In Perpetuity

The impact felt worse than any football hit Ollie ever experienced in a high school football game. He had no reason to doubt the Police Report indicating that he had been speeding, although he had no clear memory of the accident. Maybe he had fallen asleep or maybe he didn't realize the road was wet – it didn't matter because the car sailed off the road and smashed into an overpass bridge abutment.

The immense impact caused the airbag to burst, mostly likely saving Ollie's life even as the car rolled onto its roof and slid down an embankment. Ollie slipped in an out of consciousness, not sure if he was dead or alive. A deep sense of despair engulfed him knowing he was seriously injured and he waited for The Grim Reaper to take him. How long would it take? The experience was strange and terrifying and even as he heard the distant sounds of the sirens getting closer, Ollie wished it would just be over.

The rest of his memories were equally as blurry. He knew he had been fading in an out of consciousness for days – nine days, it turned out when he finally regained his bearings and was told by the nurse how long it had been since the accident. Ollie discovered he couldn't talk – his mouth wired shut from a broken jaw. He could only mumble his responses to questions from the medical team, most of them struggling to make out anything he was trying to say. Ollie gave up in his attempts to communicate and he was resigned to the reality that he would never smile again.

Ollie remained hitched up to IV drips, monitors and other life-saving machines. Doctors removed the breathing tube jammed down his throat but he could manage only a liquid diet. His parents had flown up from Florida during the life and death stage that included two surgeries for internal bleeding and several CAT-SCANS to determine potential brain damage.

Ollie's father had since returned for job reasons but his mother stayed at his house while monitoring her son's recovery. When he was ready, Ollie was transferred to the Blue County Nursing Home to start rehabilitation and physical therapy, although he was warned that he might never walk again.

The former student athlete stayed dedicated, persistent and hardworking in his therapy, determined to convalesce and recuperate as best he could. A burly guy named John was his primary physical therapist who assisted in the endeavor with a mixture of cheerleading skills and coaching drive. It struck Ollie as almost comical when he hung from the parallel bars for as long as he could, his numb legs dangling beneath him like a rag doll.

In addition to his damaged legs, Ollie's face was ground sausage. He had broken or fractured several ribs along with his collarbone. He lost several teeth. He looked hideous and even some of the residents at the nursing home – most of them aged, wrinkled, and decrepit – couldn't help but stare at his monstrous face and Ollie heard them talking about him in hushed voices behind his back.

Ollie was finally released to his home although he was still limited in his physical abilities. Luckily, his house was a single story ranch so that would make it easier for him to get around but he wouldn't be able to live on his own so his mother hired a full time live in homecare aide to assist Ollie in his daily routine. He came home by medical transport and was wheeled into the house by two professionals.

Ollie's mother had cleaned the house in his absence and the physical therapy department made it safer for him to navigate through the rooms. Ollie was slightly annoyed by the intrusions and changes but he was powerless to do much about it.

"Ollie, this is Patty Duchame."

Ollie's mother introduced the live-in homecare person and Ollie stared at her, not sure if he had met her somewhere before. She was relatively attractive although slightly full figured and there seemed to be a scowl on her face. Her brown hair was pulled up in a bun and she was wearing blue hospital type scrubs with sneakers. Ollie's jaw was still wired shut so he could only nod in response.

His mother reviewed the ground rules, expectations and processes Patty was expected to follow but then his mother burst out in tears, overwhelmed but the emotions of the moment – the trauma of the accident, the grueling recovery, the fact that Ollie was at least able to come home even with his still broken body.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Ollie's mother said to Patty. "It's all just been so much. I'm so worried about him.

"I'll take good care of your son, Mrs. Davis," Patty promised in a cheerful voice. "Don't you worry."

Ollie's mother had a flight back to Fort Lauderdale that evening and she needed to get the rental car turned in and catch the shuttle to the terminal. She gave her son a heartfelt hug goodbye, urging him to hang tough and keep battling through his challenges.

"You've always been a fighter," she said with a brave smile. "I know you'll get through this."

Ollie nodded his appreciation and he was sad to see his mother leave, appreciating all she had done for him during the crisis.

It was weird having a stranger in the house. Patty set up shop in the guest bedroom across from his and Ollie didn't like her presence so close by. He wheeled himself into his bedroom, happy to be back in familiar surroundings. Patty helped him into his familiar bed. He hated being dependent upon her but he was impressed by her strength and ability to maneuver him around. He had lost about twenty pounds since the accident but he was still a fair sized man but she had little trouble lifting him out of his chair and onto the bed.

"You honestly don't remember me, do you?" Patty asked, peering n at Ollie from where she stood at the side of his bed.

Ollie looked at her blankly.

"We went to high school together," Patty revealed but Ollie still couldn't place her. She rolled her eyes and shook her head with disgust. "I was Patty Hier back then. You knew me best as Fatty Patty, Piggy Patty, and Patty Heifer."

Ollie's eyes went wide.

"Ah, now you remember," Patty said sarcastically. "Don't worry, your mother doesn't know. She thinks she hired someone out of the Home Aide Directory. It was a fluke that she called me. But when she said Ollie Davis, I nearly dropped the phone. You were such a bastard."

Ollie stared at her with shame as the memories came flowing back. She was at least thirty pounds heavier back in high school – not that it excused any of the horrible things he and his pals said to her. Ollie wasn't the instigator of the cruelty toward her but he definitely was part of the bullying humor and disrespectful treatment callously demonstrated against her. Ollie had long ago forgotten about such inexcusable behavior but now that Patty Hier was looking him in the eyes and he was stuck in the bed he had no choice but to face his sins.

Patty folded her arms across her chest. "It's a long fall from King Jock of the School to forgotten nobody, isn't it?

Ollie took issue with the forgotten nobody part. He managed the Blue County Catholic Social Ministries Program and he was keenly involved in various community events, projects, fundraisers and other activities, as well as a key player in his parish life.

But Patty was probably right in that nobody remembered him for his high school athletic achievements anymore, most of his accomplishments superseded by those who came after him. Most of his trophies, awards, and other citations sat in dusty boxes in the cellar.

"I'll have to consider some of my revenge options now that I have you helpless and bedridden," Patty said, scratching her chin as she stared at him. "Consider your misery as you go to sleep tonight."

She left the room and Ollie had no idea how serious she was being. He thought of Kathy Bates in the movie Misery and he wondered if he was going to be James Caan in this story.