35: Undercover Angels

35: Undercover Angels

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

Undercover Angels

Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.

~Author Unknown

It was a steamy summer night in Boston. After attending a party in the city, I lingered in the restaurant parking lot with a group of college friends. I beamed with pride as they admired my first car, a Pontiac LeMans, its newly painted gold metallic finish shining in the streetlights. With promises to get together soon, I bid them goodbye and headed onto Interstate 93 toward my home just south of the city. The highway was dark and deserted. I turned up the radio to keep me company and glanced at the clock — 1:00 a.m. Chastising myself for staying out so late, I sped up to 75 mph, trying to hurry home.

By the time I saw the twisted metal bumper lying on the highway it was too late to hit the brakes. My body froze. The screech of the LeMans driving over the metal sounded like a freight train. I heard the loud “pop” of a blown tire and then a rhythmic banging as the car lurched from side to side, the back of the car pounding against the roadway. Terrified, I clutched the steering wheel. With a fear I had never known before, I screamed out, “God help me! I don’t know what to do!”

At that moment the car, still bucking wildly, turned and drove off the interstate on a sharply curved exit ramp. The steering wheel spun through my clenched fingers. The headlights illuminated the guardrail as it flew past me. I strangely felt as if I were on an amusement park ride. I had no control of the car and could not stop it. Suddenly, my body slammed back against the bucket seat as the car came to an abrupt stop. The LeMans had parked perfectly on the side of a divided highway. I sat in stunned silence, my heart pounding and body shaking. My thoughts ran wild. I was alive! How did I get off the interstate? Where was I?

I looked around and recognized the area as a rough part of town known for gang activity. Concern for my safety snapped me out of my mental fog. I scrunched down in my seat and looked around. A nearby strip mall and fast food restaurants were in darkness, obviously closed at this late hour. The street was quiet.

I breathed a sigh of relief. In the days before cell phones, my only hope was to find a pay phone and call for help. I spied a phone booth on the opposite side of the divided roadway. I’d have to make a run for it. Carefully, I looked in all directions again, pulled on the door handle with shaking hands, and bolted from the car.

To my shock, I almost ran into a dark-haired man who was standing right in front of me. A younger man stood to his right. Startled, I jumped back, my heart pounding with fear. The man smiled and said reassuringly, “Don’t be afraid. I’m a hockey coach and this is one of my players. We were coming from a game and saw what happened. We followed you off the interstate.” He turned toward his car that was now parked behind mine. My mind raced. I knew they had not been there when I opened the door! His voice remained calm. “I have a daughter your age,” he said. “We are going to fix your tire for you.” Being an avid Boston Bruins fan, I started to relax. Although wary of these strange men, there was something about his demeanor and the hockey reference that put me at ease.

“Do you have a spare tire and jack?” the coach asked with a smile. My mind drew a blank. My brother Vinnie, a mechanic, had always taken care of the family’s cars. “I don’t know,” I said sheepishly. I walked to the back of the LeMans and opened the trunk but couldn’t find a jack. The sight of the car’s mangled rear tire and bent rim made me shudder. How would I ever get home? Panic rose in my chest. The coach said calmly, “Go stand by the front of the car and we’ll take care of it for you.” A feeling of peace came over me when he spoke. I sensed he could be trusted and did as he instructed. “Stay right there. There’s nothing to worry about,” he said.

The younger man never spoke, but walked to the rear wheel of the car and squatted out of view. I saw his shoulders and upper arms moving back and forth, but there was no sound. After what seemed like a minute, the coach said cheerily, “All done.” “You mean, it’s fixed?” I said in disbelief. “Yep, come and take a look.” He smiled and shut the trunk with a slam. To my surprise, the LeMans was ready to go with four good tires. “But… how?” I stammered. The car was never even jacked up.

Without explanation, he walked to the driver’s door and opened it for me. “Now go right home,” he said. I assured him I would and thanked them both profusely. They stood there smiling. With a sigh of relief, I got into the car and turned to wave, but they had disappeared. I looked into the rearview mirror. Their car was gone!

My mind raced as I tried to think clearly. Only a second had elapsed! This was impossible! Had I been visited by angels? I had never thought about angels before, but knew something miraculous had just occurred. “Thank you angels,” I said aloud as I drove slowly home.

The next morning, I told my brother Vinnie what had happened. He walked around the LeMans inspecting the vehicle. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The new paint job doesn’t even have a scratch.” In the trunk were the pieces of the mangled tire and smashed rim. “You must have been going pretty fast; there’s nothing left of this wheel,” he said. “Where did this happen again?”

“Just before exit 12 on Interstate 93,” I explained.

He looked at me with eyebrows raised. “There is no way you could have driven off that exit with this wheel,” he said.

Leaning into the trunk, Vinnie shook his head as he examined the strips of shredded rubber in his hands. He looked up with a puzzled expression. “The temporary spare I put in the trunk is still in here,” he said. “Where did you get the tire they put on? It looks brand new.” I ran my hand over the treads of the new tire and said a prayer of thanks to God for sending his angels to rescue me.

~May Carlson

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