I was on my back while the man loomed above me, raining blow after blow on my face and head. In vaid, I struggled to block his fists, to find some leverage with which I might stop him. My efforts went nowhere, and I felt my glasses sink into my flesh. Blood dripped into my eyes and still the bastard pummelled me. My right lens shattered and more blood flowed.
It wasn't supposed to end that way.
Thursday night rib night at the Cadillac Lounge have become an obsession for Laura and a rival for my affections. I had joined her, and her friend MC, for ribs and beer and conversation, and we enjoyed all three pleasures.
At some point as the evening waxed on, a drunken lout joined the table of six next to us and proceded to bore and bully them until he had driven them away.
Then he turned to us and dragged his chair over. "No," I told him, adding with my notorious diplomatic applomb, "Bugger off!"
He didn't. And, apparently (this is the only part of the evening I don't recall; no doubt some kind of inner self-justification mechanism), I shoved him, to make the point explicit. The next thing I knew, he had knocked my ass over the proverbial tea-kettle and was astride me, pounding my face almost at will.
Adults hit a lot harder than kids and I really felt each and every punch. I knew I was in trouble, and I wasn't finding any way to help myself, as he landed thudding blow after thudding blow. I was worried about loosing my teeth, but I should have been worried about losing an eye, or worse.
He probably wailed on me for 30 seconds, all told. Beyond my occasional field of vision, Laura had not been standing idly by like some shrieking moll in a second-rate movie.
Not my sweetheart, no way.
She grabbed his hoodie and tightened it around his neck, choking him enough to haul him off me, then hand him off to the staff who at that point had arrived to investigate the fallen tables and chairs.
She pulled me to my feet and examined the damage. "Holy shit," I said shakily, as my hand came away from my face, covered with blood.
"Hospital," said Laura. "Now." She found my glasses, including a very sharp shard from my right lens, possibly the one that would soon result in 6 stitches over my right eye. Amazingly, the left lens and the frames were still intact, and I donned them, keeping the left eye closed.
With the cool competence of an experienced triage nurse, she got me outside and to a cab (though she acquiesced and accompanied me down to the bathroom first; I had to pee something awful) and thence to our local hospital.
Within a couple of hours I was stitched up and on my way home. I was strangely phlegmatic about the incident, laughing more than cursing (though secretly embarassed to have failed so badly at fisticuffs "front of my girl"). By 4:30 we were in bed and, somehow, I was only an hour late for work.
After an hour or so at the office I realized there was something wrong, more than could be explained by bruising and swelling. The vision out of my right away was seriously skewed. Everthing tilted down at what I characterized as a 20 degree angle. Trying to walk with my right eye open and the undamaged left eye closed, I reeled like a drunken sailor, as if I were walking on a listing ship.
By noon I was in to see my GP, who looked at me with concern, heard my symptoms and told me she wasn't qualified to diagnose me. She sent me down the street to the Toronto Western Hospital, where, she said, they had a world-class opthamalogical centre.
I made my way south and soon found myself in the Emergency triage unit. I waited no more than 10 minutes before I was processed, then maybe another 45 minutes before I was seen by a doctor. This physician too was flummoxed by my symptoms and arranged for me to have a CT scan today (I'm still waiting for a call with the precise time).
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the swelling went down a lot and by Saturday evening, my vision had returned to normal. I'll still go for the scan, but I'm reasonably confident that all is well.
And I was very impressed with the care I received and the speed with which I received it. I haven't often had reason to use the emergency medical services in this city, so it was with some surprise that I experienced its efficiency, not to mention the polite and friendly staff with whom I dealt. (And, for the Yanks among you, I won't be getting a bill for any of it; thanks all the same, but I really like paying for my medical care through my taxes.)
And with that, I bid you adieu, Gentle Readers. I am off to work.