Leg End

I don’t believe in doctors. Unless you’ve got a bone sticking out at a mad angle they aren’t worth shit, so I didn’t hold out much hope when I went to see one yesterday.

I was right, of course, she looked at my leg and did little more than commiserate with me. I’d have preferred a diagnosis and cure but I did enjoy the concern she showed. The doctor was foreign, Swiss or something, and she was compassionate. I don’t know if she was competent. When I told her about the problems with my leg she just tutted and went, “oh dear!” When I was telling her the things I’d diagnosed myself with from the internet she would exclaim, “yes!” And then her face would turn back to one of motherly concern. It was nice to just talk about my leg because nobody else seems to care. When I told the doctor how not being able to run was depressing me she just balled her fists up and twisted them in front of her eyes, her lower lip pushed out until it was nearly folded over. I’d really damaged my leg trying to yank it out of a fucking Waltzer.

“It’ll be alright,” I told her.

“Yes!” She exclaimed and then before I left she gave me a prescription for some mega painkillers and an X-ray. An X-ray! Who should shut up about their leg now, eh? Not me.

“These? These are painkillers,” I told Paula as I read the box while standing in front of her counter.

Paula didn’t reply. Or look up. But then she only knew half the story. I needed to shake the boxes to get her attention.

“Yup, I have to take these as well,” I said shaking the other box of pills at her. I had two boxes of pills. “The painkillers,” I shook the painkillers, “are so powerful I have to take these,” I shook the other box, “so that my stomach can literally stomach the power of these.” I shook the painkillers again. And then I shook them both simultaneously. I read the directions on them again.

“Twenty dollars!” Said Enrique.

“Sold!” I said, looking around. I tossed him the boxes. He caught one between his wrist and his chest and the other one just bounced off him. I hadn’t taken any of the tablets. Since leaving the doctors my leg had felt better. “And Paula?”

“What?”

“Going for an X-ray at lunchtime. At the hospital.” That was my big news. Fuck the pills. I was getting in a massive machine because my leg was so sore.

“Hex-ray?” Asked Enrique squinting at me.

“Yep, pretty serious, I probably won’t come back afterwards. Want to look for a roof-rack in town.”

“Chu go for hex-ray?”

“Might put me in a cast there and then,” I told him. “In which case I’m probably out for six weeks.”

“Out?” Laughed Paula. “Are you a footballer now?”

“Are you a person who keeps getting abo-” I leant back just in time and Enrique caught the sausage roll end in his mouth like an agile dog. He snatched it out of the air.

“Chu do something for me?” Asked Enrique, chewing.

“No,” I told him. Hadn’t he been listening? My leg was fucked. I should be in a wheelchair. Although… I went up onto my toes. My leg really didn’t hurt that much. I was going to look like an idiot getting an X-ray on a leg that didn’t hurt much.

“I have box,” said Enrique staring at me. I laughed at him because that was a funny thing to say. I felt uncomfortable at his staring. He kept staring.

“Nice one,” I said and tried to look away from him but his eyes were holding mine like a powerful fridge magnet. “Okay? You’ve got a box.”

“My father give me box before I live,” said Enrique and I laughed again. Father? The fuck was he on about?

“Live?” I asked.

“Live, go, vamoose!”

“Leave.”

“Si. S’box have secret inside but I no h’open it. I try for many years but impossibull.”

“Okay,” I sniffed. “Just smash it with a hammer.”

“No, no.”

“Well…”

“Inside box is secret? Entiendas? From my father.”

“Okay?”

“You take box to hex-ray for me?”

I looked at Enrique. He was serious. I looked at Paula. She probably wasn’t. “The fuck’s he on about?” I asked her. I turned back to Enrique. “I’ll have to take my trousers off,” I explained. “They’re not going to let me take a magic Colombian box in there, you fucking idiot.”

“Chu try? Chu ask?”

“No! It’s probably full of drugs.”

“Take his box in, you dick!” Said Paula, helpfully. I know she was joking but…

“They’ll think I’m mental.”

“H’okay,” said Enrique. “S’okay,” and his head went down. Fucking great, my big moment in the spotlight ruined.

“Get me the box, I’ll open it,” I sighed. I’m pretty handy with my hands.

“S’impossibull,” he said quietly.

Get it.” I told him, pointing my head in the direction of his office. “And get my twenty pounds.”

Enrique slowly shuffled off sadly. Sadly shuffled off slowly. Shuffled sadly off slowly. We watched him. After seven minutes he was out of earshot. “Might have gold in it,” I said to Paula with my eyebrows raised. “Incas and that.” My leg actually was still quite sore, that was good, but I needed to make it even worse.

“Enrique’s dad is a taxi driver,” said Paula.

“Yeah, or a llama farmer!” I laughed at that. I laughed a lot. I was doing calf raises. They hurt. A good hurt. I was doing damage that would show up on an X-ray, I was sure of it. The person who looked at X-rays would wince.

“No, he was a taxi driver.”

“Oh, must’ve missed that,” I said checking behind me. “I didn’t even know he had a dad,” I whispered.

“I thought you said doctors were useless.”

“Not X-ray doctors.”

Enrique was shuffling back towards us. Couldn’t see him but we could hear him. I pictured the box as being a sort of little mahogany job, the type sold in a shop that also sold Gremlins. I was unprepared for what Enrique was holding as he shuffled into view. I looked at Paula briefly.

“Damn!” She said. I looked back at Enrique and whistled. Eventually he thrust his hand out without looking up. I looked at the top of his hat and then took the box from his hand.

“I’ve seen one of these before,” I said, turning it over in my hands. Enrique looked up. I saw hope in his eyes. I stared into those hopeful pits.

“Chu can h’open it?”

“Can I open it?” I wondered, still turning it over in my hands. “No, I can’t.”

“Por que non?” He asked. His hope was turning to anger, like I’d played a cruel trick on him.

“Well for one thing it’s a Rubik’s Cube. And for another… no, that’s it, it’s a Rubik’s Cube.”

“Chu can’t h’open it.”

“It doesn’t open, Enrique. It doesn’t.”

“Si,” he insisted trying to grab it off me but I lifted it out of his reach and placed a hand on his chest to hold him off. “Chu know nothink.”

“I know this. Look, watch,” I said pushing him back. I then set about twisting the cube. Enrique watched intently. I sucked my teeth as I twisted the cube both this way and that, occasionally pausing to check its rear. For ten minutes there wasn’t a sound in the shop but the clicky twisting of the cube. “There you are, a side.”

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