Struck Blind

While visiting the Veteran Administrations Hospital for my annual physical, I got off on the wrong floor. I promptly got lost. I must admit that I have never been very good at finding my way around in government buildings.

It was the third floor where the door to the elevators opened and I instinctively stepped off without looking at what floor I was on. I was supposed to go one more floor up.

However it would be fifteen to twenty minutes before I would discover this.

Wandering up and down the corridors of this building, I searched for the set of offices that I needed to visit. I had been to them before, one year ago, so I knew they existed; however I could not remember what they looked like.

And to me all governmental offices look the same anyway.

As I searched for the office numbers, I came to the Chapel. Every VA Hospital has one.

It was here I also discovered the only telephone on the floor. I lifted the receiver and started to dial the number to the clinic that I was by now already late for, when I notice a man seated in the chairs of the Chapel.

I could hear him crying.

Gently I hung up the phone and quietly I walked into the seating area and sat down beside him. He had both hands over his face and was softly weeping. I leaned over and whispered, “Brother, are you okay?”

He looked at me and said, “Yeah, I am.”

He paused to catch his breath. He obviously had a breathing problem.

He explained that as a baby he had an accident that had broken his nose and had caused him pain throughout his life. Several times he had lost jobs because he could not catch his breath and now at 70 years old the doctors had discovered the problem and were going to be able to fix it for him.

“I cry because I’m happy,” he said.

It was hard for me to stop crying as I lay my hand on his should and asked if we could pray together for a successful operation, quick recovery, joyful life and a gracious God. He thanked me and said, “God bless you,” as I left to make my appointment.

Those words made me feel heroic.

After my doctor’s appointment, I dropped back down to the third floor and the Chapel. The man was gone and I had expected him to be.

So I rushed off to speak to the Chaplain. I wanted to tell him what I had done. I followed the signs that had arrows pointing to his office. I searched for nearly half an hour and could not find his office. I had to get back to work, so I left.

It was later the next day that it occurred to me what had happened. I was relating the tale to friend when this thought crossed my mind: I wanted to tell the Chaplain what I had done, when in truth, I had done nothing at all.

It was the Holy Spirit that had done it. And it was also the Holy Spirit that had blinded me from seeing the Chaplains office so that I did not go barging in, make a fool of myself claiming to have done something that I had no right to claim.

Now, I am left wondering if I met a Vet on the third floor or an Angel in the Chapel and if it really matters anyway.

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Cowboy Up

The buzzer sounded but the rider did not get off. The pick-up men rushed over to assist him off the back of the bull. But still he stayed on the beast.

Suddenly the cowboy came off the back of the bull. His hand still caught up in the strap.

The bull shook him like a rag doll. Still the ride could not get loose.

The pick up men tried to get him undone. The bull fighters ran back and forth attempting to get close enough to undue the limp form attached to the spinning bulls back.

The bull raced across the open arena and smashed his left side and the cowboy into the railing. Then he dashed back and smashed the rider into the other side of the arena fence.

The medical crews were all along this fence. They had stood and watched in agony as this helpless cowboy continued to be thrashed about by this ton and a half monster.

As he passed by the medics he blew snot their way and raked the slats with his razor sharp horns.

Still the pick-up men and rodeo clowns could not get the man untied from the bull. The animal charged off to the other side of the rodeo grounds.

Then he changed directions. He spun back and forth and still the cowboy remained secured to the animal back.

On his third pass at blowing snot and raking the fence post, I decided to do something. Rodeo rules prohibit the involvement of anyone not hired to do what I was about to do.

Pulling out my boot knife, I flung myself over the fence and side ways over the bulls back. The bull spun to his right, the side I was on.

I felt his black and white horn touch him in the back, however I was too far in for the brute to hook me.

The rag doll cowboy was hanging from the bulls left side. I started cutting away at the rawhide that held him.

Suddenly the bull was spinning to his left. He shook his head as he leaped into the air on each successive spin.

His skin slipped underneath Doc as he struggled to hold on. Then he spun to his right again.

His horn struck me in the right lower back just above my hip. It felt like a two-by-four had just been broken over my body.

At that moment the cowboy fell away and I found myself pitching backward with a handful of leather in my hand. I heard a dull thud as I felt my body drop into the soft loam.

My instincts took control of my mind and body and I immediately started to crab-crawl backwards and out of the way.

The bull dug at the earth where I had lain. The bull-fighting clowns moved in as they now had two victims to save from the raging beast.

The bull was spinning to his right, digging at the air and then the ground with his horns. I continued to roll away and crawl to escape him.

At first I thought I was closer to the fence and safety than I really was. I had been nearly in the center of the arena and still had six more feet to go before I could roll under the fence and out of the arena.

One of the bull-fighters raced in front of me. He passed with in inches of the bull and those razor sharp horns.

The bull tracked on him. He followed this with a leaping spin to his left which carried him away from me.

Looking over my left shoulder to see how far from the fence I was, I rolled to my left and started to get up when I heard more than felt, a terrifying pop come from my left leg. The bull was standing on my Wranglers.

The bull was looking at the clown. In less than a second he was off and charging the clown and I was free to move towards the fence and safety again.

The searing pain that followed was so intense that I could no longer hear the crowd any more. Time slowed down to a crawl as I laid there and looked at my left leg seemingly growing longer as I dragged myself to the fence.

On my belly now, I had a hand on the lowest fence rail when the other medics yanked me under the fence. The bull was being head by a pick up man and they came tearing down the line right where I had been lying.

My head was swimming in pain. My left leg hurt even worse and my lower back throbbed.

The medical crew immediately cut my dirt-filled Wranglers off as well as my snap button shirt.

Slowly, I rose up to look at my leg, which looked to be half a foot longer than his right. I could see my knee cap appeared to be missing.

There was a large lump in the middle of my thigh and I concluded the thigh bone must be broken. I wiped my brow and discovered fresh blood matted over with the rich brown dirt of the arena.

My hands were skinned as was my right elbow. A traction splint was put on the battered leg and I was taken to the hospital, where I was given a shot of morphine to help with the pain.

“You’re pretty lucky,” said the Doctor when I finally came too. “No broken bones and only a bruised kidney and displaced knee cap.”

It took me three-days to recover from my battering. As for the rag-doll cowboy, he was treated for unconsciousness and ended up riding again the following day.

“If only they had a pain reliever for injured pride,” I repeatedly told myself.