Bird on a wire

(Published in the New Waterford Community Press, June 26, 2009)

So I’m sittin’ at the outpatients with a bag of frozen peas on my crotch and this
half-deaf old fella with his leg in a cast says – WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU,
BUDDY?

Some people, eh? Here I am, doubled over in pain, with a bag of fozen peas on
my crotch and this fella’s not only wonderin’ what happened, but he got the gall
to come right out and ask me at the top of his lungs in front of everybody in the
waiting room.

And before I can say, Well … He comes out with – DID YOU GET HIT IN THE
CROTCH OR SOMETHIN’? And of course, again, he pretty much screams it
because, like I say, clearly he’s half deaf, because he got a great big hearing aid
rigged up to one of his ears.

Oh, you think so, doctor? I wanted to say to him. You look at a fella icin’ his area,
holdin’ his guts in pain, turnin’ to his wife every five minutes sayin’ Oohhhh my
crotch, and you’re able to come up with a diagnosis that quick? You’re somethin’
else, buddy.

But I didn’t, of course, because the fella had to be pushin’ 80 and especially with
him bein’ half deaf, since I make it a rule not to make fun of elderly people or
handicapped people, unless you count One Leg MacInnis we used to play ball
with years ago, but I don’t think it’s makin’ fun of somebody if you’re laughin’
when they willingly use their artificial leg as a baseball bat.

Anyways, all I said was – Yeah, I got hit in the crotch.

Whuh? He says, cuppin’ his hand to the ear without the hearing aid.

I saaaaaid, I got hit in the crotch! I said to him, loud enough that one of the
nurses at the counter dropped a paper when she turned to look.

Whuh happened? He said. You get hit with a hockey puck?

Now see, I’m in pain, sittin’ there, and I’m in no mood to be puttin’ up with all this,
so I mumble a few curses under my breath and Minnie swats me on the shoulder
with the two-year old Reader’s Digest she’s readin’.

You be nice to him, she says. He’s sweet.

Fine, I says, losin’ all my patience.

I was tryin’ to put up a clothesline for the wife, I says, yellin’ at him, and pointin’
my thumb at Minnie beside me.

Only thing is, I yell, she wants one of them ones got the two pulleys, right – them
two wheels at each end with the blue line that goes all the way back and forth.
So I gets one pulley screwed in from the step, and then I go down and get the
other pulley screwed into the top of the baby barn above the door.

I KNEW AN INDIAN USED TO SELL CLOTHES PROPS! the old fella yells out of
nowhere, but I barrel right over him and keep tellin’ my story.

But nooooo, the wife says – the baby barn’s too low, so you gotta rig somethin’
up to the top of it to make the line go higher, otherwise the dog will be able to
jump up at the clothes when they’re on the line.

(I’m yellin’ so loud, I gotta keep the bag of peas from fallin’.)

So I go down and look to get my ladder out of the barn so I can make it higher.
I gets a big two-by-four, and some spikes to nail the wood to the barn, and my
hammer and everything else I need, but I can’t find the damn ladder, because I
loaned it to my brother-in-law and he never returned it.

USED TO SELL THEM TEN BUCKS A PIECE, the old man says. MADE OUT
OF BIRCH TREES, I THINK.

So what do I do then? I yell at him. I gotta use my step ladder instead, only my
step ladder ain’t big enough to reach all the way. So the baby barn got the kind
of door that opens half on the bottom and half on top, right? I so I lean the step
ladder up against the front of the barn and open the bottom half of the door half
way so I can stand with one foot on top of the ladder and one foot on top of the
door while I’m reachin’ to nail this board in place and get Minnie her curseword
clothesline.

CARRIED THEM AROUND WITH HIM, NEVER EVEN HAD A TRUCK, the old
fella keeps yelling. THEY WERE SOME STURDY.

You be careful up there, Minnie says to me from the step, and when I turn to see
what she’s sayin’, my foot slipped, and I fell straight down – one leg on either
side of the barn door, RIGHT ON MY CROTCH, I yell to the old man.

By this time, Minnie’s tuggin’ at my shirt, tellin’ me to shut up, everybody can
hear me. So I sit there and try to be quiet. And I adjust my frozen peas, and
wonder if I have splinters in my arse.

HE SOLD CLOTHESPINS TOO, the old man said.

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