The inner city was filled with run down, boarded-up buildings, decorated with black, hispanic and white teens on nearly every corner. Jenny was accustomed to the imagery. However, as familiar as it was, things had changed.
That day, Jenny left the office on time. Even though the expressway was a few blocks from her office building, she felt uneasy deviating from her route to go home.
Funny, the city reminded her of Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities.' The best of times and the worst of times. Homes were boarded up. Storefronts closed. Sidewalks buckled. Gas stations out of business. But, in the morning, it was different. A peace enveloped the streets of the city. Quiet, vacant during the day. Noisy, crowded, and ominous by night.
Jenny commuted from the Brales' Group downtown office, which was state of the art. A vast contrast from the world she oftened ignored. Their world. Shootings. Robberies. Rapes. Every day, the media carried a bad report – a student shot, a woman mugged, a homeless man dead, a bank robbed. But, her world was different.
Jenny walked to the parking lot and entered her 2011 Ford Taurus--- right at 5pm. This time, she called her husband first. At the beep, she said, “Hi, hon. On my way home, on time. I'm stopping at the store for tonight's dessert. By the way, there was a bad accident at 47th. Getting on expressway at 35th. Bye.”
Mason strapped on his helmet, and then secured his backpack. He was prepared to bike to his 6:00p Starbucks interview, a little distance from his off-campus apartment. Mason was glad he attended a State university in the city, but he hated biking. It was both dangerous and a pain. Though, as soon as his car was fixed, he and bikey would part ways.
Twenty-one and self-assured, Mason wore his powder blue shirt, blue striped tie, black Dockers, and black leather jacket. He felt a little like 'Batman.' on his Schwinn. Really cool.
Jenny turned onto 35th street, nearing the expressway. Daylight was morphing into dusk. The traffic light turned red, filling the three-lane thoroughfare with idling boxes of steel. Waiting.
'God is an awesome God. He reigns forever.' (cd playing).
Jenny hummed along, checking the rear view mirror, as was her custom at stoplights. She noticed two young men crossing behind her car. Then, she noticed two crossing in front. They stopped. The light changed, but they didn't move. She quickly glanced over to the car on her left, but the man never turned his head. The cars and SUV's drove on through.
Jenny gently tapped the horn.
The two males stared. Frightened, she picked up her cell, trying to dial 911, but couldn't. She had to stay calm.
The two, donning gray hoodies and low riding jeans, separated and walked to each side of the car. She looked. He was no more than 17 years old, pulling out a small handgun. He shouted, “Get out the car.”
If she did, that would be the end. She prayed.
Quickly surveying the area, she noticed there was nobody around. The stoplight cycled to red again. She made a quick decision.
With as much force as possible, Jen pushed open her car door, hard ---hitting him square. He fell, she accelerated, then heard a sound.
Careening down the street, Jenny lost control and plowed into a hydrant. Airbags deployed. She was alive. But, then she felt something wet. She felt pain. Jenny looked down. Blood oozed from her upper arm.
Mason, waiting to cross the street, saw the crash. He raced over. Surprisingly, people were just standing, doing nothing.
Disembarking, he shouted to the crowd, “Call 911. Hurry!” Opening the car door, he asked Jenny if she was ok. Barely nodding, she mouthed. “Thank you.” Her arm bled profusely. Quickly, Mason's early training with the Boy Scouts kicked in . Removing his tie, he reassured Jenny help was on the way, and that he would make a tourniquet to slow the bleeding.
Weeks later, Mason met Jenny and her husband, at Starbucks. The first time since the accident. Taking his break, he treated the couple to one of his specialty drinks, joining them.
“Thank you, Mason for everything. The doctors said your quick action saved my wife's arm. They removed the bullet, too, with no damage.”
“Great. And, by the way, Jenny, I thank you for showing ME what true courage is.”
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