Sunday, June 12, 2011

BUS STORY # 240 (Nine Lives)

Jeff's Got Your Back, originally uploaded by busboy4.

There’s a spot in the back, at the end of one of the bench seats. But the guy sitting next to it is a big, big man. He’s got a way-too-small Dallas Cowboys cap on his head, and a big black wrist support on each wrist and forearm. He’s holding an industrial strength metal cane with one of those offset handles in front of him. He’s big enough to reduce the sitting area of the empty seat. I elect to stand.

“C’mon and sit down,” he says to me. It’s a friendly invitation.

I squeeze in part of the way and stop there. I’m feeling wedged in.

“Thanks,” I say. “You sure you got enough room?”

“You can’t hurt me,” he replies affably. He goes on to explain he’s got some bulging discs and some cracked vertebrae, so there’s not much else that’s gonna hurt him worse than that back of his.

I ask him how he cracked his vertebrae.

“Hit and run. Three times.”

First time he was on his motorcycle going down Lomas. He says he was lucky he was wearing his helmet and a leather jacket. The car took off. He got up, picked up his motorcycle, and drove himself to Presbyterian Hospital.

“Busted ribs, a busted right arm, and road rash,” he tells me.

Then there was the time he was riding his bicycle on Gibson. There’s an intersection with a red light. Three cars cut through a gas station to duck the red light. The first car ran him down. The second and third cars ran over him.

“Busted ribs, busted pelvis, both wrists busted. I was paralyzed from the waist down for six months.”

He doesn’t tell me what happened to the bike, and I don’t ask.

Then there was the time he was driving on that street behind the airport, the one that goes to the post office. The cops told him they think the other car was involved in a breaking and entering up there. It was speeding down the hill with its lights off. He saw it coming at him at the last minute. Too late to do anything. Busted his leg. His seat belt didn’t lock and his head hit the windshield. Knocked him out.

He’s had four heart attacks in the last year. His doc gets upset with him because he tries to tough it out at home. Tells him he’s doing more damage to his heart by waiting. That first time they had to put “those springs” in the arteries on both sides of his heart.

But he’s a tough guy. He played football, at Syracuse. He can take pain. That’s what a real man does.

“See this?” he says, pulling up his Dallas Cowboys T-shirt. There’s a scar running down the center of his abdomen. “Got stabbed with a butterfly blade during an attempted robbery.”

He had his own business, was outside taking a break, when he overheard a customer trying to shake down one of his employees. He went back inside to throw the bum out. There was a fight. He used to box, too, and he beat the snot out of the guy. But he didn’t know the guy had this blade hidden in his hand. So while he’s beating the snot out of the punk, the punk gets a free shot at his liver. After knocking the guy out, he put a towel over the wound and called 911.

“I walked myself to the ambulance,” he says.

He’s just come from University Hospital. They’re planning on sticking some needles in his back to do something about those discs. He’s a real man, but he sure hopes they can do something about that back pain.


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