Funny the thoughts that pass through the head the last seconds of your life.
With tires squealing the only thought in my mind was that I had just saved my portable camera. And over the eighty-foot cliff I flew.
I was leaving Desert Storm. Military life is difficult to appreciate if you’ve never served; one hundred mile-an-hour excitement or utter boredom. Not much in between and you wish for one while in the other.
I was given the opportunity to fly back with our two helicopters. We stopped in Rodhos (Rodos) and then Kérkira (Corfu) in Greece, two fairly large islands at either end of the country’s borders. We “weathered-in” for one extra day in each location. Weather is one of the biggest threats to flying helicopters and that one little white cloud in the big blue sky looked pretty threatening. Military life isn’t always tough.
Our first day on Corfu three of us decided to rent mopeds and tour the island. Crystal blue water against clean white rock, colorful houses spotting the coast, and lots of greenery. Intense after six months of brown rock and brown tents. Corfu depends upon tourism and has plenty of watering holes so we stopped at one to *imbibe the local brew*. When I say one that means whole as in all of them. Amazingly, these pubs were full of English women. I fell in love at least twenty times and in the course of our talks they let us in on a little secret – evidently the English idea for a great vacation is to meet a stranger and have a banger. I won’t interpret that for you. It’s quite possible that my own interpretation was way off the mark. You’re on your own, bud.
Excited, we headed back to freshen up for a night on the town. I had a portable camera with me that was too big for my pockets so my solution was to tuck the camera in the waistband of my shorts. Unfortunately the camera had the tendency to slide down a pant leg. This is not a problem if you have control of your faculties. Several pubs later . . . well, you do the math. The camera fell out once during the trip back. In one swift move the cosmos aligned as I fluidly reached down without looking and caught it mid- air. I had saved my camera from certain death at 30 miles an hour! I deftly tucked it back into my pants, triumphant smile on my face! Imagine my surprise when I noticed the road was no longer in front of me! I was rapidly approaching the shoulder in the other lane. Let it not be said that Greece’s Department of Transportation lacks a sense of humor; shoulder to them corresponds to “five inches of dirt”. The other side of the shoulder, however, was eighty feet of air. Cushioned by sharp pointy rocks below. So this is what I flew into, brakes locked up, handle bars twisted.
And I had just saved my $130.00 camera.
Ah, the fickle fates! Two houses along side that cliff shared an outhouse, built upon stilts and stuck to the rocks in a physics-defying haphazard fashion. M. C. Escher couldn’t have done better. I was happy to see it. I wasn’t thrilled with the six-foot drop to reach it, but who was I to complain? Head over heels, crashing into planks, and hitting the outhouse in a somersault-type move, I took a blow to my lower stomach from the handlebars. After coming to a complete stop my first thought was that I had ruptured my bladder. So, I used the nearest bathroom. The one that just saved my life (hey it was there). No blood, but still quite painful. By then the noise I made brought the neighbors out of their houses and they were giving me strange looks (HEY —you guys are SHARING a toilet keep the strange looks to yourselves and HEY — you guys are SHARING a toilet what difference if a stranger uses it). My two good buddies, in that most caring fashion of twenty year-olds were taking pictures of my skid marks. The moped skid marks. With my camera, no less.
It took a few minutes to catch my breath, get the moped back on the street, and collect several plastic pieces along with my shattered pride. The rest of the trip back was positively uneventful, probably because I was going three miles an hour. Enthusiasm curbed, I did not go out that night. The next day was clear weather so we took off arriving back to Italy that evening. I had muscle soreness and a small knot where I had hit the handle bars. I was lucky, all things considered. Small bonus; damage to the moped totaled twenty bucks.
As Paul Harvey used to say, now for the rest of the story.
Three days later in the shower I screamed. A girly, teenaged-horror-movie-type scream. I noticed that the parts that define me as a male were now black. Little Johnny and his two buds. The whole package. Larry, Moe, and Curly. Completely black. Overnight! Something gradual might have been easier to accept. A little color here, some shading there — granting one time to get used to the idea that one will have colored genitals. What bothered me the most was the color. You need no medical training to know what happens to things that turn black.
The doctor at sick call explained that abdominal blunt-force injuries can have this effect. Instead of being localized the blood pools down to the lowest areas of the abdominal cavity. Whew!!! It wasn’t going to fall off. He did say it would go through several color changes. And he was right, it did. Very weird. Lasted several weeks.
I should have taken advantage of it, now that I think about it. I am sure Hollywood could have used a body double for a zombie movie at that time. You know, for *that* part.