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Friday, May. 25, 2007
Here we are at the end of the road for Outfoxed.

I wrestled with the idea of making a new place for a long time, too long in this world of instantaneous stuff. I truly hate leaving the design and the familiar brown page (and maybe I don’t have to but I’m gonna, cause anything beyond < b > in html leaves me cold). I wrestled too with the idea of invite only but then I figured: eh. Throw the door open and we’ll deal with it as it happens.

I’m not all that exclusive anyway.

BackwaterBlog. There you have it, and it’s up and running.

Just one last story, and turn the light out when you leave, won’t you?

I’ve made it abundantly clear to everyone that I loathe cell phones. Hate talking on the phone, period. Makes very little difference to anyone, once you’ve got one you’re like a fish on a stringer. And if you choose not to have a house phone? Well God help ye.

So it was curious a few nights ago. I awoke from my (standard) post dinner nap and headed to my bed, noticing and grabbing the cell as I passed it. I NEVER take this thing along with me in the house. Take semi-coherent pains to lose it in the house as a matter of fact. Ally, on the other hand, never seems to be far from hers. Still, there it was, tucked onto my nightstand alongside the great sleigh bed.

And at 3:30 in the morning, it started to ring. The ringing seemed to be in tandem with the sharp poking of ribs from my wife who sleeps lightly, a carryover from too many kids and too many early morning feed runs.

On the fourth ring I nabbed it. “Huh? Whazzat? Hello?”

“Daddy? Oh Dad . . .”

There’s nothing to freeze the blood in your veins like hearing that when the moon is full over a pitch black landscape. It wasn’t the first time, either. But you never get used to it. And the thought flashes - “She didn’t call her Mom on that phone. She called me, which means it ain’t something along the order of mental stress. This is something that’s broke.”

“Daddy I’m on Blackwater Road, and there was this deer . . . and my car’s wrecked!” she sobbed. This is not a girl to cry, either.

“Maggie . . .what?” The Middlest Daughter . . . road . . . deer.

“Can you please . . .” and I was on. Switched completely on, and the adrenaline hit and I was already halfway into Carhardts and gunning to pull a shirt at the same time. I passed a look at the Remington not a foot away, considered and put the thought aside. Not tonight. Where there’s life, you know? It’s the thoughts of a man and damnable hard to explain, but I knew just about all the why’s and how’s without asking, just as I knew that a cell phone was needed beside the bed for maybe the second time in my life. Ever a mystery, it is.

“Maggie, sit still. I’m coming to get you. Right now.”

Ally was bolt awake, of course. She knows the tone and heard the steel in it, knew the fumbling for boots, the grabbing of work gloves from the top of the dresser. Knew that there was purpose and barely a word was passed, because it was time to roll. “Watch the baby, I’ll be back,” and there was a nod and she was up and moving herself.

The backwater is dark in spots even in the daytime, but at night you’re lucky to see the ground under your feet. I grabbed the 4 cell Mag-Lite and the big truck loomed and the noise of a V-8 cranking in the dead silence of morning was shocking indeed.

I passed the little Baptist church, swung hard around the dogleg left, straightened out the first S-turn and there she was. Hard to miss, standing in the middle of the road at 3:45 am. Tiny girl, hard to believe she’s a mama. Equally hard to believe that she’d crawled out of the Honda which was sitting in a 4 foot deep drainage ditch, the drivers door somewhat parallel and even with the road. I was on the road with yellow flashers dancing light on every pine tree for 50 yards in about 3 seconds, and she ran to me.

“God, baby . . .”

“I’m s’ -.sorry, I’m so sorry . . . Daddy”, and I breathed in her hair, her shoulders shaking hard now. It was 15 years ago and the sugar bowl was broken on the floor, or the wading pool had a stick poked in the side and water gushing out. Or 5 years past and a tire was flat, or a boyfriend was pissing me off. Mattered not. The moon was full and peeking through the pine needles, and it could have been a very Elvish moment out there in the middle of Blackwater Rd., but for a long scrape of mud and gravel and a ditch with a sideways car at the end of it all.

“A deer . . .”, and I nodded and held her face in one hand. “A deer was at the side of the road right over there and he jumped at the car.” Deer have a tendency to do that, at night. And the road is all of about 12 feet wide, right there. That’s not very wide at all, road wise.

I took the flashlight and shined it at the car, a rather useless gesture because she was deep, looking for a spot or means to drag her out of there was pointless, even with the mighty rig. This would be a winch and a fair amount of luck sort of job.

And I shone the light a little further along, maybe 40 feet. A tree, a biggish sort of thing was rooted in the middle of the ditch. The middle of her glide path as it were, and I flicked the light away and looked at it no more, and hoped that she hadn’t seen it. 40 feet. It’s nothing, a nothing sort of thing in a backwater where miles are clipped off quickly and every road has its pair of ditches. And trees.

Maggie was little more calm, and I set her into the rig and hit the dome light, looking for obvious injuries and finding none. Not so much as a scratch.

“Is the baby still sleeping?“, she murmured and I replied that yes, he was fine and Granny was looking out for him.

“I was just coming home from work . . . just on the way home and . . . “

“Yes, honey.”

“Why does this stuff happen, Dad? What’ll I do to get to work and carry the baby around and all?”

“It happens, sweetie. It happens and things go wrong and deer decide to take a stroll under a full moon, and there you are. You’re alive, Maggie.” And I pulled the big truck into gear and turned for home.

“What about the car, Daddy? Shouldn’t we . . .”

“Naw. The car isn’t going anywhere. Let’s go see Mom, get some coffee, eh?”

And it was so long ago that I can barely see it but there was a hospital, and Ally with a face contorted with pain and me, flat-footed at 3 am alongside a nurse who never gave her name and Maggie tumbled into the world with eyes wide open, looking, grasping.

Those blue eyes shining. And it was enough, and it still is.

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