“Jesse, is that you out there?”
“It’s me Doc–open up.”
The sounds of cumbersome door-bolts could be heard.
“Come on in Jesse–where’s your brother and the rest of the gang?”
“Doc, if I told you that I would have to kill you,” Jesse joked. “They’re holed up outside of town probably sitting around the campfire laughing their asses off right about now.”
“Why–what’s so funny?” chuckled Doc.
“Because of my damn hand,” whined Jesse.
“What is wrong with your hand?” as he gestured to Jesse to give him his hand.
“Well–that is why I came to see you–it ain’t working right. The other day I tried to draw my gun and it just fell on the floor–nearly got me killed–not to mention shooting off part of my boot. Can you help me? What do you think is wrong with it Doc.”
Doc looked down at Jesse’s damaged boot and cracked a half smile.
“Looks like you got lucky there Jesse.”
Doc took Jesse’s hand and rotated it at the wrist–he did some standard resistance testing and then gave Jesse his hand back.
“Looks like Carpel Tunnel to me.”
“What the heck is that? Carpets? Tunnels? Doc, you been drinkin’ again?”
“Seriously, I think it’s Carpel Tunnel–it’s when the nerves in the wrist get restricted due to inflammation and it keeps your hand from working right–along with being very painful. Very common in jobs that have a lot of repetitive motion–you know–like doing the same thing over and over again,” explained Doc. “When you go jerking a 2-1/2 bound hunk of steel out of your holster repetitively and go wavin’ it around, or spinning it on one finger–its bound to injure something sooner or later. Experts say that the condition has a lot to do with genetics and other conditions. The repetitive-motion component is really secondary to underlying causes that are not clearly understood yet.”
Jesse’s eyes glazed over and he gave Doc a look that was clearly questioning whether Doc was sober or had lost his mind.
“Doc, you gotta be kidding me–I gotta be able to use my hand–and what the heck are Gen Ticks?”
Jesse felt like the Doc was speaking a foreign language.
“Jə-‘net-iks,” Doc pronounced, “–let me see,” Doc paused for a moment, “–did you ever notice that when you breed a Pomeranian with a Samoyed that the puppies end of looking like a Sameranians? Did you ever notice that kids that all have the same father and mother tend to look the same—kind of the opposite of you and your brothers?
“Uhhh–not sure I follow you there Doc.”
Doc could see this line of conversation was not going anywhere.
“Did you ever think of maybe entering a different line of work?” asked Doc.
“Like what–this is all I know–and who is gonna take care of my brothers?
“Well–you know–there are government programs to retrain people to do other jobs, don’t you?”
Jesse was pretty sure now that Doc had lost his mind, AND had been drinking.
“Doc, at the last post office I was in, I noticed that the ‘government’ is likely to be more interested in ‘restraining’ me than in ‘retraining’ me,” Jesse joked.
“You have a point there Jesse,” Doc said with a chuckle. “I know it is probably hard for you to find the time, but there are some exercises you can do that might help, and you might want to find a gun that is a little more ergonomic. Some experts believe that a diet high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help–so cutting down on the free-range beef and switching to more salmon and fresh vegetables may alleviate some of the symptoms.”
“So now you expect me to drag a cook along on the trail–and move to Seattle?”
All of this was proof to Jesse that Doc was crazy, had been doing snuff, AND had been drinking. He was equally sure at this point that Doc was NOT going to be able to help him very much.
Jesse was feeling a little depressed and desperate after seeing Doc. The doctor, realizing that Jesse was not about to take his advice, gave him some laudanum and sent him on his way.
“Say howdy to the rest of the gang–and good luck with that hand,” Doc yelled after him.
Jesse rode off into the night.
The rest is history.
By Charles Buell