed for home.

Luka arrived at County a little before his shift was to begin and headed
directly to the lounge. Opening his locker, he began taping up a copy of
his family portrait on the inside of the door. For now he'd leave his
seacoast photo on the front.

He was still in the lounge when Kerry entered. She studied him for a moment
and said, "You're looking a lot better today, Luka."

"I got a good night's rest," he replied and opened his locker door. "I want
to show you something."

Kerry gazed at the picture of the young family and said, "What beautiful
children. When was it taken?"

"In 1991--the last time we visited with my friend Viktor. we didn't have
much money and he had a very good camera. He offered to take a family
portrait because, as he put it, "The kids will be too tall to recognize and
you'll have gray hair." Luka explained. He gave the photo one last look and
shut the door.

"Well, your friend certainly took a good picture," Kerry commented.

To part 4

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