Jr sent me to town yesterday to get some burgers and grocery store items. After writing you earlier in the day about efficiency at BK, I gave my order at the speaker/mic and was told it would be $6.18. At the window I gave the girl a ten and a quarter, telling her it's always $7.24. She told me it was $6.18. I said, "Whatever." The woman who usually works the window put the order into the computer/register correctly and it was $7.24. After I'd paid the girl, I handed her a stack of 5 of the cardboard crates they give to carry drinks in the car so they don't spill. I like to return them, because I know they're expensive for BK. I appreciate their function and usually return one each time I go. She said, "What's this?" putting me in a quandary--how do I explain their function in a phrase?
My mind wasn't ready for a pop quiz. I suddenly knew she could not understand anything more complex than a phrase and I didn't know what to say. The other woman took them from her and told her what they're for. I asked the girl in a friendly way, "Is this your first day?" Actually believing it was. She looked at me with hard eyes and said, "No." Then I thought, Lord Have Mercy, I insulted her. Whatever, I told myself, she begged the question. I was laughing within all the way through this event, having just a few hours earlier written about how consistently favorable all exchanges there had been. This one wasn't bad by any means. I don't find fault either way, with her or with me. It was just one of those moments you can only say, "Oh well" to, and go on.
The bottom fell out of the sky on the road to the house. One inch in ten minutes. A gullywasher that required high-speed wipers, which amounted to little more than two black lines flying back and forth across the glass, the road only visible a few inches in their wakes. I drove up the driveway in torrential rain. First thing I saw, Jr's car was missing, a gray 94 Buick. Only one thing to say: Oh shit! As I advanced a little closer to the open space where the car had been, I saw it had backed down the hill, 2 fence posts down, the wire of the fence under the car, the right front wheel spinning in place, the glass fogged so bad inside the car there was no seeing out or in.
A few more feet and he would have been far enough down the bank there'd be no stopping the backward momentum with brakes on wet black eyed Susans and Queen Anne's lace. I knew he had no seatbelt on. That's the first thing I automatically knew. I saw his hand rubbing the glass from the inside, which did nothing to remove the fog, just made streaks in it. I also knew he didn't know where he was except in the car. It's a bumpy bank and a long ways to the bottom. There's no way a car would go straight down the hill bakdwards if it started sliding or he put it in reverse. It would turn sideways somewhere along its way and start rolling, throwing Jr around inside the car, or if the door opened, throw him out. Either way, he's dead by the time the momentum comes to an end.
I knew I could not explain adequately, standing in the rain talking through the door I'd have to open, and there wasn't time for explaining, anyway. If he touches R on the gear shift, he's gone if I don't get him out of there NOW. First thing I told myself, this is the day I get wet. There was no shrinking from the rain, because I knew I'd be in it for quite awhile. The only thing to do was go with it and remember how much fun it was as a kid to be out in the rain getting soaking wet in the summer. I pulled my truck to the front of the car and backed to within 6 or 7 feet of it. Had a rope in back of the truck I connected to the frame under the front of his car, which I had to get down to the ground to do. Playing in the rain and the mud. Tide commercial next. Connected the rope to back bumper of truck, put truck in 4-wheel low range and pulled him up to level ground.
I knew he needed to get to the house as fast (sic) as he could go. I went to pick up his walker, which was bent and on its side near where he'd left it at the car door. Didn't have time to straighten it. It was usable. Met him at car door with it. He already had the door open and was trying to stand up. I put the walker in front of him. He said, "Oh, bless you," adding, "I didn't know how I was gonna make it." I followed him to the house, a 50 foot or so walk in torrential downpour, him in his socks squishing water around his feet. He's been wet so many times in his life, the rain was the same as nothing. I was long past caring, so we hobbled along the same as in sunshine, baby steps. I saw him into the house and to his seat. I said, "Please stay here til I get back," and went back out to unhitch the car, put it in its parking space, and get my truck back to its parking space. The rain had quit by the time we reached the house.
I had to call Jerry Edwards right away to tell him he had 2 fence posts down. Jr was feeling terrible about what he'd done after he realized it had inconvenienced Jerry to come over here to fix fence and everything wet. I'd told him what happened, but he wasn't getting it. I think he didn't believe it. Jerry has cattle the other side of the fence and wanted to get it up right away. I helped him as an assistant, tamping the dirt around the posts while he did other things that needed doing, and I pulled wire tight at the post so he could staple it.
We talked the whole time, both of us seeing that just a few more feet and Jr would be on his way to the funeral home. Jerry's dad, Voscoe, was Jr's closest friend in life until he died. Jr knew Jerry since he was born. Since Voscoe's passing, Jerry would be the one in Jr's life he'd call his closest friend, his hunting partner as Jerry's dad was before him. Again, people who genuinely care about each other, men who can trust each other absolutely. When it comes to an honorable, ethical man, Jerry is right there with Jr, someone I am honored to know for the quality of human being that he is.