UNITED STATES—”I can’t sleep,” says the mom. “Is there something you can do for me? You haven’t done anything for my leg.”

“Which leg?” says the son.

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“I haven’t done anything for your leg? I only put a pillow under it. I only took a pillow out from under it. I rolled up a towel. I made you wiggle your toes. I scratched your back, lowered back, raised the bed, and massaged your calf. Nothing. Let me pinch you again and fight pain with pain.”

“Ouch, that hurts. Don’t do that, Davy!”

“What about affirmations?” Davy closes his eyes. “Here’s the affirmation for you: I am at peace, all is well in my world.”

“I am not at peace. My leg is killing me; I don’t want to be sharing this room with people I prefer not to be associated with, and I am suffering.”

“That’s your affirmation.”

“Oh, I don’t know. How long am I going to be here? Three days? Can I go home tonight? I know, you said, ‘Three weeks.’ I’m not that dotty.”

“Three weeks, five weeks, three days… It’s up to you.”

“What do you mean: up to me?” the mom continues without waiting for an answer. “When is Karen coming?”

“Not for another two weeks,” the son replies.

“She’s got that good job.”

“What is it she does exactly?”

“I don’t know, but she’s got that good job in Arizona.”

“I think she makes fuel for atomic airplanes or digs coal in Appalachia.”

“Don’t be silly. If she lives in Arizona, how does she commute to Appalachia?”

“You got me, Mom. You always get me.”

“I don’t get your jokes. And they’re not jokes.”

Davy bites his tongue. The mother asks:

“When is Karen coming?”

“Maybe before Valentine’s Day.”

“Who are you?” the mother asks.

“I’m the physical therapist. My name is Willow. I hear you gave the occupational therapist a hard time.”

“Occupational therapist, physical therapist. It’s hard to keep track off all the people around here,” says the mother. “Why are you here?”

“I’m going to get you out of bed.”

“No you’re not. I like it where I am.”

“Here, let’s move your leg to one side.”

“I can’t.”

“Move your left foot. There you did it. Now your right.”

“I can’t.”

“You’re doing it,” Willow says.

Now the bed is lowered and Willow brings the woman’s legs to the edge of the hospital bed and releases the metal protective bar. An assistant nurse positions a wheelchair on the side. The mother shrieks.

“This is hurting me. My back is killing me.”

“Here you have to help me, Mrs. Johnson. Hug me while I hold onto you.”

“I can’t move my hands.”

“You can’t move your hands?” says the therapist. “Touch your nose.”

Mrs. Johnson complies. “I gotcha,” says Willow as her arms circle the old woman’s trunk.

Mrs. Johnson holds on to the young therapist for dear life. The old woman shrieks twice, a shrill, blood-curdling shriek.

“Help, help. I’m going to fall.”

“I’m here with two assistant nurses. And your son is here. “We’re not going to let you fall.”

Then, all at once the old woman is seated in the wheelchair.

“There, that wasn’t so bad,” Willow says.

“Put me in me bed. I want you to put me in my bed now.”

“We’re going to take you so you can do some exercises, so you can get better.”

Mrs. Johnson gets wheeled out of the room.

“Take me to me bed. I want to be back in my bed NOW.”

Down the halls she rolls, crying and screaming. Davy stays behind in the room’s shadows and tries to close his eyes. After vainly seducing rest, he turns to his telephone.

“Hello, Karen, this is Davy. Mom’s doing great. She’s rallying. They finally got her out of bed and into a wheelchair. It’s a milestone. Love. Call me when you can.”

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady Miller grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon). His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)