They were too late. As Katy’s fingers closed to squash the honey bee, the bee stung her. Clamping her hand closed, Katy screamed in terror and pain.
“Oh my God.” Jill dropped to hold her daughter. “She’s hyper-allergic to bees.”
“Show me your hand. Katy, show me your hand. Katy, show me your hand,” Jacob screamed.
He knelt next to the shrieking girl and pried her tight fist open. Using his zoo pass, he flicked the stinger from her hand.
“We have to get to the hospital,” Jacob said. “JILL!”
Jill looked up at him. Her worst nightmare unfolding, Jill went completely blank. Horror overwhelmed her. Katy was going to die!
Jacob wrestled Katy from her arms.
“Hold my hand,” he commanded Jill.
He grabbed Jill’s hand. While Katy howled in his arms, Jacob hauled Jill through the zoo. The balloon, tied to Katy’s wrist, trailed behind them like a green beacon. Running past Edward, the volunteer, he yelled for Edward to call Children’s Hospital at St. Joseph’s. Katy was heading toward anaphylactic shock. Several people dialed their cell phones at once. The crowd stepped aside and Jacob raced through the zoo.
In his arms, Jacob felt Katy get ever warmer. Somewhere near the front gate, she stopped crying. Her throat closing, his tiny burden began to gasp for air. Her skin burned under his hands. He picked up the pace while dragging Jill behind. From the edge of the parking lot, he unlocked the Lexus. Flying to the front passenger seat, he laid Katy on his lap.
With great effort, Katy pulled in breath. Ripping an inhaler from a plastic Walgreens bag, he shot Primatene Mist into Katy’s mouth and counted down one minute. He was about to spray the inhaler again when Katy coughed and took a clear breath.
“Oh, thank God,” he said.
Moving quickly, he strapped Katy into her car seat and then buckled Jill into the passenger seat.
The message that Celia’s granddaughter was in trouble had gone out over the zoo airwaves. Elderly volunteers appeared from nowhere to help. The volunteers blocked the road so Jacob had a clear shot.
Jacob, Jill, and a wheezing Katy sped out of the parking lot. The tires squealed as they turned left onto Twenty-Third Avenue. For once in his Denver life, Jacob hit every green light and missed all road construction.
The emergency staff was waiting at the curb of the hospital. Yelling orders, the doctor began treating Katy in her car seat. As if in a trance, Jill stood watching the emergency team. Jacob came around the car to wrap himself around her. Nestled in his tight embrace, Jill began to sob. He covered her face when the nurses carried Katy from the car and onto a stretcher. A nurse cut the forgotten balloon from Katy’s wrist. With Jill in his arms, Jacob watched the green balloon disappear into the bright sky.
“Mr. Marlowe?” An official-looking woman stood next to him. She held a clipboard jammed with forms.
“I need to move the car,” he said. He set a credit card on her clipboard. “Can I fill those out when I get back?”
“Sure,” she said. Pointing to the man standing next to Jacob, she said, “We have a valet.”
Still shielding Jill in his arms, Jacob gave the man his keys.
“We’ve had a horrible shock. Is there a place we can …?” Jacob asked.
“Of course.” The woman smiled. “I’ll take you to a quiet place where you can talk. But I do need …”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow...
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