One Last Ride

by Pablo Dos Almas

He cursed her as she fed him pills. “They are to calm you.” He sucked a mouthful of water and swallowed dutifully.

Half of the time he didn’t know what year it was. Glimpses of the past irked him like radio static: Pascagoula, Mississippi…drunkard-loser-father…sick of the beatings, sneaking onto the Greyhound… alone in Laramie on his sixteenth birthday, twenty degrees below, merciless bastard of a whipping wind.

On the bedside table gleamed a silver rodeo buckle with barely readable initials camouflaged by scratches on bruised metal. He thought of the first cow pony he broke. He knew horses. After the Bare Bronc Championship at Calgary, everyone knew him.

He did rodeo. Signed autographs. Got laid.

Till he snapped his femur in three pieces.

These images flitted through his brain like light beams sneaking through breeze-blown curtains and these residua of an otherwise bruised mind repeatedly betrayed him. Where the hell was he?

His frame hurt. Must have been the leftover soreness from the day before. He stood and felt dizzy, thinking he’d be heading for the barn, to walk through the pain, like always. He could smell the familiar pungency of fresh shit and urine caking the hall.

The side panels rattled. Three muscled men backed the silver creature into position and told him it was time to get back. Arching backwards, he felt a tug. The strap on his left leg popped. He sank his legs, heels down. As everything unraveled, he hung on, head flailing, legs kicking. He rolled and then felt flung, groin exploding as he tumbled forward.

Blood dripped over his left brow and into his eye. He lay, unable to lift his head, in a bloody puddle by the nursing station. The urine-filled bag strapped to his eighty-six-year-old thigh had burst. The bladder catheter had pulled out from beneath his diaper. The three burly nursing aides tried desperately to free him from the flipped wheelchair. Conner’s grip held fast.

It was just like him to never let go.

Pablo Dos Almas is a doctor who looks at the world and its eccentric little moments. Sometimes he writes about them. It is what it is.
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