Sometimes life is funny as hell.
By funny, of course, I mean peculiar. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Roy Coxson was a bully. I had met him for the first time on the playground in the opening days of the fourth grade. He was the guy who pushed me in the chest and made me fall down over Donnie Ritchen. Donnie was on all fours, and I found my feet flying out from under me, and I hit the ground hard on my back. Roy kicked some dirt in my direction, they hi-fived each other, and ran off. Over the following two years, Coxson had done nothing to change my opinion of him. If it is possible for a twelve year old to hate, I hated him.
And then there was that day just before Christmas break when our teacher made an announcement to the class. Roy Coxson, it seemed, had gone deer hunting with his brother and father. The old man had handed the shotguns to Ben while they crawled over a fence. The eight year-old had promptly dropped one of the weapons, and it had gone off. The shot caught Roy in the right arm and the right side of the chest. So Roy was in the hospital, and we were told if we wanted to visit him, it was room 614 at Jefferson Hospital.
I thought little more about it until we came back from Christmas Break. I noticed that Coxson wasn't in class. As soon as we came to order, our sad-faced teacher gave us an update.
"I know you have all been concerned about Roy Coxson. I got a call from his father last night. Roy won't be back in school for at least another month. His lung is fine, and his breathing is much better. But..." She paused a moment and swallowed. "But the doctors say they haven't been able to fix the damage in his arm very well. They are going to amputate his right arm this afternoon."
Mickey Kentz bent over to my desk and whispered "What's amplatate?"
"It's AMPUTATE," I whispered back. "They're gonna cut his arm off!"