Becoming Thomas Patrick Hardy
Thomas Patrick Hardy, lawyer, loser, found himself facing yet another setback that Friday night. The split second that it took his shredded tire to dig into the soft shoulder was eclipsed by the realization that he was heading for the edge and certain death at the bottom of the gorge below.
Instinct prevailed over intellect as he jammed his foot on the brake causing his vintage Jaguar to spin on its new axis, throwing its rear over the edge to crash, trunk first, into the stump of a sycamore long since dead.
Tom felt himself surface. Eyes open, floating above the wreck, certain that this was it, his final moment. He looked down at himself, slumped in the seat, blood running from his head like a dark stream in the moonlight. No pain! Well, that was good.
He felt a moment’s sadness as he realized that no one would miss him. His family would probably fight over his estate he thought, knowing his wife would walk away with everything. She’d probably take her latest stud to Hawaii before tearing his heart out.
But, at least it was over for him. He looked toward the light, and floated up to the stars.
“C’mon buddy, we gotta get you outa here, there’s gas all over the place.”
The sonuvabitch that saved Thomas Patrick Hardy looked like he’d gone over the edge a few times already. His face was a terrain with stubble, creased and broken. But his eyes shone with pleasure as he dragged Tom away from his death. “That’s a nasty cut, but you’ll be ok” he said.
He turned as the car burst into flame and a wall of fire plummeted to the canyon floor. “Well, they’ll be here in a minute and I gotta go.”
“You saved my life,” said Thomas, “let me give you something.” He winced as he reached for his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills.
“Nah, give it to someone who needs it.” The stranger turned and walked away.
“I don’t even know your name.”
“Don’t have one.”
Thomas felt the hair sizzle on the back of his head as he scrambled away from the flames. The screaming sirens voiced his fear as he realized the whole gorge was on fire.
Thomas spent Sunday in hospital; no one came to see him, his wrist was broken and he had minor burns. A nurse named Nancy, overworked and stressed out, gently applied a salve to his blisters, trimmed his burnt hair and stitched the cut on his head. She told him about her son, four years old and full of life. He smiled and slipped a thousand dollars into her pocket as he hugged her goodbye.
On Monday, he got a haircut, took a cab to the office and told them he was quitting. They accepted his resignation letter and told him he would be missed. He knew they were lying.
He decided to walk home. He gave a street guy a twenty as he passed. The man looked at him, straight in the eye, and said “Thank you brother.” Thomas looked back at him and smiled.
He spent the rest of his day looking for ways to help the people he met. He didn’t give any more money away but he did buy groceries for an older woman who was in a checkout. He gave his seat on the bus to a pensioner and thanked the driver as he got off.
He had lunch in a diner, with apple pie for dessert. He flirted with the waitress and left her a very good tip. When he finally got home, he listened to music while he made himself dinner.
He spent the rest of the evening looking at wedding pictures, remembering the love that he felt for Sarah. He decided to give her the house and half the money. After all, she earned it, Lord knows, he was no angel.
That night however, Thomas Patrick Hardy dreamt he had wings…