I was standing in the church foyer before the worship service when my 50-year-old friend Roland trudged towards me, taking ragged breaths.
"I'm having pain in my chest," he said.
I got him a chair and he sat down. I remembered him telling me he was scheduled for surgery later in November. A pacemaker would be installed.
"Let me call my doctor," he said. "Would you dial for me?"
I entered in the number and handed him my cell phone.
After a minute he gave back my phone.
"The doctor wants me to go to the ER," he said.
"I'll take you," I said.
I drove my Chevy Cobalt over to where he sat and helped him in my car, putting his seatbelt on for him as his hands struggled with it.
"If you don't mind hurrying..." he said.
I put my emergency lights on and floored it. I was carefully not to cut people off or do anything that might cause an accident. Whenever I saw a clear straightaway on the highway I would speed up to 85-90 mph. I figured if the police pulled me over I could show them my friend and ask for an escort to the ER.
"If you see an ambulance, see if you can flag them down," he said.
"'K," I said, eyes focused on the road as I flew past a semi-truck.
We arrived at the ER in record time. From our church to downtown Augusta, a trip that normally takes 25 minutes took about 13. The ER immediately admitted him and laid him on a bed in a small room. After a few minutes of examines by a nurse, paperwork, and blood samples the nurse looked over at Roland and said everything appeared normal now.
Roland's three daughters arrived and were relieved he was resting comfortably. Early in October they were with him when he spent a week in the hospital's heart unit, getting checked out. It had been a long stay and he didn't care for the hospital cafeteria.
"This time," his oldest daughter said with a smirk. "We're not sneaking you any food from Burger King."