Monday, March 16, 2009

My First And Last Taste Of Lead

Back in the late 60s - early 70s, I was a long haired teenager living in Tampa, FL. I had a few teenage friends that were my age and one that was a couple of years older. I forget his name but I remember that he had this old car that he had fixed up...headers, thrush mufflers, wide tires and nice rims. The body wasn't in the best of shape but it got him where he wanted to go and we thought that it was a "cool" car. Being bored teenagers that we were, we used to go out in the woods for a night of camping and general goofing off. My friend with the car used to go with us and he drove us to our favorite woods and camping spot. There were usually 3 of us, me, my friend with the car and one other friend. We probably went camping together maybe 5-6 times until one day when that all changed. The friend with the car would always bring a shotgun and a .22 caliber pistol with him because they had some wild animals around the area where we camped. They had very large wild boars and black panthers..which I never believed until I actually saw one myself. One morning we had woke up and had just got done eating breakfast. We were sitting around trying to figure out how we wanted to spend the rest of the day. So here we were, one friend and I sitting around the campfire drinking coke and the older friend fooling around with his pistol. It was around 9:00Am at this time. Originally he was taking target practice at a coke can that was perched on a tree limb. Then for some reason, he decided to point the pistol at the coke can that was sitting on the ground about a foot in front of me and just a little right of center in relation to me. I thought that he was just screwing around so I leaned back a bit. The next thing I know, he fired off a shot. The bullet ricochets off of the ground near the coke can and bounced off of the front/side of my right knee. The bullet travelled about 4-5" further up my leg from where it had originally entered my leg. I was rolling around on the ground and yelling in pain. When I finally settled down, I could see a bump where the bullet was lodged under my skin and a small hole where it had entered my body. Hardly any blood at all but my knee hurt like hell. We sat around for a while trying to figure out what to do. We all knew that our camping days were most likely over with especially once the adults got wind of what happened. We finally decided to pack everything up and head home. My friend with the car dropped us off at my other friends house and then he took off...probably scared and did not want to be around for the upcoming fireworks. My other friend lived right across the street from where I lived. We could tell that my parents were not home at this time because their car was gone and it was Saturday. Saturday they always went shopping together. My friends parents were also gone, so here I was with a bullet in my leg, trying to relax as much as possible until my parents or his parents got home. We had talked about my friend with the car taking me to a hospital but knew that the police would be involved at that point in time and he would have got into big trouble and no one wanted that....hey we were teenagers...what did you expect...intelligence and logical thinking. I ended up staying at my friends house the whole day just trying to relax through the pain. Around 4PM my parents returned home and my friend went and told my parents what happened. I won't get into all of the yelling and carrying on that ensued after that, but I will tell you that I finally ended up going to the hospital and having the bullet removed and x-rays taken of my right knee. Luckily there was no permanent damage done to my knee but boy was it sore for quite some time after that. The police showed up while I was at the hospital. Because of my age and because it was a shooting, the doctors reported it and the police came in to interview me. After much hesitation, I finally had to spill the beans over what happened. I told them that it was accidentally done and refused to give out my friends name to them, much to the officers and my Dads objections. Needless to say, I got in tons of trouble over the incident and I never did hang around with my "friend" with the car ever again. All of my physical wounds healed up nicely. I did have some problems though, when I joined the military and later on when I became a Police Officer. I was very skiddish and real gun shy especially when I was doing my firearms testing. I was just plain scared of the weapons that I was being tested upon. I would shake, get real nervous and I would jump when I heard gunfire at the shooting range. Eventually I got over it and was able to pass my firearms testing and actually became an Expert Marksman with the passing of time. I still carry the actual scars of the incident but more importantly, I carry tons of respect for weapons and the safe and proper handling of them.

When Will It End

We are working on our 4th straight day of rain here. It is getting old. With the Spring time weather quickly approaching, I am looking forward to getting outside and doing some yard and garden work. I was recently able to find some 10-10-10 garden fertilizer for the bargain price of $11 for a 33 lb bag. Last year and the year before, I could go to Home Depot and buy a 40lb bag of the stuff for about $7-9. This year it had shot up to almost $20 a bag. I usually use 2-3 bags of the fertilizer in the Spring, when I give the gardens a good helping of "food". This year I had decided that if I could not find the fertilizer at a reasonable price, then the plants would have to go hungry. Luckily with me finding this deal on the fertilizer, all plants got fed and it should not be long to see things starting to shoot up out of the ground. The daffodils have already bloomed but they will be gone soon. It will be nice to have some color in the gardens again.
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