My morning ritual had been pretty much the same over that decade or so. I’d get up, heat my cup of water, add the homemade coffee concentrate that I favored, grab the newspaper, and head down to the basement bathroom.
Now, about the moccasin-slippers; the sole of these very comfortable slippers was made of a rigid form of plastic. It was durable, and extremely slippery when worn on wet surfaces or carpet. The other major character in this little story is the carpet on the basement stairs…early-70s era shag carpet in a lovely black and white zebra pattern.
I pulled the heated water out of the microwave, added coffee concentrate, grabbed the above-mentioned newspaper and undergarment, and headed down the stairs in a hurry. My left foot hit the second step and did a perfect imitation of a comic-movie character’s foot that has just met a banana-peel in an unexpected place.
I felt curiously light, as if I was floating. This might have been explained by the fact that I was – for all intents and purposes – suspended in air for an eternity. I looked “down” at my feet, and realized that what I saw “beneath” them was not the stairs; but was instead the wall that should have been facing me rather than being in the direction that my legs pointed. I instantly grasped the fact that there was a problem.
In that stretched-out moment, it occurred to me; “This is really going to hurt.” I found myself wondering in idle fashion, whether I would make first contact with the eighth, or the eleventh step. In the same instant that I wondered about which step, I realized that wondering wasn’t necessary.
The handrail of our basement steps is of the standard one and three-quarter-inch dowel type. It reaches to within a few inches of the doorframe. The end of the dowel-handrail had slipped inside the floppy sleeve of my bathrobe, and at the very moment I was wondering about which step, it reached it’s deepest penetration and the end of the slack allowed by the floppy sleeve. My forward motion stopped with a suddenness that I had heretofore not considered possible, and I was slammed to my back – stretched from step number three to step number seven. Coffee had sprayed everywhere, including all over me. I had a couple of body parts that were beginning to indicate the forerunners of serious pain, but nothing seemed to be broken.
As I lay there on the stairs, left arm still suspended from the handrail by the sleeve, I realized that I had got away with it. I wasn’t seriously hurt. The coffee would wash out. But, was there something else niggling at the back of my brain? Did something feel not quite right, even though I knew I hadn’t been seriously injured? Was there a warm feeling where a warm feeling shouldn’t be?
If you recall, at the beginning of this story I made some mention of a daily fiber laxative…
Kevin R. Carr
About 695 Words