Chapter 25 – The Chat
It was a slightly overcast Friday evening in October. I sat at my desk staring at the computer screen. I had just completed updating some records and I felt exhausted. I looked at my watch and it said 3:10 p.m.; fifty more minutes and I will be heading home. I decided to take a walk around the office, stretching my legs a bit. As I walked I began thinking about Nicky. It would be great to hang out with her this weekend I thought.
“Hey Maxine”, I turned around to see Cassy waving to me from behind her tidy cubicle. Cassy and I started working at St. Peter’s Community College on the same day. She was employed at the Accounts Division and was responsible for updating students’ financial records. Cassy and I respected each other, and she was always fun to chat with. I walked over to Cassy and we chatted a bit. As we chatted I thought to myself, I wonder if Cassy is mature enough to share my concerns with. She seemed to be in her late thirties and experienced in such matters. It would be great to get someone else’s perspective on my relationship challenges, I thought.
We chatted about work and then after what seem to be a timely pause, I said to Cassy, “I would love to hear your view on a personal matter, are o.k. with that?” Cassy tilted her head playfully and said, “Sure, go head, test my expertise.” I then carefully shared my heart, not giving too many details. “I have this friend; we have been friends since kindergarten. We have always been close, best of friends. We always share things with each other and never kept secrets. Recently, however I have been feeling as if we are drifting apart. In the recent past we talked to each other daily, but now, on average, we would connect about once a week. I want to do something about it, but I don’t know where to begin.”
As I spoke, I could not help noticing Cassy’s eyes, her eyebrows and her forehead. She was fully engaged with my story, fully animated as she listened. Cassy did not fail me. She looked directly into my eyes and said, “Sweetheart, you are growing up and changes would happen. What feels like a distance is just you maturing and finally deciding what kind of future you want. Remember, we have our individual paths to take, and we cannot act as kids or teenagers forever. Things happen that creates distances at times; career choices, marriage and even our decision to follow Christ.” My eyelids suddenly fluttered, and I quickly composed myself. Those words “our decision to follow Christ” hit me like a pebble in my mid-section. I suddenly thought to myself, maybe Cassy is a “follower of Christ”, like Jason. Why would she say that? It was not common for me to hear such phrases in my conversations with others. I thought to myself, now who is Cassy and what is going on here?
Cassy continued to speak with deep care and concern, I could not help but listen. “Whatever happens, try to keep the communication lines open and healthy. “Don’t try to read her mind or what she is thinking, you may perceive her or judge her wrongly. Have a chat with her about what you are experiencing and keep in touch. No matter what you may think, just do what is right at all times, love her. If you do that she would always feel comfortable reaching out to you in difficult times. Remember, she too would be growing up” I looked at Cassy shaking my head. “Wow”, I uttered with a sigh. “Thank you Cassy! You are good at this; I am so happy I spoke with you.” Cassy, looked at me and said, “One day I would tell you all about my story.”
I left Cassy feeling hopeful! She really inspired me during those few moments. As I walked back to my desk, my anxiety heightened, I could not wait to leave the office. It was now 3:20 p.m., I quickly reviewed the work I had outstanding and prepared my to-do list for Monday. Once that was done, I called Nicky to see if she was available and was totally overjoyed to find out that she was. “Do you want to sleep over tonight.” She asked. “That sounds great” I exclaimed. I was so happy I reached out. I sat back and literally stared at the clock until it said 4:00 p.m. I must have been out the door and into Dad’s vehicle by 4:02 p.m. My Friday night was going to be awesome!
Chapter 26 – The Pit Bull
Popcorn, ice cream, tamarind balls and burgers. I made sure to pack some of our favorite goodies and headed out to Nicky’s. I was fortunate to have the use of Dad’s vehicle for the night. As I drove, I began thinking of my future. What kind of future do I want? I certainly wanted my parents to enjoy a long and healthy life and to grow closer to my siblings. Of course, I wanted Nicky, my best friend to be always there, and then my newest and dearest friend, Jason Emery. My thoughts parked on Jason for a while as I savored memories of the time spent with him recently. I wondered what role he would possibly play in my life in the future. My imagination became alive as I envisioned a home where my family and friends would always be welcomed. I saw a home filled with laughter, celebration and lots of great memories. As I indulged my imagination, I heard a whisper resonating in my heart that asked, “Where is God in your Future?” I could not or did not want to think about the answer then.
I could see evidence of the start of a beautiful sunset as I continued up the final incline to the Apartment Complex where Nicky lived. I chose to focus on the anticipated fun-filled evening just ahead of me and not too much on matters of God that have been stirring endless questions in my mind. Somehow, on this night, I wanted to be free of the responsibility of thinking too much and finding answers. As I parked next to Nicky’s car and stepped out on the pavement, I noticed something to the left of her apartment standing, just in front the picket fence. It was not clear to me what it was, especially as the object was located in the midst of some humongous trees with huge branches that created a sinister line of shady areas in the back yard. I was about to lock the door to Dad’s Jeep then thought, not yet I may just need to jump back in.
I reached for my phone to alert Nicky that I had arrived while at the same time keeping my eyes on the location where the object was seen. All it took was a few seconds of me looking away from the shadows and to my phone screen. Before I knew it, there was a huge black Pit bull charging towards me. Initially, my body froze, then I screamed for help with every ounce of breath in my lungs. I then remembered that I was still standing next to Dad’s jeep and it was still unlocked. I could see the dog closing its distance between us. I managed to order my brain to turn my body towards the door of the jeep, open it and heaved my bottom on the driver’s seat. As I was about to swing my feet inside with one hand on the door handle ready to close it, I felt sudden pain jabbing me in my right ankle and loud angry snarls of an ugly looking animal. The jaw of the pit bull was around my ankle. Fear gripped me and I screamed but no one seemed to hear me.
I felt helpless, alone and utterly afraid and cried out “God, help me!”. The moment I uttered that cry, I felt blood flowing to my brain and I was able to think clearly even while experiencing excruciating pain. The animal would not let go and it seemed to be tightening its grip and determined to gain more access to my body. Using my free hand I managed to start the vehicle. My determination to survive suddenly surged. I revved the engine aggressively hoping for the dog to give up its hold; the bull would not budge. I then tried launching forward hoping to somehow get away from its grip. After three attempts, it finally worked! As it lost its grip, I slammed the door and turned off the engine. My ankle bled profusely. Remembering the training that my mother gave us, I took off my T-Shirt and quickly and firmly wrapped it around my ankle and placed my feet up on the next seat.
I looked around me and no one could be seen; it was absolutely quiet. “What the hell is going on here?”, I said out loud, tears now flowing freely. I could not understand why no one came out. “Where is Nicky?” I suddenly remembered the dog and wondered where it went; it was nowhere to be seen. Breathing heavily and feeling confused and scared, I managed to call Nicky on the phone. Nicky came out while answering. I spilled the words as fast as I can. “Hey, I am here but don’t come out, there is a lose Pit Bull somewhere around, it just attacked me, and I need to get to the hospital. I was screaming for help. Didn’t you hear me?” Nicky froze in front of her door and immediately stepped backwards into her apartment. “Oh my God, Maxine, wh-wh-what…..p-pit bull? I…….what, there is no pit bull here. Where did it come from? How come I did not here you. Oh God!”
Chapter 27 – The Morning After
It was Saturday morning, sometime around 8:00 a.m., and I sat on my bed, my injured foot placed on a worn T-shirt as Reena changed my dressings. My foot was swollen and very tender. As she removed the old dressing I could see the deep teeth marks of the Pit Bull where it punctured my flesh; I felt sorry for myself. Thank God we survived the night, I thought.
After being severely bitten we were able to use our mobile phones to reach out to Mr. Powell, the owner of the Apartment Building, who in turn was able to identify the owner of the Pit Bull. After twenty painful minutes of waiting, we were assured that the Pit Bull was secured. Dad, Rena and Joel came to pick me up and brought me to the hospital where I received the care I needed. I was so grateful to have seen the dog early. I kept thinking, What if? What if I never saw it?
As far as my sleep over by Nicky’s, that incident had us all spaced out and all we could think of was getting me home. Dad suggested that Nicky sleep over by me instead and Nicky and I immediately went along. While we were all exhausted on our arrival home, Nicky and I found the energy to talk. Sleep eventually consumed us and we were out without saying good night to each other. That night we were able to clear the air on a number of things and re-establish our trust in each other.
So here we were looking on as big sis took care of me. We reflected on the night before examining every detail as investigators. Nicky confessed, saying that she remembered seeing the pit bull before behind the fence just two houses away from the Apartment building. She noted that it may have been a regular thing for it to be loose and somehow last night it managed to get out.
As we continued talking, I couldn’t help remembering the desperation I felt as I was at the mercy of this dread animal that seemed hungry and determined to drag me out of the vehicle. I remembered crying out to God. Somehow, I had the confidence that he was my only way out. I couldn’t understand, but there I was another time experiencing this overwhelming presence of love. As I sat there on the bed, for a moment I couldn’t here what Nicky and Rena were saying. It was as if I left there presence and entered into my strange place, the place where I searched for answers.