You’ve got me there, Bob (see previous post); but as I’ve been saying more and more frequently lately, it seems to be the names that go first. That means I’ve got a lot of nameless faces floating around in my head these days, but I’ve learned to cherish the memories, with or without the names. I do remember that face vividly, though, and also remember his parents – and that ’50 Chevy – very well.
I also recall spending an afternoon fishing with him from a rowboat out on the still, cold waters of Brant Lake in the Adirondacks. He was a true character, full of piss and vinegar; and unless my mind is telling tall tales on his behalf, I believe he landed what looked to be a pretty good-sized smallmouth bass that day. Of course, I was far more excited about it than he was; perhaps it looked much smaller to him?
I have a much clearer memory, though, of the dart sticking out of the back of my hand at the Delaware Tavern than I do of the legendary “turkey” moment, for understandable reasons. Not only did it dampen my love for the world of darts (a tough blow for one raised in bars), but to this day I have mixed feelings about the memory itself.
It seems that initially the crowd of revelers greeted my childish mistake – foolishly reaching for darts on the board while someone sober enough to stand but too drunk to see, was about to launch his shoulder-fired missile – with a roar of laughter. Time and the blessed imagination of the Irish, however, have given me a better ending.
As I stood there staring at my impaled hand – Christ-like, virtually nailed to the board – I calmly reached up and drew out the offending projectile, jammed it into the bullseye, and walked slowly back to my seat, droplets of blood tracing my footsteps to the table.
The silence in the room was palpable; but its vacuum was suddenly replaced by a deafening roar of cheering, clapping and the stamping of feet, quickly erasing any vestiges of shame left in my heart. Clutching my bloodied hand with the other, and lifting my head to the onlooking crowd, I whispered hoarsely, ‘Don’t worry, my friends; it’s only a flesh wound.’
How do you remember it? Did I leave anything out?
Author’s note, added the following day: I was lying in bed last night, about to drift off to dreamland, when suddenly the ceiling above my bed opened up to reveal a vast midnight sky filled to overflowing with glittering stars. From deep within a bank of silvery clouds came a voice, saying “Bobby! Bobby! Bobby Van Buren!” Then I fell into a deep and restful sleep until the room was once again full of sunlight. Morpheus always seems to do his best work in that twilight zone between wakefulness and the semicoma of deep sleep.