My hip woke me up to tell me it was hurting.
It’s not the hip God blessed me with a little over forty years ago.
It’s not even the artificial one that failed after eight years and got me pensioned off from the police department.
It’s the one after that,
the one made of ceramic and titanium.
The God-given one was destroyed by a drunk driver shortly after my twenty-fourth birthday.
I didn’t think much of the occasional twinge of pain that I sometimes took an OTC pain med for,
or how I changed my kata to compensate for my left leg’s minimal range.
Well, not until three days ago when I opened a letter from the good folks at USC Medical Center, telling me my second replacement hip was being recalled
—“Please call at your earliest convenience.”
Yeah, sure, like there would ever be a convenient time for the replacement of body part.
I rolled onto my side with a groan and turned on the bedside lamp.
The clock said 4:47. Argh!
“What’s the matter?” Linda whispered, rising up on an elbow.
“Going for some ibuprofen. Sorry I woke you.”
“I was awake. You were talking in your sleep.”
“Who was I talking to?”
“No wonder I’m in pain,” I said, feet to the floor.
“Want me to help put your rib brace back on?”
“Nah, it’s my hip, sweetness. Go back to sleep. I’ll use the couch.”
My two cracked ribs were courtesy of an overzealous FBI agent who knee-dropped me while two of his cohorts held me down.
It was payback for decking a member of their ranks with a well-placed karate kick as he was assaulting my son.
My subsequent arrest effectively cut short a long-planned vacation to the Big Apple with my kids and fiancée.
A trip to a New York hospital after posting bail had had me slipping in and out of a girdle-like brace for the past week, in hopes of healing.
Maybe prayer will expedite the process.
“I’m calling USC Med Center in the morning to make the appointment.” Linda said.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said.
“Put out the light so I can get back to sleep. I need my beauty rest.”
Sing-“I love you just the way you are,” I crooned, slight off-key.
Her wish, my command, and with the light out, I barefooted it to the medicine cabinet above the bathroom sink.
The glow of a little night-light wasn’t enough to pick out the bottle I needed, so I switched on the vanity lights.
The mirror gave me a glimpse of the shower curtain moving in the tub behind me.
Must be the cat.
“Hey, El Gato, get out of the tub,” I whispered so Sleeping Beauty could sleep in peace.
I pulled back the curtain, expecting our cat to jump out.
A black-gloved fist bounced off my forehead, knocking me back into the sink, my head snapping back to shatter the mirror.
Dazed, I raised my hands to defend myself, but by then, the ski-masked intruder had blown past me.
I staggered into the hall as the shadowy figure turned toward the kitchen.
My legs refused to follow my wishes, bouncing me off the hall walls as if I were drunk.
I heard the screen door slam before I could make the turn;
the masked man was gone.