Summer 1987, Portland, Oregon
My housemate and I started a painting business together and we needed a nice truck to haul around the paint and supplies. John was a firm believer in visualization, and he said if we visualized a nice new truck floating down to us in a pink bubble, bursting softly at our feet, we would get the truck. We did this for about a week, egging each other on, and one day a neighbor made us a deal on a Toyota SR5. It was practically brand new, and we got it for $750, a really good deal.
We were working a lot and the truck became indispensable. I got a really hard job demolishing someone’s chimney, and after ripping out bricks with a crowbar, I was ready to get drunk. I went to the bar and had some Bushmill’s with beer backs and then drove home. I made it home no problem, parked the truck, went upstairs and went to bed.
The next morning, my housemate came and woke me up. He asked me where I had parked the night before. Maybe I had left the truck downtown, but I assured him that I had made it home. He told me the truck was not parked out front anymore, where the heck was it?
I was still wasted from the whiskey the night before and slowly came to my senses, thinking I should roll over and look out my second story window to the street below and see for myself if the truck was there or not. I tried to push myself up to the windowsill but a sharp pain shot through my neck and right shoulder and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even turn over in bed. I had wrenched out my back in the chimney demolition and now I was completlely useless. As I would learn a few days later from the X-ray, my second vertebrae in my neck had unhinged itself somehow from my spinal column, pushed forward so far that the radiologist told me it was worse than if I had jumped off suicide bridge and survived. Five years of ramming into big guys with a football had finally come back to haunt me, and I cursed Coach Tryon for sending me back time after time to that bloody field.
We tried to figure out what could have happened to the truck, I was sure I had parked in front of the house. The phone rang. It was the police telling us that they had found it. A 16 year old had stolen the truck, gotten drunk and taken it for a joyride. Ten miles from our house, he had run a red light and T-boned another car, both cars were completely ruined, totalled as they say, but luckily no one was hurt. My housemate went to the scene of the crime and verified that yes indeed that was once our indispensable Toyota SR5, the front all crumpled and the engine spewing out steam and leaking fluid all over the road like blood. He said he cried in front of the policeman.
I wanted to get some kind of revenge on this teenager, but we knew we would never see the kid or get any money out of him. I finally made it out of my room, down the stairs, and spent three days on the couch until I could see a chiropractor and get my back put into place again.
My theory was that I had thrown out my neck when the kid was stealing the truck. It was right under my open window and I’m sure part of my sleeping drunk brain heard him breaking into the SR5. I probably jerked up to look out the window and screwed up my neck because I was too drunk to completely wake up.