the house was damp and basically peeling itself away from it's pine skeleton. the deal was we'd live there and i'd repair it for money off of the rent. the two best parts about the place were the stone fire pit out back and the wood stove inside. my father in-law gave me this axe, an old government issued tool and i'd put it to work a few times a day as i struggled to keep the sieve like walls warm for the brand new baby inside.
for many years it has served me well.
a few months back i broke the handle so i set to fitting it with a new piece of hickory and with no reason to rush i took it slow. precision over productivity. i was proud of the end product. my old tool looked handsome, like I had dipped it in the tool version of the fountain of youth.
the other night we sat by a small, snapping cook fire and twirled hot dogs and brats above it until they were golden brown.
i poked at the embers and asked if i should add some wood so the kids could make smores.
you'd think this is where my memory would be hazy, but it's not. this is where my memory comes into intense focus. i pick up a log, no different than the hundreds, maybe thousands of logs before it. i chip off a small piece. i adjust my hold and go for another, my axe skips and i'm swinging a little harder.. and that's it... quick as that everything is different.
the ER room is small. a thin sheet separates me from all the other people who are laying there wishing they could have that one minute of life back. the hot, severely bright swivel light above me is missing a bolt where it attaches to the ceiling. someone gives me a shot in my arm, followed by some shots around my knuckle. pain, gauze and blood. sweat drips into my eyes and i stare at my feet and wonder when was the last time clipped my toenails.
it's strange how we've supposedly come so far. all of us carrying little computers around in the pockets of synthetic blend pants that don't even wrinkle.
but not in this high plains clinic. instead i step back in time and i get a wild west solution. a pill instead of a shot of whiskey though and then everything is burned to close up arteries and blood vessels.
"could have been worse" they say and i know they are right.
"don't get that wet for a couple of weeks" and the real pain sets in.
i swallow another pain killer and try to imagine what it's going to be like to tie bloodknots.