I’m still on the disabled list, folks. It’s been two weeks since I ripped my left bicep and tore a ligament off the muscle while lifting weights; ten days since a doctor half my age (or perhaps just WAY better preserved) cut me open and snipped here and sewed there and closed me up again. Neal Adams warned me not to trust the doctor. Neal hates doctors. If he was my dad (and let’s face it?if you know Neal, he might as well be) he’d have been standing over the surgeon like Jimmy Cagney with a sawed-off shotgun aimed at the guy’s belly warning the sawbones through clenched teeth, “You hurt my kid, I’ll hurt you!” All I had was my 17-year-old in the waiting room fingering his switchblade.
I’m still in a metal brace that looks something like Nick Fury’s one-armed exo-skeleton; remember when he fought Capt. America wearing that rig because he thought Cap had been hitting on his gal Val? It’s in Captain America #153 written by Steve Engelhart and drawn by Sal Buscema?terrific issue. Anyway, that’s how I look. Nobody can hurt you like a doctor.
Okay, the meds are kicking in again, and I need a whiskey to take off the jagged edge, so forgive your crippled columnist for pulling a card out of the old cheater files and excerpting a couple of letters and odd bits to fill the spaces.
Cliff: Just heard about the surgery. Heal quickly. You never know when I might be in a bar fight and need your help. ? Tony IsabellaCliff! OUCH! ? Dan Jurgens
Hey Cliff: Big time pain, huh? At least you don’t earn a living as a juggler. ? William Paquet
Cliff…nothing as frustrating as seeing a friend in distress and unable to do anything except offer lame sympathy… Get well soon! ? John Romita.
Gotta say, it’s a nifty new excuse for not being able to help out with the new baby–difficult to change a diaper one-handed.? Al Milgrom
You know, fellas, I’m writing everything half-twisted on percosets or percodans or whatever chemical cocktail the good doctor fitted me with. I’m even loopy now. The meat-hook reality and pain just ain’t worth it, so I’m staying under. Can type again, thank the ribbon gods, but barely. And played guitar?albeit in hideous fucking pain?for all of 5 mins. today?a new first! I look a wreck, fellas, feel worse, but progress is progress… Spoke with Marv Wolfman and Len Wein today?don’t quite know why that felt significant, but I can’t recall ever speaking with both in one day. Sort of like getting one call from Sonny then another from Cher… Then Dave & Paty Cockrum called me from some Carolina convention; they’d bought me a Nick Cardy Aquaman sketch as a get-well gift, then put Cardy himself on the phone to say hey. I’ve never met Nick, but you know my weakness for you old mugs. There’s worse weaknesses? Wo! Gotta run. The new baby is due in 3 weeks and I hear the missus upstairs calling my name. You’re all sweeties to say hello.
[Clicks Send, then climbs the stairs.]
“What is it?” I asked. “Time to have the baby?”
“Don’t I wish!” said the plumped missus. “It’s the phone?for you.”
“I told you I wasn’t taking any calls.”
[Picks up the phone]
“You’re an idiot,” said Harlan.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” I said.
“Don’t you want to know why you’re an idiot?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Because you’re still acting like a goddamn kid. What the fuck were you lifting weights for?”
“Is this where we add insult to injury?”
“I already called you an idiot.”
“I forgot,” I said.
“The reason,” said Harlan, “you’re lifting weights is because you refuse to grow up!”
“I am a sensei,” I said, uncorking the Jack Daniels bottle. “I can cloud men’s minds.”
“You’re only clouding your own,” said Harlan. “Now grow up and stop hurting yourself, goddamnit.”
“I promise,” I said.
“Susan sends her love. Call me if you need anything.”
And with that, he hung up. So I hung up.
You’d have hung up, too.
© 2004, Clifford Meth