Tourniquet main image

The Tourniquet:

She bled awfully. It was an ugly gash on her forehead. Her husband heard the concussion and fall from their bedroom. He hurried as fast as his ageing legs would carry him into their bathroom from whence the racket had occurred.

His wife sat on the floor, one arm hung over the toilet. She was regarding the blood on her fingers she had just taken away from her smarting forehead.

"Oh, dear!" said the startled husband. He hurried to her and stood before her as if gathering his thoughts before kneeling down by her.

"Oh, my head!" she said. "I've dashed it against the towel bar, I guess." She seemed dazed to him.

"Well, um," he began, with the uncertainty of an elderly man who had begun to be addled. And he had, the early stages of Dementia were upon him and had been for the past two months. "Should I call the cops or something?" he asked finally. "Here, here," he said, as he pulled down the towel from the offending towel rod and began to daub her forehead. Her head was a mess, a drop of blood now clinging to the tip of her chin as she moaned quietly now and then.

She told him, "No, no," they didn't need any police. If they needed anything at all, it would be an ambulance. She told him she didn't think it was too bad, and that what she would really like to do would be just to sit there a moment and get her wits about her.

So they sat there, her blood continuing to ooze. Then the man had an idea. He reached back and then up for a decorative, never-to-be-used towel from a towel ring that hung from the wall; it had a green frog stitched upon it. He brushed away accumulated dust from the portion of the towel where dust had gathered - no one their age kept their bathrooms as neatly as they once did. He would use this longish towel to make a tourniquet to stanch the blood.

He rolled the towel up into roughly the shape of a snake and slid it under and around her. Okay. The first part was done. Then he needed something to tighten the tourniquet with. He had the bright idea of taking the metal rod that held the toilet paper in place. He let out a groan of age as he reached around her for it. He put the rod in place and tied the towel ends around it. Then he turned the tourniquet slowly in order to stop the blood flow and save his wife's life.

He glanced up at his wife. Seeing there was still a lot of blood on her, he tightened the tourniquet some more. She had had her right hand sitting on her thigh and would, from time to time, raise that hand and its index finger and open her mouth as if she were about to say something, to object to something; but she had ceased doing that. He was glad she had, because her gestures had begun to annoy him, to distract him from tending to his tourniquet.

"Maybe just another twist or two," he thought. He twisted some more. He glanced up at her and found that she had turned white. He thought: How strange, that she now have some skin condition come up, turning her a ghastly white, right in the middle of this bloody crisis. He returned to his work and deftly gave the tourniquet another half twist.

The blood was nothing compared to the fracture of her forehead, which neither he nor she had discovered. Finally she went limp and fell back, her head hitting with a thump against the wall.

She was dead. He had uselessly applied the tourniquet to her ankle!

Distracted again, he stood up, left the room and started to tinker with a lamp switch he had begun tinkering with a couple months before and hadn't touched since.
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