In the pre-dawn hours of his 82nd birthday, the retired colonel, a former Marine who survived the Tet offensive as a 30-year-old, awakened for the second time to empty his bladder. He sat on the edge of the Queen-sized bed and waited a few seconds before standing in order to avoid the dizziness that sometimes accompanied this transfer. As he did, he realized the night light on the adjacent wall had gone out. Light from the low-hanging half-moon reduced the room to wispy shadows. He cursed under his breath to remember to stop buying junk made in China.
He stood, then took a step with his left foot, slightly off-center, then took a second step to compensate his slightly off-balance lean, but overcompensated, taking a longer stride than normal. At the exact moment his right foot made contact with the carpeted floor, his mind registered an explosive sound that stunned him, freezing him in time, but for only a half-second as his right leg suddenly flew upwards, and his upper torso slammed onto the floor, his head barely missing the bedpost, but bouncing off the floor.
Instantly, his face writhed in pain as blood began to pour from his brow and his lip, which had been lacerated almost in half. He reflexively raised his arms to his head and face, twisting and turning trying to escape the attack, screaming as loud as he could with his sleep-laden voice. The event was over in seconds, just as soon as he screamed, but the pain and realization of what happened rushed into his mind. It was not a dream-state.
He crawled back to the night stand, feeling his way along the bed, and blindly reaching up, grabbed the cell phone. He could not see it, but felt blood streaming down his face. The phone slipped from his bloody palm. He felt around, gathering the phone again, wiping the blood from his hands to better his grasp.
He dialed 911 and said, “I need help.”
Within minutes, the paramedics arrived. The front door was locked. The colonel was unable to assist them in, much less stand. They climbed a fence to the sounds of a barking dog, which woke the colonel who’d passed out waiting.
It was then he realized he’d unwittingly stepped on the tail of his beloved Doberman Pincher, Chester.