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2003-08-07 | 9:45 p.m.

By Wednesday my upper arm injury had ceased to hurt very much at all, which is to say that it still hurts but not enough to jerk me out of my thoughts. Therefore, on Wednesday night at the Farmer's Market, on the grass in front of the bandstand, I danced with Felony for a few minutes. There is always a band at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday nights, and usually it's a pretty good one. This one was playing harmless disco favorites, and I had hardly gotten started but was still clunking along in sober white-lady mode when I heard a terrible bone snapping sound and felt a ripping, shredding giving way, terrible sharp pain, and my right leg crumbled beneath me.

I swung, bent breathless a long minute, then lurched upright somehow, my sober white lady embarrassment-avoidance superpowers at work. This is very bad, I told myself. I thought I could hear people on the grass talking about me in low voices. Couldn't be sure, though. My eyes were filled with tears so I couldn't see anybody. Then I lurched one, two, three, four steps -- swinging my dead leg like Pinocchio -- to our small pile of things in the grass and collapsed beside it. Dully, I made sure all the things were there: my brown crocheted purse, Felony's peach-pink jacket, two pairs of dirty pink beaded sandals. Why do the girls always have to sit front and center, in front of hundreds of people? I wondered. Inches away from a four-foot amplifier. My leg throbbed in time with the music.

Eventually one of the girls wafted toward me and in a low voice I said, "Tell Daddy I hurt myself." Then I heard the exchange, slow and repeated because of the loud music, and then Duff was there beside me on the grass, instantly, the very one I needed.

Faster than a speeding bullet
More powerful than a locomotive
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound

After I explained what happened, he helped me stand up and then helped me hobble across the plaza to my mother's apartment building. He curved his arms in front of him and I used them like a walker. It seemed as if things weren't so bad at first, but then as I was going up the steps to the elevator my leg twisted and I yelped in pain. That alarmed Duff, but even worse was when I got inside my Mom's apartment. We were debating whether to go to the emergency room or wait until morning. Duff was leaning toward taking me in the morning, but I knew I would be going that night. As I stood to go to the bathroom, Duff making his walker-arms again, I got a few steps down the hallway when the whole thing happened again: the sickening bone snap, agony of gristle, falling. My usual "Aaagghhh!" Duff caught me.

"You heard that, right?" I asked them. I hoped they could hear it over the TV.

"That was your leg?" Duff asked. "I thought that was your shoe hitting the cabinet."

Then Duff swept me up in his arms and carried me down the hallway. Okay, no, he didn't, but he started to. I stopped him short, as I didn't see any reason for us both to be injured, but I was touched by the gesture.

After that he insisted on running home to get my sister's crutches out of our garage. He didn't want me to walk without them. Then there was a long wait while we explained to the kids why we didn't want them to come with us. We hardly ever say no to them at a time like this, so when it does happen they turn into a team of little lawyers, trying to negotiate terms. Criminy was crying so pathetically I really would've taken her, but Duff was afraid the doctor would say something and he wouldn't be able to hear it because he was sitting with a sleeping Criminy in the waiting room. Ever since we took Bradley classes he has felt very territorial about these things, and I can't say it's a bad thing, given how little I tend to remember of these encounters.

Finally we drove to the hospital in Concord. (I won't go to the hospital here in Sobaco, because I've heard about too many people who've gone in and never came out. Seriously--I'm not talking about old people with failing organs; I'm talking about, for example, a girl in her twenties with food poisoning. Okay?) The emergency room doctor told me I have a sprain, probably a torn ligament. It sounds rather anti-climactic, frankly, given all the pain, anatomical gnashing, collapsing, and so on. They gave me an "immobilizer" brace, which sounds like something out of T3: Rise of the Machines, and another pathetic prescription (Motrin, 600mg). What does a girl have to do to get addicted to Vicodin? Seriously, I hear about all these people getting Vicodin who don't have jack-all wrong with them. My body tries to self-amputate and they give me fucking Motrin, which I take for sore shoulders and menstrual cramps. Maybe I am not answering the 1-10 questions right. I mean, honestly, I wouldn't answer "ten" unless I was losing consciousness from the pain. I'm just scrupulous that way. Nine to me is unmedicated childbirth. I ranked this pain an eight, though it was certainly pushing nine. Sore shoulders and menstrual cramps rank two only because one is described as "no pain at all."

So I stayed home all day today. Too nervous to try going down my front stairs, much less drive. As if the day weren't bizarre enough, my phone and DSL were both out most of the day. While it did work, I got to talk to Stephen briefly. We agreed that crutches are horrible because it is not natural for the armpits to bear the entire weight of a human being.

Duff just asked me if I am writing about the California recall election. I said no. He said if I were, he wanted me to know that if Arnold Schwarzenegger wins the governor's seat, then there will be a movie with two governors in it: Predator, with Arnold and Jesse Ventura. Duff is all about the fun facts.

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