Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)
By larry troxell
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As he neared a sharp curve that skirted a ridge overlooking hundreds of acres of pasture, entrepreneur James Matlock’s heavy foot pressed ever harder on the gas pedal as he excitedly promoted his newest idea. The cell phone took on the face of the investor who sounded more and more like he was falling for Matlock’s newest investment scheme.
Matlock never saw the curve as his emerald green truck soared above the guardrail. A knotty pine ignored the screaming obscenities and stood its ground as the luxury vehicle plowed into its aged trunk. The exploding air bag prevented Matlock crashing through the windshield but the bronze steering wheel pinned his chest.
No! I scream as I first hear, then see, the truck traveling at Superman speed. I scramble down from my rocky perch, dash across the empty highway, and jump the guardrail. The cameras strapped around my neck are bouncing on my chest as I speed to the accident scene. It must be adrenaline. I can’t believe I’m ripping open the driver’s door.
Quickly pulling off my shirt, I start toweling blood oozing from the obese man’s chest. He’s fading fast.
David Shepherd stopped feeding his family’s cattle when he heard a thunderous crack. He gunned his olive green four-wheeler in the direction of the ominous sound. Discovering the truck wrapped around the old pine, and someone already by the driver’s door, Shepherd scampered to the passenger’s side.
“What can I do?” Shepherd gasped.
“We need a medical helicopter. Tell 911 they’ll have to cut this man out.”
As he directs emergency personnel by cell, Shepherd sees the driver attempting to speak. The athletic bare-chested man leans his ear close.
“That’s James Matlock, the richest man in Grant County,” Shepherd screams, recognizing the driver. “He’s been trying to buy farms in this valley. Apparently, he plans to demolish all the houses and tear down all the barns to build a new golf course surrounded by luxury condos.”
“Wealthy or not, this pasture is about to be soaked with a dead man’s blood if help doesn’t arrive soon.”
All the Benjamin Franklin greenbacks in the world aren’t going to rescue me this time, Matlock tells himself. I haven’t written a will. What a mess for my daughter Janet and her life partner, Sandi. My business buddies will be placing bets on whether I burst through the Pearly Gates or drive headlong into the pits of Hell.
“What else can I do? I feel helpless,” Shepherd stutters as the photographer ignores the blood on his cameras, futilely trying to halt the bleeding.
Shepherd inches closer to the wealthy man, touching his broken right arm.
“Sir, do you know Jesus?” Hearing no response, Shepherd recites Psalm 23 as the medical helicopter lands.
Emergency personnel assume command, directing Shepherd and the other young man away from the truck. The two stand nearby as the Jaws of Life is utilized to free the 300-pound driver. They drop their heads as paramedics cover Matlock’s body with a white sheet.
“I never caught your name,” Shepherd cries.
“Paul. I’m hiking cross country photographing scenes for a new environmental book.”
Shepherd felt drained. Without further comment, he slipped onto his four-wheeler and quietly left.
I can’t forget Matlock’s final words. He first whispered, “God forgive me.” Then it was like he was speaking directly to my heart. “Do good,” he mumbled. Maybe there’s more than global warming. Yeah, I can help others more effectively. Like manufacturing tents and distributing them to the homeless. Or pay Shepherd to raise cattle for meat to feed the needy. I wonder if Shepherd would teach me how to witness like he did with Matlock.
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