Two months later – July, 2007
Grover County Rehabilitation Hospital
Dr. Janice Kragen wore her hair pulled neatly back and watched her patient through a pair of glasses with shiny red frames.
“I think you’re getting the hang of it, Mr. Walker,” Dr. Kragen said.
Cole grimaced as he gripped his hands around two steel bars and slowly moved his body between them. He was feeling loopy, having just ingested some painkillers. He looked down at his brand new prosthetic leg.
“I think I should just hang myself,” Cole said.
“Now, now,” Dr. Kragen said. “Talk like that isn’t going to get you anywhere.”
Cole moved his left hand forward and grabbed the left bar. He moved his right hand forward and grabbed the right bar. He strained as he moved his left leg forward, then dragged his prosthetic forward.
“Your progress is amazing,” Dr. Kragen said. “You’re outperforming all of the other patients here.”
Cole moved himself forward through the bars. “Thanks, Doc. That’s been my lifelong dream: to be the best gimp in the gimp house.”
“That’s not really a term we like to use here,” Dr. Kragen said. “But I understand you’ve been through a lot.”
“That I have,” Cole said. “That I have.”
Cole turned his head to see Rusty walk into the room. He was out of uniform, wearing a flashy Hawaiian shirt and a pair of black track pants. He held up two greasy fast food bags marked, “Tasty Burger.”
“Avast!” Rusty shouted. “Tharr be Cap’n Peg Leg Pete! Permission to come aboard sir, yo ho, yo ho, and a bottle of rum!”
Cole and Dr. Kragen stared at Rusty as though they were trying to shoot daggers out of their eyes at him.
“What?” Rusty asked. “Too soon?”
“Yeah,” Cole said. “A little too fucking soon.”
“That’s very inappropriate, Mr. Yates,” Dr. Kragen said. “We prefer to give our patients positive reinforcement here.”
“Sorry,” Rusty said. “Hey, you mind if I steal Old Stubby away from you for a little dinner?”
Dr. Kragen looked at her watch. “Very well. But he needs to be back in one hour.”
“You got it, Doc,” Rusty said. “Leave it to me.”
“And go slow on that junk food, Mr. Walker,” Dr. Kragen said.
“I will,” Cole said.
Cole leaned on Rusty’s shoulder and allowed his buddy to ease him into a wheelchair. Rusty sat both bags onto Cole’s lap, then pushed the chair toward the hospital’s lounge.
“What’s she talking about?” Rusty asked. “Both these burgers are for me. I don’t know what you’re gonna eat.”
“Shove your jokes up your ass, Rusty,” Cole said. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Dr. Kimball you’re under arrest!” Rusty shouted. “No, no, it wasn’t me! It was the one legged man!”
“That was a one armed man, dumb ass,” Cole said.
“He was?” Rusty said.
“Yes,” Cole said.
“Huh,” Rusty said. “I’m going to have to watch that movie again.”