It’s midnight. I’m awake and refreshed. As usual. Time for the ritual. A four mile round trip run then back to bed. It is 40 degrees different than what I’m used to, so I grab my hoodie out of the closet and my gloves off the dresser. My gloves actually have dust on them. But who dusts their gloves?
The street is quiet, crisp and glorious. The big dipper is straight above. About a mile in I spot something shiny in the middle of El Camino. Upon closer inspection, I see it’s a flashlight…then a water bottle… then, Oh my God, a wheel chair.
I look quickly to my right and there’s a body laying in the gutter. At this point in my run I instinctively know who this is. It’s Al, my 87 year old handicapped war veteran buddy. The one who offers me safe passage every night. It’s him because I see a baseball bat laying beside him. Our protection. I’m thinking I’m gonna have to make that call when I hear, “Hi Bob, I was wonderin’ when you was gonna get here.” He’s alive. Though he sure didn’t look it at first.
Seems he felt frisky tonight and thought he would check his own mail by pushing his wheel chair out to the box. He had to let go of the chair to retrieve his mail and when he did, his only means of support rolled out into the street. He went down quickly. He called his handicapped wife inside and she wanted to call 911. He said, “No, don’t, I’m just gonna wait here for Bob, he’s by here every night.”
He waited for more than two hours.
Now we have to get him up. He’s 250, with no use of his legs and no grip in his big beefy hands. We were up and down like the stock market. I looked like a skinny, outmatched sumo. At one point, I was actually laying in the gutter with him face to face with my arms around him. I haven’t been in that particular position with anyone in years. If you catch my drift.
I finally get behind him, wrap my arms around his chest, and it was up we go. Sort of. I tried to use mostly quads but he couldn’t lock his knees so it’s all me. My back starts screaming. I finally get him up, then up the driveway and safely in. After I gather his water, flashlight and his trusty baseball bat.
After I ensconce him safely, I continue my run starting to fret about my back but relieved that I was able to rescue my friend.
When I get home, the smell of warm cocoa and Icy Hot fills my head as I ready to go back to bed. I finally roll in, tuck Izzy in my armpit and start to feel the gentle pull of sleep.
Before I nod off, I think about what a strange evening it was. And how nice it is to have someone glad to see you.
Sure makes my back feel a whole lot better.