It is funny how karma sometimes comes around to bite us when we are in the wrong … or even just too judgmental for our own good. As much as I hate to admit it, there are times when I have been judgmental, and it seems that virtually every time, something will come back around and slap me upside the head to remind me why this is a bad idea. Sometimes however, that slap in the head is a bit more immediate … and obvious … and detrimental.
Such was the case on one occasion when my brother took me to introduce me to some people who had just recently moved into our neck of the woods. While they were from West By God Virginia, they were not from around there, and we knew it would be difficult for them to make friends at first … because … well that is just the way it is where we grew up.
Have you ever heard of anyone being just so butt-ugly that they could knock a buzzard off a shit-pole? I am not talking about someone just falling off the ugly tree and rubbing off each and every branch on the way down … I am talking about someone who had apparently been shat out upon that tree and hatched by the sun! Now I fully admit to being judgmental in this case … and having paid an awful price for it … but to say these people fit those definitions and worse would still be a gross understatement … in every sense of the word(s).
Nonetheless, my brother introduced them as friends, so I figured that they had already earned his respect, and much as I wanted to say something, I held my tongue. We had some of the home made hootch from the fellow (pronounced feller in the local vernacular) who owned the local bar, and it was passable good in taste and impact, so I held my tongue.
Now I am the first to admit that virtually everyone has some redeeming qualities, and for this family, it may very well have been their ability to set a fine table. In short, they were incredibly good cooks and the meal that they laid out was nothing less than spectacular. Suffice it to say that after such an incredible culinary treat and a couple of drinks from the earthenware jug we had, I was feeling downright sociable in nature.
Their furniture was more than just uncomfortable too. I note this simply because it was in my nature to sit and relax anytime I was forced to make an actual effort at being sociable … as I am not an overly sociable character by nature. Still, I could appreciate the work that had gone in to building their furniture. For every piece of furniture in their house that I had seen, had been hand made from the local hardwood. Like us, they were not rich financially, but they did not really worry about such matters and, again just like us, tended to do the best that they could with what they had.
There were a few pillows spread about the room, but I was … hesitant to fetch one up and sit on it, not knowing if anyone would be sleeping on it that night. Thus it was that I came to seek out an opportunity to get up out of the most uncomfortable chair I had been sitting in since leaving the table.
The kids, I still have to say, were every bit as ugly as the loins that had conceived them. I just cannot think of any nice way of putting it. Their heads were overly large and mis-shapen, and they were just … ugly … in virtually every sense of the words … but at the end of the day, they had no say in that and they were still just kids … and they were playing all over what looked like a very well kept hardwood floor … that I correctly surmised would leave me with substantially less splinters than the chair I had been sitting in. Noting as I had, that the kids had come out riding one each on a shoulder of their dad,
I figured that they would be really familiar with piggy-back rides, so I got down on all fours and proceeded to start taking them on piggy back rides around the hardwood floor. From time to time I would take a break to have a sip of the whiskey we had, or engage in a particularly relevant conversation, but by and large I spent most of my time just playing with their kids on the floor … until the strangest thing happened to me … and karma is indeed a bitch … and a spiteful one at that.
I woke up in the car of my brother. Since I was in the car, I figured I was close to some place, but how close to where I did not know. I was barefoot and wearing nothing but my jeans and a t-shirt. As there had been a large, roaring fire in the house, that had not been a problem there. Unfortunately, I was now in an unattended vehicle with no keys, and no way to keep warm inside it. It was not really in the middle of a blizzard, though it was indeed a fierce snowstorm blowing outside.
If you held your hand out at a full distance from your face, you would literally lose sight of your hand. Since I was still rather well oiled on the inside, I knew the chances of my blood freezing up were pretty thin … no pun intended, but the thinner the blood, the longer it takes to freeze up, at least when it is good hootch thinning it out to begin with. However, the rest of my situation looked pretty grim. If somehow or another we had made it to our cabin, I had probably two miles to walk in a blizzard, with no guidance. If we were at home, I merely had a small creek and a few hundred meters of blind trekking through the snow.
I walked out in each direction roughly ten feet or so … maybe four good steps out, but my footprints had already disappeared by that last step so I figured venturing out too far would probably be fatal … and that just did not seem like a good way to go, so I did what my dad taught me to do so many years ago. I sat quietly, and listened.
It came faint at first, buried deep within the wind and the sound of the snow falling through the trees, but I could have sworn that I caught a glimmer of a noise straight out from the passenger side of the car. I trained and strained my ears in that direction and after a little bit longer, swore I heard yet another shadow of sound. After a few of these, I decided that I was indeed not hallucinating, and it may well merit a short journey out in that direction to see where the noise had come from.
I supposed that if I quick stepped and dragged my feet through the snow, the tracks should be deep enough to double or maybe even triple the distance I could cover before losing my own tracks back to the car. At the very least, there should be enough of the residual track leftover to point me in the right direction. The idea of dying in the car was most unappealing, but not nearly so bad as the idea of having my body found only ten or fifteen feet from the car … that those who had not been there would have presumed would have saved my life.
It took a while to build up my courage and I dug through the ash tray looking for enough of the remnants of a Pall Mall to carry me through my journey in case I did not make it back … but that was all in vain as I did not even have a lighter in my pockets … everything had been left in my jacket … which was nowhere to be found … presumably lost with my shoes.
Finally deciding that it was indeed do or die time, I shuffled quickly as I could in the direction of the noise I was certain that I had heard … only to run slap dab into the side of the very same house we had been at earlier when I was still capable of cognitive thought processing and before I had lost any idea of time, space or reality in any fashion.
I had no clue where the door was, so I just beat mercilessly on the side of the house and hollered out at anyone who would listen … until finally a distant light shimmered slightly as someone opened the door ever so slightly to the storm. I made a dive for that door and set out direct for the fireplace which still had the decent remnants of a fire. They made a big fuss about my return at the time, that I honestly did not fully understand … at least until someone filled me in on just what had happened.
It seems kind of funny, but at that time, despite all of the fights I had been in growing up, I had never once been knocked out. I had fought countless battles on behalf of my brother, and I do confess that one or two people (in cooperation with a couple of their friends … all at the same time, after they had gone outside and practiced getting knocked down) may have gotten the better of me on one or two occasions, but I had never been knocked out in my life … until that night … by a five year old boy.
It would seem at least, from what I have been told, that a small boy had figured it was his turn to get a piggy back ride and had sought only to unseat his sister from that post. Unfortunately, to accomplish this, he had set out at a dead run across the room and taken flight to be certain that his contact with her would unseat her from my back … except that he really was not that coordinated … and it would seem as if his flight skills were a bit lacking.
Instead of hitting his sister, he had sandwiched my head between his flying mass and a home made hardwood chair … with really sharp angles, large amounts of splinters … and some very hard wood. Apparently the hit had been sufficient enough to leave me quite literally twitching on the ground. My brother, who by all rights, should have known better, apparently believed I was dead so leaving me in the car would keep me fresh until he could take my body home the next morning. I still owe him a payback for that one!