Louisville Magazine

SEP 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.16 47 TV played whatever it played. Played through the work day. Played through rent time. Played until the lights went off and the door closed behind Duncan as he left his home for the first time in a while. For the last time. One day Duncan drank himself to the bottom of a bottle and saw through it's clear bottom his distorted reality: A bank slumped down toward the Ohio River. A train whistle lament- ed through the darkness and died out over the current. (e sound of water moving outlasts all others.) Tents all about like discarded things. His life — his old life — had broken down. In 2000, his sisters brought him to a recovery center in Louis- ville, but he gave it up. Now he had no home. His outfit was not an outfit but a survival tool. His bed was the ground. e past month, five months, eight months lapsed into memory — meals at shelters, drinks scraped together from whatever money whoever had, summer months spent so sweaty and dehydrated from alcohol Duncan would go down to a bus station and drink from the water fountains to survive, winter months cold to the marrow. Duncan realized it was snowing. e K&I train bridge in the Portland neighborhood above his camp like the rusty skeleton of a strange, extinct creature. He was thirsty with the kind of thirst you can't quench. He opened another King Cobra malt liquor and walked along the slick bank. e feeling again, first in his lips, then his throat, then his belly. And then no feeling, no Duncan at all. It must have felt familiar when his feet flew out from under him and the world spun around and swung back up to meet him again, hard. His foot slid backward at a bad angle, and his body dropped down on top of it. Damn, it hurt. A light opened up in his leg and cast the world in sharp relief. Duncan saw clearly now the weather-beaten people around him, the metal bones of the bridge faceting the sky, snow falling every- where — upon all the living and the dead, Joyce wrote. Which was Duncan back then? Living or dead? Cold, distant stars stared down through the roof that wasn't there. "I could have another drink," he thought. But then he thought, "I can never have another drink." Someone had a cell phone, someone called an ambulance. After the doctors put his bones back together, he went directly from the hospital to Wayside. at was 14 years ago. Just a few months later, somewhere else in the city, in a warm, warm room, Nina Moseley held a tiny new life in her upturned hand. "Centrochelys sulcata," Duncan says, pulling Latin out of nowhere. "at's what Spike is — chelonian." He and Moseley are standing in an examination room at the Shive- ly Animal Hospital a little over a week after the accident. Duncan nods at the poster on the wall. It says "Chelonian Anatomy" at the top, above six white silhouettes of turtles, each filled with a different level of colorful anatomy: a turtle full of muscles, a turtle full of veins, a turtle full of bones. e turtle on the bottom right has a beautiful set of lungs. Mose- ley hopes Spike's are all right. Spike's stay at the hospital has been rough so far. e vets have kept him full of antibiotics and pain medication. But for several days he showed no interest in food. Moseley and Duncan visited every evening, bringing fruits and vegetables. Moseley would slice an apple with her pocketknife and rub the sweet flesh on Spike's beak, but he'd turn his head and drag himself into the corner of the room. "When tortoises experience severe trauma, they have a tendency to just shut down," the vets told Moseley. Spike was giving up. e vets shot goopy food down his mouth with a syringe each day, but he didn't defecate. is suggested a problem with his intestines. (Today, Duncan stares up at the top-right turtle on the poster, the bruised fruits of the gastrointestinal system, like he's looking at a math problem.) Spike would poop, or Spike would die. His broken pelvis and lacerated back leg — Moseley and Duncan each saved some of the scales from the parking lot — prevented Spike from walking, or even standing at his usual, proud height. Instead, he scoot- ed around like, well, a tortoise stuck on its back, only Spike was stuck on his stomach. He struggled until the crack on his left side reopened, and the vets had to fill it with more acrylic paste, a bigger bubblegum scar. Finally, a few days later, Moseley got him to eat. He chomped down an entire bag of apple slices, a banana, some squash, some broccoli and a taste of home: a big handful of grass from Wayside. He ate the next day, and the next, but he still didn't defecate. Moseley and Duncan patted his shell, wondering what was going on in there, what was wrong with the secret world inside of Spike. e vets tried taking him outside, medicating him with stool softeners. But nothing worked. And then, last night, they tried a kiddy pool. ey ran a little water in the pool before they picked up Spike — ever so carefully, his heavy shell now so fragile. Water ran over him and, Lord have mercy, a little poop came out. Not a lot, but some. Dr. Fuchs still worried about the possibility of a block- age, further internal injury; Spike's waste had not come from the food he'd recently eaten. He'd just evacuated the grass he'd eaten before the accident. Fuchs and Denise Beckovich, both in scrubs, slide Spike into the examination room on a towel. He ducks his big snake head behind the spiky guard plate on the front of his shell and urinates on the towel. Moseley hunkers down, pulls a strand of her wild blond hair behind her ear, and coos at Spike. "Spikerooni," she says. He sticks his head out for a big bite of banana, and Moseley rubs his neck, the leathery skin sliding back and forth. en he drags himself under a chair, nearly knocking it over, leaving a puddle of urine behind him. Duncan grabs a paper towel and follows behind him. No one has ever been so happy to mop up bio waste. Continued on page 100 "I could have another drink," he thought. But then he thought, "I can never have another drink." After the doctors put his bones back together, he went directly from the hospital to Wayside.

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