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SATURDAY: 5:05 P.M.
The coffee shop was open from six A.M. until midnight. It sat in the middle of nowhere between a video rental shop and a gas station whose pumps were difficult to find behind the row of cars to be repaired, or beyond repair.
Patrick loved the coffee shop. Everybody went there, all the men he admired and wanted to be exactly like.
It had had a lot of names: it had been Joanie's, and The Doughnut Hole, and The Welcome Home, and The Diner on the Hill, until nobody could remember which name fit when, and now it was not called by name at all, but by liquid, as in "I'm going for coffee. Meet me?"
Patrick did not like coffee and wished he could order a Pepsi. But he was learning how to gag coffee down. His original plan was to drink it black because he liked guys who straddled the stools at the counter and said, "Black"—tough and hard, as if saying, "Assassinate Me." But black coffee was disgusting; you might as well drink concentrated river pollution. Then he tried his father's style, "Half a sugar, drop of milk," but that just turned the pollution paler. He was up to "Two sugars, heavy on the milk" now, and he still couldn't figure out why people wanted to pour this stuff into their systems.
But he loved the coffee shop.
Constables, state police, firemen, and ambulance volunteers hung out here. Construction workers, the town crew, state forest rangers—everybody interesting. It often seemed they did nothing but drink coffee; or perhaps drank in shifts, so as to have one person on the job and one swilling coffee. This was where the stories were. How that stupid jerk Masey wired the O'Fallin house so bad that it caused the fire last month, and here summer people were still hiring Masey to do their wiring. How the Stoeckle brothers had probably set their own restaurant on fire for the insurance but looked now as if they'd get away with it. How McCandless's son had married that Epson girl, and that's how he got the job building the addition to the Town Hall, because the Epsons ran everything.
Patrick lived for that kind of gossip.
His geography of Europe and Africa might be a little skimpy, but his geographical knowledge of Nearing River was flawless. Patrick was convinced that he knew every road, every driveway, every shortcut, and the grade of every hill. He knew who ran the snowplows and who did 24-hour tows. He thirsted for more facts about his town, absorbing them for the moment when he called the shots and saved the lives and houses.
Patrick was a Junior on the Ambulance.
He hated this term. It implied stupidity, youth, and a small body. Patrick was smart, seventeen, and weighed in at one eighty. He was a trained and certified EMT: Emergency Medical Technician.
Meanwhile, however, he was also a Junior. Ellington and Darien, Connecticut, also used Juniors for emergency response, but in those towns they were called Explorers. Patrick thought that was even worse than Junior: like, were you going to say to this person having a heart attack, "Oh, just lie down and let me Explore"?
Patrick could take blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration. He could bandage and splint. He could move neck and head injuries. He knew how to control bleeding, treat shock, and deal with belligerent drunks.
Patrick thought it comical that he needed a hall pass to go to the school library—but he could deliver a baby or give CPR without saying Please May I.
The town of Nearing River had no paid medical or fire response; no town in the area ever had. Volunteers handled emergencies. There was one problem. Except for the factory where Patrick's dad worked, there were no jobs in Nearing River. The town—it was stretching things to call Nearing River a town—was pretty remote. People had to drive as far away as Torrington or even Waterbury to get work. Few adults were around by day to volunteer for anything at all.
So the state issued a waiver to Nearing River and allowed sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds to train for ambulance rescue. Juniors on call left high school classes to respond to emergencies. If it weren't for Juniors, it would be very poor planning to have a car accident, a baby, a stabbing, a heart attack, or a drug overdose between eight in the morning and six at night.
Patrick wanted to be a paramedic someday and drive the paramedic's specially equipped Bronco: speeding over curving, ice-slick roads, bringing relief to the wounded.
Actually, most calls were un-wounded. People panicked easily. They called the ambulance for anything. A kid fell off his bike and got three drops of blood on his kneecap and the mother called the ambulance. An elderly woman scraping potatoes scraped her knuckle instead, and she called the ambulance. Two cars ploughed into each other and bystanders called the ambulance when nobody was hurt in the slightest; even the cars weren't hurt.
Patrick had done very little lifesaving.
He tried to be glad that so few local lives were in danger, but deep down he was hoping for a really good catastrophe. Say, an elementary school bus turning over into the ravine on Upper Long Hill.
Then he would catch the thought, stomp on it, swear to God no such horrible idea had passed through his mind; actually glancing upward (Who me, God? Sweet Patrick? Never.) as if to ward off the thunder and lightning he deserved for happily daydreaming of such a thing.
Oh, well, just going to high school was punishment enough. Every day Patrick could not believe they expected him to attend yet again. He studied because his father would kick him out of the house if he didn't, and because his mother was an English teacher who would be ashamed if her son failed.
Patrick adored his parents.
His father was head of maintenance for the only factory in town. Patrick's dad loved his work: always something different—wiring, windowpanes, air-conditioning. The factory had two nice policies: anybody who wanted to donate blood got time off and a company van to take them to the Bloodmobile; and anybody who was a volunteer on Fire or Ambulance could automatically leave for a call.
Rescuing ran in the family.
Patrick's mom had quit driving on the Ambulance Squad after fourteen years of taking one twelve-hour shift a week and now was a dispatcher two nights a week for 911.
Patrick's dad had switched to the Fire Department, having tired of ambulance calls. Stuff like, "HillView Nursing Home, eighty-four-year-old female, difficulty breathing" did not whip up Mr. Farquhar's adrenalin anymore. Eighty-four-year-olds in nursing homes were always having difficulty breathing. However, he was now subjected to calls like, "11 Rockrimmon Road, man smells smoke," which, after Mr. Farquhar left work, joined his buddies at the firehouse, yanked out the engines, drove all the way backcountry, would turn out to be a neighbor burning leaves. Mr. Farquhar's enthusiasm for rescue of any kind had hit an all-time low.
Patrick's enthusiasm was at an all-time high. All he needed was somebody to rescue. But regrettably, no matter how Patrick yearned for action, this was basically a very dull part of America. He had to watch television to see a gunfight, a drug war, a volcano, or a forest fire. Even though he loved every inch of Nearing River, it was a mystery to Patrick why anybody lived here. It was so boring.
Yet people were continually moving in.
It amazed Patrick that there were so many people in this small town he did not know. Ambulance call after ambulance call was for a family he had never heard of; a house he had somehow never noticed. Houses lurked behind thick stands of maple trees; driveways sneaked out from behind granite outcroppings; new people moved to town without notifying Patrick. In fact, if he went by the last names of ambulance calls this year, the entire town consisted of sick strangers.
Patrick filled his heavy white coffee mug to the brim with cream, hoping to soften the sewage flavor. It did not. He steeled himself, thinking sadly that men all around the world steeled themselves to face terrorists, civil war, or famine, while he, Patrick, couldn't even swallow coffee.
He took his scanner off his belt and set it on the green plastic counter to admire. He loved his scanner: the black official rectangle, the little red lights zinging around and around the frequencies, ready to stop for any transmission. Tonight, however, the frequencies of state police, local constables (Nearing River didn't even have a police force), and Fire and Ambulance in the three nearest towns remained silent.
Noelle, who ran the diner, and appeared to be the only one on this evening, switched her radio off Easy Listening to the weather channel. Patrick listened skeptically. The weather channel was a joke. It couldn't predict as well as his father could, just walking out the front door. In the last week they had had fog, ice, a dusting of snow, a day of sixty-degree weather, followed immediately by another ice storm. March was Patrick's kind of month; he liked October, too; that was a month you couldn't count on. Months like July, now, or January—they were predictable.
Patrick yearned for something unpredictable; something that would test him; something he could swagger about.
Noelle put Easy Listening back on. Patrick was opposed to the whole concept of Easy Listening. He wanted hard, taxing, tough listening. What was the matter with his life that it just lay around being Easy Listening?
The scanner channels lay silent. The red light flickered from channel to channel without finding any action.
Saturday: 5:10 P.M.
The estate was called Dove House.
The mansion had been built a hundred years before by an owner who had been charmed by a dovecote in England when he was abroad. He constructed, therefore, an enormous, shingled, twenty-room mansion for himself and his bride, with tiny windows and tiny dormers below a massive roof. It was ridiculous, out of proportion, and weird—but charming. Anybody arriving for the first time would frown at the house, visibly thinking, What is this thing? Then they would smile, just as visibly thinking, Whatever it is, I kind of like it.
Dove House faced a lovely fieldstone courtyard, complete with fountain. The courtyard entry was European and cozy, while the rear of Dove House looked out across wide meadows, a deep rock-encrusted ravine, and thick vine-tangled woods. There was a tennis court, a reflecting pond surrounded by roses, and a gazebo.
At one time the owners of Dove House had kept not only doves, but also peacocks and sheep. The Landseths, who had bought the place a dozen or so years before, had been entranced when they inherited this menagerie.
The peacocks, however, had to be abandoned because they were always escaping their enclosure, going off into the woods and shrieking their doomed-child-in-agony shriek. (The neighbors who frantically called 911, the constables and volunteers who set off into the ravines searching for the doomed child, quickly tired of this entertainment.) The sheep were abandoned because they were pretty only from a distance and not close up, but the sheep didn't know that and were always breaking through the fences and getting disgustingly close up. Finally there were only horses, when the Landseth daughter went through a horsey stage, and fields were cleared and fenced off.
Heidi Landseth had trouble even remembering her horse-crazy years. She'd had two ponies and three horses at one point. Then, when she was twelve, Heidi lost interest. It really had been strange: her life was horse horse horse, and one morning she woke up and didn't care if she ever rode again. Eventually the horses were sold, and now the stable lay empty, and the pony field had to be mowed twice a year to keep it from growing up into woods again.
The lane into Dove House was nearly a half mile long. One vehicle wide, edged by low stone walls, it was romantic and spooky. Branches of overhanging trees formed a tunnel. Rhododendron bloomed purple in the spring, followed by mountain laurel in pale pink. Deer were as plentiful as squirrels.
Heidi loved the drive in any weather: summer, fall, winter, spring. By the gatehouse was a stone bridge that arched like a fairytale illustration, and there the school bus waited for her on Rockrimmon Road. Rockrimmon was also winding and curving, as New England roads are, fitting between glacial boulders and skirting ravines. The school bus tooted to be sure nobody was coming the other way before risking the many blind curves.
There were neighbors, but Heidi and her parents knew few of them; houses here were invisible from the road.
Heidi's parents were the happiest people she knew. They loved their work. Her father was a consultant in international trade with Eastern Europe. Mr. Landseth was always flying to Budapest or Prague and writing up reports in his New York City office. He spoke several languages and sometimes helped the State Department. Her mother was a journalist with a specialty in medicine. If there was a new type of heart surgery in Dallas or an interesting medical phenomenon in San Francisco, Mrs. Landseth was off and interviewing. The Landseths loved cameras, and the house was loaded with color photographs of their latest expeditions. For a year or so they went on a video kick, but the cameras were too bulky and they gave it up. Heidi was relieved. She could pretend to admire a pack of photos for ten seconds, but a video required seating, and snacks, and lights off, and commentary. There was a limit to Heidi's interest.
There was one problem with such happy parents, however.
What kept them happy was either out of town or out of the country.
There had always been a housekeeper, a grounds keeper, and a nanny for Heidi, but her parents had never been away at the same time until she was ten. Even then, they were both careful to be home weekends. But ninth grade for them was a sky opening up like blue velvet to let in freedom. Heidi would be settled in boarding school, where parental occupation didn't matter; where both Mr. and Mrs. Landseth could be away months at a time, and their daughter would be fine.
Heidi hated boarding school.
Get involved! her parents would write, phone, and demand. Join! Be active!
Okay, but how?
The school was competitive to get into, and competitive to survive in. Heidi did not make the tennis team; she did not get a part in the play; upperclass students filled the costume, lights, and stagehand slots. She loved to sing, but her voice was ordinary. She did not qualify for the concert choir. She got into something called "General Chorus," which was of such low musical level it never gave a concert. The school would have been embarrassed to present General Chorus to an audience.
Heidi consistently got C's. No matter how hard she tried, there was a C at the top of the paper. If she didn't try, there was also a C. That was even more depressing; there ought to be a difference between trying and not trying.
Heidi understood why kids rebelled. You wanted to be good at something. Hardly anybody failed to get stoned or drunk if they really tried. Hardly anybody behind the wheel of a car got a C in speeding.
But Heidi disliked anything that meant loss of control. The idea that she would behave weirdly, or loudly, or crudely, horrified her. She wanted to know what she was saying and see what she was doing. She didn't want to wake up the next day and wonder what her most recent history included.
So of course her roommates were party girls who found Heidi the most pitiful excuse for a human being they'd ever come across and spent freshman year laughing at her and excluding her.
By the end of her first year she had slowly, painfully, made precisely two friends, Karen and Jacqueline ... both of whom transferred elsewhere the following year.
That year, her second, Heidi came home for Christmas and refused to go back. Her parents began rotating home-attendance duty.
"Will you just leave?" Heidi kept saying to them. "Mrs. Camp is here, Burke is here, I'm fine."
Burke, the grounds keeper, was very unappreciated. Basically nobody cared how he kept or didn't keep the grounds. This gave him plenty of time to indulge his hobby, which was repairing player pianos. When Heidi was little, she used to spend a lot of time at the gatehouse, watching, but you could only be interested in broken pianos so long, and then you needed to do something else.
Excerpted from Flight #116 Is Down! by Caroline B. Cooney. Copyright © 1992 Caroline B. Cooney. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 3, 2012
This book is full of action and suspense throughout the whole book. The book tells how complete strangers come together as friends to help out when a tragic accident happen. In this book I like how the people come together to help the innocent people that are involved in the accident.
In the beginning the book gets you hooked by going through the lives of the characters. Also, there are really intense moments such as after the crash when there are bodies laying around and the flames coming from the plane. Picturing this book in your mind is terrifying. It would be horrible to have this happen somewhere relatively close to you.
The story had some suspenseful situations which made me want to read more. Many people like gory books so this would be a great book to read for people like that.
This book was very interesting to me. I would recommend this to everyone to read. The book gives you situations which is great because you can compare yourself with one of the characters in the story.
I think everyone who reads this book will love it because I did and I am very picky with what books I like.
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Posted February 21, 2011
This book was greatly written. I am a fan of caroline b. cooney books. This is my all time favorite. I love the different point of views in this book it keeps you wanting to read and never putting the book down. I give this book a five star rating.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 1, 2010
I usually don't read these sort of books but my sister recommended it and went through the trouble to get it for me to read so I did. Well I can say it was okay the character changing is not overwelming and it done at an even pace. It is very easy to follow. Hiedi seems like a real person that you could know I have simply passed on the street and the plan crash is beleivable. The different reactions to the crash was nice to see and the book shows that some people never change while others changer for the better and become stronger.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 18, 2008
Flight #116 is down had me stuck to the pages like i had never been. i went through an emotional roller coaster with this book. I got no sleep. I Love This Book. I Advice Everyone To Read It.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 29, 2008
This book was very emotional and a real page turner! I feel that Caroline B. Cooney really knows how to attract readers with her storylines. This was very creative, and at some times- a heart stopper with the suspence.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2006
well while reading this book it is like you never want to put it down. It is just one of those books where you read in about a day because you just become so hooked on it! I can say for sure that this is one of my favorite books for all time. This is a book that I am actually willing to read and it is one of those kind of books that I will read over and over again!!!!!!!!! There is just something about the way that she describes everything it makes you feel as if you were actually at the scene when it hapoened!!!!!!! It is something that you would love to see turned into a movie one day! This is just absolutely brillant!!! I love ItWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 17, 2006
I had never read a book in 4 1/2 days. Each chance that i got i picked it up and read, a GREAT page turner. I couldn't even put down the book when i was falling half asleep, then to awake and grab the book from my night stand and continue where i left off. This book made me cry REAL TEARS, to the point of where i was sobbing uncontrollably as i read. I was so taken by the book i read it several time before passing it on to another reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2005
i read this book in my 8th grade english class. and boy, did i love it! it's an amazing book. it even made me wanna read it again. that's how good it was. i totally recommend this book. you guys would love it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2004
Flight #116 is Down! In a Heroic story about a plane crash, saving lives, Heidi¿s battle for courage and Patrick¿s attempt at saving survivors, Caroline B. Cooney shows us that everyone is unique. From the beginning Heidi felt ununique and unable to make friends. Patrick felt he had nothing to do. They both hated not being in control, but the crash of flight #116 is going to change everything. Patrick wants to save everyone Patrick, a junior EMT, was waiting for his chance. He was tired of every call he got being for a cat in a tree. Nothing ever happened that was exiting but the crash will change his outlook. Will this call about the flight freeze him up? Or pump him up? As he hurries to save passengers from the ¿Dove House Crash¿ Will He and Heidi gather the courage to be able to save? There are many amazing lessons in this book. When survivors need help you save them. That is one of the lessons Caroline B. Cooney is telling us in this Suspenseful edge of the seat novel. Teddie a five year old loses her quarter and breaks her leg. Daniel a fourteen year old rebel gets squashed between two pieces of metal. Will these people survive? Will Patrick and Heidi get together? I found out in this amazingly great and suspenseful novel and you can too! Just read Flight #116 is Down. Another Amazing lesson I learned was that everyone is important and has a job to do. You¿ll enjoy every moment of it just like I did!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2004
Cooney did it again! It was a great book!!! Very suspenseful and a real thriller. The begining was a little slow, but once you got into it Cooney takes you away. If you like suspence and trauma, read this book!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 11, 2004
This book, Flight #116 is Down, is one of the best books I've read. This book has suspense, you don't know what's going to happen next. There's so many characters at the begging you don't know what's going to happen to them. There's also places in the book where you feel mad and angry about what's going on, but then there's something that makes you sad and feel like you're about to cry. There's also happiness and love in the book. Yes I said love. There's also times in the book that you want to cry because you are happy and just feel all warm inside. I encourage anyone of any reading level to read this wonderful book. If you want a good bumpy and unpaved road kind of book I recomend this book to you.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2004
This book was cool at first I tought that I would not like it but after like the first three pages I just loved it and could not stop reading it. But not until I finished I stepped out of my seat.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 9, 2004
This anther must read from the best thriller author that i know of. This book gives you a generous dose of suspense as well as a touch of horror and humor. The book showed me that teenagers and adults are equal and should treat each other as so. The main characters are so easy to relate to because I see them as being real people, people that I would see at my school. The main characters showed a change in their personalities with more courage to help others along with the grown ups and not being afraid to show how they really feel or what they really want to say. I reccomend this book to anybody who loves athriller along with horror and humor. A must read book, plain and simple.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2003
Awesome story!!! It was a suspenseful book with lots of twists and turns that will shock you so much, that you won't be able to put the book down!!!!!! How could a story about a plane crash be so exciting and suspenseful?? Well let me tell you something it is!!!!!!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.