Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chapter 59


I took a moment to put my thoughts in order and then started to explain.  “There was some kind of brawl at about nine or ten I guess.  It was hotter than most of us apparently expected and you could tell people were stressed out and cranky on top of it so I put it down to that but it could have been anything I guess.  It was between some County High football players and some guys from outside the District.  I still don’t know who they were but they got tossed and so did a couple of the County High players but most of the County High kids involved were allowed to stay.” 

“Did you see the brawl?  No one said anything.” 

“No.  At least Linda and I didn’t but after it happened Gramps texted everyone to meet up and he said to stay in larger groups and to get things done quickly, that people were acting strange and he wanted us done and gone sooner rather than later.  It was getting really warm by then and the farmer’s market area wasn’t worth much except I did get some exotic … oh no.” 

“What?” 

“I guess it is all gone.  All that wasted money.  Oh gawd, on top of the doctor bills.  Oh stop the truck Sawyer, I’m gonna be sick.” 

He pulled over real fast when he realized I wasn’t acting and it took me a few minutes to stop heaving.  “Oh gawd.  I … I haven’t been able to think straight since they gave me that stupid shot.  Oh Sawyer, I’m so sorry.  I …” 

“Hush.  It’s taken care of.  That Dr. Carruthers said she was doing it pro-bono because she didn’t want all her handiwork to be messed up and what she didn’t cover Gramps did.” 

I winced.  “That’s still …” 

“It really wasn’t bad and I already plan on working to pay it off if things don’t work out like well … apparently you are still covered by that medical trust fund and all it was some kind of guarantee that Gramps will get back after the trust fund pays out.  The lawyer that settled the probate took care of changing your name and I guess just took it as a matter of course to take care of all the notifications and changes of address at the same time.  I’m going to look at those papers again, that’s not something we should have missed.” 

“Ok … we’ll worry about that later.  And I’ll write a thank you note to Dr. Carruthers.  She’s actually not bad … she’s just … er …” 

“Yeah she sure is ‘er’ but she knows her business.  I looked her up while I was waiting for the paperwork to sign and she’s written all sorts of papers and gotten awards and everything … some of them for the work she did on you.  As far as the groceries they could go to Hades but Linda said everything is fine and she and Tommy ran our stuff to the house when they left the hospital to take Gramps home.” 

“Oh … I did the dishes didn’t I?  I didn’t leave any in the sink?” 

“You worry about the craziest things.  What the hell does it matter whether the kitchen is spotless or not?  Besides a dish takes its life in its hands in that kitchen if it doesn’t get itself washed up real quick.  They’re usually quaking and hiding in the cabinets afraid to be out of place.” 

I looked at him and asked, “Are you being silly?  Really?” 

“Yeah I am.  It’s relief. Distract me by finishing your story,” he told me as he helped me get back in the truck. 

I sighed as we got back on the road and said, “There isn’t much left to tell.  It was getting too hot to do much of anything worthwhile.  Uncle Forrester wasn’t feeling too good and the unseasonable heat was getting to me too so we stuck together.  We move about the same speed on days like this.  We pushed our carts with our purchases in them back to the trucks and those of us in that group were thinking about pulling out the drinks when there was this loud bang.  Two guys were starting to fight several rows over and the noise was where one had thrown the other on the hood of a car.  Cutter said, ‘Uh oh.’ And before anyone could think of anything else to say it’s like people ran in from all directions; like those two guys starting up was some kind of signal for everyone to go berserk.  I can’t believe how fast it all happened.  It went from two guys fighting in the parking lot to I don’t know how many people fighting all over the parking lot and around the flea market stalls too.  We were getting knocked around and Donnelly and Cutter were running interference while Benedict was trying to get everyone up high, like on the top of the camper tops where it was safe.  Only Uncle Forrester and I can’t climb so he’s pulling me into the cab of one of the trucks.  That’s when a bunch of people run between the vehicles and he and I get pushed out into the mess.  I’m not sure what happened right after that.  Uncle Forrester let some guy have it with his cane while someone else kicks mine away from me and I stumble and go down.  Next thing I clearly remember is Uncle Forrester has an arm around me and is dragging me between two big vans.” 

“Gawd.” 

“Yeah.  But so long as Uncle Forrester is ok …” 

“Dammit Kay-Lee, you’re hurt.  And if I find out who …” 

“Sawyer don’t start a feud.  There’s no telling who did what to whom.  And once the cops … sheriffs … whatever they were … got there they busted enough heads and kicked enough butts that it ought to satisfy anyone.  They had riot gear and those batons and you could actually hear them hitting people they were doing it so hard.  And what they didn’t stomp the Hartfords did.  Cutter and Donnally squished enough guys between them it looked like a cartoon assembly line.  And Uncle Forrester and his cane … geez … I ain’t ever going to get him mad.  Did he play baseball when he was a kid?  He sure did hit a couple of line drives.  And Aunt Pearl … oh my gosh.  She put some guy in a trash can.  Just upended him into it like one of them women wrestlers on TV.” 

“She did what?!” 

“You ask Linda if you don’t believe me.  Linda was there trying to help with my busted eyebrow and we both saw her do it.  It was after most of the mess was all over with and the paramedics had arrived.  I guess Uncle Forrester and I were getting too much special attention for someone’s liking and they came over and gave some lip and were getting in the way.  Aunt Pearl asked ‘em to leave twice … she sure didn’t ask the third time.   She just whaled on him and yelled at him for hurting her family.  The cops had to ask her to go sit in the truck cab and cool off … and she almost didn’t go.” 

I know he asked me some more questions after that but I was pretty tired and washed out and could only half-way answer them.  I remember getting home but Sawyer must have carried me up to bed ‘cause I don’t even remember getting out of the truck.  Next thing it was morning and getting out of bed to get to the bathroom was excruciating.  I’ve hurt worse but it has been awhile and took me a few minutes to remember how to manage it. 

Sawyer caught me coming out of the bathroom.  “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be up.” 

Trying to put on a good face I replied back, “Hey, you’re supposed to be working at Burt’s warehouse.” 

“Are you kidding me?  Delly called last night demanding all the details and she’s already been here to the house on her way to church.  She said, and I quote, ‘That damn warehouse has waited this long it can wait a little longer.  You leave her side and I’ll think you’ve taken leave of your senses.’ End quote.” 

“I’ve never heard Delly swear.” 

“Well she doesn’t make a regular habit out of it that’s for sure.  Here, I’ll help you back to bed.” 

“Sawyer, please just let me get dressed and sit downstairs someplace.  It’s too hot up here and … and just laying around makes it harder not to feel sorry for myself.” 

“But Kay-Lee, you’re the color of green cheese.” 

“Oh you’re just being polite.  I look like I got in a fight with a box of ugly sticks and lost.  If you can’t stand to look at me I’ll just …” 

“It isn’t that and don’t try and wind me up woman.  I just can’t stand … I wasn’t there.  I wasn’t there when you needed me to be.” 

I realized that Sawyer was really, really still upset. 

“Are you kidding?  You heard Dr. Carruthers.  She was real happy with my muscle tone.  She’s never said that.  Never.  Not even after I spent time at rehab centers.  She was always on me to get more tone, like it was some kind of vitamin I should be taking on a regular basis.  Said it would help support what she calls my infrastructure better.  And you help me do my stretches so well she thought I was getting regular PT.” 

“What?  Is that some big deal?” 

“It is for my case.  It was hard for me to find a foster family that could take me to all of the therapy appointments that Dr. Carruthers wanted me to have.  The best most of them could manage was to pick me up after I rode the bus to the hospital’s pool complex.  As a result I was always behind and it took longer for some therapy or other to work … or for some surgery to heal.  The fact that she didn’t think I needed surgery … you have any idea how many times that woman has seen my insides?  She probably knows what they look like better than she knows what my face looks like.” 

“That many times huh.” 

“That many.  I know she doesn’t look that old but she’s in her fifties … she has grandkids anyway.” 

“No way.” 

“Yes way.  And I’m sorry she kinda went off on the whole birth control thing.” 

“It’s all right.  She seemed to settle back down when I told her that I wasn’t going to let anyone dump some potentially harmful chemicals into your body when I could take responsibility for it.” 

“Settled her down?  Shut her up actually … I’ve never seen anyone do that.  It was kinda cool.” 

“Aw Kay-Lee …” 

“I mean it.  You do all the right things.  But if anyone knows that sometimes bad things just happen it’s me.  I’m just glad you rescued me when you did.  I hate … look it’s not that I’m not grateful for all the medical help I’ve been given since I was a baby …” 

“I know that.” 

“Well, ok you do but that’s why you’re the only one I’ll ever talk to about this stuff.  I couldn’t even get into this with Linda or Tommy; they’re good people just … it’s complicated I guess.  I just … people … touching me and things … and hospitals and how they smell.  It was like being a prisoner … of a place and of my body.  But at the same time the hospital was sometimes the only place that I felt safe and didn’t have to worry about people calling me names or being scared of me.” 

“Scared of you?!” 

I shook my head sadly and it almost made me weepy.  “I used to scare kids.  It was all the hardware and … and how I looked.  I heard parents threaten their kids that they’d end up looking like me if they didn’t stop doing stupid stuff and getting hurt.  I clanked when I walked … if I was able to walk.  Sometimes bits of me would look funny as they’d use tissue expanders in to grow extra skin to cover the areas that were getting thin from so many surgeries.  Stitches, staples, bolts, screws, patches, bars … sometimes I smelled funny because of the antibacterial medication.  My whole body was cockeyed … at least I’m not so much of a freak now but then …” 

“I’ve asked you not to call yourself that.” 

“I know.  But you need to understand the truth.  The me you see before you right now … even with all these scrapes and bruises … still looks a hundred times better than I used to.  A lot of that is due to Dr. Carruthers and the other doctors she got to work on my like the plastic surgeons.  And I just … I’m thankful for that and don’t ever want to have to go back.  Not ever.  Last night was just … it wasn’t hurting because that comes and goes if you’re human … it was just being in that place.” 

Sawyer helped me to get dressed although dressed is all relative to who you talk about and what the occasion is.  Basically he helped me put on a loose sundress that only had spaghetti straps.  This left my banged up knees and elbows free and didn’t lay too tight on my bruises any place else.  My bad leg was too swollen to fit in the brace comfortable so I consented to Sawyer carrying me down the stairs. 

“If you had a mustache you could play at Rhett Butler.” 

“That movie guy who said, ‘Frankly my Dear I don’t give a damn?’ Nah, that dude was an idiot.  I bet a little sweet talking would have been better than tossing her over his shoulders and hauling her to the bedroom.  Probably would have gotten a lot more in return too.” 

I looked at Sawyer suspiciously and asked, “Have you ever sweet talked me?” 

“Uh … never had to.  You’ve always been just about perfect about everything.” 

I snorted as he put me down and from the porch a voice caused us both to jump.  “Good catch little brother.  Gooooood catch.” 

Sawyer winced which made me laugh until the laugh made me hurt and I caught my breath.   Sawyer was caught between concern for me and opening the screen door for his sister and Burt, he nearly tripped over the ottoman.  Finally he got the door open and his nephew and niece and Burt started to carry boxes in. 

“What … ?” 

Delly came in and said, “Oh sit down before you give Sawyer a hernia tripping over his own feet.  Brother go tell them where you want those dishes and such.  There’s more out in the trunk that need to come in too.” 

“What is all that?” I asked. 

“You didn’t think you were going to get away with people at church not sending a dish or something did you?  And those that didn’t cook something sent you something from the garden.  Lotta potatoes and sweet potatoes, a couple of cantaloupes, a watermelon, and Burt’s grandmother sent you a bushel of beans.  She said they’d give you something to do while you were stuck unable to get around.  I wanted to ask her what you were supposed to do with the beans after you’d snapped them but sometimes you’ve got to keep your mouth shut to keep the peace.  I love Mrs. Penny to bits and pieces but she’s three-quarters vinegar on even her best days.” 

Having found that out already I just looked at her and blinked.  Delly laughed which was a good sign because Delly herself had more than a little vinegar to her.  They didn’t stay long, they were heading up to the hospital to see Uncle Forrester and then to help spring him later in the day. 

“Then take something with you so you don’t have to buy food for lunch.” 

“Wellll, if you’re sure.” 

“Sure I’m sure.  Sawyer will show you where the plastic containers are and take whatever silverware and all else you need.  Hospital cafeterias are usually good prices but money is money and while I know Burt does real well for you all … it just seems … well …” 

“Don’t worry I understand.  And agree.  And to let you know I talked to Gramps at church and he says that he expects that Sawyer is going to want to stay around here for a couple of days and then go back to the warehouse to finish that off and that the other boys can take his work until that’s over with.  Sawyer and him can work the details out but don’t let Sawyer try and drive you crazy.  He used to get nuts over things after Mom died so suddenly.  Him and dad both.  I couldn’t sneeze without the two of them coming unglued … the kids either for that matter.  Hit him with a skillet if you have to.”  Then she tried not to laugh when she said, “Or poke him in a tickle spot.” 

“Oh no.  Sawyer!  Sawyer?! Did I say something at the hospital?!”

2 comments:

  1. Love it !!
    I've had a couple of occasions where Docs have done a little preemptive pain medicating too and ...well... yes they Really do lead to loose lips and lots of OMG I did/said ......THAT.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete