BROTHER ED’S ACCIDENT
When Ed got home that afternoon he told his wife about the morning’s happening. “My leg’s still a bit tender, but it’ll heal. All’s well that ends well, thank God.”
That evening Ed’s brother Phil phoned about something and Ed mentioned the incident to him. “So I’m really thankful it ended well. This Tyler told me about a rancher’s prize stallion getting killed when the latch on his horse trailer popped open en route. That could so easily have happened to my steers, too.”
“Yeah. Good thing you were able to get them loaded up before they headed across the road and got hit,” said Phil, “or someone would likely be suing you.”
“I thought of that.”
“Actually, I suppose if you were of a mind to, you could even make a case against the Highways Department for the shoddy way they bolted that container down.”
“Maybe, but the container suffered a lot more than my truck did. The Lord was looking out for me and it all turned out pretty well, thanks to that Tyler and his bag of oats. Anyway, I’ve got more important things to do in life than sit in courtrooms.”
The next day Ed’s wife was talking with her cousin on the phone and mentioned the incident to her, too.
Sunday morning Ed and his wife walked into the Prattleboro Informed Church where they always worshiped. As Ed was taking off his jacket Tom Franks, a man in his sixties, walked over to chat.
“Hey, Brother. How’s it going?” Tom put his hand on Ed’s shoulder. “You’ve been in my prayers. Hope it all goes well for you in court.”
“Court?” Ed stared at Tom, his mind skimming over possible offenses he’d committed in the past year.
“I heard you were in an accident and were being sued.”
“Well, I didn’t. Who’s suing me? And who told you?”
Tom frowned. “I think it came from the Hardware store fellow. He said the Department of Highways was suing you for reckless driving and damaging one of their machines. I assumed you must have hit a grader or something.”
“Not that I know of. And I’m not aware of any action against me, but if there is I sure hope they tell me about it so I can get myself a lawyer.”
Darrel, another man his age, came by right then. “Ed! I didn’t expect to see you here. Thought you’d be home convalescing.”
“Convalescing? What ails me?”
Darrel took a hanger from the coat rack. “Broken leg is what I heard. Someone said you jumped off your stock trailer and broke a leg…but it looks like you’re standing on both of them just fine now. Must have been a false rumor.” He hung up his jacket.
“Yeah, I guess, because I haven’t broken a bone since I went skiing once twenty-some years ago. And I don’t recall ever being on top of my stock trailer.”
“Yeah, I thought that was pretty funny when I heard it. Gave us all a laugh.”
Ed didn’t see the humor. He was puzzled about all these rumors. Someone must have been telling tales, but wherever did they come up with all this? And when I find out, he fumed.
Then an idea struck him. “Say, Frank, did they say I ran into some Department of Highways equipment?”
“No, I never heard that part. Did you?”
“Well, after a fashion. But I’m thinking somebody has got their wires crossed and put some other fellow’s leg on me. I was pulling a stock trailer one day this week.”
Right then Rick, their youngest pastor, happened by. “Heard you had a little accident on Monday, Ed.”
Ed looked at the others, then back at Rick. “Oh. You, too. Well, the day’s right. Now what did I do?”
“Heard you ran into a bucket or something and damaged your pickup.”
“Well, part of that is true. I didn’t run into a bucket, just a litter container. So I guess you could call it an accident of sorts…”
Rick looked surprised. “A litter container? Brother Pete told me you’d totalled your pickup.”
This was so absurd Ed had to laugh. “Naw, it was just a little bump. That container, being plastic, came out a lot worse than my pickup.”
“Sure glad to hear it. A good man like you deserves to be blessed.” Rick slapped Ed on the back. “Now I gotta run. See you all after the service.”
Ed was standing there shaking his head when Stu, a retired farmer and close neighbor, came to stand beside him.
“Brother Ed! Good to see you. I wondered if you’d be doing much walking after your accident on Monday. Heard you crushed your leg and were in the hospital waiting for surgery.” He paused to look Ed over. “But I guess it couldn’t have been as bad as that or you wouldn’t be standing here.”
“Well, no, it was a minor mishap,” Ed replied with a sigh. “The steers got out and one kicked me.”
“Ouch! How many did you lose?”
“I guess you could say I lost four, but I found ‘em right nearby. Just took a bit of time to get them loaded again.”
Stu’s eyebrows arched. “Really! I heard you were in an accident and totaled your stock trailer. My son-in-law said he heard you’d had to destroy six animals. We concluded they must have been hit on the highway.”
Ed’s jaw dropped. “Six! Well, I’m afraid the rumor mill has inflated this big time. And they never were on the highway. Thanks be.”
Stu chuckled. “Sure glad to hear that. I was about to take up a collection for you. I’ll have to set my son-in-law straight on this story.”
“Morning, Ed,” the elderly deacon, Elmer Zimmer, said in passing. “How’s your leg?”
Ed took a deep breath and forced himself to reply calmly. “Just fine.”
Elmer stopped and shifted his cane to his other hand. “My grandson was at the sale barn Monday. Said he saw you and you were limping some. I was hoping it wasn’t too serious.”
“Very minor. A steer gave me the hoof while I was loading it.”
“Yeah, that happens. Glad to hear it’s not arthritis. Arthur’s no fun, believe me! See you in Sunday school.” He nodded and hobbled away.
“Hey, Brother.” Stan, one of their newest members, recently married, tapped Ed on the arm with his Bible. “Good to see you’re up and around. I was told you got your leg crushed in an accident.”
Ed held out the leg the steer had kicked. “Not true. Praise the Lord.”
Stan tucked his Bible under his arm. “Sure glad it isn’t. The story I heard sounded pretty drastic. One of the Youth boys said your leg got pinched between your pickup and stock trailer. They thought it might need to be amputated.”
Stan lowered his voice. “I’m sure sorry to hear about those horses you lost, though.”
“Horses? I don’t even own any horses!” Ed felt his patience sliding and his blood pressure climbing.
Stan looked puzzled. “That’s what I thought, but…”
Ed put his hand on Stan’s arm. “Sorry, Stan. I didn’t mean to bite your head off. It’s just that I’ve been hearing quite the tales about myself. What else did you hear?”
“Jack Fries told me you’d lost some horses on the highway when your stock trailer door popped open, so I decided you must have bought a few and been hauling them home from the stockyard when it happened. I guess I jumped to the wrong conclusion.”
The usher beckoned to them. “Brethren, do you want to take your seats? Only five minutes until the service starts.”
“Good idea,” Ed answered. “One little bump on the stock trailer latch, four steers get out and a fellow helps me load them up again. Now I hear my pickup’s totaled, I’ve lost six cattle, been sued, been crippled, am in hospital for surgery — and lost horses I don’t even own. I’m about wore out. I’d better sit down before I hear that I’ve been stomped on by eight elephants.”
Stan laughed. “You have had a rough week.”
He put a hand on Ed’s shoulder. “I guess it’s like they say, ‘Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.’ After you, Brother.”
Ed nodded. “Thanks. After all this I need a few minutes to focus my thoughts on the Sunday School lesson.”
Just before they went into the auditorium Stan whispered, “You know, I was afraid to call for fear you’d be feeling so blue about it and wouldn’t want to rehash all the details. But I’ve learned my lesson: next time I hear something like that, I’m going to phone and get the story straight from the horse’s mouth.”
Then he grinned. “Oops! I forgot. You don’t own any horses.”