Sunday, June 6, 2010

Brandyn - Ninja Carpenter

For those of you who haven't heard of Brandyn Boatwright please refer to my earlier story “Arboreal Brandyn” for a character description and a tale that sums him up. At the opening of this story it's important to keep in mind that Brandyn was a bit of a showoff and that he could do whatever you could do.

I will warn you that this story is painful and, at moments, a little gory. However, no one gets permanently damaged and everything works out in the end. If you're squeamish you might want to skip bits here and there. I just thought I would let you know...

Now Josh, Jesse and Brandyn were hanging out at Mom and Dad's house one afternoon. (I didn't actually take part in this series of events, but rather pieced them together later from the tree eye witness accounts.) Mom and Dad were off somewhere shopping or something. So there were only the three of them there.

Josh was working on some project or another and was using the skill saw to cut a few boards. Joshua and I had been taught at an early age to use power tools both by our Dad and Papa. By this time Joshua was a teen and an old hand with the skill saw. However, he made one of the classic Ethridge mistakes on this particular day.

You see, we Ethridges are under the general delusion of “everyone knows that!” We usually assume that if we know something that everyone else in the world knows it and that if we know how to do something then the “how” is common knowledge. In defense of the family I will say that we only expect our level of knowledge out of people our own age and above. We wouldn't give a five year old a jack hammer because we knew how to use one at twelve. However, we would hand one to any twelve year old that even pretended to know what he was doing.

This was the classic blunder that my brother stumbled into that day. Brandyn had watched him cut a few boards and asked if he could use the saw to do a little work himself. My brother did a mental check: “Brandyn is close to seventeen, I could use a skill saw at thirteen, ergo everything should be fine.” Having worked out that everything was ok he handed the saw to Brandyn.

Here it is important to note that Brandyn often had to try to “one-up” whoever was around. My brother had been standing there using the skill saw to cut boards. Certainly they had been cut, but were was the style? Where was his flare? Brandyn was going to do better than that. He wasn't just going to cut boards, he was going to do it with showmanship!

For those of you who have never used a skill saw I have to explain a point. A skill saw has a blade guard that covers the spinning saw blade to prevent injuries. The guard will automatically pull back when the saw is cutting through boards. However, there are times when a carpenter needs to pull this guard back before he starts the cut. It's perfectly safe as long as you know what you are doing and are very careful. It's not perfectly safe when you don't really know what you are doing and are showing off.

Brandyn started sawing boards and then began to pull the guard back before he made each cut. Once he discovered how cool that effect was he started holding the guard back even after the cut was made and allowing the blade to slowly spin to a stop completely uncovered. This was certainly a dangerous practice as a general rule, but when you combined it with Brandyn's general lack of respect for danger it was an inevitable accident.

Jesse had been watching Brandyn's slow progression to injury without intervention. This was during the period when Jesse and Brandyn were constantly at odds and each one loved to see the other injured. There was no real malice between them, just a cruel rivalry. My brother was busy with his work and so was oblivious to Brandyn's ever increasing danger.

Brandyn had just made a cut and was letting the saw blade slow down while foolishly holding the guard back with his own hand. He lowered the saw in order to look at what he had cut and laid the spinning saw blade right on his leg. Fortunately he was wearing jeans at the time and the saw blade only had it's own momentum to power it. The saw ripped through his jeans and cut a series of small holes in Brandyn's leg as it jerked it's way across his thigh.

Brandyn cried out in pain and my brother spun around to see what was happening as Jesse just stared at the stupidity playing out before him.

“What happened?” Josh asked.

“I accidentally laid the saw on my leg.” was the answer.

“Well be careful! You can really hurt yourself!”

“I know it.”

Jesse stood there for a moment mulling things over.

“I'll see you guys later.” he said.

“Where you going?” Josh asked.

“I'm heading to the house. This idiot is going to cut his leg off and I don't want to see it.”

After a little bit of back and forth with Brandyn, Jesse got in his truck and pulled off. It looked like a good breaking point, so Josh decided to go into the house and rest up for a few minutes. Brandyn wanted to finish something before he came in for a break and asked I that would be alright. Josh said that it was fine with him and went inside. Little did he imagine how dangerous it was to leave Brandyn unattended with a tool of such power...

He had been in the house for perhaps two minutes when he heard a knock on the door.

“Come in.” He yelled, wondering who could be knocking when Brandyn was out in the yard to tell them just to go in. Again, he heard a knock.

“I'm coming.” He said walking to the door. He opened it to find Brandyn standing there looking strait ahead.

“What's wrong bro?”

“I'm hurt.”

“Is it bad?”

“I think so.”

Josh glanced over him and nothing seemed wrong.

“Where are you hurt?”

“My foot.”

Josh looked down and realized that Brandyn was standing in a pool of blood.

“Oh man! How did it happen!”

“I was standing on a board to hold it in place while I cut it. The saw hit a knot, kicked back and ran over my foot backwards.”

“Ok. Stay calm we have to stop the bleeding and get you to a hospital.”

Josh made a tourniquet out of some cloth at hand and the bleeding slowed. Just as he was wondering how they were going to get to the hospital Jesse pulled back up in the yard.

“Jesse! Thank God you're back. Brandyn is hurt bad! We have to get him to the hospital!”

“I know, that's why I'm here. I was almost home when I thought to myself that when Brandyn finally did cut his leg off you guys were going to need a ride. So, I came back.”

Josh and Jesse went to work on the foot. The decided to take his shoe off to see how bad the damage was. When they made him lift his foot the front of his shoe, along with his toes, pointed strait to the ground. His toes were no longer as dedicated to serving his foot as to serving gravity. Josh decided that to take the shoe off was tantamount to removing the toes, so they left it on.

A few minutes speedy driving found them at the hospital. Brandyn was immediately taken back so they could try to save his toes. They loaded him up with pain killers and then began the work.

“We are going to have to cut the shoe off.” The doctor began.

“Man! This was a brand new pair!” was Brandyn's answer.

Clearly the pain killers were doing their job.

The doctor looked at my brother and said “You might not want to watch this.”

“I'll be alright, I'm not squeamish.” was his hardy answer.

Without more chit-chat the doctor began. The shoe was cut away and the hanging toes revealed. Unfortunately Brandyn had a lot of leather packed beneath his flesh. The saw has cut away strips of shoe and tucked them neatly beneath Brandyn's flesh.

My brother watched as the doctor reached up inside Brandyn's foot with forceps and pulled out one blood soaked strip after another. As Josh watched the doctor filling a small pan with bloody shoe he began to get a bit light headed. He was holding on fairly well until Brandyn began to giggle.

“Is anything wrong?” the doctor asked.

“No, no.” Brandyn replied. “It's just that you're tickling the bone.”

That was too much for Josh. He put his head between his legs and began to breath deeply through his nose. He didn't pass out, but it was a very close thing. After a bit more removing of bloody leather and a little stitching of hanging toes and the wrapping of an entire leg in a cast to keep it all together they were ready to go home.

Brandyn was always careful with skill saws after that. It was months before the final cast came off and he could use his toes again. That's what makes the fact that he broke that leg two weeks after the cast was off even funnier. Still, that's a tale for another time. Lord willing, it too will be told in due season.

I hope you all were able to laugh at Brandyn's pain. I know I was!

Seriously everyone, if you enjoy these stories share them with your friends. I am hoping to get these published after I am done with them and if I can show a literary agent that there is already interest in my work it will help me a great deal. Thanks!


  1. I don't know why it strikes me this way, but the parts of this story that always make me laugh out loud are Jesse's decision to leave because he knew what would happen and didn't want to see it; and his prompt return, knowing that when the inevitable came to pass, he would have to drive them to the hospital; and, of course, Joshua's reaction to the phrase "tickling the bone."

  2. Yes, I hope I never have any of my bones "tickled."