Freudian Slips: Brush with Death

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

September 04, 2005

Brush with Death

“Buckle up. Buckle up for safety.”
-1970’s commercial jingle for car safety
The click of my seatbelt prompts me to think about Sugar Bear.
The summer months of my undergraduate college years were spent painting school buildings. As a summer hire, I worked on a four man painting crew making a lackluster dollar above the $3.85 minimum wage. I was on a work detail with Sugar Bear, a blond haired mountainous man who owned more than an ounce of rebellion in him.
Aboard a gas guzzler of a flatbed truck, the driver turned on one of the most winding tree-lined roads in Gloucester County, aptly nicknamed Snake Road. The cab was filled with the driver and the troublemaker of our motley crew. Passengers often stood hanging on to the wooden side rails as the truck lumbered along. Sugar Bear and I were no smarter than the average bear.
So we stood tall in the back of the flatbed. The invigorating wind blew in our faces and cooled off our sun drenched bodies. We laughed to the sound of youth squeezing life by the balls. With the Friday work day almost over, the upcoming weekend inflated our mood. We could lay down our brushes and paint the town red. Life was grand.
Sugar Bear bobbed and weaved his man-child body to duck under the tree branches from the overgrown canopy. All of his attention seemed focused on the trees above. We were rolling along at 40 mph when a pothole swallowed the truck’s right front end. The truck inadvertently shifted tossing our bodies in the loose flatbed. I grabbed and hung unto the left wood rail for dear life. I heard wood snapping and breaking away behind me. I turned back to check on Sugar Bear but he was no longer a passenger. Bouncing along the road were overturned paint cans, the right wood rail, and Sugar Bear. I watched the tail end of Sugar Bear’s twisted body roll to a merciful stop. Even stuntman Evil Knievel would have called this a bad landing.
I pounded on the cab while screaming at the top of my lungs for the driver to stop the truck. He did. As we dashed back to Sugar Bear, the spilled paint provided a polychrome splatter pattern. Dirt and gravel collected in Sugar Bear’s bloody cuts. He barely hung onto consciousness. Sugar Bear did not try and talk but he laid strewn out in a silent prone. The strangest expression in all of tragedy, he exuded a Cool Hand Luke like smile. We held vigil until a summoned ambulance whisked him to a hospital.
I paw for the reassurance of my seatbelt. Life is a bunch of snapshots in the mind. I never saw Sugar Bear again.



Blogger Zelda Parker said...

Are you Harry Houdini?

9:03 AM  
Blogger eatmisery said...

I totally agree with you about life being a series of snapshots. I couldn't have said it better.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

One can never tell from moment to moment what will happen next. The snippets are very much like photographs.


1:55 PM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

Wow Joe, that was a real visual! Tragedy often strikes this way, leaving us to wonder if we really witnessed anything or if it was all a bad dream. Surreal to say the least.

8:49 PM  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

Sugar Bear... wasn't he on a cereal box at some point? Strange how two people (uh, one person, one bear...) can be at the same place at the same time and one can walk away unscathed.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

Egad. It's ever amazing to be in a situation where you think to yourself "there but by the grace of God go I"

To whatever made you take to the left rail of that truck, rather than the right, I raise my teacup.

Excellent imagery here, Joe.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

The expression paint the town reds has personal meaning for me.

i guess death is like running out of film.

i thought working for near minimum wage was painful enough.

i bearly escaped injury.

painting schools is not my personal choice to end this life.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

Hellooooo... Just stopping by to say "hope everything's okay." It's been a few days and that's not usually like you. Stay well and hurry back!

6:48 AM  
Anonymous et said...

Good writing! Yes, you were free as a breeze then!

12:24 PM  

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