The note was another apology and a phone number with a plea to let him know how Marley was doing. He didn’t want to leave, Brad wrote, but he thought I might feel better if he was gone. Much later that night, he returned to the E.R. with food for me and my husband, but we had gone home. When I spoke with Brad the next morning, the conversation was the same; him apologizing and insisting it was all his fault, me saying it’s okay and insisting the fault was mine.
I know how unusual this eagerness to accept blame is because I do the news. Each week, we have a story on some new lawsuit. A woman from Knoxville filing a $125,000 suit over a too-hot pickle in her McDonald’s hamburger; a New York City woman asking for $50 million from the company that makes the snack Pirate’s Booty, claiming emotional distress because eating the popcorn had added a little too much to her booty. Firefighter Tennie Pierce winning a $2.7 million settlement from the city of L.A. because his colleagues fed him spaghetti laced with dog food as a joke. I’ve done dozens of stories on the Swedish businessman who crashed his $1 million Ferrari and then told police “Dieter did it.” I’ve done dozens more on parents who beat their children to death and then insist they were just patting them on the head. So perhaps I can be forgiven for admitting that once or twice my evil alter ego kicked me in the shins and whispered, “Why is he being so nice?”
The answer is, because Brad is nice. And decent.
On the morning of day two, Marley’s condition was still critical. But that evening, I got a call from the hospital. Marley’s internal bleeding had slowed. The ultrasound showed no swelling or fluid buildup. Marley was alert, weakly thumping her tail and eating! She would live.
A day later, Marley was stable enough for four hours of surgery to cobble her broken bones back together. The doctor had to break her perfectly good leg to get to the injured area, because the alternative of cutting through muscle and tendon would leave her lame forever. He used a hammer and drill to fix three separate breaks, and then closed Marley up with 28 metal staples.
The little Christmas miracle came home just five days after 4,000 pounds of steel thunked over her 65-pound body. For the holidays, she got six new screws, three metal pins, several lengths of wire loop-de-looped around her hip and a glob of bone glue holding her butt together. Brad and I got globs of guilt, but we also both got the gift of a new friend.
Brad said he wanted to be responsible not only for the surgery bill, but for the costs of any long-term problems that might result from the accident. I decided the guy was an angel, or crazy, or both. We had several more discussions, and still disagreed on who was more to blame. The only thing we could agree on was that Marley was the no-fault victim. So we compromised and split the bill.