Saturday, August 14, 2010

“In Ravenscrag’s Shadow” – Chapter 17

In Ravenscrag’s Shadow

Davis L. Bigelow
Copyright 2010

Chapter 17

Before Glen could try out his crutch and crab-walking techniques, Stan required some serious assistance. His bathroom needs had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. “Ok” Glen coached. “I’ll hold the end of the travois up and you try to slide off the end.” Stan nodded and the two men began to work. The doubled up sleeping mats made the sliding process easier, but that didn’t remove the agony from the short, but excruciating journey. Before Stan was even close to being in position to relieve himself, at least ten minutes had elapsed. Glen untied the splint’s upper strap so Stan could sit up a little. That helped, but as soon as the big man’s trussed feet touched the rocks, the sliding stopped.

“I really… have to go!” Stan muttered, panting hard. In desperation, Glen shook his head.

“There must be a better way to do this?” he mumbled to himself. Then, Glen had an idea.

“Hold on Big C.” he cautioned. “I think I know how to make this work.” Hobbling and crawling to the back of the travois, Glen plunged his crutch directly between Stan’s splinted ankles. In seconds, the tip was jammed deeply into a thin crevasse. Then, returning to the opposite end of the travois, the gritty Scotsman slowly yanked the apparatus out from under his groaning friend. The crutch held the big man, but the pull on his broken leg took its toll.

Finally the rough rocks were supporting Stan’s bruised hind parts. “That’s… enough!” He wheezed, sounding like a man broken under severe torture and ready to admit to anything. Instantly, Glen ceased pulling the travois. “I need… to get… my legs… apart.” Glen nodded and clamoured quickly to his side. As each denim strap was untied, Stan’s pain intensified. At last, the final knot pulled loose and the big man was free of the confining wooden splints. “Help me… sit up… before I… wet myself.” Stan sounded terribly desperate. The wiry Scotsman scrambled to hoist his shoulders up.

Several more minutes passed before Stan was done. Glen waited patiently behind the big man, supporting his broad shoulders against one of his own. “I can’t… believe how… hard this… is!” Stan whimpered.

“It’s almost over now.” Glen reassured. “You’ll be feeling a lot better in a few minutes.” Sweat beaded on the big man’s forehead. Neither of them could afford to lose their valuable moisture this way! Glen eased his large friend’s shoulders back onto the tail end of the motionless travois.

“Can you… just splint... the broken leg… by itself?” Stan was still gasping for air.

“I think so.”

“My good… leg is… so stiff.” Stan managed.

As the unbearable seconds ticked by for Stan, Glen retied all the splint straps except the very top one. The topmost strap would have to wait until Big C was back on the travois. With only one leg securely bound to the four lengths of sturdy wood, Stan could move his good leg freely. Of course, the term freely was misleading. Even the slightest movement of the uninjured limb sent lightning bolts of distress into the broken one.

Glen again moved behind the big man. “Let’s get you up onto the sleeping pads before I leave.”

“If I… have to.” Came the reluctant reply.

“You’ll be a little more comfortable.” Glen rationalized. “Besides” he added, trying to lighten the mood, “maybe you’ll be able to sleep some and dream of Alida.”

“Yeah right!”

“Weren’t your kids and grandkids going to arrive in camp last night?” Glen hoped that thoughts of family would help to distract the big man from his severe ordeal.

“Yeah… I just hope… I see them… again.” Stan sounded low.

Glen slowly shook his head, silently scolding himself. “What am I thinking bringing up such a painful subject?” Their reality was certainly dim and their outlook awfully bleak! Nothing he could say would change that! Glen bit his tongue. “There are no cheerful thoughts to think this morning!”

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