In the summer of 1997, at the age of fifteen, I learned a valuable life lesson.
And I learned it the hard way.
Leave It There For Now
“Go deep!” Roger shouts. I sprint as fast as I can, but not fast enough. The football flies over my head, bounces off the ground, and takes a massive leap over the schoolyard’s fence. It lands in private property on the opposite side.
“Ahh… jeez!” I yelp. “That’s the witch lady’s yard! You’re going to go get that!”
“No I’m not!” Roger insists. “I had to deal with that freak last week. So this time it’s your turn.”
“Man, she creeps me out! The way she speaks… and that hairy mole on her nose… yuck. I don’t feel like dealing with her. It’s my football, and I’d rather just leave it there for now and get it later.”
“Fair enough, I’m ready to do something else anyway,” Roger replies. “Let’s head over to the arcade. I wouldn’t mind whooping your butt in a few rounds of Street Fighter.”
“Hah, you wish! I’ll destroy you, but not today. I promised my mom I wouldn’t leave the schoolyard.”
Roger rolls his eyes. “Dude, you’re such a goody-goody. The arcade is practically across the street. We’ll be back here long before your mom comes looking for us.”
I think for a second. “Well… alright, screw it. Let’s go.”
We jump on our bikes and peddle off to the arcade.
It’s Too Late
Thirty minutes later, Roger is begging for mercy. “Ah, today is just your lucky day,” he gripes. “Don’t let it get to your head.”
I chuckle. “Yeah, yeah… I didn’t say a word. But we do need to get back to the schoolyard so I can get my football.”
We jump back on our bikes, peddle to the crosswalk, and wait for the ‘walk’ signal. “Okay, ‘walk,’ we’re good! Last one to the witch’s house is a rotten egg!” Roger shouts. I have about a six foot head start on him, so I begin peddling as fast as I can.
“No Marc! Watch out!” Roger squeals in a panic. I look up just in time to see a black car speeding directly at me through the red light. I leap from my bike. But it’s too late.
My lanky fifteen year old body smashes into the windshield, flips lifelessly over the roof of the car, and strikes the concrete with a sickening thud.
Barely conscious, bloody, and broken.
I vaguely hear Roger’s voice crying for help over the sound of screeching tires… as the black car speeds away from the scene of the accident.
He’s Our Guardian Angel
I open my eyes slowly and my vision gradually comes into focus. “Hey honey,” my mom says.
“Where am I?”
“You’re in the hospital, dear. But the surgeon said you’re going to be just fine.”
“It’s okay, you’ve already been through surgery in the ER,” my mom replies as she grasps my hand. “You cracked four of your ribs, which punctured your lungs. But they went in and stitched you back together.”
“That… That…” My mom interrupts me as tears begin rolling down her cheeks.
“We just need to be grateful… because you were barely breathing, honey. The surgeon said your lungs were filled with blood. He said it could have been a lot worse had the ambulance not gotten to you in time.”
“That car… that black car… it ran the red light,” I whisper restlessly.
“Shhh… It’s okay,” my mom reassures me. “The same wonderful man that called the ambulance also called the police with the license plate number of the black car. The driver was drunk. It was a hit and run. But the police already have him in custody.”
“Do you know who made the calls?”
My mom reaches into her jeans pocket, pulls out a post-it note, and holds it up so I can read it. “Chris Evans – 305-555-8362” is written in red ink. “Chris Evans,” my mom says as she takes a deep breath. “Whoever he is, he’s our guardian angel.”
“How’d you get his name and number?”
“I asked the paramedics for it. They told me they weren’t supposed to give out this kind of information, but I begged,” my mom says. “I told them I needed to know who saved my baby’s life.”
“Have you called him?”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t answer my calls. It rings four times and goes straight to a voicemail beep. There’s not even a voice greeting. I’ve already left three messages over the last forty-eight hours. But he hasn’t called me back, and I suspect he may never.”
How Do You Know?
Six months later, after a grueling recovery process, my doctor finally gives me the nod to partake in regular physical activity again. Roger and I jump at the chance to toss his new Nerf football around at the schoolyard.
“Go deep!” Roger shouts.
“Not yet, dude. I’m still not 100%. My doctor says I need to ease into it slowly. Cool?”
Roger smiles. “Yeah, of course, bro. My bad, I didn’t mean to…” He is suddenly interrupted.
“Marc! Marc Andrew something!” a raspy female voice hollers from behind us. Roger and I turn around and are shocked to see the witch lady peeking her head over the schoolyard’s fence. “I believe this belongs to you.” She holds up an old football and tosses it towards me. The ball bounces across the ground and rolls up to my feet. Sure enough, it’s the ball I left on her property the day of the accident.
“Thanks, but… how… how do you know my name? And my middle name?” I ask.
“About six months ago, your mom left me a few voicemail messages. My name is Chris Evans,” she says.
Photo by: Yuga