After I married it became my job to occasionally drive my little brother around to various places. Most of the time this happened when dad was having one of his headaches and needed a shot so mom had to stay home with him. My little brother is about three years younger than me so in reality it was not a great thrill to drive him and his friends around. I did it though because it was to help mom and dad.
Brother had some good friends and most of them I liked. They seem to be good sports when I would tease them or play practical jokes on them. I want to be clear here. I never performed a practical joke that actually caused bodily harm, not intentionally anyway. I would simply make up little stories and make them seem like fact and then raise it to a level where they were dumbfounded and believing what I was saying or they just plain got scared. My brother was use to my antics though and knew what I was doing and occasionally tried to derail my attempts. Every once in a while he would get so brazen as to actually try to pull something over on me as I did to his friends. I considered myself to bright to fall for these gags and seldom was I took in by them.
One summer evening I found myself with the chore of giving a ride home to his friend Jeff. Jeff was a good kid that I liked a lot. He had a great sense of humor and was easily pulled in by my stories. Every once in a while he would feel foolish after I told him the story was not true but he was always able to laugh it off. We were heading home from church on a Wednesday evening. We were in Barb's Nova Super Sport that I had gotten caught speeding in a couple of years earlier. The car was hot and it was fast and a joy to drive.
To get Jeff home from the church we had to take the divided highway south of town. The speed limit was then a mild fifty five when it should have been seventy. I usually drove the highway the way it was meant to be driven ignoring the little fifty five limit that no one else followed either. Brother and Jeff were in the back seat while Barb rode shotgun. The two boys in the back were in a rather wild mood and soon they were wrestling around a bit and getting loud. I think they really tried to settle down when I asked them to but something about the night brought out the wildness in them.
It was a cool night so the windows were down in the car. Suddenly Jeff stuck his head out the back window for reasons unknown. Perhaps he was mimicking a dog or trying to see how superman kept his eye open when heading into a strong wind while flying. It wasn't long before each of them were taking turns sticking their heads out the window and to be frank, started getting on my nerves. Out of nowhere the sound of horror came from the back seat and I heard them begging me to stop. They tried to tell me that Jeff's glasses had flown off his face while his head was inexplicably hanging out the window.
I had been through this before. These young kids trying to pull something over on me to make me stop and then have a laugh at me. I was determined not to take the bait and began teasing them much the way my dad use to tease me. I would say that we would exit the highway at the next stop then pass it up acting surprised that I had missed it because it came upon us so fast. Barb finally turned around and when she saw Jeff's face she could tell this was no ruse. Jeff did not have his glasses on his face and he was close to tears. My little brother also looked very stoic and it convinced her that I should pull over and we should go back to look for the glasses. After she ordered me to stop and turn around I did without question. That was another lesson learned from marriage. If the wife gets serious enough you don't question the order. You just do what she says and so I did.
We exited the highway and started heading back towards town. Barb questioned Jeff on where he thought the glasses had fallen off and after he got calmed down and started thinking straight was able to get us in the general vicinity of where the incident had occurred.
They thought the glasses had fallen off on a stretch of highway that ran in front of a huge shopping center. The center was on the old Truman farm land and so was named Truman Corners. Really original. Since those days new shops have been built all trading on the name of Harry Truman. There is a strip mall there now that sits right next to the Truman farm home where Harry spent a lot of his growing up years. As original as a developer can get, they call the strip mall, "The Farm". I always thought they could come up with something better than that.
We pulled into the parking at Truman Corners off the side of the highway. All four of us spread out looking for Jeff's glasses. When you are a kid, losing your glasses is a major crime. They are expensive and parents do not want to here they were lost because you were hanging your head out the window of a car. In short we all believed that Jeff's life depended upon us finding his glasses. Suddenly Barb called out that she had found them. I looked over at her and she was pointing at the highway. It did not take long for my mind to decide that if those glasses were on the highway it was not going to be me who retrieved them.
The four of us met where Barb was stand and sure enough there sat the eye glasses in the near lane of the highway. They rested in the middle of the lane so passing cars were not hitting them but rather driving over them with the glasses staying between the wheels. We stood there and all of us came to the obvious conclusion that it was indeed lucky that they had not been run over yet. Then it came decision time on who would be the brave soul to fetch the eye wear.
My first pick of course was my little brother. Yes, He should be the one to run out in traffic on a busy highway to get his friends glasses. He was the host more or less and so to do his friend a good deed he should risk life and limb by dashing out there to snatch them up. My hope wasn't lived out though as Jeff stood up like a man and said it was his responsibility he would make the attempt at the glasses. He did not get much of an argument from any of us.
Jeff stood licking is lips preparing to make the dash. He looked down the highway to measure his timing between cars so he could save his glasses without sacrificing himself. We all saw a hole in the traffic coming up. We vocally prepared Jeff for the moment of truth. When the time came we all yelled "GO!" at Jeff. Jeff froze for just a second. Just the smallest amount of time that can throw a chain of events completely out of whack.
When Jeff started out onto the highway I saw that the moment had passed. A car was closing in fast and I tried to get Jeff to stop but it was too late. He dashed out onto the highway as I stood there helpless. There was a long loud blast of a car horn as Jeff left the shoulder of the road. I stood there helpless along with my wife and my brother. At the last second the car swerved to miss Jeff and the tires crushed his glasses.
Jeff slowly bent down and picked up what was left of them. There was no lens left, the glass had been pulverized. The tires of the car had flattened the frames down to just a sliver of metal as if some one with an anvil and a sledge hammer had used it as a torture device on Jeff.
Jeff walked back to us and we helped him into the back seat of the car. He just sat there holding what was left of his glasses in silence. We were lucky Jeff had not been hit by the car. This way his life would only end temporarily as he took whatever his parents heaped upon him. His life could have been over permanently.