My cell phone vibrated on my desk at work. I opened it and smiled. “Bg day,” it read. “Thnkn of U. Lv, Trish”. I closed the phone, holding it in proxy to the warmth of my wife’s hand.
It was a big day, shared by my family. Today, during lunch and after receiving my paycheck, I would be at the bank making a final deposit into a special saving’s account. Over the past two years, Trish and I’d managed to put aside enough money for a cochlear implant procedure. I’ve been profoundly deaf since birth, and the surgery, scheduled at the end of the month, was the unfolding of answered prayer.
Just after eight, an office messenger placed my mail, along with my paycheck on my desk. At noon, and silly as it might seem, my heart raced as I placed the check inside my suit coat next to my cell phone and literally ran out of the building to the bank, two blocks away.
Being that it was mid-week; the bank was quiet with only one teller, a lone bank guard and one other customer in front of me. Without incident, I got to the cashier’s window.
In its simplest form, sound is nothing more than vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium. It’s been said that Beethoven, deaf in his later years, was able to compose masterpieces simply by laying his hands on the surface of his piano and sensing the intensity of the vibrations
This is what caused my head to jerk right just as I came up to the teller. A turbulent force shuddering through the air. I felt something wet hit my face and hands and saw tiny drops of red.
I’ve read that in a robbery or hostage situation one should never look their assailant in the eyes. But sometimes things erupt so quickly one’s mind has no time to reflect over an act and its consequence.
When I turned my head, fragmented tableaus, caught and suspended in flash-like strobes flickered before me. My eyes caught the body of the guard falling forward. His arms were upturned in a universal sign of surrender. His face stopped in disbelief as blood spurted in measured heartbeats from his chest.
The air around me was a whirlpool pulling me down. I fought against it, struggling to keep my balance. The other customer ahead of me was now lying on the floor quivering, hands covering her head.
The assailant was wearing a mask, but his eyes still met mine. He was shouting orders, but I could not understand him, his lips hidden behind his disguise. Time seemed to stop.
He saw my stare and moved his face close to mine. His eyes were yellow and spastic in their sockets. I tried to avert my glance, but our eyes were locked and I became desperate to read and understand them.
Pointing his gun at my temple, he jutted his chin up and down, saying things I couldn’t hear. He hit me with the butt of his gun, blood wept from a wound above my ear. My vision blurred and I cowed to the floor.
As I opened my eyes, I felt as I was underwater – reality out-of- reach and two steps ahead of my thoughts. To stay alive I pantomimed what I saw others doing: hands high in the air, coming to squat beneath the counter in front of the teller’s window. There were only the three of us. Hostages in a robbery suddenly turned deadly.
Soon blue and red lights pulsated and pooled around the lobby. I glanced to the front of the bank to see a squad of police cars beyond the plate glass. Armed and uniformed men hovered behind tenable barricades - blue ghosts quavering in the palpitating lights.
The assailant jerked me to my feet, shouting, gesturing pushing me toward the window, gun pointed at my head. I saw snipers, guns aimed our way.
Seemingly unheard by the assailant, my cell phone vibrated against my chest. Trish!?
Instinctively, I clutched the phone with my forearm, my body pitching forward. Woozy from the blow above my ear, blood in my eyes, I bumped into the assailant, knocking him off guard. The snipers had just enough time to do their job.
Newspaper called my actions heroic. Maybe they were in some unexpected and sudden way. I’ll leave it at that.
And the phone message? It was from Trish. Asking me to bring home champagne to celebrate the day.
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