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8/2/2000

Thursday morning I was driving

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:57 am

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Thursday morning I was driving home after an all-nighter in the theater, preparing for that night’s preview performance. It was five in the morning when I left. It would be at least an hour before sunrise, and there was not a car on the road. I was feeling OK when I left, but as I got closer to my house (a 15 minute drive), I grew more and more weary. The last few miles were a challenge. It took all of my concentration to remain focused on the road and avoid hitting any of the deer that insisted on crossing the road right in front of me. I was at that stage where my mind was starting to play tricks on me, reminding me the my bed was just ahead. About two hundred yards from my house, around a sharp bend in the road, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that snapped me completely awake. Standing off the road about ten feet at the edge of my headlight beam was a man. His clothes were dirty. His shirt and face were covered in blood. He was wearing a white bike helmet that was smashed and bloody. He stood tall, staring at the road, not moving. He could have been straight out of a horror movie, and in fact, that’s what I thought he was. I pulled into my driveway just around the corner and wondered if I’d seen what I thought I saw. I got out of the car and listened — nothing. I looked back toward the corner and saw nothing. I went into my house, put some things down, and then went back outside to walk back to the corner to see if I had been imagining things or not. As I did so, the man came out of the darkness into the edge of the light thrown by my security lamp. “Can you help me?” he asked. I rushed him to my porch where I could better see. He was a mess. He gave me a card. “This has my name and phone number on it. Please call my wife and tell her to bring the pickup truck and a flashlight.” This I did. It took a few minutes to give his wife directions to my house. She lived nearby, but wasn’t familiar with the road names. I grabbed a few towels. One I got wet with warm water and I gave them to the man. He was in pain, but seemed to be loosening up. In the light I could see that he had several cuts on the face and back of the head. As he cleaned himself up some, it was clear that the cuts were serious enough to bleed heavily but not life threatening. His wife would take him to the emergency room (nearly 20 minutes away); there was no one else I had to call. While we waited for his wife to arrive, he told me what happened to him. He was riding his bike at 4:30 or so down the country roads, under a new moon, in complete darkness, without a headlight. Not suprisingly, he ran off the road and took a bad fall, smashing his head terribly. Things would have been very bad for him had he not been wearing the helmet. He lay there for a long time, thinking he had broken his back. He called and called for help, but since it was night in the country, no one could hear him. Finally, he regained feeling in his back, and was able to stand. That’s when I went by. He hadn’t regained he senses yet, and couldn’t move closer to the road where he’d be fully in my headlights or gesture or do anything but stare. Now, on my porch, he felt much better. “I think I might live after all,” he said. His wife pulled up, got out of the truck, took one look at him, and said, “This is becoming a habit.” That startled me as much as anything else had so far. She got him in the cab and drove off to find the bike and take him to the hospital. I cleaned myself off and hosed off the very red porch. And then I went to bed. A few hours later, I was woken by a loud banging on my door. I rose to answer it and found a sheriff’s deputy. “This morning a man had a bike wreck near here and someone helped him. Do you know…?” “That was me,” I told him. The deputy then told me that the man was his father, and that he was going to be OK, and that he had had about 60 stiches to repair the damage. He thanked me for my help and gave me his card. “Call me if you ever need anything,” he said. I told him he was welcome, that it was the least I could do, that I was glad I happened to go by right then. And that’s how I began my day.