The phone was ringing.
I quickly sat up in bed. The telephone was on my husband, Peter's, side of the bed. He was still sound asleep. Peter is a policeman, called the lock-up keeper. He is on call for nighttime jobs, often with no backup. We had only just moved to Nelson Bay, Australia, right in the middle of the busy tourist season.
I quickly prodded Peter and he grabbed the phone.
No, it wasn't an official police call -- it was my brother, Butch, who lived in Sydney, about a 3 hour drive south. It was also 3 o'clock in the morning. Something was obviously wrong.
My sister, Susan, had died only 3 months earlier and I couldn't help but think the worst. Most of the conversation was on my brother's side. Finally, Peter said he'd go and check it out.
What happened next will stay with me, always.
Butch had called because he was worried about a distressed man who had just telephoned him. Butch didn't know him because the man called randomly. Apparently, he needed to talk to somebody because his wife had died recently and he felt that he couldn't go on living. He was planning to kill himself and decided to let somebody know.
He poured his heart out to Butch and was distraught. Butch tried to keep him talking, to learn anything about him. Butch is a very keen fisherman so he decided to talk about fishing. The man confided that he loved fishing and said that he had his own boat, named after his wife, the Laura, and that he lived at Fingal Bay. It just so happens that Fingal Bay is only a 10 minute drive from where we were in Nelson Bay and is quite a small town.
Butch wanted Peter to see if he could go find him before anything drastic happened. Peter left almost immediately and, amazingly, was able to find the man because his boat, the Laura, was parked in front of his home. The man was extremely surprised to see Peter and admitted that he had made the call. They spoke for awhile and the man agreed that he would seek counselling and would not do anything foolish. He was amazed that his telephone call was to someone who not only knew the area, but who knew the local policeman as well!
When I think back on this incident, I look at the parts of the story where it could have quite easily gone wrong -- where everything might have fallen apart. If we had not moved to Nelson Bay mere weeks before, Butch's call most likely would have fallen on deaf ears. If Butch had not talked about fishing, his passion, we would never have learned the name of the boat. If the man himself was not a keen fisherman, there would have been no boat. If the boat was in the water and not outside the house, Peter never would have found the man. And of course, this man dialed Butch's number at random!
Was there some force that moved his fingers over the buttons and
somehow forced him to push all the right ones? Being the skeptic that I am, I'm not sure if there was a higher being watching over him, or if it was simply fate, or coincidence, but I am sure that what happened that night was not simply "one of those things".