by Alice Woodrome
"Maybe he’s some kind of angel," Mike said when I told him about the guy dressed in white. "I mean, you weren't killed, right? Maybe it wasn't just luck. Maybe he was protecting you."
"Well, if he is my guardian angel, he should be fired,” I told Mike. "And I wouldn't call losing my driver's license lucky—or six months in physical therapy, or a hundred hours of community service.”
Mike was always a bit of a flake, but I didn't have a better explanation for the man's appearance three different times when I had close calls. I’m not the kind of guy who believes in angels. Besides, who ever heard of an angel dressed in a polyester leisure suit, which is what he wore the first two times I saw him.
The man would have looked out of place just about anywhere—especially in heaven. He was burly with a big round nose and wiry gray hair that stuck out every which way. There was a wild look about him that didn't go with the suit at all. You would think an angel, if there were such beings, would have a better sense of style.
The first time I saw him he saluted me. Not a military salute; more the way a friend flicks a finger to his forehead. I was ten and had just been hit by a car while riding my bicycle to Kroger's market. Actually, I was showing off, doing a wheelie when I fell into the path of a car. I looked up dazed, lying there by the curb with a pain in my legs that felt like fire. Two ladies stood over me, asking if I was okay, when the man in white walked up and stuck his head in between them. He didn't say anything, just saluted me and walked away. Now, you got to admit that’s pretty weird.
There was chaos when the ambulance arrived and took me to the hospital, and I didn't think too much about him after that. I was in a fog from the drugs when my family arrived—and for a while afterwards. It was months before I could walk again.
I didn’t think about the man in white again for another six years. Not until I almost drowned at the lake when I was a teenager. Some kids and me were trying to swim all the way across, and I just about drank the whole lake.
It was the same kind of thing—he just peeked in while the lifeguard was trying to revive me. It was bizarre; him wearing that same leisure suit out there on the beach. I'm not certain I saw him that time; I might have dreamt it—some kind of hallucination when I was still out of it, but I do have a clear picture of him in my mind.
I told someone about it that time—one of the nurses at the hospital. She told me that the mind sometimes does strange things when a person almost dies; brings up stuff from the past you thought you forgot. I guess that’s a possibility. She seemed to know a lot about such things.
This last time the guy appeared, it couldn't be so easily explained away. I’m not a kid anymore; and I don't believe in mumbo jumbo religious stuff either. But I know what I saw. And it was plenty spooky.
Yes, I'd had a little too much to drink. Which was probably why I had the wreck. I guess I was driving too fast, it being dark, and me not knowing the road and all. I didn’t make the curve, and wrapped my Chevy Malibu around the trunk of an oak tree.
No one could believe I survived the crash. They weren't sure I would for a while.
The man in white was in the emergency room this time, I swear. He was one of the doctors on duty, but I only saw him once that night. He wasn't wearing the suit this time, but he was dressed in white, which was odd because the other doctors were wearing green scrubs. I would have recognized his face anywhere, though. He appeared in the cubicle where I was lying on a gurney, checked the instruments, and held up three fingers. Then he looked me straight in the eye and said, "Three’s your limit."
Didn't make any sense to me. "Three's the limit?"
Mike said he thinks my guardian angel was warning me because I was just allotted three saves or something like that. He said, "I think it means you’re going to have to stop being stupid now."
I doubt if the man in white really was my guardian angel, but either way, I think Mike is right. I got to stop being stupid.