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An Ordinary Man's Tale

A story about life, near death and daily routine.

I think I’ll try some catnip. I ain’t even joking, people. I’ve tried catnip before. Powdered stuff. I was at my friends’ house and we were looking at his herb collection. And I do genuinely mean herb collection, as in the stuff you cook with and cast spells with, too. He’s Pagan, as am I, you see and he has quite the herb collection. Anyway, I came across a tub of catnip powder and recalled him telling me that he’d accidentally used it in a chili once. It got me interested, so I tried a tiny wee bit. A pinch, one could say. I liked it, so I took a pinch more. I’d read about the potential health hazards of catnip, so I didn’t take any more, even though I knew that one tiny amount once wouldn’t do me any harm. Sort of...

The effects were pretty cool. First, it made me drowsy. It took a few hours to kick in, but when it did, it was almost like a psychedelic drug. Of course, having never taken a drug stronger than cannabis, I wouldn’t know if it was like a psychedelic drug, but it’s how I imagined it to be, anyway. I got home and was quite tired to begin with. I’d not been sleeping terribly well that week, so I suppose I should attribute that to the weird dreams that followed. I don’t remember the content of the dreams, but I do remember having that really vivid and floating sensation. I’d experienced it a few times before. It was quite common when I was a child for me to get that feeling. The thing is, I don’t know if I can attribute the feeling to being exhausted or to the catnip. The only thing I can do is rest well and then take catnip again when I’m not exhausted to see if I can reproduce the effects. You know, be scientific about it. Then I can shout about being able to do science and junk.

I actually misspoke in the last paragraph, when I said I hadn’t taken anything stronger than cannabis. When I was in high school, for the last year of my school life, I started smoking cannabis. Okay, more misspeaking there, I actually had my first joint when I was sixteen, but it wasn’t until I was seventeen or eighteen that I actually got into a habit of smoking it. I don’t hide the fact that I ever have because I don’t see it as a bad drug. I don’t see it as a drug at all, actually. It’s a plant that produces a natural high. You could say that about eating a salad, too, or a mushroom. Anyway, digressions aside, it was in the last few months of my school career that I really smoked a lot of cannabis. I took buckets every day. In case you don’t know a bucket consists of a two litre plastic bottle with the top cut off, then filled with water. Then there’s a second bottle, preferably a glass one, but anything that will fit inside the plastic will do. You then cut the bottom off that and sit it inside the water. Then you take a 14mm socket and some tinfoil, crumble the cannabis or flake the grass into it, light it, pull it and inhale deeply. It’s potent, and I took about two or three of them a day, in the space of forty five minutes, for six months. Until one day, I just stopped. During that six month period, one of my smoking buddies (I wouldn’t go so far as to call them friends), decided to prank me.

He put ecstasy in the bucket along with the grass. That day we felt like kings because we had grass. Usually it was resin. Disgusting stuff, resin is. Anyway, I’d taken this bucket and was totally unaware of what was in it. An unusual thing for me. I usually pulled my own, or watched the person who was pulling it for me. This time I didn’t. I was probably distracted by the psycho with the knife. I’ll tell you about that later. When I got back to school, I whitied. If you’ve ever whitied, you’ll know what I’m talking about. For those who don’t: You feel nauseated, you go white, sometimes you puke. It can last for anything from a few minutes to a few hours. When you whitie, it is important to drink water. Lots of it. Keep hydrated. You’ll probably get the sweats, too, caused by a high temperature. You may get the chills instead. This only tends to happen with synthetic drugs, for me, anyway. Another reason to go for the natural ones.

Speaking of natural, I was going to tell you about the psycho with the knife, wasn’t I? Yeah, he was scary. Even I was scared of him, and I was hardly scared of anything. He carried a nine inch kitchen knife with him everywhere he went. It was one of the big, broad, thick ones, and the blade was sharp. He used to bully people and got away with it. Who the hell is going to grass on someone with a knife like that? Teachers, police, his parents, they were all scared of him. I had a very good reason to be scared of him.

One day, he was slagging me off. I can’t even remember what he was saying, but I do remember that I stood up to him. Stupid move, really. He pulled me in close and opened his rucksack, told me to look in. When I saw the knife, I smiled. What else was I to do? I apologised for being cheeky and tried to walk away. He grabbed me by the ears, both of them, God damn it, and pulled upwards. That hurt, but I was determined not to show any more weakness. He preyed on weakness. I felt like crying and the excruciating pain ripped right through my whole face. His friends laughed and then I heard his bag being unzipped.

His friends held me with my hands behind my back and he drew the blunt edge of the knife along my stomach. Scared and bound, I felt sick. I didn’t even try to struggle. There was no point. He raised the knife and thrust it toward me in a horribly sharp, menacing motion, then jumped backwards. It was then that I decided to make my run.

I never looked at school dinners the same way again after that day. I attribute that to my getting away, you see. When he thrust the knife at me, I got so scared that I puked all over him. His friends were so taken aback, that it allowed me time to escape. I ran into the school and into the janitors’ office.

Charlie, the janitor, was one of those people whom everybody respected. Even Knife Boy. Of course, he had to let it go. As much as he wanted to kill me, or at least maim me, he couldn’t risk being seen by the CCTV. So, saved by vomiting and CCTV, it seems. I stayed behind in school that day. Actually, I decided to have one of my epic arguments with one of my favourite teachers, just so I had an excuse.

Caramella was that teacher. She was pretty nasty to me. An old battleaxe. She never believed me about the main road being really busy in the mornings, so she’d always try and give me after school detention. Thankfully, I was quite stealthy and always managed to evade her, even though she was laying in wait. Today, however, she was to be my escape. I walked past her and said “hello, bitch”, which got her attention straight away. She then tracked me down and chewed me out in front of a busy corridor. I just kept insulting her and she threw barbs back. Our arguments always consisted of three portions: The banter part, the facts part and the victory. Now, I’m not being cocky, but most of the time, I won those arguments. I think it was just because I knew my facts about everything. I must have really irritated my teachers in high school. Caramella, of course, gave me detention and I went that day. In fact, I left my last class early to get there.

Of course, when I got there, I surprised her with my compliance. I did everything she asked of me without any arguments. It was winter and the rain was belting off the pavement. It wasn’t very pleasant out there, but I really wouldn’t have minded walking in it. This was to save my arse from Knife Boy, so I had to go with it. Then Caramella surprised me with a question. She asked me why I showed up. I decided to give it to her straight and told her about the boy with the knife. What she did next, really surprised me. She offered me a lift home.

Who was I ton refuse a free ride? I took it and apologised to my mum for being late. I left out a few details, mainly the ones about Knife Boy, and then went to change out of my school clothes. The rest of the night was quite mundane, but I was pretty happy that I’d managed to avoid a stabbing, and I even got Caramella to believe me about the main road being busy, so it was a pretty successful day.

The next day was weirdly pedestrian. I did have a little interaction with Knife Boy, but he didn’t seem interested in me. All he wanted to do was joke with me and have a laugh. Of course, now I realise that it was him who drugged my... Um, drugs, but after he got his revenge, he really didn’t seem all that bothered with me. I was still shit scared of him, though.

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if Caramella had something to do with this. Not the attempted stabbing and drugging, but the whole reason that he backed away. Was it maybe that he was afraid of her? How could a psycho like him be afraid of a psycho like her? Or maybe I’ve just hit the nail on the head.

I’m bloody lucky I survived high school. It made me a stronger person, mentally and physically. Of course, that’s really done me a big load of good, hasn’t it?

When I was twenty, I worked in a saw mill. I was a mechanic there and enjoyed the work. Of course, it was the Human Resources girl whom I really enjoyed. It started off as a bit of harmless flirtation and then turned to a whole bunch of harmless fucking. She was really into me, too, and we made a go of it. I settled down, got a flat, made myself indispensable at the mill and really tried making something of myself. I had someone else to live for, other than myself and it felt pretty damned good.

I always got a slagging from the guys. They’d poke fun at me for shagging the secretary, living the cliche and all that. It didn’t bother me; it was just all just lads banter. Us men, we like to slag each other off, but when it comes down to it, we don’t mean anything nasty by it.

Work was going well. I had a nice wee circle of friends and was getting on with the work. I really enjoyed fixing and maintaining the equipment at the saw mill. It always gave me a good challenge. There was this time the mill broke down in spectacular fashion. There was actually no reason for it. I’d been promoted to Head Mechanic and had my own team. They were hard working boys, most of them just out of school. I believed in giving them a chance. They were the kinds of people who, if I hadn’t given a chance, may have turned out just as bad as Knife Boy, who I heard was in prison for stabbing someone. Thank fuck it wasn’t me.

The mill was working fine, as I said, but when it broke down that day, it didn’t feel right. There was something about the particular breakdown that just didn’t feel natural to me. I should know; by this time I’d been working there for two years. You work on a machine long enough and you get to know it. I always tried to teach that to the boys. Be sympathetic to the machine, listen to it and you’ll manage to fix it more efficiently. Most of them got it. A lot of them were really good and had intuition. It’s easy to foster intuition, if you know what you’re looking for. I treated those boys like family, but I was also pretty strict when I needed to be. It was a working mill and it was a dangerous place, after all. I’d like to think that they looked up to me and thought of me as a father figure.

That day started off normally enough. As the mechanic, I had to be on hand all day, just in case something went wrong. Sometimes a branch would get stuck in one of the saw blades, so I’d have to give it a poke to dislodge it. It wasn’t a high tech thing to do, but it worked. That’s another thing I tried to teach those boys. Sometimes the simplest solutions are best.

After a hard day of work, everyone went home. I stuck around to make sure that everything was switched off and that it was all safe. It was then that I noticed a strong smell. Some idiot had knocked some fuel down and hadn’t cleaned it up. Someone was in for a telling off! I did the usual procedure of putting sawdust on the spill, then waiting for it to sop in and finally sweeping it up and putting it in the safe bin. Of course, the safe bin was anything but. We really just called it that because all the dangerous things went in there, safe from hurting people, rather than being on the floor and being a danger.

Then I noticed something else. One of the saw blades looked a little squint, so I decided to inspect it. As I had thought, it had come loose. This was pretty normal, but for it to come quite so loose was pretty abnormal. I grabbed my wrench and tightened the nut, but it snapped. The saw came down towards my foot, and let me tell you, if you’ve had a giant saw blade hitting you, you know how potentially deadly it is. Thankfully, this was one of the smaller giant ones, so I managed to hop out of the way.

Out of the way and onto the damned conveyor belt. This was where the logs went for splitting before being sawed into planks. I hit my head and was quite dazed, so I didn’t see what was coming up. I heard it, though, and something... Some sort of survival instinct must have kicked in. Somehow, I managed to roll off the belt and scramble to safety.

I drew a heavy sigh and sat down. My heart was pounding and my breathing was ragged. I knew there had to be some reason for the conveyor going on. You couldn’t just switch it on, you needed a key and only I and the boss had one. I did one last sweep to make sure everything else was safe, and then headed home. I wasn’t sticking around there for much longer. That day had just scared the crap out of me and I was ready for bed and snuggles with my girlfriend.

The next day when I went in was devastating. Somehow, someone had gotten in to the mill and managed to take some of the more important saws off of the machines. It was probably metal theft. These big saw blades could fetch a pretty penny at the scrappies. When we went to dispose of them, we took them to the scrap yard. We had a roster and whomever took the saw blades in, got a share of the profits.

I felt bad about doing it, but I called the boys in to help me get the mill ready for the workers coming in. This was supposed to be their day off, and I was calling them in to help. That ain’t right. I apologised, but they didn’t seem to mind, thankfully.

Then Saul called me over. He asked me to take a look at one of the nuts, and it was clear that it had been sabotaged. But by whom? The whole damned assembly would have to be replaced, so I gave the boys the rest of the day off and told them to wait until I called them in again before coming in. This was going to take at least a week to fix and the owner wasn’t going to be happy.

Furious was what he was. He didn’t blame me, though. He just wanted to know who did it. Sure, he was worried for his business. This was right at the peak of logging season, so he had profits to make, but he was more worried about whether anyone had been hurt.

“No casualties, but I’m fucking pissed off,” was what I told him.

He rubbed his forehead and made a cup of tea. We sat and chatted about who would have done it, but came up with nothing. He was pretty well respected in town and all of his workers liked him, so it really was a mystery.

A few weeks past and the parts to fix the mill came in. Finally, I called the boys and we set about getting the mill fixed. Shouting and swearing and we all grunted and pulled at the equipment to get the mill fixed. It was tough going, but we finally managed to get the mill fixed and working again. We stood around watching everything running, just to make sure it was all smooth, then tinkered around to refine it a bit.

After that long, hard day, it was time for some relaxation.

“Right, time for a beer!” I said, once we had fixed everything.

We went to the pub, chatted and bantered for a bit. One of the boys announced that his girlfriend was pregnant. We toasted to them and had a few drinks and a laugh about him not being able to go out drinking as much any more. He glared at us, but laughed too.

“Well, better go home.”

“Okay, see you tomorrow, boss!”

I waved goodbye and headed home. I was nice and tipsy, but not too drunk. I knew I’d be sober by the time I got home and also knew that Alannah would be fine with it. She’s a cool girl and doesn’t fret about much at all. After a shower and during dinner, I told her about Christopher and his wife about to become parents and her face lit up. She decided she’d call Chris’s wife over in the morning for tea to congratulate her.

True to her word, as ever, Alannah called Dorothy over and she arrived just as I was leaving for work. I hugged and congratulated her myself and then headed to the mill. I turned it on and then winced in horror. At a tremendous rate, a saw blade was headed straight for my face. I couldn’t duck it and it hit me, though I’d managed to escape a blade to the face. Still, it hurt having the flat part of a circular saw blade smack me in the face. A shard of it had broken off and lodged itself in my neck. Bloodied and battered, I headed to the office to try and call for help, but it was no use. Crawling up the stairs, the shard of metal dislodged itself and I bled out right there.

Not many people can recall their death, but I can. Horror, fear and pain were the overriding factors. I had no white light, no feeling of peace. A feeling of annoyance, grief, and of anger lingered.

I don’t know where I am, but I’m watching my girlfriend. She’s coping well, but it’s all a big front. I know she will crack soon. I just really hope that one day, we will meet again.
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Copyright © Copyright of the author, Circle_Something, rights reserved 2019, plagiarists punished etc. Seriously though, don't steal my work, in part or in whole, nor steal my audio stories, it's just wrong, and you'll be eaten by rabid mice if you do.

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