Callie was running late for work. Her alarm clock had failed to go off. For some reason, waking up that morning
had brought on an eerie feeling. Nothing had seemed out of place, but it felt as if someone had been inside her house while
She wanted to call Rus and let him know she was on her way and to let him know about her feelings, but there
wasn’t time. Besides, she knew she was just being paranoid. She was feeling anxious because of what Rus had said yesterday.
She knew there was no validity to hear fears. Just an overly excited imagination.
She grabbed her purse and a few other belongings, then dashed out to her car.
Callie stumbled over a large rock that had been kicked out of place on the lawn. Once inside, she started
the car and proceeded out of the driveway.
She drove a little faster than she normally would have on an average day. She hated running late. It was
uncharacteristic for her. Callie was meticulous with everything she did. Being prompt was at the top of her priorities.
She sped forward in her car. She missed a few yellow lights here and there. She turned up Monroe Street and
was heading toward Bunker Hill. Everything seemed fine one minute. Before she knew what was happening her car was skidding
out of control. She was approaching a red light and there were lines of cars on either side of her and in front of her.
Callie laid down on the breaks, but they wouldn’t work.
She pumped them up and down, and nothing.
She had only a few minutes to think clearly. She jerked her steering wheel to the right, ran upon a curb
and hit a light pole head on.
Callie felt the impact immediately. Her head crashed against the windshield, cracking it. Her chest came
in contact with the seat belt giving her whiplash. She felt an enormous burning in her wrist and when she lifted her arm,
it was already beginning to swell. A huge purple bruise was already insight.
Her leg was pinned beneath the bent steering column. She wrestled with it but couldn’t get it loose.
She felt the rapid flow of her own warm blood as it oozed down her shin, dampening her pants leg.
Suddenly she smelt something like smoldering rubber. People were all around her now. She could hear them
yelling. But she couldn’t comprehend what was going on. Someone tried to pry her door open, but it wouldn’t budge.
Someone went to get a crowbar to smash the window.
When he came back, it all happened so fast. Callie heard the horrendous crunch of glass and felt pieces of
it land in her hair and all around her. The stranger climbed inside trying to unhook the seat belt, but the metal clasp was
bent in such away it wouldn’t open.
He called for someone to get a knife or a sharp object to cut the leather with. It took about ten minutes
for him to free the seat belt. But her leg was still trapped. He had to use the crowbar again to straighten out the steering
wheel. Once that was done, Callie was free to move, but the trauma of it all made her immobile. Her mind willed her to get
out of the car, to run far far away. But her body would not obey.
She could just sit there, listening to all the sounds around her, numb, and frightened, and on the verge
of breaking down into a good hard cry.
At last the stranger grabbed Callie by the hand, propelling her across the seat. Immediately he saw the blood
pouring from a gash in her leg. Without a word, he lifted her from the car and began running from the scene.
By now everyone was scattering away from the car. Women were screaming, babies crying, men yelling. Callie
was scared. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Just as she and the man were a few feet from the car, it ignited into flames
Callie and the stranger were thrown to the ground by the blast. Callie felt the heat of the explosion as
it singed her flesh. She heard the clinking of metal as pieces of her car fell from the sky.
As realization dawned, Callie grew dizzy. She began to see double just as she fainted.
It was hours, maybe days later when Callie finally woke up in the hospital. The curtains on the windows were
drawn, but a faint ray of sun came through a crack in the panels so Callie knew it was daylight outside.
Rus lay stretched out in a chair beside her bed. He looked exhausted and pale. Her heart went out to him.
How long had he been there? How long had she been there?
Her mouth was dry, but she noted her hand was wrapped in a hard, plaster cast. Her leg had a constant burning
sensation at mid thigh. Her head hurt like she’d been slammed with a sledge hammer. She couldn’t see too clearly
but she knew it was Rus sitting there beside her in the bed.
He seemed so fragile at the moment.
"Rus," she whispered faintly. He didn’t stir. "Rus," she called out a little louder this time. "Rus!".
Rus came awake immediately, nearly lunging out of his chair. He came to Callie’s side, taking her left
hand in his and holding it to his chest. She could feel the rapid beating of his heart. He began to weep, his shoulders shaking
"Oh Callie, you’re awake. You’re finally awake. I have been praying for you every day."
Her voice was weak but she asked, "How long have I been here?"
"Two weeks," Rus answered. "I’ve been sitting here in this chair every day, just waiting and praying
that you would open your eyes and talk to me."
Callie was tired and weak. Her head was throbbing. "What happened to me?"
"You were in a car accident," Rus explained. "You didn’t want to hurt anyone so you hit a light pole
instead. Your car . . . it exploded, Callie. You are lucky to be alive."
She closed her eyes for a moment, the conversation was draining for her. "Was it an accident, Rus. Or . .
"We don’t know, Callie," he answered. He squeezed her hand tighter against his chest. "We haven’t
been able to tell anything because there wasn’t much left of your car. Can you remember anything . . . anything at all?"
It was too hard for Callie to think at the moment and too exhausting. She just wanted and needed more sleep.
"I don’t know, Rus. I can’t remember."
"It’s okay Callie, don’t strain yourself. There will be time enough for that."
Rus was silent then. He just sat there holding Callie’s hands and looking into her eyes. She drifted
in and out of sleep for the next few hours. He helped her to drink some water. He helped rearrange her pillows so that she
would be more comfortable. Then he laid his head on her chest and slept along side her.
Callie’s arms started thrashing. When Rus awoke, she was running a high fever and sweating profusely.
She moaned and groaned, twisting her head back and forth. Rus called for the nurse immediately.
He stood back at a far corner of the room, watching frantically as the nurse administered medications through
her iv. The nurse threw back the bed sheets and began to examine Callie from head to toe.
"It looks like she could have a staff infection in that leg wound. I’ll report it to the doctor and
have him come in right away to look at it."
Rus acknowledged her reply with a shake of his head. After she was gone, he knelt beside her bed, clasping
her hand in his, kissing it gently.
I am scared here. Callie is sick. She needs your help Lord. I need your help. I can’t lose Callie.
You know I love her. You know I want to be with her. And you know this is all my fault. I never should have involved her in
my life. I was selfish Lord. Please forgive me for that. But please don’t let her pay the price for that selfishness.
Ricky needs her too Lord. We all need her.
As Rus was leaning over Callie’s bed praying, Captain Lee walked in on quiet feet. That was his
nature. He never made much noise. But he could be lethal if he wanted to.
"How is she?" the captain asked, his eyes brimming over with concern and sadness.
"Not good," Rus responded, washing at Callie’s face with a cool wet cloth. "She woke for just a few
minutes earlier in the day. But she’s running a high fever. The nurse thinks it might be a staff infection. She’s
going to notify the doctor."
"When do you think she’ll be ready to leave this place?"
Rus’s expression was hard and filled with anger. "She may not get a chance to leave here. She may die
in this . . ."
Captain Lee moved closer to Rus clamping a large hand over his shoulder. "I know how difficult this is for
you, but you must keep a positive outlook on things. And you can’t keep blaming yourself, Rus."
Rus stormed away from the captain, moving to the window. He tore the curtains open allowing the bright light
to shine through the window panes. They were six floors up and Rus stared down steadily at the ground level watching the people
walk by, wondering which one of those people might be the one they were looking for. The one who had tried to kill Callie.
Any number of them could be the one. The thing is, they had nothing to go on and Callie was in no position
to talk. It had been two weeks and she’d just now woke up. Rus didn’t know if that was a good sign or a bad sign.
All he knew is that they had to get Callie away from here and the sooner the better. That’s why her room was being guarded
twenty-four hours a day. She was a target now. Next time she might not escape at all.
This left Rus with a cold feeling in his gut and the taste of metal in his mouth. He had put Callie’s
life in jeopardy. It was all his fault she was laying in this hospital bed, struggling to live. He hated himself for putting
her life in danger.
"I can see your sitting there punishing yourself, Rus, but that’s not doing either of you any good."
The captain was a wise man. He could always see what others could not. He could also read Rus like a book.
They had been working together for so many years now. The captain practically considered Rus his son. The son he never had.
It was a comfort for Rus to know Captain Lee was on his side.
"But I love her," Rus admitted. "Did you know that I loved her?"
Captain Lee stepped closer to Rus. "No, I didn’t. But it’s about time you learn to love someone
again. You’re a good man, Rus. You need a good woman in your life. I think Callie is the one."
Rus turned to the captain then, his eyes awash with tears. "Did you know that she had a son, Captain?" Rus
asked. "Did you know that she’d been married before? Or that her husband left her because he didn’t want to face
his own son’s death. What kind of man does a thing like that?"
The captain merely shook his head back and forth. "I don’t know, Rus. The world is made up of all kinds
of people. Good and bad. Sometimes we can avoid the bad ones, but, unfortunately, not all the time."
Rus knew the statement to be true. It still made him incensed to think of how cruelly Callie’s husband
had treated her. He was made of better stuff than that. "You know I won’t leave her side until those responsible are
The captain nodded. "I suspected as much. That’s why I’m giving you six months leave with pay.
As soon as Callie is able to leave this place, we’re moving her to an undisclosed location and she’ll be under
police protection until this case is wrapped up good and tight."
"Do you think it’ll take six months to get this case finished?"
Captain Lee’s face was shadowed with doubt. "I hope it doesn’t take that long. We are working
on a few good leads. Joe Hines is the primary suspect, right now. We’re investigating the boy with the gun, asking him
all kinds of questions. We believe Joe may have planted the gun on him. We haven’t been able to prove it yet, but .
Rus’s muscles tightened in every part of his body. He grew stiff and rigid, his hands curling up in
fists. "I’d like a chance to question the boy myself, if I could," Rus acknowledged.
The captain looked up at Rus with a stern expression on his face. "I don’t think that’s a good
idea, Rus. You’re too personally involved. That’s why I took you off the case to begin with."
"But I need to be doing something."
It was true. Rus was going stir crazy. He was not used to sitting at a bedside, waiting for something to
happen. He was always out on the streets, bringing in the bad guys. He was active in the community, lending assistance where
needed, teaching women how to protect themselves, and children how to stay safe in a world full of criminals. He liked his
job. He was proud of all his accomplishments not because of how they made him look to others. It was because he made a difference
in people’s lives. If he could save one child or one woman from being a victim, then he had succeeded in doing God’s
But what was God’s will in this mess he’d gotten himself into? Was Callie going to live or die?
If she died, how would he survive? Callie had become such a huge part of his life. He loved her with every breath he took,
with every beat of his heart. He could not see living one minute without her in his life.
The captain finally left him alone to think and ponder over his love for Callie. He sat beside her, watching
her closely, hearing the raspiness of each breath she took. She was pale and her hair was matted up. Her eyes held dark circles
around them. She was growing thin and bony. But even though she were not in the best of health, to Rus, she was incredibly
exquisite, that she carried a splendor inside her that most women did not. For a moment Rus could see Callie as his wife and
the mother of his future children.
He felt suddenly protective of her. He wanted to shield her from further harm. He knew at that moment that
he would be willing to die for her in order to keep her safe. It was huge. It was monumental, but it was the truth. He would
die, so that Callie could live. That’s what God would want from him, expect of him. Wasn’t it?
Rus began to pray.