On his hand and knees on the floor of his clinic, Nathan Jackson alternated between splashing water on it with a rag and scrubbing it vigorously.
This was the part of being the town Healer he detested most, scrubbing the clinic from head to toe on a weekly basis. It was a necessary part in keeping the clinic sterilized between patients. He'd learned as an orderly during the war that the cleaner his working environment, the better chances his patients would have in surviving whatever ailments they were inflicted with.
Cleaning the clinic was a two-day job. First, he sent all the linens over to the laundry to be washed, and soaked all his doctoring instruments in hot, soapy water. He then went through his cupboards and removed old herbs, salves, and powders. When they were scrubbed inside and out, he tackled his makeshift sink, counter, and stove.
Once the cabinets were cleaned he re-stocked them with fresh herbs and other medicines he'd purchased from Potter's Mercantile. Sweeping and washing the floor was always last on his list to do, and he was glad to be almost done. Cleaning was a thankless task, but necessary.
He was almost finished, when he heard the gunshots. He let out a curse, scrambled to his feet and hurried out the door, drawing his gun as he raced for the stairs. He hadn't even reached the bottom step before Vin Tanner and JD Dunne crashed through the bat-wing doors carrying an unconscious, injured man between them.
Without saying anything, Nathan turned and led them hurriedly back up the stairs. He held the door open so that his friends could carry the man into the clinic and deposit him onto the extra bed in the room.
Once his patient was settled on the bed, Nathan handed Vin a bottle of ether and a cloth, instructing him to place it over the injured man's nose and mouth and to drip a few drops onto the cloth so his patient would stay asleep. As Vin did as he'd asked him to, the Healer hastily washed up, while telling JD to light all the lanterns in the room. When he was done preparing himself for the task at hand, Nathan gathered up his instruments and set them on the table.
Certain he'd done the necessary preparations, Nathan settled in a chair next to the bed, and began stripping the man's soiled, dirty clothing away from his body so that he could have a look at the gunshot wound in the upper part of his chest.
"Too high up to be a heart shot but doesn't mean it can't still be lethal." Nathan mused aloud as he used a pair of his forceps to peel back the skin on side, while he used his probe to locate the bullet within.
"Vin, every two minutes, let another drop of the ether fall onto the cloth." He told Tanner who nodded his understanding at the instruction. "JD, wash up, just in case I need you to assist me."
JD moved to do as Nathan requested, Jackson set to work. Time ticked slowly by as he worked to extract the bullet from his patient. A relieved smile creased his lips as he held up his bloodied prize before dropping it into the dish JD held up for him.
Meticulously he sewed up the wound, washed it thoroughly, and then dressed it with a clean bandage. With Vin and JD's help, he thoroughly stripped the injured man out of the rest of his clothing, washed him, and covered him with the last clean set of sheets he had in his room.
Nathan leaned back in his chair and sighed.
"He going to make it?" JD asked.
"I think so, as long as no infection sets in." Jackson told him. He voiced his own question in return. "This fella didn't get this way by himself. Anyone else hurt?"
"Long past anythin' you can do for him." Vin told him. "Buck and Josiah took him over to the undertaker's."
Nathan rose from his chair and began cleaning up from the surgery. "You two can head out if you like. I won't be leaving this fella's side any time soon."
Vin set down the bottle of ether and rag he'd used on the patient and rose to join JD at the door. "Holler if you need anythin' Nathan."
Tanner closed the door leaving Jackson to watch over his patient and finish his cleaning.
Next Story: Vin Tanner - Solitary Man
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