How I Roll

When I was six, I received seven stitches in my forehead. My life changed forever. I know, pretty common for a six year old boy to get a little beat up, but what was it about this experience that possibly changed my life?

I saw the light. Or maybe, heard the sound.

Not THE light, or THE sound, but a kind of awakening only a six year old could live. I saw my future and then I let it slip through my fingers. All because of a little baseball bat, some rocks, and a cousin who liked to combine the two while I stood too close to him. By the way, if you’re six and twelve and you try to hide a bloody head from your grandma, she’s going to find out. Especially if you bleed all over the bathroom. Just letting you know.

Maybe it was the fact I got some sense knocked into me. That day. In the California sunshine. As I lay there in a daze, the world spinning around me while some distant voice kept asking me if I was okay, I saw what I would become and ignored it for the rest of my life. At least until now.

Some part of me loved to tell stories. Loved to fib, as my grandpa called it. Loved to lie as my dad scolded. A part of me that could make up some whoppers, but, of course, at my young age, most of the whoppers were pretty far fetched.

“The ghost in my closet broke it last night.”

“Toby set my hair on fire and I had to run in to the lake to put it out.”

“Kirk wanted my face to be this color.”

“Kathy lit those matches and burned the bush.”

I had a number of rounds of wounds in my childhood, but the baseball bat connecting with my head was the most profound. I remember the distinct, hollow ‘thwack!’ it made as my skull repelled the wood. Or maybe the wood repelled my skull. Doesn’t really matter now. What matters is what I did afterward.

I made mistakes. That’s what I did, and it was probably all for the best.

Some ask me why I didn’t start writing until this late in my life and I usually just shrug. Not a satisfying answer for most, but one they can at least understand. If I told them it was because I was a complete idiot and I hadn’t recovered from that ‘thwack’ on the head when I was six, they would look at me with a little more than a bit of concern and tell me to get that ‘thwack’ checked out.

What really happened was life. It happens to everyone. It kind of gets in the way. Not that I really regret anything I’ve done or lived. It’s all there to mold me. Sculpt me. Guide me. But I do wish I had listened to that sound of the bat a little sooner.

Oh hell, maybe gaining a little life experience has helped me write the things I write. As a young adult, I don’t know if I had enough things to talk about back then. I was newly married. A brand new father, and struggling writer just didn’t resonate like that bat on my head. It was in the back of my mind, though. Sitting there waiting for the ‘thwack’ to come back.

But life is a great motivator. Of course it is. I’ve had a pretty good one and can’t really complain about how it’s turned out so far. There are some things I wish were different, but that’s for another day. So, I ignored what I was meant to be for a long time and when it finally came ‘thwacking’ back, it took hold of me like a tight grip on the handle of a bat.

“Don’t let me go. Don’t let me slip,” the bat said. “Grasp me and hold on and swing away for the fence.”  And I’m doing just that.

It’s how I roll.

Mistakes are good. Risks are worth it. Failure sparks success. All good cliches if you listen to them. I didn’t. Not until now. As a kid I did, but somewhere along the lines, those failures became something that spoke louder than the successes. Pushed away the bravado and replaced it with fear. Like an infection, it spread and grew and took over.

That was how I rolled for a long time. I would call it crawling, actually. Rolling was never a part of it for years.

Then the ‘thwack’ came back. One day in 2011. At work. Sitting in front of a radar scope full of airplanes. I heard it in my head. And I looked around thinking that someone else surely heard it too. But nobody was paying attention to me. Nobody acknowledged the sound. Nobody heard it but me, because it was for me alone.

I started to write that day. On my break. In the cafeteria with Oprah on in the background. I wrote the first words to NEAR DEATH and haven’t looked back.

I write. I live. I risk. And I fail sometimes too. But I grip the bat tightly, my knuckles white and my muscles taut. I swing for the fence and when the ball connects, it makes a very satisfying ‘thwack!’

It’s how I roll.

Roll with me.




  • Tasha Marie Montelongo

    Reply Reply March 27, 2015

    I just finished your book Frozen Past, & wanted to send you a note saying how much I enjoyed it, although a few nights I will say that it did scare me to be alone while reading it. LoL.

    I’m an instant fan, & can’t wait to read more of your books.

    • R. Hale

      Reply Reply March 27, 2015

      Thank you Tasha! Glad you enjoyed it. I hope to have a new Jaxon book out in late summer or early fall. Be well!

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