Copyright 2012 by JT Lewis
The noise was unbearable, metal tearing and glass breaking, more noise than I could believe possible. Everything was bathed in a bright piercing light, I didn’t think I would ever be able to see or hear again.
My car was being tossed around like a toy, banging my body against steel and glass with unending regularity. My head crashed into the door post as I lost consciousness, re-awakening to blurry pulsing lights and people yelling. Trying to reach up and wipe the blood off my face, I was introduced to a searing pain in my shoulder; probably dislocated. I tried with the other hand, it still worked and I was then able to see a little.
There seemed to be blood everywhere, I know that my head is bleeding, but I could find nowhere else that seemed to be bleeding. I looked down and saw that my leg seemed to have melded with the car, disappearing into a mangle of steel and vinyl. A low throbbing pain was ebbing up from that direction; hopefully it didn’t get any worse than that.
Why am I on the passenger side of the car? I was strapped into the driver’s seat when I spun around the deer, otherwise I would have been thrown around the car then. I distinctly remembered sitting in the driver’s seat after the spin. Looking over to the driver’s side, I saw that the door was only about a foot from my face; sending a shiver down my spine.
“Gabe, is that you, you in there?”
I knew that voice, “Tom? Yeah I’m in here, but I’m late for a meeting, can you get me out of here please?”
Tom laughed in spite of himself and told me to sit tight. Soon the sound of high revving engines and squealing metal met my ears; a wonderful sound all-in-all. Tom Harvey had been a friend for 20 years, and his passion was the volunteer fire department.
I had always admired his dedication, but I couldn’t adequately describe the emotions I was feeling at that moment. Knowing he was on the case, I knew he would spare no effort to get me out of this tangled mess.
Feeling suddenly light headed, I laid my head back and closed my eyes.
When I opened them again, there were squares of light flashing before my eyes, and I realized I was on my back being wheeled down a hall, the fluorescent lights above marking our progress.
I looked over and saw Tom helping push, the bright red suspenders of his fireman’s pants almost glowing in this light.
“It was a close call Gabe” he stated mater-of-factly. “Your leg was crushed and totally surrounded by part of the car. When we released the leg it started bleeding profusely, but we got it stopped with a tourniquet until we could get you out and the EMT’S could get compresses and bandages into play. It could be a long haul but I think they should be able to save the leg. I’m no expert though, so don’t hold me to it.”
Save the leg? It barely hurt, he must be mistaken. I had given no thought to any kind of debilitating injury, I didn’t have time to lie around recuperating from this stupid accident.
We crashed through a pair of swinging doors, the sign saying “Surgical Unit #2.” Quickly they transferred me to a table, Tom giving my arm a squeeze as he and the EMTS retreated back out of the room. I was suddenly surrounded by blue people; a surgical team was already in place wearing scrubs, hats and masks. As the Anesthesiologist put a mask over my face, all I could think about was how sharp they all looked in their blue outfits.
My next conscious thought involved an annoying beeping sound, “is that my alarm?” I thought to myself. I made a mental note to replace it the next time I got to town.
Opening my eyes, I Immediately came to the conclusion that I wasn’t in my bedroom, and the harsh fluorescent lights added to my confusion. A familiar face poked itself into my blurry vision, a lovely familiar face. Betty wore a worried smile on her lips and a look of relief in her eyes.
“I’m so glad you could make it,” she said, “I thought you were just trying to miss our anniversary!” Grinning, “I really don’t need a present if that’s what you were worried about.”
Anniversary? That’s still a week away I thought to myself, then stated the same thought out loud.
“You’ve been under for a week Gabe, your brain swelled from the injuries, putting you in a comma for over 6 days. I would have been pretty worried, except I knew that your hard head would never allow for a fatal injury.” She was lying, her eyes were revealing her true feelings to mine.
The fog that was my brain was finally clearing a little, I remembered the crash and being wheeled into the hospital. Looking around, I noticed that my leg was hung from a cable like a ham in a butcher shop, reminding me of the discussion I had with Tom.
“Is my leg ok?” I questioned, fearing the response.
“Your leg will be fine eventually” Betty said, “They told me that you will probably need a few weeks of rehabilitation once it’s healed, and you may need to use a cane, at least for awhile. I think it will make you look quit dashing” she exclaimed with a guarded enthusiasm.
The thought of using a cane was amazingly not a total surprise, but my fuzzy mind wouldn’t reveal why that was the case.
Still grinning, she tentatively gave me a hug. Everything hurt, but I embraced her as best I could with my one good arm.
“Did you bring anything to eat? I’m starving!”
Betty smiled through tears that had just started flowing down her cheeks.
“I thought we’d lost you this time, don’t ever do that to me again” she exclaimed.
I told her that it would be my goal from here on out not to worry her any more. She had felt so good in my arm, and I was feeling increasingly lucky to be alive.
We talked for a few more minutes more before my eyelids, weighted by what must be ten pound weights, slowly closed, my mind relaxing into a deep sleep.
Dreaming sometime during my slumber, I found myself in a room that was both comfortable and familiar. There was a fireplace with a warm fire, and a comfortable chair with a steaming cup of coffee sitting next to it.
I sat down in the chair as I picked up the warm coffee cup and took a good long drink, somehow knowing it wouldn’t burn. I sat there for what seemed like hours, enjoying the quiet and the coffee.
I didn’t know why the room seemed so familiar, yet I knew I belonged there. I spent some time looking at a Chess board, seeing that a game was in process. Only a few moves had been made, with no one as yet in any danger of winning or losing.
At some point I knew it was time to go, taking one more swallow before setting down the mug. Standing up, I proceeded to leave the room, having no memory of going through any kind of doorway.
Waking up again, I was alone in my room. Most of the lights were out and it was dark outside.
I started thinking of the dream, the memory still vivid in my mind. I immediately regretted not being able to write down the memory of the dream. Although most dreams seemed to not have a discernable meaning, writing them down often offered at least the makings of a funny story at some later date. My dream of the room however seemed clearer in my mind than normal dreams usually did. I had a feeling that remembering this one would not be much of a problem.
Over the next few weeks I slowly recovered, everything healing nicely and according to the Dr’s plan. I was anxious to be up and around, never developing any real abilities at patience where it concerned me. After about a week I was allowed to leave the room in a wheel chair, and I took advantage of this at every available opportunity.
Allen came to visit me one day soon after I came out of my coma, and I apologized about leaving him in the lurch with cases I was working on. He waved off my concerns and stated that there is always plenty to do, but they would do their best to keep up while I was laid up. I mentioned the possibility of doing some work on cases while I was recuperating, maybe with Frank doing some of the leg work, and he agreed to give me all I could handle once the Dr cleared me to do it.
Rehabilitation was all that I expected… and less. The pain was excruciating, and progress seemed so slow, taking days to accomplish what took only moments to do before. Afterwards I would fall back in bed, covered in sweat and totally exhausted.
It was after these sessions however when I fell into sleep from the exertion that I would end up re-visiting the room in my dreams. It seemed that each time was a little longer, and afterwards I would be invigorated with hope. The dreams seemed to me to be a puzzle to be solved, offering small clues on each visit; leading to what conclusion I had yet to discover.
I walked into the now familiar room, again without experiencing a doorway of any kind. I sat down once again in the now longed for chair, whisked up the mug of coffee and drank to my heart’s delight. Looking around I discovered as yet another move had been made on the chessboard.
On my second visit I had noticed white had moved, but black was still in the same formation. Looking it over for awhile, I had taken it on myself to move black to a new position, hoping that whoever was playing wouldn’t mind my interference. The next trip revealed again a single move by white, leaving me with an apparent invitation to continue the battle.
Contemplating the field, I again made a move and sat back to enjoy the fire and the coffee. The familiarity of the room still escaped me, but the rejuvenating effect of the visits was unquestionable. There were always nagging questions in the back of my mind though. Missing information that could be important seemed to be absent, but was nonetheless not available to me.
Sitting in my chair, I was mulling over a fact, the solution of which had as yet escaped me. Knowing full well that I had been strapped into the driver’s seat before the accident, the fact that I was found on the passenger side of the car after the wreck still baffled me. Mulling over this information in my head, I could only determine that I must have released my belt latch immediately before the impact, consequently throwing me across the car. While this felt to me to be a reasonable explanation, I still had doubts and determined to work on it later.
Feeling as if I was being watched, I glanced into the corner and noticed what looked like a wisp of smoke that quickly disappeared. This was the second time that I had experienced this feeling on a visit, but the first time that I had noticed the smoke or mist. Not feeling threatened in any way though, I stored this information for future scrutiny later.
I could feel that my time was getting short and quickly swallowed some more coffee before standing up and leaving the mysterious room once again; waking up in my bed with a refreshed mind and body once again.
After awaking from the last dream, I reached over for my notebook and made some notes of this last visit. I was glad to have my notebook back, but the mystery surrounding its return still baffled me.
A few days ago I had asked Betty if she could possibly find my notebook, knowing it had been in the car before the accident. She readily agreed, knowing the importance of my notebooks to me.
The next day upon her return however she told me there was no sign of the notebook in the car, and she had even visited the crash site to look around with no luck there either.
Although disappointed, I told her it was only a thing; I would be able to recreate most of the information eventually. Thanking her for looking, we continued our visit while I inwardly rejoiced at having such a woman as her to share my life.
Betty had been taking off of work, but we had agreed that she needed to get back to the grind. She had told me there had been an uptick in the crime rate lately, and while not revealing what was going on, she implied that no one as yet had a handle it.
That day was her first day back so she was wearing her uniform, and I quietly admired her curves from my bed. Catching me, she grinned and said I needed to stop doing that before I also had a heart attack to add to my ailments. I laughed, my body hurting with the effort, and agreed to cool my jets until I got home.
After she had left for work, I sat back and mentally tried to make a list of anything important I would need to reconstruct from the book. Cases and information revolved around in my head like a roulette wheel, mentally stopping the wheel when I saw something that needed to be remembered. I was in the middle of this process when a familiar voice rang out “you look a mite better than the last time I saw you.”
Tom Harvey entered the room grinning ear to ear, shaking my offered good hand before sitting down in the chair. I noticed a gift wrapped package in his hand, wrapped in Christmas paper as might be expected from an old bachelor.
I easily ignored the package, needing to tell him how much I appreciated his work in getting me out of the wreck in one piece. He told me it was always fulfilling saving someone from a wreck, and he was glad he could be of service.
“You know,” he started, “your wreck had a couple of strange twists to it. Me and the other guys at the station have gone over it every night since it happened and we can’t seem to get a handle on it.”
Intrigued, I asked him to continue.
“Well Gabe, firstly you were in the passenger seat, and while that isn’t that unusual, you were strapped in. Is it possible you moved to the passenger seat and strapped yourself in before the truck hit you?”
Knowing I hadn’t and remembering my thoughts on ending up on the wrong side of the car, I told him I hadn’t known about being strapped in but had wondered how it happened that I ended up there.
We silently thought to ourselves for a moment before he continued.
“Secondly, that car was totally crushed. We estimate that the truck was still going fifty miles and hour when it hit, totally collapsing your car.”
“And yet, there was a cavity where you were laying.”
“In fact, I would almost call it a cocoon. Except for your one leg being trapped, you were in a perfect cocoon made of steel that was wrapped around your body. The passenger seat you were sitting in was totally reclined too, making the cocoon possible, how would the seat have become reclined?”
I was at a loss to explain any of this, and told him so. We again sat in silence, mulling over the facts.
“Finally” he said reaching down and picking up the package, “there was this.”
Handing over the holiday package, I opened it slowly, revealing my notebook.
“I know how important that notebook is to you. I found it neatly tucked behind your head, almost like a pillow, not a page bent. Your head was bleeding that night, but had mostly stopped by the time we got there. And yet there was hardly any blood on the book. It’s almost as if the book was placed there after you were done bleeding.”
I was flabbergasted, amazed at the series of events that had protected me from certain death.
“You definitely have a guardian angel watching over you” Tom stated matter of factly. “Either that or you’re the luckiest son of a gun I’ve ever met.”
I didn’t say anything at first; something he said was ringing the bell in my head, ringing it loud. Something…
Returning to reality, I laughed belatedly, confirming to Tom that I was indeed a lucky guy. I thanked him for the information strange as it was, and eventually changed the subject; asking him about his family and mutual friends. I again thanked him for saving my life when he got ready to leave; he simply shrugged and said he was glad I had made it, strange as it was.
Immediately after he left I picked up my notebook and started a new case page, my case. It had all of the hallmarks of a great mystery, the first one I had ever started that I really wasn’t sure if there were any real answers to.
Copyright 2012 by JT Lewis