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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Say We Just Hold Him Down and Remove the Limb Entirely

Working on my new book "I've Saved You a Seat", a collection of short stories of the bus-riding kind. Below? A story from a little over a year ago...


If you’re ever in the area, I insist you meet Mary and Jon.

Mary, of course, you already know. Quicker witted than the average bear, able to clean your place for a mere $15/hour, if you ever see me wiping my eyes while bent double laughing, you’ll know Mary’s near.

Jon is her boyfriend. Jon is a special man, built, it appears, just for Mary. Like many women, Mary can be driven to the edge by her boyfriend’s lackadaisical attitudes toward the dirt/snow/engine grease he tracks into the house – and Jon laughs, in the good-natured, taunting way that we reserve for those we love; and she, after sweeping up and beating him with a broom, laughs too.

And Jon and Mary tell the best stories.

You know how some people’s allusions to stories are sometimes better than the stories themselves?

This is never the case with Jon and Mary. When Mary says, “Jon, tell Pearl about the time you used a front-end loader to drop several tons of snow into the neighbor’s yard”, well, you’re going to want to turn your phone off, make sure your smokes are in reach, maybe have a towel handy for wiping your eyes.

Same applies for the home surgery story.

Oh, come on! We all know people who’ve had surgery performed at home, don’t we? I myself once removed a skin tag from under my right arm with nothing but a nail clipper and my own steely determination.

But I got nothin’ on Jon.

So sit here, won’t you, next to me, and let’s listen to Jon’s story:

“Jon!” Mary shouts from across the room. “Tell Pearl about the time you developed Zombie Leg.”

Jon frowns. “Zombie leg…” he mutters, rolling the words off his tongue, his eyes staring up and off into the distance. He is looking for a connection.

“Remember?” she prompts. “The spider bite?”

Jon laughs. “Oh, yeah! Right! The spider bite.” He smiles, lights a cigarette. An ashtray in the shape of a motorcycle engine is on the coffee table in front of him, and he lays the lighter next to it.

“So I’m washing the truck, right?” he says. “In a car wash, one of those places where you do it yourself. And there in the corner of the bay was this enormous spider’s web; so as I’m finishing and the water pressure is dying down, I give it a good spray, clean it out, right?”

He pauses. Takes a hit off his cigarette.

“And I’ll be damned if this spider doesn’t shoot out, bite me a good three, four inches above the ankle! I mean, hot damn if that didn’t hurt!”

He takes another drag from his cigarette, lays it in the ashtray.

“I’d been bit before, got bit in the neck in Florida, so I knew I was in for some trouble; but at first it wasn’t that bad.”

He picks up his cigarette. “At first.”

“At first? Why, the very next day,” Mary jumps in, “he’s getting out of the tub, comes into the living room, and says to me “Does this look funny to you?” And there, where the spider had bit him, is a lump the size of a golf ball, right on top of his shin!”

Jon nods, inhales. “A golf ball,” he repeats. “A big ol’ lump. So I let it go a couple weeks –“

“Wait,” I say. “You let it go? It’s already the size of a golf ball?”

“We don’t have medical insurance,” Mary interjects.

“SO I LET IT GO A COUPLE WEEKS,” Jon says, giving us both the Evil Eye, “and the damn leg really starts to hurt. I mean, it’s turning colors.”

“It did,” Mary whispers, “it really did.”

Jon looks at her sideways but continues. “So Dan – the neighbor Dan? – his wife’s a doctor. Yeah, a real doctor. I mean, Dan’s not, but he comes over, takes one look at my leg and says, Man, you are going to die.”

I look at Mary, who pulls an imaginary zipper across her lips.

“So I go to the pharmacy, right? I mean, they have to have something that will clear this up, right? So I walk in there, pull my pant leg up to show the pharmacist and this old guy gets mad! Tells me, Get out of here!” Jon laughs. “I mean, I’ve been thrown out of places, but never a pharmacy!”

“It looked like a zombie leg,” Mary whispers. I look over at Jon, who winks at me. I look back to Mary. “Seriously. He even dragged the thing around, it hurt so bad.” She shakes her head, lights her own cigarette. “A zombie leg.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jon says, winking at me. “A zombie leg. ANYway, the leg’s color is all wrong by this time. It goes from green to blue to purple, finally turning black. By now, it’s all the way down to my foot and I can barely walk on the thing.” Jon takes a long drink from the Fresca in front of him, lays his cigarette back into the ashtray. “I give Dan a call, who gets his wife’s medical bag, and he comes over.”

I shoot a look at Mary, who nods, bright-eyed, eyebrows raised.

Jon is silent.

“Well?!” I shout. “What happened?”

Jon arches his back, rolls his head from one shoulder to the other.

“I died,” he says.

“Shut up,” Mary says. “You did not.” She turns to me. “They cut it open. Right there in the kitchen. Dan pulls out a scalpel and goes, You hold his leg down, and I’m like, Oh, no you don’t!" Mary shudders visibly. "I left."

Jon laughs. “Mary couldn’t take the heat. She had to get out of the kitchen.”

“Wait, now,” I say. “What happened?”

Jon picks up his cigarette. “Dan cut it open,” he says. He pulls on the cigarette, exhales smoke toward the ceiling. “He cut it open and took out this big black ball of blood or something. I don’t know. All I know is it was pure relief.”

He laughs. “Went to a doctor a couple days later, just to make sure we got all of it. Shoulda seen his face when I told him who did the surgery. His eyes went all big and round. He tells me, stay right here, I’ll be right back. He takes off, probably going to get his doctor buddies and I just thought, aw, screw this. I left before he could get back.”

Jon takes a hit off his cigarette and smiles. “Whole leg was back to its normal color in about three weeks.”

He stands up, stretches.

“So we gonna call for pizza or what? Who wants pizza?”

33 comments:

Shelly said...

Hey, home surgery works for me, especially with the cost of hospitals these days!

Vicus Scurra said...

Yes, you see, all of this lends support to those good folks in the Tea Party. Why does anyone need health care?

vanyelmoon said...

Hell, I'll remember that next time I get bit by a spider. Last time I went to the doctor it cost me 150 bucks, and that's with insurance.

lisleman said...

It was only one leg. He still had a backup. Nothing like pizza after medical stories. DIY surgery - is there an app for that?

Andrea said...

A book of bus stories? Heck YES! Sign me up for that. I love your bus stories!

Andrea said...

My daughter came home yesterday from school with a note that she needs to see an optometrist. I held up two fingers. She got it right! She's fine. They gave her the alphabet eye test. She's five! She won't get it right every time!

jabblog said...

Home medicine is the best sort:-)

jenny_o said...

I wonder if Dan googled that before he came over. Or if he just had natural talent.

Extra good post :)

A book of bus-riding stories? Awesome.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Although that story made me want to retch; I totally understand. We who are uninsured must occasionally be creative and stoic.

Scarlet Blue said...

Now I'm grateful I'm in the UK with non-biting spiders!
Sx

Eva Gallant said...

Pizza, after that story??? I don't think so!

fishducky said...

FUNNY STORY!! I want to read more funny stories! I sent you an email so you could tell me were I could send a check to buy I WAS RAISED TO BE A LERT, but I haven't heard from you. You can get my email address from my profile.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

I have been called upon to render medical service in the far away land of nowheresville, but never in a million years would I cut open a leg anywhere in the vicinity of real modern medicine. Dan is a very fortunate man to have come away with both legs from that encounter. A fascinating story though.
Rosemary

Douglas said...

Did I ever tell you about the time I removed my own appendix? No? Well, I didn't so it would have been a lie. On the other hand, I was sorely tempted to repair my broken kneecap (using Superglue and a bit of strong thread) while lying on the gurney in the ER for 5 hours waiting to get someone medically qualified to actually pronounce it broken (the big "snap" and the fact that I could feel two separate pieces where it was once one didn't see me to matter).

Otherwise, I lance boils and such fairly often.

I wish I had friends (and cats) like yours, though.

Amber Star said...

yeek...what kind of spider runs out and bites your shin when you destroy its web?? A really big mean one, I guess. I'm thinking I'd have probably passed on the pizza, though.

R. Jacob said...

I was helping install carpet in a house one morning. Early on, I sliced open a finger with a knife while cutting carpet pad. The bandages just slid off because of the blood. I made my own band aid by wrapping the finger in a napkin and wrapping it all with masking tape including the end so the blood wouldn't drip out on the new carpet. I went back to work. Everything healed fine I think, Is it unusual to be able to scratch your nose and ear at the same time with the same finger? just wondering...

R. Jacob said...

I think we need to see a picture of Mary and you together. I will chip in $15.00 each if necessary!

Belle said...

Amazing story! If I had to pay thousands, I'd probably do the same thing.

The Elephant's Child said...

I will not show this post to my smaller portion who is convinced that all spiders are EVIL, and some of the ones here is Oz do have tendencies that way. He drowns them in fly spray. I sweep them up with a dustpan and brush and escort them outside. Guess which one of us got bitten? Yup. That would be me.

Michelle said...

Jesus...you people really wreak...and yes, that's with DOTAKE.
And not only that, UTAH is having major attacks with ADA, so, WHISPA?
Not anymore.
Everybody has it in writing.
QUAD V- EQIDAR- BEARO- AMPHYM- TELFUN- ERCOMAM.
REMY has had " major surgery".
And that's with " chum" - RY.

ipenka said...

Wow, big ball of blood sounds crazy. I'd once heard an urban legend that one time when they cut a swelling open a bunch of baby spiders popped out. *shudder*

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Pearl, you really made Mary and Jon live through your words! I could just picture the scene! A part of me winced at the thought of what people end up doing without medical insurance. And it made me think of an episode with my brother some years ago. I was working with him and my husband in the endless cleaning out of our deceased parents' home when I stepped off a step and fell, spraining my ankle severely. As I lay on the ground, my brother bent over me saying "Oh, Kathleen! We need to get you to a doctor!" My husband Bob yelled "Michael, you ARE a doctor!" And my brother, an M.D., stopped, thought about it and said "Oh, yeah. I forgot!" And he quickly and expertly treated me. But OMG! The spouse of a doctor doing kitchen table surgery? Your friend was very lucky.

Silver Strands said...

Sounds like they have the perfect relationship :)

the walking man said...

Cool they can move in next to me, hell with those kinds of stories to tell I think we could live a few years longer. There is one condition...don't wash Frank's web away, he spends all summer building it and when he's done with it he's fat and ready for winter. He's about silver dollar size now...cool spider.

Vapid Vixen said...

They sound like they would be a blast at a party. And no, that is not sarcasm. I mean it!

aamedor said...

great story, great blog followed

HermanTurnip said...

Great story! Can I buy both you and Jon a beer, or at least a copy of your book when it's published?

Adam said...

this was really well written lol. ill remember this next time i see the doctor!

River said...

I have an award for you, I know you don't accept them, just wanted you to know.

Diane said...

When I hear medical insurance stories, it makes me realize that I LOVE CANADA!!! Great story well told. Thank you!

lime said...

sweet fancy moses, i dunno whether to laugh, cry, vomit, or ask for more! yah, i'll look up jon and mary if i ever get out that way :)

Pat said...

I've gone right off my lunch now.

Mrs. Tuna said...

I can barely take out a splinter because I am a chicken shit.