First-person eye

I was at Reynolds Optical replacing my eyeglasses, when I started thinking about why I need glasses in the first place. Some time ago someone struck me with a stick, and now I’m thinking about what happened then, who this guy is now, and if he remembers what he did to me.

I didn't know his name until I ask my mother to riffle through files—mental and medical—and to search for the name of the kid responsible for my partial blindness. Surprisingly, she came up with a name indicated by our insurance company as the party responsible.
“But the claim is not against him,” Mom says. It was an accident.
I write down the name anyway, and take it to my computer. I go to Google and type in the last name in the query box, then the first name. I use quotations marks so the names come back together. I’m not having much luck. The search hits, and, even though the name is unique, there are others just like it. I go to Peoplelookup.com. My initial search is free and comes back with the name I’m looking for. For a fee the phone number and address(es) are offered. The reason I know this name is right is that the city is in the region I know he’s from. Relatives are listed as well as their ages. A name is linked to the name I have that’s close to mine in age and I figure that’s who I’m looking for. I had the name of the father; my insurance acknowledged the boy's guardian as being the party relieved of responsibility. I begin a new Peoplesearch for the guardian's son name that's close to mind in age and find more. I can’t afford to pay for specifics but with this name I’m directed to an alma mater, a filed patent registration, and a Toyota truck club blog posting. The blog posting is consistent with the location of the alma mater in the region I know he’s from, but it hasn’t been updated in years. But the person I’m looking for has an email address in his profile, which I pan over with my cursor and copy. I open my email account and compose a new message. I paste the email address in the “to” field.

In the summer of 1989, at Camp Chimney Spring on the first full day of camp I hiked into the woods with a group of boys I befriended at breakfast. We wandered along a road, and off the road we explored down into a ravine. One of us started throwing pine cones. The next thing: sides were picked and pine cones and sticks and dirt clods were being used as weapons. We were fighting. It wasn’t a serious fight. I think we were just trying to peg each other. No one hated. This was church camp.
Truce was called. I remember retreating. Walking up an embankment and heading back to the lodge, someone called something that made me turn around. I looked down at who was remaining when something hit me right in the face. Whatever hit me knocked me down. I remember being on the ground. I tried to open my eyes, but only my right eye let light in. I thought I couldn’t open my left eye, but I did. And I cried. I didn’t cry because of the pain--I was in shock--but from what one of the boys said aloud: Dude, your eyeball is bleeding. Tears mixed with blood. The boys were above me looking down in a scene I see in retrospect. I told them to get my mom. I was at camp; the boys didn’t know for sure how that was possible. But my mom came because she was the camp’s director.
The nearest town was an hour away. My mom drove me to the hospital there and I stayed the night. They next day, after CAT scans and dilation, the doctor told me my retina tore, that now I had a cataract, that there was permanent damage, and that I probably wouldn’t be able to see out of my left eye again. We went back to camp. Fellow campers were hiking and playing volleyball, while I remained alone in the infirmary wondering what a dark world it could be. Eventually, my grandparents picked me up and took me home.


I begin typing: “In 1989, at Camp Chimney Spring, I left camp because I was blinded. I was taken to the hospital, and then taken home by my grandma. You did this to me. ”
Sitting and staring at my screen, I highlight and cut. I’m looking at the blank body of the message yet-to-be-sent. The truth is I know little of this person other than his engineering skills and his 4x4 hobby. And though I haven’t spoken the individual since the morning of the accident now 18 years later (I'm not even certain we spoke then), I’m certain I have the right guy, and his email address in front of me. From this distance when I close my right eye and look at the computer screen, a dark spot covers a third of the screen. The periphery is grayish. I remove my finger from my right eyelid and let light back and begin typing.
“If this is the Justin M. that attended Camp Chimney Spring in the summer of 1989 keep reading,” I begin. “You are the 10-year-old who threw a stick that hit me in the eye; you are the reason I’m now buying eyeglasses. My name is Carson Smith, and you probably don’t remember me. I went by Kit back then. I’ve been mad at you for so long. Early in the camp week a group of us went into a ravine and started throwing sticks and pine cones and dirt clods at each other. We were messing around, really. “You were still at war after we called truce, though; you pegged me and knocked me down. You took away my perfect vision. You threw a stick or something that hit me in the face. It struck me in the eye. You blinded me but should know that I did get some of my vision back. I wear glasses now and it helps, but it’s not perfect. I’ll never forget you because being impaired made me depressed and vengeful. I was angry for a long time at you and at the situation. But I’m writing you this email because I know you didn’t mean it. It was an accident and not your fault. If you remember any of this or care you can write me back but don't have to. I understand. Okay Bye, Carson.”

I’ve had nine email addresses in my life. I currently check two: my school address and my yahoo account. One account from my undergrad college is forwarded to my yahoo. That leaves six addresses that I’ve given out that I do not check and which may no longer exist.
In my email message to Justin M. for fun I BCC my six former accounts. Four come back with mailer-daemon messages. The other two must have gone off into oblivion. I did not get a mailer-daemon message from Justin M.'s address. I’m not expecting him to pay for the glasses I’m buying, but I thought I should let him know I thought about him and what happened.
Far too often I think of someone from my past and do nothing about it. There, the memory rests. It doesn’t go anywhere and nothing happens. To expunge this from my mind I did an investigation and sent an email. One gets a satisfying feeling sending on an email that might just might wind up in a cyber black hole.

2 comments :

Brother said...

A heartwarming tale of a young man getting smacked in the face with debris. Chances are your email went into his spam box and you'll never hear from him again. Then again, will you really be satisfied to know that he is currently the assistant manager of the automotive department at the Sears in Farwell, TX, with a lovely beauty-pageant wife and two princess daughters. He doesn't think of you for a moment, nor does he think of anything that exists outside of his immediate world, including the consequences of his consumerism. He probably voted for Bush...twice! Then again, maybe not. Maybe he makes $300,000 a year as an engineer and contributes a hefty sum to the national school for the blind. Ignorance is bliss...for both of you.

Anonymous said...

This guy wont respond. No upside in it for him. Lets say I'm right - why not use the peoplesearch thing to pay him a little visit. Have a tet a tet, you know what I mean? What does he have that you want? What would Tyler Durden do?