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Image by B.S. Wise
At 19, The Film Student Has A Near-Death Experience
A true-to-life parable by B.S. Wise
This night, more than two decades ago, RRR*rrrr*rriding my little scooter on the rain-slicked streets of Eagle Rock, California, heading to the college library to watch mad bloodied Viet Nam war documentaries and work more on the my surreal Tarkofskian-Jodorowskyish-Lynchian sci-fi war screenplay/poem/book/reve, it had begun to rain harder, and, huddled in my scarf and jeans jacket, full and downhill speed ahead, I plunged helmetless through a dark intersection lit only by a swaying green light and a streetlamp sputtering like spark-wood
Brakes locked, I skidded instantly into the oncoming metal of a Vintage Dodge 1972 Station Wagon, and my left leg crumpled against the sharp wing of it, shattering my femur into bone shards sent screaming through the flesh of my inner-thigh. While my scooter quickly disappeared under the car.
I had left gravity…
tumbling through the air, with a fire in the mind.
An odd sensation, for I thought I ‘d reached the ground safely and was rolling, rolling somehow protecting my head, but no, catapulting in a great whiz-whirling somersault through the air…
*BAM!* I hit the light pole and crumpled to the street onto my broken leg, which, now unsupported by the femur, snapped at the tibia and fibula into two clean breaks. The leg disappeared under me, broken backwards at the thigh.
Well, I thought I’d lost it, gone was my leg.
I began screaming: "OH MY GOD!! MY LEGGGGGG!!! OH MY GOD MY LEG!! OH MY GOD MY LEG!!! YOU TORE OFF MY LEEEEEEEGG!!!"
And yelling, "YOU COME BACK HERE!!! OH MY GOD MY LEG!!!" at the driver, himself in severe duress, slowly dragging my bike under his car, which scraped and scratched at the street as he slowly drove in a wide bewildered circle.
This man, so like God in the shape and movement of this story, turned out to be an 82-year-old grandfather who rarely drove, his eye-sight failing, but had taken the old boat out just that night to fetch some medicine from the pharmacy for his poor bed-ridden wife.
(O, who knows where even our best intentions will lead us.)
In unending fire of pain, I managed to lift this non-leg out from under me, and saw it there to be all higgely-piggely and zig-zaggedy and just a completely sad and utterly f*cked-up looking leg.
Soaked in rain imagined to be blood, I had a delusion of my foot falling off and my life’s water draining away into the gutter and coursing on into the boundless sea….
But then I realized that it was just my shoe that had fallen off from the end of this infernal pain machine leg, and I sunk back towards the curb, adrenalin rush waxing into shock and madness, to experience a rapid-fire series of very lucid and empirically rationalizing epiphanies:
Thinking back to my screenplay, I became excited that I was actually experiencing a small taste of what a soldier whose leg has just been blown off from a land-mine might be feeling and that this was "great stuff" for the writing and film and well because of this event and possibly having to live my life with one leg I would never be called to service should there be a draft in coming wars and any way this isn’t even half as bad as that and wasn’t all that a jolly good relief and living with one leg or in a wheelchair is so much better than being dead and wow despite my lack of helmet and the simple common sense to wear one I had managed to not to hit my head so thank the Earth Mother and Great Omnisexual Oneness of The Universe for that.
At that moment, I was lifted up and held there by the Living Embodiment of Good Will and angelic potential in all human beings… the local high school football coach, who had just been walking by when the accident happened.
"Lean on me son," he said with a kind, strong, deep voice tenured from years of comforting injuries on the playing field. As I did, a great golden light emanated from his strong coach’s arms, illuminating, calming, and warming us like a crackling campfire…
A strange curtain of onlookers with blackened eyes had gathered around us swaying gently, mouths agape, as if submerged zombies lit by a flickering TV set.
This static zombie curtain was then parted by a Biker, who, at first, appeared to me a dark angel come clad in leather to claim my soul for Satan’s domain. Revealed to be also an Agent of Good Will, hell-bent and free, he started screaming at me:
"OH MAN! OH MAN! OH MAN! The same thing happened to ME! MAN! I was ridin’ along, saw the whole thing, MAN! and *SccrrreeecCHCH* Bam! SAME THING! "
(Now, some of you may recognize these lines and this scenario as being very similar to a throwaway scene in David Lynch’s "Wild At Heart." However, I submit to you that the events depicted in this tale of casual vehicular mayhem actually preceded that movie by a few years; so you tell me where the idea comes from? Some would say the collective subconscious, where people do pop up like ideas… I do. Or, maybe it’s just a common thing to say to crash victims.)
But I digress, the Biker then incredulously pulled down his pants to show me his numerous scars:
"Check it out, Man! I got metal here! Here! Here! They’re gonna put you back together and you’re gonna be riding along in no time, Man!! Hey! I gotta go! My bike’s parked on the side!"
Then, pants up, he shook my hand, "YOU TAKE CARE BRO!" and was away as Time Itself.
I then knew that…
faraway, so close… angels and zombies do live among us.