The pinky finger knuckle on her right hand throbbed like the dickens. It was sheared off inside. Afterwards Arnold carried her books between classes for weeks until she got her cast off. Here’s the story.
Joanna was attending the 7th grade after a busy summer of mowing lawns, small watercrafts at the reservoir, Ohio State summer basketball camp, swim team and ten-day trip back to her home town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. She had lost but recovered her new 5 speed Schwinn bike. The summer went by in the blink of an eye. Three weeks into the new school year a few of Joanna’s summer stories were circulating around school and she was getting quite a reputation.
There was a guy named Arnold that decided to prove to everyone in school that he was the toughest guy. In between 8th period and the last period of the day Arnold stopped Joanna under the stairs and pushed her up against the wall. He had decided she would be a great person to start on in his quest to be the toughest guy in school. Joanna had beaten Duncan in a fight over the summer so beat her and he would be the toughest.
He thumped her on the top of her head after asking her the question “don’t you remember why I am going to beat you up?” “Think Joanna, think in that thick skull of yours”! he said loudly. This is random Joanna thought to herself. The thumping stung and after the third knuckle thump she had had enough. Even though she knew it was not an original thought, probably something his abusive Dad did to him at home, the thumps still hurt and enraged her slightly.
During the thumping, Joanna was thinking about what Mr. Wally had taught her about fighting bullies when she was a very young girl at the age of 4. She decided to sucker punch this guy while he was still talking and running his mouth. He should be fighting not talking she thought. She began her barrage and knew before she advanced that she was not going to stop hitting him until he gave up and cried for his Mama or he overpowered her. It would be one way or the other. She felt pretty good about her chances since she had fought her fair share of rounds with her older brother and various cousins male and female. She had beaten Duncan earlier that summer, too.
She kept her eyes wide open and on him. It happened surprisingly quick and Joanna found herself in control of the fight and Arnold curled up in a ball on the floor covering himself with his arms and begging her to stop. It took 30 seconds tops. She knew she had to teach him a lesson, so for good measure she hit him very hard while he was down and covering up, in the back of his head. She heard something crack and this huge pain surged through her knuckle above her little finger on her right hand. It looked bad because the knuckle swelled up so fast and big. It hurt like the dickens and reminded her of one of those throbbing hands on the old Popeye cartoon. Then in less than a minute it went totally numb. No pain. Weird, she thought.
Joanna showed her parents the hand and said it really did not hurt that much. It was still numb by the time she got home an hour later. She explained about the fight and then Sherry Soderholm came over from next door and told what she had seen. Her eyes were wide open as she retold the scene she had witnessed. Sherry had bug eyes but they were very pretty. Her Dad commented as he passed through the kitchen “What”s this gonna cost me now? he grumbled”. “Did you win the fight? Are you suspended from school?” As usual he showed little empathy. Did he break those new glasses I just finished paying for? he asked. Nobody spoke as he left the room. everyone went back to staring at the grapefruit sized knuckle. Joanna’s little brother came in saw the hand and ran to his room to get his handy Kodiak instant camera. He kept repeating sincerely “that is huge and that’s not right, Mom. She needs a Doctor.” He knew they would not want to take her to the Doctor because of money.
Joanna went on a weekend girl scout camp out and when she came back Sunday night the knuckle was still the size of a golf ball. Monday morning her mom called the Doctor set the appointment and went back to bed. Joanna rode her bike to the Doctor’s office with one hand to get it checked. It was not only broken it was sheared to the point where it would require a pin to hold it all together and a soft cast. Once healed the doctor explained they had to slice the knuckle open again and removed the stainless steel pin and then stitched it back again.
There would be two separate insurance deductibles of $150 each. Her Dad was not happy. Two weeks after the last operation the 7 stitches were taken out for free by her Dad with no nova-cane. This hurt more than all the other stuff combined. “As Joanna bit hard on the stick her dad repeated under his breath “no more deductibles.” After a few minutes and a few curses said out of earshot from her Dad, Joanna was ready to go 110%. The whole thing took 10 weeks to fix.
Arnold carried her books between classes for weeks until she got her cast off. During that time Joanna had played basketball with her left hand. It lead her to become virtually ambidextrous. Everyone knew that Arnold was nicer to everyone in the school and secretly had a crush on Joanna. They all said Joanna had literally beaten the DEVIL out of him.
During tryouts the basketball coach let Joanna make the team knowing that the cast would be off in time for part of the regular season and the playoffs for sure. They never lost a game that year and it was in large part because Joanna could dribble and shoot equally well with either hand. The coach gave Arnold a blue ribbon to show his appreciation. Arnold turned out to be a good kid.