Rhys and Noah started to discuss the few players that have broken their own leg by fouling off a pitch into themselves. Surprisingly, the number was low. Maybe once or twice a season, it'll happen to an unlucky batter. The only question I had now was, am I lucky? I wouldn't say so before, but lately I've been feeling good about my life.
I frowned as I replayed what had happened. I swung my bat low, but the pitch was definitely going to be a ball. I only reached it because I brought my hands straight down. That, plus the spin of the ball, is what probably led to me getting hurt. I swallowed a lump in my throat and looked at Noah. "Can you...go get my bat?" I had a bad hunch that something bad happened.
Noah was surprised by my request, but still got up. "Yea! Sure! I'll be right back!" He took off running to the bullpen.
Rhys and Zeke exchanged looks, but didn't say anything. They just waited near me in silence. Noah came jogging back, not looking very good. I gulped.
Noah placed the bat on the table. "At least it was the bat I bought."
The thin part of the barrel, close to the handle, was smashed in. I broke my third bat. I felt the urge to cry.
"Hey, hey! It's okay!" Rhys patted me on the head. "I'll replace it. I can get you a new bat just like this one. It's my fault after all."
I shook my head. "It's not your fault. I knew I shouldn't use the thin part of the bat." Mr. Williams reminded me when we had gotten this bat. I sighed and held back the tears. Noah was right, at least it wasn't the bat Jeremy gave me.
"No, really. Some of the fault is on me too." Rhys told me. "My dad has some friends so he can probably get us a few bats for free. It's gotta be tough to use a wood bat, worry about breaking it, and then worry about money to get a new one."
I looked up at him, hopeful.
Zeke shook his head. "We'll have to be careful about that. Jake could ruin his eligibility if that counts as a 'gift'."
Rhys looked down at me, apologetic. "Let me talk to my dad. He'll know what to do."
I'm starting to get the feeling that Rhys was 'too' easygoing. He let the adults around him decide what should happen or what should be done. He wasn't as decisive as Zeke or as independent.
"Jake! I've got Mary on the phone!" Mrs. Johnson came back outside and placed her cellphone on the table, pushing some of the snacks away. "Okay Mary, I have you on speaker. All the boys are here."
"Jake?" Mom called out from the phone.
"Yea?" I answered.
"How you feeling, kiddo?" Dad asked. They must be on speaker too.
I glanced at the ice piled onto my leg. "There's a little of ice on my leg so it's not as bad as it was."
"He fouled off a 90mph slider into his own leg." Noah told them. "I'm pretty sure it's already swollen. Do you think we should take him to the hospital?"
"I'm not there to judge..." Mom sounded worried. "Is Rhys's aunt there yet?"
"Not yet, Mrs. Atkins!" Rhys told her.
"I'll go call her on the landline." Mrs. Johnson left us again, heading back inside.
"Zeke?" Dad asked. "How does it look? Is there bruising?"
Zeke lifted some of the bags of ice and took a look. "It's starting to bruise. It's swollen too. I'm not a doctor, but I think if you guys were here, you would take him to the hospital."
"What about the A's game?" Noah asked.
"I guess I'll have to tell Jeremy that I can't make it." I sighed.
"I'm sorry, Jake." Mom said. "I wish we-"
"I'm here!" A woman called out, rushing out the backdoor, cutting off what Mom was going to say. She hurried over. "You must be the patient, Jake."
"Aunt Linda." Rhys greeted. He gave her a small side hug and gave her some room to look at my leg. "He fouled a pitch off and it hit him in the leg. We're trying to decide if we need to make an emergency room visit."
The woman nodded. "I've heard. Your mom is inside with the kids." She looked down at me. "What's your pain level right now?"
I shrugged. "It was bad, but I'm not feeling much with the ice."
"Good. Good. Let's take the ice off so I can do a preliminary exam." She took the bags of ice off and pushed them to the side. My leg was swollen like Zeke said, growing a bump to the side. "Now, Jake, I'm not going to touch where it hurts, but I'm going to ask you to do some movements. Tell me if and where it hurts." She started to instruct me. Point my toes down. Up. Left. Right.
"The only pain is where I was hit." I told her, feeling sweat on my head. The pain was coming back with every move I made.
"That's a good sign." She told me. "Let's see you stand and walk."
Zeke went behind me and put his hands under my armpits to help me stand up as I gingerly put my legs down.
I hissed. "I can't put pressure on it. Definitely makes it worse."
"I think you should go for x-rays." Nurse Linda stated. "I don't think it's a break, but it's better to be sure. The good news is that it's the inside leg bone is the tibia and it takes a major force to fracture it. You probably just have a really bad bone bruise and it'll be difficult to walk for the next few days."
I sighed with relief. No break.
Mom sighed too. "Thank goodness. Linda, do you know any nearby hospitals that'll take consent over the phone?"
Linda and her started to discuss what kind of hospitals are in the area.
"You should probably call Jeremy before he has to start warming up." Noah told me, looking at me with sympathy. "I'll go get your phone for you." He went to my bag and pulled out my phone. He came back and handed it to me.
I found his name in contacts and started to call. Linda saw that I was making a more private call so she picked up Mrs. Johnson's cellphone and went inside.
"Jake?" Jeremy picked up after two rings.
"Hey..." I cleared my throat. "Uh, I just wanted to tell you that, we might not make it to the game tonight."
"What? Why?" Jeremy asked. "Is everything okay? Mary and Wayne are out of town, right? Is Zeke and Noah okay?"
Noah overheard Jeremy and looked surprised. As was I. Jeremy genuinely sounded concern for me and the Atkins.
"It's not anything too crazy. We were playing a little bit and I fouled a pitch into my own leg." I explained. "We're going to a hospital to make sure I didn't break it. I don't know how long it's going to take. Or what will happen if it is broken." I gulped. I really didn't want to be put into a cast. That would really suck.
"Oh! Wow." He sounded relieved, but still upset. "Do you know where you're going yet?"
I shook my head. "No. Rhys has an aunt that's a nurse. She looked at it and is talking with Mom on the phone. They haven't picked a hospital yet."
"How about you go see a doctor I know?" Jeremy suggested. "It's a private place and there wouldn't be any wait. The doctor can do your x-rays right then and there. And give you the result in minutes."
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