“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