A Walk at Dusk, “Books and Bones,” part 3

Tiny smiled at him, then closed his eyes. They drove on that way until they reached the town: a smattering of wooden houses set in neat rows amid trees on the edge of the wood, with train tracks running east to west on the northern edge. Charles drove them in and took a turn down a long street. They passed what David assumed to be the schoolhouse: a red-painted building with a bell hanging outside the front door, which was closed, with a long green lawn running beside it.

At length, Charles stopped in front of a two-story building with a wide porch like a shopfront, but with roof eaves like a great house. Ely stepped out, wearing a suit and a white apron.

“What’s the problem?” he said.

“Broken leg,” Charles said. “And plenty of bleeding.”

“Let’s get him in,” Ely said. “You think the three of us could manage?”

“Probably,” Charles said. He hopped into the back of the wagon. He and David picked up Tiny by the shoulders and chest and pushed him toward the back gate of the wagon. Ely grabbed the man’s legs, being careful to avoid disturbing the tourniquet and broken shin. They hauled him inside and laid him on a long bed with white linens that was about waist-high.

Ely put on a pair of spectacles and observed Tiny’s leg. He grabbed a towel and dipped it in a nearby bucket of water, then wiped away the blood from the outside.

“Looks like a major break of his tibia,” Ely said. “With a bit of fracturing to boot.”

“A wagon fell on him,” David said.

“I can see that,” Ely said. He looked at Charles. “Good work on the tourniquet. I’ll leave it in place while I set the bone.” He felt around to the back of Tiny’s lower leg. “Good luck. The fibula is fine. It’s just his tibia. We’ll have to straighten your leg out, and it won’t be pleasant.” Tiny nodded, then groaned as the doctor pushed the knee back to straight. Ely squinted. “He’s got a sliver of something in there.”

“What do we do?” David said.

“I think I might have to cut it out,” Ely said.

“How hard will that be?” Charles said.

“It should be a minor surgery,” Ely said.

“I don’t like the sound of surgery,” Tiny said.

“Relax, sir. I have some ether here.” Ely walked over to one of the cupboards and retrieved a dark glass bottle and a cloth. He wet it and held the cloth up to Tiny, who flinched at it. “It will dull the pain.” Tiny gave in, and his arms soon went limp. His eyes were open, but they wandered over the ceiling hazily.

Ely pushed over a rolling cart with some metal tools on it. “If you gentlemen would be so kind as to hold the man, I would appreciate it. The ether will dull the pain, but he may still start, and he is rather large.”

David and Charles each took a position holding down Tiny, but he didn’t react when the doctor cut open the gash on his leg. A small trickle of blood escaped and was soaked up, but thanks to the tourniquet there was little bleeding. The doctor used a pair of pliers to remove a large sliver of black pot-metal, a remnant of the rail from the broken cart, and then several wooden splinters. David felt a bit sick watching it, but looked away.

“I think that’s it,” Ely said. “Let me set the bone and we’ll sew him up.” As if noticing the boy in the room for the first time, Ely frowned and said, “You shouldn’t have to watch this, David. Why don’t you head out back? It’ll be quite a while before your man is up and about.”

“Go ahead,” Charles said. “You’ve seen enough, I reckon. I’ll settle up with the doctor and get you when it’s time to head home.”

David left the house and wandered around to the lawn on the side. There he saw Ezra swinging very slowly on a swing hung from a great oak tree. She was looking down reading a large book. He paused and watched her for a moment. As if sensing this, she looked up.

If you are enjoying this story, please consider heading to Amazon and buying my Historical Fantasy book, Muramasa: Blood Drinker. I appreciate it!

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