Chivalry on a Harley

11:30 p.m. The clock ticked too slowly toward midnight in the service station where I was working by myself as a cashier. The island of gas pumps appeared lonely in the middle of the ocean of asphalt. The blinking fluorescent lights gave the night a surreal feeling of untruth at the convenience store along the lonely stretch of highway.

That night was a pivotal point in my life.

I was physically alone, standing behind the cash register. The crickets sang in harmony – somewhere in the walls, somewhere in the dark night. But I did not, could not, feel their peaceful lullaby. Fear gripped me as it did every night. Jumping at my own shadow, I skittishly made my way across that ocean, the crickets silenced by the thumping of my shoes. After manually shutting off the gas pumps, I quickly headed back to the safety of the empty store to do my last duty of the night. I had to count the money in the cash register.

Back behind the counter, I reached to open the register when the rumble of three motorcycles disrupted the crickets as they crossed the parking lot.

Three young men sauntered into the store. I stood behind the counter, eyeing their movements as they walked along each aisle. The leader took his time. As he walked along, he reached up and sporadically knocked items off the shelves. A can of Campbell’s soup. Premium saltines. A box of Nabisco cookies.

I kept thinking, Please, God, move my hands. I need to call 911. I need to call 911.

My hand moved slowly, cautiously, toward the telephone. My heart pounded, beads of sweat dripped down the nape of my neck.

The gloating trio gathered in front of the cash register; my fingers inches from the receiver.

The leader’s throaty voice garbled over sarcastically curled lips, “Don’t even try it.”

Tears ebbed onto my eyelashes. I was too terrified to move, to breathe, to speak. The leader began to lean forward, his arms hidden beneath the thick leather jacket, his tendrils of fingers reached out for me.

I kept praying, Please, no. Don’t hurt me. God, save me. Please, save me!

Then, a thunderous roar shattered the moment. I looked up and watched a heavy black riding boot kick open the glass doors. The glass shuddered but did not break. I cringed at the site. The tears finally found their escape and rolled down my quivering cheeks. There, at the door, stood the largest man I’d ever seen. He looked at least seven feet tall, but my fear must have exaggerated his height. Stark red hair was as wild as the heavy, free-styled beard. His wide-set shoulders, muscles, and extra folds of skin bulged beneath a worn-out, black tee shirt. He wore a black leather vest with a club patch carefully sewn over the top pocket.

I read that patch and thought, Oh, god, I’m dead now.

The man stepped forward and I blinked the tears out of my eyes – and saw his. The only way I know how to describe them is that they were of the most gracious, celestial blue. He stepped up to the counter, shoving the three aside.

I watched him reach across the counter, his hands as big as my head, “Miss, are you okay?”

Still frozen, still terrified, I nodded yes.

He placed his hand on my right shoulder. He didn’t smile or frown; his voice steady and deep, “Don’t worry.”

I stared at him. I looked from his eyes to his hand on my shoulder, back to his eyes.

The being, whether angelic or human, was my miracle from God.

The next thing I remember, I was standing behind that counter — alone in an empty store. It was around midnight. The lights over the gas pumps buzzed and flickered. Was it all a dream? I stepped from behind the counter and walked up and down the aisles. I picked up a can of Campbell’s soup, now dented from its demise. I took both hands and carefully placed the box of Premium crackers back on the shelf. The Nabisco cookies joined the others.

I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was grateful. I stood there and thanked God for the miracle.

For the one who saved me — whoever you are, wherever you are — thank you.

To all the heroes, all the ones who silently carry the code of chivalry, you remind us that it is far from dead.

Denise Broussard, Texas

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