Before I start this story I have to pose a question to all of you. How much would you pay to see a guy jump into a shallow muddy river from a distance that is almost surely to kill him? Now before you answer there are some circumstances to consider. It's shortly after a long night of adult beverages and certain amphetamines are racing through you like a fire in a fireworks factory and there are new friends to impress. Ok lets get started.
One night back in the mid to late 80's I was out with some new friends after a hot 2nd shift in a plastics factory. Back then I was all of 115 lbs. and drank like a sailor on shore leave. That is if these sailors were buzzed after 2 beers and smashed after 5. Some of my new workmates had invited me to indulge in my favorite after work activity and I couldn't wait to show them how T-Wray liked to party. We all couldn't wait to get to the air conditioned bar after working 8 hours in the scorching heat of whichever month of summer this night happened to be. I don't remember but we will say June because I think that is a pretty name. So here we are , maybe 5 guys and 2 or 3 girls, at the bar playing pool and pinball and I think the bar had one of those bowling machines that had the big wooden balls that would absolutely trump a pool ball in a nice bar room brawl. Fortunately on this night the pool balls were used for pool and the bowling balls for bowling as nobody had the urge to display any acts of aggression toward one another. we all got along famously.
Me being the new guy I thought it only appropriate that i buy my new friends a round. My generosity did not go unnoticed and in the 2 hours we were there probably 8 rounds were bought by different people at the bar and some of the a fore mentioned amphetamines were ingested and we were talking and laughing having a great time until those 2 words that will kill a party right in it's tracks were shouted. LAST CALL.
So there we were at last call wishing the party could go on forever but knowing if it is to continue it will have to be at a yet to be determined alternate location. Just then one of the fellas said "we could ride out to the club." Now this was back when 50 cent was half a dollar and you put an "s" at the end of it so I knew we weren't headed to an "after hours" club because there was no such thing at that point in our countries history> At least not in southwest Ohio. So, naturally, I was intrigued by this "club." So we all pitched in and bought some overpriced beer to go and headed off to the club.
Now I didn't drive to the bar because it was just down the street from our workplace and I was certainly in no shape to drive to "the club." I jumped in one of the cars that had someone sober enough to drive and off we headed to continue this nice summer party. In the car my new friends were telling me all about the club. where it was, what it was etc.. They also told me there was a caged chimpanzee there who liked smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. I thought they were just pulling my leg. They were not. There was, in fact, a chimpanzee or other kind of subhuman specie there who liked to smoke and drink beer. Though he or she has little to do with the rest of the story. How cool is that? Not only am I at a kickass party with my new workmates but also a smoking drinking chimp! What could possibly happen to ruin this wonderful summer night?
We were all drinking and talking there at the club which was located somewhere in Morrow Ohio along the banks of the Little Miami River. We were situated on a platform about, I would guess, 8 feet above and maybe 10 feet away from the river. The alcohol and amphetamines had everyone talking at the same time and it was loud and smokey and every one was having a great time. Then, it happened. One otherwise soft spoken happy go lucky guy who I will refer to as Mike, because that is his name and we are not protecting the innocent said something that would change this night and the people involved for the rest of his and their lives. Mike made it known with great certainty that he could dive off of the landing and into the river with no harmful side effects.I thought to myself, "NO WAY." Now maybe all of these other people knew that Mike was a true blue guy and not one of those people who will say something and then not back it up. I didn't know this. Maybe it would have been a good idea to let me know this because I too that way.
The night went on. There was more drinking more smoking and more of Mike challenging everybody to get some money together and pay see this daring feat. On and on he went "I can do it with no problem" he kept saying. again challenging the group to gather the money that would buy this act of drunken stupidity. Nobody would shell out the dough, probably because they knew Mike would try it. As I said before I didn't know Mike this way and had heard just about enough of his rambling. I pulled out a 20 and said something very close to "alright fucker, do it!" You could have heard a pin drop. My new friends were looking at me in disbelief. Like I was the one who done something wrong. Fact was I was just tired of this guy going on about it so I called him out. $20 right here. You aint gonna jump in the fucking river. You aint got the balls.
Now if you want to judge me now for what I did in my twenties then you are not going to like me very much if at all, but I will tell you right now that sometimes you have to put up to get someone to shut the fuck up and I had heard enough.
Mike took off his socks shoes and everybody crowded around him begging of him not to jump. Mike's response was to point at me and say "this fucker don't believe I can do it. I'll show your ass."
"Show me then. I'm tired of hearing you talk about it. I've been listening to you all night. I'm ready to see it."
At that moment I realized that i had called a man out on a stupid stunt that could very well cost him his life. There was no turning back for Mike. He was a man of his word and I could see that now. I turned to him and told him "Mike, I don't know you very well so I challenged you to do this thinking that you wouldn't do it. Now that see you are willing to to show that you can, I don't want you to. Keep the $20 but please, don't jump."
"No way man. You put up the money and I'm jumping!"
I will never forget the sound of Mike's feet on the concrete. I turned my head head. I heard a splash and some cheers from the crowd. Holy shit he made it!! What a relief. I felt the weight of another mans life lifted from my shoulders.
Stepping from the water Mike didn't look so good. "Holy shit! Look at his fucking head!" someone shouted. Mike was bleeding from the forehead. He made the water but had not judged the depth very well. I was in shock. "Oh fuck we have to get him to the hospital." everybody rushed to the cars to get Mike medical attention. In the confusion I was left behind. I had no idea where I was or how I would get home.
I started walking down the dark back roads. Not knowing which way to go or even which way I was headed. It was so dark. Maybe in the morning. I could here dogs barking and to be honest I was scared as hell! I continued on , worrying more about the man I'd just paid to commit suicide than myself until a car pulled up and told me to get in. One of my new friends? No. An off duty police lady who had heard the sheriffs calling in an unknown male stumbling down the middle of an old country road. She told me that if not for her I would surely have been arrested and most likely given a nice beating from the deputies who were en route.
She asked me where my car was and I told her and she drove me back there and gave me a piece of gum and sent me on my way. Oh, by the way, I made a pass at this wonderful lady and she responded to my action by reminding me that she had gun.
It was daybreak by now and on my drive home I tried to recall the events that had taken place. It was really cloudy in my now halfway sober head and I wondered if Mike was ok. I learned later that he had about 16 stitches in his forehead and was going to be alright. Two days later mike was back in the hospital with a microbial infection from the water. He was hospitalized for weeks. My friends tried to assure me that this wasn't my fault and I shouldn't fell badly , but every time I seen Mike after that I could see the scar that night left on him. He's never seen my scar.