We were coming home from Wednesday’s new punk band’s first out of town show, and I was riding shotgun with a suicidal skinhead at the wheel of our sort of borrowed station wagon. Being as how there’d been a steady intake of cheap liquor since the afternoon, everyone was passed out as we sped along towards the Niagara Peninsula. The bald kid in the driver’s seat used to always talk about how he’d never live to see the age of twenty. G.G. Allin was his hero. I’ve got a feeling that this night was to be his last hurrah and that all us sleeping punks were to be taken down with him.
The needle on the speedometer was buried when we plowed into the Cadillac. After we took out about a hundred and fifty feet of guard rail, our mangled automobile came to a rest.
In the emergency room, they cut off all my clothes. I was nude. And covered in blood. Garry was in there too, although I couldn’t see him. “Garry?” I wondered if he could hear me.
“How ya doin’ there, stud?” it was Garry from across the room, behind some curtains. He’d been asleep in the back seat when we crashed and now his back was all messed up, he couldn’t move.
“The nurse cut all my clothes off. I’m nude…”
“Oh yeah? Ya get a chubber?” that was Garry, Soo style. He was from up North, Sault Ste. Marie, and was the only guy I’d ever met with a cowboy hat, a big bushy beard and a foot high mohawk.
“Sure Garry,” I should have said, “when that mean lookin, starched-stiff disinfectant smellin’, crumbly old nurse cut my shorts off, I no longer was concerned with the pain of my broken leg bone nor my bloody head and torso. All I was thinking about was her slidin’ on under these sheets and me gettin’ some action.” I should have said that, but I just laughed. It really hurt to laugh.
The next day I was taken to a hospital in Hamilton. This was only the second time I’d been in an ambulance (the night before being the first…), but I have no memory of it. Nothing. My leg was all fucked up and I was pretty much whacked out on demerol, so I guess there were other things on my mind. The hospital in Hamilton, like the rest of the city, was grim. The window sills were all covered in dirt and the linoleum was all brown stains and sticky crud in the corners. There was construction going on outside my room and all day there was crazy smashing sounds and jackhammers. The food was rank and there was mice. When I looked over at the radiator, I half expected to see a tiny woman inside it, singing… know what I mean? Fuckin man-made chickens and all that.
I was there for what seemed like forever and it was two full days before they operated on my leg. The guy beside me had been on the bone ward longer than anybody… car crash on Christmas Eve and now it was the end of the summer. On my second night, they brought in this farmer whose tractor had fallen on him and crushed his pelvis. I don’t think the guy had gone a single day of his adult life without hard booze and he was crashing now, big time. He was fucked, and in the middle of the night he was standing on his bed yelling for a drink; wrecked pelvis and everything. I was pretty zoned out on my demerol, that beautiful pain killing opiate, and lost in the surrealistic moment.
The day after the operation to put a foot long nail down the middle of my thigh bone, an nurse came in and told me she was going to remove my catheter. Go ahead, I thought, I don’t even know what a catheter is. I soon found out. She reached under the covers and pulled a tube out of my dink. It was truly unexpected and I don’t know how big one of those things are, but it seemed like it was the size of a frickin drumstick. How the fuck did I have a gigantic surgical straw up my unit and not realize it? After that I started peeing in a jar. Speaking of pee, the old guy across from me was complaining that his piss was, “Burning…like FIRE!!”. So they shoved a catheter up him and told him to drink some water. He drank gallons and took the thing out of his pecker. He drank way too much water and he didn’t understand English too good, so when the nurse told him to lay off the water…he drank more. And more. He pissed flames. He screamed in agony until they shoved the thing back up him again. All day it was in, out, in, out. Drinking jugs of water and pissing razor blades. I felt sorry for the old guy, but I didn’t have TV or anything, so it was kind of entertaining.
The skinhead came to visit. He said he was sorry, but all I could do was drool. Then I passed out.
I shit in a pan and learned how to walk.
Mom and Wednesday came to visit, but I just drooled and passed out. When I came to, I didn’t even realize I’d been out and they were all quiet and said they had better get going. It only seemed like they were there about two minutes, but I’ve since learned, from hanging around with junkies, that it’s awful boring watching people nod out in the middle of sentences and stuff. Who could blame them for not sticking around?
Zelda Pinwheel never showed up and pretty soon I was on my way home.
I’m Johnny and I Don’t Give A Fuck