December 9, 2023

No News From Doodlebug Island…by William F. Jordan


Seated on a plaza bench in front of his physical therapist’s office, Matt Cox was collecting his thoughts which, considering the paucity of thought to be collected, hardly presented a reasonable excuse for his dawdling. The plain truth was he didn’t want to go in where he would have to face his therapist Jenny Wiltbank and there confess he had done none of the exercises she had assigned him, and where he would have to stand like a school boy enduring the scorn she would heap on his head. Even now and in advance of the actual encounter, her shrill voice haunted him. “I suggested four simple exercises that you needed to complete if you expect to get better, and did you do them? No! You did not. Why I waste my time on you is a mystery! You meet that worthless friend of yours, Joe Hodgekiss, and the two of you spend your free time lying to each other about your accomplishments while you’re entertaining the fish in Oak Creek. Now, answer me, isn’t the way of it?”

Of course it was. He'd had every opportunity to do the exercises, and now that the hour had arrived for plaudits or condemnation, oh, how he wished he had. The very thought of the disappointment that would spread over Jenny's face when she learned of his failure sent chills down his back. He thought briefly about just leaving for home, but she'd probably seen him through the front window, so what was the good of going home when she would phone him there and scold him all the more?

“These are the chains I forged in life,” he thought to himself, “and it’s the Marley side of my nature that always does me in, always procrastinating, always looking for the easy way out! If Jenny Wiltbank gained so much as a thimble weight, she’d still not outweigh her shadow, so why do I shrink from confronting her, telling her I won’t put up with any more of her lip, and that I’m taking my business someplace else?”

It was a brave front, but a front was all it was. In his heart, Matt knew Jenny had the buffalo sign on him, that he’d wilt like a pansy in the presence of her anger. So, hunching his shoulders against the blazing hot winds that awaited him, he made his way inside. Now, Jenny had indeed been watching Matt through the window, and she sensed the struggle he'd been having with himself. Something about that anguish touched her, so instead of thinking about pouncing on him, as she was more accustomed to doing, she decided on a gentler, more understanding approach, which enjoyed the same life-span as a lepton in an atom smasher before she reverted to the scalded -cat temperament she was used to. “Well, look what just came in,” she said derisively, “a great hulk of a man with just enough brains to swat flies. I can tell from that sheepish look you haven’t done anything to help yourself, And, I’ll bet you’ve been lifting heavy loads from the back of your pickup using the same technique that tore your supraspinatus in the first place! Does it hurt when I press here?” she asked as she dug into his shoulder.”

Matt winced, and sweat broke out on his brow. “Like sixty!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t know a spin-whatever- you-call- it could hurt so much!”

“Good!” said Jenny, pressing even harder. “It serves you right. Now, maybe you’ll begin doing something for yourself instead of showing up here like so many others saying “fix me!”

“Well, any part of the body called ‘super’ ought to be able to fend for itself!” said Matt, recovering a bit by the sting by her sarcasm and lack of compassion.

“It’s ‘supra’, and it means ‘above’ or ‘superior;’ it’s the smallest of the three muscles in your shoulder and it deserves special treatment. Poor baby,” she continued, gently massaging the very muscle she'd been pressing, “it's past certain you won’t get any appreciation from the lunk you’re attached to.”

“Well, we just weren’t on a first name basis before,” said Matt, his good humor returning.” From now on, it’s kindness and consideration all the way!”

Jenny’s withering look of skepticism was his only answer.

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