Bad Karma

The truth is, I completely forgot about the following story until my friend’s wife jogged my memory with the email below—and there it was, just waiting to be picked up and held for a while. Enjoy.
Re: Childhood story attached
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 7:31 PM
From: “”

Hi Gene,
Stay in touch…if you have any more stories to share, feel free. Did you write one about the firecrackers in the car?
How is your hearing? ☺

Firecrackers were hard to come by when I was growing up. As far as I know, they were only legal in Tennessee and Canada in the early 70s. Luckily, my grandparents lived in Florida. Every summer on our annual trip to Florida, we drove through Tennessee. So, every summer I returned home with a bag chock full of Black Cat firecrackers. And, they were usually gone within a week.

My friend, David, was always willing to help me light firecrackers. We tossed them in mailboxes, pipes and trash cans—all of which seemed to amplify the sound of the explosion. It was getting late, we were bored and hungry, so we went for a drive to McDonald’s. Dave had a driver’s license in 11th grade—I didn’t—so, Dave drove. It was just getting dark as we cruised through town munching on our burgers and sipping our Cokes. I don’t think we took the firecrackers with us intentionally, but there they were, in David’s pick-up truck.

I’m not sure who proposed that we toss lit firecrackers out the window, but that’s what we did. As David drove slowly through downtown Port Huron, I unwound a couple of firecrackers, lit one and casually tossed it to the curb near a few pedestrians. It exploded a second later. CRACK! The people jumped at the unexpected explosion. We laughed at their frightened reactions. What a hoot! I lit another one with similar results. We laughed just as hard. So, I lit another one, and another one, and lit…

“NOOOOO!!!” David yelled,

I looked in my lap. To my horror, the mother fuse to the unwound strand of firecrackers was lit. All I had time to do was swat it off my lap like it was a hornet.

Remember what I said about the sound of the explosion being amplified when a firecracker was placed in an enclosure? Well, it’s especially true if you’re inside that enclosure—like say, a pick-up truck cab.

The firecrackers were barely off my lap when they exploded in a hail of non-stop intense flashes. “BAM, CRACK, BANG, BOOM, BAM, CRACK, BANG, BOOM, BAM, CRACK, BANG, BOOM!!!” Although I had smacked the firecrackers to the floorboard, they exploded everywhere. I covered my face. I’m not sure if David did—(remember, he was still driving.) The sound was deafening and the smoke from all the firecrackers was intense. It was all over in about 10 seconds. Dave drove over the curb and we both—literally—fell out of his truck gasping for air. I can only imagine what the car behind us must have thought about the flashes, smoke and two guys stumbling out of a pick-up truck.

I crawled onto the sidewalk on my hands and knees—dazed and very confused. (Now I understand the principle of a flash-bang grenade that SWAT teams use in hostage situations.) My ears were ringing very loud and I was quite sure I was permanently deaf. I was stunned—unsure of who, what or where I was. It took a moment to compose myself. What the hell just happened?

In retrospect, I know exactly what happened…bad karma. Karma is the belief that humans have “free will” to choose good or evil, and enjoy the benefits or—in this case—suffer the consequences. Well, we chose to be assholes that night, and we suffered the consequences. Karma can take years to show up, but sometimes, karma is immediate and appropriate.


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