Buford Went to China

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Buford was a big man, at least 300 pounds, with a heart of silver if not of gold. No one messed with Buford. He had a limp and for years he had used a cane too short. Neighbors feared some day he might fall and sure enough one day he did fall in his backyard. He was going out to his dump truck. The only good thing that came out of that fall is that I got a chance to talk to an ambulance driver in Beijing, China. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When Buford fell, he disappeared and left a massive hole in his wake. Dirt rose like a volcano eruption for minutes after he was gone. I lived across the street from Buford so I climbed over his fence to see if I could help in any way. I knew I would not be able to pull him out of the hole by myself. It would take a crane, I figured, to get him back on solid ground.

But when I looked down the hole, I could see nothing but darkness so I went home and got a flashlight and then went back. Now I was able to see far down, apparently miles and miles away, and I saw a group of Chinese emergency medical technicians working feverishly to revive Buford. But he didn’t move. He was lying on his stomach and looked a little like a whale (of the beached variety).

The EMTs were short in stature but obviously industrious, caring people who may never have seen anyone as big as Buford, never mind trying to revive or treat someone that size. They looked like ants trying to get an angle on a giant carcass. They kept prodding and moving around him in a circle but he still didn’t move. They took turns yelling to him in Chinese but even if he could have heard them, Buford didn’t speak a word of Chinese. He was a deaf mute and used only American Sign Language, which only one of his neighbors understood. She was deaf too but spoke very well.

Finally I yelled to the workers and asked if Buford was alive. One of the EMTs looked up and said something in Chinese but I don’t speak Chinese and I don’t know American Sign Language either. I could see they had brought a crane to the scene and were using it to attach leather straps all over Buford’s body. It appeared they were planning to drag him away since they may not have had an ambulance big enough to accommodate him.

The last thing I saw down the hole was the disappearance of Buford’s feet. The rest of him had been dragged out of the frame, so to speak. He had one shoe on and the other was gone. No socks. Buford only wore socks in the winter and this was fall, not cold enough for socks in our country.

I hollered down the hole one more time, and the last EMT visible to me hollered something back but again it was in Chinese. After that I saw nothing except what looked like a crater dent in a paved parking lot where Buford had apparently landed. Even with all that momentum behind him, Buford had not crashed through the pavement. Going back home I realized that if he had fallen through the parking lot, and then through the Chinese ground beneath it, he would probably be floating like a zeppelin somewhere in space. If he were still alive, I figured he was much better off having to learn Chinese Sign Language than knocking over stars and planets.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -