"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Sunday, August 7, 2011





Wallowing in self-pity, I knew it was simply a matter of time before the gangrene set in. I could only pray that some sort of miracle might happen and someone would show up out of thin air and rescue me. It didn't seem likely.

The pain would change forms. Sometimes it would be dull, sometimes sharp and electric. At this particular moment my shoulder felt as if a rat were gnawing away at the bone. Heck, maybe it was; I couldn't see in the darkness? It was blacker than a stack of stove lids and I knew that in my predicament, if I moved in the slightest, I'd undoubtedly lose the arm entirely. Maybe death would come quickly, but the way things were panning out, slow and painful was the most likely scenario.

Why me, I wondered? What did I ever do to deserve this? Was it fate, was it karma, or was I just plain foolish? And how would I manage the rest of my life with but one arm? It's not like folks don't notice that kind of thing. Then again, what good would the arm be even if it could be saved? I'd never be able to ride a motorcycle, couldn't be a traffic cop, I'd never conduct the Boston Philharmonic, and I certainly wouldn't be competing in any Olympic swimming events, unless they came up with one where you swam around in circles.

This was no time to be funny, Firth, this was serious business and if I didn't find a way to free myself, I might certainly die. The ticking seconds seemed like minutes, the minutes seemed like hours; continual, never-ending hours. As it was, I wasn't entirely certain the arm could be saved anyway. Even if I were rescued and spared amputation, the limb would no doubt be useless. If I were lucky, it'd be nothing more than a dangling ornament to fill the other sleeve of some god-awful sweater at best. At least I'd have my arm, I suppose.

It had been nearly two hours and the blood flow to my right arm had long, since ceased. My arm was bluer than a Lenny Bruce nightclub act. For a long while there had been the excruciating pins and needles in my finger tips. Mercifully the stinging jabs gave way, disappearing, only to be replaced with the bone-piercing pain I was now suffering. I wondered how I had managed to get myself trapped in such a position. How could I have been so foolish as to allow this to happen to me? Me, Mister Macho Mountain man, Mister Outdoorsman, Mister look-out for nĂºmero uno, Mister I don't need nobody; especially no dames? I could sure use some help right now.

I couldn't help but wonder should I survive this nightmare how different my life would be. I was right-handed, after all. Now what was I to do about going to the bathroom? Unless you're a southpaw, ever try using your left hand to take care of the paperwork?

The pain in my trapped arm was agonizing, almost more than humanly tolerable. Several times, in fact, I nearly passed out. I knew, however, that I had to stay awake. Easy as it might be to drift off, I knew I couldn't let myself sleep. I also knew if I did; that would be the end.

Funny, the odd things that race through a person's mind when one is trapped and faced with meeting the grim reaper. One moment I was fighting back the pain, telling myself not to give up, struggling just to stay alive. The next moment I was wondering if my fifth-grade teacher, Ms Ridenhour, really rode around after school on a broom, accompanied by flying monkeys, or was it just an uncanny resemblance.

Damn this darkness. If I could only see, maybe I could do something to extricate myself. Maybe I could find a way to break free. Oh, how I wanted to see the light just one more time.

Then suddenly I thought I saw a light. Were my eyes simply playing tricks on me? Was it a mirage? It was faint, but I'm certain it was a light.

There it was again! Almost like a search light scanning back and forth. It was a light, and it was getting brighter. Someone was looking for me.

"Come on light," I said to myself. "Keep comin' this direction." Then the light went out. "No, No, over here, I'm here, HELP!" I wanted to scream, but I couldn't. Then, just as suddenly as it had disappeared, the light flickered on and started moving toward me again. Thank God, they're still looking for me!

The light grew brighter and brighter, bigger and bigger, and closer and closer until my eyes began to hurt when the light scanned past me. Then, as the beam flashed directly into my eyes, it froze, its position fixed on me like a train coming out of a tunnel. Finally, from behind the light I heard the faceless voice I'd so longed to hear.

"Get yer feet off the back of that chair and sit up," said the usher. I'd been rescued at last!

"Excuse me, I'll be right back," whispered Katie, as I abruptly dropped my feet and sat up. Katie glanced silently past me and every fifth- grade girl in the third row of Peasley's Movie Emporium stood and began shuffling toward the isle.

Katie Brusitchell was the prettiest girl at Misery Elementary School, and against better judgment, in a moment of weakness, had consented to go to the movies with me as long as twelve of her girlfriends were along to chaperone. I hadn't actually asked her to sit with me personally; it was more of a request on my behalf through a friend of a friend of a friend. And to set the record straight, I would have asked her myself had I the ability to get my tongue to work and string together a cognitive sentence whenever I was around her.

At any rate, as soon as Katie disappeared in the darkness toward the lobby I leaned forward in my seat just enough for my paralyzed arm to fall with a lifeless thump onto Katie's empty seat. It was as numb as a porch plank. A short moment later the sharp stinging sensation of pins and needles began returning. This was wonderful! This meant that the blood flow had returned and my arm and that my promising career as ace with the Dodgers pitching staff someday was once again on track. Heck, I could even be a traffic cop!

Placing my arms across my chest I slouched back into my seat with a sigh of relief, waiting for Katie to return. No sooner had my feet reached the top of the chair in front of me I felt my shirt tighten around my neck and a hand lifting me out of my seat. "I warned ya once, and once is all ya get," boomed a voice from behind me. "Yer outta here; let's go."

I recognized the voice as belonging to Mister Peasley's son, Vincent, heir apparent to the Peasley grocery store, plumbing supply, and movie house fortune. A junior over at Misery High School, and a no-necked, muscle-bound tackle on the varsity football team, Vincent had the I.Q. of an abalone, accompanied by the super human strength of a silver-back gorilla and wasn't one to be trifled with.

As Vincent bounced me by the collar out through the lobby, we met Katie and her platoon of girlfriends who were returning to their seats.

"Hi Katie," I said feebly, a sheepish grin on my kisser.

"Where are you going," she asked?

"Uh, I've gone to ggcramble and stoff-loff-a- namplifarm," I stammered, my tongue in its usual knot when around Katie.

"Unh," she answered?

I was pretty sure she knew that I meant, "Let's do this again sometime, dollface!"