Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Carma’s Corner: Three Seconds (continued)

In last week’s column, Nathan was in and out of consciousness; the extent of his injury has not been determined. When Nathan once again succumbs to the darkness of unconsciousness, the narrative begins telling of Nathan’s impending date with Gangucha, the greatest feared bull. Will Nathan’s training and experience aid him in his fight against Gangucha, or will Gangucha’s fight give Nathan something else to fight for? Cowboy up!

Three Seconds

He closed his eyes, released his hold on the chute, and tried to envision the ride.

A grinding noise suddenly pulls Nate from the world of darkness; he isn’t so sure whether the noise or the pain awakens him. A surge of excitement rushes through his body; he has pain. This is the first pain he has had since…he can’t recall the last time he had pain. He looks up, but sees nothing but a glaring light; he tries to look to the side, but his head doesn’t turn. “What is making that racket?” Nate wonders.

All of a sudden a shadowed, blurry figure stands above him blocking the penetrating glight. “Oh, Nathan, I didn’t realize you were awake. I’ll have one of the nurses get you something for pain.” As quickly as the figure appeared, he disappeared into the unknown surroundings. Nate lay quietly in silence; he feels numb, except for the excruciating pounding in his head. “Where am I again? What happened? Why do I have such a headache? Where is everyone?"

“While you are awake, Nate, I want to explain what I am doing,” the blurry figure said. “I’m putting a halo around your head and screwing in pins to keep the halo from moving. The halo is meant to keep you immobilized while your fracture heals.” Nate closes his eyes; he hears the words; he understands the words, but the effects of the words are not comprehended. He reopens his eyes and sees another dark figure standing by the first one; the second dark figure makes a few quick movements, and it isn’t long before Nate realizes his world is once again fading into blackness.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen, next up is Nathan Hendricks on Gangucha Fury,” the announcer said over the PA system. Nathan opened his eyes and took a deep breath; he pushed down his hat and gave a quick nod to the cowboy waiting to open the gate. Nate heard a slight creak in the gate, and in a second he was out in the ring. Gangucha jerked left, then right, then up, and then down; Nathan tightened his legs and squeezed his hand around the bull-rope. The beast twisted, turned, jumped, and bucked; every jolting movement jarred Nathan’s body, and he realized he wasn’t going to conquer Gangucha.

The bull-rope began slipping through Nathan’s fingers; he curled his fingers tighter, but in that instance, Gangucha lurched up and landed on his front haunches. Nathan felt the rope rip from his hands and his body launching through the air. The crowd was silent and a blur; Nathan saw everything around him in fast-forward, but he was moving in slow-motion. “Land well and run like hell” echoed through his head; there was no doubt that he was going to run! He landed with a loud snap in his ears; he tried to raise his head, but a stabbing pain pierced through his head.

Everything around him went into a tailspin. He closed his eyes, praying for extra strength to run. But strength didn’t come; movement didn’t come; he was stuck helpless in the middle of the ring. The pain intensified and throbbed down his neck. “What in the world is wrong with me?” he thought. He shifted his eyes to the side and saw three pair of cowboy boots running towards him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Carma's Corner: Three Seconds (continued)

In the last column, I started telling a story, the story of Nathan Hendricks. Nathan is a young man who grew up watching the rodeo and cheering on his dad. But now at 17, Nathan is pursuing his passion of riding the bulls. It’s his passion that has brought him to face the legendary bull, Gangucha Fury. Let the showdown begin…

Three Seconds

“I’ll be at the fence. See you after the fall of Gangucha!”

The bright lights slowly dim to perpetual darkness; the craziness and noise fade into a soft murmur; the poking, prodding, and pain diminish in intensity, and the essence of life feels like a game of jeopardy. Nathan’s senses dissolve into nothingness. Questions are fired at him: “Nathan, can you feel this? Do you have any allergies? How tall are you? What exactly do you feel now?” He knows the answers, but he isn’t able to give them.
“Keep him immobilized,” the doctor commands. “We don’t know the extent of the damage, but we can’t risk moving him for x-ray either.” The nurse gently tugs the sheet up to his shoulders; he notices that he can’t feel the sheet, but only sees it through a blurry haze. Everything suddenly goes silent, and the darkness overwhelms him.

Nate grabbed his chaps, vest, gloves, and extra pair of cowboy boots from the pick-up truck. He strapped on his chaps that bore the red and black design of his dad’s ranch brand, HH. His dad gave him these chaps for his sixteenth birthday; it was his first pair that was custom made for him. When Nate first started riding, he always used his dad’s old chaps, but now with his own chaps, he truly felt he belonged to the sport. He slipped the protective vest over his arms and fastened it tight. The vest was so heavy; he often wondered whether the vest did more harm than good. “How in the world can I be balanced if I am so top heavy?” Nate thought to himself. He jerked on his boots, pulled on his gloves, and topped off his costume with his black cowboy hat.
Nate started walking toward the bucking chute when he realized he forgot to put something on. He raced back to the truck and snatched up the red handkerchief lying on the front seat; he tied it around his neck. He never rode without the handkerchief around his neck. His mom had given him the handkerchief. She said, “You wear this every time you ride. Just think of it as me giving you a hug every time you fall.” His mom never came to the rodeo; it wasn’t that she didn’t support him; it wasn’t that she didn’t have time; it was that she just couldn’t bear to watch her son get defeated by an animal. He had showed her all the protective gear; he had the stats to prove that he was good; he told her, “I had the best teacher, mom. Don’t you trust dad?” But nothing he did or said convinced her to come, so he carefully donned the handkerchief each time.
Nate arrived at the bucking chute to find a very ill-tempered Gangucha. “So you are the lucky one who gets to ride the devil,” one of the cowboys said.
“I’ll consider myself lucky once my ride is over!”
“Smart kid. I’ll tell you something…don’t try to do any showboating out there. Just land well and then run like hell.”
“You don’t have to tell me that I need to run!”
“All right, Hendricks, you’re up,” a rodeo hand called. Nate grabbed the top panel of the chute and climbed up; he looked down at Gangucha. The bull was restless, kicking his hoofs every which way. The rodeo hands did their best to calm the bull enough to allow Nate to straddle him. After a few minutes of angry chaos, a ranch hand shouted, “Get on now!”
Nate carefully and quickly lowered himself onto Gangucha’s flank; he pulled the bull-rope and began wrapping it around his hand. It was less than a second before Gangucha’s body shifted up and down and sideways. Nate grasped the side of the chute trying to steady himself. “What in the world am I doing?” he thought.
“Are you sure you want to do this, boy?” a cowboy said from the other side of the chute. Nate looked down and yanked the bull-rope tighter; he was going to do this; Gangucha was just another bull. He closed his eyes, released his hold on the chute, and tried to envision the ride.

(To be continued…)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carma's Corner: Three Seconds

It’s no secret. I love words. I like stringing words together and rearranging them to create stories where the characters’ fate is solely dependent on my imagination and use of words. For the next few columns, I have decided to take a little detour from the usual “Carma’s Corner” and share one of my creative narratives. The following narrative is one of my favorites, and I hope it’s as enjoyable to read as it was to write. The story and characters are fictitious and merely a product of the imagination.

Three Seconds

Bright overhead lights shine down; people in uniform bustle around the elevated bed; needles are shoved into available veins; neck is placed in a brace and strapped to the bed; whispers are heard outside the curtained doorway; alarms and buzzers sound together in a coarse rhythmic tune. Commotion, noise, and physical pain fill this world, a world that will become all too familiar to Nathan Hendricks.

“Fracture in neck…extent of damage unknown…future uncertain…” These words echo and fade in Nathan’s head as he rallies between reality and the world of the unknown. The world of the unknown is silent, painless, and dark, but this serenity is occasionally dissolved into the chaos of reality, a life where Nathan would have to fight only to survive.

Fight has always been part of Nathan’s life; it isn’t that he struggled with delinquency; it isn’t that he didn’t get along with others, and it isn’t that trouble always found him. The truth is Nathan diligently searched for the greatest fight, the fight of a dirt snorting, hoof pounding bull. The larger, the angrier, and the wilder the beast, the more Nathan loved it. But did his passion drive him to hold on a few seconds too long, one too many times, or will his passion precisely be the antidote in his impending fight for life?

“All right, Nate, your score is sitting in the 60s” dad said. “Do you think you can give us another strong ride?”
“I will, dad, I will,” Nathan said. It was a bright, brisk October Saturday, a day where the wind nipped at the skin, the sun gave enough heat to bring sweat to the brow, and the air tenaciously held on to the lingering smells of summer. Nathan loved these fall days; he lived for these days. It wasn’t so much that he liked the season of fall as it always marked the beginning of classes, homework, and countless activities associated with school. But fall also brought the rodeo, and that was what Nathan lived for.
He couldn’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t part of the rodeo. He recalled countless Saturdays clinging to the fence and stretching as far as he could just to peek over the top panel to watch dad “play with the bull.” At four years old, he didn’t understand much about the rodeo, but he knew most Saturdays was dad’s play date with the bulls. Nathan was a bubbling teapot on rodeo days; he would get up, pull on his jeans, yank on his favorite black and red flannel shirt, and tug on his black cowboy boots before the sun even roused from its slumber. Saturdays was their day, a day filled with popcorn, soda pop, riding ponies, laughing at the clowns, and most importantly cheering for dad.
Standing in his jeans, red flannel shirt, and black boots, Nathan could still see that excited little boy, hear his shrieks of joy, and feel his endless energy. But at seventeen the excitement, joy, and energy rush no longer came from being a part of the rodeo; the high resulted from being in the rodeo. Dad willingly took on the role of watching from the fence line when he had properly handed over his skills for playing with the bulls to Nate.
“You ready for this,” dad said, slapping Nate on the shoulder. “Gangucha is an arm jerker. Other riders are saying he’s in bad temper today.” Gangucha Fury had a noteworthy history, one that all riders liked to talk about, but few dared to endure. Most riders would swear that gGangucha was primarily the devil, while others confessed that devil was too tame of a word. Gangucha looked like one of hell’s angels with his wild eyes, burnt red coat, and yellowed horns that appeared to be glazed with the venom of death. If the sight of him wasn’t frightening enough, his size of 1700 pounds was sure to bring any rider to his knees, whether it was in prayer or absolute terror.
Nate sighed as he peered into the bull pen; his date with destiny was standing off in the far corner of the pen. Gangucha stood quietly; he wasn’t being disturbed, but Nate knew this tranquil nature was only momentary.
“Yeah, I’m ready; he’s just one more bull to ride. Gangucha hasn’t met Nathan Hendricks yet!” Nate stepped away from the fence. “I better get ready; I ride in ten minutes.”
“I’ll be at the fence. See you after the fall of Gangucha!”

(To be continued…)