During the time I was living in the hole, brother number 3 broke his arm falling out of a tree up at the elementary school. I guess he fell out sort of sideways and to protect his head stuck out his arm as people do and broke his forearm. Those are pretty big bones and to think of breaking one—well, one has to hit the ground pretty hard. I have never broken a bone, though, playing basketball once, an idiot tripped me and I fell and hyperextended my arm so that it swelled up, at the elbow, to the size of watermelon and I lost all strength in my fingers and the x-ray showed I had fractured the bone a bit right at the joint.
But my brother had a real broken arm that you could see with the naked eye. Clearly something was not right with that arm; the forearm is supposed to be straight, but this one took a good 60% turn at one point and was clearly headed in the wrong direction. The bone was not poking through the skin with blood coming out, but it was poking enough to show through the skin that the bone was not in the right place. Also my brother had gone pale and he was groaning in pain also indicative of a broken bone.
Maybe it was a Saturday or a Sunday; had it not been one of those days I would have put my brother in the car and taken him straight away to the emergency room at the hospital. But because my parents were there, they were going to take him to the hospital. I stood by the car waiting to see them off, but when they didn’t come out right away I became alarmed and went to see if something was wrong. I heard my parents in their room and went to the door to peer in; it was not a room I liked to enter.
My brother was lying on one of their beds—by this time they had separate beds—moaning, and to my consternation, my parents, rather than taking my brother to the hospital, had apparently decided to prepare themselves to go to the hospital. My father was changing his clothes. He was putting on his church pants and my mother was telling him what shirt to put on and she was in her little half bath changing into a dress. Meanwhile my brother was lying their groaning; whereupon I suggested that I would be happy to drive him to the hospital where they could catch up later. Perhaps detecting a note of judgment in my voice, I was told, in so many words, to fuck off.
I left the room and to this day I don’t understand their behavior. One of their children was lying there in pain with a broken arm and they decided to take 20 minutes to prepare themselves to go to the hospital. The old lady even applied make-up. One would think they were going to see the Pope or something. I don’t wish to stereotype poor people, but I have wondered if perhaps their dressing up had something to do with having been very poor and feeling that because they were they would be ignored by people like doctors and lawyers and nurses unless they appeared in appropriate attire.
Whatever the underlying cause, I find in the occasion yet another instance of my parents living out their pathetic psychodrama in which my brothers and I were but bit players or even perhaps pieces of furniture. I suspect we are all just bits of each others imaginations but humanity lies in trying to see beyond that.