Right Place, Right Time
 I went to a park near my house for some peace and quiet on a warm summer day two years ago. It is Schaar's Bluff park, so named because a family named Schaar donated the land for the park and because the park is on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It's a beaut of a park, with stunning vistas. The bluff rises at least a hundred feet above the river. I like to lean against the wood picket fence near the bluff's edge and watch eagles soar over the river. I mean who wouldn't? So that's what I was going to do that day. I was happy when I pulled into the parking lot and found it empty. I hate people. I was unhappy, then, when I saw two people sitting on a picnic table on the lawn, maybe 20 yards back from the fence. They wore leather coats and pants. A motorcycle helmet was on the table. There was no motorcycle. As I got closer I could see that the woman was in distress and the man was trying to comfort her.  Closer still and I could tell that he was failing miserably for the woman was trembling. Yes, friends, the scene was in dire need of a hero.

"You ok?" a hero asked.


"No," she mumbled. 


"What happened?" I asked.


"I was teaching her how to drive my motorcycle and we ditched it."


"Ahh, I see." I said. But I didn't see. I mean from their dress I'd gathered there had been a motorcycle involved in whatever shenanigans led them here. However this did nothing to explain why they were here on this table with no motorcycle in sight. However, this was not the time to press for details. The woman was clearly in shock and the man was not making much sense either. While it took time to write and read the previous sentences, I assure you they took mere nanoseconds to think. I shifted into detective mode so quickly they didn't notice the shift. And, I was back in hero mode.


"Ok. Are you hurt?" I asked the woman.


"My shoulder hurts."


"I don't know what to do," the man said.


"Have you called 911?"


"I don't have a phone," he answered. "It's with my bike."


"I see," I said again though, I mean, c'mon, how could I? "I do. I'll call."


"How will they even know where we are?"


This wasn't a terrible question. This was a large park. 


"I'll tell them we're at Schaar's Bluff park. Then I'll go out to the main road and flag them down," I said. This was the right answer. 


"911, what's your emergency?"


"I'm at Schaar's Bluff park and I came across a couple who say they were in a motorcycle accident. The woman is injured. She says her shoulder hurts. She's in shock, for sure."


"Ok, we'll get someone out there. Where are you exactly?"


I told her again that I was at the park. I told her if they came down the main road they'd get to a fork and that I'd be there waving and pointing in a manner that'd make clear where they should go from there. That answer satisfied her. I could here the sirens in the distance before I even hung up from the dispatcher. I told the couple help was on the way (though to be fair help had been there for a few minutes in the form of me) and that I was going to run up to the road. Before I did, though, I had to ask.


"You said something about a motorcycle?"


"Yeah."


"Umm...where is it?"


The man pointed down the hill to the fence. There was a hole in the fence where something large and fast had smashed through the boards. "In the river I imagine."


My calm, reassuring exterior broke at last. "Jesus Christ!" I said.


"This is our first date," the woman said. I was surprised by this. I hadn't known she was with us in spirit as it were. "Now I'm going to have to buy him a motorcycle."


"Oh?"


"I was teaching her how to drive. I thought this park would be safe. But we got into the grass and hit the gas instead of the brakes. I had to pull us off. But no, no one is buying me a new bike. I am worried about getting home though. My wallet and everything was in my saddle bag."


"Yeah. That's a bad deal. Well, I hope you're ok. I better run up to the road," I said. My heroism has limits, shuttling is one of them.


"Hey, thanks for your help."


"Anytime," I said stupidly. I caught myself. "Well, let's hope it's just this once." They weren't in a laughing mood. Pity. I liked that one myself. 


I ran to the road. A minute later the first sheriff's deputy showed up. "You the hero?" he more or less asked.


"That's me. They're down that way on a picnic table." 


"Thanks. Would you mind staying and pointing the way for the people behind us?"


"Not at all."


So I stood there pointing the way for deputies and firemen and the ambulance. To stave off boredom I used a different gesture each time. The deputies got a nod and a thumb in the direction of the scene. I gave the firetruck a one-armed wave as they approached and then turned my body and moved both arms like one of those guys who directs planes at the airport. The ambulance got a two-armed wave, like a castaway flagging down a passing ship. That might have been excessive but it was the ambulance, to my mind the only people besides me this scene really needed. 


I walked back to the scene. My people were in good hands. The first responders were real pros. I was no longer needed. However, I couldn't leave because my van was blocked in by a firetruck. So I hung around. I could sense something in the air. Whispers and nods in my direction. "That's the hero who called this in." I guess I was. I wanted one more moment with the people I'd saved. I walked over as they loaded the woman into the ambulance. "You're going to be fine," I said dramatically. Everyone ignored me.


Anyway. I thought of all this because Kelly wanted me to show her the scene of the accident. We went there yesterday. The park was quiet. I showed her the fence. She agreed I was a real hero. Luckily yesterday I didn't need to be. That's just the way I like it. 

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