Originally published at: https://paulnicholson.com/the-first-cut-is-the-deepest/
Mad Friday has a special place in my life, back in 2001 someone placed a knife across my neck and here’s what happened.
As you know, Mad Friday is the last Friday before Christmas, most service companies give their employees the afternoon off and ours was no different. Shortly after noon we were in Docksider our local watering hole and basically on it. Good times and a good laugh. After a few beers I began to tell my friends of a recurring dream I’d been having where I got stabbed and died. Yes a real happy go luck dream story. I’m not really sure when the dreams started but they were frequent and maybe as much as twice a week at that time.
The day went by and by 1am we’d found ourselves in the local night club – Oasis. Well and truly sloshed my flatmate and I decided it was home time and headed outside. When we got to Front Street, which is a busy main street with Taxis everywhere, we were confronted by a young lad sat on a bin. We paid him no mind and walked past him. As we moved past he demanded “give me some money”. Imagine two drunken Brits being told that, one a Yorkshireman and the other one half Scottish. “PIss Off” was I think the reply and then we quizzed him like all drunks do on why he didn’t have a job and how he should go work for a living, or something along those lines. Either way the conversation was not one that would spark up a long lasting friendship. “Give me some money or I’ll stab you” was the sobering statement the young lad would make next. Looking down into the 16 possibly 17 year olds hands I could see he had a small knife sticking out from his fist. The knife was like a knuckle duster with a diamond shaped blade sticking out. My next comment was one I’d regret for a long time “You better use the knife or piss off.” Yes the true words of a genius. I’d hoped to put on a brave front and it seemed to work as the lad walked away.
A minute later we were standing in the taxi queue when I felt a small person run past me and then what felt like a hand brush across my neck. As I recognised the boy running away I had a good idea what he had just done. Removing my hand from my neck and looking at it confirmed my fears, there was a line of blood from my wrist all the way to the end of my middle finger. My friend realising what had happened gave chase to the attacker, in hind sight a crazy thing to do but when you friend has been stabbed wouldn’t we all do it. The Cash Machine camera would later show there was a 17 second gap between the attacker running past and my friend giving chase so luckily he was never going to catch him.
The hero of the night would appear at this point or should I say heroin. Someone is always willing to help people in need I have found in my experiences. A lady taxi driver came running over to me with a kitchen roll in her hand and in a relaxed tone of voice said “You need to come with me to the hospital” She then swiftly got me in her cab and drove me the mile to the hospital where I quickly received treatment and 28 stitches in my neck. I never found out the taxi drivers name but I thank her immensely for being the person who stood up to help.
Why did I tell you this. I guess it’s because I think of life as split second changes. In a moment everything can change. Being in the right place or the wrong place it’s those split second moments that shape our lives. If we’d come out of the bar 10 mins earlier or later would we have bumped into the boy. If it had been someone else would he have slashed them. If it had been a deeper cut, or lower would it have killed me. Who knows and they’re not questions I ever dwell on because they didn’t happen. I’ve always felt sorry for the boy who did this. He must have gone home that night wondering what the hell he had done. He must have lied awake for weeks wondering if the Police were going to find him or in his head he might have worried whether I would find him. Truth is I never had any inclination to find out who he was. I honestly held no malice towards him at all. He’d done a crazy thing in a moment of madness and hadn’t we all made huge mistakes at one time or other. I was aware he could do it again to someone else and would help the Police in anyway I could, although I never heard from them either.
The papers would later write that the incident happened after a fight had broken out in the bar and then spilled out onto the street.
I’d never find out who the attacker was and 5 days later I was in Las Vegas telling girls I’d just returned from Afghanistan where I’d been fighting the Taliban, well it was 3 months after 911, but that never worked. Truth is I’ve never hit anyone since I was in junior school and no one has ever hit me, I’m not a violent person although a very obnoxious drunk it’s true. My boss would ask me what I said to the boy as I must have pissed him off – who know’s exactly what was said but I have told it as I remember it and if there was anything worse said then would it ever justify the actions of slashing someone?
I’d later go to a plastic surgeon to see about having the scar closed up. He told me it would cost $1500 and I wouldn’t be able to move my neck for a month. The scar is still the same today 11 years on.
Two lasting positives would come out of this event.
1. I never did have any of those dreams again and 2. when anyone asks me how deep the cut was I always get to say “well you know what they say” and let them finish the line “The first cut is the deepest”