The Book of Aric
by Doc Sawzall
A Body in Motion Tends To… April
On the Thursday before Good Friday, I went out to dinner with my folks at the Olde Tavern Restaurant. It was a local spot and the pizza was the best around. We talked about all sorts of things --most importantly, how my school work continued to impress them. They were discussing my thoughts about college and I told them I was going, just that I needed to settle on a school. The night was pleasant and I wasn't going to upset them that I had decided on the Agricultural College. We talked about the new Red Sox season and the Celtics, who were headed for another championship. We talked about my brother and sister. My brother was going to go for his Masters in some obscure field of mathematics and my sister had set her sights on being an elementary school teacher. All in all, the Peterson family was doing well, my parents were proud of all of us. Dad paid the check and we headed back towards home. We were on Lower Valley Road heading towards Foundry Hill which was named for the old foundry located at the bottom of the hill. Years ago, it was a successful concern. The ample supply of water from the Weir River made the power needed for the foundry cheap and plentiful. Today it had fallen on hard times as cheaper products could be made down south or overseas. When we got to the foundry we would turn left and head up Foundry Street to the center of town and home.
Dad looked both ways before turning up the hill. Just as his blinker signal clicked off I heard him say, "Oh Shit." I looked up the hill to see what he was commenting on when I saw the pickup truck coming towards us with its headlights off.
As soon as I figured the headlights were off, it broadsided us. Later, I was told the driver never slowed down, there were no skid marks. The force of the impact tossed me out a window, the left rear passenger window I was told, and I landed in the middle of the road. Mom and Dad weren't so fortunate. They tell me they were killed instantly along with the driver of the pickup truck. When I exited the car, I hit hard against the side on my way out, bruising several ribs. I found out later that my mid-section caught either the door lock knob or part of the metal trim slicing me from just under my ribcage down across to mid-thigh. My head on the way out was lacerated along the part of my hair leaving a nasty gash. My arms and legs had a severe case of road rash as well.
The folks living in the house across from the foundry heard the crash, looked out saw the wreckage, and called the police. They came running out with flashlights. When the husband saw me, he thought I was dead because of all the blood. He directed his wife to get a blanket to cover me and he in turn pulled his car out of the driveway to protect my body. I don't remember anything but the headlights on the pickup truck not being on as I awoke at the hospital.
My brother and sister were there standing beside Marge and Earl. I was groggy and confused as to why I was there. Everyone's eyes were red; it was obvious they had been crying. Looking down I saw the bandages on my arms and I asked for Mom and Dad. My sister burst into tears and fled from the room. My brother started to shake. I asked for Ethan, and then I screamed for Ethan. Marge came over to me and placed a hand on my forehead then took my hands in hers. She told me I had been in an accident with my parents and they didn't survive. I burbled no…it can't be. There was a roaring in my head and I screamed for Ethan, where the fuck was Ethan? Marge explained he was with Sam, they had been at the hospital for two days, waiting for me to wake. My spleen had to be removed.
Sam had been getting antsy so Ethan took him for a walk that he would be here in a moment. Earl came up to me and placed his hand on me. Looking into my soul, he
told me everything will work out, he'd be there for me as we sorted this out. I saw the tears and knew he would care for me and relaxed. Ethan came into the room being pulled by Sam. They had seen my sister and knew I was awake. The look on Sam's face said it all. He was the classical textbook picture of scared, worried concerned and of relief that I was awake and he could talk to me. Sam had no filters and his face would always show exactly what he was thinking. He slipped from Ethan's grasp and came running up to the bed. He stopped on a dime as he remembered my condition. Placing his hands tenderly at the edge of the bed he leaned into me, kissed me on the forehead and started bawling. They were tears of happiness as he was so glad I had awakened. He told me everything in a minute about how he felt; I don't think he took a breath. As he was speaking no one could get a word in edgewise and he was shivering out of nervousness. Ethan came up and placed a hand on his shoulder to calm him down and took my hand in his. I started to relax a bit; my two guys had me and were comforting me. Something in Ethan's demeanor calmed me. Nodding his head to the rest of the people in the room they got up and quietly left the room.
"You must have a lot of questions and I will answer all that I can," he said, as he pulled up a chair and Sam into his lap. I asked him what had happened all I could remember was the meal before and leaving the restaurant. When we had come to the intersection I remembered the pickup truck about to hit us and his headlights were off. Ethan pressed the Nurses Call Button and proceeded to fill me in.
With tears in his eyes he told me my parents didn't suffer, it was quick…instantaneous was the official cause in the report. I had been flung out of the car from the force of the impact. At first, they thought I was dead because there was a significant loss of blood. While there were no broken bones, my ribs were badly bruised, my scalp was lacerated, later they found that I had ruptured my spleen and it was removed. I had severe abrasions to my arms and legs and the doctors felt that there would be minimal scarring.
At this point, Sam broke in and told me not to worry, they were staying overnight in a hotel near Boston Common. They would be here every day of the rest of school vacation week. Tomorrow they were going to ride on one of the Swan Boats.
"Why am I in Boston?" I asked Ethan.
His face clouded over. "You needed to see some specialists, a vascular and plastic surgeon."
"Why would I need to?" I was curious. From what I had been told, even though my injuries were serious, they shouldn't have required specialties like that.
"Let me finish before you speak, then you can ask questions and I will answer truthfully. Promise you will remain calm and not get upset." I promised Ethan I would listen calmly. Sam latched on to Ethan's side. Then as Ethan told me, I was horrified and nearly passed out. Later, Ethan said the color drained from my face and scared Sam half to death. I was as white as the bed sheets.
"When you were ejected from the car" he continued "You were flung from one of the windows. They know it was the one behind the driver's seat. They found part of your dungarees on the door lock knob and the metal trim of the window. When you went out the window you shattered it with that hard head of yours. While you were being ejected, you caught your midsection and got sliced open from your ribcage to your upper thigh."
"Ok, but why do I need the specialist?" I asked again. Ethan choked up a bit and before speaking lightly traced a line along the length of that wound. When his finger crossed over my penis my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I nearly passed out. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly.
"The vascular specialist and the plastic surgeon tell us there should be no lasting damage other than a scar that will be noticeable for the rest of your life. They hope there will be no loss of function. We will know once the stitches come out and you have been off the medicine for a couple of days."
"What's the medicine for?" I asked weakly.
"It's to prevent erections until you have healed enough for the stitches to come out. You should also know they had to shave your pubes off and they need to stay off for a couple of weeks after you come home to minimize any possible infections." He calmly stated.
"When do the stitches come out? I need your help. I need to see it!" I pleaded weakly.
"It's all wrapped up in bandages and you have a catheter to drain your bladder. You won't see anything for a couple of days Squirt, you will be ok. I spoke for some time with the surgeon. He showed me pictures of before and after the surgery. He understood my concerns." I groaned at the thought of someone taking pictures and that the surgeon knew about Ethan and me.
"They tell me you are a medical miracle and the surgeon feels that other doctors can learn from what happened to you. Your photos may even be the subject of the doctor's next lecture series." I guess it was Ethan's way of calming me down. He held my hand as he sat in the chair beside me with Sam in his lap. Sam couldn't for the longest time take his eyes off my crotch. Finally gazing up at me with a wicked grin on his face giggle "Your boner's gonna be in a picture book. Ha…Ha…Ha." Ethan was beside himself trying not to encourage Sam any further but couldn't help himself as he snorted "Yea and with no pubes". By this time both of them were laughing uncontrollably as I began to see and imagine the absurdity of the situation and started laughing myself. Back to more serious matters, Ethan told me that it was Sunday; the accident had happened the previous Thursday. If all went well I would be going home tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest. All of my aftercare would take place at home with visits to the Good Doctor's office in town.
He continued, "We need to discuss your parents' funeral. Everyone wanted to wait until you were out of the woods. For now, it is planned for Friday if you feel up to it. If not, let me know and we'll figure something out."
"Let's get me home tomorrow and we'll see how I feel. I don't see any reason not to and it is best that we deal with it sooner rather than later, "I replied.
As I finished speaking there was a knock on the door and a police officer entered along with Ethan's brother Ezekiel. They had a few questions for me. The officer explained that he needed to file a report on what I remembered happening. Ezekiel explained he was there to look after my interests. I had forgotten he was a lawyer. I answered the officer's questions as well as I could and as accurately as I remembered. All I could really say was that we were at the restaurant eating and Dad paid the check, we had all had sodas. I remembered leaving the restaurant and the ride down Valley Road. I remembered the blinker turning off as we made the turn onto Foundry Street and Dad going 'oh shit' then me looking out the window and seeing the pickup truck coming towards us with no lights on. Ezekiel nodded to the officer and motioned him to leave. Once he was gone he came over to me and told me I did just fine and not to worry. He was going to take care of any loose ends for my siblings and me. He told me to get better and he would see me later this week at the farm. Suddenly I was very tired. A nurse came in and gave me a pill and I went to sleep with Ethan and Sam guarding over me. When I woke the next morning, I saw a beaming Sam decked out in a new Red Sox cap and shirt and holding a bag. He handed me the bag and wanted me to know that it was a get-well gift from him, bought with his own money. The little imp nearly had me crying by the time he was done. Inside the bag was a duplicate of what he was wearing. As he was telling me how cool it would be when we walked out wearing the same stuff, the doctors came in.
The attending physician poked and prodded, looked under bandages and harrumphed. He took my hand and told me I was recovering nicely. If the vascular surgeon was pleased with the healing down there as he pointed to my groin, much to the delight of a very amused Sam, I could go home today. He gave me instructions on how to care for my wounds and to change the dressings. This fascinated Sam and I asked Ethan if he got all of this. He spoke briefly with Marge and Earl. My brother and sister were home sorting out and tending to Mom and Dad's affairs with Ezekiel. Turning to back to me, the doctor wished me luck. If there were anything I needed, I should get in touch with his office. He told Ethan that the vascular and plastic surgeon would be along shortly. We chatted for a bit and Marge and Earl went down to the cafeteria to get some coffee. The nurses came in and changed all of my dressings except for the one down there. About five minutes after they left the vascular surgeon and another doctor came in. He explained the other doctor was a plastic surgeon which freaked Sam out as he thought they had given me a plastic appendage. When Ethan explained what was happening, Sam quieted down. Bringing my covers down the doctor pulled back my hospital gown. Very carefully he started to remove the bandages. Seeing the concern and abject fear in my face he stopped and took a moment to explain what would happen in the next few minutes. He asked if I wanted the room cleared and as I started to respond, but Sam said no way, he was staying to make sure I was alright. He crossed his arms across his chest and stared the doctor down. The look on his face was priceless. I explained that we were all quite close and I would feel better if they were there for my support. Ethan was white as a sheet and very nervous, probably because he was afraid of what my reaction would be. I think he may have been more nervous than me if that were possible.
The doctor said that I needed to know there would be some swelling and bruising, but that in a week to ten days my penis would return to normal. The plastic surgeon was there to inspect the stitches and healing. He had been called in to minimize any scarring after my surgery was over. I was also informed that my left testicle had been banged up and to expect to see more significant swelling there.
He then proceeded to remove the rest of the bandages and everything I was led to expect happened. I reached for Ethan's hand and Sam placed a hand on my shoulder. My penis when flaccid is but a tiny button. Today, however, it was taped to what looked like a popsicle stick. They wanted to keep it stretched out so the skin and interior damage would heal properly and the area would stay clean. If my penis were to retract to its normal position, there were chances of bacteria growing in the folds of the skin. Starting over on the right side near the base, a row of fine stitches traversed the length to just shy of the head ending up on the left side. The tip had a couple of scabs but nothing major. Both doctors seemed pleased with what they saw. I wish I could say the same for my two erstwhile guardians'. Sam was mortified at the discoloration and swelling; Ethan looked as if he was going to be sick. Oddly, I found their reactions amusing.
They cleared me to go home, removed my catheter, and Sam nearly fainted. The grimace on his face was priceless. They showed us how to care for Old Spot and instructed me to keep the area clean and shaved. I was further informed that I would not be getting any more medicine to keep things soft after the stitches came out. That would happen if all went well in three to five days. I needed to know that the first erections would hurt but not to be discouraged, the pain would lessen over time. Sam chose that moment to announce that we all got pee boners every morning and he would check on me to make sure I did. I thought the doctors were going to shit themselves as they were laughing so hard.
Once the laughter subsided the conversation turned serious again. When I was able and comfortable I needed to produce a sample of my ejaculate. It needed to be tested for fertility. That was a bit much for the munchkin to process as he had not had the 'talk'. Ethan shushed him and told him he would explain later. It took a couple of hours for my paperwork to be processed and then we were heading home with a very relieved Sam at my side.
I asked if we could stop at the house on the way up to the farm. I wanted to see my brother and sister. It was a bittersweet moment as we were three lost souls trying to reestablish a connection that never truly existed until a few months ago. They were genuinely pleased to see me and went over their events of the past few days. They had agreed to let Ezekiel and Earnest handle our parents' affairs. There was the matter of their insurance policies, the college had insurance on them as part of their compensation package; the house needed to be dealt with and there more than likely would be a lawsuit over the accident. It would be against the estate of the driver and the company he had owned. Ezekiel reminded us Ernest was a VP with the local bank and he would handle the finances and see that all funds were put into trusts to protect us. We were going to meet after the funeral for the reading of their wills. It was much to process and I told my siblings we were in good hands and that I would see them later, I wanted them to come up to the farm for lunch and settle any necessary arrangements. I told them Friday was fine for the funeral and we needed to figure whether we were going to have calling hours. We exchanged hugs, handshakes and kisses as I left.
I kept thinking to myself why my parents' death hadn't hit me as hard as I had expected it to. While we were raised to be self-sufficient, independent units with no expectation of familial closeness, we had been drawing closer over the past year and deep down I knew that I loved them, appreciated what they had done for us and now I was missing them as if they had gone on vacation. It just wasn't real yet.
We decided against having a wake as our extended family was small and we really had no connection in town. We were transplants. The same went for the community college where my parents had taught. The day of the funeral was cold, dreary and bleak. Some distant cousins showed up, colleagues from the college, and some classmates. The entire Tompkins clan was there as well. Ethan had one side of me and Sam latched on to me, clasped my hand and wouldn't let go. Some words were said about the vagaries of life and of promising lives cut short. When the service concluded, we were transported to the graveyard and my parents were forever laid to rest with solemn words of comfort. We would go back to the farm after the services and invited anyone who wanted to join us. Before we left the cemetery, I asked for a moment. I thanked everyone for coming in our obvious time of need. That we appreciated their kind words and thoughts and they would comfort us in the difficult days ahead of us. Along with my brother and sister we stood and shook hands with everyone who came.
The gathering at the farm was mercifully short. As the last of the guests and all but Ezekiel and Ernest's families had left, they called us unto Earl's study. Today's meeting would be short but we would have to meet at the bank next week. Knowing both my brother and sister needed to get back to school we settled on Monday afternoon. Both wanted to assure us that we had nothing to fear about finances. Our parents had provided for us if something were to happen. The details of the will were simple; we were to split everything in thirds after all college expenses were accounted for.
It was decided that the stitches would come out the day before the funeral. I stopped taking the pills that kept me flaccid the day previous. Like anyone, I was nervous and excited. It had been seven-and-a-half days and I was hoping everything would work. We had an afternoon appointment with the Good Doctor. Ethan and Sam would be my escorts. In addition to the stitches that had to come out down there, I needed the ones in my scalp, the incision where they had removed my spleen and the places along my midsection that required attention of that sort.
I had been lucky, I was told. When the police arrived at the accident, realized that I was alive, and saw the extent of my injuries, they had me brought to Boston. There's a hospital in Boston that specializes in the treatment of children and young adults. They have some of the best specialists and the hospital is one of the top ten in the country if not the world. All of the repair work and sewing me back up was done in mind with minimal visible scarring.
The Good Doctor needed to take pictures before and after the removal of the stitches. Once that was done he started with my head and worked his way down. Along the way, he inspected the various other wounds and nodded approvingly. Sam was delighted to hear the Good Doctor complement his fine job of caring and watching over me.
As it was a school vacation week, Sam was up to the farm and always at my side save for trips to the bathroom when it didn't need to involve him. Both he and Ethan tended to my bandages daily and made sure to get me up and keep me moving. My ribs, while sore, seemed to get better though it would be a while until I could horse around. The first day back, Sam insisted that he help me to the bathroom and steadied me while I peed. He wasn't quite ready for the other end and as I needed assistance Ethan would take over. Each day I needed their help less and less but Sam would have none of it. My two 'nurses' would see to the changes and cleaning of the areas of road rash. Days later dirt and other stuff still kept coming out. Both of them would help me wash. They would tape over my bandages, give me a shower cap and give me a sponge bath while I sat in the chair I had made for Ethan so many months ago.
They made me eat and did their best to keep my spirits up. Sam, I came to realize wasn't a needy child wanting to be at the center of attention but a curious, fully involved young man. His interests were everything around him. And once he was fully committed to a thought or idea, there was no stopping him. If you were his friend he'd stick by your side through thick and thin. Sam was simple and to him the world was simple. He was fully topped off with the innocence of youth and he made us all better for it.
It was time for the Good Doctor to turn his attention down south. He asked Ethan and Sam to give me some privacy and we had a full-scale mutiny and revolt on our hands. Sam took charge and told the Good Doctor he was staying.
I had tried to change those bandages in the privacy of my bedroom but my 'nurses' wouldn't allow it. Ethan did most of the work while Sam watched and commented. He would hand Ethan what he needed and toss what he took off. By Thursday morning while it was still badly bruised and discolored, most of the swelling had gone down in my left testicle. Sam took it upon himself to monitor that situation while Ethan tended my stitches. I explained to the Good Doctor the assistance my 'nurses' had given me, so they were allowed to stay.
At first, I was uncomfortable that the pictures had to be taken, but then figured that no one I knew would see them and besides, I wasn't identifiable. As the 'before' set was about to be taken, the Good Doctor offered me a numbing agent, which I declined. I hadn't felt anything down there for over a week; I needed to know when and how it was going to work again. I noticed when the stitches were coming out; there was a slight burning and tugging sensation. Before he released me from the popsicle stick he took the last set of pictures. The Good Doctor wanted me to know that the plastic surgeon that did my stitches was a pro. It was as good a job as he had seen. He thought that the scaring in my scalp would not be noticeable once my hair grew back. And, the scarring on my penis would be just a noticeable line. He then took the 'after' set of photos.
When my functionality returned, I was reminded that it would be important to give a semen sample. Further, I would have to have one last set of photos taken when I was fully erect so the final results could be judged. Again, I was hesitant until the Good Doctor assured me it was to help others who had similar problems down the road. He also told me that as sensation returned and when I was ready, to use some baby oil to masturbate, as the skin would be dry and the oil would help. I was warned not to expect much at first; there had been major trauma to the left testicle and I shouldn't expect full results for a couple of weeks. There had been some damage to the head of my penis and that area had healed well. Although it would no longer be perfectly shaped, it would still be functional. The scarring would be very minor. He handed me a lidded cup and told me to use it when I had a sample for him. After he released me from the popsicle stick Old Spot just sort of laid there. Once again Sam didn't follow the end of our discussion and his natural curiosity got the best of him. Ethan was able to stop the munchkin in time. We were both going to have the "talk" with him and the sooner the better.
The ride home was a relief in many ways, but tempered by the events of tomorrow when I would be burying my parents.
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