A writer called Jack, who likes his solitude after his wife died, has had therapy to overcome his fear of blood. While wandering a quiet lane near home, a truck rumbles over a boy far in front of him. He helps his first accident victim putting his own fears to one side.
Having just got home from his daughters engagement party Jack loosens his tie, sits back in his fireside recliner and reflects on his own past life.
Thoughts of Emily and Melanie, his two daughters, appear as photos in a slide show in his mind’s eye, from the day they were born, to the day when Emily his youngest had her proposal, which was why they celebrated today. His thoughts turned towards his marriage in the same way, with its ups and downs up to the day his wife died at the early age of 53 of cancer. It was as though she was still with him in the house with her things still around him 7 years since her death.
Thoughts of Melanie’s first career brought back memories of his first choice of career. He had wanted to be a doctor when he was in college, but that dream had died when he had seen one doctor on TV losing his career due to malpractice and the amount that he was sued. It was then his studies changed course toward a career in publishing books.
He didn’t have many friends although he socialised a lot, this being due to the illness that caused his body language to be different from what he was saying and meant. Apart from that and the aversion from the sight of blood since a child he led a normal happy life with his family.
After dwelling on his family over the years he made himself a camomile tea and went upstairs to read a book in bed. He found it helpful to read before sleeping as he usually came up with new ideas for his writing in the early hours which he wrote in his notebook at the side of his bed before settling to sleep again.
The next day he took a walk across some countryside farmland near his home. Every day he went for a walk. Whether it be across the countryside, the beach or even the town he always went somewhere that gave him new ideas for his writing hobby. These walks had kept him slim and trim in his elder years.
While out for his walk along the country lane he saw in the distance a young couple swinging joined hands while laughing and chatting together. They were walking in the middle of the lane oblivious to everything except each other. “The joys of young love.” he thought to himself as he recalled his own courting days.
These thoughts were still going through his mind as a rumble was heard in the distance. A truck or lorry was on its way. Panic rose within him and he called out repeatedly to the young couple a good 200 yards in front of him. “A vehicles coming, get out of the road quick!” speeding up his own pace to get to them as quick as he could thanking his lucky stars he walked every day.
They had just replied “ok” and had started to move aside but were not quick enough. The truck reached the crest of the hill then ploughed into the back of the young man pulling their two joined hands apart and throwing him into the air. He landed on the road in front of the truck and instead of stopping the truck continued over him crushing his legs as he lay in the road. Hearing a scream from the lad and seeing the lorry disappearing into the distance, the girl and Jack were at his side in an instant.
The girl screamed over and over at what she saw of her boyfriend, in between babbling. “Hysteria. Only one thing for it.” Jack thought, and his one slap on the face shut her up.
After a couple of minutes she was calm and said “Sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Shock.” Jack replied, “Now you are ok, phone an ambulance for your young man using this phone.” He pressed his mobile into her trembling hands. “While you are waiting for the rescue services, keep an ear and eye open for further vehicles, and the rescue services, while I examine him. Don’t worry. I know first aid.” She settled herself on the old stone wall at the side of the road, senses fully alert for anyone approaching.
They had wasted a couple of minutes with her hysteria so he wasted no more time and got on with his examination of the boy. He was the first casualty he had dealt with since overcoming his fear of blood. “What’s your name?” Jack asked looking into the boys face for any signs of mental trauma.
“Adrian.” The boy muttered. He liked the look of the old man with his friendly smile and gentle hands. He had no idea this man was afraid of blood.
“What’s the date today?” he again asked the boy.
The boy’s eyes fluttered and his head rolled to one side as he weakened. “1st of June 2015”
“Who is the queen?” he asked as a final check.
“Elizabeth the 2nd” the boy said before passing out.
Jack knew Adrian wasn’t brain damaged but was weak from lack of blood, so turned his attention to the injuries. Putting his own fear of blood to one side years ago through therapy he could look at injuries now without fainting. Occasionally if the injury started to affect him then he would picture the injury as something else such a fake limb or some household item. Knowing his injury would be bad he looked at the boy’s legs briefly while imagining them as dolls legs to see if there was any severe damage and felt down them for any breakages. He found a small, but sharp point of bone under his hands as he felt down them both. He saw the tip of it sticking out slightly through the fabric of the boy’s jeans, surrounded by a red stain. He next looked for further injuries and loss of blood and found a puddle of blood forming beneath the hem of the boy’s jeans. With quick thinking he took off his tie and tied it round the thigh of the lad to ease the flow of blood. The wound under the jeans was bigger than he first thought so he speeded up his examination of the rest of the boy. He then peeled off his jogging coat and covered the boys leg’s and lower body with it to keep him warm. There was no other sign of injury, just a bump on the head and a few grazes. The boy had been lucky. He had done his best and sat next to Adrian while they waited for an ambulance.
While he was there with the boy, the girl had been busy diverting the traffic around Adrian’s still body. That was easier than she thought it would be, as there had only been two cars pass along that road since the accident. “Thank God it’s a quiet road, otherwise we would have been in a pickle.” she said to herself as she twiddled her thumbs and tapped her feet.
Unknown to Jack, Adrian was the son of his mayor. He had taken a walk near his home with his girlfriend to avoid his nosy parents. In their kindness they were too protective for his liking, and he felt like a trapped animal. He therefore liked to go for walks frequently for a bit of peace, and to be himself without criticism. “What will my mother say when she finds out?” he thought to himself. His mother thought that he had been in his room. His worries were interrupted by the ambulance and police arriving.
The police soon had the area cordoned off, and the ambulance crew were asking questions and checking Adrian. As he lay there on the road, he saw the forensics team busy taking photographs and samples from the scene. He knew the crook that had hurt him would be caught, and smiled. He and his girlfriend thanked Jack profusely for his help as he was carried to the ambulance.
The ambulance disappeared over the hill and jack was left alone with the forensics team. After answering their few questions he wandered over the fields back to his cottage. Months went by and he forgot about the two young people he had helped that day, but they hadn’t forgotten. They, and their parents, wanted to reward Jack for his help, especially since they had found out about his aversion to blood.
A letter was found behind the door as Jack came downstairs for his breakfast. It wasn’t the usual type of envelope he was used to. It looked like a wedding invitation, and he didn’t know of anyone he knew getting married. He put it on the coffee table to read after his breakfast.
He forgot about it until that evening as he had been doing his and the neighbour’s gardens. He always did theirs, as the lady was too ill, and the gentleman, a farmer, was most of the time working the fields. He opened the envelope and revealed an invitation to a social event at the banqueting hall in the nearest town. It was signed by the Mayor. He frowned. “Why has the Mayor invited me to an event? I don’t know him. It must have been sent to me by mistake.” he muttered to himself as he frequently did. He checked the name of the person it was addressed to. Yes it was his name. ‘How strange.’ he thought as he checked the date for the event once again. The event was only a week away. He thought it would be fun to go to it, as he spent very little time with people generally since his wife had died.
Dressed in his best suit and tie he arrived at the hall where a large crowd was waiting, seated inside. On the stage a band was playing gentle music and the air hummed with conversation. As he seated himself at his named table place, the lights dimmed and the Mayor was announced. The Mayor, dressed in his suit with his official gold chain around his shoulders, entered the stage through its rear curtain as the hall resounded with clapping. Once the hall had quietened, the Mayor talked about the special people, who over the year had done amazingly brave things. Then the surprise of Jacks life occurred. His name was called.
He looked around the room as though he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and his name echoed again convincing him to go to the stage. The crowd were noisy and joyous as they clapped for him. The people either side of him were nudging him to go.
He stood on the stage with the mayor waiting for the applause to die down. The mayor then told the audience what jack had done with his son and how he had saved him. Holding out a box to Jack, he said to the audience “I’d like to present to Jack Higgins a reward for his selfless bravery of saving my son’s life.” He then turned to face Jack and said to him while handing to him a box “My family and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the selfless bravery you showed, that day my son was run over. Please accept this gift from us all.”
Receiving the box the surprise was written all over his face. “Speech speech.” cried the crowd. Blanching with brief stage fright he uttered loudly “Thank you Sir for your gift. I don’t know what to say. What a surprise.” His confidence growing as he spoke he continued “I never knew Adrian was your son until today, as I had never met him and don’t socialise much. Your son was a very brave young man that day for someone his age and I admire him for it. He is a lovely lad and I wish him and your family all the best.” Jack then shook the mayor’s hand and he was then told he could get down from the stage.
He settled himself in his seat near the stage holding tightly to his box while watching two other people get their rewards for things they had done in their community. When they had come down from the stage, the mayor gave a final speech announcing at the end of it that he would like to see the people rewarded after the meal. Then he to an even larger applause retired behind the stage curtain and the band struck up once more.
Backstage where the three rewarded were called, the mayor gave them each an envelope then left them after a brief chat. The two that were on stage after jack, had received a cheque for their charities, and began discussing where they would put the money to good use as they walked back to their seats. Jack opened his envelope with trembling fingers before going back into the hall and saw two invitations, one from Adrian and one from his mother and father. Jack had obviously impressed Adrian as he had wanted to meet him again as did his parents.