“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
Megan is strong. Megan is a determined leader and intelligent without realizing; cultured, open minded, diverse in beliefs, worldly and experienced with travel and yet questions her self assurance because she is humble. I try my best to point at her history of success. This was no accident, she created each fragment of her ‘now.’ At 18 she left home and started her journey along with her career. She put herself through college, while working, and has lived on different continents. She’s lived in Mississippi, our beloved Maine, Rhode Island, and even North Dakota to name a few. Yet she holds her tongue when meeting new faces for fear she may not have something of value to say. I tell her I like to hear her sing.
Megan is beautiful. She is caring and vibrant. Megan is what this world needs.
Megan found me. On our first date I purposefully put my worst foot forward. It was while we sat over a drink that I told her my family had broken when I was three and that there was much mental illness running through my family tree. I told her that I don’t smile. And that I don’t know if I believe in love and that it’s a theory people hold onto. I told her of my violent past and that I had spent time in jail and that I know anger and hate well. I told her that I don’t believe in marriage. I looked at her fingers and studied her rings.
Without judgment Megan asked if I’d like to extend the evening and go to a movie. I remember it well. She wore her hair up and her brilliant blue eyes eased me. She was beautiful and I had long ago turned my ‘hope’ off. I knew she was firmly planted and that I could explode and ruin anything I cared for in an instant. So, I saw her as a strong, beautiful, women whom I mind as well already let go.
After the movie we walked to the parking lot. I hugged Megan and I picked her feet off the ground and swung them gently.
It’s challenging for me to write this. For me, to write is to feel. It took me years to mouth the words I love you. She would tell me she loved me and I would hug her. Then she’d ask if I’d like to go to a movie. My childhood taught me, talk is cheap. It wasn’t that I didn’t love Megan, I wanted to show her. And I was so damned bad at figuring out how to un-clutter my scars to show her properly that I nearly ruined everything. So when I say Megan saved me, that Megan is the reason I write, I mean exactly that. There is no agenda, no hidden metaphor that needs to be written.
I scratch my head and wonder why Megan wants to be with a Scottish (heritage) lad who enjoys beer with friends. I thank her strength and her ability to let one human be whom they were intended to be.
I told Megan I don’t smile. It seems ever since she came into my life, all I do is smile. Megan, you are helping me to become the man I was always trying to achieve to be. When I sat down with your father and mother at their kitchen table and told them my plans to propose, I experienced one of the greatest joys I know. Honesty. Then, your father and I went north to fly fish, and I explored woods and lakes and mud as though I were in the ravine.
Broken, violent, angry, spiraling. And you said yes? And my heart is full. How am I the one to receive the one and a million reaction? Is this me? It is me and it is you. I have so much to say, so much to write, and I have you to thank. Your determination saved me. As a boy I had an ideal firmly locked within the walls on my mind. The ideal was what I felt a man should be. I will fill that ideal. I love you- Sincerely, the blue eyed boy with the broken token.
March 14, 2015-
With ferocity, I’ll be there. There is no walking away.
“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.