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by Rick McGrath
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A Short Story
Written by Dr. Rick McGrath, Ph.D.

We had just spent the day at my parent’s house in Simi Valley. Late and now dark we were heading home to Riverside where we lived on Clifford St. As we were enjoying a quite trip home listening to music on the radio, our two children sleeping in the back seat, our car broke down. We were on the freeway passing through Los Angeles. As I recall , we were near the 2nd Street off ramp. Our Ford Escort just stopped. No warning, no engine light, nothing. It just stopped so I pulled over on the shoulder area.

Since this was back in the day when cell phones weren't readily affordable or at least I could't one yet, I needed to find a phone. I told my wife that I was going to walk a little way to the rear of the car and see if I can find an emergency phone. Every so many miles on most of our freeways there were call boxes for emergencies. As I walked to the rear for a quarter mile or so, I didn’t see anything so I turned around and walked back to the car. I did the same walking about a quarter mile in front. Still as I looked, I saw nothing so I went back to the car once again. Telling my wife I didn’t have any luck, I noticed that to the right of us, the passenger side of the car, there was a chain link fence that fenced off an apartment complex of some sort.
“Honey,” I said to my wife. “I’m going to hop this fence and knock on a few doors to see if I can borrow a phone to call for some help”.

“Ok!” she said to me. “Are you sure it is a good idea? It doesn‘t look safe in there,” she asked me. “Be sure to be careful. I’m going to lock the doors until you get back,” she told me.

“I’m sure it will be ok. I’ll ask the Lord to look after me. Be back as quick as I can!” I exclaimed.

As planned, I hopped the fence and started to walk toward the apartment complex in front of me. I heard a bunch of male voices not far off so I headed in that direction. Looking out in front of me, I noticed a group of Hispanic gentleman hanging out talking. Getting closer, it dawned on me these guys looked more like gang members. Not your everyday run of the mil neighbors having a few beers and enjoying each other’s company.
Getting even closer, they noticed me and said something in Spanish to me. Me being white and in my early thirties, I’m sure they were thinking I didn’t belong there.

I realized suddenly that I may have walked into a situation I would have otherwise avoided if I knew where I was. They were all gathered smoking marijuana. The air was filled with the odor of it. As several of them were fiddling with their switch blades, fear rose up inside of me. Too late now. They know I’m here so I might as well pretend not to be scared. “Excuse me Sir,” I calmly said. “Does anyone here have a phone I can use? I broke down on the freeway and I would like to call the Highway Patrol for help.”

“What!” one of the men said sarcastically. “We don’t want no stinkin police here!’ he exclaimed.

“Well, I don’t know who else to call for help. My family is waiting back at the car for me and I need help getting my car started,” I said hoping not to get killed.

“Hey dude,” another said. “Come with me, I got a phone. These guys are just messing with you,” he said. I was still very nervous though I needed a phone. I began to pray, “Oh Lord, please protect me from being mugged or killed.”

I was still nervous but maybe I escaped from having a really bad night. The man continued forward of me asking me to follow him. I did as he requested. When we arrived at his place he let me in and pointed to the phone.

Once inside, I called the Highway Patrol as planned. I dialed and the Highway Patrol Operator took my call. She told me I needed to call a tow truck since they don’t make road side calls. She explained that if an Officer on his route noticed anyone broke down then and only then do they pull over and try to assist. Usually calling a tow truck for the unlucky motorist. As instructed I did that. I thanked the man for his help and headed back to the car and family.

Once back to the car, my wife unlocked the door and let me in. I told her, “I called and a tow truck will be here to help us within forty-five minutes or so. She had a surprised look on her face so I continued to probe what the strange look was for.

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

Now I was confused with seemingly a simple statement and a returned question

“What do you mean?” I asked back.

“There was already a repair truck here. These two guys got the car working,” she said to me.

Maybe it was getting past my bedtime and I was tired. Again, I questioned her. “What repair truck. What tow guys?” I asked.

“Yes! Two guys in a yellow repair truck pulled up fifteen minutes ago while you were down there,” she said. “You didn’t” call them?” she questioned me.

“No! Who were they? How much did they charge you?” I asked her.

“Nothing! They came to the window, asked me to pop the hood so I did. One of them went back to the truck, got a part and put it in. When they were done they asked me to start the car to see if it was working. It started right up. One of them waived good bye to me and told me no it‘s all taken care of”, she told me.

All I could say was wow!

The next day my wife and I talked about it and how strange it was that something like this happened. She told me she didn’t really understand. She told me she was scared and she began praying asking God to send help and that they be good to us since we didn’t have much money in our checking account. She said she was praying for my safety because she had a strange feeling that I was walking into a very dangerous situation.

My wife is and has always been in touch with God. I learned early on , if she got to be praying, just stand back and stay out of the way. She told me as she went to sleep that night, a feeling came over her and started thinking that God had sent angels to come fix the car. As crazy as that sounded to me, knowing and seeing other strange yet wonderful things that happened after she prayed, it didn’t surprise me and to this day, that’s what we believe.

Angels come in all kinds of sizes and cover. Whether that stranger who appears seeking care themselves or those that show up just in time to give assistance, one thing is clear. God has angels who actively participate in the lives of man.

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Member Comments
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Kathy Stewart 27 Jun 2012
I really like your title choice; it made me want to read the story. Editing- "enjoying a quiet trip" and "I hopped the fence." Also "Realizing all of a sudden.." part is not a complete sentence. This story has great potential for suspense to really draw in the reader. When the husband got the idea to jump the fence, I got a really bad feeling about that decision. Maybe add visual details to let the reader see the group of Hispanic gentlemen. What gives the impression that they are menacing? I was suspicious of the man offering his phone, expecting a mugging or worse! Back at the car, at first I thought someone was stealing the engine. What made the husband and wife so trusting despite the dangerous situations? Maybe "It's all taken care of" is more believable than "no charge"? The ending ties up the point of the story clearly. Thanks for sharing the story!


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