I believe in angels. I was raised Catholic, but I don’t mean those kinds of angels. No fluttery wings, flowing robes, harps, ethereal music; I believe angels are those people who intervene in our daily lives and give us what we need at that very moment to survive.
When I was fourteen my friend Elena and I ran away from home while we were vacationing at the beach with my family. I had my reasons, none of them valid in hindsight, but I really don’t know what I expected to do. We spent all day on the beach, squandered the $5.00 we had on Boardwalk fries, and flirted with guys all day. One guy in particular seemed familiar to me and therefore safe, so we would go back to his house. He was 21.
He took us back to his house, which we found out he also shared with his parents. We watched Drugstore Cowboy, and ate ham sandwiches he made us washed down with glasses of Deerpark water. During the movie he asked me about where I was staying, where I lived, and what had happened with my father. When the movie was over he offered to drive us home.
He drove us the hour back to where we were staying on 136th street and told me to stay while Elena got out of the car. I asked him to kiss me goodnight and he flat out refused. He told me that he could have killed me, raped me, that no one would have known where I was, and that it was the stupidest thing in the world to get in a car with someone, go home with someone, take food from someone I didn’t know. He told me to go inside and apologize to my father for scaring him so much. He told me about the responsibility of friendship, and to never put someone I cared about in danger again. He didn’t preach or sound like an “After School Special”, but told me what I needed to hear. He gave me his number in case I go any bright ideas to run away again, and I went inside.
I stayed in contact with him over the next six months, through changing schools, more fights with my dad, but also getting a part in a play and making new friends. He spoke to me like a big brother and told me about how he worked in Florida for NASA. We stopped talking around Christmas, and I continued on with my trouble and average teenaged life. I ran away again, but this time to a friend’s house. I did many dumb things that young people do, but carried what he had told me in the back of my mind.
Now, 18 years later, and a teacher in high school, I remember him and how he saved me that day. He could have been anyone, but he wasn’t. He was an angel and his name was Jim Good.
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