I did a bunch of demerol when I was 13 years old. I was in a hospital in Plano, Texas, and I had both feet.
I still have both feet, but at the time, it came as a shock to me.
I got hurt playing football.
I played strong guard for the Wilson Rams, and my running back, Jessie, was a dipshit. He tripped and speared my lower leg with the crown of his helmet during a trick play.
Essentially, our coach sent in every running back we had—loaded the backfield, if you know the lingo—so that the Renner Raider’s defense thought we’d be running.
The center hiked the ball to the quarterback. He handed the ball off to the halfback, who faked a handoff to the fullback before pitching the ball to the tailback, who then passed to the quarterback who had made his way downfield and assumed a receiver’s role.
Trickeration, some people call it. Gimmickry, others say.
The whole point is deception.
But Jesse, my dipshit fullback, tripped on his own feet, ended up head first in my lower extremities, and I came to on my back with my right leg in the air, and my foot wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and wherever it was, I couldn’t see it.
My mind went wild—the broad October sky shined black above me.
Under the Friday lights of a Texas autumn night, I screamed, “My foot. My foot.” The crowd fell still and some of my teammates were puking. “Where’s my foot?”
My hands searched the ground for my torn-away part. My heart beat my brain with blood and my breath felt frantic.
One of my coaches—I can’t remember their names—screamed into my helmet, “Shut the fuck up,” and I went still, and my body thrummed in the tangy, grass-scented air because maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I could hear the crowd holding their breath.
“Think it’s just dislocated?” someone said.
“Hopefully,” was the answer.
My foot was still on me, just hanging the wrong way.
“What’s your name?” they asked, I guess wanting to see if I was addled beyond comprehending myself.
“Brian Carr,” I told them. “Did we get the first down?”
Everyone—but who were they?— laughed and things felt easier, and then I was in an ambulance, and then I was on a bed, and then I was listening to directions, and then the true pain came.
The night cut in and out. My whole body quivered like the ribs of a kicked dog.
“We can’t put you completely under,” a doctor said. I was bathed in light, but maybe my eyes were closed. “We have to turn your foot back around, and you ARE going to feel it.”
The twisting began.
Even now, I can hear the gnash of the process. The same kind of noise any accident makes. Drop a glass on the tile floor. Rear end another driver on the highway. Bang and crunch and fuck and shit.
I yelped curses at God, bleated like a dying goat, lowed anguish unintelligible.
A great darkness pulled across me. The world rattled closed in heaves.
When I woke up, they gave me a button.