True-Life Tales

                                                       … A Cut Above
By Jeff Salter 

            The crashing blow to my face stunned me and I staggered.  The perpetrator was nearly seven feet tall, strong as oak, probably three feet wide … and every bit of 200 pounds.
            I held my head and tried to shake out the cobwebs.  I didn’t even know I was bleeding until Sandra Bullock peered into my face and handed me a tissue.
            It wasn’t like it seems in the movies.  I found myself wondering, “What would Harrison Ford do?”
            The Choir’s musical is beautiful and the sanctuary is packed.  Afterwards, I wend my way back toward the choir area to meet my wife.  About 99% of the audience presses toward exits in the opposite direction.  Finally, I break free into the network of administrative hallways, which are practically abandoned by that time.  Not sure where I’ll find Denise, I look to my left (toward the Children’s Wing) then turn back to my right toward the choir area.
            That’s when I’m cold-cocked, right smack dab in the middle of my face!  I stagger backwards, not completely sure who/what hit me.  Reflex closes your eyes in such cases … and I guess mine are still closed.  I can hear voices, but my brain is quite scrambled.  I’m what you call ‘stunned.’
            Someone apologizes profusely.  My only certainties:  pain in my face and head.  But somehow my own prognosis is optimistic:  “It’s okay,” I tell the apologist.  My brain formulates two expressions:  “Give me a minute to let my head clear,” and “Just let me lean against the wall — I don’t think I can walk yet.”  Unfortunately, not much comes out but a few mumbled words … perhaps short phrases.  Someone hands me a tissue, but I don’t really know what to do with it.
            Somebody else inquires, “Are you okay?” I open my eyes cautiously; it’s Sandra Bullock peering into my face!  No, wait.  She looks somewhat like Sandra B. … only prettier.  Is this a minor delusion?  To Sandra’s question about my condition, my reply is less assured than before:  “I dunno.”
            I guess I imagined I’d be eloquent and witty in such circumstances.  Nope.  Well, maybe I could at least appear lucid.  Not completely.  Conscious?  Well … yes.  I’m kind of slumped against the wall, still holding my face / head, trying to inventory my faculties.  I hear people talking about the blood that’s pooling above my eye.
            Blood?  My brain starts to register a more complete picture.  I’m cut!  My forehead has a gash … of indeterminate size.  Sandra hurries my use of the tissue … before blood splatters my suede jacket.  I remove my glasses – amazed that they’re not broken – and press the tissue to my forehead.  Yep, that’s blood all right.  Sandra says I’ll probably need stitches.  Stitches?  How bad is this gash?  From the attention it’s attracted, I assume ‘pretty bad’.
            I mumble something about taking a look in that window, just about 20 feet away.  I stagger over and peer into the glass but can’t see much more than a blurry outline.
            Just then appears my own son, out of nowhere.  Now, this is the same Dave who cannot be reached even when you page him, beep him, leave messages at his apartment and workplace … and start calling his friends!  Yet, now he appears out of nowhere … just when I really need someone to lean on.  Go figure.  I ask him to steer me to the restroom so I can look in a mirror; I can’t navigate very well on my own because my glasses are off and my ‘good’ (right) eye is covered.
            Dave gets me to the restroom mirror and I survey my gash:  at least 1.5 millimeters long!  It’s not so deep that my brains can seep out, but it’s bleeding a good bit.  I apply paper towels dampened with cool water – to ‘clean’ it a bit – and otherwise keep light pressure on the wound.
            About that time I hear Denise’s voice.  In the men’s room?  I wonder.  No, she must be outside in the hall.  I’m still basically ‘blind’ without my glasses … and only my ‘bad’ (left) eye functional.  But I make my way to her and she surveys the wound.  She doesn’t have many questions; in fact, she seems to know more about the incident than I do.  One of the witnesses had hurried to find Denise right after my collision.  Lauren had seen everything as it happened.  As she put it, “I could see it unfolding, like it was slow-motion … but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”
            This is how it unfolded:  That main hallway has many doors along its expanse.  Most of them properly open INto the rooms they define; several have glass windows so people can see out and in.  But this particular door – about seven feet high and three feet wide – opens OUT into the hallway.  Nope; no window.  Just 200 pounds (or more) of solid oak!
            A teen-aged girl exited the media department’s control room at the precise instant I strode down the nearly empty hall … with my head turning from left (rear) to right (forward).  The inside edge of the heavy door smashed into my face (or vice-versa), striking my right brow.  The girl apologized, brought tissues, etc.  The lady I’d identified as Bullock was actually Ann M.; she truly does resemble Sandra … only prettier.  Ann is a nurse, which explains why she peered into my face and suggested I’d need stitches.
            Right now the task is to stop the bleeding and get me home.  Question:  Am I too woozy to drive?  Not sure yet.
            Dave has reappeared with a steri-strip (butterfly band-aid) and some ointment; the three of us seek a suitable place to deal with this.  No chair here, no light there; finally Dave finds an un-locked office.  I’m seated; Denise mops the blood and squishes ointment into the crevasse.  Suddenly from my right (presently my blind side) comes a woman’s voice.  She’s complimenting Dave profusely.  I readily agree that we’re very proud of him also, but I wonder how she knows so much about him.  She goes on and on:  wishes her son would grow up to be like Dave, etc.
            Finally I inquire, “In what context do you know Dave?”  Dave teaches her son’s Sunday School class, it seems.  Just as Denise is readying the steri-strip, there’s a comment that elicits the question, “Are you a nurse?”  As a matter of fact, she is (though not the same nurse as in the hallway).  So Denise hands over the band-aid, which the new nurse applies firmly to my wound.
            I mainly listen to their additional back and forth.  Slowly getting my brains back in their usual mooring, I stand gingerly.  There are more introductions and a teen-aged girl appears in this tiny office.  Suddenly the girl chirps, “He’s the man I hit with the door!”  And she launches into more apologies.
            I say it wasn’t her fault and reassure her that I’m not mad at her (though I don’t care much for the 200-pound door!).  The girl gives her own perspective of the incident.  The new nurse slowly processes this new information:  her daughter bloodied the face of her son’s teacher’s father.  [Think about it.]  Truly a remarkable coincidence – if you believe in such – that this lady would be drawn to this tiny office to tend the wound of a stranger.  Go figure.
            Nurse Ann (a.k.a. Sandra B.) also appears near that tiny office at some point to inquire again about my wound.
            These events seem to have taken an hour or more; in reality the whole thing occupies probably about 20 minutes.  During this time, I distinctly recall several specific thoughts:
            1.  It’s a lot funnier when Chevy Chase smashes into a door.
            2.  Holding on to the bloody tissues makes the wound seem more impressive.
            3.  This will probably make a cool scar … and chicks are intrigued by scars. 

            Ten years ago, on my 51st birthday … the gash on my forehead garnered considerably more attention than I did, in my own right. 

            Denise “ran into” the nurse/mom seven days after the incident.  In their brief chat she asked how my cut was healing, how I was doing, etc.  Denise reported my ankle-twisting incident of the previous day (while helping a friend load a truck).  The nurse said, “Maybe your husband needs a full-time nurse!”
            The nurse said her daughter felt really bad about her involvement (opening the door) in the mishap.  Meanwhile, her son (at various intervals), has seen fit to razz his big sister, along these lines:  “I still can’t believe you beat-up my teacher’s Dad!”

               Have you ever had a real-life event that you wouldn’t believe if you read it in a novel?

About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Eleven completed novels. "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- scheduled for April 2015 -- Dingbat Publishing. "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- scheduled for June 2015 -- TouchPoint Press. "The Duchess of Earl" -- scheduled for 2015 -- Dingbat Publishing. "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 -- Astraea Press. "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 -- screwball comedy -- Dingbat Publishing. "Hid Wounded Reb" -- part of the Somerset Series -- Aug. 2014 -- Astraea Press. "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- screwball comedy -- Dec. 2013 -- Dingbat Publishing. "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 -- Astraea Press "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" (comedic romance) -- Oct. 2012 -- Astraea Press. "The Overnighter's Secrets" (romantic suspense) -- May 2012 -- Astraea Press. Two novellas published so far (both by Astraea Press): "Don't Bet On It" -- April 2014 "Echo Taps" -- June 2013 Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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31 Responses to True-Life Tales

  1. Tonya Kappes says:

    Hahahhaa! I’m so sorry, but I’m laughing:)) I really did think this was a story and when I realized it was a door and that it was true, I busted out laughing. Jeff, you are too funny!!!! My novel, Carpe Bead ’em, is chalked full of true stories.

  2. Lsprout says:

    Oh My Gosh Jeff like Tonya I thought this was a story (fiction). You really need to get those seven completed novels out there. I for one am ready to read them. I love your blogs.

  3. sandra tilley says:

    Yep, sometimes real life is stranger than fiction. And I agree with the previous post. You need to get your novels out there!

  4. Chris Bailey says:

    Real life is often too bizarre and coincidental to pass for well-motivated character action. I recall my poetry writing instructor saying something like, “‘Because that’s the way it really happened’ is the weakest excuse for writing it that way.”

    • jeff salter says:

      Oooh. That’s a terrific quote, Chris.
      Related to that is the matter of HOW to re-tell a true story. If I had begun with sitting in the sanctuary and listening to the choir special, the reader would’ve shut down within 10 seconds. So I had to begin in the middle and then explain how I got there.
      And it really was my birthday!

  5. Lois Grant says:

    Your writing is wonderful! i was right there with you the whole time, plus i did not believe it was fiction, but something that actually happened. I have had a couple of things happen to me that my friends are still laughing about to this day. One was the day that i took my dog’s heartworm pill accidentally and the other was when a friend and I were accidentally locked into the grounds of the Vicksburg Old Courthouse Museum. The ground are shaped like a wedding cake with the last layer being 6 to 8 feet high. A couple of deputies had to get a ladder to rescue us.

  6. So many things have happened with or around me, no one believes I come from this planet, Jeff; you wouldn’t believe how often they do. I have been told that I HAVE to write the story of my wedding, if nothing else, but I will give you this one.
    When I was in 7th grade, my locker was next to a fellow’s who had been in and out of classes with me since 1st grade. Once,he opened his locker all the way, blocking mine and was bent down furriously going through a mess on the floor looking for his work that was due.We were all running late, and I begged him to just let me reach into my neat-as-a-pin locker to grab the I needed book for our next class.He gave me a hard time and somehow, as he spun around, his belt or something hit the knee of my fishnet stocking and ripped the right one totally. I had to go to class, beg my teacher to let me be late , go to the girls’ room and remove both stockings. All I can say is, despite a few questioning looks, a sqeaky-clean reputation back in 1967 was still worth something!

  7. Laurie Ryan says:

    Yowser! That was some incident. lol I agree with Lavada. You need to get your stories out there. You have a fresh perspective that will take you far, Jeff. And…I’m glad the cut healed. Any scar?

    • jeff7salter says:

      There was a tiny scar for a few months, but not enough to garner any significant sympathy.
      Thanks for the compliment, Laurie.

  8. jbrayweber says:

    Great story, Jeff. And funny. :-)
    Yes, I have had many, many occurrences in my life that are too wild and wacky to be true. I could entertain you (or make you cringe) for hours. Oddly, most of these incidences happened between my teen years and mid twenties. Hmmm…. But even now, I manage to get into pickles.


    • jeff7salter says:

      I think when we find outselves in a pickle … it gives us lots to write about!
      By the way, great pix on the MuseTracks this week.

      • jbrayweber says:

        Someday, if we ever meet in person, we’ll have a wonderful time swapping stories, I’m sure.

        Yeah, the MuseTracks Hump Day pic was a great find. ;-)

      • jeff7salter says:

        If we ever meet in person, I’m sure it’ll be a network interview for some book awards. It’ll be billed as “the pirate lady and the hound”

  9. Micki Gibson says:

    All I could think was OW OW OW OW OW! You know, Sandra B. sort of has a way of appearing after people have gotten knocked out. I adored her in “While You Were Sleeping.” Wait, were you the inspiration for it? ;-)

    • jeff7salter says:

      Hmm. I saw that film. My incident occurred in Dec. 2001. When did her movie appear? LOL. This nurse friend of my wife’s really is quite pretty. And I truly did think she resembled Sandra B.

  10. Every day, Jeff, Every day. I have some wild stuff happen in my line of work that is beyond the pale. all the time!

  11. Oh, several stories, many stories rolled into the wedding , Jeff…that wil have to wait…oh, I did not say how funny and fun all of this has been today!
    [Fishnet had just come into vogue…no ‘hot’ connotations yet, just darned “IN”, curtesy of my older sister!]

  12. I too have a crush on Sandra Bullock. Who doesn’t???

    • jeff7salter says:

      I’ve enjoyed most of her movies, incl. when she was an undercover cop in a beauty pageant. But some I didn’t like, including the one where she forces her subordinate to marry her so she won’t be deported.

  13. Great story, Jeff! And it’s true: Chicks dig scars. Ok, here’s a story for you, and I swear it’s all true.
    I did my junior year of college abroad in Italy, motivated by the fact that I fell in love with an Italian when I was 16. Anyway, one night when we were together, he borrowed a Ferrari from a friend of his and proceeded to drive over 100 mph to show off (or scare the crap outta me — not sure which). Suddenly, crossing the highway was a dog that he proceeded to hit, because he couldn’t slow down. I was horrified and kept screaming, “Stop!” and he finally stopped all right. Into a cement something on the side of the road. We crashed so hard, the entire front end was smashed up, and he had to call a friend to come pick us up. To this day, I’m surprised I’m not dead. I only came away with scratches and bruises, but I was shaking from the fear and soooo mad at him that he had killed a dog. Ahhh, crazy young love…

    • jeff7salter says:

      I would have been terrified also, Tiffany. Yeah — very sad about the innocent dog, but delighted to have miraculously survived the crash myself.
      I’m betting the friend who owned the Ferrari didn’t stay friends with the guy who wrecked it. Showing off in a vehicle is SOOOO dangerous.

  14. Janette Harjo says:

    I too am prone to things just “happening” to me in my life. Like the time I locked myself out of an unlocked car . . . But I immediately related to you in your Sandra B story! I knew it was a door you had hit as you told your story bc the same almost exact thing happened to me in about the same year (2001) too!
    Except the culprit in my case was an automatic door that walked into me (or I walked into)! It occurred on campus during my college career while I walked to class. I’m sure my conscious thoughts were quite similar to yours right after it happened. But I had it enough together to go to my counselor after I saw my bloodied eye in a bathroom mirror. I really felt like a dolt for allowing it to happen!
    Different than you, I was AFRAID it would cause a scar! (Women are NOT as into scars on themselves as men are.) I was AFRAID I would need stitches, but my counselor doctored it himself and told me that I would not need stitches and that it would probably not leave a visible scar. It didn’t. :)) The cut was in my eyebrow.

    • jeff7salter says:

      Janette, we are members of that elite few — those attacked by doors! If we can find a few more cases, I’m sure we can mount a class-action suit. Could be worth millions. Think of all the pain and suffering we’ve endured. Ha.

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