By Tim Mollen
Journal entry: September 27, 1976 (age 7)
The best thing about sleeping in the top of a bunk bed is that I can reach down and poke at my brother Dan while he’s asleep. By the time he swats at me, or opens his eyes, my hand has returned to its elevated sanctuary. Moments later, it returns to flick his earlobe or slap his face. Other times I wait until he’s completely out. Then I reach down, grab a corner of his blanket, and slowly pull it off him and up to my bed. This scenario usually ends with Dan waking up freezing, then crawling up to my bed to throttle me.
The worst thing about sleeping in the top of a bunk bed is something I learned about tonight, when I followed up falling asleep with sleeping afall. Sometime around midnight, I rolled off the top bunk and landed on my elbow, snapping my wrist under my body’s just-considerable-enough weight. I think it was the searing, bone-crushing pain that woke me up.
I tend to have a lot of nightmares, so my parents weren’t completely caught off-guard when my screams pierced the dark silence of our house. Last week, Dad spent a solid 20 minutes “talking me down” after a perceived encounter with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. But tonight, Mom got upset as soon as she saw my injured limb. She cradled me in her arms and carried me into my parents’ room. Meanwhile, Dad had woken up as well. From inside the master bathroom, he could hear me crying, and Mom saying, “Oh my God, his arm is broken!” Through the door, he intoned, in a calm, doubtful voice, “How do you KNOW it’s broken?”
Mom looked down at my wrist, which had taken on the curved shape of the stem of a dinner fork, and started crying. “Oh, Jack, just come and look at it!” Dad quickly emerged from the bathroom, took one look at my warped appendage, and turned white. “Oh my God, his arm is broken!”
As Dad went to get the station wagon out of the garage, my brothers Dan and Bob appeared in the bedroom doorway. Dan looked upset and frightened. Bob looked sleepy and annoyed. Bob blearily asked, “What’s going on?” Mom said my arm was broken. Bob looked at my arm, said “Yep,” and shuffled back to bed. Thus we were all spared a third consecutive calling out to our Lord and Savior.
Mom wrapped me in an afghan she had knitted, and carried me outside to the car. Within a few minutes, we were in the emergency room at Lourdes Hospital. They quickly admitted me for surgery and an overnight stay. Now I’m in my own hospital room, and the whole night is starting to feel like an adventure. “Can I watch TV, Dad?” I say, my voice tiny and trembling with amplified drama. “Sure, pal,” he says. “Cool,” I think, “I’ve never seen Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
During commercials, I’m writing this in my journal. It’s taking a lot longer than usual, because I’m writing with my left hand. But the pain medication they gave me seems to be increasing my vocabulary, which is propitious. I think I could write all…