(written by Linda Kreger, inspired by the first scenes in the above video)
Old Mr. Petrovski was in a hurry. He had medicine in his pocket for his wife, He’d just been to the drugstore, and had visited too long there with the druggist who had taken care of him and his family for over 40 years. Now, he needed to get back to the apartment and make sure Zofia got the medication that would ease her headache and allow her to sleep.
“Zofia,” he thought, as he hurried to the corner where traffic was speeding by. “How could I have left you so long, my dear Zofia! But I’m coming, I’m coming, and soon your poor head will be better.”
Looking carefully, Mr. Petrovski saw that the light had changed. Still, he was cautious. His eyes weren’t as sharp as they’d been when he was young. But there were no vehicles moving against the light, so he placed his cane carefully over the curb, making sure it was stable on the pavement of the street before he stepped off and made his way across.
“Such a bother, such a trouble,” he muttered to himself as he hurried as fast as his lame knees and failing vision would allow. He thought with longing of the days when he would fly home to his Zofia, feeling as light as a bird. Ah, those were good days. But these were good days, too, and he still had his precious Zofia to look after and to care for him.
Mr. Petrovski made it across the street and was feeling safe with only two more blocks to travel, when suddenly the buckled sidewalk flew up to trip his shuffling feet. BAM! He went down face-first, his cane flying one way and his glasses another. He was stunned, not sure for several heartbeats if he had anything broken. The fall knocked his breath right out of his lungs, and he couldn’t even think except for–“Ach, how humiliating!”
Some people did see him fall. Three young women carrying go-cups from the coffee shop came running across the street, bending over Mr. P to see what kind of damage there had been. Natalie hurried to put her cup down near the traffic light, then joined her companions at the old man’s side.
“Come on, you two, we have to turn him over and see if he’s conscious,” ordered Nat.
“Wait, shouldn’t we make sure he didn’t hurt his neck or something? I mean, maybe it’s not safe to move him,” replied Tammy.
“Yes, you’re right. Let’s check his pulse, and maybe if he’s awake we can get him to talk.” Natalie put her fingers on Mr. P’s neck, immediately finding a good strong pulse. Groaning, Mr. P started to try to turn over.
“You can let me up,” he said clearly. “I may be down, but I’m not out!”
With a laugh of relief, the three young women worked to help Mr. P get to a sitting position. While they worked, a man on a small motorcylce climbed the curb, turned off his bike, and rushed over to the group around Mr. Petrovski.
“Here, ladies, can I help? Let me get him under his arms, and then we can let him rest for a second before he gets back up on his feet.”
Natalie’s first reaction, when she saw the cyclist jump the curb, was intense distrust. He was dressed all in black leathers, from his boots to the jacket that was zipped to his chin. His hands were protected in thick black gloves. He still wore his helmet and dark glasses, so very little of his face was visible.
“Ok, what is this?” thought Natalie to herself. Is he going to try to mug this poor old guy? Hit on one of us? Where’s my pepper spray?”
The cyclist, however, showed no signs of wanting to do anything but help. He knelt on the sidewalk behind Mr. P, who had managed to roll over on his back. Carefully, the biker put his hand under Mr. P’s arms and around his chest, hoisting him up against the black leather jacket.
“How’re you doing, Sir? Are you okay? Ready to try to stand up yet?”
While the biker was getting ready to help Mr. P stand up, Natalie got a good look at the old man’s face for the first time.
“Why, Mr. Petrovski! I didn’t know it was you! Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you seem to be all right!”
“I’m sorry, I’ve lost my glasses and I can’t see you very well. Your voice sounds familiar, though. . . .Natalie? Natalie, from the downstairs apartment? Is that you?”
“Yes, Mr. P, it is. I’m so glad I happened to be coming along behind you. These girls are my friends from work, Tammy and Jodi. We saw you fall, and we’re here to help. This man holding you up is. . .um. . .”
“Mac,” said the biker. He grinned, looking into Natalie’s pretty brown eyes. He liked brown eyes. A lot. Natalie, a very pretty name, matched her very pretty face, he thought, He like her smile, liked the compassion he saw in her eyes, liked her wavy dark hair that spilled over her forehead and around her face and neck. Liked the way she obviously cared about the old guy he was holding. Actually, he liked this whole situation.
“So, Natalie, are you girls ready to help me get Mr. Petrovski to his feet?”
“Sure, I guess so,” replied Nat. She took Mr. P’s hand, squeezed it, and asked him if he were ready to get up.
“Yes, yes, yes! I could have been up by now if you weren’t all hovering like a bunch of mother hens! Let’s get on with it,” he answered, but with a twinkle in his eye.
“Okay, on three. You ladies hold his arms,and one of you stand in front to brace him if he’s dizzy or something. Ready? One, two, three!”
And Mr. P was back up on his feet. He wobbled for just a moment, then regained his balance. “Did any of you see where my glasses went? And my cane? I sure hope my glasses aren’t broken!” Then, remembering Zofia’s medication, he felt his pocket to see if the plastic bottle was intact. With relief, he found everything in one piece.
“Mr. P,” said Mac, “I think you should let Natalie walk you back home. Since you live in the same apartment building, that won’t be out of the way. Right, Natalie?”
“Well, I really do have to get back to work. . .”
“It’s okay, Nat, we’ll tell the boss what happened. He’ll be fine, and you’ll get there when you can make sure everything’s ok with your friend here.” Tammy and Jodi turned to go back the way they had come. Natalie stood there feeling stunned, looking at the biker’s dark glasses but not seeing anything that reassured her. Then, Mac did a very gentle thing. After helping Mr. P get his bent-not-broken glasses back on and handing him his cane, Mac took Natalie’s hand and placed it in the crook of Mr. P’s elbow, giving her hand a little squeeze.
“Look, I’ll make sure you two make it, all right? We don’t want Mr. P to get dizzy or anything, so I’m just going to get back on my bike and I’ll go around the block a couple of times until I see that you’re at your apartment building. Okay? Good, now take it easy. I’ll be close by.”
Shaking her head at how neatly Mac had maneuvered her into doing what he said, Natalie glanced up at Mr. P’s face. He was smiling broadly, seeming to enjoy some private joke.
“Mr. P, what are you so happy about? You just took a nasty fall! You may have some skinned knees, you know, or you may have twisted your back!”
“Oh, my dear Natalie, don’t you worry about me. I have a feeling you’ll have other matters to keep you occupied once Mac finds us safe at the apartment building. He’s pretty sharp, your Mac. Reminds me of when my dear Zofia and I first met. . . did I ever tell you that story? No? Well, I was riding my bicycle home from work one day. . . . .”