Doc Jordon Works Magic


There’s not much a good shot in the arm won’t cure.

—Dr. Josephine Jordon

Danny and Will sprinted along the beach to Doc Jordon’s house, three lots down from the pier. Mr. Walt was close behind carrying the limp boy in his arms. Trout was ghostly pale. Always at the ready with her little black bag, Doc Jordon had a thriving practice in Montgomery but spent summers at the beach. Her vacation was interrupted regularly by barnacle scrapes, fish hooks, and rusty nails. Tetanus shots were a regular event along with a few stitches here and there. Her services were always free but rendered with a stern warning not to be such a fool and to be more careful next time.

As usual, Dr. Josephine Jordon, Miss Kitty, and a few neighbors were relaxing in rocking chairs on the front porch, sharing stories enhanced by a blend of gin, tonic, and fresh lemons. They’d heard the boat screaming into shore, then the boys yelling as they ran along the beach. By the time Mr. Walt bounded up the steps, Doc Jordon was waiting and wondering what cure needed to be rendered this time.

“What in the hell happened here,” she said. “What damn fool thing did you boys do this time?”

They were accustomed to her accusatory tone. She was the only woman they knew who regularly cussed like a tugboat captain.

“Trout got hung up in the shrimp net,” Mr. Walt said. “We were taking a dip and he got back where he shouldn’t have.”

“Somebody get the green oxygen bottle out of my closet,” Doc Jordon said. “And make it fast.”

She pulled out a needle and gave Trout a horrific shot in the butt. It didn’t matter what the ailment, she always managed to work in a shot as part of the treatment. As they grew, the boys suspected she just like sticking people. They could have had an extra large pimple and somehow she’d figure a shot into the healing process.

But Trout was bad off. Foam had started oozing from the side of his mouth and she clamped the oxygen mask on tight.

“One of you fools get me some damn bourbon,” she demanded. “And hurry up with it. This boy needs help.”

With the oxygen flowing strong, she raised his arms above his head a few times then passed that job off to Will.

“Keep that up just like I’ve been doing it,” she said. “And pay attention, damn it.”

Will pumped Trout’s arms while Doc eased the boy to a sitting position. In one rapid motion, she yanked off the oxygen mask and poured a shot of bourbon down his gullet. At first Trout gagged, then he hacked hard for close to a half a minute. Doc slapped the mask back on him just before he took a gargantuan breath.

She pinched his cheeks so hard they turned purple. “Keep up that deep breathing Trout. Oxygen is just what you need. And we like seeing your pug face around here so don’t let me down.”

She poured another shot and handed to Mr. Walt.

“You probably need this as much as he does,” she said. “Don’t beat yourself up. These boys know to stay away from a shrimp net.”

Mr. Walt threw the liquor back.

“Is he gonna be okay,” he asked. “I mean really?”

“Sure, he’s a tough kid. He’ll be as good as new by tomorrow. Danny, you and Will go over to the Loxley’s house and get Trout’s mama. Tell her I’m keeping the boy here tonight.”

Will and Danny stood by Trout like cypress stumps.

“Well, what are you waiting for,” she said sternly. “Get the hell over there and get Trout’s mama!”

By the time the screen door slammed, they were halfway down the driveway, bare feet kicking up a trail of dust. Doc Jordon held Trout’s eyelids open wide and shined her flashlight into his pupils. She whacked his knees with a reflex hammer and took his pulse and blood pressure. If she’d been back in Montgomery, she’d be on the way to the hospital but the closest one was in Mobile, at least two hours away. That’s if the roads were all clear, they didn’t have a flat tire and the car didn’t break down. If he didn’t improve by morning, they’d make the journey to Mobile at first light.

Doc Jordon waived Mr. Walt and Miss Kitty toward the front porch. “Trout, you keep sucking in that oxygen and try to relax,” she said. “I’ll be right back.”

“He might have some damage,” she said. “Too early to tell.”

Mr. Walt dropped his chin to his chest. “Should we take him to Mobile?”

“It’s too risky right now,” she said. “I’ll keep an eye on him tonight but if we need to go tomorrow we’ll need to borrow Carlton’s Lincoln Continental. It’s the only car I know with air conditioning.”

“I’ll go see Carlton in a few minutes,” Mr. Walt said. “You think a good night’s sleep will help the boy?”

“Maybe, but we’re going to have to watch him all night. He could go into a coma if that oxygen doesn’t do the trick.”

“I can stay with him,” Mr. Walt said. “And I’m sure his mama will stay, too.”

“No,” Miss Kitty whispered kindly, “Honey, you go see Carlton then go home and get some rest. Doc and I will stay here with Trout.”

Mr. Walt was seldom wrong, but in this case he’d misjudged Trout’s mother to a significant degree. The boys had been back for an hour before Mrs. Lottie Loxley burst in stone faced and angry. A look of disgust spread across her face as she stood over Trout.

“Well this beats all,” she finally said. “How long do you think he’ll be laid up?”

“It’s hard to say,” Doc Jordon said. “He might be feeling okay tomorrow or it might be a week or God only knows.”

“A week! It better not be a week. He’ll be so far behind on his chores he’ll never catch up. I never should have let him go shrimping. Well, I’ll come back in the morning to collect him.”

And just like that, she stormed off. Fortunately, Trout was too groggy to understand what was going on. But Danny and Will, and the rest of the folks at Doc Jordon’s place, didn’t breathe until she disappeared down the driveway.

“Poor Trout,” Danny said. “He might be better off staying hurt for a while. If he wakes up too soon, she might just work him to death.”

“Yeah,” Will said. “It’s like Mr. Walt said, she must have ice water running through her veins.”

As Lottie Loxley strode down the tree-lined dirt road, hidden by the darkness of night, tears streamed silently down her cheeks. With her head bowed and her hands clinched tightly, she prayed that God would protect her baby boy.

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