Here is the latest of my short-short stories that are composites of real-life events with psychological or practical implications.

Source: Vidu/xShutterstock

I’m just one big screw-up. I didn’t get school: I either didn’t understand it or  didn’t care about it. So when my uncle offered me a job driving a beer truck, I said, "screw school."

My luck, I’m in just my third day and I get a ticket, $200, and for what? “You didn't come to a full and complete stop. I have to see your wheels stop turning." Sonofabitch hiding behind a tree just so he can soak me. There was zero traffic anywhere. Sonofabitch.

Okay, so a week later, I got into a little fender bender—no big deal, really, but they fired my ass. Now what? Well I’ve always liked the idea of wearing a uniform but I was too scared to go in the army and no way would the police academy take me, and working fast-food? No way. So I got myself a job as a security guard—it was only 12 bucks an hour but it was cush—at a hospital, you know, the one at the base of Mount Winston.

I was counting the days to my one-year anniversary there—that’s when I'd get two weeks vacation. I’d always wanted to climb all the way up Mt. Winston where my grandpa holes himself up. That’s where he wants to live out his days, God knows why. And right then, right on day 366, I said I’m gonna drag my butt up that mountain.                         

Here’s where you really get to see what I mean when I say I’m just one big screw-up. You see, I didn't get more than a half-mile up when there’s this rocky, steep part, and because it was shady there—it was still kinda wet from the rain the day before—but I figure, no big deal and I keep climbing on the wet part. I could have gone around, just three extra steps to the side and it was dry; but no, genius me had to take the challenge and go straight up. The problem is I fell straight down and, my luck, on a jagged rock. And of course, I wasn’t smart enough to wear heavy jeans. No, I wore goddamn shorts! 

And I wasn’t lucky enough for it to just be some ordinary cut. No, I hit a big vein, or was it an artery? I dunno. I just know it was spurting, kinda like when a garden hose springs a leak. So I got scared. You know, you hear of people bleeding to death and all. I tried to stop the bleeding by taking off my shirt and tying my leg but I didn’t remember if I was supposed to tie it above the cut or below. But no matter which way I tied it, the leg kept shooting, like a water gun. At least I was smart enough to realize I needed to high-tail it down to the hospital.

But as I was getting there, I realized that, yeah, they’d fix me up but I’d end up with a big bill; I mean the company bought me insurance but it has $1,000 deductible. I didn’t have no $1,000. I’d never have no $1,000. So I had an idea. How hard could it be to sew myself up? I mean, I remembered walking through the emergency room and the doctor’d call “suture kit,” the nurse would get it from the supply cabinet, and then, just like my mother sewing up some pillow whose stuffing was starting to come out, he’d sew up the cut.

The only scary part was that the suture kit had a needle and something—widocaine, midocaine, no, lidocaine, that’s it. The doc would shoot it near the wound. The patient yelled but I guess the pain was shorter than if he got stitched up without the shot.

So I decided I’d sneak in and steal a suture kit—I mean, I didn’t think God would mind—It’s not my fault I’m not making good money. The only thing I was worried about is that someone would see my blood and stop me. But I was lucky—I guess I got good clotting; so by the time I reached the hospital, not much blood was dripping and I got that suture kit and got out.

I hid myself behind a storage building and did just like the doctor. I didn’t know how much lidocaine to use but I figured half the syringe couldn’t be too far off. It burned but not that terrible. I waited a couple minutes for it to numb me just like the doctor did and meantime threaded the needle. That was the scary part: Putting a needle and thread into me again and again? Damn. I’ll spare you the details but I did it. I didn’t do it great, I’m sure I’ll have an big ugly scar there for the rest of my life but it did pretty much stop the bleeding.

Now you’re gonna see how really nuts I am. I figured, “If I went through all that, I wanted to reward myself," and the only reward I could think of was to continue on up to see my grandpa. And so I did. And I got all the way up there.

It was so amazing to see the old guy. He gave me this huge hug and then, and I swear I didn’t do nothing to open the damn cut, the thread gave way and the blood started spurting out again as bad as the first time. My grandpa just shook his head, opened a drawer, and took out a needle and thread. Maybe we need single-player or whatever you call it.

I perform this on YouTube.

Dr. Nemko’s nine books, including his just-published Modern Fables: short-short stories with life lessons are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at

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