Paul D. Dickinson


That year, whatever year it was, was the year I discovered blood. When the nuns weren't torturing me for pissing on the radiators or kissing the girls, I was doing my duty by fighting the uncatholic kids. Kicked in the face by a giant with bright blue sneakers, I bled all over my uniform and wore it with pride. After my heart surgery, which was after my first bicycle, my first communion, and my first pellet gun, I was confined to the hospital for months. The nurses came in with huge syringes, drawing blood samples with smiles on their faces. That summer the lawns were scorched and the scars were tight upon my chest. My brother and I hung out in the park and watched the football heroes and the basketball stars. My father was back from Vietnam and we were off the base, but not by very much. Chinooks and 12 man Hueys, beautiful and terrifying, flew low over the park on their way to Fort Snelling. Our only sport was to run underneath them, as fast as we could, until the park ended with a cyclone fence that lined the river bluff. Exhausted, I would hang onto the fence and spit up the blood that coated my throat. After the blood was gone, I would lie in the grass, stare at the sky, and breathe.