Marion called me yesterday. Without preamble or greeting, as is his usual phone manner, as soon as I answered the phone he said, "It's gonna be more like March before we can finish the front porch."
I assumed he meant because it's about 12 degrees outside and the porch floor's covered in a thin sheet of ice, and I said as much.
"Oh yeah, that too, but the big reason is that I had a little accident with the planer."
I've known Marion for 17 years. Marion is the King of Understatement. I had a very bad feeling about his definition of "little accident" and I sat down suddenly, my heart racing, afraid to ask him what he meant.
"Are you still there?" he asked.
"I am," I said.
"I caught my right hand in the planer. I still have all of my thumb and index finger, my middle finger's missing the first knuckle, and my ring finger and pinky finger are about an inch long now."
"The doctor says I'm still gonna be able to use my hand, once it heals up, but I've got about eight weeks before I'll be able to do any work on your house or anybody else's," Marion said.
"I don't give a damn about the work on my house," I said. "I just want to know that you're okay."
"Oh, I'm fine," he said, more cheerfully than I think the situation warrants.
There is some good news in this. Marion's left-handed, mostly, in that he writes with his left hand, but like most people who work with their hands he's actually ambidextrous. His thumb and index finger are intact, so he can still pick things up, and the doctor thinks he'll regain some limited ability to grip. This is winter, when there's a lull in the work anyway, so what jobs he was working on for his friend Tim (who's rehabbing a three-story commercial building in downtown Lexington) can wait until he heals up and won't be bid out to another contractor. And lastly, he has a positive attitude about his injury. "Maybe," he said, "I'll get a cool nickname out of this, like Stubby or something."