Saturday, August 27, 2011

Even Numbers

Twelfth Night canceled the rest of its run. One of its cast members was killed.

Henry phoned with the news. His cast mate Danny was driving in a storm. Had little road experience. Lost control and crashed. Dead at 17.

Henry was somber but stoic. He's never known someone who's died. And this kid was only two years older. He asked about how I've handled death.

Death's been around since my sister died in 1963. My best friend was killed by a drunk teen driver. Another friend was killed by a kid fucking around with a loaded handgun. My stepbrother's wife was murdered while pumping gas. There are the older relatives, of course. Grandparents. My Uncle Don. O'Donoghue's death stung me. Live and watch them peel away.

He asked about near-death experiences. I've only had one. Maybe one and a half. The semi-truck that nearly ripped me in two counts, I guess.

Henry was referring to the shotgun story. I was 20. At a wild party. A drunk acquaintance pulled me in his bedroom to see his new 12 gauge. He loaded it, laughing. Pointed it at my head. Said he was gonna kill me. Laughed some more. "Watch where you're waving that thing," I said.

I pushed the barrel aside. The gun fired. My left ear fuzzed out. I dropped to the floor. Bedroom window shattered. Neighbors yelled. Guys from the front room rushed in. One with a .38 drawn. I touched my face. Still intact. Intense ringing in my ear. The guy rolled on his bed. Rebel yelled. Smiled.

Henry laughs when I share this. Wonders why I hung out with such people. It was a long time ago, I say. Some of them went to prison. One guy I knew back then died about a year ago. Drug deal argument. Shotgun blast to his chest. I wasn't as friendly with him. He had cold crazy eyes. When told of his death, it made sense. Certain fates are inescapable.

Henry's youth isn't as chaotic as mine. I've helped ensure that. He'll face the harshness of life with better balance. Or so I hope.

Henry attended a memorial service last night with his mother. Nan explains further.