Stephen is ahead of him coming back into the house from playing basketball in the driveway. As they reach the front room, Ruthanne comes from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. She is bawling and holding up her thumb. A sewing needle is sticking straight through it.
“What did you do that for?” Stephen bellows.
“Dude, she has a needle straight through her thumb. That’s serious.”
“Oh, sorry. Are you okay, Ruthanne?”
“It really hurts. When will mom and dad be back?”
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if they went to a restaurant or a movie or what. I have no idea where to reach them.”
“Think we should drive her to the hospital?”
“Brother Barley owns a medical supply company. I’ll call him and see what he thinks.”
Sister Barley answers and gives the phone to Jim. The young man explains what happened.
“Sewing needle? Most likely ain’t through the bone. Bring her on over. We can fix her up.”
They lay Ruthanne in the backseat of the Caprice Classic. She feels cold and is going into shock. At the Barleys’ house, they lay her on the couch. Jim is short, heavy, with a beard down to his collarbones. He’s from Arkansas and moved here to run the Zee Medical franchise.
He opens a large first aid kit and pulls out some heavy scissors. He cuts the head of the needle off, then uses a pair of pliers to grab the needle by the point and pull it through the skin and out. He holds up the pliers with the bent needle.
“No need to go to the hospital. Ain’t nothin broke. Needle bounced off the bone, bent, and came through the skin clean. We’ll just disinfect her thumb, put a bandage on, and y’all are all set.”
Back in the car, Stephen says, “This is really going to be a story for mom and dad. How’d you do that, Ruthanne?”
“I was sewing at my machine and I sewed my thumb to the table. I sat there for twenty minutes yelling for y’all, but y’all were out back playing basketball. Then I figured out I could cut the thread and get off the table. So I did and I was on my way to get you right when y’all came inside.”
“You yelled for us for twenty minutes?”
“That’s actually really freaking funny,” the young man says.
Ruthanne laughs. “Yeah, it actually is.”