July 1982 - First Encounter;
I was building a box. Working for an export company that provided containerization and crating services. The last layoff, left me working alone in a warehouse that echoed the voices of full three shifts. The small box I was building had all the pieces cut and I was nailing them together, slowly, trying to make the work and the day match.
I could hear the hiss of the air tank after the report of the gun. The 8-penny nails firing and gripping the wood to form sides, ends, top and bottom. The box was beginning to take shape, while the day seemed to last forever. There is no word to describe the sound or lack thereof, as I was assaulted.
I tried to open my eyes from my horizontal position on the cold concrete floor. The searing pain crippled my senses, and I couldn’t figure out where I was or what had happened. I lifted one hand to my head as the other strained to hold my face from the floor. No wetness, no sticky mess, no sign of blood at all. I looked through the slit of one eye, my right I think. No attacker, no 2x4 club, no rock to take the blame.
I lay back on the floor next to the box and we shared the cool concrete like an ice pack. There wasn’t much difference between us. The box pinned by the nails and I felt the pain of an ice pick that must of been protruding from above my left eye. Of the two of us, I was the only one able to move.
Half crawling, half stumbling, all painful, I made it to the break room and restroom. I think I was screaming in pain, but no one came from the other side of the warehouse to investigate the cries of “Lord, Help Me!” and I couldn’t hear my own voice for the ringing in my ears. The faucet splashed water on my hands, my face, my clothes. I can remember falling against the sink, stumbling into the wall, crashing against the outside of a stall. There was no time, none at all. I could have been there several minutes or several days. It must have been somewhere between the two, but closer to the first.
At some point the ache in my head retreated, leaving me totally confused. I went back to the box. I looked all around and found no witness to the beating I had taken. No weapon, no assailant, no clue. Nothing to explain the torture I had endured. I picked up the nail gun and finished putting the box together, making every movement very deliberately and cautiously.
I finished the day as I had begun... naive.