I don’t know how I got here; or for that matter, where I am. The sky is a clear blue with a few wispy clouds. Looking around I can see that I’m on a dusty dirt road that winds through some trees for a few hundred yards until it gets lost in the surrounding hills. The hills are mostly rock and dried brown earth; nothing green growing on them. The trees aren’t very big; the bark is more gray than brown and the leaves are more brown than green. Patches of dried up brown grass and pale golden clumps of sagebrush cover the ground. Gray rocks ranging from the size of a man’s head to those larger than an elephant are scattered about the area right up to the base of the hills. It looks just like a scene from Bonanza or any old western movie.
I realize I'm sitting on a horse; I hear someone say "come on, lets go have some fun". And as I turn around, I’m among a bunch of cowboy types. They’re all wearing those long Dusters, dirty black or streaked pale brown long coats. Hats are pulled down low on their heads and bandanas are covering their faces. We’re riding into one of those typical old western towns; a single road running through it, gray weathered unpainted boards making up the building, plain white signs advertising the business. The guys I'm with start shooting into the air and yelling. But something is wrong; maybe they’ve been here before, because the townsfolk are waiting for us.
From behind the building, they’re shooting back at us. I can see little puffs of dust and holes appearing on the clothes of the guys I'm with. I feel something hit me between the shoulders; no pain, but I fall to the ground and can’t move. The cowboys pick me up and put me in the back of one of those buckboard wagons. We pull up into the General store/Doctor’s office. They put me on the counter and someone is asking if I want to stay here and see the doctor or come along with them. I say I'll stay here. As I turn to look at the person speaking to me; I can see through those bullet holes. No blood, no flesh either; behind the bandana is the bare bones of a skull.
It’s dark all around me now; except for a circle of light in the distance. It must be a cave or water drainage pipe. I played in both when I was younger, so this isn’t anything scary. However, the light seems unrealistically bright as I move towards it. The tunnel opens into a large funnel shaped cavern or chamber. The tunnel walls and floor is rough black exposed rock. As I move farther into the open space; the floor becomes a lighter shade of black, then gray, dull white, bright white until it is so blinding it is impossible to see ahead. The walls make the same transition, becoming smoother and whiter, expanding outward until lost in the brightness.
There are pillars rising from the floor to a ceiling that I can’t see. There is what reminds me of fire hoses lying around. I notice off to the side, someone is using a hose to wash the walls near the tunnel opening. Instead of water, it’s a bright beam of golden light washing away the blackness. Somehow, I'm struck in the chest by one of those beams. I feel no pain; but I fall down and can’t move. Someone picks me up and lays me down on a table or bed. I’m asked if I want to go with them, or wait and get fixed-up. I can’t see the faces of those around me; the brightness seems to be reflecting off of them, or maybe even coming from them. I say that I'll wait and get fixed-up. Things lose focus for a bit. When my vision clears, things are different. Now the light is above me; still bright, but not the same. The people standing over me are wearing masks and shining silver poles are next to my head suspending objects. Blackness again.
I regain consciousness again. I can’t move, can’t speak and can’t even see clearly. I’m in a hospital bed, and have been for four weeks now. Five months later; I can talk again, and my eyesight is almost normal. Those senses had been paralyzed, along with the rest of me. I’m a C6/C7 quadriplegic now. I had been hit by a car.
I wasn’t able to drive that night and was walking home. It was January and it had snowed days before, but today warmed up in the fifties. The snow was melting and conditions were perfect for the thickest fog I could remember. After stepping into a puddle, I decided to walk on the highway. It was late and no cars were around. I was told the car was going about 50 mph. Neither of us moved out of the way in time. I must have turned when I saw lights approaching. My right leg was shattered to pieces and had to be held together with a steel rod from ankle to knee. My left foot caught the hood of the car and busted enough bones to keep it in a cast for several months. I hit the windshield head first and didn’t stop there. I went through and landed in the passenger sea;. my head tilted backwards until the back of it was touching my spine. By now, the brakes have stopped the car. I went flying back out of the car, over the hood and onto the side of the road. It took the ambulance about 45 minutes to get there and find me. My blood pressure was 0/50, but I was alive. A doctor at the nearest hospital told my family to say their good-byes. I wasn’t expected to make the trip a better equipped trauma center.
I suppose they had to ask me twice; to make sure I was positive. I’m still hoping that one day I might get "fixed-up" even more.
I’m a white male, age 38, belief in God; but detest organized religion, was drinking; but no drugs, was a marathon runner; but out of shape at the time.
NDERF: Do you have any possible reasons for the cowboy imagery?
Alan: I have no idea about how the cowboy imagery figures in to things. I think I was asked twice about what I wanted to do; so as to make sure I really wanted to come back. I was always a "daredevil", and had always said that I would rather be dead than be paralyzed.