Friday, July 26, 2019

The Shrewd King 1.4: Dysen and Quinn


Dysen almost laughed the first time she saw Quinn as he convalesced.

She would have laughed if her mouth had not been packed with gauze and her cheeks and tongue swollen beyond recognition.

Quinn’s backside was sticking up in the air like an inch-worm contemplating venturing forth in the world.

Quinn and Dysen had been wounded in the same encounter.

Dysen, also known as Cookie Girl, had become Chernovsky’s fighters' favorite person as she religiously visited them three times a week, delivering hefty, calorie-dense cookies to their outposts on the frontier.

Dysen had been wounded in an ambush intended for Quinn’s squad.

The hostiles who set up the ambush had unknowingly set it up under Quinn’s watchful eye. He fully expected them to have the discipline to let Dysen ride her bike through the ambush rather than pollute the set-up.

The ambushers, populated by junkies who claimed to have military experience shot Dysen in the head.

The marksmen had been aiming for the juncture between Dysen’s right eye and her lower eyelid. He failed to account for the fact that the bullet was two-and-a-half inches below the line of sight at fifty feet and the bullet blew out Dysen’s upper, right canine and four of her left molars. Fragments of tooth pulped the end of Dysen’s tongue and she would always speak with an impediment.

The impact of the bullet knocked Dysen out and sent her cartwheeling like a limp rag-doll off of the bike she was riding.

Quinn had watched, helplessly, from two hundred yards away. At that point he initiated battle and had been wounded in the encounter.

Dysen was Kate Salazar’s niece and both Dysen and Quinn were convalescing in Kate and Rick Salazar’s home.

Deciding that she needed to use the outhouse, Dysen decided to take a walk to the outhouse rather than fight with the bed-pan. She did not remember that there was a portable commode set up for her convenience. Either she did not remember or she wanted to see Quinn. Before she had been shot, Dysen and Quinn had been romantically interested in each other.

The fact that Quinn didn’t have a stitch of clothing on his backside added to Dysen’s mirth.

Nyssa, Dysen and Quinn’s nurse, knew that Dysen wasn’t able to talk and had provided Dysen with a pad of paper and a pen.

Dysen wrote “What happened to you?”

Quinn was acutely embarrassed to be caught half naked by the girl he was sweet on.

“I got shot in the ass.” he said, tersely.

Dysen surveyed Quinn’s backside. The left side, from the meat of this left butt-cheek angling down to the outside of his thigh halfway to his knee was draped with a loose covering of gauze.

“Ouch!” Dysen wrote.

“I don’t think it can hurt as bad as what happened to you.” Quinn said.

Dysen was forced to agree. She could some distraction from her misery.

“What happened?” Dysen wrote.

At first, Quinn’s reply was slow and stilted. He was talking to a girl about something he assumed she was asking about to be polite.

Quinn, who could tell the story of any deer he ever shot in glorious, step-by-step detail was at a loss for words until the memories came flooding back. Then there was no holding the words back.

What Quinn did not share was that “the guys” had salted their ammo with poison and infectious agents. Fortunately, he HAD told Nyssa. After hearing a few more details, Nyssa not only scrubbed out his wound with a brush and copious amounts of cold, sterile water, she had aggressively removed any tag or finger of flesh that she suspected might have poor blood flow.

Nyssa had worked with geriatrics. Some of them were diabetic and she had watched them get gangrene in their extremities. Surgeons had removed toes, feet, lower legs, then entire legs in a losing battle to halt the spread of the infection.

Nyssa consulted her medical books and learned that the bacteria that cause gangrene, primarily Clostridia perfinges, can only live in anaerobic conditions. Unfortunately, that anaerobic region can be as small as the tip of the pencil. The only way to ensure C.P. could not gain a foot-hold was to remove every trace of debris and flesh with compromised blood flow from the wound and then expose the wound to the air as it healed.

Quinn could only rest on his stomach or his right side. Unfortunately, the muscles in his leg kept cramping and he would go into inch-worm mode to relieve the pain. That is when Dysen first saw him.

Dysen normally ran circles around Quinn, verbally. With her mouth swollen shut all she could do was write down questions and let Quinn carry the conversation.

She learned how he wanted to be a carpenter because one of his uncles noticed that Quinn was thoroughly ambidextrous. Carpenters need to be able to use tools with their left hand just as proficiently as with their right.

She heard how he thought most of his ambidextrous friends were “labeled” with learning deficiencies, primarily dyslexia. He wondered if teachers hadn’t somehow conspired in favor of kids who were handicapped (as he saw it) by having one hand less capable than the other.

She heard about the two weeks in third grade when his teacher became sick in the middle of teaching long division. His classroom had two substitute teachers who tried to teach the students a second and a third way of doing it. Quinn thought he was supposed to jump from one method to the next to the next as he worked through the problem. He always got the wrong answer and hated math from that time on.

Dysen thought back to when she learned long division. She had struggled. Her parents hired a tutor. She learned how to do it, but not in school. She gained empathy for every kid who never had the advantages she had.

Thus they passed the days while the swelling in Dysen’s face subsided and Quinn’s leg commenced to heal under the watchful eye of Nyssa.

Dysen never caught him with his backside up in the air again because he listened for footsteps. He quickly learned which were hers.

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