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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G.
Chapter 19 – “Cheating Death.”
Death has often come looking for me. The encephalitis. The emissions from the nuclear factory. The DDT. And there were a couple of spectacular automobile crashes.
But in addition, I’ve gone through a whole bunch of near-death experiences, including elementary school, Catholic school, middle school, and high school.
Cupid nearly did me in on at least three occasions, but more of that later.
And finally, the great American capitalistic system tried to extinguish my life. For me, this took place in ad agencies and public relations firms, and in the offices of their clients. How is that a life-threatening experience? Obviously, you have not worked in the American business world where one must spend countless soul-sucking seconds and minutes and days and weeks and months and years, all of which involved interacting with people who seem to actually enjoy conferences, meetings, assemblies, consultations, seminars, presentations, talks, colloquiums, etc. etc. etc.
Let’s just say that working in the business world introduces you to a form of death where the employees become part of a living Host that is being eaten from within. Again, more of that later.
Perhaps some of these tales will give you some insight in how to avoid my mistakes. Failing that, at least you’ll be able to laugh at how this skinny kid kept almost dying in a wide variety of ways. So now, allow me tell you about one of my encounters with doom, death and destruction. To do so, we must flashback to when I was shot with an arrow.
Arrowheads found in Africa are more than 25,000 years old. Okay, we’re not really flashing back quite that far. I’m just keeping this tale educational by pointing out that the discovery of those arrowheads show that archery has a rich place in history as one of the world’s earliest sports. Of course, back then, archery may not have been a sport so much as a way to get dinner.
And for all we know, keeping a bow and arrow close by also might have served the same function as the Remington 870 pump-action shotgun currently in my closet. Home defense isn’t too different from hut defense or cave defense, right?
But in this part of the story, I was still a boy of about twelve years old, dreaming of cars and guns and girls, although not necessarily in that order. David, a neighbor who was also twelve, was equally interested in cars and guns. It’s not that he wasn’t interested in girls; he just hadn’t had the introduction to them as I had with the school nurse. David didn’t know about that. I had learned not to tell anyone about those experiences because when I did, there was always some kid who would get jealous. Then, they’d tell their parents, after which all hell would break loose.
So, in our quest for temporary satisfaction, David and I would go through magazines featuring cars and weapons. Actually, he would go through the magazines featuring lovingly-photographed customized vehicles or weapons and I would look at the magazines that also had semi-clad ladies gazing languidly into the middle distance while very muscular guys were holding revolvers or rifles or bazookas or rocket launchers.
“Wow, look at this issue of Guns and Ammo!” David would say.
“Yeah, that’s cool,” I might say back, barely glancing in his direction.
“And look at this issue of Hot Rod!
“Hot rod, right,” I would mutter.
“And here’s a bitchin’ picture of the Beatnik Bandit by Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth!”
“Ya-huh,” I said back.
“It’s got a Fiberglas body and a 360-degree Plexiglas bubble top!”
“Top. Oh yeah,” I said.
“Hey, are you paying attention to any of this?”
“Hmm? Sure, sure. . . ” I said.
“What the heck are you looking at?”
“Ummmmm. . . ” I replied.
“I said, what are you reading?” he asked again, moving over to see.
“What? Oh, it’s True Detective Tales. Good short story.”
David peered over at the magazine in my hands. “Whoa,” he said. “Do your folks know you’re looking at that?”
In this case, the “that” was a rather gaudy four-color photo-illustration of two people in a wood-paneled room. The guy in the picture was Dirk Masterton, Private Eye. He was coldly fondling a German Luger. Of far greater interest was the gal in the picture, Kitty Dawn, who was half-sitting and half-lying on a couch with her hands tied behind her back. She had a gag in her mouth and was almost-but-not-quite wearing a bra, panties, garter belt, and stockings.
“Yeah, no. This belongs to my uncle,” I told him. “Actually, I kind of borrowed it. He’s got a lot of them.”
“Wow,” David said. Personally, I think he was starting to add girls to his list of likes. “Are there more pictures?”
“Yeah.” I flipped the pages. Oddly enough, the detectives constantly seemed to be holding large weapons and there always were scantily-clad and spectacularly-shaped young women in the room with them.
“Wow!” David said again. I had to agree with him. We stared in silent admiration for a moment. Then I flipped a page.
“Oh jeeze!” he said. And again, no argument from me. Pause for more appreciative glances. Then I flipped another page.
“Okay! Okay! Okay! Now THAT’S what I am talking ABOUT!” said David, probably a little louder than was necessary considering we were in the same room. But still, he did make an excellent point. We stared in wonder. Then I flipped another page.
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh,” he said. “But wait, how can she walk in those?”
True enough, the woman in the picture was wearing heels so high she would not have been able to walk even if she could have struggled out of the ropes that held her to the wall.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ll ask my uncle.”
“You can’t do that. You’ll get in trouble.”
“Oh, yeah. You’re probably right.”
Turned out, he wasn’t right. I was in my uncle’s room, which was right down the hall from mine. After I confessed to borrowing the magazine, my uncle thought it was funny that we were getting “hot ‘n’ bothered,” as he put it, by the “cheesecake dolls,” as he called them.
He checked the hallway to see that my mom and dad were not nearby, then he winked at me and let me have just the teeniest tiniest peek at a couple of the magazines he kept in a locked suitcase under his bed.
“What was that?” I said, my eyes staring hungrily at the now-closed magazine.
“You’ll find out in a couple more years,” he told me. And as usual, he was right.
But we’ve gotten away from our story.
As twelve-year-olds, David and I were constantly teased by images of all these things we could not possess. We couldn’t have cars. We couldn’t have girls. We weren’t supposed to have nude photos of girls. We couldn’t always count on meeting up with amatory school nurses. And we couldn’t have guns. Life was truly unfair to young boys.
Somewhere in the midst of our twelve-year-old sorrows, David became fixated on the idea that archery would be a good substitute for the Century Arms Semi-Automatic Rifle w/Wood Stock that he really wanted. Okay by me. Great to have a goal in life, even a short-term one.
We worked together to come up with some pleas and entreaties he could use on his parents in a full-fledged assault to convince them to get David a bow-and-arrow kit. Here are some of our stellar ideas:
“It’ll let me help keep squirrels off the roof.”
“It’ll let me be the entertainment at family gatherings and picnics.”
“It’ll let me patrol the neighborhood to keep burglars away.”
Not sure if any of those worked, or if he just wore down his parents with constant appeals, requests, petitions, supplications, etc., but he did get an archery kit, I think as part of an incentive to keep working toward his Bar Mitzvah.
Wait, working toward his what? “It’s a Jewish thing,” David told me when I asked. And it involved his learning that weird foreign language I had seen once before, so I felt very lucky I could fall back on my god-given right as an American WASP to not know anything except English. Just as an aside, I have to say, when you consider that whole cutting off part of the penis thing AND having to learn the foreign language, Jewish kids were having a worse time of it than I was.
I wasn’t aware of the exact moment David got his present because I had walked to the mall that afternoon. Once David received the bow-and-arrow kit, he had run over to my house to show me, but since I was out, he decided to play with his new gift on his own. Very sensible. Except for the next part.
David set up a target on the outside of his parent’s garage, which was the part of the house closest to the street. Then he attempted to score a bull’s-eye — or just hit the damn target — by standing on the other side of the street and shooting in between the cars that drove by.
Meanwhile, I’m minding my own business, just walking back from the mall, staying on the sidewalk. The sidewalk that passed in front of his house. By his garage. Between him and the target.
So, I’m a couple blocks away, engrossed in my thoughts of how I could get into my uncle’s locked suitcase. A car passed me. Then another. From behind me, a delivery van came rumbling up the street. It chugged slowly up to me, and then the cab rolled just slightly past me. I sped up to keep pace and pretended to be in a race with it. I stayed abreast of the truck’s cab all the way up to David’s house. At that point, I stopped and bent down to re-tie a shoelace. As the van lumbered away from me, it unblocked everything on the other side of the street.
I stood up and at that instant I noticed David across the street. “Cool,” I thought, “he got the bow-and-arrow he wanted.” But wait a second, he was kinda-sorta aiming it in my direction.
“Oh shit!” David said.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider that an arrow can travel a couple hundred feet per second and that David and I were really not too far apart. So what happened was this:
I spotted David The Archer.
He said “Oh — ”
I had a split-second of that 3D movie thrill feeling, y’know, where a projectile is coming right at you. And I flinched.
I felt something on my chin. It was hot, then cold, then stinging.
” — shit!” continued David.
“Crap!” I said. And sat down on the sidewalk for a moment.
David came running over to where I was sitting. “Are you okay?” he asked me.
“I don’t know.” I brought my hand up to my face. It felt sticky. I slowly brought my hand down and looked at it.
“Is that blood?” David asked.
I stared at the red fluid on my hand. Well, actually it was only a couple of specks. I stood up and turned toward him. “Does this look bad to you?” I asked him, holding my chin up.
He peered at me for a second and said, “Uh, no, not really.”
“Oh.” I raised my hand to my face again, gingerly feeling my terrifying, horrifying, gaping wound, probing it gently with my fingers. Then looked at my hand again. Apparently, the nick had already closed because there was no more blood. “Stopped bleeding,” I said. “I guess I’m all right.”
A car went by. A breeze ruffled the leaves on a nearby tree. We looked at each other.
“Hey,” he said, “uh, sorry.”
“Yeah,” I said back to him. “Me, too, I guess.”
We stood there for a long moment. A couple of cars went by. I looked at the quiver slung over his shoulder with the feathered ends of the arrows poking out. Then my eyes went to the shiny new bow that he was holding in both hands.
“Cool bow,” I told him.
“Can I try it?”
Until he ran out of arrows, we totally terrified the neighborhood. Somewhere under my beard is a scar so small you need a magnifying glass to fully appreciate it.
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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G, is Copr. © 2011-2012 by JSG, all rights reserved under U.S. and international copyright conventions. Commercial use in any form is forbidden without express written permission of the author. Originally published on eNewsChannels.com with permission. Credits: Book cover design: Phil Hatten; Author Photo: Phil Hatten.