Tall Tales and Short Stories

These are stories about different events in my life. Some are in fiction form due to the age of the writer at the time of the event in relation to the memory of the writer at the time of writing. Age does that sometimes. Enjoy the stories and provide some feedback.

Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States

July 01, 2006

Can I Have a Towel?

"Mommy, can I have a towel?" Craig whimpered.

His hand, the floor, the door, and the doorway were covered in blood. He cried —standing there — somewhere between shock and fear, between dream and reality. His mother was nearly in hysterics; the sight of her son soaked in blood, her kitchen a strange surgical room with an oven and flowered curtains — almost too much to understand.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturdays were special days. The mornings spent watching the shoot-'em ups with Roy Rogers and John Wayne followed by Bugs and Daffy then Scooby Doo gave way to afternoons and playtime. In the rough and tumble world of a six year old boy, playtime meant adventure. This day’s adventure: football.

Craig had all of the gear. His dad bought him a genuine Dallas Cowboy helmet and a pair of shoulder pads. His Paw-paw gave him a Walt Garrison jersey, his favorite player. Craig’s mom took him to the shoe store weeks earlier to get a pair of cleats. He was ready to be the best football player in the world, or at least on his block.

He gathered his gear and raced to the back door. His neighbor, Ike’s, backyard, was the setting for this week’s game and all he had to do was jump the fence. Craig opened the back door and threw his gear on the back patio. He turned to shut the door and... "Eiyyyy!"

The deadbolt sliced through Craig’s pinky like hot butter. The little finger gushed blood everywhere. From the deadbolt down, the door and the door jam were covered with the red liquid already becoming sticky — thick, waiting to stain. Fresh spackled blood coated the rock patio and brick wall in all directions. The spurting blood coated his shirt and the bottom of his face. Every dog in the neighborhood howled in unison with Craig. As he pushed the door back open, it spurted onto the kitchen floor and walls. His mother came down the hallway into the kitchen. She instinctively knew something was wrong; his cries made her feel his pain before she saw his blood.

"What is it? What’s wro... Oh my God! Curtis!! Get in here now," she yelled emphatically. "Get in here, now!"

"I’m sorry, Mommy," Craig cried, his big brown eyes overflowed with tears. "I didn’t do it on purpose." A look of bewilderment on his face as if "what happened?"

She stared for a minute, stunned. All the blood, the screaming, the noise outside, it was all so hard to take in. Her son, covered in red and crying, jarred her back to reality. She dropped to her knees and looked for cuts all over him before she realized what had happened. The end of his finger was gone. Panic. Her mind raced though thoughts of the family dog biting Craig or worse.

Frantically, she looked on the floor for the finger. Craig’s dad, Curtis, came into the room, bewildered. He had been up all night fighting fires so his eyes were not totally focused. The sight of red smears on the white wall and floor changed that quickly. Mommy frantically crawled around on the floor, blood covering her pajamas, and yelled, "Where’s the finger? Oh my God, did the dog get it?"

"I’ll check," his dad said as he ran out to the doghouse.

"Mommy, can I have a towel?"

His question brought her back. She had worried about the finger and forgotten her son, momentarily. She smiled to reassure Craig that he would be alright. She went to the kitchen drawer to get some towels, glanced down and saw the finger tip just behind the kitchen door. She dampened two towels, opened one and handed it to Craig for his hand; she took the other and gently wiped the blood from his face, neck, and arms.

"I don’t think the dog has it," his dad, reentering the kitchen, said. He turned to Craig. "What happened? Are you all right?"

"I don’t know. My finger hurts."

Curtis kneeled to wrap the hand and finger gently in the towel.

"I found the finger behind the door. I’m putting it on ice now," Craig’s mom said. Curtis gently loaded Craig into the car and rushed him to the hospital. Mommy changed her clothes and took Craig’s baby brother, Matt, to their aunt’s home, before rushing to the hospital. She frantically searched the emergency room corridors for Craig and Curtis. Passing one of the doors, she heard a cheerful, "Hi, Mommy." Curtis sat beside the bed, tenderly holding Craig’s little hand. Craig seemed calm to her.

The emergency room doctor cleaned up the wound, but feared sewing the entire tip on to his finger due to the possibility of infection. When the doctor prepared to give Craig three shots to deaden the area, Craig’s mom left the room. His screams of pain were too much to bear. When she returned, the doctor was shaving the tissue away from the protruding bone. He took a graft of skin from the fingertip to cover the end of the finger nub. Slowly and methodically, he sewed the graft on to the tiny finger then bandaged it.

"Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow in the office. Just keep clean bandages on it tonight," the doctor said. "He should have full use of the finger, but he won’t have a fingernail."

Craig overheard what the doctor told his mom.

"Mommy, he said I won’t have a fingernail," Craig said after the doctor left.

"You don’t worry about that. You will have a fingernail," she replied in the confident tone that makes every child sure of his mother.

On the way home, Craig sat in his mom’s lap. He looked up at her, his big brown eyes not quite so teary, and asked, "Will I be able to play football later?"

Craig did play football again, and many other sports. Just not for a few weeks. But the best news occurred a year later. As his mother had told him, Craig re-grew his fingernail. Mommy is always right.


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