Bruce Spoke Next

If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome.  The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here.  More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains who the book is about and the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M

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When Bruce stood at the podium, we all watched him tell a very animated “remember that time…” story talking directly to Brian, who was in the front row. Of course, he was memorializing Dave, it was meant for everyone to hear, but we were witnessing two friends actively reliving a joint adventure with Dave that he and Brian shared. Brian was grinning and nodding along at each component of the story as Bruce spoke.

I thought it was such a funny and perfect example of Dave’s approach to everything, facing it head-on. I remember the night this originally happened, hearing fragments of the story as a child when these knuckleheads returned Dave home laughing their tipsy asses off as they entered the back door. It was fun to hear it from the top from one of the frontline eyewitnesses because Dave would never tell a story starring himself where he did something brave.

This night occurred several years after Dave had been hurt and returned home. They guys would attend SBHS football games for fun. The school or coach, it’s not clear at this point who allowed former players, graduates, to stand on the field with the team during home games if they wore their Letterman’s jacket. One could imagine it an intimidating psychological optical illusion to make your team appear huge to your opponent.

Dave, Brian, and Bruce went to the game wearing their jackets. A bag hung on the back of Dave’s wheelchair that always held a one-gallon thermos that typically held water. A long length of surgical tubing was threaded from the thermos, up and out of the bag, was wrapped around and secured to the metal control arm on Dave’s wheelchair that sat fixed in front of Dave’s mouth. Both the end of the tubing and mouth control were side-by-side so he could get a drink of water whenever needed and, of course, operate his wheelchair with his chin.

I never knew these guys to be wine drinkers to this day, but on this occasion, they decided to fill Dave’s thermos with wine. Smuggling the wine in the game in Dave’s water jug was ingenious. Wine has a higher alcohol content than beer, a much more efficient way to get drunk. They took turns surreptitiously sipping from Dave’s straw. It is not exactly a myth that one get’s intoxicated more quickly drinking from a straw. We all know a straw moves liquid from point A to point B most efficiently. These guys were essentially chugging wine, got very drunk, very quickly, and were having a great time on the sidelines, hooting and hollering for their alma mater. The more I think about it, the funnier it is, these guys should have been spies.

They visited with other alumni at halftime, laughing and slapping backs with familiar friends. People were always glad to see Dave up and out in the world, and he loved being out there. AND he still loved football.

The second half of the game commenced. At some point, a play headed their direction, fast. This was the wrong time to have a slowed reaction time from Boones Farm, Spinetta, or whatever cheap-ass wine they were shotgunning. All the players and bystanders on the sidelines, Bruce and Brian, among them dove out of the way in reaction to the incoming mass of muscle, cleats, pads, pandemonium flying at them like a heard of wild bulls stampeding out of control their direction. The action brought the crowd to their feet, gasping.

Everyone dove away except Dave. He couldn’t move that quickly on thick grass, all he could do was turn his wheelchair to face the oncoming freight train of wild sweaty athletes head-on. The wild boys missed Dave but just barely. The crowd breathed out an exclamation of relief. They were no longer watching the game but holding their breath, expecting Dave to be creamed. Bruce describes being instantly panicked, having rapidly played this scenario out to the furthest extent that Dave may be further “broken?” What might happen if he was mowed over? Like, he could die for sure this time. He had already visualized the horror of him and Brian having to tell our parents who felt like everyone’s parents. No one wanted to disappoint or upset them. Especially after what everyone knew they had been through with Dave’s accident.

The mass of flesh and stinky sports equipment flew by and ended up in a huge tangled pile beyond them. Bruce described the two of them running to Dave to touch him for themselves to make sure he was ok, they both shouted without hesitation like parents in unison, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???!!! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!!!” Dave was wide-eyed with excitement, “Well, if I was going to take that hit, it would be better if I was facing it head-on than being broadsided. Bruce and Brian cannot believe both their luck that he wasn’t hurt and his answer to their question. Dave added as the two were recovering from their big scare. “Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? I mean, come on.” Dave shrugged to the obvious state of his physical situation. People in the crowd close enough to hear him were laughing, clapping, and shrugging along incredulously at his quick thinking and willingness to literally stick his neck out there AGAIN. I mean, he was already paralyzed. It’s not like it’s going to hurt, right?

Returning to the crowd at our Viking Funeral, the gasp beyond the fire between them and Bruce at the podium quickly erupted into relieved incredulous laughter sympathizing with that crowd at the game, Bruce and Brian. The laughter comfortably faded after a moment as everyone continued shaking their heads with a comedic that guy exasperation.

Bruce finished his thoughts with these final observations “We had some amazing adventures together, I could talk to Dave about anything. He was brave to face what he faced. He was a good friend, and I will miss him.” He and Brian nodded to each other with glassy eyes as he headed back to his seat.

© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020

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