by John Kraft
“Our words and deeds, Good or Evil, are the dishes we put before the Lord.”
— Pope Severinus – 640 AD
The light shining in Doc’s kitchen was the only light on in the neighborhood. It would do. It always has before. In a couple of hours things on the street will begin to percolate, but now? Nothing good happens at three in the morning.
“I think your hand is broken, Terry.”
“No, it’s not, Doc. It’s just scraped up a little. I’ve broken it before. I know what that feels like.”
Every knuckle on Terry’s right hand looked like he’d tried to knock down a brick wall.
“I just need you to clean it up, Doc, and tape it to keep the swelling down.” He held out his hand like it was a sledgehammer that needed repair.
“Uh huh. What was it this time, a bar fight or what?”
“Business. Just business, Doc.”
“I swear, Terry, you get busted up more now than you ever did in The Ring.”
“Yeah, well, I gotta earn a living, right? In The Ring there were rules. Now, not so much. Different rules. I tell you, it gets hard for me sometimes to understand what the rules are.”
The peroxide washed over the scraped and bloody knuckles, stinging like hell. Nobody winced.
“What you need is a tetanus shot. You should go to the clinic for that.”
“They ask too many questions. This’ll do, Doc. This’ll do fine.”
He wiggled his fingers, testing for flexibility, and could he make a fist?
“You know, Terry, that I’m not a real doctor.”
“Yeah, I know. You went to medical school for a year or two. I heard you tell it all to Dutch, my old corner man. I remember.”
“Two years. I had two years of medical school, Terry. That’s all.”
Doc was a tall and sickly looking thin man. Skinny was more like it. His kitchen was his office and, on occasion, his surgery. This morning it was a little of both. He didn’t have a license to practice medicine. That dream died after two years and a weakness for gin. He drained away until all that was left was enough knowledge to pretend. Knowing enough to earn the nickname “Doc” that stung every time he heard it.
The gin introduced him to a different level of the culture and he got himself hired on as a “cut man’ for prize fighters. His job was to stop the bleeding and make things look not so bad when the referee came to their corner to assess the damage.
Doc knows only to blame himself. One night when he can’t hide in a haze he will open a vein and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
“I can patch you up, Terry, but Jesus, I can’t keep putting you back together forever.”
“I don’t need forever, Doc. I just need tonight. Now tape me up and I’ll go.”
“Boxing is real easy, Life is much harder.” — Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Terry Jarosz, 36 years old and at one time a boxer. Middle-Weight Champion for about five minutes, a punching bag the rest of the time. A guy who struggled with the world of rules and laws.
After too many fights the damage to his body didn’t want to heal up fast enough and he couldn’t get any more matches. Permits were denied and that was that.
A guy who played by the rules in The Ring was thrown out of work by the rules from outside The Ring. He had to make a living.
Terry had to work, but it’s hard for an ex-fighter to find any work that doesn’t call on his only skills – hitting and hurting other people. At that he proved to be better than most.
He took work where he could find it. “Lift this.” “Carry that,” and more and more frequently, “Hit him. Break that.”
When he was in The Ring it was nothing personal. It was two men beating each other for the purse, or a part of the purse, after “expenses” were taken out by half a dozen men who called the shots.
Whatever else he was, Terry Jarosz was known as a hard guy who never took a dive when maybe he should have to save himself. He learned too late that in his world being an honest man paid a lot less than the other kind.
People who knew his name assumed, that because he had been a “Champ,” that he was set financially. But people who knew Boxing knew that money had a way of walking out of the door faster than a Ten Count from a crooked Referee. When Terry “retired” he had less than eight hundred dollars to his name. At least he had his name.
That got him some free meals and a few jobs, but after a year or two he became “Terry who?” Fans moved on and real friends, like always, were few and far between.
Now, working as muscle, collecting debts, it always ended up being personal. Sometimes he knew the men that he was leaning on – again for just a cut of the money. He got 5% of whatever he brought in.
It didn’t take long for word to get around that Terry Jarosz would get rough if you tried to snow him. When he first started working as a collector he was easy to fool. A good sob story and he’d end up buying you a drink or slipping you a few bucks. A couple of weeks having to sleep on a sidewalk heating vent fixed that. He learned that in his new world there was no “Loser’s Purse.” He changed. He didn’t listen to the sob stories any more. He didn’t care if your mother was in the hospital. It was either pay up or tell Momma to move over.
“A man’s gotta eat.” That became his motto.
Most of the conversation segment of my morning was about my impending Doctor’s appointment. How exciting.
The appointment was with an “Ophthalmologist.” That is a word meaning: “Not a guy working at the Mall.” I was going to see him for a very good reason – my vision is starting to suck. Not all of it, just the part from about 2 ft. out to about 15 ft. Closer in and farther away I am seeing as well as a 71 year old Geezer with Astigmatism can be expected to see. I can find my way around town without a dog.
The Doctor I had been seeing ever since I came to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Turn your head and cough.”) has decided to retire. I take no credit or blame in his decision making process. He retired and it turned into a case of finding a replacement before my prescriptions expired.
Let me tell you – it is not as easy a task as one would expect. There aren’t that many doctors in town, who have actual degrees in Medicine, who are anxious to take on 71 year old Geezers on Medicare. It seems we have a nasty habit of dying and I hear that means they have a whole new set of paperwork to fill out.
Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –
I saw an old guy recently who was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Getting old ain’t for Sissies.” I have come to truly understand that that is true, in Spades, a solid gold, cold hard fact. Ya gotta be tough.
As the temperature drops the sinews and skeletal structure of my body begin to react in a way that, if I were a car they would have me up on the rack for a tune up and a check of my suspension – and maybe new shocks. But, since I am not a car, I get a bottle of Excedrin. I’m an old model and it is hard to find parts for me anyway.
Right now my spine is trying to dislodge itself and go to Florida. The attached muscles and other human bungee cords are twisting to counterbalance my spine’s attempts to sneak away when I’m not looking. And, Mamacita! It hurts.
Modern pharmaceuticals offer a variety of substances that alleviate pain, but they do so at a cost. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about side effects. All medications have side effects – ALL OF THEM. Some are innocuous, some are enjoyable, most are tolerable. These side effects are there because all medications are also poisonous – ALL OF THEM. The trick with medications is to have you take them in such a dosage that it will achieve the positive, intended goal without killing you first. You can OD on anything.
I knew a fellow who, for various psychological reasons, tried to commit suicide by taking his entire month’s supply of antidepressants at one time. Doing so lifted his spirits and made him forget about offing himself, but those meds had the side effect of completely shutting down his kidneys. Fortunately, the ER doctors were able to save him and his kidneys, and the emergency catheterization they had to perform made him even sorrier that he had taken all those pills.
When my body begins to ache, and get downright punitive with me, I try to avoid taking any pain medications. Most of the OTC things are no more effective than a bag of M&Ms and not as tasty. The ones that do help either upset my tummy or make me feel like I’ve downed 32 cups of espresso. The happy medium, for me anyway, is Excedrin Migraine. I don’t have migraine headaches, thank you, Lord, but it seems to be the most effective with body aches. Go figure.
I came to the realization, decades ago, that these seasonal changes are unavoidable no matter where I lived, and so were the pains that came with them. I have also accepted that there is not a damn thing I can do about the pain, unless I want to take prescription pain medication and put my brain and personality in a box until summer. Some of those heavy-duty pain meds are the equivalent of a lobotomy in a bottle. Why on God’s green earth would I want to do that when my brain is just about the only thing I have that works?
Some years ago I had a nasty case of Shingles and my doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin. Sweet Jesus! I couldn’t feel the pain, along with my head, my tongue, the Western Hemisphere or the Milky Way. It was like getting hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer. It turned me into a side of beef with shoes. After a couple days with that I opted for the pain. At least that way I knew I was alive.
So, here I sit, typing away, having downed a couple of Excedrin Migraine. It helps, a bit. I think that the best thing I can do for myself, and those around me, is to stay warm, eat some comfort foods, and watch the World Series on TV.
Now, if I can just find a bowl full of chocolate covered endorphins.
I LIKE TO CONSIDER MYSELF A PRETTY “WITH IT” KID OF GUY. I may not know where I am all of the time, but I’m never lost. I have my act together. Some people think I’ve lost my mind, but I think they are the crazy ones or they are family.
One thing that I don’t do very often is lose stuff. I try to not have too much stuff to begin with so there is less to keep track of. It’s a simple formula. There are people, however, who go around losing stuff all of the time.
SOME MORNINGS WHEN I CAN’T GET my regular seat in the corner at St. Arbucks (Cursed interlopers!) I am forced by circumstances to plop down next to a group of early morning Geezers and Geezerettes. They are nice enough folks but I’m not isolated enough to do my writing uninterrupted.
A couple of that group are in the medical field and work at a nearby hospital. When they start chatting about things medical I can’t help but eavesdrop, big time. As a result I have picked up little bits and pieces of information about obscure medical conditions – and you know what they say about little bits of knowledge. I am now, officially, a dangerous man. I now feel qualified to make snap diagnoses on everyone who walks through the door.
I HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION. I hate making decisions. No, that’s not quite accurate. I make a thousand decisions every day and I don’t mind it at all. We all make a pile of decisions all the time without even thinking about it.
Every morning we make a decision as soon as we open our eyes.
Decision #1: Shall I get up or roll over and say the heck with it all.
And so it begins.
Oh, yeah? Well don’t tell that to my sinuses.
I am at the tail end of this head cold. I have been wrestling with it for a couple of weeks. While I know that I will live to annoy another day my sinuses have decided to go it alone and play hard to get.
About three days ago I sneezed and I said to myself, “Uh, oh. That was no ordinary sneeze. That felt like a head cold type of sneeze. I was right. The next morning I woke up with my first real nasty head cold in a couple of years.
It has been at least two years, maybe more, since I’ve had to deal with the aches and pains, sneezes, and all of the other fun symptoms of your garden variety head cold. I guess my lucky streak was over.
I knew it wasn’t the Flu or Ebola or anything serious. There isn’t any major coughing, or tummy trouble or bleeding from all body orifices – just the usual yucky stuff.
I’m telling you now – buy stock in the folks who make Kleenex because I am going through it as a vicious clip. I am burning through those tissues faster than Rosie O’Donnell at the Caesar’s Palace Buffet line.
A fresh batch of tourists were getting off the train and heading for the border. A few walked toward the McDonalds, but saw the yellow crime scene tape and turned back to join the flow to the crossing gate.
Laura flipped off the light switch and closed the Cambio door behind her. They looked up and down the street. Nobody was paying them any attention. Laura took Davis’s arm as they casually crossed the plaza. She idly swung the plastic shopping bag holding $180,000 worth of forged documents and the file folder from Molina’s office. They looked just like a couple of tourists heading home after a day of shopping in Tijuana. They made a beeline for the nearest open door on the waiting red train.
They started to step up into the car when a uniformed San Diego police sergeant started coming down and blocked their way. Laura and the officer made eye contact. After what felt like an hour, the officer stepped back up into the car.
Chapter 36 Continued
Outside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.
It’s not that I have issues around getting my hair cut – it’s just that I keep meaning to get it done, but then I forget to do it. It might help if there was some sort of audible alert that it was time for a trim – like the smoke detectors that beep when it’s time to put in a new battery.
The ranks of the Super-Rich are about to expand by one new member – a rather dorky looking Doctor from Chicago.
By this time I’m sure that everyone has heard the story about the fellow who was dragged from an aircraft, beaten, and bloodied by Private Security Officers in Chicago. I hope that the CFO of the Parent Company of United Airlines has a nice new pen handy because he is going to be writing a lot of checks in an attempt to settle a parade of lawsuits that are going to sprout up. Salivating lawyers are lined up and ready to eviscerate the “Friendly Skies.”
At 8:45 this morning I had a “Medicare Wellness Exam.” The last time I had an exam that thorough I almost ended up in the Army.
My usual visits to the doctor last twenty minutes or so. This one took an hour and a half. Of course, the first fifteen minutes were with the nurse who went beyond the usual questions. Most days it is, “Have you had any headaches?” Today it was, “Can you go to the bathroom by yourself?” She also had me reading the standard cliché eye chart to determine if I was blind or not. “Can you feed yourself?” “Do you fall over easily”
I KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.