John Clark is unavailable today as he’s in Rapid City, SD at the Elmo Ermwood Institute for an annual spiritual oil change and alignment. He will return for his next regularly scheduled post. His favorite cousin, Pradesh ‘Bubba’ Letourneau is posting instead about John’s history with “Guy” mishaps.
I was sittin’ on the back porch swing when John stumbled around the corner, wincing visibly as his tailbone met the seat beside me. “Need a refresher, Boy?”
When I returned and handed him a can of diet cherry soda, he mumbled thanks, popped the top and killed half in one continuous gulp. “Thanks, I needed that. I been dragging so much the past couple weeks, I gotta stop and pull dandelions outta by backside before Ma will let me in the house.”
“Don’t tell me. You gone back to doin’ them dumb guy things again. I thought you outgrew them ’bout twenty years ago.”
“So did I, but when you’re a writer, sometimes you gotta experiment to get a handle on realism, ya know.”
“Do tell. Lemme see, then. Does that mean the Roto-Rooter man’s gotta go sewer pipe divin’ if he wants to get real good at his job?”
John winced. “Don’t make me laugh, that hurts almost as bad as sneezing right now. How else was I gonna learn that duct tape ain’t worth a damn when it comes to fixing bullet holes, but sterile tent caterpillar silk and super glue work slick as a smelt.”
“Cripes, Bubby, you didn’t shoot yourself just to see how it felt did you? I could see doin’ some serious experimenting if you was writin’ them bodice rippers, but hands-on mayhem don’t seem particularly appealin’ to me.” Besides I’d think you’d have enough hands and body-on experience already to rely on.
“Lemme see, there’s the broken foot when you got it caught in the spokes on your bike, the near ruptured appendix and that sadistic nurse who came in every twenty minutes to make you laugh, the cat that darn near scratched your eye out, the tree ya dropped on the power line, the chip ya took in your eye when you was too stubborn to wear safety goggles.”
“You can stop any time now.” John was fighting a grin as I reeled off his lifetime of mishaps.
“Ain’t happening. I’m just getting’ to the good stuff like runnin’ into that elm tree on a borrowed motorcycle, then compounding injury and insult by showering with the cast still setting AND then trying to use a scythe to cut brush the next day up on Appleton Ridge. How about the cigarette that burned your finger down to the bone on our class trip? Dare I mention drivin’ your dinky station wagoninto Chickawaukee Lake while blitzed? I’ll grant that ya slowed down after coming to your senses, but there’s a couple real good chainsaw bites like the one on your kneecap and the time you tried bucksawin’ and talking at the same time. I bet that scar’s still visible unlike the stitches ya popped when tryin’ to plant trees the day after hernia surgery.”
My cousin had the grace to blush when I paused. Truth be told, if he wanted to, John coulda come up with almost as many guy-haps on my part if he wanted to. I decided I’d better finish the list quick. “Lemme see, what did I forget? Oh, yeah, the finger. Come to think of it, that might have been the best and last one I remember. It takes a real idiot to drop a three hundred pound rock on their pinkie, split it to the first joint and try to convince their RN wife that a bandage was gonna do the trick. How many stitches did it take?” I was rewarded by a two middle finger salute.
“So, Bubby, what happened this time?” I waited while John killed the rest of his soda.
“Well, a couple weeks ago, I got real ambitious about pruning apple trees, seeing as how I’m retired and have time to really get on top of projects. Since that damn ethanol dissolved the fuel line in my chainsaw and I sorta haven’t gotten around to hauling it up to Harmony to get it fixed, I used my hand pruning saw to do the job. However, that left some hellaciously big limbs to buck up and doing so with the pruning saw gets old real quick, so one Sunday I strung all my extension cords together and started cutting the four big limbs into stuff that Sara and Russ can burn in their stove. I was using my electric pruning saw which, by the way is one of my best buys ever. The biggest limb was Y-shaped and about 12 feet long. I’d just sawed through a chunk that was about head high, when the rest of it jumped forward. The cut end smacked me square in the chest and I swear, I knew how Sonny Liston must have felt when Cassius Clay hit him in the Lewiston Fight. It was instant numbness, followed by the thought that maybe my heart might stop and then serious hurt. Of course real guys don’t stop to assess damage, they finish the job, so I kept cutting, then stacked everything before daring to lift my t-shirt and see how bad it was. Sure enough, there was a big red half circle of ugly and lots of unhappy ribs.
“That was what led to my dragging. Still doing so and my ribs aren’t in a very forgiving mood.” John gave me a pained grin. “That stuff about the duct tape, bullet hole and caterpillar silk packing was all thrown in for effect, but I bet I could do a half decent job of using them in a story down the road.”