“This is a hold up! Everybody down on the floor!” Screamed the three masked men.
All of us quickly lay facedown and I for one, started saying my prayers and hoping that no one would get hurt, that the robbers would remain calm. I knew that sometimes for no reason they shot people who had not resisted or caused any problems. My heart was racing. I tried to calm myself. I knew they would not stay in the bank long. That might mean I had just minutes to live. “Dear Jesus. You are my Savior. Forgive me. If I die today, please take me to heaven to be with my loved ones and You. Thank You.” That’s my prayer each morning and at bedtime but I just prayed it again because of the situation and added “I’m ready for whatever happens and keep these people safe”. I’m at peace. Here they come.
“You, pretty lady. Stand up. Come with us as a hostage.”
She started crying and did not stand up so the robber grabbed her and started to hit her when I said loudly, “Please leave her alone. She is too upset to be a good hostage. You will have to drag or carry her and she will just slow you down. Take me instead of her. I will not slow you down. I can keep up as long as you are walking but if you start running well, I’m too old to run but I will do my best.”
The robber hesitated and wondered if it was a trick. “Why would anyone put themselves in danger for someone else? Do you know that girl? Is she a friend?”
“No sir. Never seen her before today. She is young with her whole life before her and mine is pretty much over so I thought I would be a better hostage. Come on let’s go.” I wanted to get him moving before he changed his mind. As we started to leave, the young girl looked at me with tears streaming down her face, and silently mouthed the words, “Thank you.”
And the three bank robbers and I were out the door and into a waiting van. The driver hit the accelerator and shouted, “Who is the old geezer? And what is he doing here?”
“Dumbo wanted a girl hostage and the geezer said “take me instead” and here he is. Now what do we do with him?”
I should not have said anything but I suggested, “Shouldn’t we slow down? The police…”
Someone yelled, “Shut up, Pops!” and hit me with something hard. Stars, darkness, pain—I heard dimly “Not another word! But he is right, Slow down!”
I faded out. When I came to, I was in the van as it came to a stop. I heard them getting out and in a haze talking. “Stick to the plan. ….. separate cars…. Do we kill pops (that made me want to wake up—but I faded again) …
When I woke up it was dark. I tried to sit up. What a headache—pain. Faded out. When I woke up again the sun was shining. My head still hurt but this time I managed to stand up on the second try—wobbly—don’t try to walk yet. My head cleared—mostly, so I said my morning prayer and I was so glad to be alive to be able to say it. I ended with “Thank you Lord for the blue sky and the pretty ocean.” “Ocean? But I live 50 miles from the ocean. Did the robbers drive this far and drop me here? Or did I somehow escape from them and catch a ride with someone and wind up here at the ocean? I will need to call some people. Oh, great they took my cell phone and my billfold and credit cards. What can I do? I cannot prove who I am. Fortunately, I keep a miniature copy of my driver’s license and a gift card in a hidden pocket in my shoe and sure enough they did not find that. I see a motel up ahead. I guess I should call the local police first and then my family and friends. I better be careful because the robbers might be looking for me. They may think I can identify them. I cannot except one was called Dumbo but I do not think that is his real name—(laughing) oh oh. My head hurts when I laugh. Here I am at the motel.
The 9-1-1 call brought swift action. In no time I saw a doctor that patched me up, got me x-rayed, confirmed I had a slight concussion, and said I was good to go back home. The local police gave me a ride back home to my police station who had an officer take my statement about the bank robbery. I overheard one officer say, “Well, he sure didn’t help much. Their masks and gloves were effective.” I handed the officer something the doctor had taken out of my scalp. The officer said it was from the handle of a gun and if they were dumb enough to still have it when caught, it could tie them to the robbery. They complemented me on contributing some hard evidence—thanks to my hard head.
After completing my statements I went to see my grown niece and nephew—the only family I have left. It was good to see them and I told them to say their prayers every morning because we never know what the day may bring. They agreed.
Then I went to the cell phone store and got a new phone—now days seems I just cannot get along without my cell phone. Felt good to have my old friend back.
I went by the bank just to reassure myself that everyone was all right, and they were. Each of them had been shaken up but had returned to work saying the bad guys were not going to win. The young lady whose place I took, came from behind the counter and gave me a great big hug saying thank you so much. She asked, “Why did you take my place? That was so courageous of you. They could have killed you. I see they did hurt you. I will remember what you did all my life. I will try to live a better life because of what you did.”
I said, “Sometimes we just do the right thing at the right time. If I had thought about it I probably would not have done it. Maybe it was a God Nudge. You would have been going into danger—your life was just beginning—mine is nearly over. It seemed like a good trade—the right thing to do. Now, go and have a good life. Good bye.”
(Note: The robbers were caught a few days later and they still had the gun with a small piece missing from the handle which fit perfectly with the piece the doctor took from my scalp. That was the clinching bit of hard evidence needed to convict them of bank robbery and kidnapping among other crimes. The young lady did have a good life. The bank (and secretly I) paid for her to pursue any career of her choice. What career do you think she chose?)