True to the game iii, p.3
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       True to the Game III, p.3

           Teri Woods
 
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  Amelia nodded. “Raised on it.”

  “Girl, my collard greens will make you wanna slap your mama!”

  Amelia threw her head back and laughed. She liked Viola. She knew then and there that she had just found a foster family in her new city.

  Dr. Do Good

  Amelia rushed into Quadir’s hospital room, closing the door behind her.

  “Your name is John Smith. Do you understand me?”

  “What?”

  “I said your name is John Smith.”

  “Why do you keep telling me that?” Quadir asked.

  “I’m telling you again today, in case you didn’t understand me the other day. You were still a little out of it. But understand me, this is extremely important.”

  “Why?”

  “Because someone tried to kill you, and because I sent Quadir Richards’s body to a funeral home, where they held a funeral service for it and buried it almost two weeks ago. Quadir Richards is dead. John Smith, someone whom no one wants dead, is alive and well in the hospital. Understand?”

  Quadir nodded. “Why?”

  “Why what?”

  “Why are you trying to help me?”

  “Let’s just say I promised someone that I would see things through.”

  There was a knock at the door.

  “Come in,” Amelia shouted.

  The door opened, and two gentlemen in white hospital coats walked in.

  “How’s he doing today?” one of them asked.

  Amelia nodded. “Cranky. But alive.”

  “That’s a good sign.” He extended his hand to Quadir. “Hello, young man. My name is Dr. Benjamin Brant. How are you feeling today?”

  Quadir nodded. “Doing pretty well, doc.”

  “Well, that’s good to hear. Any pain anywhere?”

  “No.”

  “That’s good. You feel any discomfort, you let the nurses know, and they’ll give you something for the pain. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.”

  “Thank you, doc.”

  “Don’t thank me; thank Dr. Hopkins over there. She’s the one who saved your life. You’re a very lucky young man, you know that? You’re fortunate that she was here that day.”

  Quadir turned and stared at her. She was young, black, and country as all out backwoods. He had thought that she was a nurse or something. But the doctor was now telling him that she was a doctor, too. A surgeon, in fact the surgeon who saved his life. Ain’t this a bitch?

  Amelia lifted Quadir’s chart. “I want you to go easy on the medication. I’ve written up the orders to start your therapy today.”

  Amelia turned and waved her hand toward the second gentleman in the room. “This is Neal Ryan, your physical therapist. Neal is the best we have here at Hahnemann Hospital, and probably the best in Philly. He’s going to get you back up and running in no time.”

  Neal extended his hand to Quadir. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Smith.”

  Quadir clasped Neal’s hand and shook it.

  “We’re going to have you back up to a hundred percent before you know it,” Neal told him. “Can you move your leg for me?”

  “Well, I’ll leave you guys alone. I have some more patients to peek in on,” Dr. Brant told them. He patted Quadir’s arm. “You get better, young man. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

  “Thank you, doc,” Quadir said.

  Brant exited the room, leaving Quadir, Neal, and Amelia alone.

  “Okay, try to move your leg again for me,” Neal said.

  Quadir stared down at his legs, but neither of them moved. “I can’t move them, I can’t move my legs!”

  “Relax, it just takes time.” Neal reassured him.

  “Relax? What the fuck do you mean, relax? I can’t move my fucking legs!”

  “Okay, calm down,” Neal told him.

  “I can’t move my legs!” Quadir cried out.

  Neal turned toward Amelia.

  “He’s not paralyzed.” Amelia shook her head. “There may be some internal scarring that we didn’t know about. I’ll order some X-rays.”

  Neal placed his hand beneath Quadir’s leg and bent it. “I can feel your nerves jumping and your muscles contracting. Try to force your leg straight.”

  Quadir’s face contorted as he tried to force his leg straight.

  Neal turned to Amelia and shook his head. Nothing.

  Amelia examined Quadir’s chart. She made several notations on it. “I’m modifying your diet. Right now I have you on liquids and soft foods. I’m going to slowly adjust it to include more and more solids. I want to increase your proteins and lean foods. Also, I’m ordering a dietary supplement to be given twice a day.”

  “I’m going to add the pool to his therapy regimen also,” Neal told her. “I think starting him off slow with some water resistance would be good.” He faced Quadir. “From what I can tell, your muscles have been used to doing nothing for the past few weeks. We’re just going to have to whip them back into shape. I want to get you down there into our therapeutic pool and get you started today. It’s a heated pool, really warm water, and it should feel good to your body. It may also cause the internal swelling to go down a bit. How’s that sound?”

  “Like a bunch of medical bullshit!” Quadir told him.

  Neal smiled. “I’m going to run and get the pool ready, take care of some paperwork, and I’ll be back with a wheelchair.”

  Neal turned and exited the room. Amelia replaced Quadir’s chart.

  “I’m paralyzed,” Quadir said flatly, unable to believe it, and at that very moment wishing he was dead.

  “You are not.”

  “Bullshit! I can’t move my legs!”

  “I’m the doctor here, and I’m telling you that you’re not paralyzed! You’re just lazy.”

  “Oh, like I wanna be stuck in this fucking bed!”

  “Why is it that when Dr. Brant or one of the white doctors come around, it’s yes, sir, no, sir, thank you, doctor. But with me, it’s fuck, bullshit, and every other curse word that you can think of?”

  “What?”

  “Is it because I’m young, black, or a woman? What is it? Whatever happened to manners?”

  “No, it’s because I can’t move my legs and I’d rather be dead than paralyzed.”

  Amelia couldn’t help but smile. He was an asshole. “You’re a bitch, you know that?”

  “I’m a bitch? I didn’t know doctors called their patients bitches now days.”

  “This one calls them like she sees them. You’re more than just a bitch; you’re a punk bitch. You bow down and suck up to the white man, but you treat me like shit.”

  “What?”

  “You’re one of them house niggas, aren’t you. You’ll pick up a gun, and you’ll aim it at another black man, but you’ll throw that bitch down and put ya hands up when the white man comes around.”

  “Fuck you! You don’t know me! You don’t know shit about me, or who I am!”

  Amelia nodded. “I know you. I know your type. Big bad brave man, tough with a gun. Quick with ya mouth. But when it really comes down to it, you ain’t shit. You ain’t a real built-to-last nigga. You’re a quitter and a coward.”

  Quadir tried to sit up. “Bitch, you don’t know me! I ain’t nobody’s fucking coward!”

  “Coward!”

  Quadir sat up, clasped the bed rail, took his free hand, and swung his legs off the side of the bed.

  “You want to know something, Quadir?”

  “What?” Quadir snapped.

  “A paralyzed man wouldn’t be able to sit up in bed.”

  Quadir looked down and examined himself. He caught on to what she had done.

  “You’re not a coward. You’re a fighter. The way you were going to come after me, that’s the same determination that you have to use to regain all your abilities. You have to fight for your life again. Fight to get it back! If you are counting on some medicine or some magic potion or formula to give it back to you, it ain’t going to happen. Sorr
y, brother, but nothing like that has been invented yet. You’re going to have to fight.”

  “You should be a motivational speaker,” he said sarcastically.

  “You should sell shit to mushroom farms, ’cause you’re really an asshole.”

  Quadir laughed. She was sharp. He had tried her. Tried to push her buttons, disrespected her, doubted her even. But it was now obvious that she was the real deal.

  “Do you want to walk again?” Amelia asked.

  Quadir shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know.”

  She had heard that answer before. She had done volunteer work the previous summer in Chad. Many soldiers had given her the same answer. Walk again for what? To go back out there and face a world that would still be just as hard, just as hostile to them? She knew where his answer was coming from.

  “You don’t know, because what would change, huh? What would be different in the world if you went back out there again? Everything would be just the same, all of the bullshit would be exactly the same. Am I right?”

  Quadir shifted his gaze toward her.

  “One thing would be different. You. You would know that you took what the world threw at you, and you handled it. You get up, go back out there, and you smile at that fucked-up world, and you let it know that it didn’t defeat you. Let them know that they may have knocked you down, but that you got right back up. Let them know that you are a real soldier, a warrior for your people! You may encounter defeats, but you must not be defeated!”

  “You’re quoting Maya Angelou now.”

  Amelia recoiled slightly. She had been taken by surprise. “How did you know that?”

  “I can read.”

  “I’m shocked.”

  “That I can read?”

  “That you would know Maya. Most guys your age . . .”

  “I guess we both made the mistake of prejudging each other.”

  “I guess we did.”

  Neal walked into the room pushing a wheelchair. “Wow, look at you sitting up!” He parked the chair next to Quadir’s bed and then helped him into it. “Be back in a while, doc.”

  Amelia nodded.

  Quadir stopped the chair just before they were about to exit and turned back toward her.

  “No more prejudging each other?”

  “No more prejudging each other.”

  Neal looked at them strangely.

  Quadir smiled and shook his head. “You’re a pain in the ass, doc. And that’s no prejudgment.”

  Amelia threw her head back and laughed. “And you are an asshole, Mr. Smith. A bona fide asshole who’s full of shit.”

  Quadir wheeled himself out of the room smiling.

  The Good Foot

  Amelia strolled into the physical therapy room and spied Quadir in a nearby corner with Neal. Neal had Quadir lying on his back on a mat, while Neal was pushing his leg forward, shouting for Quadir to push. He had been in therapy for only a few days now, and results had been slow in coming. Quadir was not physically disabled. He was simply indifferent to trying. He acted as though he simply wanted to give up.

  She approached and stood over him. “Lying on your ass again, huh?”

  “Now is not the time for humor,” Quadir told her.

  “Any time is a good time for humor. How’s he coming along, Neal?”

  “If he would put as much effort into his therapy as he did into resisting it, he’d be ready to run a marathon right now.”

  Amelia nodded. “So, what’s the deal, Quadir?”

  “Ain’t no deal.”

  “Push,” Neal ordered.

  “I am pushing; can’t you tell?”

  “You’re not pushing. I know that you got more in you than this. Hey, if you don’t want to walk, that’s your problem. I can’t make you walk.”

  “Then why don’t you just leave me alone. I was fine lying in my bed watching TV. You came and got me, remember?”

  “A regular wiseass,” Neal said, peering up at Amelia.

  “I already know.”

  “Aren’t you like a surgeon or something?” Quadir asked. “Shouldn’t you be somewhere cutting somebody open, and charging them an arm and a leg for it?”

  “Neal, let me take over for a little while,” Amelia told him.

  Neal nodded. He was happy to be rid of Quadir Richards, if only for today. “Be my guest, please!”

  “Hang close, I’m going to need you to help me get him into his chair.”

  “I’ll be right across the room if you need me,” said Neal.

  Amelia turned to Quadir. “I thought that we had this conversation already.”

  “And what conversation is that?”

  “The conversation about you being a quitter.”

  “We didn’t converse. You talked; I listened.”

  “Funny. So are you going to be a coward and just give up?”

  “I thought you said that I wasn’t a coward?”

  “All quitters are cowards.”

  “Kenny Rogers said that you got to know when to fold ’em.”

  “So, your life is a game of cards now?”

  “Life has always been nothing but one big gamble.”

  “So you fold, huh? Gonna go back to your room, cash in all of your chips, and call it quits? I wish I would have known you were a quitter before. I wouldn’t have wasted my time.”

  “Why did you?”

  “Because I saw a man who wouldn’t quit! Because I saw a man who refused to give up, a man who refused to die! I thought you were a fighter.”

  “It’s real easy to stand there and judge somebody! You haven’t been through what I’ve been through!”

  “Oh, you poor baby! You got shot. So the fuck what! So now what are you going to do? Are you going to get back on the goddamned bike, or what?”

  “What?”

  “You heard me! What are you going to do, Quadir? When little kids get a boo boo, they get up, dust themselves off, get back out there, and keep going. What are you going to do, little boy? ’Cause frankly, just about everybody in here is tired of your whiney attitude. It’s time to either shit or get off the pot!”

  Quadir went for his wheelchair. He pulled it close, put the brakes on it, and then pulled himself up onto it. The therapists in the room clapped when he was finished. Quadir looked at Amelia as if he wanted to kill her.

  “I don’t need your fucking help! Yours and nobody else’s!”

  “You owe these people in here more than that! You owe them more than your scorn. You owe a whole lot of people some goddamned effort!”

  “Everyone keeps telling me what I owe. Everyone keeps telling me how grateful I should be, how good of a goddamned doctor you are, but you know what? I can’t see it! All I see is a fucking pain in the ass!”

  “You fucking quitter. If you don’t believe that you owe these people who have spent all of their time taking care of you, trying to get you better, then maybe I can take you to somebody who you do think you owe something to!”

  Amelia grabbed Quadir’s chair, turned him around, and pushed him out the room. She headed down the hall, out of the therapy ward, around a few corners, and into the chapel.

  “What do you think you’re doing?” Quadir asked.

  “When’s the last time you sat and prayed, Quadir?”

  “I prayed the other night.”

  “You should pray every day.”

  “Don’t tell me what I need to do. What are you, a priest and a doctor?”

  “If I were a priest, I would drown your ass in some holy water.”

  Quadir smiled.

  “Someone wants to see you. Since you don’t feel like you owe any of us any effort, then maybe you’ll try to get better for her.” Amelia pushed him all the way into the chapel.

  A woman rose from her knees, turned, and smiled at him.

  “Mom!” Quadir’s eyes flew open wide with amazement and surprise.

  Viola’s tears flowed, as she rushed to him.

  “Baby!” She leaned forward and embra
ced her son tightly. “You really are alive. Thank you, Lord! Thank you!”

  She pulled Amelia close and hugged her. “Thank you so much! Thank you for saving my baby!”

  “Now we just have to get your baby to want to save himself,” Amelia told her.

  “What do you mean?” Viola asked.

  “Tell her, Quadir.”

  “Tell me what?” Viola said as she shifted back and forth between the two of them. “What’s going on, Quadir?”

  Quadir smacked his lips. “Nothing; she’s just crazy, that’s all.”

  “Quadir, Amelia has been over to my house many times since we’ve met.”

  “What?” Quadir recoiled.

  Amelia smiled at him.

  “And she may be many things, but one thing she is not is crazy. What is going on?”

  “Do you want to tell her, or should I?” Amelia asked looking at Quadir.

  “Do what you want; you’ve been doing it anyhow.”

  Viola could see her son’s attitude and placed her hand on her hip as she looked down on him.

  “Quadir here has given up.” Amelia told her.

  “What?”

  “Yep, he’s thrown in the towel. Doesn’t want to try in therapy, just wants to sit back and eat Jell-O and watch television.”

  “No, that’s not my son. My son is a not a quitter. My baby’s a fighter!”

  The two women stared at Quadir in silence. He could feel their eyes on him.

  “Quadir . . .” Viola started off.

  “Okay, okay!”

  “Okay what?” Amelia asked. “You admit to your mother that you’re a quitter, or okay, you’re not going to let her down and be a quitter.”

  Quadir peered up at her and rolled his eyes at Amelia. She was the most nerve-racking woman he had ever met.

  “Baby, I want you to walk out of this hospital on your own two feet,” Viola told him. “I want you to hurry up and get well and get outta this place.”

  Quadir nodded.

  “His gunshot wounds are healing rather well,” Amelia explained. “He has one that I left open, because of infection. We pack it twice a day, and we’ve been giving him antibiotics for it. I want it to close up on its own. It’ll leave only a slightly larger scar than if we had sewn it up. But he’s coming along rather nicely.”

 
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