Letting your kids outside to play? First, consult your attorney

Image courtesy of Pix4Free by way of a Creative Commons license.

When I was 12 years old I got hit on the head with a rock.

Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

My pal Mark and I were playing “fighter pilot.” We climbed aboard our Spyder bikes, worked up a head of steam, raced by Mark’s brothers, Scott and Dale, who had taken cover behind a piece of plywood propped against a tree, and we hurled rocks at them. They in turn hurled rocks at us. It was great fun.

Dale hurled the fateful rock that struck me square in the forehead. I saw stars. My bike coasted halfway around the block. Blood covered my face.

When Mom saw me she nearly dropped dead of fright. I was thrown into the car and whisked to the hospital, where a nurse stitched me up.

We got home, and Mark’s mom immediately dropped by to make sure I lived. I hear Dale had gotten a licking.

While the moms stayed inside to conduct that conspiracy of parenthood that kept our neighborhoods safe back then, Mark and I went out to look for the rock. I wanted the rock as a souvenir of my first injury that required stitches.

I was relating this story to my friend Connie, whose daughter is worried about leaving her child with a babysitter. We decided a scenario like the rock-throwing incident could never unfold today the way it did in 1967.

First, the kids wouldn’t be playing “fighter pilot” outside on their bicycles. Traffic is too heavy now, and people drive too fast. We’re so obsessed with the convenience of our cars, and so fixated with getting places quickly, that we’ve sacrificed our children’s play – adults’, too.

No, the kids would be inside, playing “fighter pilot” on their computers or their video game machines. Virtual reality is much alluring than real reality.

But let’s say the rock-throwing DID happen. Here’s how it would unfold today:

Mom would race me to the hospital, where she would spend the next three hours filling out insurance and release-of-liability forms.

Once that matter was settled, and assuming I hadn’t bled to death, the doctor would then invest the next three hours trying to convince an insurance company clerk that I truly needed the treatment he’d prescribed.

Upon my departure from the emergency room, a complimentary attorney, maybe even a non-denominational spiritual adviser, would be made available to me should I need ministrations of either a secular or metaphysical nature.

Moments after returning home, Mark’s mom would show up – with Dale’s attorney. Would we be willing to sign an agreement of nonactionability? Mom would say nothing until she had contacted her attorney. The two attorneys would then hold a conference call while Mom and Mark’s mom waited nervously off to the side.

Meanwhile, HRS would be knocking at the door. Their surveillance technicians had informed them child abuse was occurring in the area. They would make note of my stitches, and take a keen interest in the rumor that Dale had received a licking. What did we know about this? Were our papers in order? Did we plan on leaving town anytime soon?

Meanwhile, Mark and I would be outside, dodging the cars of speeding attorneys and caseworkers and insurance clerks. We would be looking for the rock.

But the rock would be gone, already collected as evidence.

A trail date has not been set.

This column was published in the Wednesday, January 22, 1997 Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .


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