Deathwish 056: Jake

Editor Acacia Blackwell, Editor's Choice, August 21st, 2017

"My mind was wild. I told myself I just didn’t care about anything."

Deathwish Jake Nailed Magazine
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December 21, 2003. I had recently left the US Army, the Infantry and the 82nd Airborne, after four years of service, including deployments to Kosovo and Afghanistan. A few days prior I had gotten a phone call from a friend telling me that my unit was going to Iraq. The Army couldn’t legally call me back at that time. However, I was all jacked up over the possibility. I had no desire to go back to the Army yet I felt extreme guilt over my friends going to Iraq without me.

I was back home in a little town in Wyoming. I was drinking way too much. My mind was wild. I told myself I just didn’t care about anything. On December 21, after the bars had closed, I found myself driving on an old country road when I shouldn’t have been driving. It was a road I had learned to drive on when I was a kid. I had dropped an old high school friend off at his house in the valley. When I pulled out of his driveway, all I had to do was take a left and that would take me back to the main road in town. For some reason, being impaired and not paying attention, I took a right.

I’m driving sixty, at around 4am, its pitch black and I’m on this old country road that had patches of ice, wondering why I hadn’t made it to the highway yet. Of all the songs in the world, Phil Collins, In the Air Tonight, was playing on my radio. To this day my mind still snaps back when I hear the lyrics, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord.”

Doing sixty down the road, I make it to a fork in the road. It sneaks up on me. I start to slow down. I hit a patch of ice. I start to go off the road. At one point, I realize that I can’t correct and get back on the road. Time slows down for me and I remember my exact thought before I go into the ditch. I thought, “You dumb mother f*@%ker, after everything you’ve just been through, you’re going to die out here, in the middle of no-where, by yourself. Idiot.”

The car went into the ditch. I wasn’t wearing my seat belt. The bottom half of my body stayed where it was. The top half snapped forward. It was as if God reached into my body and snapped my spine over his knee like a twig. Everything went black. It couldn’t have been long. I opened my eyes. The song was still playing. Glass shards were all over the back of my neck. It was cold. My back hurt, so much pain. In the ditch, I watched the air bag fizzle out of the steering wheel. I started laughing hysterically.

I thought, “You’re still alive you dumb sh@$, you’re still alive.” Still alive.

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To read the previous installment, “Deathwish 055: Laura”, go here. To participate in Deathwish, find details here.

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Jake was born in Roseberg, Oregon and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Acacia Blackwell

Acacia is a writer from Portland, OR, which suits her because sunshine gives her anxiety. She is currently completing an MFA, despite being recently told by Tom Spanbauer that to become a better writer, she needs to "unlearn all that grad school stuff." She listened, and it seems to be working. Acacia is working on a collection of personal essays that she really doesn't want to admit might be a memoir, and a memoir that she really doesn't want to admit might be a novel.