Lucky was his nickname. Like the scar on his jaw, both were given to him at the age of seven by his older brother who pushed him out their bedroom window. The three story fall was broken by the extended arm of an oak tree on which he bounced before landing in a bed of roses. Except for the laceration, bruises and scratches, he was unscathed. He nearly strangled at birth in the noose of the umbilical cord and survived fetal distress. As a child he was afflicted with allergies and rushed to emergency rooms from bee stings or from ingesting some taboo food. So frequent were these mishaps he grew to admire the local doctors who inspired him to seek a career in medicine. As a student he excelled both academically and athletically, playing football until a three-hundred pound tackle rammed his head into a goal post. His helmet saved his life yet the protective gear could not prevent the head trauma and subsequent coma which took him on an out-of-body flight into a swirling tunnel of fog where he found himself standing at a lighted train station. Nothing came to take him away, so he returned to consciousness, to envision the world anew. Where one day, distracted while snow skiing – the sky exhibiting spectacular purple and yellow clouds – he lost his concentration and his footing on a patch of ice and slid off the face of a cliff. He awoke inside the warm confines of a hospital and body cast and fell in love with a nurse who washed his fallen body most attentively, whom he married, but whose mentally deranged ex-husband shot him as he was running with her hand-in-hand under a shower of rice. Their honeymoon was postponed while he underwent surgery followed by acute rehabilitation so he could adjust to life confined in a wheelchair. The ordeal provided him a greater understanding of the handicapped and a passion to fight for the afflicted. He believed his experience was symbolic of the nation – a powerful body now crippled by senseless neglect, violence and wasteful debt – which became his campaign theme and got him elected to congress where he served three full terms, and in those years co-wrote and helped pass several bills into law. Lofty efforts aimed to reunify the states, restoring peace and financial prosperity. At home his goals were modest – to beget children and retire from public service to practice medicine at a clinic. But when encouraged to run for the highest office, with the full support of his party, he ran into a scandal – attacks from his rivals alleging bribery and corruption, resulting in a precipitous slip in the polls. Yet, despite his rebuttals and counter attacks to defend his good name damaged by the smear campaigns – refusing to drop from the race, be defeated by lies, insisting his innocence – he lost his costly bid for the Presidency in a landslide defeat. His wife of twenty years had stood loyally by his side until the night she was introduced to a foreign dignitary (at what would be his last fundraising dinner) who offered her a taste of royalty and persuaded her, during the aftermath, to file for divorce. Jettisoned from both a marriage and a political career, next his grown children opting to start families in faraway states, followed by healthcare reform enacted into law and spiraling his income into decline, he felt cast off and anchorless, with nothing left except an abundance of time. So he decided to write a book. The slanderous storms still lashed at him intermittently but never enough to dash his optimism. After his memoir became a bestseller, restoring both his reputation and wealth, he found himself driving on a freeway going nowhere, daydreaming about his strange luck and recalling the telescope of twirling light. Had his mind not drifted towards this colorful world where present, past and future converged, streaming through a collective prism of white, he might have avoided the semi-trailer truck in the oncoming lane which veered over the center divide. Crossing a line that became inconsequential. The sudden impact catapulted him through a shattering darkness filled with crystals. And he knew instantly it was the best possible thing that could have happened.
Excerpt from Light-Years in the Dark: StoryPoems (see more)
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