Empty room walls painted white. No windows. A door across from me. I lie on the floor. Ewing Baldwin, holding two cans of beer, swigs one, crushes the can and tosses it, watches me. He puts the unopened beer on the floor, charges at me and begins to beat my neck with his fists. Not a word spoken.
He fetches his other beer, opens it, swigs, throws the can to the floor. He charges. He kicks my right ribs and knee and hip, grabs me by the throat. He is going to kill me. I scream, no sound.
Except when I awake, screaming, and in pain.
The day before, while I climbed Clifton Terrace bluff road (no sidewalks), a speeding car came barreling down the snaky curves at fifty miles an hour, headed toward the river, passing within inches of me, and I tripped and fell to my left on my face, smashing my sunglasses into my eyes, the bridge of my nose cut and bleeding, my hand and right knee bleeding, my neck whiplashed. The car sped on, trying to beat the light.
A van of strangers, three young men, stopped, bless them, the side door sliding open. Two boys rolled me over, picked me up and carried me to their van. The driver told me they were headed to New Orleans; I had two choices: go with them (I laughed, which was his goal), or they would drive me home. They drove me home, carried me out of the van and set me upright on the porch and waited for me to go inside. Sorry you’re hurt.
I staggered into the house, blood dripping from my nose cut onto the floor. My knee, having had a replacement the year before, swollen and red. My ribs caused sharp pain each time I inhaled.
I drove myself to the St. Anthony’s ER, spent seven hours, never saw a doctor. At the six-hour mark, a CT scan of my neck (I have a plate in my neck), X-rays of my skull and right knee, no breaks, but I barely could move. Intense pain. Getting old is an art form unto itself, and I am a lousy artist.
In the ER, an elderly man, his bare right foot swollen the size of a cantaloupe, sat next to his granddaughter, waited patiently. A woman sat in a wheelchair, for hours, whistled her pain through her clenched lips. People came up to her and asked if she wanted water. Each time, she shouted, “My fibula and my tibia are broken!” A pregnant woman was wheeled in, head in hands, her frantic husband calling for help.
Sorry, the volunteer at the desk said, Sorry. I don’t know the game of “Sorry,” but the game in the ER was Sorry We Can’t Help Sorry But We Have Too Many Patients, Sorry. My nurse thanking me for not yelling at or insulting her. Leaning over my head and feeling my hip bones, her breasts soft on my face, the first breasts I felt in years, a song tune entering my mind.
The next day, I wrote about the accident, high on oxycodone, unable to work. I turned on CNN (Kevin McCarthy: will he, won’t he), napped, woke, napped, woke, ate some lentil soup, fell on the bed, drifted off to sleep:
Empty room walls painted white. A door across from me. I lie on the floor. Ewing Baldwin, holding two cans of beer, swigs one, watches me. He puts the unopened beer on the floor, charges at me and begins to beat my neck with his fists. Not a word spoken. . .