Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Musings, 02 August 2014

Good morning,

A vague ache in my right hip caused me to turn and clutch the wall as I descended from the cool of the bedroom this morning.  That brief twinge spun me backwards in time, to 1974, St. Louis, just blocks from St. Louis University.

I've just left my dorm room with a date, a West County boy who's slumming tonight, taking a North County girl out riding in his dusty Gremlin.  We pull away from the curb and I turn to him, gazing at his profile, my right hand reaching down for the seat belt wedged against the door.  It's dusk and the evening stretches ahead of us, a cool spring night with no expectation of rain.

I've not yet buckled the belt when I see his eyes briefly widen.  I have no other warning.  The car coming straight for us slams into my door and I am thrown sideways, pinned between the rough fabric of the seat and the Gremlin's door, on top of which, I later learn, is the left front wheel of an Oldsmobile, full-size.  I close my eyes; I do not breathe; I wait while the blare of someone's horn pierces the night soon followed by the urgent siren's wail.

My date falls back while the first responders assess the situation.  They ask me questions that I know seek to learn my level of awareness.  I tell them  my name, my age, the year, who is President.  I correctly identify the city.  They stump me with one final question:  "Do you know what  happened to you?"  I don't know if they mean, "Do I know there's a car parked on  my hip?" or "Do I know my luck has run out?"  I shake my head but the fire fighter seems to understand.  He squeezes my hand.  "We're going to get you out of this," he assures me.

That fire fighter's hand never leaves mine.  Hours pass; maybe minutes; new sounds replace the stilled siren.  Urgent voices, the slap of a box on pavement.  I see another uniformed body hovering behind my fireman, I can't tell who, I can't see what.  But I see medical supplies and understand that it must be someone from the ambulance.  A body crawls beside me while the fire fighter's large strong hand grips mine.  "We're going to get you out," he repeats.  He can't say it enough for me.  He seems to know that.

A gentle voice asks me if I can feel my toes.  I hold the gaze of the man who has made it his job to comfort me and nod.  "Can you move your legs at all," the voice inquires.  I shift.  "Not my right one," I admit.  I consider whether to tell them that I'm disabled but I have 18 years of experience with the impossibility of explanation, the impasse this raises.  I decide to wait and tell the emergency room personnel.  I don't want my rescue delayed while a huddle of EMTs tries to decide if my crippled legs pose an impediment to their work.

I hear the murmur of voices.  That strong hand has not released mine but the rest of them huddle to be part of the strategic assessment.  I try to focus; I gather they can't decide whether to move the Oldsmobile or how quickly to do so. They don't know what will happen when the pressure rises from my body.  I whisper; the firefighter leans to hear.  "Get it off me, get it off me, get it off me," I plead. He nods.  They've all heard.  They move towards the car.

I don't know then but I learn later:  they hoist it off with the cable of a tow truck. I feel the easing of the pressure on  my hip and tears rise in my eyes and flow down my checks, dropping on the two hands now holding mine.  I feel the sear of pain rush through my torso and realize what they had known:  Lifting the car has shifted me in ways that might be less bearable than the car's stabilizing weight.  But I can breathe again and that's what I wanted.

Someone climbs on top of the Gremlin's hood and peers into the cracked windshield.  I hear a guiding voice.  Someone else enters from the smashed back window and slides his hands between the blanketing door and my shoulders.  My fireman squeezes both my small hands, which he engulfs with his, the sleeves of his jacket falling down onto my thin arms.  "They're going to move the door," he says, gently.  "Look at me, look at me,  LOOK AT ME."  He holds my eyes with his; I see into the brown pools of his dark eyes which never waver or shift.  And suddenly the pain becomes unbearable and I cry out but that fireman never lets go of my hands, never breaks contact with my eyes, never lets me go.  I black out, briefly, and when I come back around he's still there.  Still there.

Forty years have gone by since that accident.  Sometimes I wonder what became of those first responders.  I'm nearing sixty now; they must be older, if they are still alive.   I don't know their names.  I've had worse things happen to me since that accident,  including being run down on Westport Road by an uninsured driver in a VW Cirocco, a blast to my left side which sent me skyward, flying above the adjacent row of two-story buildings, tumbling back down and smashing into the Cirocco's hood and then its windshield before sailing eighty-two feet forward to land on the street.  The first responders at the accident came to visit me in Menorah Hospital, amazed that not one drop of blood had been shed.  I told them about the Gremlin-Oldsmobile match of 1974, in which I had suffered, by some miracle, only a dislocated hip.  I told them about the fireman who held my hand.  They glanced at each other, a long, knowing glance.  "That sounds like an angel," one of them quietly remarked.  I smiled.  Indeed.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.