Alex Teach Image
His T-shirt was ruined, a once-white garment that now looked like he had a shiny red tunic draped over it, such was the volume of blood pouring from his scalp, topping faded blue jeans and an over-taxed belt starting to share the burden of fluid on its determined journey downward.
“Hey, buddy,” I said in as soothing a voice as I could muster. “How about putting that thing down?”
The Client instantly twitched his right eye, then with a subtle shake of the head started to reorient himself to his surroundings, as if a remote control had changed internal channels and he was looking for a signal.
“What, me?” he said, then glanced at his right hand. “Oh, yeah. This,” he said. Blood dripped from his nose and the point of his jaw, his face a living horror show, the blood almost giving the appearance there was no skin covering bone.
He placed the hammer on a counter next to him and continued to stand there, his mind drifting back towards the place he was before, which of course would not do at all.
“Your girlfriend…is she here? Is anyone else in the house?” I asked. He replied in the negative (we’d look for ourselves in a moment) so my partner followed up by asking, “Your head…what happened there, man?”
“Wha…what?” the Client asked. “Oh, yeah.” He paused. “My girlfriend…she was going to kill herself, she swore to God, she was going to take some pills and get in the bathtub and drift away and I freaked out.”
I did not doubt him, but my partner still had questions. “So she attacked you when you tried to stop her?” he said as he was looking for something for the man to put on his head; it went from interesting to just plain nasty pretty quick, actually.
“No, no, I just started hitting my head to keep her from doing it.”
Jack and I paused.
“Wait.” My head cocked to the side like a curious dog. “Did you just say you hit yourself in the head with a hammer to keep her from hurting herself?”
“Well, yeah,” he replied, as if we’d said the stupidest thing ever. (Maybe we had?)
For near-comic effect, his right eye started to drift while his left eye stayed trained on us as we spoke (so long as we didn’t speak quietly, or with “fancy words”.)
“I dunno what I was thinking,” said the Client. “I just started swinging and swinging away in front of her. I just love her, man. You know how it is?” he pled. “We have plans, and the thought of her…the thought…” He began to lose his composure all over again, and on three separate occasions he glanced at the hammer he’d put aside just moments ago.
I looked at him and said yeah, sure I understood. And I did. Who doesn’t know the incredible lack of sanity that goes into a real relationship, and the crazy things you do for one? (Except, of course, for hitting yourself in the head with a claw hammer so hard you actually break your skull and pull out chunks of skin and hair.)
In the few seconds it took to reply, the gentleman now seemed unsteady on his feet. I didn’t even ask, I just took a step back and called for a meat wagon to come and pick him up since he was giving every sign of traumatic brain injury I knew of.
It was as I let off the microphone on my shoulder that I heard my partner ask the gentleman, “Excuse me, sir. I don’t want to offend you or anything, but have you been drinking?”
“No,” said the Client.
“I guess it’s just your injuries then,” he said, “because you’re acting like you just got hammered.”
Before the ambulance finally arrived, there was an incredibly awkward moment that transpired after that poor choice in analogies was given. But the silence wasn’t just out of fear of his immediate reaction (there was none, remember—he had given himself the I.Q. of a kumquat), but also of respect for somehow making a weird situation even weirder, all on our own.
I love this job. Brains…and all.