It had been a long day for the young woman behind the wheel of the minivan she was driving. She had packed in a hurry, stuffed all the kids’ stuff in the back of the minivan and headed out onto the road. Both of them were asleep in the seats behind her as show drove through the dark early winter rain. She was tired and just wanted to be home. But home wasn’t a good place to be right now. She looked at her black and bruised eye in the mirror before turning her attention back to the road. Then she heard it. The “fwuppidah fwuppidah” sound a flat tire makes as it tries to roll down the road. Just when she thought her day couldn’t any worse.
She pulled off the road as best she could and put her head down on the steering wheel. This was a seldom traveled road, especially this time of night. She saw an occasional set of headlights go by but no one stopped. At least until a set of headlights pulled up behind her. Her heart was pounding as the flashlight slowly bobbed through the rain up to her window. Had her boyfriend called the police, or worse, was it him? The flashlight stopped next to her window and someone was knocking. She really didn’t want to see who it was but the knocking persisted. She opened the window just a crack. A pair of wrinkled blue eyes were peering in at her “Do you need help young lady?”
“Y-yes,” she stammered, “I have a flat tire.”
“Where’s your spare? I’ll change it for you!” He crackled with genuine excitement in his voice. She shot a quick look back at her sleeping children and then looked again at the rain-soaked old face with his mouth half-open as if he were about to say something. Against her better judgement she popped the back door of the van so he could get the spare tire and the jack. The old man smiled and said “Well alright then!”
He pulled out the spare tire and jack and set to work slowly changing her tire. She kept her doors locked and was happy the old man had shut the back door once he had everything he needed to change her tire. She still felt better keeping one hand on the baseball bat she kept in the car. After about 30 minutes she heard him knocking on her window again.
She cracked the window again and was greeted with an excited, “All done!” She popped the back door again and he put the blown tire exactly where the spare had been and put all the tools back where he found them. He slammed the door shut and came back to her window, “Now, you best get that fixed as soon as possible. You have a good evening!” He started to walk away when she called out, “Thank you! I… I wish I could give you something but I… I… don’t…” And then she started to tear up. The old man stopped and turned around and said “Oh, I don’t need anything. It was my pleasure to help you. But if you want to thank me, you could listen to my story.”
“Your story?” She sniffled.
“Yes, I would love to tell someone my story. If you would listen, that would be thanks enough.” He replied.
It was late, she was running, it was raining, and there was an old man standing outside her window asking to tell her a story. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry so she did both. “Sure,” she said, “why not? Where else do I have to be?”
He smiled a genuine and warm smile back at her through the raindrops dripping from his hood. His eyes suddenly became as blue as she’d ever seen eyes, undimmed by the time he’d obviously spent on this earth. He began with obvious relish, “She was the most beautiful woman I have ever known…”
To be continued…