I lacerated myself on a coil of rusted wire fencing yesterday. Didn’t see the metal’s ragged edge, concealed placidly beneath yellowed grass, and — mid-stride — took two metal prongs straight into the top of my left foot, piercing an artery and bringing forth a river of blood; wet and immediate. (“Leave it to you to pierce one of the bodies more obscure arteries,” my brother, a nurse, would joke to me later.)
Really, the blood. The amount was astonishing, fountaining loosely out of the wound in this endless, casual way. “Is this some kind of joke?” I kept asking. “It’s just coming and coming.” “Keep PRESSURE on it for Chrissakes!” screamed the hapless German tourist who had come rushing to my aid. “Stop taking off the tissue paper!”
The island clinic was 100 feet away; a mature-looking cement block, perpetually aglow in halogen light. I knew because I had been there two hours prior, sitting with a friend who had fallen off her motorbike. Then I had laughed lightly, linked our elbows, tried to buoy her through the shock while she waited for assistance. “You idiot!” I joked. “You look like you got in a fistfight!” and so forth.
Now, the doctor glanced up at me with a ripple of disinterested surprise. “Your friend is OK?” he asked, artistically quizzical. Then he saw the trail of blood and leapt into action; a professional immediacy for which I felt enormously grateful. Stitches, he barked, but then the anesthetic didn’t work and I felt every thread going in, gripping the edge of the metal gurney and bawling through my teeth like a thick-necked bull, sharing the room with a slip of a boy, 8-years-old at most, and he was scared enough already.
There was more, but I forget, or it was boring.
Just this: tonight, antibiotics. Tomorrow, tetanus booster. Already, cruising back through the jungle on my motorbike, feeling the intensely sweet relief of going home. Home is here: the front porch where Dannie and I swing endlessly in our hammocks, and our German friend talks too much, and Sam, the dive guy, stops by on his way to work, where we all smoke a joint and shoot the shit, and A brings us pineapple and smiles over our work, before sitting down to watch the sunset.
Home is here, for now, and that is a nice revelation.