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The Body in the Road

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Monday, 13 October 2008
Every Monday morning except the first Monday of each month I wake at 4:00 AM, shower and dress - including make-up - and drive the 12 or so mile trip to a church where I attend a leadership training meeting for the evening Bible study I teach. 

It seems not everyone out on the roads at 4:30 AM is on their way to a Bible study.  Last Monday I saw someone dump a body in the road.

Most of my trip is on the freeway and major streets with a lot of traffic, but about a quarter-mile before the church I cut through a dark, lonely thick of woods, devoid of houses, cars and, presumably, witnesses.

As I rounded the corner my headlights caught the back of a pick-up truck parked in the road with its brake lights on.  Since there had been construction traffic in the area I assumed it was some workers arriving early to start their day.   I slowed behind the truck, evaluating whether I should wait or skirt around the vehicle, when it quickly pulled forward and drove away.  There was a dark heap left on the side of the road and, within a couple of seconds I realized, to my horror, it was a person.  A boy crumpled and lying on his back.

I can't explain the thoughts that processed through my mind in those few seconds of revelation:  Who?  What?  Why?  And, most urgently, what to do? 

As I fumbled for my phone, the body began to move.  He's not dead, I thought, but hurt?  Why isn't he getting up?  My phone was not charged.  I shifted into park and was about to offer help when the pick-up truck that had left seconds ago turned around and headed back.

Oh my God, help me God.  Oh my God, help me God.  What now?  If I'd just witnessed something really bad, what would prevent the perpetrator from finishing me off, too?

As torturous as it was to leave the boy on the road, I felt the only thing I could do was get to a phone and report the incident.  I was only a couple hundred yards from the church, so I quickly left the scene, got to the church and borrowed a phone to call 911.

As you can imagine, my heart was unsettled all morning.  Why had I left?  What could I have done differently?  What happened to that poor boy?  Could I forgive myself if I'd learned he was never found...or found dead after I'd seen him alive?

I prayed for him, for his family, for all kids in the world who are suffering and scared.  I hugged my boys tighter, doted on them, cherished each moment.

Later that afternoon I called the police department. for an update.

Yes, they found the "boy," right where I described.  No, he wasn't hurt.  He told the police that he had been riding his bicycle (at 4:00 AM?) and got a flat tire.  Someone with a pick-up truck gave him a lift and dropped him off on the side of the road (in the middle of nowhere?).  No, he wasn't lying on the ground, he had spilled the contents of his backpack and was simply crouched down, picking it all up when I happened by.

It turns out, according to the officer, he is someone the police know well.

I have to say that, although I felt the weight of the world lifted from my heart, I couldn't help but feel silly too.  Have I become one of those little old ladies who thinks everyone is up to no good?  Imagining things that aren't there?

Oh, well.  It was an experience I'll not likely forget and it did teach me a couple of things:  keep my phone charged, stay on the main roads and never trust my judgment at 4:00 on Monday morning.
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