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Deus Ex Machina Lives Here

by Gayla Chaney

I am a survivor. Five, ten, twenty times over. It’s not due to skill or determination on my part. No, I possess neither. At one time, I worried that might be a problem. But not anymore. Evidently, I don’t need them to survive. I need nothing. I am better than lucky.

Before last Friday, I had no idea the level of expertise or the amount of resources that were available to me. In fact, when the whole thing began, I thought I was just on an ordinary outing to pick up a few cases of Barq’s Root Beer that were on sale at Target. That seemed harmless enough.

But one thing led to another, not that I wanted it that way, but good help is hard to find, even for a company as big as Target, and that day the whole lazy crew of Target employees could not be bothered to patrol for abandoned shopping carts in the parking lot. Yes, things got out of hand.

Since the brain injury, I’ve had a little problem with impulse control. Yet despite that or perhaps because of it, the miraculous occurred — again. I am so blessed. I swear, it’s happening often enough these days that the miraculous is beginning to feel routine.

That morning at Target, as I stacked three cases of Root Beer on the passenger seat of my car, two abandoned shopping carts rolled across the parking lot. The wind blew those buggies right into the front quarter panel of my new yellow Mustang, scratching the paint. I overreacted a bit, but I had only made one car payment and now, my beautiful new car was marred. Tainted. It was no longer an object of beauty. And why?

Because the Target Store employees could not be bothered to do their jobs. They casually watched from inside the store as shopping carts sailed across the parking lot, crashing into beautiful, new cars, mine, in particular.

I admit I could have taken a more diplomatic path to convey my annoyance at the situation. Still, the way it turned out has only intensified my awe of providence.

Observing the damage done to my vehicle, I responded with a knee-jerk reaction, like a she-bear protecting her cubs — except that I am a man and my cubs are a Ford Mustang — but the protective instinct is the same.

I could make a case for aggression being as much a defensive tactic as an offensive tactic, but had I even tried to offer an explanation to that crowd, my words would have been wasted. Mob mentality had already taken over. They were after me!

Why? I merely hurled a can or two or three of Barq’s Root Beer through the plate glass window of the Target Store, and only after my car had been attacked first. And for that, I was on the verge of being arrested.

I don’t go looking for trouble, but I’m not the kind of guy to back down when provoked. I doubt any psychoanalyst would label me as dangerous, but evidently the Target manager did. Thus, the SWAT team was called in and the situation escalated. I found myself surrounded by guys in riot gear, their shields held up to protect them from flying root beer cans. At any minute I was about to be swarmed by those guys.

It seemed there was no way out for me when suddenly I heard a large, black helicopter circling above us. The police looked up, stunned at a helicopter overhead that was neither one of theirs nor one from the news channels.

The mysterious helicopter swooped down, and with a crane-like device grabbed hold of my Mustang, lifting my car up with me inside. I was suddenly above the parking lot and out of reach of the police, leaving the Target store to sweep up the broken glass and finally, collect those runaway shopping carts.

The whole ordeal was covered by Channel Six News, which had a camera crew live on the scene, allowing their viewers to witness my escape as those police officers stood there wide-eyed, mouths gaping, their guns drawn in vain, as I waved good-bye from my car window while sipping on my last can of root beer. Of course, they never caught up with me.

That rescue came on the heels of the collapsing bridge incident from the previous week. At the time, I was being chased by Illinois state troopers across the state line into Missouri where technically, those fellows had no jurisdiction. They had way overstepped their authority on this one, so the bridge collapsing with their cars on it — spilling them into the gorge with their sirens blaring as I cleared the ravine unscathed — was nothing short of true justice. I felt a divine connection at that moment with Moses who must have turned and watched with glee as those Egyptian chariots in hot pursuit of him were swallowed up by the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s fellows obviously had way overstepped their authority, too.

This is not some cheesy Hollywood B-movie I’m telling you about: This is my life. I don’t have to fear the precarious or the unpredictable because I am — forgive my immodesty — invincible. It’s better than being Indiana Jones or Clark Kent or one of the Hardy Boys, because their adventures are made up and mine are real!

Why me? Why have I been chosen? I have no idea, but I know better than to question Fate. This is my destiny, and nobody will catch me looking this Trojan horse in the mouth.

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way. I lived a rather dismal life for the first thirty years. In fact, I’d say I had more than my share of bad luck. My apartment was robbed twice. My car was vandalized four times in a three month period. My identity was stolen. My nose was randomly busted by flying debris. I was hung in effigy outside the place where I worked. I never got a break from the authorities.

My perils went down as unsolved mysteries. Still, I took it all in stride... until one day, the world turned upside down and everything changed. I remember the exact date: It was Valentine’s Day, three years ago.

I’d been bowling with my buddies, Mickey and Clint, and I was feeling pretty lucky that day because I had broken my average of one hundred and thirty-nine in two of the three games we played. I boasted for a minute or two or maybe more until the guys told me to get out of there.

I packed up my ball and shoes and said good-bye before heading home. As I stepped outside the bowling alley, I noticed a couple of rough-looking fellows leaning up against my car. I started to turn back and go get Mickey or Clint when a third creep, a really big guy, appeared from nowhere and grabbed me from behind. He shoved me toward my car and the two waiting thugs.

Now, I gotta admit, I was scared. I figured I would get rolled and beaten. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t lose any more teeth or get a ruptured eardrum. I had been through both of those events before, and I wasn’t relishing a repeat.

In the shuffle that ensued, I dropped my bowling bag on the big guy’s foot. That’s when it happened. He screamed in agony, cursed me, then jabbed me twice in the spleen with something sharp. One of his buddies came at me swinging a pair of nunchuks, striking me in the back of the head while the big guy hollered out to the third hoodlum to get the rope.

I managed to pull free and hightail it back into the bowling alley where everybody looked like they had just seen a ghost.

I said, “Hey, fellows... some guys just tried to mug me out there...” but nobody moved. They just kept staring at me, mumbling something about pulverized tomatoes.

Someone finally brought me a towel with some ice wrapped in it and called an ambulance. I sat down and faded out due to blood loss, I suppose. Well, this is where the wild stuff begins.

When I came to, I found myself being whisked away by white-clad angelic types with dangling stethoscopes and haloes. They were all chattering in what I supposed was a heavenly language. It sounded sort of like bees humming, but a little more divine. Though I didn’t understand a word, once I heard their vibratory tongue, I simply knew that from that moment on, things were about to change for me.

Now, no matter what I do, no matter where I go or which menace I encounter, including those wearing badges, I cannot be stopped. Some force, somewhere, is looking out for me. It’s better than magic. I don’t have to call on it, conjure up some mystical potions or recite any esoteric chants. All I have to do is find myself in a dangerous situation, and WHAM! I am out of there. Tanks, helicopters, laser beams — you name it — whatever is needed always appears miraculously, and just in the nick of time, too.

I don’t worry anymore about flying bricks or baseball bats striking my skull or rusty blades slicing me under my ribs or guns poking me in my back or piano wire being wrapped around my neck. Never again... never again, because like I said, I’ve become invincible. Some serendipitous event always occurs and saves me from all the would-be assassins and scoundrels out there. Watch your nightly news, if you need proof.

On New Year’s Eve, I was pushed out a fourth floor window and landed on an awning, breaking my fall. A month before that happened, I was in the midst of a forest fire when a small, nearby dam gave way and gushed just enough water to swallow up the blaze.

Three weeks ago, I was being suffocated with a pillow by a serial killer when a lightning bolt struck the ceiling fan over my bed and the thing dropped red hot onto that psychopath’s head. It killed the villain on the spot. The pillow on my face saved me. I swear.

Do you think I could actually make this stuff up? Call me a liar and watch what happens. Go on, say it. Take a menacing tone... and see if one of us doesn’t just disappear.

Copyright © 2007 by Gayla Chaney

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