The intersection of County Roads 44 and 19 was well known by the emergency room staffs at the hospitals in three counties. Many lives were forever changed there.
The two-lane roads met just outside of town, guarded only by a solitary traffic light. When it was built in the 1950s, the heyday of automotive travel, the intersection was a state-of-the-art transportation masterpiece. Today, as the surrounding area loses its old to the passage of time, and its young to the city’s promise of jobs and prosperity, the intersection is just a lonely spot on two lonely roads. Its most notable feature is the Blue Duck Tavern that sits about a mile south of town on route 44.
Hoss was a big man. His buddies named him “Hoss” because he could move more boxes of product onto the trucks than anyone else in the plant. And today was a great day for Hoss. His production line at the plant had a record-setting day. And it was payday.
Life is good, Hoss said to himself, as he pulled into the Blue Duck just after work, like he usually does, to celebrate with his friends.
He stayed a little later than usual, and drank a good bit more than usual. Much of the paycheck he received that afternoon was already gone. After struggling to get into his truck (“Darn lift kit,” he thought), he headed out of the parking lot and turned the truck north toward town. Work started in the morning at 8:00 AM sharp, so he needed to get home and get to bed, fast. He gunned the engine and sped north on County 44. It was 11:30 PM.
Thirty minutes earlier, Marla decided to check the baby’s temperature one more time. It was well over 100. “Hey Billy, we’re out of childrens’ Tylenol. Could you run down to the store to get some? He’s still running a fever.”
Coat and keys in hand, Billy was out the door before he could say goodbye. Even in this declining rural area, they were blessed to have a 24-hour Walmart just down the road, a couple miles west of the house. He’d made many Childrens’ Tylenol runs before, as each of his three kids were prone to ear infections and practically drank the stuff until they were at least 3. With the medicine in hand, he pointed his old clunker, all he could afford on a high school history teacher’s salary, eastward toward home.
A red light interrupted his progress. As he waited for the light to change, his thoughts went back to church the previous Sunday. He had attended church with his wife for years, and though she was a devout Christian, something had always stopped him short from accepting Jesus as his Savior and Lord of his life. Every Sunday, the pastor asked for people to step forward in faith. Billy still hadn’t. “You know,” Billy thought, “I’ll probably do that sometime next month. It’ll really make Marla happy.”
As Billy finished that thought, the light at the intersection of County Road 44 and County Road 19 turned green. It was 11:31 PM.
Tomorrow: Day Numbering, Part 2: Psalms 90:12