Thursday, August 3, 2000
When does a friend become a friend? What exactly is a friend? How long do you need to know someone before you can consider them your friend? Joey didn’t need to ask any of these questions, which was a sure sign that he had met someone very special on that life altering August morning.
As usual, Highway 169 was sparsely populated at eleven o’ clock on a summer’s morning. The few motorists that passed the accident were too busy or too important too lend a helping hand. This left Dan to play the role of The Good Samaritan alone. He pulled his Jeep to the side of the Chevrolet Berretta and saw a boy about his age inside the car. He was ghost white with fear. Dan set his camcorder on his dashboard, leapt from his Jeep and scurried to the demolished car. When he reached the vehicle he could see the boy was staring straight forward and lost in a sea of confusion and shock. Dan pried open the mangled door and noticed a cell phone sitting on the passenger seat.
“Sit still and don’t move a muscle. I am going to call for help,” Dan said as he reached across the injured boy’s lap for the cell phone.
“How still do you want me to sit?” he responded. “I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure I’m freaking paralyzed.”
How someone managed to crack a paralyzed joke so early on in their injury, Dan will never know.
After grabbing the cell phone, Dan quickly dialed 911 and reported the accident. For the next ten minutes the victim had spurts where he anxiously gasped for air. But each time he began to hyperventilate, Dan put his hand on the strangers shoulder and reassured him that everything was going to be alright.
While they were waiting for help, Dan looked in the back of the Chevy Berretta and saw a pair of five wheeled roller blades on top of a newspaper open to a picture of the young man who was at his side. The headline on the paper read, Joey Carlson Speedskates for Gold. Dan looked at the paper and then looked at the young man he was helping. Words weren’t necessary. Dan immediately realized the emotional pain Joey must have felt. A pair of tears ran down Dan’s cheek. Joey reassured Dan that everything was going to be all right.
The ambulance eventually arrived and took Joey to North Memorial Hospital a few miles away. Dan gave the police a statement and began to drive home. On his way back he still felt a bond with Joey. He needed to know how he was doing. Dan exited at the first place he could and made his way to the hospital.
When Dan pulled up to the drive in front of the Emergency Room, he saw a crowd of doctors through a window pushing Joey on a stretcher. Dan flipped his emergency lights on and jumped out of his still running car.
Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses rushed around Joey, like a scene from ER. They were shouting things like, “trauma team to the ER” and “I need 10 cc of this” or “I need 15 cc of that.”
Joey’s stretcher was parked directly under a mirror that was mounted on the ceiling so that the EMTs that wheel stretchers up and down the hallway could see around the corners. Joey gazed into the mirror and checked out his body his body one more time. He saw his enormous thighs, toned biceps, and six-pack of abs. He thought about all the time he’d spent in order to look that way. He wondered if it was all a waste. He wondered if he was going to die. But mostly he wondered if he would ever skate again.
While Joey was staring at the mirror, a doctor dressed in scrubs approached Joey and began explaining the nature of his injury. The doctor told Joey that he believed that Joey had broken his neck and sustained a severe spinal cord injury.
The physician was about to describe how he planned on treating the injury when Dan appeared through the emergency room doors. A security guard grabbed Dan from behind and sternly told him that he wasn’t aloud in the ER.
The guard immediately took his hands off Dan when he heard a weak voice across the room say, “Please, let him come in. I need a friend right now.”
Ever since August 3, 2000 Dan has been a member of The Ghetto family. Fortunately for him, in the summer of 2000 one of the original members of the fantasy football league became heavily involved with cocaine and had to move to a treatment center in Montana. This opened up a spot in their friend group and a spot in the league for Dan’s team, “The Jamaican Chickens.”