We were separated by the blue curtain. Two mothers, two sons.
I sat on the right side, next to the boy who was lying on a gurney with a swollen, purple and very painful knee. She sat on the left side, next to her son who was lying on a gurney with his head covered in blood.
I was not doing well. My mouth assured the boy that it would all be ok. My brain screamed at me, “Urgent Care, AGAIN! What is wrong with you? What is wrong with that boy? Do you know what too many x-rays can do to a person?” My heart tightened up, my stomach churned. I took a deep breath and wondered how many visits one could make to Urgent Care before Child Protective Services was called. I wished I was in pain instead of the boy. I kept shaking my head in resigned disbelief and brushing the boy’s hair off his 11 year old forehead.
The mother on the other side was not doing well. The curtain, of course, could not contain her crying. It could not contain the whimpering of her son. The curtain could not contain grief.
“You are my boy………my son……..… Look at you!”
Her son tried to answer. “Mama…”
“NO!” she shouted. “It is MY turn!”
I saw her worn shoes begin to pace the edge of the curtain. Then her shoes turned and stopped. “I TOLD you not to leave the house. I TOLD you. Do you know what it’s like to worry about someone every single minute of the day? Do you? I worry about you with every cell in my body. You are my son…..in the name of Jesus....... YOU. ARE. MY. SON.”
I turned to my boy with the swollen knee and grabbed his hand. He held tight. His eyes had grown large.
The mother on the other side lowered her voice a bit. “Why do you think I work two jobs? It is for you. You are 16 years old. I want you to be happy. I want you to always be safe. I want you to be better than you ever thought you could be. But here I see you…..no, no….I can’t even see you….your head is covered in blood. I don’t see you at all. My God…….you are my son and I can’t even see you.
Oh why would you leave the house when I told you not to……?”
I could hear her start to cry again. The boy and I stared at each other, silently.
The curtain was pulled back on the other side and I saw many feet. A doctor told the whimpering, bloodied boy that he was in bad shape. His hand was probably broken. His nose was probably broken. He most likely had some broken ribs. His jaw was no longer aligned properly. And his head was in really bad shape. There was so much blood, the doctor said, that he couldn’t yet tell how many wounds he had.
At least two nurses began to clean up the bloodied boy. I heard things like “matted hair”, “too many to count”, “I can’t get this one to stop bleeding”, “wow, I finally got one eye open” and “we’re going to need a lot of staples”.
I heard the doctor ask, “Do you want to tell me how this happened?”
The bloodied boy tried to speak. “This dude jumped me on the trail. He had brass knuckles on. He lit into me. Pretty bad, I guess.”
The doctor asked, “Did you know him? Why would he beat you up like this…..I mean…I gotta be honest. You ARE in pretty bad shape here, buddy.”
“He said he beat me up because I beat up his brother yesterday.”
The crying mother spoke up. “Oh Jesus, help me. Seriously? Why would you beat his brother up? Why would you beat anyone up? Haven’t I taught you better?”
The bloodied boy paused and then finally answered.
“...........because he was talking trash about you Mama.”
The mother groaned loudly. “Oh for goodness sake, son. You are better than that! We are better than that! Why do you care what people say, what people think?”
“Because, Mama. He was going to kill you. He said so. I couldn’t let him do that, because, I mean, you are my Mama……….You. Are. My. Mama.”
And all the curtain rooms at Urgent Care went silent.
For a long moment.
Finally I heard the doctor say, “Legally, I may need to call in the police, ok?”
The bloodied boy tried to yell out, “No!” The mother on the other side of the curtain cried. And a new voice, a deep voice, suddenly spoke up and pointedly asked, “I want you to tell me exactly what kind of car they were driving. And tell me their names. I need names.”
My boy with the swollen knee and I looked at each other in disbelief and with raised eyebrows. We were still holding hands when we heard the bloodied boy speak.
“It was a tan Buick, Uncle Matt. And I can tell you exactly who they were.”
When the doctor pulled back the curtain on our side the boy and I instinctively dropped our hands.
“So, how are we doing?” the doctor cheerfully asked.
“Oh, the boy here has banged up his knee a bit.” I replied. “But other than that, we are doing fine, just.. fine…”
Check This Out!
Listen to this great song, Rolling in the Deep, from the always amazing Adele when you make this Chili-Lime Chicken.
This is how the recipe came to me.
3 TBL olive oil
1 ½ TBL red wine vinegar
1 lime juiced
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 pound chicken breast halves
Combine all ingredients, except chicken, in a bowl and whisk until the oil and vinegar are emulsified. Add chicken to bowl, cover chicken with mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. Grill chicken over medium high heat until the juices run clear.
This is how I made it.
I tripled the marinade ingredients and added a bunch of chopped garlic (at least 8 smallish/medium cloves) and 2 chopped Anaheim chiles (use hotter if you wish). I used a whole cut up chicken and a boneless breast (for the teenager). I only marinated for an hour or so in a big plastic freezer baggie. (I would have done much longer had I planned ahead.) Then I dumped the whole lot into a large roasting pan and cooked at 375 degrees for 45 minutes….or so.
I served with rice made with chopped fresh garlic and chicken broth and a bit of salt and pepper. The boy ate this version. The husband and the teenager and I then mixed in black beans, lime juice and more chopped up Anaheim peppers. I then added TONS of cilantro. Sadly, I am the only cilantro fan in the family. On top of it all I spooned the juices from the chicken. It was super fantastic. Next time I might quadruple the marinade ingredients….