Chapter 9 - Water Hurts
Living near a lake is the absolute best for a teenager. All teenagers should have the opportunity to live around the water whether that is a lake, a river, or the ocean. Tobin, Georgie and I had become thick as thieves and were on the lake pretty much every day, rain or shine.
Percy Priest Lake was land locked meaning you can’t get past the dam to get out on the river from the lake. It was a beautiful lake as the Army Corp of Engineers owned all the land immediately adjacent to the lake. This meant that there were no houses that were directly connected to the lake so it was very clean due to having no homes or boat ramps on the lake. Well, except for where you put your boat in the water at the designated boating ramp areas. The lake was very large and is over forty-two miles long and located in three different counties. There was plenty of room for three teenagers to find ways to get into some trouble and trouble we could find.
I had an extremely old fishing boat that had been my grandpas. He had given it to me right when we moved to Greensboro for my birthday. It was a great surprise. I think my dad was jealous that he had given it to me instead of him. Ridiculous, as it was my mom’s father, not his. Anyway, it was one of those small green old fishing boats that most everyone had that lived near the water. It had the oar holders built in on the sides where you could lock oars in and oar. It also had a small 7.5 hand controlled type outboard engine connected to the back. It was the kind that had a long handle that you could fold up or straight out pointing and you simply twist for the throttle. It was old, but the motor had been babied by my grandfather and it would take me and my friends all over that lake.
That boat was my pride and joy during that time in my life. I absolutely loved it and took excellent care of it. I let my friend Chris pick me up after getting it off the trailer one time and I told him not to turn too close to shore and what did he do? He turned too close and the blades hit the ground and shot the engine off the back. Luckily, I had the engine tied on with a chain so the engine was saved! Chris never operated my boat again.
We would go out almost every day after school and whenever we all were free on the weekends. Each of our parents thought we were out there fishing, but we all hated fishing. I learned fast that fishing to me sucks unless you catch something pretty fast. Instead of fishing, we all would go out to this island we found and swim, get high and jump off the cliffs. The water around that side of the island was about 60 feet deep right off the edge where we would jump, so there was no chance of hitting the bottom of the lake. This was a good thing. Now there was always the chance of hitting the water wrong, but we each had jumped off those cliffs at least a hundred times with no issues. It was perfectly a safe place to jump.
Well on this particular day, it wasn’t a perfectly safe place to jump. I hit the water wrong. Really wrong!
I am still not sure if I was just jumping from too high of a point or what, but halfway through my back reverse gainer (remember Greg Louganis when he hit his head on the diving board during the Olympics? Well, that was a Gainer), falling from about thirty feet or more, everything just seemed to stop. I remember thinking how peaceful and blue the sky looked for the longest time and then wondering why I wasn’t seeing the cliffs pass by. Then I started thinking why weren’t my legs coming over top of me as I was falling like they usually did. I remember realizing that I must be close to hitting the water. Maybe it was my attention deficit disorder or something, but whatever the case, I was lost for a few seconds during that free fall and a few seconds are too long to be lost when you are falling fast. Whatever the case, it led me not to make the rotation of the flip.
And that, well, that was the last thing I remembered for about ten minutes.
“What the fuck man, are you dead?” I heard Tobin asking but couldn’t really see him as everything was blurry.
“Where, am, I?” I stuttered not having a clue where I was.
“Oh shit, he must have hit his head or something” Georgie said to Tobin concerned.
“Fuck man, do you remember jumping off the cliff a few minutes ago?” Tobin asked me.
“What cliff?” I replied still not knowing where I was.
“Jesus man, you hit the water flat on your fucking back. Georgie here jumped in and we pulled you out. It was the coolest thing we ever saw, well, up until you hit flat on your back. It made the loudest sound man. God that looked painful.” Tobin said laughing a little.
Right about then is when I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my lower back.
“Uh oh,” I said to both of them looking down at me.
“What?” both Tobin and Georgie said in unison.
“Fuck, I can’t move my legs.”