Three Moments Pt. 2
Three moments that has happened to me over the course of my life. Three moments I will never forget. Three moments that changed me. Three moments that, until now, I haven’t shared. Three moments that I wish I could understand.
Brush with Lightning.
My mother was out of cigarettes again. She didn’t have a car and if my brother or me was around, that meant that one of us would be sent to the store. This was back when we lived in the row homes in Brooklyn Park MD. Not quite the projects, but close enough. I’m not sure exactly how old I was at the time, probably 14, maybe 15, but way to young to purchase cigarettes.
You would think most people would question a kid purchasing a pack of smokes, maybe ask for an ID? The only id I had back then was a library card. It was never a problem though, since the age of 6 my mother would have me buy the cigarettes for her. She would send me with a cursive written note explaining who they were for. It worked when I was 6 and it worked at the Lucky’s convenience store that my mother was asking me to go to that day.
I would pass the task to my younger brother Clinton if he was around. Lucky for him he wasn’t. I rarely complained about making the short trip to the store. It was a few blocks up the road and only took a few minutes on my bike. On top of that, I thought I was slick, I would keep the change and tell my mother there was none. She would bitch about it of course, by then, it would have been spent.
On this day however I was complaining my ass off. It was mid-afternoon in the summer but the sky was black. Most times when it was going to rain the kids that lived around the neighborhood would go out and play in it. We didn’t have much else to do. This time there wasn’t going to be anyone out playing. In fact, hardly anyone would be out at all. It wasn’t a light shower coming, but a full blown thunderstorm.
You know when your watching T.V. and they come up with a special announcement about a bad storm. They cut to the meteorologist, who points out the bright red spots of the worst parts which are coming your way? Yeah this was that kind of storm. Not a hurricane, but bad enough. My mother sending me to the store while a storm was coming in seemed perfectly normal to me, it wasn’t until I had a kid of my own that I realized how messed up that was.
There was no way to get out of going to the store. Based on my mothers logic, it wasn’t raining yet, so if i “Hurried my ass up”, I would be fine. I cursed at her, grabbed the five dollar bill and the ‘Sell shit to my kid’ note, and headed out the back door.
I owned a pretty nice bike that had been recently stolen, of course It wasn’t mine to begin with anyhow, I had just taken it from someone else’s yard. I was left with a rusted piece of junk until I could find someone else’s nice bike to steal again. (That’s just how it worked.) But I was having a bad day, the junker bike had a flat tire or it might have been missing a wheel. I thought I might be able to explain to my mother that the bike was broke. I didn’t bother, knowing it would have been futile. Fuck it, I thought. I ran.
Back then, I was Speedy Gonzalez fast. You had to be, how else can you avoid capture by the Anne Arundel county cops when you’re out causing some chaos and mayhem? if you couldn’t duck and run you would end up at the station for your parent to come get you. It wouldn’t be fun. I don’t know that first hand though, like I said, I was pretty fast back then.
So I ran and made it to luckys, grabbed the smokes, tossed in a snickers for my trouble, paid the clerk and went for the door. That’s when the storm hit. And it hit hard, I mean really hard. “Fuckin’ mom, and her fuckin’ cigarettes,” I said so everyone in the store heard me. I stood in the doorway watching the downpour, shaking my head. I was kinda hoping one of the people would offer me a ride, I had a better chance winning the lotto than someone doing a stranger a favor. We weren’t a very tight nit, help out someone in need, community.
I knew the rain wasn’t going to let up. What’s a little stinging rain in the face, right? I took off out the door. I was already breathing heavily from my run up but I knew I could make it back with out too much trouble. I made it across the parking lot, and down the main street, keeping a steady pace. Pissed off at being soaked, I ran faster, deciding that I would rather be inside sooner rather than later.
I was running at top speed, the rain stung my face, and I was still cursing my mom for having me out in that storm. Then, for no reason at all, I stopped running. I didn’t slow down and walk and then stop. No, I was running and came to a dead stop.
Just as I stopped, a bolt of lightning stuck inches in front of me. Instinctively I jumped back, nearly falling over. The sound of the thunder was louder than you could imagine. To my right I heard a car skid to a halt, I looked over, a man was rapidly winding down his window.
“Are you O.k.!”
I didn’t answer. I just stood there staring at him, cold and dripping, and hyper-ventilating. I may have even been crying too, not that you could tell in that storm anyhow. He screamed again, “Hey, are you all right.” Finally I nodded my head, he wound his window up and drove away.
Lightning stuck again, this time down the road a block or two. I didn’t move. I just stood where I was breathing heavy, shaking. I just wanted to be home in my room, underneath my blankets, but I had to make it there first. The odds of nearly being stuck by lightning twice in a row, in the same storm, is probably astronomical, but I was sure that once I moved, I would be hit and instantly killed. I closed my eyes, and took a step forward. Still Alive, I opened my eyes, then I bolted the rest of the way home.
I walked in the front door. “What took so long?” She said. Never mind the fact that I was drenched, and visibly very close to looking hysterical. She took the bag from me and left the room. Thanks Mom. I went down the basement stairs and got out of my wet cloths. I jumped on the top bunk of Clinton’s and I’s beds. I coved up and watched the storm through the small window, and eventually fell asleep.
For weeks after that, I wouldn’t be outside when it looked like it might rain.
Although it was a close call, that isn’t the reason why this event in my life is special. I remember back to that day, and how I was running, stopped suddenly, lightning stuck, and I was fine. Had I not stopped, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been stuck. No matter how hard I try to remember, or imagine up a reason for me stopping, I can’t.
It might have just been some crazy coincidence and pure luck, other times, I think think that there was someone looking out for me that day. who knows? I’m just glad I’m still around to tell you this.
Dream that Wasn’t .
Age 20. Coming soon