February 1959, I’m eleven years old and this is an absolutely gorgeous day to be alive… School’s over for the day and I’m on my way around the corner to my mate Billy’s place to play, or maybe listen to some of his older brother’s Rock ‘n Roll 78’s.
At mid-afternoon the scale is already dropping from around the 100º mark; it was back in the days when men could be seen sweating on their shaded front porch in singlet and shorts, a cigarette in one hand and a frosty King Brown in the other, while an obedient Missus served his every need.
The seat and handlebars of my pushbike are blistering hot as I jump on – I’m dressed only in shorts, no shirt, my body already crisped brown by the hot Western Suburbs summer sun. Rounding the corner at the bottom of Norman Avenue I see Billy running towards me (his house faces directly up Cumberland Avenue), waving his arms and yelling out excitedly. I want to share in his excitement so I pedal harder to meet him.
“Buddy Holly’s dead… Buddy Holly’s dead…” he screams at me as I hit the back-pedal brakes in shock.
Suddenly everything becomes a slow-motion blur when the brakes lock, the bike comes to an instant stand-still, and I can see the hard road as it slowly rises to meet me. Then the action speeds when I hit the ground and my almost-naked body slides along the sharp blue metal as it tears at my flesh, puncturing the soft skin on my right side, my face quickly becomes a bloody mess.
Buddy Holly’s dead? Really? Well, I guess it doesn’t matter any more as the pain quickly begins to nibble on my now raw and exposed nerve-ends, I climb from under the hot metal of my bike with Billy’s help, and the memory fades…
Then I recall lying on my bed for what seems forever, my Mother patiently picking at the tiny black specks of gravel which seem to be reproducing and growing in my shredded flesh as others are picked clean… Random pieces keep re-appearing for weeks until finally all residual infection heals…
Unfortunately I’m soon back at school at my Mother’s insistence.
It’s all Buddy Holly’s fault!