I was not sure where to put this chapter, or whether or not to even write it at all. I thought of simply including each event in the story line. Since I have already taxed the reader with my many asides, I thought it better to write it as a separate and even a standalone chapter. Since two of the experiences involve my real father, I thought the placing of it in the third chapter slot would be the most congruous with the storyline. This chapter will involve my natural and supernatural experiences. They have all happened and will be recounted as accurately as possible.
In the month and year of August 1965 my close encounters began. My Father, Mother, Tina, Robert and myself began an epic journey with Mexico City being the final destination. My father always wanted to see two things in Mexico, one an authentic bullfight and the floating gardens of Mexico City (more for Mom’s sake). Considering the road trip would start in New York state, it was quite an undertaking for those times. Such a lengthy trip is sure to be fraught with many mishaps and this one did not disappoint. One of the stops that our family wanted to make was in Acapulco City, Mexico to view the world famous cliff divers in action. They routinely dive greater than 100 feet off the cliffs of Acapulco. It is amazing to watch. The beaches in Acapulco are also amazing. They are however are known for their treacherous currents and undertows. That is why I was in water no more than waste deep. Which for someone less than four years of age is not much water at all. But the currents caught me anyway and towed me out. Down I went under the water. I remember being very calm, I did not struggle at all. I could see the light shimmering through the water, or was it? The next thing I remember was my father working on me. He was blowing air into my little lungs and pushing on my chest. I heard my Mother sobbing in the background. Then I recall the most violent coughing and retching. These are terms I did not, of course, understand at the time. All I knew was that my chest hurt some. I also knew that it was painful to breath. I heard my Father say I was OK, then I felt my Mother smothering me with hugs and kisses. Which incidentally was the only time I remember her acting this way. I, of course, wanted nothing to do with water for some time after that. It was not until many years later that I learned how to swim. Not until in fact when my Mother and stepfather moved to Florida.
Remember in Chapter One that I mentioned CPR? Well this is when it came in handy… Some cultures and religions believe that their are a finite number of souls in the Universe and that they are recycled. Well, I don’t know about that. But if you believe that way, you may say that my father sacrificed his life so that I could live. If he had not been sickly and had subsequently learned CPR, he would not have known how to revive me and I would not be writing this book now. So did I technically die? I stopped breathing, I had officially drowned and there was water in my lungs. I also was very relaxed and I saw light, so you tell me. This is the closest I came to actual death, though I have had many close calls of which I will catalog here. Our Mexico trip was good for more shot at me. As fate would have it, our refrigerator died in our travel trailer. We knew not to drink the water, so we had brought plenty of water from the US. But everything was warm so we bought bags of ice. Somehow the ice got mixed in with our fresh water supply. The only person not to get sick was my father because he had taken some medicine or had gotten shots. I don’t know which, all I know was he just remained healthy. I also distinctly seem to remember that Robert did not get sick either, so he must have also been the beneficiary of the same treatment. I, being the youngest got the sickest. If you know anything about pediatric medicine, children don’t have very big reserves of anything. Due to the incessant vomiting and diarrhea I became severely dehydrated, so much so that I could barely move. My parents soon realized the severity of my condition and found a local doctor who immediately insisted that I be taken to the hospital where I received fluids administered through my bloodstream. I again had no idea what this meant at the time. All I know is that I almost died, because that is what the doctors in the hospital told my parents. If they had waited just one more day to seek medical care for me, it would have been too late. I quickly recovered and we resumed our trip with the refrigerator fixed as well. Close Call Number One.
Yes my Father did get to see his bullfight. He however absolutely hated it. My Mother also got to see her floating gardens. But she never really said if it was worth all the hype. You just could never tell with her. She could be having the time of her life and afterwards she would say it was just alright.
In Chapter One I mentioned that I found out about girls at an early age. We had two neighborhood girls that lived in an apartment behind our house. I also mentioned that my father was disabled from the American Can Company. Our property backed up to the very distant corner of the Piano Works Factory. So the little girls also had the back of their property against it as well. It just right ended right with our two lots. Well, they liked to play with a kick ball. Of course, they kicked it over the fence. Well, dumbass Randy to the rescue. This was not just any chain link fence, it had three strands of barbed wire slanting forward on the top. I don’t know what in the hell possessed me to think that I could actually get over the damn fence, get the ball and get back over it. All I knew was that two really cute girls were in distress. Two girls who had never paid any attention to me before, now thought I was Super Boy. So up the damn fence I went. Initially, everything went like planned. I made it the top of the fence, then shit happened. One of my feet pulled out of the link in the fence it was wedged into. My left hand slipped and my wrist subsequently plunged down on the twisted barb at the top of the fence. As luck would have it my other foot slipped out as well. So now I am dangling from my left wrist. I never said a word or did I cry, I got both my feet in the links and I pried my wrist out of the twisted wire. The wire had almost pierced through the other side of my wrist. It was just a tangled mess of goop. It actually looked pretty cool. I was the envy of all the boys in my elementary class after that because I had a scar like a pirate. So, I calmly went in the house and asked my Mother for a Band-Aid. The thought being that I could go out back and try again once she patched me up. Boy, I had hormones before I knew what hormones were. When Mother saw my wrist, the scream she let out shattered windows two streets over. Her scream was so loud it made me start crying. Dr. Haber to the rescue. She rushed me to his office where he quickly pushed all the goop back in my wrist and sewed me up. I got a few shots for good measure.
If you look at the diagram above, the wire of the fence just went through where that little gap is in blood vessels. A little bit to the right or left and I could have bled out. I also could have died from a serious infection. Guess how old I was? I was in 2nd grade, so I was 7 years old. It is a wonder I made it to 8. Close Call Number Two. By the way, I won’t keep on doing that. Now it is getting boring. As a result, I wasn’t able to talk to the little girls in our backyard for quite some time.
Who doesn’t like to climb trees? Well I guess it is mostly a boy thing. My oldest brother Ronnie had just suffered a major heart attack and was recovering from a bypass operation and his wife and two boys were living with us in Florida. I was 11 years old at the time. Yes, I survived that long. I had gained more weight and I was no longer sexy. So I was safe for a while. But now I had my old nemesis under my roof, Tim. So I had to show off with him. we had this really cool forest in the back of our trailer park. I used to call it our rain forest. Of course, that was only in our imagination. But it did have cool trees, a canal with gators, raccoons and a silver fox. I believe there was also a big predatory cat back there. So, of course, we explored the hell out of that place, we wadded across the canal and did all kinds of stupid shit. We came across a big tree that we wanted to climb. We had some rope with us as well. Our goal was to get the rope up on a high branch so we could make a swinging vine. We were playing Tarzan that day. Neither one of us could throw the rope over the lowest branch. The rock we had the rope tide to would not fall right. So I decided to climb the tree and tie the rope off myself. What could go wrong? I was up about 20 feet or so, and I still hadn’t reached that damn branch when the one I was holding on to simply just broke. Have you ever seen somebody fall in a movie like say Die Hard? The only thing missing was the machine gun and me saying “Mother Fuck”. Remember the bar of ivory soap? Nope, I could not do it. Well about 5 minutes later, I finally hit the ground, flat on my back. Every molecule of air was driven from my lungs. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk or do a damn thing. I couldn’t even swear. I thought I was dying. Of course my nephew was panicking. He tried to carry me and that didn’t work. He tried dragging my fat ass out of our jungle and that didn’t work. Finally, I got enough air in back in my lungs to say “STOP”. I was finally able to tell him I was alright. We checked out the ground where I had fallen, it looked like a field of punji sticks had been laid by the Viet Cong. I sure was lucky. I could have broken my damn back or been pierced by some sharp branch.
We had a neighbor who had three boys, the youngest being just about my age. My parents got along well with them, and we even went on a trip together with them to New Orleans. As a fun aside I will briefly discuss this trip in my next chapter. On the weekends, if the tides were right, we used to go scalloping out on the Keys in the Gulf of Mexico. There was also a power plant close by that pumped warm water into the Gulf. This provided a nice breeding ground for scallops and, of course, sharks. You would walk about a half mile to get to the scallop fields, so you did this in low tide. We would stay out their snorkeling and catching scallops until high tide started coming in. It made the swim easy because it was bringing us back into the shore. Unfortunately, we stayed out too long, and we lost the help of the tide. So we started the long swim back loaded down with each a bag full of scallops. By the time we finally got into the shallow water where we could stand up and walk easily, we both turned around and there must have been a hundred shark fins in the water right behind us. They had been following the path of the fish and us. Talking about a close call. These sharks were hammerheads, known man-eaters.
This event involved my first wife. I don’t know what happened. No, I was not without mishaps during this time. I will include more of my mishaps in subsequent chapters, they just don’t qualify as true close calls. We were up the mountains in North Carolina looking for a campsite to stay at. It was early in the season, so the pickings were very slim. I had my Isuzu Trooper with our trusty utility trailer in tow. We followed this sign saying that there was a campsite five miles ahead. Well, we climbed for about what seemed like a hundred miles and finally got to the entrance of the park. Well guess what, the damn place was closed. I was so pissed off. But now we had a problem how to turn around. It seemed like there were sheer cliffs on 3 of the 4 sides. So I had my wife get out of the Trooper so she could direct me and keep our vehicle from falling into a chasm. Well, I was backing up and the next thing my ear drums were shattered by this bloodcurdling scream. One tire was off the cliff and half the other tire was also off the cliff. If the other tire had completely slipped off, the weight of the trailer would have pulled my truck over into the abyss. It was about a 20,000 foot drop. So after I cleaned up the shit in my drawers, I ever so gingerly pulled forward and was able to get the hell out of there. I was proud of my wife I didn’t think she could shatter bone with her voice.
So after several failed attempts at finding a campsite, we decided to call it quits on this trip. We were just having so much damn fun we said enough is enough. But as luck would have it, the gods were not finished with us just yet. So now we had made it to Georgia and I mean we were in the middle of nowhere. We were driving on this two-way elevated road driving through open fields of sawgrass when my ever observant wife told me to look behind us. The sky looked like it should be in hell, it was that black. I could also start to feel our Trooper move a little bit as it was buffeted by strong winds. So I just floored it. I was going as fast as that V-6 2.8 liter motor could go. We finally reached a little town. By that time, the wind sounded like a freight train. The road into the town made a T. There was a building on the other side of the T, so I drove up next to it. It was a stone building and looked pretty sturdy. We were able to park right between the building which was on the left and a big oak tree on the right. It was just mere seconds afterwards when the tornado struck. But instead of going the way we went, it veered to the right and followed the T in the road. We gave the storm about an hour then we extricated ourselves from our cocoon and kept on driving. The town we passed through was devastated.
With my track record, you would think that I would not engage in extreme sports, well you would be wrong. I was an avid scuba diver. I have tandem skydived and have been hang gliding. The question should be asked is, how am I still alive? One reason that I no longer dive as frequently is that I have had too many close calls.
I will only include two diving close calls, otherwise the whole chapter would be about diving. The first incident involved the use of a Drysuit and the shipwreck, the Yukon.
I have included an image of a Drysuit so that non-divers could understand this story. There are two main types of Drysuits. I will only discuss mine. No water enters the suit, the diver is kept totally dry. To keep the suit off the skin there is a liner that is worn, the thicker the liner the colder the water you can dive in. Air from your air supply is pumped in the suit to help keep the shell from touching the skin. The air enters the suit via valve in the center of the chest. As you get closer to the surface, the pressure decreases so you have to let air out of your suit through another valve in your shoulder. Sounds pretty simple, right? In theory it is, when everything works. I had a couple of problems, first my suit was too large and it trapped way too much air, also the valve that put air into my suit got stuck in the “on” position. Also, the valve that dumped out the excess air wasn’t designed to handle that much air at one time. The Yukon is one of the most challenging wrecks in the California coastline. The currents are strong, the water is murky and cold and the wreck is mostly at or greater than 100 feet of depth. Even with a Nitrox mixture, your time allowed at the bottom is limited. The first 10 minutes of the dive went fine. Then shit happened and a cascade of events occurred. I was simply too new of a Drysuit diver to deal with all of the events that occurred. I have since made all necessary adjustments and dove many dives with that suit with no further issues. My suit filled with air and I got knocked in an upside down position, so my feet were up, and I was being dragged to the surface. When you are down that deep, you need to do at least two safety stops and you need to ascend very slowly or you could blow your lungs out. The Yukon had six lines attached to buoys at the surface. I knew if I free floated to the surface, I was a goner. I had to get to one of those lines. With the help of my dive buddy, I was finally able to get to one but I was burning through my air quickly and I had also been down way too long. I was at 20 minutes. So I started ascending up the line, feet first. As I got closer to the surface the more buoyant my suit got and the faster I was rising. The release valve was useless because air goes to the highest point in these suits, which was now the feet. I blew through both my safety stops and ascended way too fast. I was being dragged up the line and no matter how hard I held on, it was no good. Eventually, I reached the surface. The only thing going for me is that I did not develop a pneumothorax. I was immediately administered oxygen, and my second dive was cancelled. The amazing thing is that I suffered no ill effects at all. I must have used up 2 lives on that dive. I spent several hundred dollars on tweeking the suit and it worked flawlessly afterwards.
The second close call involved our search for caves close to the shore of one of the Channel Islands. My dive buddy and I were in about 10 feet of water searching for the cave when out-of- nowhere, I can only describe it as a giant hand grabbing me. I was immediately pulled to the rocky shore of the island. I kicked like hell with my fins but it was useless. Then suddenly I was released. So, I kept on swimming to get the hell out of there. My dive buddy was hiding safely behind some rocks. There was not a thing he could do to help. All he would be good for was to tell them where to look for the body afterwards. As I was swimming back out into deeper water, I got grabbed again. This time I was brought even closer to the ominous rocks on the shore. I thought this time surely I was a goner. But just like last time, I was released at the very last second. I told myself that if this happened a third time it was all over. So I swam like hell and this time I got away. There was no third hand of god grabbing me. This last close call convinced me to search for calmer waters.
I think I have covered enough close calls, so now I am going to talk about my experiences involving the paranormal.
When I was younger, I worked in retail on the night stock crew. At this time I was burning both ends of the candle. Not only was I working over 40 hours a week, I was working on my Masters degree, as well. And I was getting worn out, I was really starting to break down physically and mentally. So after work one day, a day when I had no classes to go to, I decided I was going to try something different. I laid down on my bed and started thinking of nothingness. I totally emptied my mind of any thought. I was living at home at this time because I could not afford to pay rent and pay for my college at the same time. So I helped out my parents by giving them a smaller stipend then I would pay if renting an apartment. Suddenly I started hearing a voice from the distance, then I felt a vigorous shaking and finally I came too. It was 8 PM. I had been there almost 12 hours. It felt like mere minutes. During this time I felt like I was floating. I remember seeing my body in bed. I also remember floating over my car in the driveway. That is when I was woken up. Would I have woken up on my own? I don’t know. Where was my spirit going? I have never tried this again. It simply was too scary. But I do know when I woke up, I was totally at peace, my body did not hurt. Somehow this trance-like state was exactly what the doctor ordered. I had cured myself.
My first two marriages were quite rocky. During these years I found myself at several cross roads. During three of these crossroads I heard my deceased stepfathers voice calling to me. Apparently, it must take a lot of energy for a spirit to talk to a living person. The only word he could get out was my name. The first time he contacted me I was nodding off. So, I wasn’t sure if I heard what I heard. The last two times I was wide awake, so there was no question that he was contacting me. In all three cases I altered my course of action. In these three occasions, the new course of action was the correct one for me. It has been over 8 years since I have heard from him, so either he feels that I am finally doing ok or that he has moved onto a different plane, where he can no longer contact me. But whatever the case may be, it made a believer out of me.
This last entry is a head scratcher. You will probably say that I am making it up, well you would be wrong. It happened exactly like I am writing it. I was helping my soon to be ex-wife to move into a rental house. I was making the final trip of the night and all I left to drop off with my truck and utility trailer was a brand new elliptical trainer, that I had purchased at Sam’s Club for her. I had an elliptical trainer and she had to have one, even though she would never use it. I also had to give here some of my lower weight dumbbells and a pair of boxing gloves, because I had a pair. The shit she put me through was unbelievable. So I was by myself with this 500lb box delivering it to her house. As I made the final turn onto her street, all the street lights went out. I looked all around too. It was only on her street that this had happened. I was pissed, but I had a flashlight, so I said screw it. I pulled up to her house and went in and unlocked the front door so I could go into the garage and open up the door. The lights in the house went on, it was just the street lights that were out. Thank God, because I would have had to wrestle with the garage door. So I finally road the trainer down the trailer ramp on a furniture dolly. I finally got it in the garage, after pushing it and tugging it up the incline of the driveway. Of course her house couldn’t have been flat, that would have been too damn easy. So I finally finished my task, I was going to have to come back another time to put the damn trainer together, that of course will involve another story. Why can’t life be simple? So I am now in my truck driving back down the way I came, because the road was a dead end, and no sooner than I made a right hand turn off her road, the frigging street lights came back on. Now you tell me what the hell that was all about. Was her house cursed, or was I cursed, or was God getting back at me for getting a divorce? I don’t know. I have never had an experience like this since then. I know one thing, I was really creeped out.