The terrible scar ran down his leg from above to his knee to his ankle. It had healed and coalesced into rivulets of hard reddish scar tissue above the flesh. The pattern was odd as if a giant blender had somehow been flicked on when David’s leg was in the way. Self consciousness never plagued him. He wore shorts all summer and never paid any attention to what anyone thought. I rather admired him for that.
One day I asked him what happened. He truly was a great guy and had become a friend. He was, as my mother in law used to say about her cat, “humble”. Painfully so – David, not the cat.
Calmly he said, I was plowing on the tractor one day and fell off and the disc cut me up. .” End of story. No details and no drama. Sgt. Friday of Dragnet would have been proud. Just the facts ma’am.
“David, is that what you always say to people?”
“Well, yeah. It’s the truth.”
“No, no, no that’s boring. You can’t be saying that to people. Farming? Come on. That’s not exciting, man. Be creative.” I explained.
“What you need is a good story and you have to make it exciting. You just have to use your creativity. Tell them something they have never heard before. Something they can see in their mind with vivid detail.” I said.
“You mean lie.” David spat out
“Now, I wouldn’t put it exactly in those words, but yes. Lie your ass off and make it cool. Make it electrifying. Heck, man, make it sexy!”
Bingo. Got to him. Even without the scar David was about as sexy as your uncle Fred. The one who wore his pants several feet above his belly button and greased his hair straight back and had black glasses thick as mason jar bottoms. That Fred. You know that Fred. Nice guy, but so boring he couldn’t excite a howler monkey if he drove a three wheeler through the jungle, much less a lady.
“Listen, he’s what you say. I was sky diving. It was 15,000 feet. A blue clear sky. Perfect. I adjusted my goggles and stepped out in the plane’s open door feeling the slip stream, took a breath, and as the engine hummed to a pause jumped out. God, it was so amazing. As usual everything was tiny. Cars and trucks were like ants slowly crawling down a thin ribbon. The world was big. I was small. Then, it was time to pull the cord. I hit it. No chute. Well, that can happen. We are trained not to panic so I pulled once more. Nothing. Just air rushing by. I fell so far. Finally, it dawned on me to go for the emergency chute and I did. Oh, God it deployed. But, something wasn’t right. I was spinning around in a sickening spiral. It had caught on the main chute. Nothing could save me. I thought I was losing the ability to think and then abruptly I landed and completely crushed a hen house some farmer owned. My leg came down on a sharpened plough on the side. And, glad to be alive, I couldn’t care less about he leg.”
“Wow, Jesus, that was great,”David screamed.
Pleased with my efforts, I asked, “Ok, you got that? Say it back to me, David. Just like I told you. Women will be so impressed and guys will hold you in awe. Can you do it?”
“Ok. Now tell me what happened?”
“I fell off a hen house and cut my leg.”
I give up.
I had a skin rash on my hand which thankfully cleared up. But, my cover story was I saw a poor little dog trapped in a hot car. I couldn’t find anything to break the window and the dog was suffering so I had to use my fist to bust out the window and it got all cut up, but I saved that dog.” Women weeped.
My wife has a scar on her knee due to surgery – shark bite.
I have a hearing loss in my left ear – used to play backup base for The Stones. Mick was a trip.
I have a beard – first grew it on my initial climb up Mt. Everest. Too cold to shave.
We have a dent in the front bumper of the car – happened late at night on a back road through the woods when I ran over some strange hairy 8 foot beast. I stopped but all I could hear was some unearthly primordial scream in the distance.
Never waste a good a good story – even if it isn’t true!
(Author’s note. No actual truths or political beliefs were harmed during the writing of this story)