Thursday, February 11, 2016

Last Trip to Hospital by Carolyn

Within our writers' group, Esmer is the only one of us whose default writing genre is fiction. Susan, Andrea, and I tend to write more memoirs, anecdotes, and personal essays. We are rather envious of the ease with which Es cranks out beautifully written fiction, so we decided to stretch ourselves a little with some writing exercises. The challenge at our last writers' group meeting was to grab a nearby book, find a specified page number and count down to a particular line, then to use that line as the beginning of a new piece of writing. We tried it and enjoyed it so much that we tried it again. Here is the piece I wrote in response to the 11th line on p. 116 of Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor, by Patrick Taylor, which happened to be on my coffee table at our meeting:

“And let’s hope,” said O’Reilly, “this’ll be your last trip to hospital for quite awhile.” That was the best he could come up with after hearing the tale O’Bannon had just told him. 

“Well,” the old man had started, “there I was, just minding my own business, settled in with a cold one on the whittlin’ bench outside O’Leary’s Store, jawin’ with MacInness, when all the commotion started. We heard bangs and booms and blaring horns, but we couldn’t see nothing at first. After a while, it hove into sight: a raggedy old tractor, belchin’ smoke, with a crazed bull at the wheel. Our eyes about popped out of our heads, I can tell you! The back tires were flat, shootin’ sparks and draggin’ the fence wire and posts the tractor musta driven across. The fence posts were bouncing up and down, setting the chickens tangled up in them to squawkin’ and fussin’. I guess the front of the tractor had picked up one of them big metal trash cans, cause it were a-spinnin’ along in front, caught on the cattle guard. About the time we thought we had figured out what had happened, maybe the bull trying to romance the tractor, cause that old bull of MacMasters’ has always been purt near blind, the bull hooked a horn through the steering wheel and made a sharp right turn up on to the sidewalk where we were sittin’ and spittin’. Well, MacInness is a mite younger than I am, so he jumped up real spry and took a flying leap out of the way of the incoming tractor. You know that I just got out of the hospital with this dad-burned busted leg I got when I fell off the ladder tryin’ to fix the cistern. It was still in a cast, and I been walking with a cane, so between that and the stitches still healin’ from the hernia surgery a couple weeks ago, I was just stuck there like stone, waitin’ for disaster to strike. And it sure-enough did. The bull was bawlin’, the chickens were squawkin’, the trash can was clangin’, and the fence posts were thumpin’ and bumpin’ as the tractor jumped the curb and plowed through O’Leary’s front window, takin’ me with it.”

“I don’t rightly remember what happened after that because of the concussion, but folks say that the trash can on the cattle guard scooped me up inside itself and flew up over the front of the tractor, hittin’ the bull smack-dab in the forehead. That was a good thing, since the blow knocked him out and the tractor finally stalled out right there in the middle of O’Leary’s soda fountain. The bad part was that the trash can bounced off the bull’s head and impaled itself on his horns, so when he slumped over unconscious, the trash can went with him. We rolled on out of the big hole the tractor had plowed into the wall and out into the street. Normally that wouldn’t be too much of a problem, ‘cause you know we don’t get much traffic around here, but someone had called the sheriff because of all the ruckus, so he was just pullin’ up in front when we barrelled out. The trash can hit the squad car just under the front bumper and rolled on under a little ways. The car high-centered on the trash can and wobbled there for a bit before settlin’ down and squashin’ it. MacInness told me that they had to bring in the jaws of life from way over in the county seat to pull me out of there! I woke up back in the hospital for the third time this month because that gol-darned bull got a little frisky with the tractor!” Old O’Bannon finally took a breath and looked at O’Reilly expectantly.

“And let’s hope,” said O’Reilly, “this’ll be your last trip to hospital for quite awhile.”

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