“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” E. Hemingway, The Garden of Eden.
Written by M. Taggart 3/27/15
Nonfiction: A short story concerning a car, a baseball bat, and a bridge. Two names have been changed.
Copyright 2015, Matt Taggart, aka M. Taggart
It was late. I was driving home. While stopped at a stop sign, Chad and Tim, flagged me down. “We’re having a bit of trouble downtown. There’s a group of guys that gave us a hard time as we drove by.” said Chad.
“How many of them?”
“It’s hard to say. Maybe six, seven.” said Chad.
“What do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know. Just figured you’d want to know. You’re going that way. Maybe drive behind us and see if they’re still there.”
I was seventeen. “Sure, this isn’t my thing, but I’ll go on down and see.”
I put my Chevy in gear and listened to the V-8 rumble. The street lights lit the s-curve best they could and we entered the downtown section of Turners Falls. Rows of housing lined the blocks. Some of the homes were three story brick buildings with dark porches. We took a right off of 3rd street and then a left where they had last seen the group. There wasn’t anyone in sight and we drove directly into Avenue A. Chad crossed Avenue A and parked in an empty parking lot. I parked next to him and rolled my window down.
“I don’t see them anymore. I guess it was nothing.” said Chad. Chad’s friend nodded his head in agreement.
“What were they doing?” I asked.
Chad’s friend leaned from his seat toward me so I could hear, “They were yelling something at us when we drove by them and it looked like one of them had a bat.”
“It was hard to tell though.” said Chad.
We decided to move on. It was nearing midnight. Chad drove his car out of the parking lot and back onto Avenue A. I lagged behind him, pulling slowly from the parking lot and into the street. Six or seven young men lined the road in front of me. They had cut between Chad’s vehicle and mine. I rolled my window up and drove slowly towards the advancing line. In the middle stood a tall young man, walking with confidence; he held a baseball bat in his right hand.
It happened quickly. They converged on my vehicle. I tried driving between them, trying to not run any of them over. I’d rather a fair fight. I’d rather get out of my car. Instead, the young man pulled his arms back in a baseball swing and I stepped on the peddle. The engine roared. I saw the swing in slow motion coming nearer. I ducked as the bat slammed into my driver’s side window. The bat swung through and over my head as glass rained down. I kept the peddle down and felt the car sliding sideways. I counter steered into the street as I picked my head back up and found myself sideways in Avenue A and caught a glimpse of someone standing on the opposite side of the street; a police officer.
I didn’t let up. I straightened my Chevy out and had a full on adrenaline rush. I should have stopped, but my mind was focused on anger and speed. In a blink, I went from sliding sideways on Avenue A to driving on the large bridge that crossed the Connecticut River. I drove as fast as I could across the bridge, through the lights and into the corner gas station parking lot. I got out of my car, shook my head to rid the glass out of my hair, and spit glass out of my mouth.
Chad came to a screeching halt. “What the hell happened?”
“Fucking guy took a swing with his bat at me.” I continued to shake the glass from my body.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going back.”
“I don’t think you should; maybe just go home. Or, go to the police.”
“Nope. Now it’s my thing. I’m going back.” I got back into my car, slammed on the gas, and drove back and over the bridge and into Turners Falls. I parked my car where I’d seen the police officer. I stood listening for movement or laughter. I walked to the entrance of a few side streets and nothing.
I was furious. Yet, I decided to do something I’d never done. I was going to ask for assistance. I drove a few hundred yards to the police department. I walked inside, still with glass particles all over me. The girl at the window told me to wait and got a police officer. I told the officer exactly what happened. I walked him to my vehicle where he shinned his mag light on my driver’s side door and inspected the inside of my car.
“Listen, you’ll never find out who it is. I’d just let it go. You’ll never find him. This type of thing happens.”
I felt the fimiliar feeling in my gut. “That’s fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Warn me of what?”
“I only came in here because I saw an officer when this happened. I figured he’d seen. If he says he didn’t see anything, that’s fine, I’ll do it my way. I’ll find him and I’ll handle it how I want to handle it.”
I was seventeen. And I did find Sean.
If you google map Turners Falls, MA you’ll easily find Avenue A and the bridge.
It’s a dreary day in New England. I’m winding down my work day and wanted to share an inspiring poem written by one of the best.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sing the tune without the words-
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard-
And sore must be the storm-
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm-
I’ve heard it in the chillest land-
And on the strangest Sea-
Yet, never in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of Me.
Final Harvest. Emily Dickinson 63, (254)
I recently read a very powerful blog post. This post brought many mixed emotions. I was back. I felt the anger that I so often leaned on. This anger freed me. This anger spread and fueled my existence. I’ve felt hate. Not the hate confused people feel that’s connected to skin color, or a bad opinions. That isn’t hate. That’s brain washed self involved nothing. Hate leaves a scar so deep it’s only filled with tissue that grows. It’s not forgotten, it’s hidden until it’s needed. This hate comes from a trauma caused to you by others. This is not a hate that can be washed off or cleansed through speaking. I turned toward violence as a blanket for comfort. There is truth in violence. There’s no hidden agenda in blood being spilled when I was the one who spilled it. I still look back and wonder how so many stood watching and were hidden from allowing themselves to truly see. How is this possible.
Now. I’ve come through. I’m here and I’ll stay here. I only wish I could give so many others what I have found.
I’m trying to organize my blog a bit. I’ve put this ‘post’ into my ‘Odd Walking Thoughts’ category. You might find something of interest.
Have a good Wednesday,
C’mon- let’s walk crazy away. -M. Taggart
“Be careful, he said to himself, it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.” – Hemingway, The Garden of Eden.
Hemingway. This author is my favorite author. This book was published after his death. I read this and thought, yet again he was ahead of his time, and still teaching.
For me, to write is to feel. I’m not afraid of my limitations. I’ll build a bridge. -M. Taggart
Written by -M. Taggart
Short Story. Non Fiction.
A Winter Crust
It was cold. The snow was deep and had a crust covered top. If I wanted, I could stand on the top layer because I was small and light. I was eight years old. We stood on the side of the road, waiting for our school bus. I waited with my older brother. Sometimes, we’d stomp through the crust and make foot paths. Creating paths a few feet wide and ten feet in any direction was an activity we enjoyed. If we had time we’d make a path to the ravine.
The ravine was deep and very steep. In many places it was well over one hundred feet to the bottom where the brook was. We constantly played in the ravine during the spring, summer, and fall. The winter weather made it treacherous to reach the bottom.
I wore a winter coat, hat, gloves, and boots. My brother, Chris, wore nearly the same outfit. Our jeans were caked with snow. We’d be wet once we were on the bus and the snow melted. We didn’t mind. During spring melt, we’d crack through ice, and wade waist deep in an ice water gully which was located in a piece of farmland next to our house. We’d slosh around and wave at the people driving in cars when they slowed down to get a better look at us. We’d go home soaked and try to hide our clothes from our mother.
The bus wasn’t within ear shot yet. We’d stomped a foot path to the very edge of the ravine. “Do you think the bus will be here soon?” I asked.
“It will be here. It always is.” My brother replied. We were under strict orders to always get on the bus and to always go to school. Skipping school wasn’t an option.
I, standing in our self made foot path, wanted to get an even closer glimpse to look over edge. I stepped up and onto the crusty snow. I slid my boots carefully over the surface and peered down into our heaven. “I can’t wait until all of this melts and we can watch the spring run off come rushing through. The brook is huge then.”
“I know it! Remember when there was so much water that it was dangerous to be near because it was running too fast?”
“I remember,” I said while trying to look back at my older brother. I lost my footing and fell onto my side. I started to slide down the ravine. Feeling a flash of fear I reached out with both hands, desperately trying to grasp anything that I could. I picked up speed and found myself sliding on my stomach. I felt a small tree that had somehow peeked through the crusted snow and held on as tightly as I could with my right hand. Looking up the ravine’s banking at my brother, I croaked “I need some help.”
The small tree snapped in two. Once again sliding, and picking up speed, my body crashed into an oak tree which spun me around and I disappeared out of view. “Matt!” I heard Chris yelling after me. It was too late. I was on top of the crusted snow and sliding down the ever steepening banking. I continued to reach for trees, low hanging branches, vines, anything at all.
I felt my body life into the air, I had come to a large lip in the banking, just above the brook and slammed through the ice and into the water. For a moment I was completely submerged and could taste the cold brook water. Luckily, the water wasn’t over my head. I found my footing and stood. Chris was yelling something to me from up above. I was trying to shout back that I was OK and to wait for me. I wasn’t shivering but I was wet and cold. I now needed to get out of the brook and find a way back up the steep ravine wall. I needed to go to school.
I heard Chris yelling something from above and I could hear the school bus engine and the sound of the door opening. “Wait for me! Wait for me!” I was trying to stomp a foot hold in the snow.
The bus pulled away. Chris had done as he was told and gone to school. I was frustrated and angry and wet and alone. I kicked and punched into the snow to gain footholds and grip and after some time found myself again at the top of the ravine. I didn’t feel the cold. I didn’t care that I was wet. I knew I had to go into my house, pick up the phone, and dial the number that would lead to my undoing. I had to tell on myself to my mother.
To this day my brother and I have a running joke concerning his abandonment of his little brother. I’ll say something like, “Yea, just like the time you left me at the bottom of that ravine in the winter!” And he’ll counter while smirking, “I did what I was told. I got on that bus and I went to school.” Which is funny because Chris is very successful and works in education. This takes place in the mid 80’s and near the VT and NH line.
It’s been said Shakespeare has written it all.
I’m reading Hemingway.
“and what will you drink when the wine won’t cover for you?” Hemingway
And there are so many restaurants on so many corners in each of our lives. -M. Taggart
The Garden of Eden.