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A Bolt from the Blue

by James S baker

I have a memory of what could easily have been my premature death, had things only gone a little differently…

One day, while playing in the front yard of our house, I hit upon the splendid notion that it would be very interesting to see how far it was possible to run with my eyes closed. This was at around the age that “running” was a new and wonderful super power that had only been recently discovered (between two and three years old, I’m thinking). I wanted to see what the new limits were, you understand. Realising immediately that our garden was not big enough to do the experiment justice, I went out the front gate and, closing my eyes, ran as fast as I could down the pavement that paralleled our street. Thankfully, rather than running out into the road and being hit by a passing car, I instead ran full tilt into a concrete telegraph pole, copping a fearsome smack to the forehead from a big rusty metal bolt that was embedded in its surface.

Immediately, blood sprayed out of the gash in my head, while maniacal screams poured out of the quivering hole under my nose. A house painter, working across the street, had the good fortune to witness this spectacle in its entirety as he sat on a scaffold eating a sandwich and having his cup of tea.

It amuses me now to wonder what this man made of the sight of a small boy coming out of his house for the express purpose of running headlong into a telegraph pole and almost knocking himself unconscious. In any case, it was this kindly man who picked me up (still screaming blue murder) and carried me home from my experiment, drenched in my own gore and humiliation.

It was precisely at the moment of bloody impact that I had realised that running with my eyes closed was a supremely stupid idea. Oh, if only that epiphany could have struck me before the telegraph pole…

This was driven home to me in our kitchen, as I was obliged to listen to the kindly housepainter explain to Mum in great detail what he had just seen me do to myself. While Mum cleaned my blood away they both asked me, over and over again, just what the bloody hell had I been playing at? I never told them. The blow to the head had knocked enough sense into me that day to realise that it was better not to let on what my original goal had been…

I have the scar, physical not emotional (or maybe it’s both, come to think of it) from that episode to this very day. It’s right in the centre of my forehead, where the third eye would be if I were more enlightened.


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