Enduring on the Lake

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chapter 26


The cops had all gone and Max had reluctantly left with the rest of his family.  I’d had a long conversation with Daddy and Mom and rather than lecture me I was praised that I let someone else handle it and had followed instructions to a “T” and then they rung off asking me to keep the excitement to a minimum.  I told them I would if given the choice and Daddy growled, “You make the choice one way or the other.” 

I’d waved what I thought was the last of my good byes to everyone and was shaking my head at the ungodly mess that had been made in the yard when Zane’s truck came back.  I walked out to meet him as he opened the truck door.  “Is Max OK?” 

“He’s already asleep.  If they don’t wake him up they’re going to have to pull over so he can upchuck or they’re going to have to let him ride up front.  He … er … don’t tell him I told you.” 

“He already told me.  He gets car sick.  I told him not to worry about it because Sam used to do the same thing.  He’ll probably outgrow it as soon as his body stops growing so fast and his inner ear and hand/eye coordination have a chance to catch up.” 

Zane pulled his tool box out of the back of the truck.  “You always know what to say to him.” 

I shrugged.  “Not hardly.  It’s just he and I agreed to be truthful with one another.  So far it has worked out.  I think some of it is he just senses all the things people don’t say around him.” 

“No one wants to hurt his feelings.” 

“He knows that, still, it makes him nervous because he’d rather have his feelings get pinched than have to wonder what people are thinking and saying.  I was the same way.  It bothers me when I can sense I’m not being told the truth or I’m not getting all of the truth.  And what’s with the tool box?  Aren’t you too tired to work on the maintenance list?” 

“It isn’t that.  It’s because it looks better than me just going into your place with nothing in my hands.  This way if people want to watch they’ll think I’m here to fix a door or something.  That railing for instance.” 

I looked at him and said, “And … uh … you’re not here to fix the railing?” 

“Nope.  But we’re going to go inside … if … uh …” 

A little flustered I said, “Oh … sure, of course.  You want something to eat?” 

“Maybe.  Depends.” 

I almost missed a step up the porch.  “Depends on what?” 

He reached around me and opened the door but stepped back to let me go in first.  “On what we’re going to talk about.” 

“We’re going to talk about something?” 

“Yeah.  ‘Cause after today … look … let’s … uh … you mind if we sit in the front room?” 

“I guess.” 

My head was starting to ache and I blurted, “Does your family not want me to be friends with Max anymore?” 

“Huh?  No!  No, that’s not …”  He stopped and sat down with a sigh.  I nudged the ottoman over to him and he looked at me in gratitude before propping his foot up … the titanium one.  “I left without … without putting a stocking on it.” 

Realizing what the problem was I told him, “I have the same problem with tennis shoes when I don’t wear socks.  Hang on.  As long as it isn’t too bad I’ve got something that should help.” 

“Wait … what?” 

Too late, I was already going for my medical supplies.  Having a mother who is a nurse is a win-win even when there are challenges.  I came back and said, “Go to the bathroom and wash and dry the raw place real good.  Then you come out here and I’ll …” 

“Uh, no.” 

“Uh, yes.  Well anyway, you shouldn’t feel the need to get all bashful.  It isn’t like you have to take your jeans off for this.” 

Zane gave a slightly hysterical laugh.  “What the heck?  Syd …” 

“You’re going to wind up really sore or with an infection now knock it off.  I may not be a nurse like my mother but she taught me how to do basic wound care and stuff like that.  Plus I helped her with Aunt Rhonda and my cousin Patrice before they got well enough to fight me.  C’mon, I told you I had a friend that is an amputee.  And one of Daddy’s uncles that I can just barely remember lost a hand in a combine accident when he was a young man.  I don’t think it’s gross and I won’t go screaming into the woods or anything asinine like that.” 

It took a little more persuading but finally he did as I asked and then came out … hobbled out using the walls and furniture for balance … and sat.  He wouldn’t look at me at first but Mom always said that keeping things cheerful usually put the patient at more ease.  And if you couldn’t be cheerful or if the situation didn’t warrant it, being business-like and calm was good too. 

“What’s that?” 

I picked up the bottle and told him, “It’s called Cicatrin.  This goes in the wound.  It helps to dry it out and heal it.  I’m going to put a tegaderm patch over it.” 

“I know what that is.  I’ve used it before … is what I normally use when I have a bad place.” 

“Good.  Mom says it is the best stuff.  Do you have enough?  I have a couple of cases upstairs in the third bedroom.” 

“I’ve … uh … got plenty.”  I nodded and then started to put a dob of Vaseline on the outside of the tegaderm.  “Hey, what are you doing?” 

“This will make your stocking slide over the tegaderm without catching.  Here is a pair of Daddy’s dress socks – he always brings them here and leaves them because he can’t stand to wear them.  Mom finally stopped buying them after she figured out what he was doing but not soon enough for there not to be enough socks for Sherman’s army.  These are new so you don’t have to worry about other people’s feet funk.” 

He snorted and I realized he’d finally relaxed.  “This really doesn’t bother you does it.  Doesn’t seems like much of anything does.” 

I slipped the stock over his stump and then sat back.  “Zane there are a lot of things that bother me and you’ve seen me cry like an idiot.  But this?  No, this doesn’t bother me.  It’s … look it’s just about being honest.  I know that sounds crazy and I’m sorry if I got up in your space and made you uncomfortable but …” 

He sat forward and put his prosthetic foot on, then his shoe, and then rolled down his pants leg.  “It made me uncomfortable … at first.  Not even my mom or sisters …”  He shook his head.  “It even makes Josh and Junior uncomfortable.  Max is the only one that …”  He shook his head again.  “You two are like peas in a pod and that’s going to make this next sound really strange.” 

“I knew it.  Your family doesn’t want me to …” 

“Are you hard of hearing?  I told you that’s not it.  Look, about Sunday …” 

“What about it?” 

“I … I was kinda hard on you and …” 

“Huh?  Oh.  You mean the lecture.  Well yeah, but I figure I deserve it.  It was pretty stupid not to run with Max.” 

“Well yeah it was,” he said, still sounding a little exasperated.  Then he calmed down.  “But I didn’t have to lay into you like that.  And I shouldn’t have done it where other people could hear it.  It’s not my place.” 

“In a way Daddy made it your place when he set you to watching me.” 

“But you already let me know that that bothers you.” 

I nodded.  “It does.  But not as much as it did in the beginning.  I … I didn’t know you then and it … well …” 

“It hurt your feelings to have your dad having a complete stranger doggin’ you.” 

I nodded but added, “Maybe not a complete stranger.  I remember you a bit and you were friends with Sam and Daddy and Uncle Red thought enough of you that they agreed that my feelings were on target about you being the right person for the job.” 

“Your … uh … feelings?” 

“Yeah.  Max and I are alike in that way too.  He reads people really quickly the same as me, he just doesn’t trust his readings, is naturally distrustful which turns being able to use his ability to read people upside down and make it a handicap at times.  I went through a time when I didn’t trust my feelings either and stopped ‘feeling’ stuff … maybe on purpose I guess.  You are the first one I’ve had a feeling about in a while.” 

“Really?” he asked looking strangely interested. 

“Uh huh.  So anyway, I don’t mind the lecture.  Like I said, I know I deserved one.  Things could have turned out worse than they did … a lot worse.” 

“Yes they could have,” he said quietly.  “I still could have handled it differently.  And for that I apologize.” 

“There’s no need.” 

“Yeah there is … ‘cause I say there is.  I … uh … I did try and call yesterday.  You didn’t answer.” 

“Max told me.  I guess I slept the whole day away.  I don’t even remember getting up for nothing.  I came in from church and was sick pretty much the rest of the day.  I went to bed early and the next thing I remember is hearing the pounding on the door and thinking at first my head was pounding.  Thank goodness I didn’t just roll over and go back to sleep.” 

“You still don’t look … I mean …” 

“I know.  I’ve got a mirror.  I look like Medusa’s ugly step sister.” 

“Not that bad … but you kinda don’t have a good color.  It’s one of the reasons why I came back.  I realized no one had asked if you needed help … or anything.” 

“I’m fine.  I’ve been shook up worse.  I’m just concerned Max is going to dwell on this and refuse to put it in perspective.” 

“He’ll deal.  Lawrence said he’d speak to Brother Mixon and have him come over.  Brother Mixon, before the arthritis in his hands got so bad, used to do a lot of work at church camps that served troubled kids.  And he and Max have always gotten along … I think it is that honesty thing you mentioned.  Brother Mixon pretty much tells it like it is whether it is uncomfortable to hear or not.” 

“Yeah, I got that.  I like him; you always know where you stand.” 

We both grinned in understanding but mine faltered when Zane got serious again.  “It … it scared me.  Today.  You and Max … you both could have been hurt … hurt bad.” 

Agreeing I said, “We could have … but we weren’t.  I guess there will come a day when I do get hurt again but …” 

Zane interrupted, “What do you mean again?”

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