63: A Desperate Situation

63: A Desperate Situation

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

A Desperate Situation

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us and we only know them when they are gone.

~George Eliot

It was nearly midnight in a small town in New Mexico and I was terrified. I cowered in my car, on a deserted side street, while five angry young men milled around my car, shouting obscenities. My hound dog Sheba was barking furiously, doing her best to keep between the menacing men and me.

One of the men, his face twisted with rage, glared through the windshield and yelled, “I could kill that dog with my bare hands.” Several replies came to my mind, but I said nothing, because I didn’t want to antagonize him and make matters worse. But things did get worse anyway.

The frustrated men began pounding their fists on the roof of my car and kicking their boots against its doors. Sheba jumped from window to window, snapping in vain at the men through the glass.

I couldn’t believe the predicament I was in. It had all started because I had gone out of my way to give a friend a lift home from work. After I had dropped my friend off, a clean cut young man walked up to my car and asked if I could please help him get his car started. All he needed was someone to jumpstart his battery.

Even though it was night, and I was alone with my dog, I didn’t feel threatened at that point. And so I agreed to help this polite stranger get his car started. After all, I had grown up in the West, where it was traditional to lend a helping hand. Never had I refused to help another motorist and never had anyone ever refused to help me when I had car trouble. So helping this stranger simply seemed like the ordinary thing to do.

I had slowly driven my car around the corner from my friend’s house, following the young man as he walked along on the sidewalk. When I saw the older model car with its hood up, I pulled my car parallel to it. Then the man opened the hood of my car and connected jumper cables from his battery to mine. Four other men suddenly came from behind a row of bushes and surrounded my car. That was when the polite young man turned vicious and ugly.

So there I sat, with my hood up and my battery attached to the other car’s battery by jumper cables. Even though I still had the motor running, I was effectively trapped, because I couldn’t see to drive with the hood up and I didn’t dare get out of the car to close it.

I was helpless and I knew it. For the time being, Sheba was keeping the men from breaking the windows to get at me. But how long could she keep it up? She wasn’t a young dog anymore — would she finally drop from exhaustion? I had raised her from the day she was born, and for nearly ten years Sheba had been my constant companion. And so I feared for her as well as for myself.

Even though I was terrified, I tried not to think about the “what ifs” — what if they broke the windows, what if they got one of the car doors open, what if they got their hands on Sheba and me.

I was on the verge of becoming hysterical and although it took every ounce of my self-control, I wouldn’t let myself scream or even cry First of all, I wasn’t about to give those men the satisfaction of seeing me fall to pieces. But even more importantly, I knew that if I gave in to my emotions, I’d really be lost. I had to keep thinking clearly or I would have no chance of saving myself if an opportunity to escape did present itself.

As scared as I was, I was even angrier, and I think that helped me regain control of my emotions. I was indignant — I had gone out of my way to help that “polite” young man start his car. And this was how he repaid me?

I glanced at the gas gauge. It was nearly full, so at least I didn’t have to worry about running out of gas anytime soon.

I hadn’t realized that the window on the driver’s side was down about three inches until I heard a low, soft voice close to my ear. Glancing at the side window, I saw the outline of a figure, but I couldn’t make out the words he was saying. “What?” I asked.

“Get ready,” he whispered. “I’m going to pull the cables loose and slam the hood. Then you get out of here — quick!”

I slid the gearshift into low and waited. My hands were trembling so hard I could scarcely grasp the steering wheel.

The instant the hood slammed shut I jammed the gas pedal completely to the floor and the car shot forward. My surprised attackers, in danger of being run over, leaped away from the car.

I never looked back and I didn’t dare stop until I was downtown. The local movie theater had just closed and the sidewalks were full of people walking to their cars. Then, and only then, did I park my car and give in to my emotions. I leaned my head against the steering wheel and waited until my pulse slowed down to normal and my hands weren’t shaking anymore. Then I drove the rest of the way home, grateful that I had escaped a dangerous situation unscathed.

I’ve often thought about that man who saved me and I wish I had been able to thank him, but there hadn’t been time. I never even got a glimpse of his face, and to this day, I wonder what he looked like.

But I was left with a lot of other unanswered questions about that night. This quiet man, who saved Sheba and me, where did he come from? He appeared from out of nowhere; one minute he wasn’t there and the very next instant there he was, standing by my window. Why was it that the other men, who were threatening me, didn’t even seem to notice him? How was he able to unhook the cable and slam the hood shut right under their very noses, without them stopping him? After all, there were five of them and he was alone.

Only later did I realize that my dog never barked at the man who saved us, not even when he leaned close to whisper into my ear. This during a time when Sheba was excited, ready to fight, and trying to protect me from everyone out there. Why was it that she didn’t feel the need to protect me from the man who was trying to save us? She acted as if she hadn’t even seen him.

I know that each of us is supposed to have a guardian angel, and I believe mine came to my rescue that night. For me, it’s the only conclusion that makes any sense.

~Connie Kutac

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