My friend John and I went to watch a BMX and skateboarding exhibition, the first Springdale has hosted in years. It’s not normally my thing (because a good outing always involves copious food in my book) but John once daringly participated in both sports and insisted that I accompany him to relive old memories. It was much more fun than I had anticipated, in part due to John knowing several of the professionals participating. After the main event, John and I were invited to a private riding park outside of Tontitown.
I sat and drank lemonade while John experimented with a couple of his old moves, doing reverses and flips. With reluctance, John did small moves. As his confidence returned, he moved faster and with more agility. After a few minutes of tomfoolery, a younger rider unexpectedly fell in front of John as he was about to exit a ramp. John attempted to avoid crushing him by yanking his bike to the right, jumping away from it and the fallen rider. Unfortunately for him, he went across the barrier fence, tumbled and fell. He didn’t move. As always, my first thought was that he was milking the situation as a prank. After several seconds, however, I knew that something terrible had happened.
I climbed over the fence and kneeled next to John. When he landed, his helmet partially protected him but a long, narrow bolt used to anchor posts pierced John’s right temple. Blood was everywhere. I couldn’t gauge how much of the anchor bolt protruded from the concrete and into John’s head. I heard mumbled shouts of “Call 9-1-1” and disorganized shouts of disbelief. The paramedics arrived in less than 10 minutes and expertly got him out. The bolt had penetrated at least 3 inches into John’s brain. I feared the worst, as the blood dried on my arms.
I spent half the night waiting in the hospital as doctors and nurses came and went, machines were wheeled in and out, and hurried, nervous people whirled around me. About 6:45 the next morning, a nurse broke the rules and let me enter John’s room. As I walked up to the bed, counting the numerous cables, tubes and paraphernalia coming out of John’s body, I opened the blinds to allow the coming sunrise to illuminate the room. I pulled up the usual uncomfortable hospital chair designed for no one to sit in for long. Just as I was about to sit down, John’s eyes opened.
I could tell he was about to speak, so I hit the nurse’s button. About 15 times, as from experience I knew the room would have to be on fire to get immediate help.
Hours later, John was sitting up in his bed, alert and joking about the accident. One of the paramedics who had helped him came in to see if he was okay, after hearing the incredible news he had survived and was awake. John’s eyes grew wide as the paramedic took a moment to show John how deeply the bolt had entered his brain. John reached up to lightly touch his temple where it had entered.
John, like most typical guys, wanted to know when he could get out of the hospital. Even though he had survived being impaled through the head, the only thing that interested him was a pizza and some television watching. He spent the day asking everyone when he could go home.
The primary doctor returned around 8:30 p.m. He told John how lucky he was to be alive, much less awake and aware of his surroundings.
The doctor took out his computer tablet and dragged some images around, turning it so that both John and I could see it. It was an image of John’s pierced skull, with a dark tunnel angling in from the skull and into John’s brain.
“You don’t know how lucky you are, John,” Dr. Marcos said. “It could have been much, much worse.” I could tell he meant it.
“How bad?” John timidly asked.
After a moment’s hesitation, Dr. Marcos pointed to another image on the tablet and said with great solemnity, “One millimeter in either direction, and you would have been voting for Donald Trump.”
(It seemed worthwhile to not limit myself to the same tired joke, so I wrote the story just for the punchline. Imaginary John is safe, sleeping on his imaginary couch in my mind…. PS: You can change the last line of my joke to pick on Hillary, if you want…)