Luck has been pondered upon down through the centuries. It is
a fickle attribute of life and can manifest itself any way it sees
(Ken Dean, 2006)
Alexander Steele's attribute of always having extraordinary good
luck became even more apparent when he was fourteen, riding bikes
with his friends. There was also the incident that happened three
years back, but Alex didn't want to think about that. As for the
present, they were riding in the local park, which had several bike
trails and walking paths that wound up and down throughout the park.
Most of the paths were gravel-lined with some bare dirt patches
showing through due to rain and erosion. Plus, it was a beautiful
Sunday afternoon; what could go wrong?
Alex and his friends had just taken a turn to go down one of the
steeper paths that was a real sweet ride. They all began to pick
up speed downhill, going as fast as possible. There was a large
tree root in the middle of the path that must have been exposed
at the last heavy rainfall. Alex's friends managed to miss it while
Alex must not have seen it. He hit it square on with enough force
to throw him off his bike, up and forward. He was suddenly airborne
and then landed on the gravel with quite a bit of momentum, enough
to send him tumbling and sliding along the gravel path.
His friends realized what had happened and rushed back to see what
the damage was. They gathered around Alex, who had slid to a stop
at the bottom and was now standing up, brushing himself off.
Jimbo asked the obvious question:"Alex, you okay?"
"I'm fine," he responded with some frustration in his
voice. That was stupid to have missed seeing that root. He stood
there, brushing off his clothes. "Where's my bike?"
Jimbo noticed that Alex's clothes were torn and shredded in some
areas, but he didn't see any scrapes or blood around the torn clothing.
"Alex, how come you're not all tore up? I mean, your clothes
are ripped up in places, but I don't see any cuts, scrapes, or blood
anywhere on you."
Damn. Why did Jimbo have to be so dumbass nosy all the time?
"Don't know; it's always been that way. I've seen other kids
get hurt, cut and bleed. But it's never happened to me.
Jimbo inspected Alex's torn clothing closer, trying to find some
sort of damage. All he could see through the torn clothing was the
undamaged skin of a teenage boy.
"That's creepy, man. You should have been torn up bad."
"Like I told you before, I've never been hurt or sick."
"Then you're damn lucky, luck like I've never seen before,"
he responded with some disbelief in his voice.
Why did Jimbo have to be so suspicious? He had always been a little
rough around the edges. His home life wasn't that great. He had
heard that his Dad was a drunk and tended to be abusive while his
Mom just stood by not able or willing to do anything. She was probably
afraid of getting tromped on herself. Jimbo seemed to have picked
up some of the bad attitude. He could be outright cruel at times.
But his home environment aside, Alex was beginning to dislike this
punk. He was only a friend by association.
Larry was walking down the path with his own and Alex's bike, which
had a totally ruined front tire, all bent up.
"Here you go, man. I don't think you'll be riding this thing
"Thanks for walking it down. Looks pretty bad."
Larry, Stan and Phil were all standing around Alex and Jimbo now,
with Larry still balancing the ruined bike while sitting on his
"Can I try something, Alex?" Jimbo asked. "I just
can't believe that you're not cut up and bleeding."
"Sure, I guess," he replied hesitantly. "What did
you have in mind?"
"I just want to try something with a stick, to see if I can
scratch your skin at all."
"Go ahead; I've never tried it myself."
Jimbo picked up a strong, solid stick from the edge of the path
and broke off the tip to get a more ragged edge.
"Phil, grab his arm."
Phil grabbed Alex's arm, a little too roughly. Phil had always been
a better friend of Jimbo's and shared some of his meanness and insensitivity.
Before Alex could pull away, Jimbo was plunging the stick down towards
Alex's forearm. Just before it touched his skin, the stick broke
into pieces and fell to the ground.
"What the hell? That stick was solid when I picked it up! It
fell apart like wet bamboo!"
While Phil still had a firm hold on Alex's arm, Jimbo plunged his
hand into his pocket and produced a wicked looking pocket knife,
which he quickly opened one-handed with the thumb switch. Alex was
struggling to get free, but Phil kept tightening his hold. Before
anyone could react, he raised the knife up, the deadly sharp serrated
blade glinting in the sunlight. As he had it high in the air, about
to bring it down, the blade fell out of the knife onto Jimbo's head.
"Oww! Damnit, that hurts!" Blood was slowly running down
his head and behind his ear onto his shoulder from the cut in his
Alex managed to pull free as Jimbo reached up to feel the wound.
"You freak! How did that stuff happen? The breaking stick and
my knife falling apart by itself!"
He lunged towards Alex and grabbed a handful of torn shirt, and
was reaching back with his arm to punch him squarely in the nose.
But as his arm went back, before he could throw the punch, there
was a loud crack which had a wet, sick sound.
Jimbo screamed and fell to the ground, his right forearm broken
with a compound fracture. A couple of the boys felt the blood spatter
against their face from Jimbo's sudden wound. They were all staring
at the grisly bone poking out through the torn skin of his arm.
All three boys were talking at once, a couple of them wiping blood
from their faces.
"What the hell?"
"How did that happen?"
"Damn, his arm broke all by itself!"
Jimbo had fallen to his knees, screaming in pain. He began to throw
up, and then he slowly fell sideways to the ground, passing out
from the pain and shock. Alex reached down and felt Jimbo's neck
to make sure he was okay. His pulse was fast, and his wound wasn't
bleeding profusely. Probably didn't tear an artery. But he was breathing,
which was a good sign.
While Alex was still touching Jimbo's neck, they all began to hear
a siren off in the distance, getting closer. Within a few seconds,
a rescue squad was coming up the service road which ran very close
to the bike path. The squad stopped just opposite them. The siren
silenced while the lights were still running. A blue-clad paramedic
jumped out of the passenger side and came running towards them.
"Hey, boys, is someone hurt here?" The paramedic shifted
his gaze towards Jimbo on the ground.
"Yeah," Alex replied. "Our friend seems to have broken
his arm badly, but we're not sure how it happened."
"Well, it's lucky for you guys we came along when we did. We
were on a run but lost our way, and then found out it was a false
call. Just about to turn around and head back for the station, but
it looks like we have a patient to transport to the hospital now."
He examined the arm for a few seconds.
"That's a really nasty broken arm and needs to be looked at
as soon as possible. I'll head back to the squad, get our gear and
bring my partner back to help."
"Thanks, sir. We appreciate it."
The paramedic ran back to the squad and began talking to his partner.
"Alex, what the hell's going on?" Stan asked, trying to
keep his voice down. "I mean, with that stick and knife weirdness,
Jimbo's arm breaking by itself and then this squad showing up out
of nowhere just when Jimbo needed it. Not to mention you not getting
hurt in what should have been a slide and grind."
"Just lucky, I guess. I mean me, of course; Jimbo's
luck sure seemed to have run out."
"Well, that's pretty odd in itself. Your good luck at his expense."
"You don't know the half of it; sometimes that expense can
be pretty high."
"What?" The questioned went unanswered.
Both paramedics were running towards them with a gurney and a canvas
They left the gurney at the edge of the service road since the area
was too rough to wheel the gurney across and ran to the boys with
the tarp and a large equipment bag. Jimbo was beginning to stir
on the ground and started to moan. The paramedics both knelt down
beside Jimbo and one was giving him an injection while the other
was applying some type of coagulate powder to his scalp to help
stop the bleeding.
"Some morphine for the pain; when he comes fully conscious,
that arm is going to hurt like boiled hell. Does anyone here know
his parents? We'll be taking him to Riverside Hospital."
Stan spoke up. "I do. I'll give them a call right away and
let them know."
They laid the tarp down beside him, and after immobilizing the broken
arm, they carefully lifted him by shoulders and ankles onto it.
With Jimbo on the tarp, they lifted it up and carried him over to
the gurney, strapped him on and wheeled him into the squad.
"You guys be careful; your friend will probably be just fine."
With that, they sped off with sirens back on to accompany the flashing
"Why don't we all head home?" Alex suggested. "I've
had enough bizarre shit for one day."
The rest of the group agreed. Alex made sure he took a different
way home than the others, mainly to avoid any questions the others
might bring up. He was sure they were cooking up all kinds of weird
stories among themselves about the events. And he was equally sure
that all kinds of rumors would be spread around the high school
by tomorrow about the odd events of today.
It was late when he finally arrived home, and he had missed dinner.
His mother had saved his in the stove in case he wanted it.
"It's late, Alex. Is everything okay?"
Then she saw his torn clothing. "My God, son, what happened
His mother was very caring towards him, but still had a pragmatic
side and just wanted to make sure he was okay. It probably came
about from the fact that he was the only family she had left. He
knew her love and concern for him was real and she felt that she
had to be protective of him. But he felt more and more like he didn't
"Took a tumble down one of the bike paths. I'm fine, though."
"One of those gravel paths in the park?"
"I'm just thankful you're okay. But that's something I never
need to worry about, do I? You've been heavily blessed in your life,
Alex. Never been sick a day in your life, you've never been hurt;
not so much as a scrape or mosquito bite. And now this. By all rights,
you should be torn up as hell. But of course, you're not. I know
you don't like to think about it, and it brings up some guilty feelings
for you, but this is a lot like the crash three years ago."
No, he didn't like to think about it! It was the night his father
had been killed in a car crash but Alex had miraculously survived.
His dad had been driving him to his aunt's home to spend the night.
It was dark and very stormy, with the lightning distracting with
every vivid flash, and then the darkness and heavy rain would close
in again. They were traveling down Spring Hill Mountain, which was
treacherous enough on a dry day. The road was cut out of the side
of the mountain, with a rocky wall on the right and a hundred-foot
drop to the left. The road was like an amusement park ride; continuously
curving left-right-left. Nothing to keep you from going over the
edge but one of those '50s-era guardrails.
They were just about to a spot where the road curved sharply left
when the car started to slide on the wet asphalt. Alex was on the
passenger side, which was sliding fast towards the jagged rock wall
of the mountain. Suddenly, in what seemed like a millisecond, the
car was sliding in a different direction, so that the driver's side
was headed towards the wall instead. They impacted hard; his father
never stood a chance. His head smashed through the window on impact
and hit the rocks hard. He was killed instantly.
Alex had somehow wound up lying on the wet pavement, conscious.
The rain was still heavy and he was instantly soaking wet. He got
up quickly and flagged down a car while calling 911 on his cell.
He was in shock and also realized he needed to check on his father.
He rushed over to check on his him, but was almost sick at the sight.
The dispatcher on the other end of the line told him to check for
a pulse, which he did, but his father was already gone. He realized
he was probably in shock and at the moment and not thinking clearly.
He hated to think what his poor mother would go through once she
found out. He needed to call her soon. He knew she would be devastated.
The occupants of the stopped car were trying to get him to sit in
their car where it was dry and warm, but he told them he would rather
stay with his father. He knew this would be the last bit of time
he could be with him before the incoming squad would take him away
forever. They said they understood and let him be, while keeping
watch from their vehicle. The rain kept pouring down while he sat
on a rock, which was cold and wet, which kept him totally soaked
while he kept watch over his father's lifeless body. He had never
been this close to someone who had suddenly died, which can have
a profound effect on the average person. But also being a loved
one, the effect can be horrendous, leaving a scar on one's psyche.
He began to sob uncontrollably, his tears mixing with the cold,
He heard sirens off in the distance getting closer. Within a few
minutes, several police cruisers, a squad and fire truck pulled
up. The sirens went off while the lights kept flashing. A couple
of officers were placing flares on the road to warn passing traffic
while two other officers had to pull him away from his father's
side and into a cruiser where they offered their sympathies but
said they had to ask him some routine questions. They asked him
his name and his father's name and if there were any relatives they
should contact. He answered his mother and gave them their home
number. He numbly continued to answer everything about the event.
The officers hesitated when he came to the part about the car swerving
around one hundred eighty degrees right before the impact.
"Are you sure about that, even with all the confusion of being
right in the middle of a sudden accident?" one officer asked.
"Yes, I'm positive; the rock wall was coming right at my side
of the car when suddenly the driver's side of the car was heading
towards it instead. I don't even remember the car swinging around."
Both officers looked at each other for a few seconds.
"Okay, that's what we'll put in the report. Listen, we're going
to take you to the hospital ourselves to get checked out so you
won't have to ride in the squad."
"No! I want to ride there with my father!"
"Are you sure about that, son? Sorry to be blunt, but he'll
have been put in a body bag for the trip."
"Yes, I'm sure. I want to stay with him until he's taken away
"Okay, we can do that. Don't really think it's a healthy thing
to do, but the officer here will take you over. Brodsky, will you
take him over to ride in the squad?"
"Sure thing, Sarge." Turning to Alex, Officer Brodsky
said, "Let's go, I'll walk you over."
They stepped back out into the rain, which showed no sign of letting
up. He stepped up into the back of the squad and sat down across
from the black body bag. He was suddenly sick to his stomach, either
from shock or being so close to his father's body again. He was
able to force it back, but knew it may come back any minute.
A paramedic came to the back doors to shut them, but not before
giving Alex a strange look. Screw him; it wasn't his father. They
began to move down the mountain, towards Thomas Memorial Hospital
downtown, named after a World War II soldier who had been killed
when he had jumped on and covered a live grenade to save his fellow
foxhole inhabitants. Frickin' brave soldier, Alex thought.
Overcome with emotion, he had begun to sob again when he noticed
that the body bag wasn't entirely zipped up. The jostling of the
squad's movement had shaken his father's hand loose. It was out
of the bag and shaking with the vehicle's movement. He mustered
all his courage and reached over to put it back in and re-zip the
bag when his father's hand suddenly lashed out and grabbed his own
with a grip of steel that he couldn't break away from.
His father's body suddenly began to speak in a very loud voice,
slightly muffled through the body bag.
"Alex, I want you to know that I love you and your mother very
much, and that will never change."
His father's hand let go of its steely grip and went limp again
the instant his body finished speaking. He was too shocked to speak.
His father was dead. There wasn't any way he could have survived
the impact, not to mention Alex had seen first hand the damage that
impact had caused. He quickly put the hand back in the bag and zipped
it up so that it was fully closed. Instead of being absolutely terrified,
Alex felt a wave of peace and warmth come over him. This was exactly
what he had needed to hear to speed up his acceptance of the loss
of his Father. How it had happened was totally lost to him until
later. He didn't tell anyone what had happened in the squad except
for his mother; and that was about a month after the funeral. He
was afraid of not being believed or thought of as crazy.
When he told his mother about it in the kitchen one night, her eyes
closed for a few minutes until he had thought she was going to pass
out. But then she opened them and had a peaceful look on her face.
"Son, I believe you. And thank you for having the courage to
tell me, it was exactly what I needed to hear."
Alex was still reminiscing when his mother spoke, bringing him out
of the flashback.
"So you see, your luck even found a way to give us both some
closure on your father's death."
"Yeah, I understand that. But why did I turn out the way I
am? I feel cursed."
"You probably feel that way now, son. But as you get older,
I'm sure you'll come to appreciate it. People would sell their souls
to have what you have. And try to look on it as a gift, not a curse.
The future is wide open to you. There's probably nothing that you
won't be able to do."