Meeting an Angel at Ocean and Phelan
This story starts with me walking down a long staircase while reading a magazine. I was chuckling at a joke when I mis-stepped. My right foot curled around, and for a moment I bore my weight on top of the foot. I regained my balance, but I heard a noise: *pop*.
I staggered down to the bottom of the stairs and sat on a step. I held my right foot up and waggled it. Not much pain; a little sore. I stood up. It felt all right. I figured that noise must have been like cracking a knuckle.
This was at work, in Lincoln University’s old building at Turk and Masonic. (Now owned by USF.) My home was near Ocean and Phelan, at the other end of a long ride on the 42 bus. It was time to go home, so I got together my stuff; a backpack and a shopping bag. The shopping bag had handles, and it carried my textbooks and records. I picked it up and went out front to wait for the bus.
Waiting was tiring. I boarded and sat down, then noticed that my right foot was still sore. The bus trounced off; I sat and waited; my foot got worse not better.
By the time the bus got to Ocean and Phelan, my stop, I knew the truth; I had messed up my foot bad; I was in serious pain, and had to:
1. Stand up
2. Put on backpack, pick up bag of books
3. Carry them out of the bus
4. Walk to the corner
5. Cross four lanes of Ocean Avenue traffic
6. Up Phelan half a block
7. In the front doorway, using key
8. Down the hall
9. Open apartment door
10. Walk to the couch
- before I could:
11. Lie down and raise my right foot.
Well, I stood up. I put on my backpack and picked up the bag of books. Did you know that paper has the same density as wood? So I might as well have been carrying a log on straps? Ow, my foot said. Somehow I got out of the bus, somehow I limped to the corner, somehow I staggered onto Ocean, each step an ouch. I was crossing the first set of streetcar rails when I stumbled particularly hard, and I had to struggle to get up.
That was when an Angel appeared.
I know, I know, he was just a guy. A normal human being, doing the normal thing; helping out someone in obvious distress. But just then he looked like an Angel to me.
I wish I could describe the Angel clearly, but at the time my attention was elsewhere. I know that he had a bristly mustache, and his hair was reddish; but I’m not really sure that he wore a plaid shirt, nor blue jeans; those memories may be later fill-ins.
He helped me stand up and walk off the street. I explained my foot injury, and where I needed to go; he agreed. As I limped the half-block up to the front doorway, I asked myself, should I let him in? What if he’ll rob me? But by the time we got to the front door I didn’t mind letting him into the building; and by the time we got down the hall I didn’t mind letting him in. Let him rob me!
No he didn’t rob me. He led me to the couch, he brought the phone handset over so I could call the doctor from there. I thanked him, he smiled, he left, and I have never seen him since.
My roommate came in later to help; I saw the doctor; there was a crack in a foot bone; I had crutches and a cast for weeks; and ever since my foot aches whenever the weather’s cold and damp.
As for the Angel, I know very little about him, other than his secret identity.