Twenty one of age, watching a health and safety film in the mess tent preparing for his job as assistant waterfront director. Better made film than those old safe sex and don’t smoke pot ones, and that’s what made it worse. Outdated information for a rich kids’ camp these days, like how to suck out the venom and tie a tourniquet, but required viewing nonetheless.
Film shifts, hospital scenes of therapy and surgical procedures. Close-up of a bare back. Broad needle heads straight for the bottom of the spine.
He gets up, stumbles to the back of the tent and collapses in a heap. When he comes to, he is asked what happened. He can only wheeze “I don’t know”.
Two years of age, crawling down the hall towards the living room, warm sounds of clinking cups and saucers and friendly chatter invite, golden aromas of walnuts and cinnamon fill the air.
Forty-eight and eighty-eight years of age, likely looking one last time at photographs; there is one of a young tot with one shoulder now drooped lower than the other. The mother says to the boy “They never found out what caused that. I never felt so guilty in my life as on that afternoon after the spinal tap, as you looked up at me with those eyes. The ladies meant well, but I should have told them never mind, I needed to be with you. I had heard your screams through two closed hospital doors.”