Kenny! Keeennyyyy! Kennnnnyyyyy! I was sleeping in an un-air conditioned house. I worked hard so sleeping well was no problem but something was waking me up. As I woke up I kept thinking someone was calling me.
Me: Hey Babe, wake up
Wife: Huh? what?
W: What, I don’t hear anyth… Kennyyyyyyy
Me: Hear that?
W: Is someone yelling?
Me: Yeah, It sounds like Old Man Pete. We laid quietly listening. 3 or 4 hollers later we were convinced that someone was hollering my name.
W: What does he want. It’s the middle of the night.
Me: How the hell do I know what he wants? I’ll go check.
I pulled on some Levis and opened the front door. Slightly cooler air breezed in along with the much clearer sound of Old Man Pete calling plaintively from across the four lane city street separating our homes. Oh Fuck! Something must have happened to Pete. I took off across the street.
Yesterday had been Pete’s birthday. Being an awesome friend meant drinking the right amount of whiskey to celebrate and I could smell booze seeping from my pores and a lightly sick feeling joined my search for the meaning of all the racket.
His door was unlocked so I arrived in his living room to find him partially in the process of falling out of his lift chair. “Help me Kenny” he gasped, “don’t let me fall”.
So Pete was never a giant man, probably 5′ 7 at his tallest…. maybe 5′ 8 on a torture rack and he probably shrank a bit with gravity pulling at him and all. Add to that 50-80 pounds of good German cooking he looked like an ordinary American minus a shirt.
He had been standing up most of the day as we were drinking and visiting down below his wooden porch where the van was parked. His knees were shot and his leg muscles just didn’t have the what-for to hoist him one more time to get him off to bed. He’d been fighting a slowly lost battle with gravity and yelling for me for awhile and had managed to relieve himself of 4 or 5 beers in the struggle.
I lunged in and hooked under his arms fully expecting to hoist him comfortably into place but with both of us sweating, him from exertion and me, well, who the hell knows but either way we were grappling like two greased pigs at the fair. “Don’t drop me Kenny” he kept gasping and I promised I wouldn’t.
So we slow danced in epic struggle, this old man and me and within 45 seconds or so I felt my initial strength waning.
So back in the old days people had phones that hooked to the wall on a mounting or hooked by a cord so you could have a phone on a table near your chair, bed, or some other place of convenience. Pete had one about 5 feet away on a table a little to the back of the chair and I spied it.
Starting a rhythmic effort I heaved him then swung a foot towards the phone and finally knocked it to the floor. It was a 2 pieced affair with a cradle and hand-set attached by a springy coiled cord. The hand set had the newer button type interface, thank God, instead of the kind with the spinny ring where you put your finger in the hole and drag to the stop point to dial. I’d-a had a heck of a time sticking a toe in there and rotating that. Also a stroke of luck that I hadn’t laced my work boots on.
It took a micro eternity that can only be measured in the type of seconds we were dealing with to carefully dial my home number while holding a slippery human with every muscle wishing I had learned the yet uninvented science of ergonomics.
I could hear the calling sound the phone made and the sound of my concerned wife came on.
Me: Ya, we need help!!!
W: What do you want ME to do?
Me: Beat on Dave’s door, I think DeWayne spent the night there. If they don’t answer run to Mike’s house. Wake the whole fucking neighborhood if you have to.
Several eternities later, probably 20 seconds, I heard our door slam. Soon I heard loud banging, I’m talking FRANTIC loud, on Dave’s door.
There was human jabbering and foot steps. The door crashed open and my wife appeared with DeWayne.
In short order we got Pete to the toilet, cleaned up a bit and into bed.
DeWayne stayed the night if I remember right and it slipped off into my memory.
I asked Pete one day why he didn’t have professional assistance, you know, for stuff like this. He had a great answer. I’ll tell you about it sometime.