I was woozy. They’d given me a shot to dull the pain before I’d said I needed one. I was in the middle of counting all the dancing spots on the ceiling for some reason when I heard Sawyer yelling.
“Where is she?! Where’s Kay-Lee?! What do you mean they’re seeing if she needs surgery?! She …” I tried to sit up and tell him to stop yelling before he got in trouble because the guards at the hospital were prone to throwing people out. But I couldn’t so instead I must have knocked something over and yelped, “On no.”
Sawyer ripped back the curtain and then it was his turn to yelp when he got a good look at me. I knew that Sawyer had quite a vocabulary but I learned right there that he could get creative and make up his own words too, especially new ones about the ancestors of certain people that thought they could hurt his wife and get away with it.
He rushed over and startied going on and on about he was there and it was ok and he’d get the so and so’s that did this and finally I just reached up. I meant to pat his cheek and tell him it was ok but instead I accidentally grabbed his ear and pulled him close and since it was simpler I kissed him on the mouth to shut him up.
Satisfied at the effect I told him, “There now. I’m better. Let’s go home.”
Things got unnaturally quiet and Sawyer said, “Kay-Lee? Are … I mean … you feeling … uh …” He asked someone standing out of my line of sight, “What’s wrong with her?”
Part of me knew how I was acting must have looked strange to him so I explained, “They gave me some dang ol’ shot that I didn’t ask for. I’m probably high as a downtown hooker. But while we’re on the subject I want to know how Uncle Forrester is. He is flat out a hero. Between the two of us we barely make one good pair of legs but he is the one who pulled me up and in between two trucks to keep us from getting totally squashed. But his color wasn’t good Sawyer and no one is saying anything. I ain’t gonna have being treated like my brain is crippled up as my leg. Now tell me or else.”
I heard Tommy ask, “What does a downtown hooker and Uncle Forrester have to do with one another?”
I heard some coughing that sounded like several someones had let something go down the wrong pipe and Aunt Suzanne said, “Gramps will explain it later Tommy. Kay-Lee just means the pain medication has her all fuddled up.” To everyone in general she said, “They just admitted him for observation because he wouldn’t settle down when he threatened to bash the heads in of those County High boys for starting that riot. And the fathers of those boys too if they got in the way. Now don’t the rest of you start again or I’ll send you home if you can’t behave.”
That’s when Aunt Suzanne came over to where I could see her and she said, “And he’ll be happy you’re feeling better too Honey. And I better not hear a fuss out of you either. We’re going to have our hands full with Sawyer.” She turned to him and gave him a beady-eyed glare, “Though I’m sure he’s not going to give us any trouble, none at all.”
Ignoring everyone I said, “I want to go home. Now.”
I heard brisk steps that I’d unfortunately been familiar with long before today and groaned. “Not you again.”
Dr. Janice Carruthers came into the examination room with a smile. “Well that’s some greeting. Used to be I could never get you to even squeak. Now you sound like you could give a lion tamer a run for his money. How about we discuss what you want a little more privately. You’re Mr. Hartford?”
And off she went. She had one of the best beside manners of any doctor I’d ever met and that was saying something considering how many doctors I’ve met in my life but she also rules things with an iron surgical glove. What Dr. Carruthers wanted, Dr. Carruthers tended to get. She had our story out of Sawyer in two shakes of a lamb’s tail and would have given him what for if he wasn’t already a quivering mess asking how bad I was hurt, what he could do, that he’d do anything to get whatever it was I needed, that there were germs in a hospital and he didn’t want me catching anything, and a whole lot of other things that only made about a half budget of sense.
I whispered to the doctor, “He’s a little sensitive and tends to be overprotective. I poke him in a tickle spot when he won’t quit. Looks like I might have to poke him again so you might want to move. He tends to spazz out when I do it.”
It wasn’t until later that I found out my whisper could be heard three exam rooms down and that the aunts where having to use their purses to keep the other Hartford men still hanging around from falling on the floor and laughing so hard they could barely breathe.
Dr. Carruthers looked at me and then at my chart and said, “I think we can dispense with anything stronger than Percocet from here on out.”
Then she started explaining things to Sawyer who nearly wilted in relief when he found out I didn’t need surgery but that I was definitely going to be sore for a while and that I’d need to take it easy.
“Easy?! She’ll stay in bed … or on the sofa … or in a chair or something if I have to strap her in. No stairs. No lifting. No …”
“Mr. Hartford … Sawyer right? I don’t think we need to take it quite that far. I’ve known Kay-Lee most of her life and why don’t we just let her rest a couple of days and then see how it goes from there. She’s very familiar with her personal limitations and knows when she’s doing too much. I’m actually very pleased at the muscle tone in her short leg. Is she in PT? No one else knew the answer.”
“You mean her stretching exercises? She does them almost every night. Does she need something else?”
“Hmmm. It doesn’t appear so. Is she on any medication?”
“She just takes one of them naproxo … uh … the blue ones … Kay-Lee?”
“Naproxen. I’m almost out.”
“Wait, what? Why didn’t you tell me? Have you been shorting yourself?”
“No, just I’m almost out. I’ll have to use the asitac … aceetam … uh … my tongue’s not working for some reason. It feels funny. Is something on it? I think I bith ith or thomthing.”
“Er ....” He looked at the doctor as I poked my tongue out to try and see if there was something on my tongue.
Dr. Carruthers smiled and said, “We can definitely dispense with any of the stronger painkillers. Kay-Lee has shown some sensitivity to them in the past and apparently continues to be … sensitive.”
I don’t know how long it was after that but it must have been a while because the pain shot had started to wear off finally. “Kay-Lee? If I lift you …”
“No lifting. Just help me set up. I’ll swing my legs over and then if you brace me I’ll get down.”
“Er … that fire in your eyes isn’t for me is it? I’m sorry if I upset you earlier.”
“What? Sawyer … just ignore what an idiot I was. I hate those shots and I hate that … that … thing.”
Looking where I pointed he told me, “It’s just a wheelchair Kay-Lee. They say you have to sit in one to get to the exit doors or they won’t release you.”
Quietly I told Sawyer, “I used to have to use one all the time. I’m afraid one of these days I’m going to wind up in one again and not ever get out. I’d rather be dead.”
“Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that.”
I realized I’d really upset Sawyer and I said, “Well, maybe if you were around I wouldn’t but … that would be the only reason. I mean it Sawyer … I have a severe prejudice against those things.”
He didn’t say anything, just helped me down and with the nurse keeping the chair from rolling, helped me sit in the wheelchair. Before we left I made sure that I had my brace and everything else that I’d come with. I also made sure of the rest of the family was all taken care of. Aunt Suzanne told me to hush, “You sound like you are counting ducklings. Let Sawyer get you home and put you to bed. We’ll let people at church know you’re fine but not necessarily up for a lot of visiting. Lord knows that if even half try to come by that have been calling to find out you’ll get swamped and never rest.”
Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Derwint were staying with Uncle Forrester while Aunt Pearl and Uncle Junior were helping Tommy and Linda take care of Gramps who was as mad as a tongue-tied frog and ready to start a feud. Getting into the truck wasn’t fun, it actually hurt quite a bit but I wouldn’t show it in front of the nurse who was watching me like a hawk. Finally we were pulling away and I started to relax. “I didn’t think I was ever going to get away. Thank you for rescuing me.”
Only growly noises came from Sawyer until he finally said, “Do you remember what happened? I still don’t have the whole story.”
“Are you … are you mad at me?”
“No, of course not. I’m pissed off but never at you. Dammit. You didn’t want to go and I made you and now look at this. God Kay-Lee, you could have been …”
He couldn’t finish the sentence and I reached over and touched his arms. “You didn’t make me. You let me choose remember? As for could have beens, don’t worry about them, they didn’t happen. I’m just thankful that Uncle Forrester is ok. He really was something else Sawyer. He must still be real strong because he picked me up with his good side and all but dragged me out of the mess of people. We held each other up until Cutter saw us and barreled through the crowd like he was still playing football. Donnally and a couple of the others followed him through and they ringed us until the crowd thinned out enough that they could get us back with the rest of the family. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“But how in the Sam Hill did it start?”