My phone rang. Unknown number. I answered and expected to hear a robo-recording about important information regarding my automotive warranty. But it was a young man who I am going to call Bobby.
“Hello, is this Sean?”
Bobby had a story he wanted to share, and apparently I was the guy he was going to share it with. He was adamant about this.
“Do you have a pen?” were his first words.
“How’d you get this number?” I said.
“Your wife gave it to me.”
“I’m on my lunch break,” Bobby went on. “I’m kinda in a hurry. I don’t have long. You’re gonna wanna take notes. I got a lotta cool stuff to tell you.”
Only, it bears mentioning, Bobby never actually used the word “stuff.” Bobby prefers another famous word beginning with the letter S. This word, I quickly learned, is one of Bobby’s favorite expletives. But since this is a family column, I will use “stuff.”
In the background I could I hear factory sounds and industrial noises. “Where are you?” I asked. “I can hardly hear you.”
“I work at a mill.”
I got my pen ready. “Go ahead,” I said.
Bobby said he was coming home late from work one night six years ago. He was speeding when a vehicle pulled in front of him on the wet pavement.
He slammed his brakes. He fishtailed on the rural highway. He doesn’t totally remember what happened, but he remembers the sound of the tires screaming.
He was thrown from the car, then pinned against a tree by the same vehicle he was driving. The odds of this happening are almost five trillion to one. Even the emergency workers couldn’t explain how this had occurred.
“It was some really whacked out stuff, man.”
Bobby was alone in the middle of the woods, trapped against a tree by his own bumper. And did I mention he was all alone?
“No cars passed by,” he said. “Nobody was around for miles. I was like, ‘Man. I’m dying.’”
Then it happened. He can’t explain it, but he tried.
The most giddy feeling he had ever known washed over him. He described this as the same pleasant feeling he used to get when his mother would pour warm water over him when she gave him a bath as an infant.
Which means that Bobby has an impressive memory, being able to remember his infancy. I do not even recall what I ate for supper last night.
“I closed my eyes, man, and I woke up in this new place, and it was just like Earth, only it was brighter, and full of joy and all that stuff.”
I made a note.
“Where was this place?” I asked.
“Stuff, man, I don’t know. But then along comes this guy, walking up to me, and he says my name. He’s young, and nice-looking, and I was like, ‘Yeah, what do you want?’
“He was like, ‘Listen, Bobby, I’m here to help you.’ And that’s when I realized it was my dad. My dad’s been dead for a long time. I was five when he died.”
“What else did your dad say?”
“He said, ‘Bobby, I’m gonna be here with you, the whole way. You’re gonna be alright, son. It’s gonna be hard, but I’m gonna be with you. And it’s all gonna work out.’”
I made another note, but I said nothing. I’ve learned throughout the years when interviewing people about supernatural events, you don’t ask too many questions inasmuch as you can never tell where these stories will go.
Such stories have to be told naturally because trying to figure out a miraculous event is like trying to draw a self-portrait with a white crayon between your toes.
“And then I woke up,” said Bobby. “I saw all these red lights around me and stuff. They were cutting open my car with big old saws and prying me free from where I was. But they said I was smiling the whole time. Nobody could understand it. How I could be smiling?”
“Why were you smiling?”
“Because I know what comes next now. I ain’t scared no more. God’s got this. The EMTs, they asked if I was in pain, and I was like, ‘Stuff, no.’ I wasn’t. I felt really good actually. I felt at peace and stuff.”
The physical therapy took a long time. And even after these years he still has problems walking. The trauma was even worse, it’s still with him. Sometimes he can’t sleep when he starts to remember that horrible night.
But throughout it all, he never forgot the image of his dad. And he could never unsee that world of unspeakable light.
Before we parted ways, I asked why he wanted to tell this story to me.
“So that you can tell people that we’re not alone, man. There’s something out there, something that loves us, something watching over us, don’t matter who you are, or what you done, it loves you, and it don’t judge you. I’m talking about God, man. It’s real man. It’s all totally real.”
“You think so?” I asked. “You think it’s all real?”
“I stuff you not,” he said.