More Holes n’ the Radiator of a Model-T Ford

Heywood Robert HartleyDr. Gillanwater sat in the room facing me. We knew what this meant. The hole was not going to heal.

“It isn’t going to heal.”

“The beginning of wisdom,” offered Dr. Gillanwater.

“A lost cause,” I said.

The doctor smiled.

“Heck,” I said, “that’s the best kind.”

“Was it worth it?”

“It was worth it.”

I was taken across the street to North 3, the urology floor, and returned the same day with a tube entering my bladder just below the belly button. To insulate the hole it is necessary to use a piece of intestine, which had been successfully accomplished, but there were complications: the removal of the intestine can cause bleeding in the stomach or damage to another intestine. Back up onto North 3 I went and remained for a week under observation and on a liquid diet.

Four old men shared the room. The joke was the place was just One Big Drip, which told you something about the kind of problems old men endured.

I’d begun a poem called The Child.

Of honeysuckle sweet and wild,
A single blossom is the child…
Remembered pink and powdered blue,
Those perfumed thoughts that I once knew….

I honestly swear I’d rather have another tube put in my gut than quote the whole of this sickening verse.

But in a room where few words were spoken, where…dripdripdrip…sounded continuously—a voice would pipe up—

“Give us that honeysuckle poem again!”

These old men never tired of hearing the “honeysuckle poem” recited again and again and again.

Sarah, visiting, laughed until I threatened to dedicate “the honeysuckle” to her, making it, officially, her poem. She had been waiting a long time for her poem.

“Dedicate it to me!” croaked a voice across the room.

“It’s yours!” I declared, laughing so hard the tube hanging from my gut waggled the sheet.

My parents visited the last day. “How many?” asked Daddy.

“Three. All going to the same place.”

“You’re collecting holes like the radiator of a Model-T Ford,” he allowed. My old daddy had actually driven Model-T Fords: he could tell stories about patching holes.

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3 Responses to “More Holes n’ the Radiator of a Model-T Ford”

  1. Kasie Whitener Says:

    Great passage! It’s a great dichotomy the image of old men sitting around indisposed and then the father coming in and reminding them they aren’t really that old.

    Glad to have found your work. Looking forward to more!

  2. roberthartley Says:

    Thanks a ton Kasie!
    More is coming.
    I hope you post something; it will be a pleasure to read!

  3. roberthartley Says:

    Thank you, Melda, for your comment. I hope to never have surgery like that again: I enjoy eating real food too much. For four or five days, if I remember correctly, my fare was jello!

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