The Carriage Driver³ - Toby
Griffin stepped out his front door, pulling his suspenders over his shoulders. He walked to the barn where Nuelle slept and stepped inside where he saw a young boy brushing Nuelle’s coat. Griffin paused and collected himself. “Good morning.”
The boy turned his head in Griffin’s direction. “Good morning. I hope you don’t mind. I got turned around, and when I sensed this beautiful animal I came inside. She nudged me towards the brush, so I guessed she wanted some company.”
Griffin took a long look at the boy. “You’re alive, aren’t you?”
“Of course I’m alive. What kind of question is that?”
“Tell me how you come to be in my barn. If you don’t mind.”
“Well, first, my name is Toby. Some of the older kids brought me to the quarry. They find it fun to leap from the edge into the deep water that has pooled there. Mostly they are teenagers. Both boys and girls. I think they were just playing a trick on me. They talked me into jumping. A girl with a soft voice brought me to the edge. She whispered in my ear what I should do. Don’t dive she told me. Just leap feet first. Once I jumped she said count to five, slow. Then you will feel your feet hit the water. It is going to be cold, but it will be OK. Don’t panic. That’s what she said. Then she stepped back and said ready?”
“Ready. I could feel my heart beating fast. I could hear the older boys giggling like girls. The girl with the pleasant voice called JUMP. And I jumped.” The boy paused. “You still there?”
“I’m here.” Griffin walked over and picked up another brush. “I am just listening to your story.”
The boy smiled. Hearing the brush against Nuelle’s coat, he returned to his brushing as well. “Well, let me tell you, that five count seemed like a very long time. I mean it seemed like an eternity. Then I hit the water. It was so cold that my legs cramped up something terrible. You can imagine how dark it was. I kept going down and down. I don’t know how long I was down there. I kept remembering her words. Don’t panic. Don’t panic – but that seemed like just the thing to do. It was about the time my arms stopped thrashing about that I heard something. It seemed big and coming for me.” The boy, still holding the brush, let his arm fall. “Mister, then I felt the warmest lips pressed against mine. Those lips delivered a breath to me. Then I was shoved in a direction, and my arms and legs started working again. I reached the surface and called out. But no one answered. I don’t mind telling you I was scared.”
“You say no one answered? What about the person who shoved you toward the surface?”
“I waited, then the water was so cold, that I went to the noise of the water slapping against the rocks. I crawled out. On my hands and knees, I found the mouth of the path back to the top and crawled back up. It took a long time. Mister, it was so quiet. Even the birds stopped singing.”
“You feel like going for a walk? Can you show me where this all happened?”
Toby put down the brush exactly where he had found it.
Griffin put a harness over Nuelle’s head, and the three walked out of the barn. Toby held onto a handful of Nuelle’s mane. “Hold on a minute.” Griffin walked back to the house for a shirt and an apple. He cut the apple into four pieces. He fed two to Nuelle and handed one to the boy. The boy stood holding the handful of mane. Griffin popped a piece of apple into his mouth. “You’re blind, aren’t you?” He took the boy's arm and turned his palm up and placed the remaining piece of apple into his hand.
“Thanks – it’s not too far. Bring us to the dirt road. Keep the sun on our right, and soon you will hear the sound of the earth change. The hollow left from the mining seems to catch the wind, and the earth sings a different song. Someone told me that the trees near the quarry are a little taller and they are a little greener than those leading to them.”
They walked for longer than Griffin thought when Toby said, “There, do you hear that?”
Griffin did not hear. He let go of the harness strap. “You are leading the way now.”
Toby walked off, leading Nuelle to the rocky ledge. “We are here. This is where we were all playing and laughing.”
Griffin looked over the edge. He estimated the drop at between twenty-five and thirty feet. “You jumped off that ledge?”
“Yes, Mister, I told you.”
Griffin peered out across the quarry. He spotted the path back to the top. “Wait here with Nuelle. I am going to go and take a look around. You’ll be safe with Nuelle.” He slipped off his boots and his shirt. “You said a five count? Right – and don’t panic.”
“Yes, Mister, that is what she said.”
In a moment the boy heard the splash made by Griffin entering the water.
The water was much colder than Griffin expected. It was no wonder that Toby’s legs cramped up and his arms did not want to work. He opened his eyes. There in the crystal clarity of the pure rain water was the body of the girl with the pleasant voice. Her eyes were open and seemed to stare. Her hair waved like kelp.
Griffin swam to her and put his arm around her and made his way to the surface. Once on shore the soul of the girl woke and both made their way to the mouth of the path.
Once at the top, the girl was able to speak. “Thank you for coming to get me.” She looked at Griffin. She looked at Toby, “Oh, you made it. Thank you for bringing him to me. Where are all the kids?” She looked at Toby, waiting for a response.
“They were gone when I made it to the surface. Maybe they all ran off to get help. Maybe?”
The girl looked at Nuelle. “Oh, isn’t she a beauty. What’s her name?”
“This is Nuelle, she and I have been together for a long time now.” Griffin took hold of the leather strap on the harness. “Let’s head back to my place and straighten things out.”
Toby took a handful of mane.
“Do you want to ride?” Griffin asked the girl.
“Can I? Yes, that would be wonderful."
Griffin gave her his shirt to wear and helped her mount Nuelle’s back.
It was a country day. The trees stood guard. A big blue canopy of sky draped itself about a peaceful earth. Squirrels looked up from their foraging as the trio passed.
On the road, a local Sheriff’s car went by followed by the County’s Paramedic Vehicle. The drivers did not seem to see Nuelle, Griffin or the girl. The paramedic waved to Toby. But Toby did not wave back.
Once in the barn, Griffin helped the girl down. She stood by Toby. She held out her hand and took Toby’s hand. “I should have never let them talk you into that. I am so sorry.”
Griffin hitched Nuelle to the carriage. He double checked his book and scratched his chin. “What do you want to do now?” He asked the girl.
“What do you mean?” Was the response. “I guess I want to go back with my friends. I want to give them a piece of my mind. Why they run off like that. That’s no way to behave.”
“Can you wait here for a couple of minutes?” He asked the two of them. Griffin walked off toward the house.
“OK angels. I know you are close by, I have a question.” The three angels that had been following him since he left Boston appeared. He talked with them for a few minutes. The consensus was the higher ups, were already peeved, what could this hurt. He walked back toward the carriage.
Nuelle and the carriage were ready. “OK, you two, climb up in the carriage, I am going to take you home.”
“You don’t mean to that other place do you?”
“No time to argue, climb aboard. I am going to take you where you want to go.”
The two climbed into the carriage. Warmth filled the girl. Toby stared at the sky and the trees and the dirt and the beauty of the girl.
In front of Toby’s place Griffin stopped and climbed down. He held out his hand. The girl climbed down. The warmth from the earth rose through her feet.
Toby reached for Griffin’s extended hand. Once on the ground, he went to Nuelle and gave her a hug as far as his arms could reach.
The three angels hiding nearby began to cry.
Dispatched called to the Sheriff that the kids were found safe at home. A doctor was called and the return of Toby's sight was deemed a miracle.
Bobby Vinton ~ You Are My Special Angel
Chicago - If you leave me now (1976)
The Temptations - I wish it would rain
© 2017 mckbirdbks