"When God Came Running to Light The Darkness"
By Nancy Arant Williams
I immersed myself in reading for several hours, and got up to
let the dogs out about 8:30.
I went out in my bare feet and realized instantly that our Indian summer had
disappeared, leaving a biting, cold chill in its wake. As if to convince me,
the wind whipped into a sudden frenzy, and sent me, shivering, back inside for
a jacket and shoes. By the time I returned to the door, the dogs were nowhere
to be found. I called repeatedly, and I could hear them barking in the distance,
but felt puzzled when they didn’t respond to my call, since both are trained
to come immediately.
Bundled in layers of fleece, I banked the fire and grabbed my keys, thinking
that if I drove up the road and called, maybe I could coax them to come home.
The Taurus was freezing and hesitated when I turned the key in the ignition.
After a few false starts, I revved it the moment it finally kicked in and shortly
backed out the drive, with a flashlight in one hand and the other on the wheel.
Through the open window, I called, “Duke, Fred, where are you guys?”
I could hardly hear the barking now and became increasingly worried; this was
so unlike them. Feeling anxious to find them and get home, I parked at the side
of the road and started walking, but could neither see nor hear them anymore.
After walking for a few minutes, I was chilled to the bone in the icy wind
and decided I shouldn’t have left the car. Training my flashlight around the
area, I headed back.
Once again in my warm car, I turned around in a wide spot in the road, thinking
maybe the dogs had gone in the opposite direction. I opened the windows to listen,
letting in the frigid night air as I called their names. I shook my head in
bewilderment; they never did stuff like this. What on God’s green earth was
With my attention on the roadsides, I drove slowly, craning my neck, struggling
to see through the inky darkness. As the wind died down, low-lying fog began
accumulating due to moisture at ground level. At that moment, the car shuddered
with a dull but riveting thud.
“Oh, God,” I prayed out loud. “What did I hit?”
I put the car in reverse and stopped just a few feet away, getting out, with
my flashlight poised, eyes straining, but saw nothing notable. I was just turning
away, when I thought I heard a groan. In a flash, I turned back, aiming my light
in the direction of the sound.
Oh, dear Lord, what now? Show me what is going on.
I shined my flashlight into the ditch and then farther away. Its beam was picking
up something, but it was too far away to distinguish any details through the
It was the size of a large person or maybe an animal, but as unsure as I was,
I wasn’t inclined to go any closer. I strode back to the car and shifted its
position so that my headlights shone on the area. I still couldn’t see much,
but I could again hear a soft moaning. Or was it the wind?
Oh, why, didn’t I grab my cell phone? Drew was always chiding me for
never having it when I needed it, and after this, I would find a way to wear
it around my neck. I hurried back to the house and rushed inside, to find that
the dogs had let themselves in the front door, which evidently hadn’t been closed
all the way. My first thought was there goes the heat bill.
I hurriedly dialed 911. “This is Makkie Yeats, out at the Kellogg place on
Primrose Lane. I think I just hit someone with my car. Please send someone to
investigate as soon as possible.”
After a restless few minutes, I heard a car pull into the drive. I stepped
out onto the porch, shivering, wishing he’d pick up the pace.
The sheriff’s deputy, second-in-command, Salvatore Hughes, stepped out, slammed
the door, and stood beside his unit.
“Makkie, you called? What happened? Dispatch said you hit someone with your
I blinked. Since I had last seen him, Sal, a husky man in his late forties
with dark hair and eyes, had grown a black cookie duster mustache and looked
suddenly very furry. I couldn’t help but smile as he reminded me of Charlie
Running now, I jumped into his car, while he just stood there, looking confused.
I opened the car door and yelled out. “Sal, what on God’s green earth are you
waiting for? Get in. I’ll show you where it happened. Hurry up, will you? Someone
is hurt--maybe even dying.”
Moving in what seemed like slow motion, he finally slid behind the wheel, started
up the car and backed down the drive, still looking dazed. It didn’t take but
a second to reach the all-too-familiar spot.
I shouted, “Here! Stop here.”
Looking around, I pointed. “Shine your light right there. I heard someone groaning
He shined the large flashlight slowly over a wide area, but its beam was as
ineffectual as mine had been.
“Sal, turn your car so the headlights shine over there.”
He quickly maneuvered his unit into position and shone his headlights onto
“Do you see anything?” he asked.
“I see something, but I can’t tell what it is in all this fog. Do you have
a flood light?”
He flipped open his trunk lid and pulled out his light. I walked to the edge
of the road and thought I heard another groan, but he had left the engine running,
so I couldn’t be sure.
“I’m going over there,” I said, feeling desperate to do something.
He put his hand on my wrist to restrain me. “You aren’t going anywhere. You
have no idea what you’d be getting into. It could be a rabid animal or something.
I’ll call for backup, and we’ll go there properly equipped. You stay put.” His
eyes glinted with steely determination as he said it.
I rolled my eyes as he got on his radio, calling for backup.
After he hung up, I argued. “But Sal, whoever that is could be dead by the
time help arrives. I’m going.”
He grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me to face him. “I repeat, you have
no idea what you’re getting into over there, and I will not allow it. Do we
understand each other?”
I frowned. Another macho male with an attitude.
He glared at me. “You never answered me. What’s it going to be?”
“Give me a break, Sal! I’m still here, aren’t I?”
“Yes, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
I sank down on the protruding bumper of his patrol car and sighed. Why could
I never get anyone to cooperate with me?
The second unit was certainly taking its sweet time. Nearly frantic by then,
I began to pace beside the road’s edge. Within five minutes, two more sheriff’s
vehicles approached and shined their lights on the area in question. By then
the fog had lifted a little, and what we saw was horrifying.
A man lay on his side, covered with what looked like blood, and from my vantage
point, I couldn’t tell whether he was alive or not.
“Listen, Sal, I’m an R.N., and I need to get to that man and see what I can
“No way, Makkie. We need to wait for the EMS unit. We’re not equipped to handle
I frowned. “What are you talking about? Police go the aid of injured citizens
everyday, starting CPR and giving basic life support. I know you do, because
I even lobbied the city to get special respirators for each squad car. Now where
Looking chagrined, Sal knew he had messed with the wrong guy--me. He pulled
the respirator from the glove compartment, and I grabbed it, yelling as I broke
into a run. “Now, let’s see some action over here! Come on.”
I led the way to the man and leaned over him. Sal handed me rubber gloves,
which I quickly donned. The man’s eyes were slits, and I knelt to feel for a
pulse and breathing. His heartbeat was thready--barely palpable and his respirations
I met Sal’s gaze. “Did you call the EMS unit yet? We need them yesterday.”
“They’re on their way. How’s he doin?”
“Not good. But these injuries didn’t come from being hit by my car or anyone
else’s. It’s clear he was badly beaten before I ever came along.”
I took the penlight out of my pocket and shined it on the back of his head,
where there was obvious blunt force trauma. He appeared to have a depressed
skull fracture, about two inches square on the back of his head, which meant
there was no way on God’s green earth he would make it without being flown to
a trauma center, better equipped than our little town ER.
Abruptly, I yelled, “Sal, radio for a Life Flight, or he’s not going to make
His mouth twisted into a grimace.
“Listen, I’m not sure about this. Life Flight is prohibitively expensive, and
from the look of things, it may already be too late.” I knew Sal had heard one
too many lectures on fiscal belt-tightening.
My ire flared. “What kind of an attitude is that? Listen, Sal, I don’t know
about you, but I tend to listen when scripture addresses an issue. It says in
Hebrews thirteen, verse two: ‘Do not neglect to show kindness to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.’ Now, you
gonna call for a Life Flight, or are you going to stand there and argue with
He grudgingly made the call. I was not hopeful, since our victim was clearly
critically injured. A compression fracture of the skull can put pressure on
vital brain centers, cutting off oxygen and causing certain brain death. But
he wasn’t dead yet, and I’ve learned you never can discount God’s part in the
In fact, I had seen some pretty miraculous stuff in my lifetime, things that
are out of the scope of human capability, where even the docs have no explanation.
Because I didn’t dare to move him much, I log rolled him with my excellent
support staff, ie, reluctant deputies, just enough to make sure he had a good
It took about ten minutes for the air ambulance from St. Kat’s in KC to set
down in the field, and I was a wreck by the time it finally arrived. I wasn’t
sure how much time he had left, but I quickly reported what I knew, as they
bundled him up, preparing to transport. Relief and fatigue washed over me as
I sent them on their way with their new patient.
Sal looked at me, then at the deputies as we walked toward our cars, their
floodlights still illuminating the night. “Anybody ever seen him before?”
The deputies all shook their heads, and after a beat, I said, “Thanks guys,
for coming down. Sorry if I gave you a hard time.”
Sal’s second in command, Mick Franklin, a congenial thirty-year old with blonde
hair and expressive brown eyes, looked at Sal and gave him a wry wink, then
turned to me. “Listen, Makkie, when we get a call and you’re involved, we expect
to get chewed up and spit out if we don’t do the right thing.”
“Word’s out.” He grinned, and they all burst out laughing. Not a minute later,
I sat in Sal’s unit, where I flipped on the heater full blast, trying to thaw
my frozen limbs. After I helped complete his report, Sal dropped me at my place.
“Listen, kid. You stay out of trouble-- hear me?” His eyes glinted with merriment.
“Good night, Sal,” I said dourly.