Have you ever been at the wrong place at the wrong time? Or do you believe everything is meant to be? Last week, as I waited for my girls to come out of tumbling, I heard a huge BOOM--like a bomb going off!
I believe things happens for a reason. I have to think that way or I'd go nuts after Zeke died. Pantheism could drive me to make balloons in a crazy house. Even though I don't know when certain things (like death) will come, I like thinking God (one omnipotent God) is in control.
So, like I wrote above, last week as I waited for my girls to come out of tumbling, I heard a huge BOOM--like a bomb! It was so loud my van shook, people poured from the school across the street and a few instructors and customers shot from the tumbling building and gas station next door. We all stared up and around the mechanic shop. We all wondered what had happened.
It's funny how people act when they're in a bad situation. Mean people turn nice--nice people turn mean. Me, I just turn overly happy and try making jokes to keep everyone laughing. I even told someone I'd read a book called "Lost In the Desert."
"Who's that by?" an elder lady asked.
"Let's see," I said. "It's Lost in the Desert by Willie Makit and Betty Wont."
She squinted. I knew the wheels were turning. Then she smirked. "That's a joke?"
"Yes," I nearly groaned because you know it's a bad joke when the person has to ask if it's funny!
Despite my humor of awesomeness, the moment faded into the ill-blown wind and after a few minutes people went back about their business. I stayed though. Things didn't seem right and I'm always too curious for my own good.
I studied the two people who'd stayed with me. Maybe they remained because they'd heard my great joke, or maybe they were too curious like me. As I watched them, I did notice we all had a manner of urgency to our actions. The man pulled out a smoke. He tapped his pack spasmodically like it was kettle drum. The lady who'd come from the gas station, paced as her eyes darted up and away. She wore an old, flowery dress that whirled, dancing in the musty wind. I wondered what she thought as she clutched her golden wallet at her side. Of all the people who'd been drawn by the explosion, we were the only ones who'd stayed. And I bet it's because we'd experienced death. That WAS NOT an ordinary sound--we knew it. People who've seen death know when things aren't normal and we were those people.
Something else bothered me though. Didn't we have more important things to do than worry like a close friend was coming out of surgery? But my thoughts shifted from the smoke-loving guy and the beautiful woman who wore the old dress. An ambulance and three cop cars popped into my vision. They bumped across the horizon and drove as fast as they could.
The tires left a haze of smoke that could have been a baby tornado. Some sun rays braved a path through the dirt and I thought it would make a nice National Geographic cover. It was like an African desert burning my nostrils and as the experts pulled up to the mechanic shop, I knew it wouldn't be good.
A pale woman in tight jeans, trudged from the shop. "Don't go in there," she whispered to the man with the smoke.
The man's eyes rose. I studied his reaction and pegged him for a history teacher. When I was in school, all the good history teachers were bad boys. He pulled the cigarette from his mouth and blew the smoke into the wind. "Why not, miss? What happened in there?" That proved it! He was a history teacher; he was asking about the past!
"They're going to clean up . . . they're going to . . ." The pale woman bit at her cherry nails. She must have been a cheerleader in high school. I bet she owned a pair of boots! "I shouldn't have been there. I saw it. I saw it all 'cause I couldn't look away."
"Saw what?" the beautiful lady in the old dress asked.
"His face was too close."
We hung onto every word; after all wasn't that what we'd stayed for? I couldn't breathe though, I bet none of us could. The history teacher dropped his newly lit smoke and crushed it into the ground. He'd done it with such finality that I stared at the tobacco and marred wrapping which lay ruined on the gravel. The smoke was beyond repair. No matter how hard anyone tried, it would never look like new again. It reminded me of what could have happened in that shop. It reminded me of my boy who died. Maybe someone was hurt beyond anything--anything but God's help. The thought made me sick.
The pale customer continued biting her cherry nails. She walked away, still shaking with shock, then turned to say one last thing. "The tire exploded in his face. It just exploded, before anyone even knew it was happening." We didn't say another word to her. She walked, her legs jerking in a strange gait. She went past the car she'd been staring at and down the street to where nothing but dust twirled up and about.
The ambulance and two of the cops drove away shortly after that, but even though they'd loaded something into the ambulance, they didn't turn their lights on. They just drove away, really slow before disappearing from my horizon.
The history teacher and the woman in the old dress stayed after that, but I didn't have it in me. I knew they'd get the dirt. They could quit their jobs and be reporters, but I couldn't. I refused to ask the remaining cop what happened because I'd risk following that pale lady down the road to shock.
I stared down at the cigarette one more time. It's crazy how once a life is truly ruined, there's no going back. In that moment I thought of the ironic joke I'd made. I felt bad since it seemed completely inappropriate after knowing what had happened.
Willie Makit . . .
Betty Wont . . .
I really hope he made it, but one question still nags at the back of my sanity; why didn't they turn the ambulance lights on?