Sunday, August 7, 2011

Because I’m About to Break the Law


I got a phone call on the morning of July 28th at 5:52AM from a phone number I didn’t recognize.

“Hey, it’s me, Eric Wright.”
“Hey, babe, what’s up?”
“I’ve crashed the bike and I need you to come pick me up.  I’m up in Country Club.”
“Is this your phone?”  I asked, knowing that he had accidentally left his phone at the office the night before, but I never think properly before coffee.
“No, I flagged someone down and they let me use their phone.”  Nothing in his voice sounded unusual.

Eric then told me approximately where he was in Country Club, and I told him I’d be right there.  I left the house in my bedtime clothes and flip flops, left lights on in the kitchen and living room, because I figured I’d be back quick.   At least I had the forethought to take Eric’s car with the bike rack on it.  I figured the bike was banged up, and that was the reason why he couldn’t ride it back to the house.

When I came up the first major hill in Country Club (a hill that is also a tight curve), I saw Eric sitting on the shoulder of the road, right in the bend of the curve.  His bike was about twenty or thirty feet from him, lying among the pine trees and poison ivy of someone’s back yard.  He smiled weakly at me as I pulled into the nearest driveway, which was across the street, behind him.  He was holding his right leg at the shin, bloody handkerchief covering a cut that was bleeding enough to have soaked his sock.  He remained sitting stiffly in place, no pivoting of the body or head, as I got out of the car and approached him.  I don’t remember who spoke first or which questions were asked in what order, but I seem to recall an exchange that went something like this:

Me:  “Where’re you hurt?”
Eric:  “My left side hurts.  I think I broke my collarbone.”
Me:  “Well, we need to get you to the emergency room.”
Eric:  “Yeah, that would be good.  I think I gashed my leg pretty bad…”
Me:  “Let me take a look.” (One glimpse revealed a cut that my kinfolk would’ve remarked upon with “Well, he done laid that leg open to the bone.”).   “Yep, that’s gonna need some stitches.”

At this point, Eric asked me to move the car closer because…well, he just couldn’t really move too well.  So I pulled the car into the road, turned on the hazard lights and prayed that no one would be coming down through there too fast…then I went about the task of getting Eric off the side of the road and into the car.  The road shoulder upon which he sat was pretty steep, with loose gravel and patches of poison ivy here and there.  I could’ve tried to help him up by his right arm, but that would’ve meant balancing myself with one foot up on the pavement and one foot down in the gravel.  I might slip and take Eric with me.  So, I did what I thought was best at that moment.  I faced Eric, planted my feet on either side of him, squatted in a most un-lady-like plié, hugged my arms around his waist and lifted him to a standing position with my legs.  Still holding as tight as I dared, I talked Eric through taking two steps backwards so that his rear was within sitting distance of the passenger seat.  Two cars arrived from opposite directions just as I began performing what may have been the most difficult procedure of the day:  folding my very-much-in-pain-and-very-much-in-shock-six-foot-one mate into a sedan that all of a sudden seemed about the size of a Volkswagon Beetle.  One driver called out to me that I could use her phone if I needed it.  I said thanks, but I had it under control…that I was taking him to the emergency room…if I could just get all of him in the car…

If it had not been such a distressing situation, it would’ve been comical. Eric seemed to be made of elbows and knees that didn’t want to bend, and limbs that I was corrugating to fit under the glove compartment.  Quickly (although at the time it seemed impossibly slow), I coached and coaxed and tucked limbs until a complete Eric sat uncomfortably inside the car.  How he remained composed and cooperative as we went through these motions, I’ll never know.  All I can say is that there are times when shock is a blessing.  This was one of those times.
Now, even though I was in unknown injury territory, I was running on adrenaline and instinct.  I knew that Eric was hurt, but I felt like he was going to be fine.  My attitude was very calm until something happened that almost made my wheels come off.   When I asked Eric if he wanted me to retrieve his bike, his response was something akin to “I don’t care.”  Fear gripped me.  The hair on the back of my neck may have even stood up. Eric’s bike meant the world to him.  If he didn’t care about the bike, then something must be terribly wrong with Eric.  I had to act, and I had to act quickly.  I sprinted through the poison ivy, grabbed the disabled bike (wheels would not turn), and secured it best as I could to the bike rack.  Performing a three-point turn at record speed (thankfully, Eric’s car executes this maneuver far smoother than my car does, otherwise he would’ve been in much greater pain than he was), I exited Country Club and made my way down Rainbow Drive.  Every bump elicited either a sharp withdrawing of breath or a hiss from Eric.  All I could do was apologize in advance for the bumps I knew were coming, or apologize for the ones I had just hit.  As we came up to the red light by Applebee’s, Eric mentioned that I still had the hazard lights on, and that I could probably turn them off now.  My response was to look for any potential vehicular hindrances and say, “Well, no, I’m gonna leave them on, because I’m about to break the law.”  We went on through the red light and got on the bypass that spits traffic out on the East side of town, the side of town where the hospital is located.

What with all of the multiple surgeries my sister, dad and mom have had at that hospital, I know every bump between here and there.  And there are a lot of bumps.  I couldn’t even look at Eric the entire stretch of Meighan Blvd. between Hood Ave. and the hospital cutoff.  It must’ve been a nightmare.  The only blessing about it was the fact that it was so early in the day, there was hardly any traffic to slow us down.  So, we arrived at the emergency room relatively quickly, even if one of us was worse for wear.  The only issue that I now had to face was how to get Eric out of the car that I had just ten minutes ago pleated him into.  Could he walk?  No.  I ran in for a wheelchair.  Again, how to get him out of the car?  By this point, Eric’s entire body seemed to be giving into the trauma, so great was his pain.  I knew I would not be able to wrangle him out of the car and into a wheelchair on my own, so I ran back in and asked the nurse to find an orderly to help me with “a cycling accident victim with possible broken bones” (I wanted to sound as if I knew what I was talking about, and that they better get someone to help me, stat.  Stat, I say!).   An orderly who was blessed with both a calming demeanor and the stature of a hay-bale-throwing farmhand came to save Eric from my final attempt at turning him into an origami version of himself.  I’ve never felt relief so sweet as that I felt when Eric was rolled into the ER…

It is here that I will suspend my storytelling.  Eric has begun his account of the accident on his website, so it seems appropriate to stop at the same spot where he did.  But, I do have one more thing to add before I go:  Eric’s Garmin was still tracking speed while I was driving to the hospital that day.  According to the stats, I never went over 55 miles per hour the entire time I was driving, including the time when I ran the red light.  So, I may have been breaking the law, but I was doing it in a cautious and reserved way.  


Update:  Part Deux of this story may be found here.


4 comments:

Eric Wright said...

Thanks for jotting down your impressions- my details are getting sparser and sparser

Bob Bkiybt said...

Carol, I think his details are getting sparse; his blog said he was at Riverview ER, but I guess we will excuse this mistake.

Bob Bkiybt said...

That was supposed to say Bob Blount. Guess my fingers weren't working when I set up my account.

La Petit Rouge said...

Bob, I thought that might be you! I'll let E know about that oversight...yes, we must grant leniency. He is injured, after all, eh?