Hey All, There were days past that I knew at the the end of the day that the only reason I was still in one piece was due to my guardian angel............working overtime.
In was Sunday, winter and I was in the 9th Grade at Keith Valley Middle School. Joe and Mom went to early Mass while Tom and I were still asleep. We would later ride our bikes to St. John Bosco Church for the 5 o'clock Mass, which we did on many times in the past. Tom and I had a friend, Jeff, and he and I were spending the afternoon shooting my air rifle at the creek behind his house on Blair Mill Road. Joe had decided to follow along when he saw me walk out the door with the rifle. I couldn't stop him, although I didn't invite him either. I was a cloudy, cold and overcast that day. We had a pretty good time all in all and Joe was actually well behaved as compared to what I was accustomed to. It was time for us to get going home because I had to leave enough time to get cleaned up and get to Mass. We were walking in the field across from Home Road, when Jeff wanted to take one more shot. At first I balked at the idea, but as he talked to Joe I relented and loaded the rifle at maximum capacity due to the distance from the creek.. Jeff turned to me and I gave him the go ahead as I handed him the rifle. He was smiling when he lifted the rifle and at 12 inches from my face pulled the trigger and fired. I had only had time to yell"It's load...." before I was hit in the mouth. The bullet hit a tooth in my left front of my mouth and and then two next to it.......... leaving a graze mark across my left cheek. The first tooth cracked and other two were knocked loose with a lot of blood. Jeff didn't say a word, he just looked at me, put the rifle on the ground and walked away towards home. I lay there a few minutes.......in shock I guess. Joe took the rifle and when I got myself together we walked home. Joe wanted to know what I was going to tell the folks. Dad was on the road and I feared he would kick my ass for fooling around with a gun or not let me hunt. After some thought, I decided that If fell on a rock crossing the creek, that could explain my injury..........so that was story that stood for years for the folks, although Tom and Joe knew the truth.
We got home and I told Mom the story that I had come up with and she accepted it without comment and then reminded me not to be late for Mass. I looked up at the sky and told Mom that was going to snow, to which she told me no excuses, I was going to church. Tom and I got cleaned up and road our bicycles out County Line Road to Church. It was dark when we came out of Church and the snow was coming down so hard that visibility was only a short distance...........there was already a couple of inches on the ground. I followed behind Tom as we road home, with our heads down, trying to see through the snow. As we approached Jacksonville Road in front Fischer&Porter the light there turned red. Tom had stopped already as he had a good lead on me. As I looked down, I saw a bumper and the fender of a car. The tire wasn't turning, the brakes locked, sliding into me due to the snow on the road.. It kept pace with me as I had to slow down for the red light. I had the curb next to me, the car on my left and red light coming up with cross traffic going the other way. As the car reached my bike, I jumped as hard as I could and hit the top of the chain link fence along the parking lot of F&P. I bounced and hit the ground as the car had stopped after going over my bike. The driver had gotten out to check on me and by this time Tom saw the car over the curb, with me on the ground. Tom came back as the driver was checking on me and said "I saw the whole thing. If you give me 20 bucks, I won't say anything". Well, the driver just stared at him and didn't give Tom any money. He just drove away and left us standing there when he realized I wasn't injured. I had to drag my bike home from there and Tom just coasted along to stay with me. Mom was pacing around the street light at the bottom of Norwyn Road, in the falling snow, when we got there. She was angry and wanted to know why were so late. I explained to her the details and she thought I was lying. I showed her my bike and asked if it looked like I was lying. All she could say was "Oh my God". Then I said, "See, I told you it was going to snow". Maybe I should have been a weatherman.
I think back and wonder how I am still alive. The gun that shot me is the same one I shot Tom with in the story "John Wayne". Any lower and the bullet would have gone in the back of my throat.......a little higher and it would have gone through my cheek to the back of my head. Either way, I may have been killed.....I got off easy. Jeff never checked to see if I was okay, so I went to Jeff's house after a week and knocked on the door. He answered and I explained that I was okay and I knew this was an accident.............that there were no hard feelings. Regardless, that was the end of our friendship. I guess he couldn't get past what had happened, as he avoided Tom and I from that point forward.
I eventually stopped riding bicycles.......it wasn't a healthy mode of transportation for me. Yeah......more stories. No one needs to tell me the odds of surviving two such accidents in one day. There is no doubt in my mind that I was protected by the invisble hand of God that day. No one's that unlucky and lives to tell about it without divine intervention. I would come to wonder why I was permitted to live..........especially after I became older and more of my life unfolded. Enough for today.
Until next time.............................God Bless.