“That’s gangrene,” I said.
“No, it’s not going green yet,” he said. “It’s brown now. Was red. White before that.”
“Yes, and soon it will be a greenish-black.”
“But not yet.”
“You need to have that debrided.”
“Well,” he said, “that was the cause of the problem right there. They were de-brided.”
“The Green gang,” he said. “I had a crush on the girl. She had a crush on me, though she was engaged to one of the Green boys. She broke it off.” He held up his ring finger. “They crushed it. Nearly broke it off.”
“And the lack of blood flow is causing the tissue to die,” I said. “It’s rotting on the spot. If you develop gas gangrene you’re in for a lot of trouble.”
“Not a gas gang,” he said. “A cigarette gang. But I’ve already found the trouble.”
His finger looked like it hurt pretty badly. But the nerve endings were already dead. “Clostridia bacteria,” I said. “They’re anaerobic. Deprive tissue of oxygen and they can move in, multiply, secrete poison. You can tell them because of the gas bubbles they produce.”
But he was lost in his own gas bubble. “A gangly guy, Green,” he said. “Green with envy. And angry. Angry cranky gangly Green’s gang, grinning as I groaned. Where’s my ring gone?” He turned the finger one way and the other.
I didn’t know what to say. “Gangrene doesn’t have any relation to green,” I mumbled. “It comes from Latin gangrena, from a very similar Greek word. It may or may not be related to canker and cancer.”
He looked up. He seemed to have regained his ingrained rigour. “She reneged and they were wronged. And I am grievously injured.”
“Are you going?” I said.
“To the hospital?” he said. “I agree. Green light. Let’s get going.”
We started to go. “And the girl?” I said.
He just looked at his finger. “Gone to green. Ain’t got no doggone ring.” He looked up at me for a moment. “Ugly word, gangrene.”