I thought better of taking a picture inside the police car.
This is the drive home from Home Depot later that week,
the last decorated tree in my lap. Cars figure heavily
in my 2011 Christmas memories.
After checking on the boat, I decided to walk the three blocks to CVS for a few essentials: toothpaste, lipstick, Christmas-y nail polish, and Dove hairspray. First I strolled through the town home community next to us to see the decorations, made a right on Regatta Boulevard, stopped, took off my jacket, and tied it around my waist...a happy woman. Then the day began to unravel at the next intersection.
One minute I was crossing the street, the next I was flying through the air after tripping over the curb. A hard crash ended my space exploration. After a significant pause, my breath returned but the thought of broken bones grinding against each other dampened my desire to move. About this time, a car pulled up next to the curb and stopped.
The first thing I saw was a pair of steel-toe lace-up boots covered in either a Jackson Pollack painting or slaughterhouse residue. As I started to rise, a hand reached toward me. Then I saw four more boots that looked just like the first two. When I gingerly rolled to one side before testing my weight, the car came into focus. Two dinged doors - each a different color - contrasted strongly with the body paint...all equally coated in muck.
Now, I'd heard stories of inner Richmond but I was nowhere near there. Evidently it had come to me. For better or for worse, I determined to meet it on my own two feet. With as much dignity as I could muster, I unfolded upward, then watched as pieces of my bracelet fell to the ground. The trio introduced themselves: Jesus, Howard, and Jamil. We were a rather ecumenical group. As Jesus retrieved the bits of my bracelet, Howard inquired if I was okay. I assured him that, other than a few scrapes and bruises, I was okay. Jamil thought they should take me to the hospital, an offer I politely but quickly declined.
Howard checked my arm which was bleeding through my good pink turtleneck. Jesus pointed out my ripped pants' knee and Jamil offered a ride to the ER again. Grace had ridden up, not on camels or horseback, but in a tatty old Dodge. They waited for a few minutes until they were assured that I was only a little worse for wear. I shook each of their hands and said, "I can't tell you how grateful I am for your kindness. What fine gentlemen you are." Each of them stood a little taller and grinned, then Jesus said, "You're not from around here, are you?" I told them that I am now and they welcomed me to California.
Hands waved out the car windows as they drove away and I gave them a thumbs up, then began the trek to the drugstore. Another car pulled up beside me, this time a black and white with a Richmond police officer inside.
"Ma'am? Are you okay?"
"Yes." I said that I'd fallen and was headed to CVS for a few things. My list had now morphed to bandages and Advil.
"Well, get in and I'll drive you."
"Oh, no. The walk will probably help me work out the stiffness."
"Nonsense. But you'll have to sit behind me."
As I closed the back door, my cellphone rang...Bill calling between patients. "Hey!" he said. "Had a minute and wanted to see what you're up to this morning!"
"Well, sweetheart, at the moment, I'm in a police car."
After a hurried explanation from me, Dr. Bill the PT explained how my neck issues and nerve damage had caused foot drop which in turn led to my fall. Post-diagnosis Bill reverted to my husband and VBFF, promised to call back in an hour, said me he loved me and would be home by seven. I then became acquainted with Officer Chris. She was a delight. Told me about her upcoming class reunion and I discovered we had quite a lot in common. After a rather exciting roundabout route to avoid a long train, we arrived at the drugstore. She gave me contact info and once more inquired if I needed to go to the hospital. Both of us were laughing when I climbed out. I saw a man on the curb across the street, staring intently. But he wasn't nearly as interested as the woman who walked outside as I exited the patrol car.
Inside, the checker, Catherine, noticed my rips and scrapes. Another assurance was forthcoming. That morning Catherine, the widowed black mother of two, became my first regular "neighbor" in Marina Bay. Next time she saw me she told me she'd been praying for me. Until she transferred earlier this year, every trip to CVS was a hugfest.
Remember the gentleman seated on the curb? Well, when I walked out with my first-aid supplies, he called out, "You must rate. Pick up and delivery!" I waved again and limped home.
And that is how I ended up in the backseat of a Richmond police car and met my very own Kris Kringle, Officer Chris, and the Three Wise Guys.