Time slowed down in that weird way it has when a catastrophe is about to occur as Carrie felt the first fingers of panic.
NO! She thought, I’m not going to panic! That is the one thing that will for sure make things go wrong!
Sam had taken his foot off the gas and Carrie grabbed the wheel and steered them to the side of the road. Once there, she jerked the shifter into park and unhooked Sam’s seat belt.
“Turn your body towards me!” she pretty much yelled at him since she could see that he was beginning to turn blue and panic was wild in his eyes.
“I said TURN! NOW TURN TOWARDS ME!” Carrie was definitely yelling now and by tugging Sam, she was able to get him facing her. She quickly sat back against her door and swiftly and with all her strength, KICKED him in the gut. IN and UP!
Like a cork sprung from shook up bottle of bubbly, the peanut that had been lodged in Sam’s throat shot across the cab and hit Carrie on the cheek.
“oh gross!” she said as Sam took in great big breathes of air.
Carrie patiently waited as Sam got himself under control and gained back his color. Finally, he said “remind me not to talk and eat peanuts again, ok” then he attempted to chuckle at his humor but he was reminded that besides almost choking to death, he had also been kicked very hard in his gut.
Rubbing his stomach, he said “sure am glad you have strong legs.”
“Well, I knew I wouldn’t be able to actually do the maneuver the right way, so I had to improvise.”
“Where did you learn to do that?” Sam asked.
“I read about it on a website. And like I said, I had to improvise.” Carrie felt like she was about to cry, but she refused to do so in front of this stranger. She could feel her body drain from the adrenaline rush. She closed her eyes and sent up a word of thanks for not panicking.
Sam didn’t know who was shaking more, him or Carrie. They both sat there for a few moments as they calmed down and regrouped.
The sun peeked over the horizon and began a new day. Sam thought it very appropriate and sent a word of thanks up to the Big Guy for maneuvering things so that his life had been spared. He fully realized that if Carrie wasn’t there, he still would have been eating peanuts and sipping coffee but that he would have been singing (off key) instead of talking and he had no doubt he would have most likely died that morning. He glanced again at the little slip of the girl who had come
into his life.
“Thank you Carrie for saving my life.” He began. But before he could say anymore, Carrie burst into tears. Now one thing that Sam couldn’t handle was a girl in tears. He reached over and took her in his arms and hugged her as she proceeded to soak his shirt.
Carrie cried for five full minutes but it seemed like hours. She pulled away from Sam as she sniffled and dried her face on the sleeve of her jacket she said “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to go all babified on you. I don’t know why I cried, I never cry.”
Sam replied “I imagine that you’ve been through quite a bit. And this scare was just the last straw. And I firmly believe that God made men with shoulders so that women can cry on them. And if you don’t tell anyone, I was pretty scared myself. All I could do was think about how my wife was going to kill me for choking to death so far from home.”
Carrie gave a weak smile.
Sam decided he better get moving again since traffic was picking up and they were kinda cockeyed on the side of the road. He just then noticed that the truck was off.
“I had to put it in park; I hope I didn’t damage your truck.” Carrie said as her eyes went wide at the thought of messing up Sam’s truck.
“A small price to pay for my life Carrie, so don’t worry about it. If it’s broke, it’s broke and I’ll call a tow truck. But let’s just see first. I think I’ve been harder on the transmission than this.”
Both sent a silent prayer up as Sam turned the key. The truck purred to life.
“Now for the true test.” Said Sam as he pulled gear shift towards him and then down. The truck jerked slightly but slid into gear. “Gotta love Ram tough” he said as he carefully pulled back onto the road.
“There’s a Love’s Truck stop up the road about 20 miles or so, what do you say we stop for a quick breakfast and break? It’ll be my treat. It’s the least I can do for someone who just saved my life.”
Carrie blushed and quietly said “ok”.
Hooked to the Love’s Truck stop was a small Mom and Pop restaurant that was known for miles around as having good food at a fair price. The place was hopping! Sam had to park around the side and had to convince Carrie that her things would be safe in his truck. She didn’t want to leave them.
“Here, YOU hold the keys so you know I won’t strand you and take off with your things, ok?” Carrie laughed since she hadn’t been thinking that but rather just didn’t feel comfortable without her things. But she decided to call him on it.
“Ok.” And she hopped out and watched as he clicked the door locks and set the alarm then she held out her hand and he placed the keys in it. She tucked them deep into her front pocket and they both went in.
Breakfast was delicious and Carrie almost picked her plate up to lick it clean, but restrained herself and used the last corner of her toast to wipe up the last of the egg. The last of the tall cold glass of orange juice helped wash it all down. Sam had been finished with his stake of hotcakes and side of bacon and eggs and had been watching the methodical way that Carrie attacked her food. It was like she was afraid it would be taken before she finished or it would get up and walk away. Once she began to eat, she didn’t stop until she was done.
The waitress came by to refill Sam’s coffee cup and asked “Is everything ok? Can I get you guys anything else?” She was a pretty older woman, one who knew her business of waitressing. Her name tag read “Sandy” and her friendly smile brought smiles from others.
“Carrie? Would you like anything else?” asked Sam.
“No thank you, I’m good” she replied.
Sam turned back to Sandy and said “Do you think we could get a couple of boxed lunches we can take for later? “
“Sure thing, what kind of sandwiches would you like?”
“I want one of your famous roasted chicken salad sandwiches. Carrie, what kind of sandwich do you like? And I’m buying so don’t even think about the cost.” Sam could see her trying to figure out how to be nice but decline since she couldn’t afford it.
Carrie’s eyes were big and she was about to protest but Sandy smiled at her, waiting patiently. “I’ll have the same.” She really didn’t want to cause a scene so she just figured she would settle things up later. She just added the cost to her mental list along with the gas.
Sandy brought a bag that looked stuffed full and the bill five minutes later, “you guys be careful out there and have a great day.” Sam left a ten dollars tip and gathered up the bag and began to head to the counter to pay the bill.
“I’m going to go wash my hands real quick, I’ll meet you by the truck, ok?” said Carrie.
Sam decided that he best make a pit stop himself. Coming out of the restaurant, he was walking down the sidewalk to the side where the truck was. He heard gasp of pain and then someone give the loudest bloodcurdling WAR cry he ever heard. He ran the rest of the way and skidded to a stop.