While walking my standard poodle Friday morning, I tripped on a piece of raised sidewalk and crashed to the ground. With a bored look, Mitzi (Okay, okay! French dog. French name.) stood by while I struggled to my feet. I picked up my glasses and saw the right lens half covered with blood. My blood. Which ran in a veritable stream down my face onto my sweatshirt.
I considered my earlier good decision to wear two shirts and snatched off my outer shirt. After I thought about where I’d have to place a tourniquet, I bunched up the sweatshirt and used it as a blotter on the right side of my face. Doggie and I hurried the half mile back up the hill to the house.
Every step of the way, my feet worked with my brain to pound out a litany of reproaches. Stumblebum, you know roots of the trees along Elm Street have lifted the sidewalk. No matter how much Mitzi likes the route, you shouldn’t take it. You shouldn’t try to problem solve while walking. Now you have to go to Urgent Care and you’ll be late for work. And you’ll miss the eight o’clock meeting you called.
I sighed and turned off the voice in my head, took the dog home, made a couple of calls, then drove myself to Urgent Care. Alone in the curtained cubicle a little larger than the size of a hospital bed, I waited for someone to come stitch up my noggin. With a slight headache and nothing to do, I listened to an interview in the neighboring cubicle. Of course, I changed the names before transcribing.
Nurse Mary: Hi. Are you Mr. Robinson?
Mr. Robinson: Yep, I am.
Nurse Mary: What are your injuries?
Mr. Robinson: My jaw is out of whack. He threw a left that damned near knocked my head off.
Nurse Mary: Did you lose any teeth?
Mr. Robinson: Nah, I think the sideways motion of his swing saved my teeth. Problem is I can’t chew. My teeth don’t match up now.
Nurse Mary: What have you taken for pain?
Mr. Robinson: I didn’t need anything.
Nurse Mary: The blood on your shirt. Where did it come from?
Mr. Robinson: My nose. He smacked it a good one. It’s probably broken.
Nurse Mary: Looks like it might have been broken before. In fact it looks like there could be some damage to your right cheek bone. Do you want the doctor to take a look at your face?
Mr. Robinson: Nah, probably not the last time it’ll be broken.
Nurse Mary: Your hands, especially your right. They could use some looking at. Do you want me to put hands on the list?
Mr. Robinson: Sure, if you want to.
Nurse Mary: The way you’re clutching your stomach makes me think you might have some damage there.
Mr. Robinson: Yeah, I’m sure of it. He head-butted me something awful. I’m going to have to get even with him for that.
Nurse Mary: You want me to put abdomen on the list?
Mr. Robinson: Ma’am, you can put any little old thing you want on your list.
Nurse Mary: But, Mr. Robinson, it’s your body we’re talking about. I need to know what to tell the doctor.
At this moment, the metallic scrape of shower curtain rang against a steel frame indicating another visitor to the neighboring cubicle.
Nurse Mary: Who are you?
New Guy: Jerry Robinson
Nurse Mary: Well, then, who are you?
Mr. Robinson: Terry Robinson. We’re twins. Identical.
Nurse Mary: With identical injuries, I see. Are you both here for treatment?
Mr. Robinson: Nope. Just Jerry. He got his arm broke.
Nurse Mary: I suppose you’ll go home now and find a way to break your own arm. Especially if you’re going to live up to your identical twin-ness.
Mr. Robinson: Might have to do that.
When I heard men’s laughter and the ripping of paper, I sprang from my own squeaky cot to peek my head out the slit between the curtains. Supporting each other, two decrepit young men hobbled in good humor toward the checkout counter.