It was 2000, November I think I was in Portland, staying at a friends house, there on business. Evening, maybe around eight, I took a walk from her house around the neighborhood in SE Portland. Raining, like much of the winter in the Northwest, a light rain, but constant.
A half hour later, walking along in my gortex hood I was lost in thought. Work, the project ahead up on the hill, the kids, life. Dim light, the streetlights on the corners near gone by the middle of the block. Walking, looking down.
The next happens in time measured by milliseconds, or in a lifetime. Depends. As I walked, looking down a branch across the sidewalk appeared. Four or so inches off the concrete, straight across. My foot moved toward it, 6 inches away, swinging forward in a stride.
The sidewalk wasn't concrete, it wasn't a sidewalk. It was a path through the jungle. The branch wasn't a branch, it was a wire.
As my shoe continued on it's journey to the branch, time changed. It was no longer 2000, and I wasn't planning on how to exploit the upcoming worry about what would happen to medical computers. It was 1967, and my foot was about to hit a wire that would trigger a mine.
A quarter-second passed, my foot nearing the wire, and I went over in my mind what would happen next: The mine would go off, my lower legs would be gone if I was lucky.
The thing was, I couldn't stop my leg from moving, my foot from completing the journey.
As it hit the wire I knew I was gone. All was lost. Despair I'd never felt before, all the things I thought I'd do (knew I did do) were gone.
I walked on, the rain still falling.
Then I remembered the boy, losing his legs, then his life. The nurse who helped him with the process, made his passage easier.
The next morning I was in my best Nordstrom's suit up on the hill, shaking hands with a primary investigator of a study. In my mind, tucked away, was the memory of Karen, and all she did.