‘Ow! Shit! I think a bee stung my ear!’
‘Fucking hell, Charlie. Your ear’s bleeding!’
‘What? Oh my God!’
Charlie passed out before I reached him. As I approached his crumpled body I could see the widening crimson patch seeping through the fibre of his t-shirt. I gagged, I admit it. I doubled over, my hands grabbing my knees and my eyes closed. An icy sweat climbed up my back and as I opened my eyes I could see a chunk of Charlie’s ear lying a couple of feet away.
Becoming a victim of a stray nail from a careless carpenter’s nail gun changed Charlie. The realisation that if the nail had been two inches to the left he could have lost an eye, or worse. He had been working as a bricklayer on a couple of contracts with me, and would never wear a hard-hat, instead preferring his own brand of lax sloppiness. Now he slept in the fucking thing. Losing half an ear will do strange things to a man.
A few weeks later we had a job laying foundations. Me and Charlie were on a break and without any warning, he was catapulted backwards across the site in a puff of masonry dust.
For a moment I just stared at the space he had just occupied. There were little specs of dust floating downwards. It was then my mind began processing the accompanying noise.
It had sounded like someone shooting a jelly with a shotgun and then a split second later a sledgehammer hitting a porcelain toilet.
Everyone knows that bones break when they’re hit too hard, they’re weak under extreme pressure and can splinter and break as easily as twigs.
Bones, however, are not dead wood. Every cell in your body is constantly being replaced by new living tissue and your bones are no different. At the hospital later that day I was surprised when the Doctor told me that the pelvis is made up of three bones that grow together as people age; the ilium, ischium and pubis. On each side of the pelvis there is a hollow cup, the acetabulum which serves as a socket for the hip joints.
I turned to look behind me. Charlie lay, a concrete block embedded between his splayed legs, separating his ilium from his ischium and his pubis from his acetabulum. The Doctors later told me his hips had both been pushed out of socket as his pelvis shattered.
It got worse.
His poor mangled pelvis had absorbed the majority of the blow and had cracked just like the breaking porcelain toilet sound which had echoed around the building site. It troubled me all the way to the hospital when I found out what the other sound was.
It is a fairly well known fact in most circles that if a man is kicked between the legs then the results will be pain, shock, confusion and sometimes even nausea. Kick hard enough and you can tag vomiting and an inability to walk to the list. The blood vessels which supply the testicles through the hole in the middle of the pelvis will burst and begin to bleed internally into the scrotum.
If, for arguments sake, a large concrete block swings loose and strikes you between the legs Doctors will tell you that a testicular rupture may occur. This is when the testicle is compressed against the pubic bone with such force that the testicle is crushed against the bone and as Charlie lay there, passed out and vomiting I could feel my hairs standing on end. It was like on some spiritual level his balls were calling out to mine.
The Doctors will tell you this. What they won’t tell you is that it sounds like shooting jelly with a shotgun.