No Stupid Deed Goes Unpunished

Over the last seven years, I’ve generally practiced my craft as a self-employed travelling medicine show, working at various locations outside of my current home state of Arizona. This is directly a consequence to a serious physical and financial set back that occurred to me a while ago. The title of my second novel in the DNR Trilogy is, “No Good Deed…” as in, “no good deed goes unpunished.” There is definitely a corollary to that well-worn expression that also proclaims that “no stupid deed goes unpunished,” as I will truthfully declare. Although I can laugh about it now, the event that befell me that I’m about to reveal to you was not a particularly amusing happenstance when it first occurred. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to explain my current circumstances in life.

My next door neighbor in Casa Grande, Arizona, possessed an enormous Chilean mesquite tree that was thriving along her side of the back wall that separated our homes. When the canopy of this magnificent tree had intruded upon my yard, its boughs eventually scraped and scratched the standing-seam metal roof panels on the south side of my house. When that occurred, it was definitely time to declare arboreal warfare upon my neighbor’s tree.

I hired someone to trim the tree, but instead, he stole my ladder and tools. Well, if a man wants a job done wrong, then he has to do it himself! The first order of business was to buy a new ladder, but I decided to simply rent a chainsaw from a hardware shop to get the job done. Now, as most readers know, every single step ladder sold in United States as a specific warning stenciled upon the top rung. It declares, and I quote, “THIS IS NOT A STEP. DON’T STAND HERE!” Fair enough, but the warning on the ladder I bought didn’t specifically say a damned thing about standing on the top rung with a running chain saw that was stuck on wide open throttle! This is where things in my life went somewhat awry.

Why didn’t I simply throw the chainsaw down into the dirt when the trigger got stuck in the open-throttle position? After all, I didn’t own the saw. It was a rented mule, nothing more and nothing less. I foolishly decided to shut down the chainsaw by disconnecting the spark plug wire. Bad idea. Don’t try this at home, folks. The engine’s spinning magneto continued to generate high voltage electricity and I was viciously shocked with enough juice to curl the hair on my head. As I flew over the fence into my neighbor’s yard, I still clutched a run-a-way chainsaw in my hands!

Suspecting I was going to be seriously injured, I attempted to throw the chainsaw away from me as I was falling to the ground into my neighbor’s yard. Unfortunately, I only managed to heave the chainsaw straight up into the air by the time I landed on my back. Newtonian physics ensured that the gravitational forces exerted by the planet Earth were about to pull the tip of the running chain saw straight away into my face. As I was about to be violently disassembled into non-viable subcomponents that would have most assuredly resulted in a closed casket funeral, I instinctively knocked away the running chainsaw with the dorsal aspect of my right arm. This action no doubt saved my life.

Now don’t get me wrong–I love my right arm. Every meal that I’d ever eaten at that point in my life, I had joyfully shared with my right arm. When I was a younger man, my right arm and I would go out tom cattin’. We looked for, and most assuredly, found trouble from time to time. However, when push came to shove, I gave up my right arm faster than Judas Iscariot had given up the itinerant preacher from Nazareth at the Garden of Gethsemane sleep-over party some two millennia ago! When I gathered my senses, my arm was no longer in its previously correct anatomical position, as the middle finger of my right hand was now touching my elbow! It was a near amputation injury, and I managed to sever not only my radial and ulnar bone down to the skin and the tendons on the dorsal aspect of my forearm, but I also severed my radial artery. I didn’t panic at that point because I had about ninety seconds of precious before I would simply bleed to death. I was able to dislodge the belt from my trousers, and I successfully used that humble wardrobe accessory as a tourniquet to stem the flow of arterial blood.

What happened next revealed to me that God has a perverse sense of humor. It was confirmed to me without any shadow of doubt, then and there, that no stupid deed goes unpunished for very long. This is when Stinky Pete and Hercules arrived to investigate the commotion being caused by an unwelcomed human who had erroneously stumbled into their well-demarcated canine enclosure.

Looking upon my unexpected arrival with the same enthusiasm that a small child would have for an ice cream truck that magically appeared in the driveway of his or her home, the two terriers attempted to appropriate my partially amputated hand for a mid-afternoon snack! As I clenched the end of the belt that was being utilized as a make–shift tourniquet between my teeth, I tried to use my left hand to push the dogs away, all the while I was keeping a wary eye out for the still-running chainsaw that was dancing about in ever encroaching concentric sweeps around me!

My neighbor at the time was hosting a birthday party for her six-year-old grandson and five other blissfully innocent young guests. My neighbor, being the brave woman that she was, realized something was dreadfully wrong in her backyard, so she sent out her grandson and his five little friends to investigate the matter. When the children saw a grizzled and bloodied man being voraciously consumed by two terriers while an angry running chainsaw was break-dancing around the macabre scene, they fled in terror. As I’ve been told, some of these children will now be undergoing psychotherapy life. Be that as it may, at that point I resigned myself to simply allow the dogs to finish me off and be done with it. The next thing I knew however was that I was on a helicopter being flown out to Phoenix to be emergently re-assembled.

I underwent eight operations in one year. In addition to going bankrupt and losing my clinic in Arizona, I also ended up losing my ulnar bone, wrist, and the extensor tendon to my right index finger. The surgeons were able to split the tendon from my middle finger down to the index finger, but unfortunately those two digits no longer move independently. When I now get cut off in traffic, I can no longer extend a middle finger of “courtesy” to a fellow driver. Instead, as my son will testify, I can only shake my hand and give somebody “the claw!” Sadly, I got a bone infection that required antibiotic therapy for an entire year. Interestingly enough, I was infected with a gram-negative rod organism called, Enterococcus faecalis. As one might guess, this bacterium was commonly found in the lower gastrointestinal tracts of canines. After all what do dogs do when they greet each other? Why do dogs do that? The simple answer, as one might surmise, is simply because they can!

Long after my recovery, Stinky Pete and Hercules would climb up into the Mesquite tree and look down upon me with lust. After all, they had tasted the forbidden fruit of human flesh, and it tasted good! I hope this gives the reader a good appreciation as to why I’m now and itinerant oncologist jumping from job to job as I wind down in my career!