The Day I Became Mortal Essay, Research Paper
The Day I Became Mortal
By Ray Kellam
I was truly beginning to enjoy the wonderful fruits of life. Sports were at a peak in my life. I loved my baseball and ice hockey. School was winding down to the point where everyone knows that junior year grades are the most important out of all of your four years, and I had to finish strong. Yet there was something about the changing of the seasons, perhaps the increasingly diminishing supply of threads that the girls were covering their bodies with was a tell tale sign that the green light was on. There was definitely something in the air that all high school students felt in the closing months of each year. More so was true for us immortals. You know, the guys who can’t be fazed by any sort of higher disciplinary level, who obey by no sort of law enforcement regulations, and who flat out just don’t give a damn about anything except getting out of the parking lot to proceed with the days leisure activities. The usual, call up a few numbers to see if we could go test drive some fast cars, play a few games of pool, locate an actual pool, figure out the teams for stickball. Basically nothing. This was a daily routine after school. When there wasn’t a baseball or hockey practice to go to, a job to slave at, or a girlfriend to nurture, we hadn’t a care for anything in the world. We were reckless. Did anything we wanted. I truly believed that we were immortal. In a way. A way that since nothing bad had ever happened to us, then nothing bad ever would happen to us; that the purpose of life was to wander a long, just barely get by, and have fun. Well, all of those thoughts came to a crashing halt one blazing hot Thursday afternoon. One Thursday afternoon that has been etched in my mind ever since the second it happened.
The sun was being especially cruel to the Earth that day. It had to be one hundred. Should it have been one hundred outside, the interior of the old, beat up Datsun with bald tires, a squeaky fan belt, holes in the passenger side floorboard and no air conditioning had to be one fifty. The dust factor only incinerated the fury of the heat, making it not only hot but stuffier than a small box filled with useless old X-mas mugs, long since forgotten in the corner of the basement. It was one of those days where there was an urgency to get off of the confines of the campus, for no particular good reason. So we did. It was Scott Dewalt, the guy who spoke softly but carried a gigantic stick and vast knowledge of just about anything. Trevor Shepard, (the owner of the vehicle.) an aspiring pipe dreamer with prominent visions of owning a cherry ‘66’ Chevelle SS, and living off the chicken scratchings of minimum wage work in lower class housing projects the rest of his life. And I, a striving sports follower who really just wanted to be somewhere other than wherever I actually was, at whatever particular point in time I happened to be at.
A fresh scent of nacho supremes and mexican pizzas was abundant in the car. As we returned from Taco Bell, the atmosphere was the usual. Laughter was plentiful, primarily from a stupid comment Trevor always seems to poke into every conversation about how he thinks that some girl, who none of the other fellas give a thought over, is all of a sudden some kind of goddess. And how we all must be crazy for not agreeing with his ridiculous notion. And Scott who only casts more belly aching laughter into my mouth by simply quietly twitching very abruptly while pasting the omnipotious ear to ear grin on his face, as he does consistently every time he is laughing as hard as possible. All of this good fun and laughter sort of eased up all of our nervous systems. For what was about to come.
We made a pit stop back into the parking lot to notify the other boys that the three of us were going to go to Scott’s house, located not very far from campus. I really should have had better judgement than to ever allow myself in the poor condition of the Datsun B210 in the first place. Not so much the state that the Datsun was in but the combination of the Datsun and the driver who was about as experienced at driving automobiles as I was at calculus. Trevor had his license for about two weeks at this point. As the car rolled forward, I could almost hear the repentant clinking of the roller coaster I was on, about to embark over the first spine tingling hump of the track. Of course I didn’t know it yet, though. The car stalled a jolting death. Trevor was not an experienced driver and an even less experienced stick driver. It took a couple of tries for the engine to turn over again. But it finally did. And we were off.
Exiting the parking lot was always a big deal at Menlo-Atherton High School. It was routine to spin the tires if you were cool. And if you weren’t really cool, it was customary for anyone to spin the tires if the car in front of you did so. So, naturally as the car full of hot dogs in front of us in the real nice ‘68’ Mustang spun the tires, Trevor was simply doing his duty as a high school male with a car. An excellent showing of raw recklessness and abuse of a quickly diminishing car was performed. We did a perfect fishtail and swung the vehicle back around into control. As pavement securely gripped the tires, a sigh of relief flustered throughout Scott and my own hearts. But Trevor wasn’t done yet. Trevor made a decision to make an immediate right after exiting the parking lot, onto a street that takes longer to get to Scott’s house, but is still clearly visible from the parking lot. The exhibition of speed was not over with. Just about the second the tires regained their composure on the road, Trevor stuck his foot into it and hit the corner with a vengence. Luckily for the three of us there was a lot of loose gravel on the beginning section of this road, causing us to lay the car out sideways across and into the other lane of Arlington. Trevor was still in somewhat control of the vehicle until his mexican pizza began to slide along the dashboard, hurdling toward his open window. I saw pure panic brought forth in Trevor’s face as the last quadrant of his lunch flashed before his very eyes. The wheel was abandoned and Trevor made a gallant stab at the precious food. The daring rescue was a complete success. The pizza was safe and sound. A little shook up from the viciously primitive grab Trevor made, but all the same it was OK. Meanwhile, the car, now completely out of control, made our hearts arise from their solitude of slumber, to encounter the merciful sensation of adrenaline. Scott, in life saving like fashion, grabbed the steering wheel from the passenger’s seat and slung it hard to the right, naturally helping the group’s mutual feelings deep in our hearts of secretly yearning to not hit the Oak tree dead in front of us! Now finally realizing the importance of the recent events, Trevor drops the now meaningless Taco Bell snack and regains full command over our death vessel. An over correction of the steering wheel was the next logical thing to happen. However the violent circling of the wheel did in fact keep us from hitting the next certain death obstacle, a No Parking sign. Throughout the whole ten seconds of pure terror that had just past, quick thinking Scott, somehow gets it on his mind that there should be no good reason for this crazy ride to be continuing. Why hasn’t it stopped by now? So by briefly checking the pedals, Scott deciphered that the whole reason that our lives were still on the line was because Trevor’s inexperienced foot was cold posted against the floor of the car, pinning the exhausted gas pedal down with it.
“Get your foot off of the gas you idiot!” screamed Scott. There was no reply from Trevor. Just the screaming of his tires. And the journey down Arlington continued. Now embarking into the left-hand side of the road for the second time, we make our first contact with the reality of a real car crash. Trevor slides the car through the dirt on the wrong side of the road, putting it up against a bush at thirty miles an hour. (We later estimated.) Branches from the bush reached in like they were screaming young teenage fans with sharp hands and Trevor was Michael Jackson. Not feeling a thing on his scratched face, and now so far out of control that a picture of us was put into Webster’s 1999 edition under reckless. Following our destined path back across over to the right hand side of the road, we jack knifed, sliding semi towards the other side of the road, Trevor turned us completely around and began to lay us out nearly side ways. Now taking a whole new direction and instead of playing our cards of fate with Arlington. Trevor decided to see what kind of deal house number 410 had to offer us. Barreling towards their ‘97’ Jeep Grand Cherokee, I could only imagine the long term affects of the termination of my existence. My parents and how sorrowful they would be. I moved closer to finding all about this God guy everybody had been trying to tell me about. My hockey dreams were over with? Would I die a virgin? It appeared that way as the Jeep loomed closer and closer. The immortal side of me was dying quickly. As we squeaked in between the Jeep and a hedge bush, the crunching of high stalked rose bushes put the fragileness of life into a Dr. Suess book right in my lap. Finally, Trevor’s increasingly closer view of the solid brick suburban style house caused him to quickly remove his stubborn foot from the gas, and thrust it down hard onto the brake. We slid all the way across the front lawn, and slammed hard into a porch type area, smashing a lot of wood of a plant filled porch. There was a lot of smoke coming from the car, but as it cleared we got an excellent view of three bewildered people, who paused momentarily from watching their television set quietly in their living room, to view the smoking ‘82’Datsun B210, which was now peacefully nestled up against their porch.
There was a long hesitation before any of us
said anything. And the first words mumbled out of anyone’s mouth, were from Trevor. He said “Are… are you guys OK?”
At that moment, when Trevor asked us if we were OK, was when I finally realized, that life was fragile, and we were by no means immortal.