A Trip To The Doctors
Art was pale and his skin clammy by the time they had driven the 7 or 8 minutes to Dr. Chenry’s office. Another towel was soaked through with Art’s blood, and he was feeling faint. The Doctor’s “office” was a quaint one room arrangement, with some chairs for patients to wait in along one wall and the Doctor’s desk in view between some screens that were set up to grant some visual privacy to the patient being treated. There were some old magazines strewn about. The place was musty, dusty, and poorly lit. There were gallon jugs of medicine standing on shelves from which the Doctor dispensed his own prescriptions or filled a syringe for an injection as the case required.
Art was faint and in pain and frightened of what might be coming next. His mother and neighbor helped get Art up on the examination table. The Doctor began to talk to Art’s mother as though Art were not in the room even as he was examining Art’s finger, poking and probing the stump. Art fainted, being revived by the smell of ammonia under his nose and as he came to he discovered his feet were propped up on something. Doctor Chenry addressed Art’s mother, “How is Virginia?” Art thought it rather careless to talk about his sister when he was the patient and groaned a little louder and shifted his feet in pain. Art’s mother responded to the Doctor’s question but was barely distracted from the scene before her.
The Doctor then asked, “How did you do this Art?” Art responded weakly, “On the table saw.” Doctor Chenry fairly spit out the words, “Darn foolish thing to do, does your father let you use the table saw?” “No!” Art’s reply was weak and teary as he was now reminded that he still had his father to face. The Doctor seemed to speak into the air as he said, “Well I don’t think I’ll have to take off much more.” Art began to sob, the Doctor was going to take off more of his finger, the thought was unbearable.
Art squirmed in his chair and sobbed aloud, the thought that the doctor was going to take off more of his finger was unbearable. Art mumbled something he thought in his head but part of it came out his mouth, “put it back”. The doctor relieved to be able to talk about medicine rather than to come up with comforting words went into discussion of the state of medicine in 1950. He contended that someday doctors would be able to reattached severed limbs. The words “severed limbs” sounded so cold, so like Frankenstein, to Art.
The Doctor had filled a hypodermic syringe with something and was pointing it at his wounded finger. Art unconsciously flinched away but the doctor held firm saying, “Just a minute now and we’ll have you out of here, don’t move.” There was the tiniest of pricks, Art was not looking, but he knew that the doctor was doing something to him. After a long minute the doctor spoke again, “Well your trigger finger is going to be a little shorter but that’s about it, you managed not to damage the first joint, but you’ll never have to trim the finger nail on that finger again.” He sounded so positive; Art began to feel that he might get through it.
Then there came another syringe, the doctor pushed it through the rubber top of a small bottle on his desk and filled it with a milky looking substance. He explained, “You need some penicillin, keep the infection down.” He continued, “Can you stand up Art?” Art was glad to stand and as he did he pulled is hand close to his face, to examine it, but all he could see was a nice white bandage with a tongue depressor sticking out the end beyond his finger. Once on his feet the doctor said those infamous words, “Drop your pants and turn around.” Oh no a shot in the butt, Art thought, is there no end to this? The doctor wasted no time in sticking the needle in him and as he did he addressed Art’s mom, “Has he had a tetanus shot?” “No”, she replied. The doctor stood as he spoke, “Well better do that too.” Another little bottle, another syringe another shot in the other cheek. “There”, said the doctor, “you should be ok. I’ll stop by in a couple of days and see how it looks.” Then to Art’s mother, “That will be $14.00.” She cleared her throat nervously, “Well I only have $5.00.” That’s all right you can pay the rest when I see Art next.
Art thought $14.00 that is more than the shelf cost to buy at the furniture store and all I got for it was a short finger and two sore cheeks.” The high price of his disobedience was beginning to sink in.
As they left Doctor Chenry, pushed a small envelope into Art’s mother’s hand and said, “give him one of these if he has pain, not more than four a day.” Dr. Chenry arranged a sling to hold Art’s hand high on his body, “Use this when you are up.” he instructed.
The ride home was a sort of verbal jabbing session for Art’s mom. She was angry with him but sympathetic to his pain and humiliation. She went back and forth from “You dumb thing!” to “My poor boy.” all the way home.
Once home she helped him into bed and as he was crawling in he asked, “What do you think dad will do?” She looked Art squarely and replied, “I don’t know but I know he will be disappointed and I know your going to tell him yourself.” She gave him one of the pills from the envelope and water to take it with, she got him settled on his pillow and left the room. Art hated to go to bed while there was still day light, and knew he would never be able to sleep. In a few minutes he was fast asleep.
Hank Alan pulled into his driveway the headlights of his old truck picked up the broken shop door. He entered the house quietly and sighed in relief, and thanked God, glad to be home no matter what the broken door meant, but he was sure it had something to do with Art.
There was a light on in the kitchen so Mr. Alan went in and found the snack his wife, Linda, had left for him. He was hungry and tired, more tired than hungry, but was grateful for Linda’s thoughtfulness. He ate in the dimly lit kitchen thinking about his own father, how ill he was and mostly wondering if he was a Christian or not. He said out loud, “Why is it so hard to ask him?” He noticed a note on the counter, he read it.
“Art has had an accident he will tell you about it in the morning.
Hank felt is stomach tighten, then he deliberately relaxed and prayed in a whisper, “God help me do the right thing.” He quietly made his way up the stairs going to Art’s room first. Looking in on him, and what the light from the hall allowed him to see he appeared to be all in one piece. As he looked at his sleeping son , He prayed, “Father help me be the father he needs.” Then checking on the girls, he headed to his room.
Once in his own bedroom, his wife shared some of the details with him about Art and he shared about his trip and some of the family he had seen. They settled into a restless sleep each wondering about Art and his relationship with God.