Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Unauthorized Autobiography of Cornelius Scott, Installment Two (2)

Since I told you that “the second explosion happened…” I suppose I should tell you that the third explosion happened in such-and-such a way. Of course, I defy convention, since I never learned it very well, and instead I’m going to tell you about a summer trip I took with Jake and Emily.

When I was seven mom decided that it would be good for me and my twin younger siblings—my brother Jake and sister Emily—to spend some time with my aunt and uncle on their farm. Mom thought that the fresh air would do us much good. (This is fairly ridiculous, since Roseburg is hardly a big city, and in fact has very little pollution—or anything else—to make the air not fresh.)

The procedure was that we would drive halfway across the state, and so would they. On the side of the road in the middle of nowhere mom would hand over the goods, namely, me Jake and Emily, and then my aunt would return to the farm with her new hired hands. (Then again, hired probably isn’t the right word, since we didn’t get paid anything.) After that we would live normal farmers’ lives: doing chores, painting fences, pulling rye, pulling weeds, riding horses, breathing “fresh” air, and doing anything else imaginable to make the time tolerable.

The plan went off splendidly, almost without a hitch. Jake, Emily, and I loaded into the car with mom and drove across the state. Once there, our aunt helped move us into her giant truck, where our cousin Elizabeth was eagerly anticipating our company. We rode together, the five of us, the rest of the way across the state. When we arrived at the farm there was no lack of fresh air, and our two weeks there were filled with horse riding, rye pulling, fence painting, chore doing, and anything else we could think of to make the time tolerable.

This wouldn’t be a very interesting part of the story, my story, if it hadn’t been for that little hitch. As I said already, mom, Jake, Emily, and I drove across the state to meet my aunt. There were no problems on that trip: no giant pot-holes to blow tires out, no crazy drivers to push us off the road so we could plunge into the Umpqua River, no black ice in the mountains to surprise us and send the car careening into some tree trunk. And the drive the rest of the way also occurred without incident. (Well, there was one incident—I threw up, but I’ll get to that, and besides, kids throw up in cars from motion sickness all the time.) And as surprising as it may be, there were no accidents with horses or hay bales or pigs or goats or any other dangerous farm implements during our stay. My attempt to build suspense has no doubt left you a little restless, as I’m sure you’ve spotted the very moment that the hitch occurred, and have just been waiting for me to say so in order that you might feel smug. I hope that you do feel quite smug, because you were right all along: something happened between driving halfway across the state with mom and driving the other half with our aunt.

Once we reached the middle-of-nowhere spot on the side of the road, mom pulled over next to our aunt’s truck and the two of them began unloading us and our stuff. I was expected to help, since I was (and still, for that matter, am) the oldest. Since I was helping, I grabbed a favorite toy of mine to keep me company in the truck. As much as I enjoyed Jake and Emily and Elizabeth, their intellects weren’t quite enough to keep me entertained. I suppose this is as good a time as any to tell you how old they were, since I haven’t mentioned that yet. Jake and Emily were almost five, and Elizabeth had just turned five. This is the perfect age for an older brother or cousin to constantly entertain with his showmanship, as will be explained in a few short moments, but not for them to keep me entertained, hence my grabbing of the toy, which was a dart gun. It wasn’t the type with sharp darts, the kind some mean children shoot at neighborhood cats, or stereotypical warring tribes from Africa put poison on and use in battle. Instead it had suction darts.

Once we were all settled in the truck, mom and our aunt took a break to catch up leaning against mom’s car. For a while we just watched them, but after approximately five seconds this loses all appeal for anyone under the age of 83. As the three in the back were getting quite restless (as I’m sure you are too, once again, since I seem to be delaying the climax of this little vignette) I decided to entertain them myself. I pulled the dart gun out, and with a mind as clever as any entertainer—alive or dead—I invented a show for them. The show consisted of me shooting a dart into my own mouth. I did this by putting the dart in as normal, but then turning the tube around and sucking on it instead of blowing on it to shoot the dart out. The trick was that I didn’t just do this with my teeth together: that would have had no entertainment value. Instead, I used all the force I could muster with my mouth wide open on each self-inflicted shot, and then right at the last second I would jam my teeth together, effectively catching the suction dart before it lodged itself in my throat.

My entire audience found this incredibly amusing, especially my brother Jake, who nearly had his head cut off by his seat-belt strap at least three times. With each shot I would become more daring, tempting the shooter, who happened to be me, to hit his target. It finally happened after 11 or so shots. My teeth weren’t quick enough to close, and the dart slid between them and down my throat. There it lodged, never to release itself.

This last shot was more humorous than any I had previously attempted, and once again resulted in Jake’s near decapitation. Emily and Elizabeth also found my fake choking to be quite funny. Of course, I would have found fake choking funny too, but the real choking going on in my seat was anything but comical. After struggling for some time to dislodge the dart, I gave up and accepted my fate.

I died the exact moment I gave up. Of course that’s not true, but I thought I had died. There was a flash of blinding light and a huge crash from behind the truck. I thought they were the signs that I was entering the after-life, but they were really just signs that lightning had struck a telephone pole. Mom and our aunt were of course quite startled by the lightning, and rushed to the truck to make sure we were okay. To their shock, and also to their surprise, I wasn’t okay at all. They hadn’t expected to find a choking child in the front seat.

The Heimlich maneuver feels a lot differently than you’d think it does, but it works. Once the dart came shooting back out of my mouth—an event that once again landed Jake in convulsions of laughter—I could breath again. All that fresh air I breathed for the next two weeks couldn’t compare with the sweetness of that first breath. After that I was fine, other than the after-effects that produced the vomiting incident I’ve already told you about.

Once again an explosion tied mom and I together, but this time it didn’t save the lives of our whole family, just mine. There had only been a few clouds in the sky when mom and our aunt started talking. They didn’t notice—being outside—nor did we notice—being inside—the clouds multiplying and becoming much darker. Maybe they didn’t. We still aren’t sure, but mom and I do both remember the explosion when the lightning hit the telephone pole, and of course neither of us could forget the extremely lucky timing of that event. Once again I was saved by an explosion.

1 comment:

Krispin Mayfield said...

“All that fresh air I breathed for the next two weeks couldn’t compare with the sweetness of that first breath.”

Josh you make me want to curse. It’s just one example, and I know it was small and obvious, but referencing to the “fresh air,” that you now seem to have carefully planted earlier, without my knowing made me say “dang it, Josh.”

I’m really not sure how impressive it is, but it sure impresses me. No matter who you were, I’d read a whole book of this. Definitely. Give me more...and soon!