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Wheels to Liberty
By Judith F. Brenner
Chapter 1 – 1955
“Do you want to file a police report Mrs. Westchester?”
“No. Not without the advice of my brother. He’s a lawyer,” I said, turning to his wife, Irene, for support on that.
“We have her hidden away from the beast. She won’t be going back to him, right Carol?”
I shook my head no, not saying anything.
“Are you sure you don’t want to?” the nurse asked again.
“It won’t do me any good. Wally told me that arrested abusers tend to become more violent once they are out of jail or have a police record. And honestly, I don’t want to risk it.”
I started fearing seeing Joe again, and hyperventilated. He had to know I was missing by then from where he had left me. All my stuff was at the house. I didn’t have much of a plan besides hiding out in the cottage. That couldn’t last forever. I started to feel faint, and tipped my head down to my chin. Irene stood up next to me and propped me up gently by the shoulders. “Nurse, can she lie down?”
“I was going to take her blood pressure. We can do it from the table. Then I’ll get her to X-ray in a wheelchair.”
“No, not a wheelchair!” I protested. Ellie’s hospital days came flooding back to me, and I could not imagine being an invalid caring for my disabled daughter. I gathered my strength.
“Carol, darling, listen to the nurse. Let’s get through this. She can help us get you healed.”
Now she sounded just like Polly. I followed the advice. It felt good to lie down, and have someone look after me. In the exam room, an attendant came in with a wheelchair. I reluctantly sat. After getting pushed to X-ray down the hall, I said to the nurse’s assistant, “This isn’t so bad, after all. I like this service!”
“There’s nothing like being taken care of when you don’t feel your best,” she said.
Back in the room, Irene sat with me as the doctor, having seen the lab work, ticked off what was wrong with me: four bruised ribs, an eyebrow laceration that needed stitches, and while there was no test for it, a likely concussion based on my spotty memory loss after the fall, and the recurring headaches, light sensitivity and sleep patterns. (Wally guessed that one correctly, having played a lot of football at Notre Dame.)
“Your x-ray also indicates scar tissue, and looks like the fourth left rib had previously sustained a break.” (I recalled that painful kick the previous year.) After the doctor stitched my brow, he looked at the blood vessels in my puffy eye, did the “follow my finger” test. “You should have your eyesight checked next month, as a precaution. I’m going to give you some pain pills for the ribs. Take deep breaths and try to avoid any colds to avoid coughing. I have a prescription here also for sleeping pills, should you need them.”
“Thank you doctor.”
Irene and I headed back to the cottage in comfortable silence. She wasn’t a busy-body; not a lecturer like Polly, and I was grateful. As I got out of the car, she fiddled with her scarf knot to center it and repeated, “Call us if you need anything!” What I needed was to get away from this nightmare.