Let me repeat the title for you: My brother was hit by a train. A train.
It happened Sunday night while he was handling sound for a film shoot at a railyard (he’s an audio engineer). Apparently he didn’t hear the approaching locomotive, which was sounding its whistle, because he was wearing headphones. The train hit him in the face. In the face.
My brother is the toughest man I’ve ever known. He’s always been a fighter, from the schoolyards of our childhood — when he would protect me, nearly three years older — to the mixed martial arts tournaments he fights in now. He is a large, powerful man with biceps the size of Christmas turkeys and a chest that looks like the front of a Mack truck. And he has a big, hard head.
That head has a crack in it now. He sustained a pretty nasty basal skull fracture. Stitches line his right cheek. His eye looks like a purple baseball. The whole right side of his shaved head is swollen; he bears a pretty strong resemblance to Sloth from the Goonies.
But he’s okay. He fought the train and won. Coming out of sedation tonight, he was fairly lucid, able to talk and move around. The nurse said he broke no other bones, his neck and back are fine, and none of his tattoos were scraped off. He’ll be able to get out of bed in the morning, and he’ll be home by the end of the week. This is pretty amazing, considering he was hit by a train.
We didn’t find out about the accident right away. For whatever reason, his roommate, whom I hadn’t met until tonight, refused to tell the police how to contact us. A pretty amazing police detective tracked us down — and also my brother’s ex-wife, who remains one of his closest friends — almost 24 hours after the accident. My mother and I fired up the minivan and burned the 90 minutes to the hospital, and found my brother in the ICU. He was lying there asleep, his head-to-toe tattoos vivid against the white sheets, his head looking like a basketball with a face. After a moment, he opened his one good eye, took us in, and his fingers fluttered against my hand. His left eyebrow arched a bit. And I knew he was okay.
While my mother gave the roommate a quiet lesson in how not to piss us off any further, I held my baby brother’s hand and remembered all the times he’s cheated death. After a while, he opened his eye again and murmured that he wanted to get the hell out of there. “You’re staying put, you indestructible motherfucker,” I said. The eyebrow arched again. He slept.
I’m home again now, able to rest knowing he’s going to be okay. And he’ll probably start calling himself Trainwreck in the ring. Because he’ll be fighting, playing guitar, singing and rockin’ before we know it.