BeakerHands

Guest blog by Fenix

There was a time about a dozen years ago where I thought we had killed an audience member.  The bad news is, he did die.  The good news, for us anyhow, was we didn’t kill him.

We had been hired to perform and entertain at the annual business meeting of an agricultural group.  Back in the early 2000’s we were very popular with that group and did a lot of shows for them.

We were doing sword fight demonstrations and there were about 20 or so people watching the show.

We had been specifically introduced to Howard.  He was their oldest member who was in his late 80’s and mostly blind.  He was very excited to have sword fighting done in their meeting hall and had his wheel chair pushed right up to the edge of our safety area.

My wife and I were doing our performance fight.  We’ve been doing it for years and can go fairly quick with it. (Still true now…)  There is one part where there is a series of high and low blows as we move around some.

The following all happened in a matter of a second or two.  But, it seemed much longer at the time.

As we went through it, I struck high and my wife blocked.  I struck low  and my wife blocked.  I struck high and my wife’s sword wasn’t there.  Her hand and the hilt were, but the blade was no longer attached to the hilt.

I had no problem stopping before hitting her, but looked to see where her blade was.

I saw it off to my right, slowly (to me) flipping end over end through the air, right towards Howard to the side of our area.

The rotating of the blade as it flew through the air worked out wonderfully.  The point dipped down in front of Howard and the body of the blade rotated over his head.

It did not touch him as it passed over and slammed into the wall behind him with a loud thud.

Time resumed its normal flow at that point.

All of the people in the room realized what had happened and EVERYONE rushed over to Howard.

“Howard, did it hit you?!?!?” people shouted.

“Did what hit me?!?!?” he shouted back.

“Are you OK?!?!?”

“What’s going on!?!?  I know something happened, but not what!”

The situation was explained to him and he calmed down.

We resumed our show, maybe going a bit less fast.

To our surprise they hired us again the next year.

When we showed up the woman who organized the event came up to me.

“You have insurance, right?” she asked.

“Yes.  I can show you the information if you need.”

“Because last year one of your swords broke.”

“I remember it quite well.”

“And, you almost hit Howard.”

“Yes, I know.”

“And, he died.”

Welcome back to the world of slow motion.

My first thought was “What will I tell the insurance company?”

Then, I replayed the events of the year before.  I could still see the blade spinning through the air towards Howard in my mind.  I could still remember him sitting there at ease because  he didn’t know it was coming.

I knew it didn’t hit him.  I knew he had been OK after it passed over him.  I knew he had sat there for the rest of the show and asked questions afterwards.  I knew we had let him hold a sword and see how it felt because he couldn’t see them.

I knew he had been OK.

“Howard died?” I asked as time once more resumed its normal flow.

“Oh yes, two weeks ago.  He was so looking forward to being at another one of your shows too.”

“That’s so sad,” I said to her.  Inside I was saying “IT WASN’T US THAT KILLED HIM!  YAYYYYYYYY!”

After the show the organizer came up to my wife and told her what a sensitive man I was.

“When I told him of Howard’s death, I could see it really moved him.”

“Oh yes, it did,” my wife honestly replied.
After 308 shows in 13 years, that is the closest we’ve come to hurting an audience member.  May that always be true!

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