After finishing an earlier story about a treehouse, I was soon provided with added material regarding the story. This was material understandably forgotten. Details were not omitted, just forgotten. Whenever I write a story about our family, inevitably, if they read it, one of the family members involved with the piece will inform me about a portion of the story I may have forgotten. It leaves me wishing I would have contacted them prior to publishing it. The treehouse blog, “Nails….” was no exception.
According to one of the story’s antagonists, my brother, Greg, informed me that not far from the tree we were domesticating, (about fifty feet away) sat a chicken coop. Save for some rusty nails and some chairs used for our neighborhood gang meetings, it was empty. By the time I was born, I guess mom and dad began preferring store-bought chicken. We still referred to it as the chicken coop, although it should have been renamed, “the fire hazard”. To my knowledge, it never burned down, but it did contribute to some of my head trauma growing up with elder siblings.
Having a rather large backyard, we always had hoses spread around the grounds. Some of them worked properly without gashes while others were merely rubber derelicts waiting for a trip to the dump in the truck we didn’t possess. Evidently, either during one of our breaks from building the treehouse, or after the construction of it was postponed, my brothers thought they’d put one of the dead hoses to use. Tying one end of a hose to a branch of our treehouse, and the other end to a tree standing next to the chicken coop, it would, potentially, make an excellent zip line with the rider landing safely on the roof of the coop. It seemed like a fun and challenging project for my brothers, but the question remained: how could they do it and make it safe at the same time? They put their minds and heads to work with one towhead (me) in the hole.
Once the hoses were securely fastened to each tree, we then needed some form of vehicle to transfer supplies or humans from one side to the other. Unable to find anything useful outside, we ventured inside to find something we probably shouldn’t remove from the house. Soon, we discovered a seat we could attach and hang from the hose with a crude form of rope. One of my brothers found it in the piano room. Our piano, one that had been tuned about the last time our coop had chickens, possessed a cushioned chair used for anyone wishing to sit and bang on the keys. It wasn’t actually a seat, but a hope chest acting as one. The top came off easily and looked like the perfect answer to our dilemma. Dragging it outside and using some heavy twine, paired with styrofoam to decrease the sliding friction, the padded seat dangled uneasily from the hose. There was only one thing remaining. We needed a volunteer, so to speak, to test the makeshift zip line. My first suggestion was to borrow one of our sisters’ dolls and give it ride. As usual, my brothers ignored me and needed something more accurately resembling a human. I don’t remember volunteering, but I do vaguely remember brother Tom guaranteeing me I wouldn’t regret giving it a shot, because there just might be some benefits if I had the courage to go first. According to Tom, mother would be so proud of me, she would buy extra Ding Dongs and Kool Aid at the store for all of us. (All lies.) Reluctantly agreeing to be the test pilot, I sat on the piano seat and with only a baseball hat wrapped around my skull, I was prepared for sliding.
The slight downward slope would provide the momentum for me to successfully slide from one end to the other, and the chicken coop roof landing would only leave me easily hopping off the moment before possibly crashing into the receiving tree. The degree of difficulty, even for me, seemed quite low. The highest point during the trek was probably no more than ten feet, so it really didn’t look like anything too dangerous. After a quick pep talk from Greg, “You’re not going to die” shadowed by a semi-confident smirk on Tom’s face, I guess I was prepared for slide off.
From the moment I left the branch, I knew I’d either reach the coop head first or bail out off the seat of terror. I had time for neither. Just after deployment, my speed accelerated, in my primitive mind, from zero to sixty in less than a second leaving me simply terrified. The styrofoam began sizzling and the jostling rope, which was really just some crude form of twine, snapped and the seat and I floated to the hardened dirt with my skull hitting just before the cushion which broke upon impact. (Greg’s added memory had now brought mine back.)
People say you see stars and hear birds when you get knocked upside the head with tremendous force. I only heard laughter, and eventually saw Tom and Greg’s faces when they reached me on earth. They did ask if I was o.k., and I believe my only proper response was an uneasy, “uh huh.” They seemed to be happy I wasn’t dead, so I felt pretty good about that. However, just when I came to my feet, the trees, grass, coop and brothers began to blur, not with tears, but with dizziness. “You sure you’re o.k.?” “Uh huh.” Staggering inside our house, I thought I could hear one of them yell, “When you come back out, bring some sodas. You’re a hero!” Of course, this was followed by laughter and me entering our house, collapsing on the nearest couch and then vomiting for the next few hours which is exactly what happens when one gets concussed. Sometimes, it hurts to be a child hero.