Saturday, July 27, 2013
My little house is oddly on the level. The hitch is down in the dirt. The back end is 2 1/2 feet off the ground. But not over half a bubble off, inside. Me neither.
I got here last Friday, and managed to make it all the way to Tuesday before turning my right ankle getting out the door. Not too bad, at first. But then Wednesday I had to test the dang thing by going after ice cream up in Granite. By the time I got out of the car and in the door of the Sage Café I was limping like the guy in Gunsmoke. Then while I was spooning up Pralines N’ Cream and commenting on the rain with the waitress, there was BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! – four distinct reports – sounding like they came from the road in front. She froze, and then carefully peered out the front windows.
“Sounded like firearms, “ I said, helpfully.
“Yeah. Crazy Ed was just here. You saw him.'”
Actually, I hadn’t. Ice cream has that effect on me. As there was no answering fusillade, I went on spooning it up. She kept looking out the window.
“Tell you what,” I said. “I’m unable to run in my present condition. So if he comes back, you scurry out the back, and I’ll just sit here looking vulnerable.”
“O, I reckon he’ll be back, eventually.”
After surviving the drive-by, and hobbling around camp a bit, I decided in a flash of brilliance that the way to treat this foot problem was to lace it up tight and go hiking up a rough trail. Maybe clamber down the bluff to the river a couple of times. That’ll teach it. Thursday night, way into the wee hours, I woke up with my foot on fire. And knew past doubt the next couple of days were going to be murder.
I wouldn’t have got anywhere without my Arkansas Thump Stick. This is the Mammy Yokum model. I am well aware that thump sticks up in Arkansas tend to be a lot heavier than this flimsy noodle thing, at least for grown men. But it was good enough to lean on, and got me outside to do the one thing I absolutely had to do Wednesday: transfer 26 gallons of fresh water from the truck to the trailer. After that I went back to bed and whimpered.
I hate that, going backwards once I’ve been arguably up for the day. I also hate taking pain pills, which tend to make me goofy. But when your foot can’t bear the weight of a single sheet on it, sometimes you are led to modify your opinions.
I’m a terrible patient. And a worse nurse. No patience at all.
Over a long life, I have managed to survive 6 years of jumping out of airplanes, a decade or so of fairly reckless downhill and cross-country skiing, and 30 years working at the Fire Department. But all those things have conspired to evolve from the delicate bones and sinews of my feet and ankles a regular mess that holds together about as well as a large helping of hashbrowns.
It’s never been bad enough to operate on. In my opinion. But this happens every year or two. Like Chubby Checker, I just “do the twist”. And go down. The most important thing I’ve learned – or should have - is to stay off it and it will get better. Preferably while I am comatose. So with the help of Tramadol, I slept the clock around Thursday, just about. And stayed as level as I could.
It’s Friday now. I can get a shoe on it, if I’m careful. It hurts, but doesn’t glow in the dark and throb like it did yesterday. And as if this weren’t enough, I just had the oddest conversation with the BLM park manager. First time I’d seen him, and I’ve been here a week. He came by to find out how many days of the 14 I had left, so I told him. He asked if I was panning, and I said no, just enjoying the weather and trying to get back to where I could walk again.
And then out of the blue he warned me about John Hart, the guy who has the mining claim on the sandy S curve of the river here. The one who tacked up the flashy mustard yellow notice in my campsite. “He has strong opinions about what people can and can’t do on and around his claim,” he said. “Last year we had the Sheriff down here because he was waving his pistol at some fishermen.”
“Can he tell them not to fish on his claim?”
“Did he get straightened out?”
The guy shook his head, looked off, and said in a level wistful voice, “Yeah, he got straightened out.”
After he left I got to wondering why he felt the need to confide in me about this. Was it like a Bear Warning? Am I in imminent danger of being shot for camping in a designated site? Am I to be done in after all this time by some guy with a crazed notion of his hobby rights?
Well, just lovely.
As a practical matter, it takes a coward and a bully to wave a gun at an unarmed fisherman. And it only takes a single man of low character to put a chill in paradise. I hope he doesn’t come up here, waving his gun around. My foot hurts, and I’m not in the mood to put up with him.
Posted by Bob Giddings at 12:52 PM