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Chainsaw’s Initial Encounter

With The Grim Reaper…

or How I Met Frank

November 9, 2017

Before we begin and long before we get to the end, let us pause for just a moment. How one can possibly pause before beginning would seem implausible. Yet we shall do just that and it seems at this point we have begun enough of a beginning to make a pause plausible. So let us now take this pause we’ve heard so much about in the past few sentences.

This pausable moment has been taken in order to acknowledge and extend a sincere, heartfelt “Thank You!” to regular readers and fans of Focus. This somewhat sappy sentiment is especially and specifically directed towards those who go out of their way to meet and greet this writer in person, in public. (Oddly enough most of these folks are encountered at the grocery…well I don’t really get out much these days and we all gotta eat so…meh.) Regardless of the atmosphere, produce or dairy, it’s neat-o mosquito when people take time to share a minute of their day. To introduce themselves, offer a handshake accompanied with a smile. To say how much they look forward to picking up a copy of the FOCUS and reading HCSWT each week.

For the most part that’s all there is to it and that, in my humble opinion, it is enough. But occasionally a long-term fan (how cool I have fans and they keep me cool all summer) or regular reader will dig a little deeper and a related to the column’s content question is inquired. Often they ask after the grand-saw formerly known as “The Tot.” Or they’ll ask how Lil Red (that’s the spouse) and I are getting on in the House o’ Saw. “Getting on” as in asking how we’re getting along or doing. Not to be confused with how and when we’re “getting it on;” that’s kinda crossing the comfort border of any friendly first-time greeting.

There is the occasional request of tales of John Q., my stuffed yellow bear sidekick’s adventures. And of course as always and forever my thoughts on the impending zombie apocalypse… it is coming…be prepared. Yet among them all the most common and bemusing made query is: “Are you really on a first name basis with the Reaper?”

Now we could curtly conclude this Q&A with the blunt response of, “Yes!” and leave it at that. However, “Yes” wouldn’t make for much of a column, now would it? In truth the Reaper has made numerous appearances in these hallowed pages over the years. In most cases comically bumming a cigarette accompanied by the warning, “Be wary of Death for he is a mooch.” Yet despite this there has surprisingly never been an article written by myself of how I meet Frank, a.k.a. The Angel of Death, in the first place…until now.

So… have I ever told you about the time I died? Not near-death experiences (those have been a fairly common occurrence over the years, ho-hum) but an actually experienced death experience? Obviously not or we wouldn’t be talking about it now. It has been 26 years gone by (dear God, adding up one’s “gone bys” makes you feel really old) since this writer almost kicked the bucket and meet the Reaper.

Eighteen years old and the end of a typical Saturday night found yours truly staggering home well past the midnight hour. Young and still foolish enough to write off the extreme and unfamiliar feeling of severe fatigue, I did however take notice of the fact that my hands were itching like crazy. Which seemed really stupid, because if you use your hands to scratch with what are you supposed to use to scratch your hands? They say that when your palms itch it’s a sign that money is coming your way. What they don’t tell you is it can also be a sign of the onset of a potential deadly disease.

Come the dawn, a sunrise filled with pain, high fever, severe skin discoloration and lots and lots of vomiting. My hands were so swollen the fingers couldn’t bend and the rest of my joints weren’t working so hot either. The folks initially fearful in-home diagnosis was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. This struck me as odd because I had been at the movies, not the mountains, the night before. By that evening I had my own room at Frye Regional Medical Center.

The next few days were a blur between unconscious and semi-consciousness. Blood was taken by the gallon. Lab tests were run. My fever soared as the discoloration spread and moved in dull purple splotches over the entirety of my aching form. By the second day in residence eating had stopped, bowel movements ceased and urination dried-up. All that was left were the endless tubes, I.V. bags and the constant, persistent vomiting…forever with the vomiting.

Friends, relatives, church members, co-workers and neighbors came in and out in a tidal-wave of concern. Flowers, balloons and get well soons piled up in the corner. By day three I had developed an unprecedented sensitivity to light, specifically sunlight. Cue the endless vampire jokes from those whom entered my darkened lair. On that afternoon of my farewell tour, there was a dismal conversation held in whispers at the foot of my hospital bed. “Condition worsening…can’t figure out what this is…we’re losing him.” So said the blur of a doctor to another blur, unaware he was being heard by the near comatose young man dying in the room. That night an ambulance ride would bring me to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center…Winston. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they were sending me there to die.

Next week: Will Chainsaw survive this un-diagnosable dilemma? Was the ambulance ride fun? How much can one person puke before they run out…of puke? What does the angel of death have to do with any of this? Is Chainsaw a vampire? Tune in next week to find out the answers to these questions and more—same FOCUS time, same Chainsaw channel.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or email me at or you can FRIEND me on Facebook under Saw’s Brood!

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!




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