Nasty Burn

March 28th, 2019

“I’m only happy when it rains….
I’m only happy when it’s complicated
And though I know you can’t appreciate it
I’m only happy when it rains
You know I love it when the news is bad
Why it feels so good to feel so sad?
I’m only happy when it rains
Pour your misery down
Pour your misery down on me
Pour your misery down
Pour your misery down on me
I’m only happy when it rains
I feel good when things are goin’ wrong
I only listen to the sad, sad songs
I’m only happy when it rains
I only smile in the dark
My only comfort is the night gone black
I didn’t accidentally tell you that
I’m only happy when it rains
You’ll get the message by the time I’m through
When I complain about me and you
I’m only happy when it rains.”

“I’m Only Happy When It Rains” from Garbage

Her left hand was completely wrapped in gauze. She burned the back of her hand on Friday. I don’t completely understand how she did that. Since then, she has had her hand bandaged up. Karin has been changing the dressing on that hand each morning. I haven’t been involved with that process. That has been between the girl and Karin.

I did get a glimpse of the girl’s hand a couple days ago. My own hand hurt just from looking at hers. It was raw and ugly. A nasty burn. There will be scars.

Scars aren’t always bad. They are proof positive that somebody is a survivor.

I drove the young woman back to her motel room yesterday morning. As usual, she played the Sphinx during most of the ride. When she is nervous, she only gives me name, rank, and serial number. She might answer my questions, but with the absolute minimum of information. I have grown adept at reading between her lines.

As we wound through the streets of Racine, I asked her, “How is the hand?”

“Okay, I guess.”

“Does it hurt?’

“Not really.”

That surprised me. How could that wound not hurt?

I asked her, “Can you move it?”

She replied, “Well, with this on (she pointed to her bandage) not really. Without it, I can pick up things. I can’t close it like I can with my other hand.” She then demonstrated how she could close up her right hand.

I stopped at a light. As it changed to green, she continued to speak,

“The doctor at the emergency room told me that I wouldn’t be able to hold a beer or ride a motorcycle. Neither of those two things are going to happen any time soon.”

I glanced at her. I couldn’t tell if she was smiling or not.

I changed the subject. I told her,

“Last night I went to the VA. I visited with the guys in the psych ward.”

The girl nodded as she stared straight ahead. Years ago, she had gone with me to spend time with the vets at the hospital. She knew that I went there often.

“Well, I sat and listened to one of the vets talk all about his seizures, and about his problems with his doctors. He talked to me for almost half an hour. Then he asked me, ‘So, how long have you been here?’ I told him, ‘About an hour.’ Then the guy asked me, ‘What room are you in? Wow, you just got here! I guess that’s why you are still in normal clothes.’ I told him, ‘Man, I just helped to bring in the snacks. I am not currently a patient.’

The vet seemed embarrassed, and he said to me, ‘I just thought you were here, you know, like us. No offense…’

I told the guy, ‘It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I am glad to talk with you.’ ”

I glanced at the girl. She still stared straight ahead, but she had the faintest trace of a smile on her face.

I laughed and said, “Yeah, I know. You’re not surprised by that at all.”

She gently shook her head in a way that said, “Oh, so typical…”

We listened to the radio. 102.1. “Sounds different.” That’s the slogan for the station.

An old song from Garbage came on: “I’m Only Happy When It Rains”.

I sighed, “Oh yeah…”

The girl told me, “That was my favorite song in kindergarten.”

“I like it too. The singer, she has a great voice. The back up band is really good too.”

The girl replied, “Yeah, they are all from Madison.”

“I thought the singer was from Scotland.”

The girl shrugged, then nodded.

We got to her motel. I helped her to bring her stuff up to her room. The room was dark, even after the young woman turned on a light. Her belongings were scattered in a haphazard way. Disorder reigned.

I told her, “I’ll see you later.”

She stared at me blankly and said, “Okay.”














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