Day Seven– 11711/50000 words
The doctor a big blond man, well over six feet, and he spoke with a light accent. He introduced himself as Doctor Oliversson. He took a look at the chart for a moment, examined his foot. He asked about how it happened, and Marshall explained about stepping in a pothole in the fog.
“Were you feeling dizzy or unbalanced?”
“No,” Marshall said. It wasn’t quite a lie, and Marshall did not need the line of questioning it would have led to. “It was just dark and foggy, and I didn’t see the pothole.”
“Doctor Oliversson looked at his chart. “You’ve broken that leg before?”
“Yes.” Marshall said, “The leg, three ribs, and a hairline fracture on my skull. All on the left side.”
That set off a line of questions Marshall did not enjoy answering. In the end the doctor decided to have x-rays taken, just in case. It took about a half hour before they got through that, and back to the office, where the Doctor Oliversson evaluated the x-ray and declared that the injury was indeed, “just a sprain.” You need RICE, he said, rest, ice, compression and elevation, He wrapped the ankle and gave him a sheet that explained how to care for the ankle. Essentially, he had to stay off of it as much as possible for about three days or until he could walk without pain. The sheet also listed some flexibility exercises he should do after the pain had passed. Up front, they processed his insurance and he gave them his copay.
After they got out of the urgent care, Marshall thanked Catrin for taking him, even though the doctor hadn’t told him anything he didn’t know. He looked in his wallet and then across the street to the mall. “I’ve got a gift card to there, there, and there.” He pointed to a Chili’s, a Red Robin, and an Applebee’s. She chose the Applebee’s. Marshall started to walk over but Catrin made him get in the car and drove them over.
It was about eight o’clock now, and the Applebee’s was mostly full, but they managed to get a seat at one of the high-rounds in the bar area. Catrin wanted to wait for a booth so he could elevate his foot, but Marshall said he would be fine. In truth, his foot was starting to throb a little, but Marshall had dealt with worse. The two of them ordered. Catrin got a grilled chicken Caesar salad and Marshall got a chicken quesadilla. Catrin started to ask questions about the injuries but Marshall waved them off. “Not today,” he said, “some other time.”
They sat in awkward silence for a minute. Searching for something to get the conversation going in a new direction, Marshall asked, “What was it like growing up here?”
Catrin seemed to think about it for a moment. “When I was six,” she said, “My parents upgraded houses and we moved close to the beach. My older brother Reece and I would spend just about every minute we could swimming and building sandcastles and playing basically just running around. My brother was three years older than I was, but he never treated me like I was a pest or anything. I liked the ocean a lot. Then one day my brother disappeared. He was just gone. Most people think he drowned, but they never found a body. My parents never believed that really. They thought someone stole him. They put his face on posters and the whole city rallied around us for a while. That changed at some point though. People started to get suspicious. There were never any outright accusations, but this doubt seemed to linger around us. My family has kind of lived under that ever since. There’s a ton of sympathy, but a little doubt. My parents, of course, were devastated. I didn’t really understand at the time. Kids would…”
The food came then and Catrin stopped talking. The waiter who brought the food was an overly cheery guy who seemed to know Catrin and even called her by name. This seemed to make Catrin uncomfortable. Both Catrin and Marshall sampled their food. Marshall ate his with little interest as he waited for Catrin to continue. When she did, it was to answer the original question. “So,” for what it was like to grow up here, “It was pretty strange. My parents were overprotective and clingy. My friends kind of drifted off. People spent a lot of time asking me if I was ok.”
“I went through something similar,” Marshall said. “After the accident, all of my relationships changed. How I was doing was a constant question, and one I didn’t want to answer because nobody really wants to hear the truth about all that. That’s a big reason I came here.”
“Most of my friends,” Catrin said, “Are people who came here after. To them I am just another person rather than someone attached to this terrible thing.” Rainman is like that. He came to town two years ago. He says that the world is full of itinerant harpists, roaming from town to town.
Marshall laughed. “He’s a good guy,” she said. “The people I knew in high school and all are kind of fake friends, like Reggie over there.” Catrin pointed at the server who had brought her food. “He acts like I know me, because everyone here kind of knows me. We’ve never had a real conversation though and we probably never will. There are a lot of people here like that. They mean well, but they think they know me when they don’t.”
Marshal nodded. He had managed to take three bites of the chicken quesadilla, but had given up after that. “Why don’t you leave then?”
“That would be really hard on my parents,” Catrin said. “It’s been a fifteen years, and they never talk about it anymore, but I’m pretty sure they think about it every day. They want me to go to work for the agency and take it over one day. It’s struggling though. More and more people are going online. I can’t even really picture there being an agency after they retire. It’s just such an old concept. I mean, where do you get your insurance?”
“I don’t have a car anymore, so I don’t really get car insurance. My health insurance this whole complicated deal because of the accident.” He thought for a moment. I did have accident and injury insurance when I was employed though. I’m glad I had that.”
Marshall noticed Sheriff Weatherly and Shelby Weatherly walk into the restaurant. There was a bit of a line at this point, but the hostess quickly led them past the front. As they walked past, the sheriff nodded at them and Marshal nodded back. They took a couple more steps and then the Sheriff stopped and went back to them. “Marshall,” he said, “I’d appreciate it if you came by my office tomorrow. Nothing major, just a small matter I’d like to talk to you about. Let’s say about two.”
Marshall looked at him a moment and started to answer when Catrin jumped in. “I can drive you,” Catrin said. She looked at the Sheriff. “We were just at the urgent care,” she said, “Marshall sprained his ankle and he doesn’t have a car, but I’ll drive him.”
“OK,” he said, giving her a direct stare. “I appreciate that Catrin.”
“No problem Sheriff.” Throughout the conversation, Shelby Weatherly had kept her eyes fixed on Catrin.
As Shelby and the Sheriff walked away, Marshall said, “I wonder what that was all about?”
Catrin said, “I’ve known the Sheriff for a long time. If he was looking to arrest you, he wouldn’t invite you to his office.”
“I’m not too worried. I haven’t committed any crimes I know of. He probably just wants a bartender.”
“In that case, you should really learn how to bar tend.”
Marshall laughed. “At some point I suppose I should.”
After they finished dinner, they drove around a bit. Catrin gave her ratings of various restaurants. “Big Jake’s Grill has the best hamburgers in town, and they have really good fries. They’re the crinkle cut kind. Seaside Bistro has the blandest Italian food I’ve ever tasted. La Donna’s is way better, especially if you like fettuccine Alfred. The Secret Garden is good if you’re into health food. Pardo’s has good pizza, and they’re cheaper than New York Pies, which probably had better pizza. ”
Marshall paid a moderate amount of attention. He liked getting the tour, but restaurants didn’t matter to him. He had left most of the quesadilla on his plate; although he knew how much good some food would do him.