The fall shattered Newly’s arm. It happened so quickly he didn’t have time to tell his mother anything. All she heard was a scream and a horrific crunch as the scaffolding collapsed.
“What happened?” she yelled into the phone. “You okay? You weren’t paying attention again, were you?”
Glancing at the metallic wreckage twisted around him, Newly muttered in a state of shock: “No ma. I never do.” A pile of debris was wrapped around his battered arm. The squeegee and bucket had rolled into the street and under the wheels of a dozen cars. At least it wasn’t my good arm, he thought, as a wave of pain rolled up his spine like a cat across a keyboard. The sound of distant sirens snapped him back to reality, before shock once again stripped the fabric of cognition from him.
He thought of his father and mother, twenty years of marriage hell and 50 years of trying to live up their parents’ expectations. And here he was, daydreaming his life and safety away, as well as his job. He hoped his work would at least cover his hospitalization before they cut him loose, once again setting him adrift on a sea of unemployment, worry, and lowered expectations.
“Are you listening? Newly? Dammit! Your father was right. You’ll never amount to a hill of bean shits.”
“Ma. I wanna be a painter. Like Uncle Jack.”
“That frutcake? Where’s the goddamn ambulance? I think you hit your head too hard.”
His mother’s voice faded into the swirl of noises around him, a symphony of sirens, honking cars, hydraulics, squawking birds, and jackhammers–the music of the city. He felt the sun kiss his cheek as a voice emerged from the cacophony.
“Hold on sir. We’re gonna get ya outta there in a sec.”