"In five minutes you are not going to believe what I've told you."
...let's skip the details. I don't really think it matters how much whiskey was involved or what words passed between us. Suffice it to say, later that week, Richard and I, along with a case of beer, were parked across the street from the house on Jarvis.
The house looked darker than its neighbors. None of the lights were on, though a faint flicker could be seen through the windows. I told Richard about the candles I saw, thinking the guy'd been planning something romantic.
"Then we came on the right night," Richard said, "Looks like he's expecting company again."
"You want to turn on the radio?"
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"If we keep it low it won't be a problem."
"Not right now, okay?"
"I'm just bored is all. We've been here like 3 hours."
"Yeah, well, we can always leave."
"No way. Grab me another beer, will ya?"
"Sure." As I was reaching in the back, fumbling with the case for two cans, Richard start slapping my side.
He said, "Dude, dude, dude!"
Cursing, I rolled back to the front. Richard pointed down the street. A woman in stiletto heels was clopping along the sidewalk. She wore a long black dress that looked painted on and a thin trench coat. Her hair hung past her shoulders, shimmering under the sodium street lights. We watched her turn and head up the walk to the house on Jarvis.
"I just lost my boner," Richard said.
She knocked at the front in what looked like a planned rhythm. When the door opened I told Richard the man I'd met was the one answering. The lady in black and the man chatted for a second, but we were too far away to hear what they said. At one point, though, the woman pulled her coat to one side, showing off how her dress was slit up one side going all the way to her hip. Even from where Richard and I were we could see the whole shape of her leg, like a milk white silhouette against a black background. The man nodded then ushered her into his house. The door closed.
Before I could think twice, I was climbing out of the car. Richard scurried after me, straining to be loud and whisper at the same time, "Hey! HEY! What are you doing?"
"I want to see what happens," I said. We crept around the outside of the house. Finding a window that looked in on the living room, we took opposite sides, doing our best to peer with the least amount of ourselves showing.
The woman sat on a couch. In the candlelight, her dress made her seem invisible, more parts than a whole person. Her arms and exposed leg floated in the darkness. Her face a hanging mask. She sipped from a wine glass and seemed to be holding back a smirk. The man entered pushing a cart with a blue sheet across the top. He offered her something in his hand. She took it, put it in her mouth, and downed it with a sip from her glass. She then stretched out on the couch, tucking her dress aside to expose as much of her leg as possible. The man left the room and came back with a tank. He slipped a mask onto her. He turned a knob on the tank, and I could hear a faint hiss. The woman went completely still.
Richard poked me. I swatted at him to leave me alone. He poked me harder and I punched him in the shoulder. He grabbed my arm, and I turned saying as quietly as I could, "What?" He mouthed OVER THERE, pointing to a dark corner. I took a chance, leaning out further to see what he could. All I managed to see were a pair of eyeglasses reflecting the candlelight. But it was enough to know someone else was in the room, watching what happened.
By now the man had pulled the blue sheet off the cart. He snapped on a pair of latex gloves. He picked up a marker and a measuring tape from the cart. Measuring the woman's leg, he put dots on her every few inches. Setting those aside, he picked up a cannula, using it to pierce her through one of the marked dots. Then he got a drill from the cart along with a screw and what looked like a long thin rectangular metal plate. He fitted a screw through one of several holes in the rectangular plate, fed the screw through the cannula, and proceeded to drill the screw into her thigh bone.
"Is it that simple?" Richard asked.
"Don't know. Doubt it. I don't know."
"Cuz if it's that simple, my cousin can shut the fuck up. You know what I'm saying?"
We watched the man repeat this process. The only difference being the remove and reinsertion of the cannula to guide a new screw; and the occasional dabbing of blood as it ran down her leg in rivulets. Eventually, the woman had a pair of metal rectangular plates, jointed at her knee, screwed into her leg bones. The whole time she'd barely moved, save for a few squirms I couldn't (and didn't) want to know the full extent of.
Richard wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay, see if she woke up. The man took off her mask. He wheeled the tank out of the room then came back for the cart. Draping the blue sheet across the top, he whistled a tune softly to himself.
"Is that... is that The Merry Old Land of Oz?" I asked.
"I like that song."
"It's not bad."
The man pushed the cart away. He headed towards the kitchen. The woman stirred on the couch.
"See. She's fine," Richard said, "Let's get the fuck out of here."
"Goddammit," a voice from inside the house. Richard and I froze. The man walked back into the living room. He pointed back towards the kitchen, "I just had a guy out here the other day, and the sink is still clogged." He sighed, "Guess I'll just have to call the plumber again."
"Oh fuck this," I said and headed back to the car. Richard followed quickly. Back in the car I said, "With my luck, I'm the guy that's gonna have to come back out here. So you know what? I quit."